on us the following evening, and again the choir and the people sang
sweetly and with great feeling, as, turning, we passed down the opposite
aisle toward the door.
When about half way to the door I was conscious of seeing Aunt Peg and
Matthias; a moment more, and she with her white apron, and he with his
high hat full of roses, were walking before us and throwing them in our
When we reached the door they stepped to either side, and still throwing
roses, Matthias said in a tone I shall never forget:
"May de days do for ye jes' what we's doin' now, scatter de roses right
afore ye clear to de end ob de journey."
This touched our hearts, and when we got into the carryall all eyes were
moist, and I of course was crying as if my best friend were dead. Aunt
"Lord-a-massy! wonder he hadn't hit us in the head; that's the queerest
caper I ever did see."
We all laughed heartily, and Louis said:
"My Emily, you are a rainbow of promise; the sun shines through your
We had made preparations to receive our friends Monday evening, and had
huge loaves of cake awaiting with lemonade, and something warm for those
who desired it. An ancient service of rare and unique design was brought
out by Clara for the occasion. It belonged to her husband's family in
France and came to him as an heirloom. The contrast between it and the
mulberry set which mother gave me struck me as singular, but the flowers
and figures of the mulberry ware did not fall into insignificance. They
were to me the embodiment of beauty. Among my earliest disappointments
was the giving of grandmother's china to Hal, and I cried for "just one
saucer," and this was a fac-simile and met a hearty appreciation. I
bedewed it with tears, and Aunt Hildy said it was dretful dangerous to
give me anything, and she should'nt try it.
"You'll want two or three handkerchiefs to cry on to-night, for the
folks'll bring over a lot o' things to you."
"I do not expect a single present, neither desire any if I have to make
a speech," I said.
"Keep close to me, Emily," said Louis, "and I will make the speeches if
it becomes a duty."
I feared Clara would get tired out, but she said:
"Oh, no, they will come early, you know, and go away early also, and
with you and Louis to hold me up I shall be borne on wings!"
At six o'clock they began to appear. We had our supper at four, and were
ready to receive them. Louis and I sat in Clara's sitting-room, and Aunt
"It's my business to 'tend to the comin' in. 'Better to be a door-keeper
in the house of the Lord, than dwell in the tents of wickedness;' so
that's settled." And with this she established herself in a chair before
the open door. Mother was near to assist, and I smiled to hear Aunt
"Good arternoon; lay by your things," until I thought her lips must be
parched with their constant use. I was not prepared for the
demonstration of love and friendship coming from these people of our
town; for, until Louis and Clara came to us, I had, as I told you in the
beginning of my story, not longed for their society, and had found few
for whom I really cared. It was only from learning my duty, when my
eyes, with the years and the wisdom Clara brought, were opened, that I
could see the advantage gained by considering with respect even those
whom I had dominated as selfish. Miserly and mean Jane North had grown
into a different woman, and Deacon Grover had left us, blessing the love
and strength of this wisdom which brought peace to cover the last hour
of struggle; and many hearts, in the quiet ministering of one angel, had
been touched. Home friends were growing round us I knew, but I had no
realization of things as they really were, and the events of this
greeting gave me a substantial evidence which was to my soul a platform.
On it I reared a temple of love, and in the windows of my temple every
face and heart and gift were set, as pure crystal in the sash of
First came the Goodins, and their hands yielded to us thoroughly
appreciated gifts: one dozen linen towels spun, woven and bleached by
the hands of Mrs. Goodwin; her husband adding for Louis the solid silver
knee and shoe buckles his grandfather wore when a revolutionary officer,
the trusty sword that hung by his side, and his uniform coat with its
huge brass buttons, with the trunk of red cedar where for years they
have been kept.
"Thank you," we both said simultaneously, and they passed along for
others to come near. Not one of all that country town forbore to come
and bring also tokens of their kindly feeling. Among the early arrivals
was Jane North. I heard Matthias say:
"Be ye goin' to tote it in there?" and, as Jane answered resolutely, "I
certainly am," I looked toward the door to see what it was that was
approaching. At my feet Matthias dropped his burden, and the donor said:
"There is a goose-feather bed and a pair of pillows, and I picked every
feather of 'em off my geese; them two linen sheets and two pair of
piller-cases done up with 'em I made myself. I want you to use that bed
in your own room, Mis' _De_-Mond (I started to hear that name applied to
myself), and for the sake of the good Lord who sent salvation to me
through your blessed mother-in-law, in prayer for yourself don't never
forget me. I've said all the hateful things I ever mean to."
She held her hands out to us both, and we mingled our tears of gratitude
with those that filled her eyes.
"Thank you," I said.
"God bless your true heart," said Louis, "and may your last days be your
"Amen," said Jane, and she passed into the next room, Matthias putting
the present in a corner where it would take less space. Mr. Davis
followed her, and beside him stood a clock which father had helped him
to bring in.
"This clock, my young friends, is the one which has stood in the corner
of my study for years. I have taken an especial pride in its unvarying
correctness, and the man in the moon is unfailing in his calculation,
showing his face at the appropriate season. The clock's tick is strong
and well becomes the old veteran, and the coat of mahogany he wears is
one that can never need a stitch. To you, above all others, I would
yield this treasure; it is worth far more to me than any gift I might
purchase, and I know that you," turning to Louis, "rejoice in keeping
bright the old-time landmarks linking forever the past and the present."
This brought Louis to his feet, and Clara and myself rose too, for his
arms encircled us.
"Mr. Davis," he said, grasping his outstretched hand, "you have done me
great honor; may I have the pleasure to retain through endless ages the
confidence you place in me and my blessed wife, my Emily."
"The years will brighten the lustre of your true heart," said Mr.
Davis; and here his wife handed me a patchwork quilt, while her husband
"May your lives and loves be welded by a double chain as long as my
wife's handiwork shall last."
It seemed to me I could not bear all this, and when father came forward
at this moment and handed me a deed of some of his best land, I should,
I believe, have screamed had not Louis' hand held me tightly. Gifts
multiplied like flakes of falling snow, until we were surrounded by
them. I can only mention a few more, and before me rise plainly now the
faces of Aunt Peg and Matthias, as bowing low before me they laid at our
feet their offerings.
"Only jest a little intment; that's all they is when we looks at the
rest; but we wanted to bring you sunthin'," said Aunt Peg.
A beautiful mat bordered with her own choice of bright colors, a
clothes-basket made by Matthias, and in the latter three pairs of
beautifully-knitted wool stockings for Louis.
"Peg spun dis wool," said Matthias, "an' de stockins is good: dis
baskit," he added despairingly, "I tried my bes' to put some sky color
on, but I reckin ef de bluin' bottle had jes' spill over it 'twould do
more colorin' and better too. May de Lord help ye to live an' war it
out, and then I'll make another."
"That was a good speech," said Louis, and we shook hands with these two
white-hearted friends, and they also passed on out of sight, leaving me
still at the mercy of the coming.
It seemed to me there could be nothing more to come, when a loud "baa,
baa" started us, and Ben appeared, leading the whitest little lamb you
ever saw. He had tied a blue ribbon about its neck, and it trotted along
up to us as if pleased with the novelty of its situation.
"Your namesake and my gift," said Ben. I was truly surprised, but
thanked him heartily, and the friends about us laughed immoderately.
This caused the lamb to look for some way out, and Ben went with it at a
quick pace, shouting back, "I raised Emily myself, and she's a beauty."
The next surprise was from Hal and Mary - two pieces from the hand of my
artist brother, "Love's Fawn," and "Aunt Hildy." Duplicates of these
were at that time hastening across the water with Mr. Hanson, who was
anxious to take a venture over for Hal. When they were placed before us,
Louis and myself exclaimed admiringly:
Aunt Hildy, who stood near, said, "There, Halbert Minot, you've done it
now!" and passed, like a swift wind through the room. I feared she felt
hurt, but was disarmed of this thought, for she returned in a moment,
and over the statuette she threw her old Camlet cloak.
"That is my present to you two," she said, standing beside it as if
empowered with authority. "To God's children I give this, and you shall
share it with 'em. I make one provision," she added. "Mis'
Hungerford-Dayton is to have the sleeves for carpet-rags; you can cut it
up when she comes. It's all I've got to give; but the Lord will make it
blest." We took this as a crowning joke; and still to me it seemed to
embrace a solid something, and set me dreaming.
When the hour of ten arrived the last of our guests were leaving; and,
as I stood at the door with Louis saying "Good-night," the echo of the
words went ringing over the hills; and when it fluttered back, seemed to
my heart to say, "It will be morning soon."
As we went into the sitting-room, Clara said: "Now that the guests have
all examined my gifts, it will do for my dear ones to look also," and
she led the way into our old middle-room, and pointing to the antique
"These are yours; I have them for my boy. There are false bottoms to the
three largest pieces, and within them you will find the gift your father
left you, Louis, to be given to you when you should become a man. I did
not tell the others of this," she added. "Here, my Emily, is something
you I know will prize, - the set of pearls my Louis Robert gave me on my
wedding day. They are very valuable. Keep them; and if changes should
ever bring want before you, you have a fortune here. See how beautiful
they are." And she held up a string of large, round pearls to which
clung an ornament, in shape somewhat like an anchor, of the same
precious gems, two of which were pear-shaped and very large. The
ear-rings and brooch were of the most exquisite pattern. I had never
seen anything so beautiful, and had no word for expression, and Clara
"Your eyes tell it all, my royal Emily; you are tired, and the night is
Then, kissing us both good-night, Louis gathered her in his arms and
carried her over the stairs, saying, as he turned to come down:
"Pleasant dreams, my fairy mother; your hand is a magic wand."
I could hardly see where we had room for all the gifts that came to us,
for Clara's part of the house was well filled, and Aunt Hildy's
belongings took nearly all the upstairs room we could spare; but by
moving and shifting, and using a little gumption, as Aunt Hildy
expressed it, they were all disposed of properly.
The clock occupied a corner in Louis' room, which had been Hal's studio,
and was now to belong, with one other on Clara's side, to us two. Mother
had said before our marriage:
"I can never let Emily go unless it be absolutely necessary. The boys
are both settled, and I desire Emily to remain here. It would be lonely
for her father and myself should she leave us."
I had no wish to do so, and Louis and Clara were as one in this matter;
so we were to live right on together, and the convenient situation of
the rooms made it pleasant for all concerned.
"Don't want no men folks round under foot," Aunt Hildy said, and there
was no need for it, for Louis' room, while accessible, was out of the
way, and it seemed to me as if the plan had fallen from a hand that knew
our wants better than we knew ourselves. What Louis' work would be, I
could not say, neither could he. To use his own language, as we talked
together of the coming days, "I am to be ready to do daily all that my
hand finds to do; and the work for which I am fitted will, I trust, fall
directly before me." He had a right to be called the "Town's Friend," I
thought, for his active brain and tender heart were constantly bringing
before him some errand of mercy, or act of charity, all of which were
willingly and well performed.
It was not long after our marriage that he was called on to fill Mr.
Davis' place in the pulpit. I trembled to think of it; but you should
have seen Clara when, as we entered the church together, he passed the
pew door to follow Mr. Davis to the pulpit; for the latter, though from
weakness of the bronchial tubes unable to speak, was anxious to be by
the side of his friend, as he verified his prediction. There was a glory
covering Clara's face, and her eyes turned full upon her boy with an
unwavering light of steadfast faith in his power and goodness, as from
his lips fell the text, "If a man die shall he live again?"
His opening prayer was impressively simple, and the text, it seemed to
me, just like a door which, swinging on its hinges, brought full before
his vision the picture of the life that is and the life that is to come.
His illustrations were so naturally drawn, and so beautifully fitted to
the needs of our earthly and spiritual existence, that I knew no words
had ever thrown around the old church people so wondrous a garment of
"If this is all," he said, "this living from day to day, oppressed with
the needs of the flesh, we have nothing to be thankful for; but if, as
I can both see and know, man lives again, we have all to give great
praise, and also rejoice through our deeds, that we are the children of
the eternal Father."
Not a word of utter darkness, not a terrifying picture of a wrathful and
impatient God did he draw, but it was all tenderness and love that found
its way to the hearts of all his hearers; and when, in his own blessed
way, he pronounced the benediction, I felt that a full wave of kindness
covered us all, and I said in my heart:
"Oh, Louis, Emily will help you; Emily will do it!"
Mr. Davis' eyes were bright with gratitude and great joy as he greeted
us after the service, and he whispered to me:
"You are the wife of a minister."
This was only a beginning, and for months after, every other Sabbath
Louis occupied the pulpit, and to the surprise of Mr. Davis, all those
who had become interested in the dispensation of Mr. Ballou, and who had
now for a long time been to the church where we had heard the sermon
which came as dew to my hungry soul, began to come again to the old
church. Louis' preaching drew them there, and they settled in their old
place to hear, as they expressed it, "the best sermons that ever were
preached." This was pleasant. Louis had said:
"I cannot subscribe to the articles of your creed, or of any other, but
am willing and anxious to express to others the thoughts that are within
This made no difference, for they knew he spoke truly, and also that the
armor of his righteousness was made of the good deeds which he performed
daily. It helped Mr. Davis along, and after a time his health became
better; but even then he insisted on Louis preaching often, which he
On the Christmas of this year, 1846, there was service as usual at our
church, and both Mr. Davis and Louis occupied the pulpit. A Christmas
service was not usual save in the Episcopal church, but Mr. Davis asked
this privilege. His father had been a strict Episcopalian, and he had
learned in his early years to love that church. Our people were not loth
to grant his request, and I think this Christmas will never be
We took supper at Hal's with Aunt Phebe, who had come with her husband
to pay us, what Mr. Dayton termed, "a young visit." He had perfect
knowledge of the English language, and power to express himself not only
with words, but with a most characteristic combination of them. He said
his wife felt anxious that he should be on amicable terms with her
consanguineous friends, but he expected we should attribute less of
goodness to him than to her, for "Phebe Ann" was a remarkable woman.
"And this," he added, "is why she appreciates me."
Ben tried in vain to interest him more than a few moments at a time,
even though he displayed his young stock and invited him into the
It was not till he espied a Daboll's Arithmetic in Hal's studio that he
became interested in the belongings of that house, albeit Hal and Mary
had shown him the statuary they so much prized. He looked at the
statuettes and remarked to Hal:
"You do that better than I do, but what after all does it amount to? It
never will save a man from sin; never break a fetter, or dash away a
wine-cup. But what do you know about figures? Do you think you know very
"Not as much as I wish," Ben answered, as Hal smiled at the plain
"I thought so," said Mr. Dayton; "and the very best thing you can do,
young man, is to come down to my house, or perhaps I can come up here,
and gather some really useful and necessary information about figures.
It will make a man of you. I guess you're a pretty good boy, and you
only need brightening up a little."
Hal replied: "I wish you would, Uncle Dayton; that is just what I should
"Well," said he, "it wouldn't do you any hurt to come with him."
"I should come, too," said Mary.
"Come right along," was the reply. At supper time he said he preferred a
simple dish of bread and milk, which he seemed to enjoy greatly, and all
the niceties Mary had prepared were set aside unnoticed.
"Do you know what day you were born on, Ben?" he said.
"I know the day of the month, sir, but not the day of the week."
"Tell me the day of the month and year and I will tell you the day of
"September 6, 1828."
"Let's see," said the philosopher, turning his eyes to the ceiling;
"that came on Saturday."
We all asked the solving of this problem, and the instantaneous result
seemed wonderful. After supper, at our request, he told us his history,
and when we realized that this man had gained for himself all his
knowledge, we looked on him as one coming from wonderland. It was hardly
credible that he should have power to solve the most difficult
mathematical problems, calculate eclipses, as well as do all that could
be required in civil or hydraulic engineering, and that he had
accomplished this by his own will, which, pushing aside all obstacles,
fought for the supremacy of his brain life. His father desired him to
have no book knowledge, and he told us that when a young boy he would
wait for sleep to close his father's eyes, and would then, by the light
of pitch-pine knots and birch-bark in the fireplace, pursue his studies.
This was pursuing knowledge under difficulties which would have proved
insurmountable to many. But not so to Mr. Dayton, for he steadily
gained; and though to an utter disregard for his unquenchable thirst for
knowledge was added the daily fight for bread, he rose triumphantly
above these difficulties, and mastered the most intricate mathematical
calculation with the ease which is born only of a superior development
of brain. Matthias had told us truly, and when he left us for his home
we felt that in him we found new strength for much that was good and
true, and for abhorrence of evil.
During this visit the Camlet cloak was brought out, and Aunt Phebe and I
together ripped out the sleeves. She said they would make a splendid
green stripe in a carpet, and in her quiet, careful way she sat removing
their linings, when she started as if frightened, exclaiming:
"Why, Emily, what on earth does this mean?"
"What is it?" I said, and she held before me in her hand a long brown
paper, and within its folds were two bills of equal denomination.
"I wonder if this one has anything in it?" I said, and even as I said it
my fingers came upon a similarly folded paper, and two more bills were
brought to light. They were a valuable gift, and Aunt Phebe's gratitude
gave vent in a forcible way, I knew, for Aunt Hildy told me afterward
she thanked her "e'en a'most to death." I could hardly wait to rip the
body of the cloak, and my surprise was unbounded when I discovered its
There were two sums of money left in trust with us, and in her dear,
good way she had made us wondrously grateful to her for the faith she
had reposed in us; a deed of some of her land, which the street had cut
into, which she desired us to use for some one who was needy, unless we
ourselves needed it; and in the last sentences of her message to us she
"If ever anybody belongin' to me comes in your path, give 'em a lift. I
can trust you to do it, and the Lord will spare your lives, I know.
Don't tell any livin' soul, Emily." This was a sacred message to both
Louis and myself, and I should feel it sacrilege to write it all out
here, even though I much desire to.
Dear Aunt Hildy! when we essayed to thank her, she said:
"There, there, don't say a word; I've allus said I'd be my own
executioner, (I did not correct her mistake), and I know that's the way.
You see, some day I'll go out like a candle, for all my mother's folks
died that way, so I want to be ready. The other side of the house live
longer, more pity for it too. They've handed down more trouble than you
know, but I aint like one of 'em; it's my mother I belong to."
It seemed to me now that the years went like days and the first five
after our marriage, that ended with the summer of 1851, were filled for
the most part with pleasant cares. I was still my mother's girl, and
helped about the house as always before. Of course, some sorrows came to
us in these years, for changes cannot be perfectly like clear glass. Hal
and Mary had held to their hearts one beautiful Baby blossom, who only
lived four months to cheer them, and then passed from their brooding
tenderness on to the other side. We sorrowed for this, and "Love's Fawn"
had pale cheeks for a long time. Hal feared she would follow her child,
and it might have been had not a somewhat necessary journey across the
Atlantic brought great benefit to her.
The venture Mr. Hanson had made had proved so eminently successful, that
when, this year, he again went to the Old World, it was deemed wise and
right for them to accompany himself and family. I almost wanted to go,
too, and when Hal sent back to us his beautifully written account of all
he saw, I stood in spirit beside him, and anticipated many of his
proposed visits. They both returned with improved health and added
The mining fever of 1849 took a few of our townspeople from us. Aunt
Phebe wrote us that her second son had gone to find gold, and Ben had a
little idea of trying the life of a pioneer; but the sight of the
waiting acres, which he hoped some day to call his, detained him, and he
still kept on making a grand success of farming, for he was doing the
work he desired and that which he was capable of carrying to a
Louis' work had lain in all directions; helping Mr. Davis still as his
varying strength required, interesting himself in the improvements about
us, etc. Gradually widening the sphere of his influence, slowly but
surely feeling his way among human hearts, he could not fail to be
recognized, and after a time to be sought for among such as needed help.
No appeal was ever made in vain from this quarter.
Capitalists, who had reared in the village below us a huge stone mill
designed for the manufacture of woolens, had made advances which he did
not meet as desired, for their system of operating was disloyal, he
said, to all true justice, encroaching, as it did, upon the liberties of
a class largely represented in this, as well as in all other towns.