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you tell; you are allus right."

Clara crossed the room, and kneeling on the carpet before her, said:

"My dear soul, is it the one you told me of?"

"Yes, yes," said Jane, "the very one; gall and worm-wood I drank, and
all for him; he ran away and - "

"Yes," added Aunt Hildy, "tell it all. Silas and our boy went with him,
father and son, and Satan led 'em all."

"Has he suffered much?" said Clara.

"Oh, yes, marm, but he says he can't live without me! He hain't never
been married; I'm fifty-four, and he's the same age."

"Jane," said Clara, "I guess it will be all right; let him stay with
you."

"How it looks," interrupted Jane; "they'll all know him."

"Never mind. The Home is a sort of public institution now; let him stay,
and in three weeks I'll tell you all about it."

"Get right up off this floor, you angel woman, and lemme set on the sofy
with you," said Jane.

Louis and I left the room, and after an hour or so Jane went over the
hill, and Aunt Hildy stepped as firmly as before she came. Poor Aunt
Hildy, this was the sorrow she had borne. I was glad she knew they were
dead, for uncertainty is harder to bear than certainty. I wondered how
it came that I should never have known and dimly remembered something
about some one's going away strangely, when I was a little girl. My
mother had, like all Aunt Hildy's friends, kept her sorrow secret, and
she told me it was a rare occurrence for Aunt Hildy to mention it even
to her, whom she had always considered her best friend.

If Jane had not herself been interested, it would have leaked out
probably, but these two women, differing so strangely from each other,
had held their secrets close to their hearts, and for twenty-five long
years had nightly prayed for the wanderers.

Aunt Hildy's husband was a strange man; their boy inherited his father's
peculiarities, and when he went away with him was only sixteen years of
age.

Daniel Turner was twenty-nine, and the opinion prevailed that he left
home because he was unwilling to marry Jane, although they had been for
several years engaged, and she had worked hard to get all things ready
for housekeeping. He was not a bad-looking man, and evidently possessed
considerable strength.

Clara managed it all nicely, and when the three weeks' probation ended,
they were quietly married at Mr. Davis', and Mr. Turner went to work on
the farm which Jane had for many years let out on shares. He worked well
through the rest of the winter, and the early spring found him busy
doing all that needed to be done.

He was interested in our scheme, and felt just pride in the belongings
of the Home, which was really settling into a permanency. We sometimes
had letters of interrogation and of encouragement as well, from those
who, hearing of us, were interested.

Louis often said the day would come when many institutions of this kind
would be established, for the object was a worthy one, and no great need
can cry out and not finally be heard, even though the years may multiply
ere the answer comes.

"Changes on every hand," said Mr. Davis, "and now that the pulpit has
come down nearer to the people, and I can send my thoughts directly into
their hearts, instead of over their heads, as I have been so often
forced to do, we may hope that the chain of our love will weld us
together as a unit in strength and feeling. I almost wish our town could
be called New Light, for it seems to me the world looks new as it lies
about us. The lantern of love, we know, is newly and well trimmed, and I
feel its light can never die; it may give place to one which is larger,
and whose rays can be felt further, but it can never die. I really
begin to believe there is no such thing as death. I dislike the word,
for it only signifies decay. I call it change, and that seems nearer
right."

"So it is, Mr. Davis," said Clara, as he talked earnestly with us of his
interest in the children and the people about us, "for, even as children
are gradually changing into men and women, so shall our expanding lives
forever climb to reach the stature of our angelhood, which must come to
us when we let the perishable garments fall, and the mortal puts on its
immortality. If we all could only see that our Father will help us to
shape these garments even here; could we know that stitches daily taken
in the garment that our soul desires are necessary that it may be ready
for us when we enter there, - how great would be the blessing! This would
relieve death of its clinging fears, and our exit from earth and
entrance to the waiting city would be made as a pleasant journey.

"Louis, dear boy, feels all this, and if the cold hearts of speculative
men could be warmed and softened into an unfolding life, he would not
constantly do battle with the wrong; but truth is mightier than error.
God's love must at last be felt, and when the delay is over, how many
hearts, now deaf to his entreaties, will say with one accord, 'we are
sorry, if we could live our days over, we would help you!'"

Louis did do battle, that is true; he paid due respect to people of all
classes, but fearlessly and trustfully he dealt, both by word and
practice, vigorous blows against all enslaving systems. He said to us
sometimes, that when he went to the mill - as he constantly did, working
until every one of the twenty boys to whom he promised liberty, found
it - he came in contact with three different conditions; he classified
them as mind, heart and soul. "When I talk to them," he said, "or if I
go there on my mission and speak no words, I hear their souls say 'he is
right and we are wrong;' I hear the earthly hearts whisper hoarsely,
'curse the plans of that fellow, he is in our way;' and the worldly
policy of the mind steps forth upon the balcony of the brain and says,
'treat him well, it is the best policy to pursue, for he has money.'
Yes, my Emily, I thank God for the fortune my father left me, hidden in
the silver service. It shall all be used. You and I will use it all. And
was the bequest not typical, its very language being 'a fortune in thy
service, oh, my father!'"

"I never thought of this; how wonderful you are, Louis," I said.

"And you, my Emily, my companion, may our work be the nucleus around
which shall gather the work of ages yet to be, for it takes an age, you
know, to do the work of a year - almost of a day."

Our lives ran on like a strong full tide, and all our ships were borne
smoothly along for four full years. An addition had been made to Jane's
house, and her husband proved loyal and true, so good and kind and
earnest in his work that Aunt Hildy said:

"I have forgotten to remember his dark days, and I really don't believe
he'd ever have cut up so ef Silas had let him alone."

Good Mrs. Davis had sought rest and found it, and a widowed niece came
as house-keeper. John Jones was growing able to do the work he promised
the girls and boys down South, and lectured in the towns around us,
telling his own story with remarkable eloquence for one who had no early
advantages. He was naturally an orator, and only needed a habit of
speaking to make apparent his exceptional mental capacity. Aunt Hildy
was not as strong when 1860 dawned upon us, and she said on New Year's
evening, which with us was always devoted to a sort of recalling of the
past:

"Don't believe I'll be here when sixty-one comes marchin' in."

Clara looked at her with a strange light in her eyes, and said:

"Dear Aunt Hildy, wait for me, please; I'd like to go just when you do."

It was the nineteenth day of April this year, when an answer to a prayer
was heard, and a little wailing sound caused my heart to leap in
gratitude and love. A little dark-eyed daughter came to us, and Louis
and I were father and mother. She had full dark eyes like his, Clara's
mouth, and a little round head that I knew would be covered with sunny
curls, because this would make her the picture I had so longed to see.

"Darling baby-girl, why did you linger so long? We have waited till our
hope had well-nigh vanished," and the dark eyes turned on me for an
answer, which my heart read, "It is well."

Louis named her "Emily Minot Desmonde." It was his wish, and while, as I
thought, it ill suited the little fairy, I only said:

"May she never be called 'Emily did it.'"

"May that be ever her name," said Louis, "for have you not yourself done
that of which she will be always proud, and when we are gone will they
who are left not say of you, 'Emily did it'?

"Ah! my darling, you have lost and won your title, and it comes back
shaped and gilded anew, for scores of childish lips have echoed it, and
'Emily did it' is written in the indelible ink of the great charity
which has given them shelter."

"Louis, too," I said, and he answered:

"Had I not found my Emily, I could never have undertaken it. You cannot
know how I gathered lessons from your happy home. In my earliest years I
was dissatisfied with the life which money could buy. I did not know the
comforts of work and pleasure mingled, and it was here, under these
grand old hills, while communing with nature, I sought and found the
presence of its Infinite Creator; and your smile, your presence, was a
promise to me which has been verified to the letter."

When Clara held our wondrous blessing in the early days of its sweet
life, she looked sometimes so pensively absent that I one day asked her
if she did not wish Emily had come sooner.

"Ah! my Emily, mother; 'tis a wrong, wrong thought, still I cannot deny
it;" and a mist covered her tender eyes. My heart stood still, for I
knew she felt that her hand would not lead our little one in the first
steps she should take, and the thought embittered my joy. I suppose
everybody's baby is the sweetest, and I must forbear and let every
mother think how we cared for and tended the little one, and how our
heartstrings all vibrated at the touch of her little hand, and if she
was ill or worrisome, which she was earthly enough to be, we were all
robbed of our comfort till her smiles came back.

Aunt Hildy was an especial favorite, and she would sit with her so
contentedly, while that dear old face, illumined by the sun of love,
told our hearts it was good for baby's breath to moisten the cheek of
age.

Little Halbert, as we called Hal's boy, was as proud of his cousin as
could be, and my old apple tree, which was still dear, dropped leaves
and blossoms on the heads of the children, who loved to sit beneath its
branches.




CHAPTER XXII.

CLARA LEAVES US.


The year 1861 had dawned upon us, and Aunt Hildy had not left us as she
had expected to.

I said to her, "I believe you are better to-day than you were one year
ago." She folded her hands and looking at me, said:

"Appearances is often deceitful, Emily; I haint long to stay, neither
has the saint among us. Her eyes have a strange look in them nowadays,
and the veins in the lids show dreadful plain; we must be prepared for
it."

I could not talk about this, and how was I to prepare for it? I should
never love her less, and could I ever bear to lose her, or realize how
it would be without her? "Over there" was so far beyond me, I could only
think and sigh and wait; but the symptoms of which Aunt Hildy spoke I
noticed afterward, and it was true her eyelids seemed more transparent,
and her eyes had a watery light.

I knew she was weak, and since the snow had fallen was chilled more
easily than before, and had ventured out but little. I did not desire to
pain Louis, but feeling uneasy, could not rest until I talked with him,
and he said his heart had told him the little mother would leave us ere
long. "If she lives till the fall, we will go down and see Southern
Mary, if we can." Little Emily clung very closely to Clara, and if I had
not insisted on having the care of her, I believe she never would have
asked for me. Mother said we should spoil her, and Ben declared she
"would make music for us by and by." Ben was still interested in his
work, and as busy as a bee the long days through.

"Thirty-three years old," I said to him, "are you never to be married?"

"Guess not," he would reply laughingly, "I can't see how Hal could get
on without me, and I, in my turn, need John. What a splendid fellow he
is! They all like him around us here, and I believe I shall sell out the
mill to him and buy another farm to take care of. He handles logs as
easily as if they were matches. He is a perfect giant in strength."

"Yes, I know, Ben, but he never will live in a saw-mill. John is
destined to be a public man; he will have calls and by and bye will
stand in the high places and pour forth his eloquence. He may buy a
saw-mill, but he will never keep himself in it, no matter how hard he
tries."

"So my cake is all dough, you think, so be it, sister mine;" and baby
Emily received a bear hug from Uncle Ben, who, a moment later, was
walking thoughtfully over the hill.

The eighteenth of March was a cold day, extraordinarily so, tempestuous
and stormy. Louis had been in Boston three days, and we thought the
winds were gathering a harsh welcome for his return. His visits to
Boston were getting to be quite frequent nowadays, for he had found
some warm friends there, who had introduced themselves by letter, and
now they were making united efforts to found a home for
children, - foundlings who were to be kept and well cared for, until
opportunities were presented to place them with kind people in good
homes. He was getting on wonderfully, and I could hardly wait for the
news he would bring to us.

He came at last, and with him an immense square package looking in shape
very like a large mirror or a painting, and I wondered what it could be.
Baby Emily had to be saluted cordially, and both her little arms were
entwined around his neck.

"Now, now, little lady," said Louis, "go to thy royal mother, I have
something to show thee," and taking off the wrappings of the mysterious
package, he placed two life-size portraits before us, saying as he did
so:

"Companion pieces, my life's saving angels - behold yourself, my Emily,
see my fairy mother," and sure enough there we were. A glance at Clara
caused me to exclaim:

"Wilmur Benton painted them."

"Yes, both," he replied. "Are they not beautiful?"

"Mine is not, I am sure, Louis; but your mother's, - oh, how lovely it
is, and as natural as life! It must be the one to which Mary referred."

"It is, my Emily. I secured it long ago, and Mr. Benton has been a long
time at work on yours. He is sadly afflicted, and does not look like the
same man. His wife is dead, and I think he will not himself stay long. I
have been to see him always when in Boston, and would have told you all
before, had I not feared you might, by getting hold of one thread, find
another; Hal knows all about it. But see, Emily, just see yourself as
you are. I told you your eyes should speak from the canvas, and is it
not as well as if my own hand had held the brush?"

I looked the words I could not say, and wondered how it came that this
likeness should have been painted without my being before the artist. It
was years since Wilmur Benton left us, and the picture represented me at
my present age, I thought, and I asked:

"How did he get the expression, Louis?"

"Oh, Emily, he remembered every outline of your face, and with the
greatest ease defined them! Then from time to time, I sat near and
suggested here or there a change, until at last the work was perfected,
which in all its beauty only tells the truth; you do not see yourself
when your face lights up with glorious thought; the depth of your eyes
was to me always a study, and this man, Emily, carries in his heart
to-day the knowledge of your worth; he holds you and my little mother in
fond remembrance. His soul is purified by suffering, and this last visit
I made him has given him strength to tell me his whole life. When with a
sigh he ended his story, he looked at me sorrowfully, and said:

"'I suppose you will despise me now, but I feel that after all your
kindness I must tell you, for it is right you should know. Halbert, I
have never told - it is as well not to do so.'"

"Poor fellow," I said, "and we knew it all before."

"No, not all; his life has been a drama with wonderfully wild, sad
scenes, and the great waves of his troubles and errors have, at times,
driven him nearly crazy. His eldest son is an artist like himself, and
finely organized. The other is in the West with an uncle of his
mother's. Are you sorry I have done all this? Speak, my beloved."

My eyes told him that my heart was glad for the little comfort he could
give this man whose perfidy had given me sorrow, and Clara said:

"To help one lost lamb to find the fold is the blessed work my boy
should always do."

Aunt Hildy raised both hands at sight of our pictures, exclaiming:

"Beautiful! beautiful! Splendid! Louis could not have brought us all a
greater surprise, or one that would have been more highly valued."

Little Emily patted and kissed the faces, and soon learned to designate
them, "pit mam and mam Cla," for pretty mamma and mamma Clara.

A few weeks after this we were sitting together in earnest conversation;
the small, dark cloud hung over us that threatened civil war, and while
I could hardly believe it possible, Louis and Clara said it must come.
Matthias came in of an errand, and sat down to hear us talk, and when
father said, "Oh, no, we shall not have war; those Southerners are too
lazy to fight," he raised both his hands and exclaimed:

"Excoose me fur conterdictin' ye, but, Mr. Minot, ye dunno 'bout dat;
dey'll fight to de end ob time for dar stock. A good many on 'em owns
morin' two hundred, an' its money; it's whar de living comes from. Ef
you gib 'em a chance dey'll show you a big streak, an' fight dey will
for sartin."

The words had hardly left his lips, when Clara said:

"Oh! take me quick, dear boy!"

We all sprang to her side. Ere Louis could put his arms around her, she
fell from her chair like dead.

"Fainted! Water!" said Louis.

"Camfire!" said Aunt Hildy, and I stood powerless to move or speak. I
saw Louis lay her on the sofa, and thought she was dead; the room grew
dark, and I forced myself to feel my way to the door, and leaning
against it would have fallen had not father put his arm about me and led
me through into the entry where I could get some air. When the sickening
swimming feeling left me, and the mist fell from my eyes, I was strong
enough to do something, and kneeling by the side of the motionless
figure, felt her pulse, or rather tried vainly to find it, and put my
cheek to her mouth, whence came no breath.

"Oh! Clara darling, little mother, speak to us, our hearts are breaking!
Oh, Louis! get hot water and flannels, chafe her limbs, put a hot cloth
over the stomach and chest; she is not dead," and putting my head down,
I breathed full, long breaths into her nostrils.

"'Taint no use," said Aunt Hildy, "but we must do it," and she worked
with a will.

"That poor angel woman is done gone," said Matthias. "She couldn't stan'
it. Oh, de Lord!" and he looked the picture of despair.

We were losing hope of resuscitation, and I sank on the floor beside
Louis, who still knelt at the head of the lounge, when a faint sound
came from her lips. We held our breath and listened, and now in a low,
weak voice she said:

"I'll go back, Louis Robert, to say good-bye; I can stay a little
longer; oh! they feel so badly - yes, I must go back," and then long,
deep sighing breaths were taken. A little longer and her eyes
opened - "Louis, Emily, baby, friends, I am here."

"Oh! little mother," said Louis, "where is the trouble?"

She tried to smile, as if to cover all our fears, and said with effort:

"I am weak; I could not hold together; get some of Aunt Hildy's
bitters," and when the glass containing it was held to her lips, she
drank eagerly.

"Take both hands, Louis; let the baby touch me."

"Oh, Clara, don't go!" I said, as I held little Emily near her.

"No, no, not now, but I want help to stay; keep the baby close.

"Matthias, don't go home," she said, and then, closing her eyes, lay so
still and motionless I feared she would never move again.

A half hour had passed and she still looked so cold and white, when
suddenly her eyes opened, and her voice was strong as she said:

"I am better now, I have come clear back, - help me to get up, dear boy,"
and Louis put his arms around her to raise her; as he did so I saw a
strange look pass over her face, and her hands were laid on her limbs.
She turned her beautiful eyes upon me, as if to say "don't be
frightened," and said, "Please move my limbs, there is no feeling
there - they are paralyzed, and I am so glad it is not my hands." I moved
them gently, and thought when she was really herself she would be able
to use them. She seemed now bright and cheerful as before.

The evening wore on; Matthias went home, and at Clara's request Aunt
Hildy occupied a room with her down stairs, Louis carrying her tenderly
to her couch as if she were a child.

Sleep came toward us with laggard steps through the long night; Louis
seemed to realize it all so plainly, and my heart was in my throat. I
tried to hope, and when at last I fell asleep I wandered in dreams to a
wondrous fountain, whose silvery spray fell before me as a gleaming
promise, and I thought its murmuring music whispered, "she will live,"
and her Louis Robert, who stood near me, constantly sang the same sweet
words. I believe my dream really comforted me, for when I woke it clung
to me still, and "she will live" rang in my ears like a sweet bell
chime.

We found her better and like herself, but the lower limbs were cold as
marble, heavy also and without feeling, and we knew it was, as she had
said, "paralysis."

"Now I am to be a burden, my Emily mother, and oh, if you had not called
me back, I would have gone to the hills with Louis Robert! It was not
fancy nor delirium, for I knew that my body was falling. I saw him when
he came and whispered 'now, darling, now,' and when I lost your faces,
he raised me in his arms, and I was going, oh! till somebody breathed
upon me, and warm drops like rain touched my cheek, and I heard your
hearts all say, 'we cannot have it.' This like a strong hand drew me
back, and I thought I must come and say good-bye for a comfort to you
all. So Louis Robert, with his great love waiting for me there, drew
himself away and kindly said, 'I will wait,' - then a mist came between
us, and I opened my eyes to see you all around me."

"Oh, Clara! how can we ever let you go?"

"Ah, my beloved ones! I only go a little before you, and if you knew how
sweet it will be to be strong, you would say, because you love me, 'I
may go.' I have many things to say - and I shall remain with you a time,
and may, I fear, weary you. I am glad Louis is strong."

It was pitiful to see the patience with which she bore her suffering.
There was no pain, she said, but it was a strange feeling not to be
alive - and she would look at her limbs and say, "Poor flesh, you are not
warm any more." We had one of her crimson-cushioned easy chairs arranged
to suit her needs, and in this she could be rolled about. She sat at the
table with us and I kept constantly near her, and tried to shield her
from any extra excitement. When on the thirteenth day of April, news
reached us of the blow which, the day before, had fallen on Sumter, we
feared to let her know it. But her spirit quickened into the clearest
perception possible, divined something, and obliged us to tell her.

She said: "I knew it would come, I have felt it for years, and when the
cruel sacrifice is finished, liberty will arise, and over the ashes of
the slain will say, 'Let the bond go free.'"

Ben's eyes looked as Hal's did, when he left us for Chicago, and he
whispered to me:

"I must go. Hal must stay here; Louis cannot go. John will see to every
thing for me, and I am going."

Six days later he had enlisted, and oh! how filled these days were! When
Matthias heard of it, he came over, and happening to meet me where he
could talk freely, he said:

"Dis is jes' what I knowed was a comin', an' I have tole Ben fur to kill
dat Mas'r Sumner, de fus' ting, for he's the one dat ort fur to be
killed."

"Why, Matthias, you are in a great hurry to kill him, and you really
believe he is to drop right into that terrible fire; why, I could not
hurry a dog out of existence if I thought everlasting torment awaited
him."

"Look a yere, Miss Em'ly, ef dat dog wuz mad, you'd kill him mighty
quick, wouldn't ye?"


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