I'll burst into a song.
I cried almost aloud for great joy. My father and mother were moved, and
when they saw my tears united their own. To our great surprise, after
the service we learned that the professor was the guest of our cousin,
Belinda Sprag, and at her house after dinner I had an opportunity to say
"Mr. Ballou, call me your child, for you have to-day baptized me. I am a
Universalist, I know, for I love your doctrine."
"Bless you, my daughter," was his reply. "God finds His own through
time. May your young heart be made strong, and your life blossom with
roses that have no thorns."
That was great honor to me; the touch of that hand on my head; those
words addressed to me. We all went home, having had a feast of good
things, and our blessed Clara, who had been the means of leading us to
the light, sat all the way as in a dream, only saying:
"I have long known it was true."
Ben added his testimony to the rest.
"When I die," said he, "I want that man to preach my funeral sermon, if
he will, and if he can't, I don't want any at all."
Dear boy, he had a loving heart; he was born later than either Hal or
me, and had an earlier spiritual development. Is it not always so?
I could not enjoy my new thoughts in silence as Clara did, and gave vent
to my theme in the strongest terms. Hal did not ridicule me at all: he
was too sensible for this, but he smiled at my strong expressions, and
"You will preach yourself if you keep on, and I believe you would make
converts. Your eyes are as large again as they were this morning."
"Then it must improve my looks, Hal," I said. "If so, I am glad, for in
that respect I have always stood in the background. My brother is an
artist, and must, of course, have the handsome face."
He laughed again, and added:
"He will never be ashamed of his sister, I think, and never say 'Emily
did it,' even if she turns preacher."
Mr. Benton enquired - with his eyes - the meaning of those words.
"Oh! Hal was forever shouting that in my earlier years at my many
mistakes, until I almost hated the sound of my own name, for I was
always doing the very things I tried not to, and I fear I have not
finished all yet. And I thought, for a little, of the wrong light in
which Mr. Benton held my strange talk with him.
I was each day more troubled regarding this, and especially so, since I
had no one to talk with about it. Clara I must not tell, and I had
resolved for her sake to be misunderstood indefinitely, for if I had
failed in one point, I had gained in another. The burden was lifted from
her, and she had told me the cloud was broken and she felt better, and
added the strange words, "It may yet come near me; it seems as if a
fringe of the cloud must yet touch me: but I am relieved for the
I feared to worry my mother, who, during all these days, was very busy
and full of care. Aunt Hildy would hardly understand me, and as I was
waiting for something to move as it were, to make room for me to step, I
must still wait, and thought what a pity it was I had not waited in the
beginning, and then when I did move make all things plain. But then it
lay before me, around and within me, this strange compound of good
thought and impulsive will, and I must reach and fall until, ah! I could
not tell when I should graduate in this school.
I had now power to restrain myself in many ways, and that had been given
in the days before described, when I passed from girlhood to womanhood,
but to sit satisfied and wait, I could not yet do. It seemed as if the
wings of my thought must grow, and wanted to help me fly, and I was like
a bird longing to get into the freedom that waited, and like the bird
too, did not realize that my attempts would be in vain, and I could
never get out of the cage until a hand opened its door. Therefore, full
often I battled unwisely, but I certainly came to know those times, and
never made a mistake that I did not realize just a moment too late. How
foolish it was!
I prayed for strength, and after the baptism of Mr. Ballou's preaching,
I thought, "This will help to make me stronger; now I shall make fewer
This was a comfort and a light before me, but my heart sank a little,
thinking I might have penance to do for those already committed, - coming
events cast their shadows before.
So full of this thought my heart grew, that I asked Aunt Hildy one day
if she ever felt trouble before it came, and if that feeling had ever
helped her to avoid any part of what was to come.
"Well," said she, - she was coring and paring apples for pies, - taking up
the towel and wiping one apple three or four times over in an absent
way, "Well, Emily, I've had a host of troubles in my day. They began
early, perhaps they'll end late, but there is one thing, the things we
expect are agoin' to kill us, most allus turn out like the shadder of a
gate post. You know the shadder sometimes will be clean across the road,
but when you find the post itself 'taint more'n five feet high. Then
again the things we don't expect 'll come some morning like a great
harricane, and kill the marigolds of the heart in just a minit."
I was sorry for her sake I had asked the question, for I knew there was
something she thought of that pained her dear old heart, and I kissed
her wrinkled cheek and said:
"I hope you will always be with us, and trouble have no part in the
"There, there, child, don't talk so; never mind kissin' my old face
neither, I've allus said it only made it worse to think of it, and I've
shut up my heart tight and done the best I could as it comes along. When
I get in that new body I shall have over there," and her tearful eyes
were looking upward then, "perhaps I can hope to have some love that'll
touch that empty spot."
I turned to my work and left Aunt Hildy with the shadows of the past
clinging about her, her feelings being too sacred for the gaze even of a
friend. Every heart knoweth its bitterness, I thought, and secretly
wondered if every heart had to bleed a little here, holding some sorrow
close to itself. If so, our duty in life would ever be a struggle,
whereas it seemed to me the world was so beautiful, and if every life
could reflect this beauty, all would be easy, and the pleasure of
well-doing be always at hand.
Aunt Peg said 'twas easy enough to preach, but hard work to practise. I
began to realize it a little, and the teacher who gave me the most
practical illustrations was myself.
I wrote a long letter to Louis, telling him of our going to hear Mr.
Ballou preach, and of Matthias' coming among us, and I felt like making
him my confessor, and wanted to tell him all about the frantic endeavor
I had made for Clara's sake; but my letter was long enough when I felt
this impulse, and I thought I could talk it all over with him when he
came, and concluded to wait. And here is another lesson, for me to stop
and reflect on. As time proved, that impulse was right, and I should
have followed its guidance, while the sober second thought which I
obeyed and of which I felt proud, led me to just the opposite of what I
ought to have done. How was I to find myself out? If I yielded to
impulse I was so often wrong, and in that instance I should certainly
have been impulsive. Again comes in the text, "the ways of life are past
Mr. Benton improved every opportunity to talk with me, and while I did
not like the man at first, I became gradually interested in what he
said; and when, in confidence, he informed me that Hal was in love with
Mary Snow, I had a secret joy at receiving his confidence. He was
eighteen years older than myself, and after my mind was settled
regarding the wrong estimate in which I had held him, I treated his
opinions with more deference than over before, and came to regard him as
a good friend to us all.
I intimated to Clara one day that he was a much better man than I had
thought, and she gave me no reply, but looked on me with a light of
wonder in her eyes.
"He does not trouble you now, Clara, does he?"
"Not as before, Emily."
"Well, does he at all?"
"I cannot say I feel quite at ease, Emily dear," she replied.
And I said: "It is your beautifully sensitive nature, darling; you
cannot recover the balance once lost, and the tender nerves that have
been shaken are like strings that after a touch continue to vibrate."
"Perhaps so, Emily, but I shall be so glad when the day comes when no
mask of smiles can cover the workings of the heart, so glad; when we can
really know each other."
"Those are Louis' sentiments."
"Oh yes, my dear boy! he has a heart that beats as mine, Emily, and
after many days it shall come to pass that the desires of his heart
shall be gratified."
Something in her tone and manner made me feel strangely; a chill crept
over me, and for a second I felt numb.
It passed away, however, and through the gate of duty I found work, and
left these thoughts.
When March came to us, father insisted that mother should go to Aunt
Phebe's, if we could get along without her - she had a little hacking
cough every spring, and he knew she needed the change. It was decided
that she should go and stay a month, if she could keep away from home so
long. Aunt Hildy said: "Why, Mis' Minot, go right along. Don't you take
one stitch of work with you neither. Go, and let your lungs get full of
different air, and see what that'll do for you. Take along some
everlasting flowers I've got, and make a tea and drink it while you're
there, and let the tea and the air do their work together."
So, although it was a trial to mother to leave home, she went, and we
were to be alone. There were a good many of us, but it seemed to me, the
first week, that her place would not be filled by twenty others, and
while I enjoyed the thought of her being free from care, I walked out in
the cold March wind alone every night after supper, and let the tears
fall. If I had been indoors Clara would surely have found me. It was on
one of these walks that Mr. Benton overtook me, and passed his arm
within mine, saying:
"What does this mean, Emily," he dropped "Miss Minot" soon after the
first talk, "this is the fifth time I have seen you go out at this hour
alone; what is the matter? Are you in trouble?"
"And if I am," I said, "what have you to do with it?" at the same time
trying to release his arm from mine.
"I have the right of a dear friend, I hope," he said, and the tears that
would keep falling forced a confession from me and provoked his
laughter, which grated on my ears at first, but he begged pardon for its
seeming rudeness, and said he was thinking only of my going over the
hills to cry, when I could have a whole house to fill with tears.
We walked farther than I intended, and Matthias passed us on his way
over to his "ground room."
I said, "Good evening, Mr. Jones," and he saluted me with uncovered
"De Lord keep you, miss, till mornin'."
Realizing how far we had walked, I turned hack so suddenly that Mr.
Benton came near being pushed into the stone wall on the old road
corners. On our return he spoke of Matthias.
"I don't like that fellow anyway, Emily."
"Don't like him! why not, pray?"
He gave a sort of derisive ejaculation, and added:
"You are a little simpleton, Emily, so good and true, you take all for
"Well," I replied, "Matthias is good, I know; but why do you dislike
"Oh! he belongs to a miserable, low-lived, thievish race, and he knows
enough to be a dangerous fellow to have round. If I were you I'd not
encourage his hanging round; he'll do something to pay you for your
A REMEDY FOR WRONG-TALKING.
I could not believe what Mr. Benton said of Matthias, and did not
refrain from speaking of it to Clara, whose opinions were golden to me,
and her reply was perfectly in accordance with my own feelings. Each
took her own route to the conclusion, but her interpretation came as an
intuitive perception, while mine was more like something which fell into
my mind with a power whenever his eyes met my own.
"Emily," said Clara, "I have taken his dark hand in mine. I have come
close to his white heart, when from his lips have fallen the words
telling his history, and I would trust him everywhere. If any trouble
comes to you, Emily, trust Matthias; he is as true as truth itself, and
his soul is pure - purer, perhaps, than the souls of many who have had
great advantages, and whose forms have been molded in a more beautiful
shape. Our Father judges from within; let our judgment be like his."
This was good for me to hear. I felt glad that I could sometimes come so
near to Clara's thoughts. I was greatly wrought upon by Matthias' tales
of the South; and yet he venerated the people of that country, and
"The Northerners are too cold-blooded: they didn't invite folks to have
a bite without first feelin' in their pockets to see if they could find
I knew nothing from experience of Southern hospitality, but believed all
he told me, and I thought it the greater pity that such a lovely land
should be so marred with this terrible trade in lives, and I said to
Clara, when we were discussing this subject:
"Is it not too bad, and does it seem possible that this great evil will
be suffered to endure forever?"
"No," said Clara, "neither possible nor probable. I may not live to hear
with these earthly ears the glad news, but you, Emily, will live to see
the bond go free, and the serpent of slavery lie at the feet of America,
who will place her heel on its crushed and bleeding head. This will be,
must be, and the years will not number so very many between now and
"Why do you think so, Clara?"
"Oh! I do not think it; I know it to be true; I have long known it; it
stands by the side of the beautiful truth we have heard from the lips of
that venerated preacher, Emily, and I cannot see why we may not all be
in some measure the recipients of these truths, for they lie all around
us on every hand. Did you ever read, Emily, of the man called Dr. De
"Never," said I; "tell me, please, his history."
"It was printed about 1783. I think I have it."
"Well, tell me, Clara, a little; I cannot wait for that now."
She smiled and said:
"Dear child, how glad I am that you have so good a heart, and some day
these impulses will drive your boat on the shore of peace that lies
waiting for us on the bay of truth. But you are anxious and I will tell
you. Dr. George De Benneville was the son of a Huguenot, who fled to
England from persecution, and was employed at court by King William. His
mother was a Granville, and died soon after his birth in 1703. He was
placed on board a ship of war - being destined for the navy - at the early
age of twelve years, and received on the coast of Barbary singular
religious impressions, induced, it is said, by his beholding the
kindness of the Moors to a wounded companion. He had great doubts
regarding salvation, but after suffering for months with doubts, the
light was made clear to him, and he held to his heart the faith in a
universal restitution. His great sense of duty led him to preach, and he
commenced in the Market-house of Calais in his seventeenth year. He was
fined and imprisoned, but did not desist. He sought and found
co-laborers, and persisted two years in preaching in the woods and
mountains of France. At Dieppe he was seized, and with a friend, Mr.
Durant, condemned. Durant was hanged, and while the preparations for
beheading De Benneville were in progress, a reprieve from Louis IX
arrived, and after a long imprisonment in Paris, he was liberated
through the intercession of the Queen."
"Good," I said, "she had a heart."
"He then spent eighteen years in Germany preaching and devoting himself
to scientific studies, and at the age of thirty-eight he emigrated to
this country. He claimed no denominational name, but preached this
glorious truth. I can come nearer to him than any other whose history I
have known, for was he not called of God, and did he not fulfil his
mission gloriously? He was ill on board the ship which brought him to
America, and when it arrived in Philadelphia, a man by the name of
Christopher Sower came on board, saying he was looking for a man who was
ill, and whom he wished to take to his house. This man Sower was also
divinely led, for he received a commandment in a dream to go seven miles
from his home in Germantown to a certain wharf in Philadelphia, and
inquire on board a ship just arrived for a man who was ill, to take him
home and to specially care for him. He hitched his horse to his
carriage, and followed the instructions of his dream."
"Were these facts the doors that led you out into light?" I asked.
"I never read these facts, Emily, until after my vision was made clear,
and I saw the future that lives and waits for all."
"Girls," called Aunt Hildy, "ef you've got through with the meetin', I
want to ask about these biscuit; I'm afraid they're going to be poor;
come look at 'em, Emily."
"The biscuit are all right, Aunt Hildy. Did you hear what the preacher
"No, not really, heard all I could without neglectin' of my work."
"She has been telling me a story of a good man. We will ask her to
"Perhaps," said Aunt Hildy, "more'n just you and I will hear her. I
can't see how all these ideas are comin' out, and 'pears to me, it looks
as ef we'd got to meet, and have a battle somewhere before long. The
troubles are simmerin' over the fire of different minds, and I shall
never sell my birthright over a mess of pottage; that's jest what I
shan't do. It has stuck to me where everything else has failed, and I'm
never agoin' to let go of it."
I knew to what she alluded, for our good minister had stirred the waters
with his sermons, and they were, of course, induced by his fearing the
progress of liberal thought in our midst. We had ourselves received a
sermon evidently directed at us, which described the act of going to
hear Mr. Ballou as a wrong step. Even if we had not been clear-sighted
enough to have taken the sermon to ourselves, we should have been
reminded of it by the looks of some of the congregation, who sought out
our pew with strong reproof in their eyes; among those whose eyes met
mine in this manner, I remember most distinctly Jane North and Deacon
Grover. I smiled involuntarily, and with a glance of horror at my
wickedness, they turned their faces toward the preacher.
Clara was not with us that Sabbath, for which I was glad. I wondered
what would be done, and the week after mother left us, Jane North came
over, and I expected to hear some talk concerning it.
She brought her knitting in a little gingham bag on her arm, and there
was no way to get rid of her or of her coming talk, which, I confess, I
"Oh, dear!" I said to Clara, "that wretched meddler is coming. What
shall we do with her?"
"I will try and help you, Emily. Perhaps she has a good heart after all,
and meddles only because her conditions in life have fitted her for
"It isn't so, Clara; she tells stories about everybody; I would not
believe her under oath."
"Charity," she said softly, and through the door came Jane.
"Good afternoon, Emily."
"Take a seat," I said, bowing.
"Good afternoon, Mis' Densin," to Clara.
"Mrs. _De-mond_," I said, pronouncing the name rather forcibly.
"Oh! _De_-mond is it?" with accent on the first syllable
"That is more like it," said Clara. "How do you do to-day? let me take
"Don't feel very scrumptious, and ain't sick neither, kinder so so. How
are all here? I heard Mis' Minot was gone. Ain't you lonesome?"
"We do miss her sadly," said Clara.
"Gone to a weddin', ain't she?" I laughed aloud.
"Only for a change," said Clara.
"Why, Mis' Grover" -
Clara waited for no news, but said quickly:
"You were very kind, thinking we were lonely, to come over and see. Come
into the other side of the house," and she led the way to her
"Oh! ain't this be-yoo-ti-ful! What a wonderful change from the old side
of this house! I declare, I should think Mr. Minot would be thankful
enough for this addition to his house."
"Oh! I am the one to be thankful," said Clara, "he was so kind as to
build it for me."
"Oh! he built it, hey; with his own money, did he?"
"Certainly, he never would use any other person's. Cousin Minot in a
very nice man."
"Is he your cousin?" said Jane in astonishment.
"Why, of course he is. Did you not know of it?"
"Never heard of it before."
"What are you knitting?" said Clara.
"Stockings," was the monosyllabled reply.
"Did you ever knit silk?"
"Shouldn't think I did. I ain't grand enough to afford that."
"You could, though, I know," said Clara.
"Why, I dunno, - praps so." Jane North was foiled, and she succumbed as
gracefully as she could, although awkwardly enough; but Clara went on:
"I have some beautiful silk thread, I have had it for years. My
grandfather's people, over in France, were silk weavers. It is through
my mother that I am related to Mr. Minot; my father's people were
French," she said, noticing an incredulous look in the eyes of Jane. "I
have a lot of silk in thread and floss: I'll get the box and show it to
you," and she did.
My own curiosity led me into the room - I had stood back of the door all
this time - and the silk was beautiful; rich dark shades and fancy colors
mingled, and a quantity of it too. Although kept so long, it was strong,
having been of such fine material.
"Sakes alive! I should be scar't to death to own all that," said Jane.
"Well," said Clara, "if you will show me how to knit some for myself, I
will be willing to scare you a little. I would like to give you enough
to make a pair or two of stockings for yourself. Chose your own colors,"
and she emptied the contents of the box on the lounge at her side.
"You don't mean it, Mis' De-mond."
"Certainly I do, take any shade you prefer, and if Emily has needles, we
will go right to work on our cutting."
The right string was touched, the cutting started, and when Jane North
left us, she whispered to me:
"I like that woman, and I don't care whether she is a Baptist, or what
she is, she's a lady."
Those stockings averted much, for her head was full of wonder talk.
I reminded Clara of the indignation she felt at her expressions, when
she first saw her, and told her I did not suppose she ever would desire
to look at her again.
"Why, Emily," she said, "I never feel like annihilating people whose
ideas are all wrong. They are but representatives at the most, and I
would rather desire to help these eaters of husks to find the true bread
that shall bring to them comfort and peace. I should wish to fill their
hearts so full that the rays of this inner light shall radiate around
them, touching with the magic of good deeds all the suffering our world
contains. This would leave no empty rooms in the house of our
understanding; all would be filled with tenants of good-will and loving
faith, bearing charity and love each toward the other; and uncultivated
fields would be found no more. I thought if I could touch Miss North in
the right spot, I might fill her mind, for a few brief hours at least,
with something beside her gossip. If this could be done every day in the
week, she would lose sight of it altogether, and like a tree engrafted
with better fruit, on these new thought-branches beautiful wisdom
apples might grow and ripen. If she comes again I will find something
as new to her, I hope, as I have found to-day."
"What a wonderful compound you are, Clara," I said, "and what perfect
symmetry nature has given to you, while I am your antipodes."
"What's that you are calling yourself?" said Aunt Hildy.
"Oh, something just different from all that is good and true enough to
belong to Clara!"
"'Pears to me you're gettin' some dretful big word now-a-days; when you
want me to understand you, talk plain English."
Hal, who had entered that moment, laughed heartily. "So I say, Aunt
Hildy. Our Emily is going to be a blue-stocking, I fear. Housework will
suffer before long, for housework and book cannot go together."
"No more than ploughs and plaster," I added.
"Not a bit more, sister mine," and he passed his arm around my
waist, - he often did this now-a-days, - and whispered, "give me a chance
to say something to you."
I nodded an assent, and he passed on through the room, whistling to