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one ; but if thou hadst been older, it
had not been so safe, — with thy eyes."

Mistress Persis turned to the mirror
with a half pout and surveyed herself
therein critically from head to foot ;
then, laughing softly in fond satisfac-
tion with her own fairness, she tossed
back the rings of hair that danced over
her brow, and passed through a door-
way into a room at the far end of
which sat her aunt and the Governor.

Whether the old dames spoke the
truth or not, certain it is that after
Mistress Persis's delightful figure
crossed the drawing-room floor like a
wind blown blossom, his Excellency
had eyes for naught else and ears only
for the music of her laugh and for the
words hurrying off lier tongue as a
brook purls over its pebbles. As for
Mistress Persis, small wonder that,



when she talked with so high a magis-
trate, the long curled lashes drooped
modestly and the color came and went
in her cheeks. With such simple art,
by ho means transgressing the fit de-
corum of a Puritan maiden, did
Mistress Persis bewitch the mind of
her Governor, and presently led him,
nothing loath, fascinated by the sparkle
of her eyes and .the winsome curl of
her lips, to the garden, where there
bloomed "an exceedingly fair flower
of a rarity not oft to be met with."

At the end of the long path, close to
the hawthorn hedge, with its pink
buds bursting over her head, stood
Betty, — in her hand a big bouquet
culled from the choicest blossoms .the
garden afiforded. She saw them com-
ing, and waited in a transport of antici-
pation. How tall he was! Mistress
Persis's beautiful head no more than
reached his shoulder ; he had to stoop
to talk with her. He gestured toward
the rhododendron with a hand white
as the frill of delicate lace that fell
from the wrist. Betty wondered if
Mistress Persis had told him of the
foolish maid she had caught courtesy-
ing before, the mirror to an imaginary
governor, and whether the children
he knew wore lace-trimmed tuckers
and ribands from Paris. "Because,"
said Betty, a shade falling athwart the
sunshine on her bright face, "be-
cause — " She twirled a hawthorn
bud in her restless fingers and looked
down, nervously aware that the couple
were no farther away than the labur-
num: The supreme moment was at
hand. Small things now the tucker
of Mary Brewster and the ribands of
Dolly Putnam! She would sweep
him the courtesy she had practised
before the looking-glass, and present
her bouquet with as pretty a speech
as a little maid could conceive.

"Most worshipful sir," it began.
Betty's mind ran over it glibly. She
had repeated it many times out here
in the garden, with the birds and
flowers for a tolerant audience, so the
words should slip easily from her lips.
"A little maid begs you to do her the
honor of accepting this nosegay,

which she hath gathered for you in
token of the deep and loyal respect
wherewith she hath ever regarded

Nearer and nearer he came, an
august fate not to be averted. "Most
worshipful sir," whispered Betty's dry
lips, while the blood flamed redly in
her cheeks, "most worshipful sir, a
little maid — a little maid — " And
now he stood looking down upon her
with a kindly smile on his full lips and
a plump finger tapping her chin.

"Of a truth, 'tis fair enough. Mis-
tress Persis," he said, in a deep, rich
voice. "But how do folks call thee,
little maid?— Dafifodil? Methinks the
name sets like a cap over tliy gold

" 'Tis my little cousin Betty," an-
swered Mistress Persis's marvellous
tones, attuned to sweetest harmony
with the Governor's heavy bass. "She
hath a great admiration for you ; thus
it came hard upon her that she had no
share in the day's festivities. Speak,
child, to his Excellency!"

There was nothing Betty would
have been so glad to do; but the fine
speech had slipped out of memory,
leaving the poor child's mind as blank
as the house wall shimmering in the
sunshine behind them. The Gov-
ernor's smart figure stooped over her,
his ear inclined to catch the words that
would not come. The perfume of his
laces was wafted like a cool breeze
across her hot cheeks. His frills
smelt of lavender, and a faint scent of
attar of roses clung to his hair. Oh,
for the golden tongue of Mistress
Persis, that never faltered nor stum-
bled! Betty could only look up
dumbly out of adoring eyes.

"Why, where is thy tongue, child?"
cried Mistress Persis, half amused,
half vexed, while a tiny frown puck-
ered her brow and her slipper tip beat
the ground impatiently. "Hast lost
it of a sudden — or dost thou need
Nehila to teach thee speech? Fie,
Betty! Thou art a little fool!"

Now Nehila was the Indian girl
who helped in the kitchen and had but
now smoothed Betty's curls and tied



her silken sash over the folds of
dimity. No wonder the pretty lips
took on a piteous quiver, and that
tears almost veiled the blue eyes plead-
ing mutely with the Governor's.

"Nay, love-in-a-mist, rather," said
his Excellency. "A fair blossom, —
and of a truth I like it better than
those which flaunt brighter colors."
Kindly words, for which the miserable
child blessed him in her heart ; but she
had to look her gratitude, for the trou-
blesome tongue was still bound fast in
the coils of awe. Mistress Persis's
chin tossed petulantly. Small patience
had she with such terrors.

"Shame, Betty," she chided. "Wilt
not answer thy Governor? Thou
mayest well blush." And of course
Betty's cheeks burned hotter, though
the great man only laughed and
pinched them just above the dimples.

"Rosebuds," he said ; "and o&
what tree didst thou pluck them ? For
perchance I might seek the same, hav-
ing a fondness for the color that be-
longs to youth. Think you by such
delicate cosmetic I might yet cheat the
gossips, Mistress Betty, and pass my
forty years for twenty?"

Old ! the Governor ! he, the kindly, the
generous, the chivalrous, whose skin
was so fresh, whose waistcoat so frilly,
whose coat so rich and glossy! Why,
his step was brisk and his eyes were
bright and his tongue tripped merrily
as Mistress Persis's own, speaking
easy words for little ears. All the love
and adoration, all the homage and
worship that filled her heart swelled to
her lips, bursting the floodgates of re-

"But there can never be need, your
Excellency," she cried, with the ardor
of conviction, — and this time it was
the Governor that blushed; but he
laughed, too, stroking the yellow
head with fatherly hand.

"Why, 'tis heart's-ease," he said,
mightily pleased, — and, stooping,
kissed Betty on the forehead. "Thou
art all flowers in one, and I am minded
to snatch thee up and away with thee
to mine own house, overdull, me-
thinks, for the lack of a presence like

thine. I would enjoy thy fragrance
when cares weigh heavy and pomp
palls. Come, how does that suit thee,
Mistress ?"

Oh, golden vista! But these were
only words such as the Governor
might speak to some grown-up maid,
and as such Betty answered them with
quaint dignity.

"That may not be, sir, for I am but
a little maid, and my father's child ;
but thou mayest have these," — and
she shyly offered her nosegay. "They
will not last longer than thy thought
of me should." Somehow, as she
spoke, Betty's thoughts, and her eyes,
too, turned to Mistress Persis, whom
it seemed quite fitting the Governor
should wed, for surely there was no
other maid in all the colony could
match his stateliness so well.

The Governor took her gift and
carried it to his nostrils, inhaling its
mingled odors with peculiar pleasure ;
then he bowed over her hand with
fine. Old World courtesy, as if she had
been a great lady in the land. Betty
thought of Queen Elizabeth with
Raleigh at her feet, and held herself

"Rest assured, little maid." he said,
"there is no thought of thee which
shall not come back enriched to her to
whom it is due!" — a fine sounding
phrase, whereat the Governor, too,
glanced at Mistress Persis, who
flushed rosily and let fall the long,
curled lashes on her cheeks.

The great moment was past, and
Betty came down to earth. She was
a little girl again, in her Sabbath
gown, watching the dignified back of
the magistrate go from her. Mistress
Persis fluttering beside him. What a
lovely Governor's lady -' e would
make! And that rumor fui once had
the truth of a tale, there is good
ground for believing; for when they
entered the shrubbery near the house,
they drew nearer together, and, as
they passed under the shelter of a
friendly willow, did Betty's bright eyes
deceive her. or did his Excellencv bend
nearer and steal a kiss from Mistress
Persis's ripe lips?


By George E. Tufts.

A YOUTH looked forth upon the light,
And everywhere swarmed on his sight
Bright, wavering forms, of which to tell
Knll oft he seized his sounding shell.

This fair world smote too deep his heart
With beauteous visions ; but the art
Coldly to file the measured line
Or deftly fancies intertwine

Could not be then ; his nature's glow
Fused all things in an overflow
Too torrent-like, too vague and deep.
To fitly voice or hidden keep.

So all men swore his verse was bad,
And some men hinted he was mad ;
While midget critics made a name
By shrilly puncturing his fame.

Years rolled their waves of joy and pain
Across the poet's heart and brain.
Sapped deep the turbid force of youth.
And left the blank that men call truth.

Now, as his life turns pale and sere.
All may behold his verse grown clear ;
And every critic you shall see
Flings praise upon his minstrelsy.

But he in sadness stands apart ;

Lightly he weighs the spoils of art ;

To him their only beauty seems

Their memory faint of vouth's dead dreams.

By Robert G. Fitch.

Illustrated chiefly from photographs in the Bostonian Society's and Mr. Charles Pollock's collections.

A MYSTERIOUS relationship
seems to exist between fes-
tivity and catastrophe. When
we examine the dramatic, more espe-
cially the tragic, incidents of history,
we find the two as a rule intimately
associated. The bacchanals of Baby-
lon were at their height when the sap-

imperceptibly gave place to one of
those striking moonlight effects pe-
culiar to Indian summer weather,
which make the night even love-
lier than the dav. Nature had
struck one of her most harmonious
notes. She had placed an almost
magic spell upon the brief period

pers and miners of King Cyrus were which separates a week of worry, care

engaged in the service that was to ad- and struggle from a day of rest and

mit the enemy into the doomed city worship, — for it was Saturday night.

and take from it its freedom forever. It was a time favorable to cheerful

Wlien Pompeii was overwhelmed, its thoughts and social interchanges,

pleasure loving population met their Saturday night is the banqueting and

fate while many were clutching the reunion time of social, literary, bus-

wme cups. The overture to Water-
loo, one of the decisive battles of the
world, was one of Belgium's most
elaborate social functions, at
which beauty and gallantry ex-
changed confidences, "soft eyes
looked love to eyes that spake
again, and all went merry as a
marriage bell," until the "can-
non's opening roar" dispelled the
dreams of the hour and sum-
moned the sterner portion of the
dancers and the dreamers to win
fame or death or both through
the terrible realities of war. Why
might not the Fates that hovered
over Babylon and Belgium find
opportunity for exploitation even
in Boston? Their credit is not
as high as it once was ; the scale
of their operations is reduced ;
but it frequently seems to us that
they have not gone out of bus-

The 9th of November, 1872.
was a beautiful day, followed by
a still more beautiful evening.
Only a gentle breeze was stir-
ring. The sun went down leav-
ing a sky of rosy tints, which

iness and political organizations, and
this particular Saturday night was no

From a late photograph.




exception. Among the many gather-
ings was the annual dinner of the
Boston Press Association. It
was years before the formation of
the Boston Press Club, and there-
fore the yearly reunions of the
workers upon the various news-
papers of the city had even a
larger value than at present. The
first Saturday after election day
was the regular date for coming
together. At this particular time
the nation had just sealed the po-
litical and, alas, it is to be feared,
the personal fate of Horace
Greeley. The strain of that active
and peculiar campaign was over,
and brethren of the quill and
pencil met with a feeling of irre-
sponsibility that thev had not en-
joyed for months. The occasion
was marked by more than ordi-
nary vivacity and good fellow-
ship. Speech and poem, skit and
story, quip and pun, circled
round. Tom Maguire, of the

nil New York Herald, dean
Ij and Nestor of the then
disappearing Bohemian
circle, had been de-
scribing the process of
interviewing without com-
munication, either per-
sonal or otherwise, with
the people interviewed, an
art older than direct
thought transference or
wireless telegraphy. The
now venerable Patrick
Donahoe had finished his
usual patriotic contribu-
tion to the exercises of the
press reunion bv singing
"The Star Spangled Ban-
ner." He had hardly
more than taken his seat
when a messenger entered
and gave him some infor-
mation inaudible to the
company. He instantly
left the room, and did not
return. The exercises con-
tinued for a time longer,
until at last a guest who
had left the inner circle for a time re-
turned and gave the startling infor-










mation that Boston was in flames and
in danger of annihilation.

That is the way the news of Bos-
ton's fiery visitation came to the lead-
ing active members of the city's news-
paper force. Daniel's gloomy proph-
ecy could hardly have spread more
consternation among Belshazzar and
his guests ; though in this later case it
was hardly thought of as a judgment
upon the city, notwithstanding the
fact that it received that interpretation
in certain pulpits afterward. The
place of meeting was the Revere
House ; and as the company passed
out into Bowdoin Square, it seemed
to them as though there was a line of
live flame reddening the houses on
Beacon Street and giving to that ven-
erable name a new and terrible sig-
nificance. But the candle that was
lighted for Boston that night was not
set on a hill, though it lighted the
whole city and shed abroad a radiance
at once awful and beautiful, that made
men turn their eyes heavenward, not
alone in Boston, where the meaning
of the spectacle was understood, but
in a hundred towns and cities within
a radius of half as many miles.

Then it was known why Mr. Pat-
rick Donahoe had dropped out of the
gathering so cjuickly and quietly. His
large and handsome granite building,
where the Boston Fllot was published
and his other business was carried on,
was one of the finest of the new order
of structures in Franklin Street and
vicinity, and even at that time it was in
flames, to l^e left a heap of wreckage
and rubble before tlie stroke of mid-
night. And that was not the end of
his pursuit by the fiery fates. Ac-
commodated with temporary quarters
in the Rand and Avery building at the
head of Dock Square, he was again
driven forth in a few weeks by a fire
in tliat place. He then obtained con-
venient quarters in a new building on
Boylston Street, between Washington
and Tremont streets, and was trying
to forget his trials, when the conflagra-
tion of May 30, 1873, which levelled
the old Globe Theatre and many




Other buildings, left him once
without a business abiding
place ; and wide was the
sympathy with him when in
weariness of spirit he an-
nounced with grim humor
that he was "tired of

But in the swath of de-
struction left by the wild
and weird work of that
November night, there
W'ere so many needing sym-
pathy that there could be
little discrimination among
sufferers. The beginning
of the great lire was on the
southeasterly side of Sum-
mer and Kingston streets,
in a large four-story granite
building, the first story of
which was occupied by
Tebbitts, Baldwin and
Davis, wholesale dealers in
dry goods. Business ten-
ants of other floors were
Damon, Temple and Com-
pany, wholesale venders of
gloves, lace, hosiery and
small wares, and Alexander
K. Young and Company.


manufacturers of ladies'
hoop skirts. Just how the
fire started, whether acci-
dentally or through crim-
inal agency, the most
searching investigation
failed to determine, and to
this day the cause remains
a mystery, unlike that of
the Chicago conflagration
a year previous, which
made Mrs. O'Leary's cow
as historic as the geese
that saved Rome.

The fire was discovered
at about a quarter past
seven o'clock ; but it was
almost ten minutes later
before an alarm was sent
in by an official of the fire
department from the now
historic Box 52, which
has sounded the call for
more great fires in Boston within





the last twenty-seven years than all
the other five hundred boxes, more or
less, in the entire fire alarm system.
It was Box 52 that summoned the de-
partment to the four million dollar
fire on Thanksgiving Day, 1889, and
again to the even more destructive
conflagration of March 10, 1893, sig-
nalized by the dramatic
experience of District
Chief Egan, who worked
himself halfway across the
street from a burning
building on a cable and
was finally rescued by his
comrades, only to lose his
life five years later in the
Merrimac Street fire.
Some of the department
have come to have an al-
most superstitious dread
of that particular box, and
requests have gone to the
fire commission at differ-
ent times asking to have
the number changed.
Even to this day, when
those fateful numbers ring
out, a thrill runs through
the department which no
other combination of fig-
ures can produce.

It was hardly a blind

fate that selected that particular
evening for exploitation in business
Boston. In choosing its time and
pursuing its purpose, it seemed to
act with a malevolent intelligence.
Long immunity from serious fires
had lulled the citizens into a feeling
of false security. They knew by
local history and tradition that Bos-
ton had had great fires ; but that
was in a remote past before steam
fire engines were invented or a
highly organized department was
on guard. The chief engineer had
from year to year been urging the
need of a more efficient water sup-
ply and other means of better fire
protection ; but it was supposed to
be a part of his official business
periodically to take the role of an
alarmist and ask for things he did not
expect to get ; so his recommenda-
tions bore meagre fruit, and his
prophecies of disaster unless he
was better supported received as
little practical attention as those of
Cassandra. The water supply was
insignificant compared with what it is



at the present time ; probably there
was not a twelve inch main in the
whole city, while the branch pipes
were much smaller, and the original
diameters of the whole system were
more or less reduced by corrosion.
To-day we have forty-eight inch
water mains and branch pipes larger
than the principal channels of supply
in 1872. We have high and low ser-
vice, improved hydrants capable of
massing powerful water batteries, and
improved apparatus of all kinds.

These weaknesses and defects
might have been overcome, had the
citizens realized in time their liability
to a sweeping conflagration. But
there was another of a temporary
character that could hardly have
been guarded against. The business
of the city had been for a number of
days crippled by the outbreak of a
serious distemper among the horses.
There was no cause to complain of
congestion of the streets at that par-
ticular time. Freight accumulated
at all points of the city, because it
could not be moved. The slow
moving oxen were in great demand ;
but man power was quite generally
employed. The people were dis-
posed to take their ordinary daily
embarrassments from this cause
philosophically, cheerfully and
sometimes even gayly. It was no
uncommon sight to see the porters,
clerks, messengers and stevedores
taking upon themselves the ser-
vice of draught animals, dragging
heavy loads from store or warehouse
to the various depots. This unusual
experience was not lacking in enjoy-
ment nor even in festal features. The
toilers would wear garlands and fol-
low bands that discoursed lively
music. All this could be borne very
well as a novel experience in the
workaday and regular routine of
life and business ; but it assumed a
more serious aspect when the fire
bells made their ominous proclama-
tions and speed and power became
factors of the largest value. There
were in the department at that time

only about half a dozen horses in a
condition to attempt the dragging of
heavy apparatus to a fire. At least
two of these were in the house of En-
gine Company Fourteen, on Centre
Street, Roxbury, commanded by Cap-
tain L. P. Webber, now for over fif-
teen years chief of the Boston fire de-
partment. That company did not re-
spond on the first alarm, but when it
did, its apparatus was drawn by
horses, — and never did horseflesh
find more to do than that upon
its arrival at the lire. On that night,
also. Captain Webber had a son
born to him, whose acquaintance

ii: 1 i;i>i;i;.\i. .street front of the post


he did not make until two days after-

Dependent on man power, the ap-
paratus was inevitably slow in re-
sponding, though the hazard of the
situation had been understood and
more than usual vigilance had been
exacted for days. But under the cir-
cumstances the task from the start
was far beyond the powers of the de-
partment. The men were cool and
faithful and steadfast, but they fought
with that stubborn despair of results
which overtakes a forlorn hope, yield-
ing their ground inch by inch, but
knowing that they were overmatched,
and that one position after another, as
they took it, must be abandoned.



( )ne alarm succeeded another as
fast as the warning machinery
could be made to work, each
fresh summons emphasizing the
previous notes of danger ; and be-
fore the final call, that was to ex-
haust the protective resources of the
city, had been sent out, messages
were flying over the wires to all cities
within a distance of a hundred miles,
appealing for help.

The promptness and heartiness of


the responses are among the pleasant
memories of that dreadful night. Sur-
roimding cities were experiencing
trouble similar to that of Boston in
the disabling of horse power on ac-
count of the epizootic. But the men
were still strong and vigorous, and
they spared no effort to assist breth-
ren in distress. Worcester had but
one span of horses, but she sent two
engines, that drawn by men beating
the other to the station. This force
was commanded bv the assistant chief

of the Worcester department, and did
excellent service.

Every piece of apparatus that ar-
rived, whether belonging to Boston
or other cities, found work enough to
do. Had there been an adequate
water supply, much more could have
been accomplished. The reservoirs
which were rarely brought into ser-
vice and which probably since that
time have not been used for fire pur-
poses were all brought into requisi-
tion. Every available
point was occupied ; but
still the fire ramped and
raged, swirling through
the narrow streets, lanes
and places in eddies and
billows of flame, eating its
way against the wind,
illustrating anew a con-
flagration phenomenon
that even firemen have
never fully understood,
but making the labors
of the department and its

Online LibraryNebraska State Historical SocietyThe New England magazine (Volume n.s. v.21, yr.1899-1900) → online text (page 42 of 89)