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Terbore and Metsu ; he has something mcontesta-
bly noble when we think of the trivialities of Steen,
Ostade, and Brauwer. As a man, he puts them all to
the blush ; as a painter, is he their equal ? ''

Our friend, Fromentin, whp pushed his
penetration to the verge of uneasiness, has
asked an indiscreet question. The difficulty
of judging definitively of the talent of a con-
temporary master was seen by a writer who
sometimes compromises himself so far as to
express our own thought. The " Temps" of
the 2d of March, 1875, contains some lines
in which the author has tried to explain why
Millet .was dear to us. This quotation may
serve as a conclusion to the present volume :

•* There is in cverj work of art a sort of perfume
which ev^x>rates with time. A new breath passes
oyer the mind ; generations coming up, seeking a new
ideal, are often uncertain and troubled before some
picture or drawing, which, at Uie moment that the
artist finished it, aroused in the soul of his contem-
poraries a whole world of sentiment and ideas.
Something like this may perhaps happen to Millet,
la the future it may create surprise that his cause
VIS defended vrith such extremb neat, at a time when
his advance met with resistance. Did this rustic
tcaUy oocuoy in modem art the great place which
oar esteem has made for him ? Why not ? Let it
be remembered to what meager diet we were then
condemned — how few consolatory spectacles had
been oflfered to as. During the historic period
coding in 1870 we saw the painful work of artists

who, under pretext of style, moved about in an arti-
ficial world, which amounted to nothing but supreme
stupidity. Life was not in it So, when, after his
first gropings, we found in Millet healthy simplicity
and frankness, a certain grandeur reflected upon
types which were not invented, — an almost uncon-
saous remembrance of the methods dear to the old
masters, — we praised his effort and went out to
welcome this new poetry. The future will decide
whether we have made a mistake or not. It seems
to us that Millet brought into the school a new ele-
ment, a manner which by condensing form general-
izes and agmndizes it.

** It would be a mistake to reproach him with
having suppressed details and taken away accidentals ;
he was seeking the essential, and he found it. Millet
had his ideal, and even if he did not always succeed
in reaching it, it will sdways be to his honor that he
strove with indomitable energy to be fiuthfnl to
truth while escaping the littleness of prose."

Sensier had often begged Millet to write
down the thoughts which came to him on
questions of art. MiDet was not a writer,
and thought that his art work ou^ht to pre-
sent a clear enough expression of his thoughts
and his dreams. Once or twice, however,
he consented to take pen in hand. This
" note," which we found among his friend's
papers, will be read with interest :

" When Poussin sent to M. de Chantelou his pict-
ure of the • Manna,' he did not say, * Look what
fine handling! Isn't it swell? Isn't it tip-top?*
or any of this kind of thing which so many painters
seem to consider of such value, though I cannot see
why they should. He says : * If you remember the
first letter which I wrote to you about the movement
of the figures which I promised you to put in, and
if you look at the whole picture, I think you will
easilv understand which are those who languish,
whicn ones are filled with admiration, those who pity,
those who act from charity, from great necessity,
from desire, from the wish to satiate themselves, and
others, — for the first seven figures on the left hand
will tell you all that is written above, and all the
rest is of the same kind.'

** Very few painters are careful enough as to the
effect o( a picture seen at a distance great enough to
see all at once, and as a whole. Even if a picture
comes together as it should, you hear people say,
• Yes, but when you come near it is not finished ! *
Then of another which does not look like an3rthing
at the distance from which it should be seen : ' But
look at it near by ; see how it is finished ! ' Nothing
counts except the fundamental. If a tailor tries on
a coat, he goes off to see - it at a distance great
enough to see the fit If he likes the general look,
it is time enough then to examine the details ; but
if he should be satisfied with making fine button-
holes and other accessories, evert if they were chefs
d^cntvresy on a badly cut coat, he will none the less
have made a bad job. Is not this true of a piece of
architecture or of an3rthing else ? It is the conception
of a work which should strike us first, and nothing
ought to go outside of that conception. It is an
atmosphere beyond which nothing can exist. There
should be a mtlUu of one kind or another, but that
which is adopted should rule.

"As confirmation to the proposition that details are
only the complement of tne fundamental construc-
tion, Pous«in says : * Being fluted (pilasters) and

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The terrible disease whose presence had
sent such a thrill of horror through the
quiet little town had been raging for two
weeks, and though the inevitable rebound
from die first pressure of dread was making
itself universally felt, as a topic of conversa-
tion it had lost none of its charms.

On a wild, wet afternoon, Lilly O'Connell
sat in the stuffy work-room sacred to the
mysteries of making and trying on the won-
derful productions of Miss Bullins's scissors
and needle. She was sewing the folds upon
a dress of cheap mourning, while Miss Bul-
lins sat opposite with lap-board and scissors,
her nimble tongue outrunning the latter by
long odds.

" What's friends y^r," she was saying, " if
they aint goin' to stand by you when the
pinch comes? Folks that's got husbands
and lovers and friends a plenty don't realize
their blessin's. As for Florence Fairfield, it
makes me ashamed of bein' a woman — ^the
way that girl did ! They say she wouldn't
even see Roger Horton to bid him good-
bye. I never heard the like ! "

Lilly turned her head toward the window,
perhaps because the dress in her hands was
black, and the light dull.

" They say he's workin' himself to death
for an them poor people, and he aint got
nobody — no sister nor mother — to nurse
him up when he comes home all tuck-
ered out ; though Nancy Swift thinks a
sij^t of him, and she'll do her duty by
bun, I make no doubt He's just like h^
father, and he was a good man. Florence
Fairfield don't deserve her privileges, I'm

The street door opened, and with a gust
of cold wind entered Widow Gatchell, the
village Sairey Gamp. She was an elderly
woman, tall, stiff" and dry as a last year's
mullein-stalk. Her dark, wrinkled face was
fixed and inexpressive, but the small black
eyes were full of life. She was clothed in
rusty garments, and carried a seedy carpet-
sack in her hand.

**How d'ye do?" she said, in a dry
voice, dropping on to the edge of a
chair. " I jest come in to tell ye if ye was
drove, 'taint no matter about my bunnit.
I sha'n't want it right away."
" Why not ? " said Miss BuUins, looking up.

" I'm goin' to the pest-house nussin' to-
morrow," returned the old woman, in the
same quiet tone.

"Good land! Sarah Gatchell!" cried
Miss BulHns, upsetting her lap-board. "Aint
you 'most afraid ? "

A quaint smile flitted across the widow's

"What 'd I be afeared of," she said,
" 's old 'n' homely 's I be ? The small-
pox aint a-goin' to touch me, I'd 'a* gone
a week ago, but I couldn't leave Mis' Mer-
rill, an' her baby not a week old. I've jess
been a-talkin' with Dr. Horton," she went
on. "He says they're sufferin' for help.
They's three sick women an' two childem,
an' not a woman in the house to do a
thing for *em. They've been expectin' two
nusses from the city, but they aint come.
Seems to me 'taint jest right fur men-
folks to be fussin' 'round sick women an'

" Oh my, it's awfril ! " sighed Miss Bullins,
pinning her pattern crooked in her distress.

" Not a woman there ? " said Lilly O'Con-
nell, who had been listening with her hands
idle in her lap.

" There'll be one there in the momin*," said
the widow, rising to go. " I'd 'a' gone to-
night, but I couldn't be o' much use till I'd
gone 'round the house by daylight an' got
the hang o' things."

" Wall, you've got good grit, Sarah," said
the milliner, with enthusiasm. " You're as
good as half a dozen common women. I
declare, I'd go myself, but I shouldn't be a
bit o' use. I should catch it in a day. I
was always a great one for catchin' diseases."

"Aint ye well?" said Mrs. Gatchell,
turning suddenly toward Lilly. "Ye look
kind o' peak^. I guess ye set too much."

" I am perfectly well," said Lilly.

" Ye be ? Wall, sewin' is confinin*. Good-

Lilly had no appetite for her tea, and im-
mediately after she put on her doak and hat,
and went out The wind had gone down as
the sun set, the rain had ceased, and a few
pale stars were struggling through the thin,
vapory clouds.

The streets were very quiet, and she met
but few people. The choir in the Orthodox
Church were rehearsing, their voices ringing

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About four o'clock she rose and went
out, pausing an instant at the door, and
looking back. Miss Bullins, intent upon
some button-holes for which every moment
of daylight was needed, did not look up.
Lilly closed the door, and went up to her

It was small and simple, but it was the
best she had known. There were some
innocent efforts at decoration, a daintiness
about the bed, a few books on hanging
shelves, and a pretty drapery at the one
window. She looked around with a sink-
ing heart There was a small writing-desk
upon the table, and she went to it and wrote
a few lines, which she sealed and directed.
She put a few articles together in a satchel,
put on her doak and hat, and stole down
the stairs and into the street.

Choosing the quietest, she walked rapidly
through the village imtil the last house
was passed, and the open coimtry lay be-
fore her, bare and brown and desolate,
except for the blue hills in the distance,
which, summer or winter, never lost their

Two or three farmers, jogging homeward
with their week's supplies, passed her, and
one offered her a lift as far as she was going,
which she declined.

A mile from the village, a road turned
off to the left, winding through barren fields,
imtil lost in the pine woods. As she turned
into this, a man driving toward the village
reined in and called to her, wamingly :

" The pest-house is up yonder ! "

She merely bowed and kept on. The
man stared a moment, and whipped up his
horse again. It was dark in the woods, and
chilly, but she felt no fear, not even when
the sere bushes by the way-side rustled, or
twigs snapped beneath the tread of some
living creature.

As she came out into comparative light
she saw a buggy driven rapidly toward her.
She recognized the horse at once, and with
a quick heart-throb sprang behind a clump
of young pines, and crouched upon her

Dr. Horton drove by, his face turned
toward her place of concealment. He did
not know that any human eye was upon
him, and the heaviness of his spirit ap-
peared unrepressed in every feature. His
eyes followed listlessly the irregular outlines
of the way-side walls and bushes, but it was
evident that his thoughts were not of sur-
rounding things, otherwise he must have
o<Mm the crouching figure and the white face

pressed against the rough bark of the tree
whose trunk she clasped.

The girl's eyes followed him until he was
lost to sight in the woods. Then she came
out and pursued her way.

A curve in the road brought her in sight
of the house now devoted to hospital uses.
It was a two-story farm-house, black with
age, shutterless and forsaken-looking. Over
it hung the cloud of a hideous crime. A I
few years before, the owner, led on by :
an insane passion, had murda^ his aged .
wife in her bed. The sequel had been a
man's life ended in prison, a girl's name
blasted, a dishonored family, a forsaken
homestead, — ^for the son, to whom the prop-
erty had fallen, had gone away, leaving
no trace behind him. It had stood ix '
years as the murderer had left it ; its con-
tents had been imtouched by human hands;
the hay had rotted in the bam ; the fidds
were running waste. The very road itself
was avoided, and the old wheel-ruts wot
almost effaced by grass and weeds. Swal-
lows had possessed themselves of the coid,
smokeless chimne3rs and sunken, mossy
eaves; vagrant cats prowled about the
moldering mows and empty mangers. The
old well-sweep pointed like a gamit, ripd
finger toward heaven. The little strips of
flower-beds beneath the front windows were
choked with grass, but the red roses and
pinks and columbines which the old woman
had loved, still grew and bloomed in their
season, and cast their petals about fix
sunken door-stone, and over the crooked
path and neglected grass.

There were no flowers now, — only drift-
ing masses of wet brown leaves. The set-
ting sun had just turned the windows into
sheets of blood, and down in the pastoit
could be seen the rough clods of several new-
made graves. The silence was absolute.
Faint columns of smoke, rising from the
crumbling chimne3rs, were the only signs of
human presence.

A tremor shook the girl firom head to
foot, and she ceased walking. After alU
she was young and strong, and the wtxld
was wide; life might hold something of
sweetness for her yet. It was not too late.
She half turned, — ^but it was only for a mo-
ment, and her feet were on the door-step*
and her hand on the latch.

She tumed a last look upon the ooter
world, — the bare Adds, the leafless woods.
the blue hills, the fading sky. A despenue
yearning toward it all made her stretch oci
her hands as if to draw it nearer for a last

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£uewell. Then from within came the pite-
ous cry of a sick child, and she raised the
latch softly and entered the house. The air
of the hall smote her like a hand, com-
ing as she did from the cool outer air ; but
gmded by the cry, which still continued,
she grt^)ed her way up the bare, worn stairs,
pushed open a door, and entered.

The child's voice covered the sound of
her entrance and, sickened by the foul air,
she had leaned for some moments against
the wall before Widow Gatchell, who was
hokfing the child across her knee, turned
and saw her. The dd woman's hard, brown
features stiffened with surprise, her lips
parted widiout sound.

" I have come to help you," said Lilly,
putting down her satchel and coming for-

" Who sent ye ? " the widow asked,

"Nobody. I offered my services, but
Dr. Starkey refused to let me come. I
knew you would not send me away if I
once got here, and so I came."

" What was folks thinkin' of to let ye
come ? " asked the old woman again.

** Nobody knew it," Lilly answered.

"Wan," the widow said, "ye had no
sort o' business to come, though the Lord
knows they's need enough of hdp."

^'Pertums He sent me, Sarah," the girl
said, genUy. " Oh, the poor, poor baby !
Let me take it"

Widow Gatchell's keen eyes rested on the
giri's compassionate face with a searching
gue. She rose stiffly and laid the child in
her arms.

"There!" she said, drawing a long
breath. "You're in for it now, Lilly
CConneD, and may the Lord have mercy
on ye ! "

When Dr. Horton entered the pest-house
in the morning, the first person he encoun-
tered was Lilly O'Connell, coming through
the hall with a tray in her hands. In her
dosdy fitting print dress and wide apron,
the sleeves tuxiied back fix>m her smooth,
strong arms, her face earnest, yet cheerful,
she was the embodiment of womanly char-
ity and sweetness. He started as though
he saw a specter.

** Good heavens ! " he said ; " how came
yon here? Who — who permitted you to
come here ? "

"No one," said Lilly, supporting the
waiter on the post at the foot of the suirs.
" I just came. I asked Dr. Starkey to take
me as nurse, but he rcftised."

" I know, I know," said the young man.
He stepped back and opened the door, let-
ting in the crisp morning air. " But why
did you come? It is a terrible place for

" I came to be of use," she answered,
smiling. " I hope I am useful. Ask Mrs.
Gatchell. She will tell you that I am use-
ful, I am sure."

Horton's face expressed pain and per-

" It is wrong — all wrong," he said.
"Where were your friends? Was there
no one who cared for you, no one that you
cared for enough to keep you from this wild

She looked up into his face, and, for one
brief moment, something in her deep, lumi-
nous eyes chained his gaze. A soft red
spread itself over her cheeks and neck. She
shook her head slowly, and taking up the
tray, went on up the stairs.

Miss Bullins found the little note which
Lilly had lefr for her, ^prhen, as no response
came to her repeated summons to tea, she
moimted the stairs to see what had hap-

She read the hastily written lines with
gathering tears.

" You can get plenty of milliners and seamstresses;
but those poor women and children are suffering for
some one to take care of them. Forgive me for going
this way, but it seemed the only way I couM go.
Mav be I shall get ill ; but if I do, there is no beauty
to lose, you know, and if I die, there is nobody to
break their heart about it You will be sorry, I
know. I thank you, oh so much, for all your kmd-
ness to me, and I do love vou dearly. May God
bless you for all your goodness. If I should die,
what I leave is for you to do what you please with.
*< Your grateful and loving

" Lilly."

The good littie woman's tears fell faster
as she looked about the empty room.

" I never was so beat in my life," she
confided to a dozen of her intimate friends
many times over during the next week.
" You could have knocked me down with
a feather."

Dr. Starkey's amazement surpassed Miss
BuUins's, if possible. He first heard of the
step Lilly had taken from Dr. Horton. He
saw her himself a day or two later, on mak-
ing his tri-weekly visit to the hospital, and
commended her bravery and self-sacriAcing
spirit in phrases something less stilted than

He could not entirely banish an uneasy
feeling when he looked at the fresh young
face, but he became tolerably reconciled to

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pressed the hand she held close against her
breast, whispering over it wild words which
DO ear might hear.

All at once, the fingers which had lain so
inert and passive in her gra^ seemed to
her to thrill with conscious life, to return
funtly the pressure of her own. She started

A ray of dawning light crept under the
window-shade and lay across the sick man's
face. His eyes were open, and regarding
her with a look of perfect intelligence.

The giri rose with a smothered cry, and
laid the drooping hand upon the bed. The
dark, gentle eyes followed her beseechingly.
It seemed as if he would have spoken, but
the parched lips had lost their power.

She went to the sleeping woman and
touched her shoulder.
" I think he is better," she said, softly.
Instantly, the old nurse was on the alert.
She went to the bed, and laid her hand
upon the sick man's forehead and wrist, then
turned toward Lilly, with something like a

** Go and take some rest," she said in a
whisper. "The crisis has passed. He will

Dr. Horton's recovery was not rapid, but
it was sure.

From the hour of his return to conscious-
ness, Eilly O'Connell had not entered his

When a week had passed, he ventured to
question his faithful attendant. Widow Gat-
chdl, in regard to her. For twenty-four
hours he had missed the step and voice he
had believed to be hers, passmg and repass-
ing the hall outside his door. The old woman
turned her back abruptiy and began stirring
the already cheerful fire.

"She aint quite so well to-day," she
answered, in a constrained voice.
The young man raised his head.
"Do you mean that she is sick?" he
asked hastily.

"She was took down last night," the
widow answered, hesitating, and would have
M the room ; but the young man beckoned
her, and she went to his side.

•* Let everything possible be done for her,"
he said. " You understand— everjrthing that
M« be done. Let Mason attend to me."

" III do wry part," the old nurse answered,
in the pecuUariy dry tone with which she
^ws accustomed to veil her emotions.

I>r. Starkey, who, since the young doctor's
>lbo5, had been, perforce, in daily attend-
ance, was dosdy questioned. His answers,

however, being of that reserved and non-
committal nature characteristic of the pro-
fession, gave littie satisfaction, and Horton
fell into a way of noticing and interpreting,
with the acute sense of the convalescent,
each look of his attendant, each soimd
which came to him, keeping himself in a
state of nervous tension which did much
toward retarding his recovery.

Three or four days passed in this way, and
one morning, just at oay-break. Dr. Horton
was roused firom his light sleep by sounds in
the hall outside his door — ^hushed voices,
shuffling footsteps, and the sotmd of some
object striking with a heavy thud against
the balusters and plastered wall. He raised
himself, his heart beating fast, and listened
intently. The shuffling steps moved on,
down the creaking stairs and across the
bare floor below. A door opened and shut,
and deep silence filled the house again. He
sank back upon his pillow, faint and bewil-
dered, but still listening, and after some
moments, another sound reached his ears
faindy from a distance — the click of metal
against stones and frozen mold.

He had already been able, with some
assistance, to reach his chair once or twice
a day ; now he rose unaided, and without
consciousness of pain or weakness, found his
way to the window, and pushed aside the
paper shade with a shaking hand.

It was a dull, gray morning, and a light
snow was falling, but through the thin veil
he could see the vague outlines of two men
in the pasture opposite, and could follow
their stiff, slow motions. They were filling
in a grave.

He went to his bed and lay back upon it
with closed eyes. When he opened them.
Widow Gatchell was standing by him with
his breakfast on a tray.

Her swarthy face was haggard, but her
eyes were tearless, and her lips set tightly
together. He put his hand out and touched

" I know," he said, softly.

The .woman put the tray on the table,
and sank upon a chair. She cleared her
throat several times before speaking.

" Yes," she said, at last, in her dry, mo-
notonous voice. "She is gone. We did
all we could for her, but 'twam't no use.
She was all wore out when she was took.
Just afore she died she started up and seized
hold o* my hand, her eyes all soft an' shinin',
an' her mouth a-smilin'. * Sarah,' says she,
* I shall know the meanin' of it now ! ' The
good Lord only knows what she meant —

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some hidden spring, grew long and lush,
a single tiger-lily spread its glowing chalice.

The young man stood there with uncov-
«€d head a long, long time. Then, laying
his hand reverently upon the sod for one
instant, he went away.

Sevoral years have passed since these
events. Dr. Horton is still unmarried.
Thb is a source of great regret in the com-
munity with which he has become so closely
allied, and by which he is held in universal
regard and honor. There are some prema-
turely whitened locks upon his temples, and
two or three fine straight lines just above
his warm, steadfast eyes, but he is neither a
morose nor a melancholy man, and there are
those who confidendy hope that the many
dosed, untenanted rooms in the old home-
stead may yet open to the sunshine of a
wife's smile, and echo to the music of child-
ish voices.

It was two years before he met Miss
Fairfield, she having spent that time in
Europe with her mother and "Aunt Kitty."
It was a chance meeting, upon Tremont

street, in Boston. He was in the act of
leaving a store as she entered, accompanied
by her mother. He recognized them with
a fiiendly and courteous bow, and passed on.

Online LibraryPaulist FathersThe Century, Volume 21 → online text (page 29 of 78)