opened wide the door of love to his heart, and he received and
acknowledged the baptism of pure and elevating thought.
His absolute fire died away into the description of conscience torment,
and through his later years the mellow ripeness of new thought took in
large part the place of the old. Mr. Davis was very anxious concerning
his health, and we did not wonder, for his cheeks grew pale and thin. He
seemed much older than he really was, and in two years of time had
gained ten in the defining face lines. These were, it seemed,
ineffaceable, and as the months wore on grew deeper still.
Matthias' marriage came off in September, and our whole household were
invited. Aunt Hildy said she'd send them something, "but no weddins for
me," and she shook her head when I asked whether she was going.
Mother was busy and did not feel like sparing the time, so at last,
Clara, Louis and I went over, and Mrs. Davis came with her husband, who
performed the ceremony in a pleasant way. I think no couple ever had
just such wedding presents. A blanket and some home-spun towels from
Aunt Hildy; a large silk bandana handkerchief, a chintz dress pattern,
and a little bead purse with some bits of gold from Clara (how much I
never knew), and from Louis a load of shingles, and the services of a
carpenter to re-shingle the little house, with some sensible gifts from
Hal and our people. Aunt Peg was beside herself with joy which she could
not express to suit her, and at last she said, "won't try to tell you
nothin' - can't do it."
Mr. and Mrs. Davis stayed only a few minutes after the ceremony, but we
three had a long chat with our good friends, and when we left them at
the door, tears of gratitude fell from Aunt Peg's eyes. I looked back,
after we had started toward home, to see them sitting on the door stone
side by side, and their dark faces resting in the shadow of the Cyprus
vine was a pleasant picture.
"Their cup runneth over," said Louis; "I am glad and 'we shall rejoice
with those that rejoice, and mourn, with those that mourn.'"
"Another Bible quotation, Louis?"
"Yes," said he, "and why may we not have these truths, like blessed
realities, walk side by side with us through life. Every day might let
the sunshine into the room of our thought, through the bars of
understanding that stand as defining lines between them.
"Mr. Davis says you are to be a preacher. I believe you are already,"
"Would my Emily object? I think not, for has not little mother said,
'Emily will do it, Emily will help you?'"
I did not answer with words, but my eyes spoke volumes, and he read them
Letters came to us monthly from our Southern Mary, and Clara often said
she had hope of seeing her again. Mrs. Chadwick had kept track of Mrs.
Benton, and that strange compound of villainy and taste - her
husband - had really been touched by Mary's plea and was living with his
family. I could hardly believe it, and when Hal stepped in one evening
with "love's fawn" at his side, and a letter from that veritable Benton,
we had a grand surprise. I will not try to tell you of this well written
epistle, but this interesting item I will relate; here are his words:
"You will doubtless be surprised when I say I am married and keeping
house. I found my wife here; she has two nice boys. If you come to this
part of the globe, as I hope you will, call on us. You will be
"My soul!" said Aunt Hildy, "if the other world did have a fiery pit for
liars, that man would have the best seat, and nearest the fire."
Mother smiled and said, "He does not know, of course, that we have heard
of this wife, for how should he?"
"Why, certainly not," said Hal, "and I shall never tell him. Let him do
right if he can, and we perhaps can hardly blame him if he does want to
hold on to the few who have proven their friendship, for I think his
friends do not number many. He needs them all."
"Judgment is mine saith the Lord," said Aunt Hildy.
"Well, that may be true, but I cannot feel that we are His direct agents
for cursing the man."
"Neither are we," said Louis, "and if we obey the commandment, 'Love ye
one another,' where can the curse come? No, no, Mrs. Patten, we must
wait for the spirit of the man to grow good and true, and the weakness
of the flesh by this will be overcome; he cannot forget all the wrong,
and probably might recall the words, 'The spirit is willing but the
flesh is weak.'"
"Well," said Aunt Hildy, "I 'spose that's the Gospel good and true, but
I do get riled at his cuttings up. I've seen 'em before, yes I've seen
And she sat as if feeling her way back through the mist of years. I
wondered what she had suffered, but she kept her own secrets close to
her heart and held steadfastly to the truth doing much good. Her busy
fingers through the long winter evenings kept adding to the store of
stockings she was knitting for somebody who needed - and the needy would
surely come in her path.
Aunt Peg and Matthias were quietly happy, and they came out of church
every Sabbath and walked with a pleasant dignity homeward. Matthias had
memorized the old hymns and he could pick many of them out, having
learned to designate them by their first word or line, and this he
"'Pears like I kin read a few himes, Miss Emily," he said. This is the
way with us through life. It seems to me we get the first word or line
and then go blindly on making mistakes and grievously sinning in our
ignorance, unknowing of the great beauty that awaits us in the perfect
rendering of life's beautiful psalm.
Clara said we were like children running through a meadow, trampling the
daisies and clovers under our feet, and with breathless impatience
hurrying on through the long day to the fall of night, and when the
sunset of our earthly life came on, pausing then at the corner of the
meadow, we gathered the few tired blossoms at our feet and passed out
into the unknown.
"Oh, my Emily!" she said, "if our steps could be even and slow we should
pick our comfort-daisies and our love-clovers on either side, while our
feet still kept the one small path of our greatest duty; and this to me
is the straight and narrow path spoken of."
Her types of thought were so purely beautiful, and yet she drew them
from the plainest facts. She was growing nearer heaven daily, or perhaps
we were seeing her soul more clearly through the days. I thought and
comforted myself that we should not lose her.
Louis and I talked sometimes of the coming time when we should receive
the sacred seal of marriage, and when the year for which he asked had
expired and the fall term opened in the seminary, he said:
"Little mother tells me she cannot let me go back, she is too tired to
live without me. I knew it before she told me; her strength is very
little without mine, and," he added, "even if we do all we can, that
little mother must leave us before many years. You know, Emily, how I
have wanted all my life to be an artist. Perhaps I shall, sometime, but
now before me I can see a need that will bring me into different work,
and it may be also (his eyes were far away) I can, after all, do better
service by painting living faces."
"What do you mean, Louis?
"I mean, Emily, that when the tired hearts we find, feel comfort
creeping over them, the work shines through the eyes and glows within
the smiles that beam upon us. Did we not paint a pleasant picture at the
wedding, and are not these works of art appreciated through endless
time? Will they not repay us with something better than the gold which
we may lose, the earthly things that perish? And again, I have seriously
thought that it is not right for me to take the work that others who
need might have. Side by side with our great love must walk these
truths. I cannot see yet how our future plans are to be arranged, or
where our home will be. What does your good heart say, Emily?"
"Oh! I cannot tell you, Louis. I sometimes imagine a little cosy home
like Hal's, and then it dissolves beyond my reach and I say 'Time will
tell it all.' Your mother taught me that one of the greatest lessons in
life is to learn to wait, and move with the tide if we can instead of
against it. These hills are very dear to me."
"May they never be less!" said Louis, gathering me to himself; while I
reverently thought, "How glorious a manhood is his! how great the love
he gives me!"
Time passed rapidly. Ben's first season as a real farmer had passed, and
storehouse and barn were filled. His hands grew strong and his blows
were telling. A handsome woodpile was one of the things he was truly
proud of, and everything was done in good season and with perfect
system. Hal said that he and Mary were living with Ben. Father was
surprised at his success, and when, in the winter, he walked in with a
dozen brooms of his own make, Aunt Hildy said:
"Industry and economy were two virtues that the Lord would see well
rewarded. You'll be a rich man and a generous one too. Wish your Aunt
Phebe'd come up to see us."
"She's coming," said Ben. "I've written to her to come to our house and
stay a week. I want her to come and see my broom-corn room. I'll bet
she'll be interested in it, and I'm going to give her six brooms to take
home with her. But did you know Deacon Grover's very sick?"
"Why, no, indeed!" said I.
"Well, he is, and Mrs. Grover wants Louis to come over. He'd better go
back with me. They expect he'll die; he is troubled to breathe."
I called Louis and he went over. He came back to supper and told us he
was going to stay with him all night.
"Mr. Davis says he cannot save his life, and they are to have Dr. Brown
from the village. The man is terribly frightened; he knows he must go.
He says he's afraid he has been too mean to get into heaven, and he
moans piteously. His poor wife is nearly distracted."
"Shall I go with you, Louis?" I said.
"You might go over but I hardly think I need you all night there. He has
been ill more than a week. I should not be surprised if he left us
"Small loss to us," said Aunt Hildy, "but if the poor critter knows he's
been mean, perhaps he'll see his way through better. I'll go over if it
wont torment him."
"You are just the one," said Louis.
"Well, I hope I sha'nt set him to thinking about - never mind what I say.
Let me get my herb bag and start along."
We found the poor man no better, and wise Dr. Brown shook his head
ominously. He was a regular grave-yard doctor, and I thought it a pity
to set up the deacon's tomb-stone while yet he breathed. His poor wife
was taking on terribly (as Aunt Hildy expressed it). When Deacon Grover
saw Louis he tried to speak. Louis went near and took his hand, and he
"Peace, you bring me peace."
"It is all right over there," said Louis; "do not fear."
"All right," said the sufferer, and then, looking at his wife, he said,
"Be her friend." A smile passed over his face, his eyes closed, and
Deacon Grover was dead.
Mr. Goodman and Matthias came over to help Louis lay him out, and his
funeral took place from the church the following Sunday. Louis was a
great help to Mrs. Grover and she needed all the aid he could give. Her
spirits were broken in her early days, and she followed the deacon in a
little less than a year, her brain failing rapidly, her body having been
weak for years.
Many changes had occurred during this year of my life, and when the
beads upon my rosary of years numbered twenty-two, it seemed hardly a
day since I had counted twenty-one. How little time from one birthday to
another, and in childhood how long the time between!
I was growing older, and the days challenged each other in their
swiftness, but they were all pleasant to me, even though the church-bell
often tolled the passing of souls, and the quiet of our hills was broken
by the ringing of improvement's hammer as it fell on the anvil of our
possessions. Long lines of streets passed through the meadow-lands, and
where, in less level places, rocks and stones were in the path, the
power of inventive genius was applied and the victory gained. Some of
our people felt it keenly. To father it was an advantage, but to Aunt
Hildy, the opposite.
"Goin' to pass right through my nest, Mr. Minot, and I tell you it aint
so easy to think of that spot of ground as a grave-yard. 'Twont be
nothin' else to me, never. Oh, the years I bury there!"
Father ventured to suggest remuneration.
"No, no, nothin' can't pay; they don't know it, Mr. Minot, but it's a
bitter pill." And a shadow overspread her resolute features. She
determined on making our house her home "forever and a day arter" she
said, and bore it as patiently as she could; but I saw great drops fall
from her eyes as she looked over to that little home and watched its
demolition. She said she had prayed for a strong wind to do the work,
but this was not granted. My own heart leaped to my throat in sympathy,
but knowing her so well I said nothing.
Louis was more than busy. I wondered when my birthday came if he would
remember it. He did, and all the evening of that day we sat together and
talked of our future.
"Emily, I am feeling glad to-night; my heart sings loud for joy. You
cannot think how beautiful you have grown in my eyes; even though you
filled my heart long days ago, that heart-room does expand with growth,
and your queenly beauty still fills it to completeness. Let your hair
fall over your shoulders; look out over the future days with your
speaking eyes as if you were a picture, my Emily." And as he said this
my shell-comb was in his hand and my long and heavy hair lay about me
like a mantle. He liked to see it so, and I sat as if receiving a
"Can you see nothing before you?" he asked.
"Mists, like drapery curtains, shade the days," I said: "What is it you
would have me find?"
"Find the month of June's dear roses,
Find a trellis and a vine;
Ask your heart, my queenly darling,
If the sun will on us shine,
And my heart, love's waiting trellis,
Then receive its clinging vine.
Have I spoken well and truly?
Does your soul like mine decide?
And, with June's dear wealth of roses,
Shall I claim you for a bride?
Do the old hills answer, darling?
Unto me they seem to say:
'Two young hearts in truth have waited;
Emily may name the day.'"
As the words of his impromptu verse died away, the moon, looking through
the rifted clouds, beamed an affirmation, and I said:
"Let June be the month, Louis; the day shall name itself."
Clara called: "It is nine o'clock, my dear ones;" and we said "good
Louis' birthday came on the 24th of June, and it seemed very appropriate
to me that this should be the day of our wedding, and, as I said to him;
the day named itself, and it also came on Sunday. I had no thought of
being married in the old church, but Louis was positive that it would be
"You know," he said, "that all these good people around us feel an
interest very natural to those who are acquainted with everybody in
their own little town. They will enjoy our marriage in the church where
all can come and none be slighted, and the evening after they can be
invited to call on us at home."
"Oh, Louis!" I said, "I would much rather go quietly over to Mr.
"Yes, Emily," he replied, "to take one of our pleasant walks over the
hill and step in there; but after all I can see how it will be wiser for
us not to be selfish in this matter. Never mind how we feel: these
friends of ours are of much account, and the many new thoughts that
brighten their existence as well as our own must fall, I believe, on us
as a people as well as individually. A private wedding will cause unkind
remarks, and perhaps unpleasant feelings, and idle conjectures may grow
to be stern realities. Let us avoid all this, and as we have heretofore
been among them, let us still keep our vessel close to the shore of
their understanding, though we may often drift out into the ocean unseen
by them, and gather to ourselves the pearls of new and strengthening
thought 'Let him who would be chief among you be your servant.' Do you
"I do, Louis, and 'Emily will do it,' for she knows you are right; but I
should never have thought of it; and now another important
"The bridal robe?" said Louis.
"Yes," I said, "just that; the thought of being elaborately dressed is
distasteful to me as well as unsuited to our desires, for a wedding
display would certainly arouse the spirit of envy if nothing more."
"Trust that to little mother, Emily; she desires to have that privilege,
"Let it be so."
And here we fixed the arrangement for the birthday and wedding day to be
one; but it came on a Sunday, and hence the necessity of a talk with Mr.
Davis, which resulted in the arranging for a short afternoon sermon, and
after it the ceremony. We were not to enter the church until the proper
moment, and Ben said he could manage it, for when the minister began his
last prayer he would climb the rickety ladder into the old square box of
a belfry and hang out a yard of white cloth on a stick.
"And then," he added, "you can jump right into the wagon and be there in
He was the most perfect boy to plan at a moment's notice, but Louis
told him not to hazard his life on the belfry ladder for we could manage
it all without.
"And besides," he said, "you, Ben, must walk into church with us; we are
not going unprotected. Hal and Mary, Ben and little mother, and Mr.
Minot with his wife and Aunt Hildy. That is the programme as I have it."
You should have seen those eyes of the young farmer dilate with surprise
as he gave a long and significant whistle and turned toward home,
doubtless thinking to surprise Hal and Mary with this new chapter in his
The 10th day of June brought us a letter from Aunt Phebe with news of
"Weddins don't never go alone more'n funerals," said Aunt Hildy. "Here
Miss Hungerford's been married since February, and we've just heard tell
of it. Hope she's got a good, sensible man, but 'taint likely; no two
very sensible folks get very near each other, that is, for life. She's a
good woman. What does he do to git a livin'?"
"Teaches school," I replied.
"Hem!" said she, "school teachers don't generally know much else.
Eddicated men aint great on homelife; they want a monstrous sight of
"Let us hope for the best in this case," said I. "Here comes Matthias;
he knows Mr. Dayton, I believe."
"Yas, Miss Em'ly, I does," said Matthias, who heard my last remark.
"Is he a nice man?"
"Um, um! reckin that jes' hits dat man; why, de good Lord bress us ef
dat man ha'nt done, like he was sent, fur de slaves, Miss Em'ly. He
knows jes' whar dat track is, - de down-low track, I means, whar de
'scapin' from de debbil comes good to dese yere people when dey gits
free. Mas'r Sumner an' a'heap mo' on 'em would jes' like fur to kill dat
Mas'r Dayton ef dey could cotch him. Preaches like mad his ablishun
doctrine, as he call it, an' down on rum, sure sartin. He works jes' all
de time fur de leas' pay you never heard tell of. Is he comin' up yere?"
"I hope so, some time; but he is Aunt Phebe's husband now, and we want
to know something about him."
"I reckin dat ye needn't be oneasy, honey, 'bout dat, fur Miss
Hungerford is 'zackly de one fur to take ker ob dat man; he's got his
head 'way up 'mong de stars, an' 'way down in de figgerin' mos' all de
"Do you mean that he is an astronomer, Matthias?"
"Dunno nothin' 'bout dat, but he looks into de stars straight through a
shiny pipe, Miss Em'ly, dat he sticks up on tree leg; an' when dem peart
fellers In dat college where dey lives, gits into figgerin whar dey's
done stuck and can't do it no how, dey comes right down to dat man, an'
he trabbles 'em right out ob all dese yere diffikilties. Um, um! dat man
knows a heap ob dem tings. Miss Hungerford's all right. 'Pears like
dere's good deal ob marryin' roun' de diggins."
"You set the example," I said, "and the rest must follow. Louis and I
expect your hearty congratulations when our day comes to step out of the
"You kin 'pend on good arnest wishes for a heap o' comfort, Miss Em'ly,
but 'stead o' leavin' the world you jes' gits into it; dunno nothin'
'bout livin' till ye hev to min' eberything yourself. But I 'spect
you'll walk along purty happy-like, fur Mas'r Louis he's done got hevin
right in his soul, an' you, Miss Em'ly, 'pears like you's good enough
And the old man stood before me like a picture, his eyes beaming with
the thoughts which filled his soul, utterance to which he could not
wholly give; and I thought they grew like a fire within him, and that
some day, beyond the pale of human life, they would speak with force and
power, and all the buds of beauty there burst into flowers of eternal
loveliness. And I said to him, as he rose to go:
"Your good wishes are worth much to me; I want you always for my
"Dat's jes' what I'se gwine to be," he replied, and as he passed along
the path, I thought I saw the corner of his coat sleeve near his eye.
The 24th of June was a royal day. The blue sky flecked with fleecy
clouds sailing over us like promises; the air sweet with the mingling
breath of flowers (we had multitudes of them about us). The south wind
came up to us as pleasant breaths that sought our own, and the robins
and blue-birds sang in the trees all day the song, "It is well." My
heart echoed their music, and I moved in a dream, and when I felt
Clara's fingers wandering over my hair I could not realize that her
noble Louis was waiting to claim me as his wife - plain Emily Minot. But
the blue-birds' "It is well" covered all these thoughts.
"Just a white dress, Emily, and violets to fasten your hair," said
Clara, "which I will coax to curl for this one day."
And so, from under her hands, I came in a simple toilette of white mull,
with my much-loved violets fastened at my throat and nestling among my
black hair. Not a jewel save the ring that Louis had given me in the
days before, and the chain, which was just one shining thread about my
throat. I must have looked happy, but more than this I could not see,
even though I hazarded a long, full look in Clara's mirror.
But Louis, ah! he should have stood beside a princess, I thought. It was
contrast, not comparison, when I stopped to realize the difference. It
was not his garb that made him regal, for he was clad in a suit of
simple black with a vest and necktie of spotless white.
"A violet or two in your coat lappel?" said Clara.
"No, no, little mother; my royal rose begirt with violets will stand
beside me. Put them in your own brown hair."
And he smiled, as taking them from her hand he placed them in her hair.
"Just a veil over your head, little mother; no bonnets among the wedding
Aunt Hildy insisted at first that she could not "parade around that
church and stand up there before the minister. I'd feel like a reg'lar
At last she changed her mind, but preferred to walk with Ben, and he,
who always loved her well, did not object.
So our entrance by one of the side aisles (the body of the church was
filled with pews) was in the following order: Father, mother and Clara,
Louis and Emily, Hal and Mary, and Ben and Aunt Hildy. The latter would
walk to the church anyway, and when our old carryall reached the door, I
felt like screaming to see her sitting there on the steps fanning
herself with her turkey-feather fan and waiting for us to appear. We all
entered with uncovered heads, and as our feet crossed the threshold the
choir sang one verse of "Praise ye the Lord." Mr. Davis had descended
from his pulpit and stood before it upon a little elevated platform
arranged for special occasions. Mother, father and Clara passed him
where he stood, leaving the place for Louis and myself before him, with
Hal and Mary, Ben and Aunt Hildy at Louis' left. It was a short and
beautifully-worded ceremony, and when my eyes, already moist, looked
upward to the pulpit and noticed a drapery of rose and vine which
encircled it, those same tears fell fast over my cheeks, and while
Louis' "I will" fell as a clear and strong response upon the air, my own
assent was given silently and with only a slight bowing of my head, my
lips murmuring not a syllable. After pronouncing us man and wife, Mr.
Davis, at Louis' request, gave an invitation to all our friends to call