Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth.

India: the pearl of Pearl River online

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that his destination was some north-western town,
whence, as soon as he should become settled, he should
write. He gave this letter in charge of the landlord,
to be forwarded as soon as his uncle should return
from the North. He then mounted his horse, and
took the road to Natchez, whence he intended to em-
bark in a steamboat up the Mississippi. He reached
the city by nightfall, and found his baggage, sent by
the stage-coach, had arrived in safety. He took the
boat that passed that night ; and the next morning
he found himself many miles on his way up the river.

" The world was all before him, where to choose
His place of rest, and Providence his guide."

And to a young, adventurous, hopeful spirit, this
uncertainty, joined to liberty, was not without its pe-
culiar charm. During the greater part of the day he
remained on deck, with a spy-glass in his hand, ex-
amining the face of the country on either side of the
river. The lawns and villages on the Lower Missis-
sippi did not attract him in the least degree. Their
situations were low their beach sluggishly washed
by the thick and murky water their thoroughfare
wet and muddy their general aspect unwholesome
to the last degree.

But, farther up the river, and above the mouth of the


Ohio, the country and the colour of the water began
to change. High bluffs, gray old rocks, and gigantic
woods, diversified the shores crystal creeks and ver-
dant islets varied the river. He approached the fine
" Eock Kiver country."

Beautiful as a poetic vision of Elysium, had seemed
the luxurious valley of the Pearl.

But this gigantic scene Eock Eiver, Eock Island,
with the opposite shores of the Mississippi, widening
here into a lake-like expanse had a breadth of gran-
deur, a Titanic vigour and vitality of beauty, the
most consonant, the most imposing and encouraging,
to his own young energetic spirit.

The boat stopped opposite the village of S , just

as the morning mist was rolling away before the sun,
and revealing the scene in all its picturesque beauty,
and fresh life. The young city was but two years old
yet, infant of the Titaness West, it was growing
and thriving most vigorously. Here, then, Mark
Sutherland determined to take up his abode here to
live and labour. He ordered his baggage into the
boat, and stepped in after it, and was swiftly rowed to
the shore. Here, too, in order to begin aright and
betimes, he shouldered his own trunk, while a porter
followed with his box of books, and wended his way
to the hotel on the hill.




" Isabella. 'Tis a babbling world

"Mr. Gravet. Oh! 'tis an atrociout world !

(It will be burnt up one day that's a comfort." London Airurance.

EIGHTEEN months have passed since Mark Suther-
land left his home. Eighteen months of persevering
study, of unsuccessful effort, and of varied wanderings,
find him, at the close, in Cincinnati, quite penniless,
and nearly hopeless. His efforts to find employment
here are unavailing. He has not even the means to
pay his board a situation in which many a worthy
and promising young man has found himself, who has
afterwards nevertheless risen to fame or fortune.
Embarrassing and discouraging enough is the position
while occupied, however piquant to look back upon.

In a listless and disappointed mood, Mark Sutherland
entered the reading-room of the hotel, and, taking up
the daily papers, began to look over their columns, to
see if any new want of a clerk or an agent had been
advertised, which might hold out the hope of employ-
ment to him. At last, in the Intelligencer, his eye
lighted upon an advertisement for a classical and
mathematical teacher. The candidate was required
to produce the highest testimonials of character and
competency, and requested to apply through the office
of that paper. Mr. Sutherland's classical and mathe-
matical attainments were far above mediocrity, and


the references he could give were unexceptionable.
He felt therefore certain of being able to offer more
than an equivalent for the salary. He saw, too, that
the office of a teacher, by leaving him many hours of
the day, and the whole of Saturdays and holidays free,
would afford him ample leisure for the pursuit of his
legal studies.

He called for writing materials, and immediately
wrote and mailed a letter of application. He was
scarcely anxious about the result only a little inter-
ested to know whether he should get the situation,
and what sort of a one it would be, when it was got ;
whether it would be the place of assistant in a public
academy, or that of tutor in a private family ; also,
whether his temporary home should be in the cold
North or the sunny South, the populous East or the
sparsely-settled West, or in the indefinite country
between them ; lastly, with what sort of people he
should find himself.

But, upon the whole, he scarcely hoped to get a
response to his application, as the paper containing
the advertisement was several days old when he first
saw it. Therefore, when days passed into weeks, and
weeks became a month, he gave up all hopes of ob-
taining an answer, without much disappointment.

At length as generally happens after expectation
sickens and dies, and is buried the unlooked-for
letter arrived. It contained a proposition from Colo-
nel Ashley, of Virginia, to engage Mr. Sutherland as
private tutor, to prepare his two younger sons for the
university, offering, in remuneration, a very liberal
salary, and requesting, in the event of Mr. Sutherland's


acceptance, that he would reply promptly, and follow
his own letter in person as soon as possible.

Mark sat down and wrote at once, closing the con-
tract, and promising to be at Ashley by the first of

It was now near the last of February. He sold his
horse, paid his bill at the hotel, and having money
enough remaining to take him to Virginia, left the
same afternoon by the steamboat up the river, and
met the stage at Wheeling. After two or three days'
travelling upon the turnpike road, through the most
sublime and beautiful mountain and valley scenery in
the world, he arrived, late one evening, at the little
hamlet of Ashley, situated in a wild and picturesque
gap of the Blue Ridge.

Here, at the little inn, he ordered supper, and pur-
posed to spend the night. But he had scarcely en-
tered the little bed-room allotted to him, with the in-
tention of refreshing himself with ablutions and a
change of dress, before the head of the host was put
through the door, and the information given that
Colonel Ashley's carriage had come to meet Mr.
Sutherland, and was waiting below. He finished his
toilet, however, before leaving his room.

He found the parlour occupied by two boys, of
about thirteen and fifteen years of age, disputing the
possession of a pistol, which, in the wrestle that en-
sued, went off harmlessly. And before Mark could
reprove them for their imprudence, they came to meet
him. The elder lad, cap in hand, inquired, respect-

"Are you Mr. Sutherland, sir?"

" Yes, my son ; have you business with me ?"


" Father has sent the carriage for you, sir that is
all. My name is Henry he's Eichard. St. Gerald,
you know, is in Washington. He is in Congress, you
know, and has made a great speech father says, one
of the greatest speeches that has been made since"

" Ohj slio ! He's a great deal older than we are,
Mr. Sutherland ; and he's only our half-brother be-
sides. You don't know every thing," said the younger
boy Richard, addressing the last phrase, accompanied
by a punch in the side, to his brother.

" I am happy to meet you, Henry how do you do,
Richard ?" said Mr. Sutherland, giving a hand to
each of the boys.

"And so," he added, smiling to himself, and at
them, "this new star of the Capitol this eloquent
and admired St. Gerald Ashley is a relative of

" Our brother," said Henry.

" Our AaZ/'-brother," amended Richard, favouring
his senior with another malicious punch in the ribs.

Hereupon another scuffle ensued, which Mr. Suther-
land ended, by saying

" Come shall we go on to Ashley Hall, or will you
take supper first, here, with me?"

" Take supper first here, with you," assented the
boys, who could have been tempted by nothing but
the novelty to forego their father's sumptuous supper-
table for this poor tavern meal.

" It was kind to come and meet me. But how did
you guess that I should arrive this evening ?"

" Oh, we did not guess. Father thought it about
time you should come, and he sent the carriage, and
intended to send it every stage-day until you did come,


or write, or something. Father would have come
himself, only he staid home to read St. Gerald's great

"St. Gerald" was evidently the hero of Henry's

While they supped, their horses were fed and
watered. And, half an hour afterwards, Mr. Suther-
land and his pupils entered the carriage, and were
driven to Ashley Hall. It was quite dark when the
carriage drew up before the door of a large, rumbling
old building of red sandstone, scarcely to be distin-
guished from the irregular masses of rock rising be-
hind and around it. A bright light illumined the
hall, where the travellers were received by a negro
man in waiting, who would have conducted them into
a drawing-room on the left, but that Henry and
Eichard, breaking violently forward, threw open the
door upon the right, exclaiming

" Father is here. He is come, father ! We found
him at the village."

A genial wood fire blazed and crackled in the wide,
old-fashioned chimney of this room ; and near it, in
an easy chair, beside a candlestand, sat an old gentle-
man, engaged in reading a newspaper. No whit dis-
turbed by the boisterous onslaught of the boys, he
calmly laid aside his paper and stood up an under-
sized, attenuated old man, with a thin, flushed face,
and a head of hair as white and soft as cotton wool.
He stood, slightly trembling with partial paralysis,
but received Mr. Sutherland with the fine courtesy of
an old-school gentleman.

The boys hurried about their own business.

The man-servant placed an arm chair for Mr.


Sutherland. And when the latter was fairly seated,
the old gentleman resumed his own seat, and inquired
whether his guest had supped. Being answered in
the affirmative, he nevertheless ordered refreshments
to be served there.

A stand, with wine, sandwiches, cake, and fruit was
placed between them; and while they discussed these,
the old gentleman, in an indifferent sort of manner,

" By the way, Mr. Sutherland, have you seen Mon-
day's paper, with the debate on the tariff? Here it
is ; take it look over it. Never mind me, I would
prefer that you should see it now. If any thing strikes
you, just read it aloud, will you ?"

Mark took the paper, but found the " debate" to be
all on one side, and in the mouth of one individual,
to wit the Hon. St. Gerald Ashley, of Virginia. He
ran his eye over it the old man fingering cheese and
crackers, and pretending to eat, not to interrupt him.
" Do you wish me to read this debate aloud, sir ?" asked
Mark, benevolently inclined to indulge the aged
father's pride.

"Yes, yes," said the old man, smiling, nodding,
and crumbling soda crackers; "yes, if it will not
tire you."

" Oh, by no means," answered Mark ; and forthwith

The celebrated speech was, indeed, a master-piece
of legislative oratory ; and Mark Sutherland was an
admirable elocutionist. He read, became deeply in-
terested and absorbed, and before long was betrayed,
by the old man's enthusiasm and his sympathy, into
declamation, interrupted now and then by Colonel


Ashley's exclaiming, " Thafs it ! hear, hear. T'//"t
must have brought down the House! I wonder what
the Democrats will find to say to that!"

Finally, laughing at the fever into which he had
worked himself and his hearer, Mark finished the
speech, and laid down the paper. It was time it was
past eleven o'clock late hours for country people,
and far too late for the aged and infirm.

"Thank you, sir. Thank you. You have given
me a treat. It was as good as if I had heard it spoken,"
said the old man, flushing with pride and pleasure.
Soon after, he rang for night lamps, and a servant to
show Mr. Sutherland to his room.

Early next morning, Mark Sutherland arose and
left his bed-room. The family were not yet stirring;
none but the house servants were about. And with
the restlessness of a heart ill at ease, he walked out
upon the piazza, to find diversion from the bitter re-
trospections of the past, and gloomy forebodings
of the future, in the novel aspect of the country
around him.

To one used to the undulating, luxurious beauty
of southern scenery, there was something startling
and inspiring in the abrupt, stern, rugged, yet vigour-
ous and productive aspect of this mountainous region.

The Ashley plantation filled the whole of a small
valley, shut in between two curving spurs of the
Alleghanies, and watered by a branch of the Rappa-
harmock. The Ashley house, an irregular but massive
building of red sandstone, was situated at the foot of
the mountain ; behind it arose hoary rocks, inter-
mingled or crowned by dark evergreens of pine and
cedar; before it, at some distance, flowed the branch:


around on every side within the vale were gardens,
shrubberies, orchards, wheat and corn fields ; and here
and there, picturesquely placed, or half concealed by
trees or jutting rocks, were the negro quarters ; while
more conspicuously, in the midst of the open fields,
stood the barns and granaries. Altogether^ the planta-
tion, occupying the whole valley, and completely shut
in by mountains, was an independent, isolated, little
domain in itself.

Now, upon the second day of March, the grass
along the margin of the branch was already fresh and
verdant, and the wheat fields sprouting greenly. The
morning was very bright and fresh, and Mark walked
into the garden that lay to the left of the house.
There he found three or four negroes, under the di-
rection of the gardener, engaged in clearing up beds,
tying vines, trimming trees, and repairing arbours
and garden seats.

This place had not the luxurious beauty of the
south, nor the fresh and vigorous life of the west ; yet
there was a solid, jolly, old homeliness about it, very
comfortable even in contrast tQ those other scenes.
Mark felt this, while alternately talking with the old
gardener or contemplating the old home.

He was interrupted by an irruption of that Goth
and Vandal, Henry and Richard Ashley, who, rush-
ing upon him, seized the one his right hand and the
other his left, and boisterously informed him that
breakfast was ready, and had " been waiting ever so

He returned their vehement greeting good-humour-
edly, and accompanied them into the house, and to
the break fast -table, which was set in the old oak


parlour where he had passed the preceding eve-

Two ladies, in simple, graceful, morning dresses
of white cambric, sat near the fire, occupied with a
little delicate needlework ; Colonel Ashley stood with
his back to the chimney, with tlie paper in his hand,
and talking to them about the speech.

On seeing Mr. Sutherland, the old gentleman im-
mediately stepped forward, welcomed him, and con-
ducted him to the ladies, saying, " My dears, this is
Mr. Sutherland ; Mr. Sutherland, my"

But before another syllable was spoken, the elder
lady had lifted her face, started up with a blush of
pleasure, and extended her hand, exclaiming

"Mark Sutherland ! Is it possible !"

"Mrs. Vivian! Miss Vivian!" exclaimed Mark,
extending a hand to each, impulsively.

" Why, how strange that we should meet here !"
said Valeria.

" A most pleasant surprise, indeed I" responded

" The surprise as well as the pleasure is mutual, I
assure you ! But how did it happen ?"

'' I am sure I do not know."

" Nor I. Can you guess, Rose ?" and Mrs. Vivian
turned to her step-daughter, who remained silent, with
her fingers in the unconscious clasp of Mark Suther" 1
land's hand.

" I inquired only in jest, but now I really do believe
you could tell us something about this," persisted the
lady, looking intently at the maiden.

Rosalie's pale face slightly flushed ; she withdrew
her hand, resumed her seat, and took up her work.


Colonel Ashley, if he felt, certainly expressed no sur-
prise at this re-union ; but as, with stately courtesy,
he handed his niece to the head of the table, said,
"As Mrs. Vivian arrived only yesterday afternoon,
and retired at once to rest from the fatigue of her
journey, and as Mr. Sutherland reached here last
night, there has been no time for conversation about
our arrangements."

"Ah, yes; that's all very well; but you'll neve.-
make me believe that Rose is not at the bottom of
this, somehow," laughed the widow, shaking her jetty
curls as she sat down at the table. Her eyes met
those of Rosalie for an instant, and the spirit of mis-
chief was quelled. She became silent on that topic,
and soon after changed the subject, entering into gay
conversation about St. Gerald Ashley and his sudden

When breakfast was over, Colonel Ashley invited
Mr. Sutherland to accompany him to his study, where
he began to unfold his plan for the education of his
boys. After hearing him through, Mark inquired
when he should enter upon his new duties, and re-
quested to defer the commencement until Monday,
and to use the intervening time to become acquainted
with his home and pupils.

The interview then closed. Both gentlemen de-
scended the stairs. Colonel Ashley told Mr. Suther-
land that he would find the ladies in the parlour, and
then, excusing himself, bade him good morning, and
entered the carriage, which was waiting to take him
to the village.

Mark opened the parlour door, advanced into the
room, and before he could retreat, saw and heard the


fragment of an earnest interview between the mother
and daughter. Mrs. Vivian sat upon the sofa, her
head bent, her jetty curls drooping, her jetty eye-lashes
and rosy cheeks sprinkling and sparkling with tear-
drops, like morning dew upon a fresh flower. She
was nimbly and nervously stitching away at a piece
of muslin embroidery.

Rosalie sat on a cushion before her, with her hands
and her needlework fallen idly on her lap, and her
pale hair fallen back from her paler, upturned brow,
and earnest eyes, that were fixed upon her mother's.
She was asking in open accents, " Oh, mamma ! can
this be possible ?"

" Not only possible, but true, Rose," replied the lady,
dashing the sparkling tears away.

" Oh, mammal do not let him meet such a shock ;
prepare him for it, mamma."

"I cannot; how could I? Hush here he is," said
she, perceiving Mark. And in an instant, presto I all
was changed.

Smiling out from her tears, like an April sun from
a cloud, or a blooming rose scattering its dew in the
breeze, she looked up and said, " Come in, Mark ;
draw that easy chair up here to the sofa, and sit down,
for I know by experience that men are lazy as the
laziest women."

Mr. Sutherland took the indicated seat. Mis3
Vivian started from her lowly position, resuming her
place upon the sofa, drawing the foot-cushion under
her feet, and arranging her needlework.

"It is really surprising that we should all meet
here so unexpectedly in Alleghany county," said Mrs.


"I certainly had not anticipated such a pleasure. I
did not know that you were related to Colonel Ashley,
or to any one else in this part of the country."

"Nor am I. Colonel Ashley is Rosalie's great
uncle her mother's uncle. Colonel Ashley's last re-
maining single daughter was married last year, and
Rosalie was invited to take her abdicated place in his
household. Physicians recommended the bracing air
of the mountains for my delicate girl, and therefore
Rosalie has been living here for the last eighteen
months ever since we left Cashmere, in fact. Last
winter, I think, was rather too cold for her here on the
mountains. I spent the season in Washington, from
whence I have just returned ; but next winter I in-
tend to take Rose to Louisiana with me, and make an
arrangement by which she can spend all her winters
in the south."

" Indeed, mamma, you shall not immolate your hap-
piness upon my ill health. You shall just spend your
winters in Washington, where you enjoy life so much,
and your summers at the watering-places, where you
meet again your gay and brilliant friends. I shall do
well enough. You shall visit me in the spring and
autumn intervals."

" Oh, a truce, Rosalie ! We shall be set down as a
model mother and daughter. / know, for one, selfish-
ness is the mainspring of all my acts. I rather think
I like you, child, and prefer to see you well. There !
I declare there's Robert with the horses already. Put
on your cloth habit, Rosalie ; the morning is really
cold ; and don't let him take you far, child ; these
hearty men have very little instinctive mercy for de-


hcate girls, and he would not imagine he hail tired
you to death till you had dropped from your horse."

Rosalie arose, rolled up her work, and left the
room, nodding and smiling to a young man who en-
tered as she left. " Mr. Bloomfield," said the lady,
presenting him to Mr. Sutherland. Mr. Bloomfield
was a sufficiently pleasing specimen of a well-bred,
country beau moderately tall, broad-shouldered, and
deep-chested with regular features fresh, ruddy com-
plexion clear, merry blue eyes and lips, whose
every curve expressed the good humour and benevo-
lence of a kind, contented heart.

"You mustn't take Rose far, Robert."

" I will take her only to mother's."

"And you sha'n't teaze her with any more non-
sense ! I can't put up with that, you know."

Robert Bloomfield blushed violently, smiled till all
his regular white teeth shone, and was stammering
out a blundering deprecation, when, to his great re-
lief, Rosalie appeared, attired for the ride. The young
man arose, Mrs. Vivian surveyed Rose, to be sure she
was well defended from the cold, and finally yielded
her in charge of her escort, who bowed and took her

Mrs. Vivian and Mark looked at them through the
window, saw him place her in the saddle with more
than polite attention with a careful and tender soli-
citude that made her smile. When they had ridden
off, she turned to Mark, and said

" I like that good humoured, blundering boy. He
has been paying court to Rose ever since she has been
here. He is a young man of independent fortune, ir-
reproachable character, fair education, and most ex-


cellent disposition, and he has loved Rose for more
than a year. Yet, with all, he is not worthy of her 1
he wants polish the polish that nothing but inter-
course with refined society can give him. He came
to see me last winter in Washington, got fitted out by
a fashionable tailor, and I good-naturedly took him
with me to an evening party. If ever I do such a

thing again as long as I live may ; but never

mind ! Just think, when I presented him to a super-
fine belle, of his holding out his hands to shake hands
with her, telling her he was glad to see her, and
hoping that if ever she passed through his part of the
country, she would pay his mother and sisters a visit,
&c. And then, when the elegant Mrs. A. inquired if
Mr. Bloomfield waltzed, just fancy him blushing furi-
ously, and saying that he would rather not that he
disapproved of waltzing !"

" Well !" said Mrs. Vivian, looking up, after a

" Yes well ?" inquired her companion, raising his

" You have not made a single comment upon my
country beau. I see how it is. You're thinking of
your relatives. Mark, you must question me if you
want me to tell you anything."

" My mother" began the young man.

" She is living very comfortably with her husband
at Cashmere."

" With her husband !"

" Is it possible you did not know she was married,
Mark ?"

"I never knew it I never dreamed it I never


thought it possible." He looked shocked he was

"And why not?" asked the lady, with a little
jealous petulance. " Why may not a widow re-

Online LibraryEmma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte SouthworthIndia: the pearl of Pearl River → online text (page 10 of 29)