Phil. A. (Philip Augustus) Rush.

The teller's tale; a banking story for bankers, a law story for lawyers, a love story for lovers online

. (page 2 of 9)
Online LibraryPhil. A. (Philip Augustus) RushThe teller's tale; a banking story for bankers, a law story for lawyers, a love story for lovers → online text (page 2 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

early friendship and won her for his own.



TN spite of the opportunities and en-
* vironments of youth in which our
attachments are formed, it is true that
neither the course of true love, nor the
course of any other love, ever did run
smoothly. It is an examination of heart
by heart, which puts the affections and
character upon trial before sentiment
and judgment; and the issues involved
are life and death.

And, consciously or unconsciously,
lightly or seriously, this labor of love is
carried on after a certain age by every
boy and girl, man and woman, with
every other boy or girl, man or woman,
provided, of course, that all parties are
even remotely available, with the strug-
gle becoming more intense as the avail-
ability increases.


22 The Teller's Tale

Some psycho-physiologists claim that
the brain-lobe of love begins to develop
at the age of about thirteen years ; but I
doubt if they have ever located the seat
and centre of love force, or that there
is any rule which correctly fixes the be-
ginning of its manifestations.

Such rules are mere speculations like
those which fix the beginning of reason,
or the maturity of mental or physical

Long before Mary Blair went away to
Staunton for the benefit of one of those
splendid colleges, she and Arthur had
innocently plighted their troth, with the
expectation that they would some day
become man and wife.

Later on they felt the seriousness of
the matter and ceased to talk of the
future ; but when the time finally arrived
for her to go, and they were waiting
aside from the crowd, he said: "Mary,
you must read only the best books, and
not study too hard. Have plenty of
mountain air on your daily bill of fare,
and come back to us rosy and strong."

Love's Labor 23

"Of course, I'll do all that, Arthur,
and write you long letters besides. I am
proud of my little banker. Some day
we '11 be rich and happy."

The fast mail came thundering into
the station trembling under the weight
of compressed air, and Arthur's heart
beat time to the revolutions of its wheels
as they bore Mary away for their first
separation, while strange and conflicting
emotions were stirring within him
emotions which physical force could not
subdue nor moral brake control.

"Rich and happy," he repeated, as he
watched the train hurry away as if to
meet the approaching darkness, already
obscured by the dust and smoke behind.
And this dust and smoke seemed emblem-
atic of the cloud of distance and doubt
which was coming between them.

In this age when money is better than
men, it is refreshing to see a young heart
shocked at the suggestion that Cupid
plays second fiddle to Croesus, and that
happiness is measured in millions.

These were days long since passed

24 The Teller s Tale

when my story begins, and I only go
back for a glance at the hopes and heart-
aches of the springtime of life, because
their contemplation will help to make
and keep us young, and fix our sym-
pathies where they are sometimes needed.

For those who enjoy such reflections,
a glance will be sufficient; for out of
their experiences they may easily fill in
the rest. And even to those who look
upon the love of childhood as an ephe-
meral light, having neither stability nor
form, and not intended to prepare us for
the reality yet to come, this glance will
not seem too long.

Albert and Alice were at the train to
see Mary depart, and they and Arthur
walked away together.

While Mary was away Albert and Alice
were passing from the open frankness of
childish innocence to the reserve of youth,
and they were taking their old relation
of sweethearts for granted, without dar-
ing to re-pledge themselves according to
their better conception of what that re-
lation would mean in after-years.

Love's Labor 25

The bases of our likes and dislikes are
not developed or understood in child-
hood; for then, in our simple-minded-
ness and innocent -heartedness, one little
friend may be our sweetheart as well as
another. And Albert and Alice began
to understand that, while these early
attachments are not to be lightly broken
off, and cannot be entirely effaced, the
threads of affection in the knot of man-
hood and womanhood's true love are
many, and can be bound securely to-
gether only in the experiences which
come from later years.

When Mary came home from college
Alice had completed the curriculum at
the High School, but was prosecuting her
studies in music preparatory to a course
at Boston later.

So, the younger and lighter shall I
say brighter? days of our four young
people had passed at last. Schools were
practically finished; apprentices served.
Work at the bank now occupied the
greater part of the time of Albert and
Arthur, the one as teller, the other as

26 The Teller's Tale

bookkeeper; and in their work and
walk a devotion had sprung up which
won for them the title "David and
Jonathan." Mary had returned from a
second visit to Washington, where Alice
was her appreciated guest for quite a

They had all been out into the world
and met many attractive people and
seen many interesting places; and a
battle of mind and heart was stirring in
each between the old environment and
the new world beyond, the old ideas and
the new, the old attachments and the
new, as to which should exercise the
greater influence over their lives.

It is true that they lived in the little
city which had been their home from
birth ; but their vision had taken in the
world and the people going up and down
in it, and this larger view of life was a
revelation of space and interest beyond
any picture of childhood's imagination.
They saw

"The wonders of the world and all the things
that be."

Love's Labor 27

It has come down to us from a former
generation of strict disciplinarians, whose
parental authority was not only recog-
nized, but respected and revered, that

"Just as the twig is bent,
The tree 's inclined."

But now, in this modern day of
democracy and independence, and the
iconoclastic tendencies which are their
concomitants, we may prophesy only
what a boy or a girl will know not what
they will do.

The four had that large measure of
happiness which belongs to youth and
the rosy view with which youth goes out
to meet the future, for love's labor
offers the same incentive to mind and
heart then that ambition and duty give
them both in riper years.

To many a mind have the blandish-
ments of society set at naught the
teachings of childhood, and caused them
to become only mocking memories in the
years to come.

But to Mary Blair the earnestness,

28 The Teller's Tale

honesty, and independence of character
of Arthur St. John stood out in marked
contrast with the horde of sycophants
at the Capitol of the Nation, notwith-
standing that world of delight in which
she had moved above and beyond him.
And, in the light of this contrast, she
resolved that the fashions, follies, and
flatteries of the new life should not
divorce her from the affections of the



IT is with maturer years and the develop-
ment of character that we have the
completed growth of those subtle char-
acteristics or eccentricities of mind and
heart, which differentiate one person's
taste, judgment, feeling, estimation, and
appreciation, from another's, and which
most people have felt, but which no one
has yet been able to dissect or analyze.

We only know that certain persons are
alike in these characteristics, and of such
we say the one is the affinity of the
other; that they are in accord; and as
the violin string across the room is
moved by the vibrations of the other
string with which it is attuned, so the
hearts of such persons are responsive, the
one to the other. By their union they

30 The Teller's Tale

promote that universal harmony which
is the great law of creation.

It was for His own glory that God
instituted marriage; for anything which
adds to the harmony of the universe,
adds to the glory of Him who made the
law of harmony.

There is warning here for those
who promote discord by unions which
are inharmonious, and which therefore
break this law of the Lord. Let them
beware! Let them examine them-
selves! When other considerations in-
terpose, let them remember that the
degree of harmony which is to exist
between them depends on affinity the
cry of soul for soul, such as we observe
in the bird's call for its mate, or the cry
of the young child for the love and
caresses of its mother. Let each of us
hearken to this perfect harmony, while
he listens in his lover's life for the echo
of his own.

Since character, not the person, is
what we love, and character takes on
new traits in passing through different

Passion Tender and True 31

degrees of development, is it safe to
form tender attachments and make en-
gagements to marry at an early age?
May not both parties to the contract
have reason later on to regret the step
taken? Marrying in haste may be fol-
lowed by repenting at leisure.

It is sad, but nevertheless true, that
there are many married couples who are
not in even fair accord. (What a com-
mentary on me that the dead catgut
which the virtuoso strikes with his bow
should be better than I !)

There are instances of so-called love,
in which the parties have only one, or at
most only a few, strongly developed
affinities, and where, in other respects,
they diverge into absolute opposition.
These are "crossed in love," and un-
happiness is certain to ensue unless good
judgment, and forbearance, and will-
power, and charity that covereth a
multitude of faults, shall be exercised to
extend and perfect their agreements, and
to dwarf and eradicate their disagree-
ments, so that the one may develop into

32 The Teller's Tale

beauty and harmony, while the other
may disappear altogether.

Unfortunate are those people who,
because they never find their affinities,
are constrained, in honor, not to marry
at all; for it is not good for man or
woman to be alone.

More unfortunate are they whose per-
fect affinities are discovered only after
they have united with imperfect ones,
or who, for any reason, have been con-
demned to live with one while loving

Most unfortunate of all, are those
couples who dwarf and dissipate their
love, and have not the disposition, good-
ness, and power to develop it again.

Envied above any of these are they

"Have never met and never parted,
And never yet been broken-hearted "

the old bachelor and the ancient maid,
who pine not for the coming of an
affinity, but who go about some appointed
work of useful end, to find, as all who try

Passion Tender and True 33

it will find, that duty well done always
receives its just reward and, in com-
pensatory blessings, makes us equal in
happiness with others.

We are imperfect creatures at best,
and our imperfections manifest them-
selves no more plainly and strongly
anywhere than in love and marriage.
Many of us banish love and put idols on
its throne society, shekels, sensuality,
which not only fail to give satisfaction
while they rule us, but when they are
dethroned (as they will be, sooner or
later) the heart is incapable, in its own
strength, of reconciling itself to what-
ever choice has been made ; and unhappi-
ness follows, as it always has followed,
and always will follow, the transgression
of the law.

Let us not forget that "God is love";
that love in the human heart is not a
little thing that it should be lightly con-
sidered in the courts of heaven, even if
little things were despised up there ; and
that the soul by sin oppressed cannot
more readily find mercy before its God,


34 The Teller's Tale

than the heart, which knows not its
affinity, can obtain direction from the
same never-failing power.

There are in every case limitations on
the ability of the heart to judge for itself,
just as there are on the mind to reach
correct conclusions, and the failure to in-
voke a higher power for this purpose is
the prime cause of mismated marriages
and their train of unhappy consequences.

A contrary belief would put God out
of our married life, notwithstanding it is
by Him, according to His Word, that we
are ' ' joined together. ' ' When this Scrip-
ture is read to the young couple so
solemnly by the minister, do they sup-
pose that God helps them at the mar-
riage altar only, and that He confirms
there a choice already made without His
sanction and, perhaps, against His will ?



MOTHERS see better with the eyes
of love than children do with their
natural eyes. Mrs. Wilmot doubted
whether her daughter was satisfied to
yield her love to Albert ; so she asked her
about this one day.

"Mother," she replied, "Albert and I
have been sweethearts too long to think
of giving each other up now; and then
everybody expects us to love each other.
Don't you? I said everybody; but
sometimes, as we sit or walk together in
the evenings, and chat about current
events and the commonplace things we
see and know, I feel as if my heart were
far away; and I sometimes hear him
sigh as if he were estranged from me or
felt the want of sympathy between us.


36 The Teller's Tale

"But surely this is all imagination.
He is so noble, so good, so true; and he
and Arthur have been so kind and faith-
ful to us in our troubles. Is not this
uneasiness, this insufficiency, only a mani-
festation of that disposition which we all
have to find fault with those we love ? I
do not know ; but I could easily bear my
own feelings were I but able to answer
the demands of his heart on mine.

"Ever since our childhood Albert has
been my friend. My earliest and sim-
plest wish has been law to him. At
school he was ready to take my part, or
to supply my wants before I really knew
them myself.

"He carried my books to school and
gave me rare fruits and confections ; and
when I was sick he kept fresh flowers by
my bedside.

"And he was so thoughtful and careful
in showing favors that no one teased me
or seemed to question his right to give or
the propriety of my taking.

"Sometimes I fear that I am yet a
spoiled child, and that the bounty of his

Mother and Daughter 37

offerings has been so great that I do not
appreciate him or them as I should."

' ' My dear, I should be pained to believe
you had failed to bestow gratitude where
it belongs, irrespective of love. The latter
you may not give, except as your heart
shall dictate ; but the former cannot ever
be properly withheld."

"I do not intend to be ungrateful,
mother, but I do wish that I might no
longer feel indebted to Albert. I could
then test my love separated from obliga-
tion, and know whether this lack of sym-
pathy comes from the heart."

"I do not know how you are to efface
entirely your feeling of obligation, my
dear; but I believe you will have an op-
portunity to decide the whole matter
correctly when you go away to Boston;
for if your heart does not call for his
presence you may know that there is
some unseen barrier between you.

"It may be that his efforts to please
come from an unconscious desire to
bridge a barrier which his heart feels, but
which his mind does not understand."

38 The Teller's Tale

' ' Then I am glad we are going away. I
have found but one sentiment of his which
does not accord with mine his growing
desire for wealth, and the belief he seems
to have that it could bring us happiness.

"You know I have never cared for
money, except for the good which we
might do with it. It may be that he only
cares for it, especially, as an offering to
me. Some day he may find that the love
which I give and receive must be without
money and without price.

" I do not understand my perplexity at
all. Albert appears to be almost every-
thing that one should be, and my mind
can discover no reason why he should not
fill my life with satisfaction and help me
live up to every duty. I am afraid I
shall carry to Boston the perplexity I
feel in Willow Springs."

' ' There is but one way out of it all, my
dear. You should examine your heart as
well as you can, going to God in prayer.
It is He who guides us in all things, if we
ask Him, giving us help in due season
according to our needs."

Mother and Daughter 39

We shall see hereafter how Alice's
heart did respond to its own, and, with
her, we shall learn that the God-ap-
pointed way, though it lead through the
Valley of Sorrows and lash us against the
gates of Death itself, is always the best.



Colonel Wilmot

soldier in the unfortunate but un-
avoidable War of Secession, having taken
up arms in the Southern cause imme-
diately after his State withdrew from the

Elected captain of his company, the
youngest of that rank in the regiment,
he fought, with that courage and forti-
tude which he had inherited from his
forbears, from Manassas to Franklin;
and no man could say he ever fainted
through it all except from loss of blood,
that he ever faltered when the time to
charge arrived, or that he ever failed
to find the hottest part of the battle-


Colonel and Congressman 41

Two days before the battle of Franklin
he was raised to the rank of colonel. But
he made his last charge on that memora-
ble day, receiving two desperate wounds,
either of which would have disabled him
from further service on the field.

Though not of a towering, brilliant in-
tellect, Colonel Wilmot possessed one of
those rugged, well-balanced, persistent
minds which never refuses to acknow-
ledge its error, and which never knows
when to stop thinking until the goal of
understanding is reached.

This was especially true of his later
life ; for when at the close of the war, he,
like all true patriots, set about repairing
his fallen fortunes, and helping to restore
the peace and prosperity of the country,
it was most natural that his physical
condition should have made him a
thinker, rather than a laborer.

To this circumstance, we of Willow
Springs became indebted for the ad-
vanced position our community took as
an educational, industrial, business cen-
tre. It was his mind that saw what we

42 The Teller's Tale

needed; it was his enterprise that told
us how to get it; it was his judgment
that guided us to success afterward.

Colonel Wilmot was an illustration of
the fact that modesty is not an attribute
of negative characters only, and that it is
a quality becoming to man as well as
woman; for, with all his unassuming
manner, when the opportune time came
he was found not only possessed of
positive convictions, but aggressive in
stating them to others.

Not only this, but his life and work
showed that a philosopher need not be a
recluse, but, on the other hand, he may
be an active participant in the public
and private duties which lie about him.
This is true. Unless he does test his own
philosophy in the school of example he
may gradually diverge from the line of
practicality, and become the exponent of
theories which no one ever will or ever
can reduce to successful use.

Under Colonel Wilmot 's instruction,
we followed three rules in building and
operating our enterprises: We calcu-

Colonel and Congressman 43

lated the cost and expected profits; we
selected the best materials and ma-
chinery, regardless of price; and we
employed the most capable workmen,
regardless of salary.

Rarely accepting any office or position
himself, and forcing the desire for place
and power to sink into the one purpose
of common success, he was enabled to
avoid any jealousies or envyings, to fore-
stall dissensions, and to miss the shafts
of malice which are hurled at the heads
of many able men.

While this disposition kept his mind
free from selfish ambitions, the achieve-
ment of which can be of no lasting good
to any one, it did not prevent him from
being the reserve power upon which we
relied in every emergency.

What a delightful condition! If all
men could be so blessed there would be
no hindrance to the mind. There would
be nothing to impede the free, independ-
ent, and undisturbed progress of thought
in its dominion over the universe.

Under such circumstances, it is no

44 The Teller's Tale

wonder that Colonel Wilmot was in the
habit of going to the bottom of every
question, and not only banishing the
ordinary hindrances to success, but of
pushing out beyond the ken of his fellows
and reducing to practice those things
which before had been in the domain
of theory; of exploding useless and
illogical theories when they stood in
the way of progress; and of believing
whatever he found to be true, whether
based upon a preconceived theory or

As an original thinker, he had no pa-
tience with the idea that there should be,
in the business methods of men, any
more than in their legal relations, such a
thing as a wrong without a remedy, or
an error without a truth to work its elimi-
nation. And to him, this became a vision
which he followed with the same sense of
interest and duty that causes the disciples
of ^Esculapius to command that there
shall be neither rest nor recreation until
the time shall come when there is an
adequate antidote for every poison, a

Colonel and Congressman 45

cure for every pain, a solace for every
physical woe, and no disease without its
perfect remedy.

Prior to the war the enterprise and
material thought of the South had been
enthralled by the system of negro
slavery not only because that system
gave us riches without enterprise, but
because the capacity of the negro was
not equal to the labor involved in mak-
ing enterprises successful.

The time having arrived for the South
herself to be free, as well as her negroes,
and to diversify and increase her business
intelligently, she needed men like Colonel
Wilmot. We shall find that the North
also needed him, that he was thinking for
the whole country, and that the whole
country has cause to bestow gratitude
upon him ungrudgingly.

This was the father of Alice Wilmot
planter, manufacturer, banker, man-of-
affairs, thinker, Christian.

A director in the County Bank, the in-
terests of Colonel Wilmot there were two-
fold: besides looking after the interests

46 The Teller's Tale

of the Bank, he took a fatherly concern
in the young men employed there their
fidelity, their proper aspirations, and their

But, above all, it was in his family
that unit of good government, founded
on authority, obedience, and love that
he exhibited those refinements of con-
sideration, feeling, speech, and devotion,
which made him the idol of a wife and
daughter, whose tender affections fol-
lowed him into the world and made evil
seem an impossibility to him.

It is no wonder that Alice loved him
more dearly, and confided in him more
fully, as the years came on; and that she
found greater pleasure in cultivating her
mind and body under his direction, and
in taking diversion in the ways pointed
out by him and her mother, than she
could possibly have discovered along the
dubious paths where the world gives
pressing invitation.

Mr. Blair
Congressman Blair was in most par-

Colonel and Congressman 47

ticulars as unlike Colonel Wilmot, as one
reputable citizen could be unlike another.

He did not understand either of the
two policies of modern business, one of
which is based upon negro labor, the
other upon white labor.

We may say, in passing, that those who
pursue one of these policies find great
profit in managing the negro through his
inclinations and necessities, and grow
rich upon his toil, their policy being the
ante-bellum idea modified to meet the
changed relations between the white man
and the negro. Those who pursue the
other policy believe in developing the
country by the use of intelligent white
labor in the operation of modern ma-
chinery ; and they set up the proposition
that, by manufacturing our raw mate-
rials at home and husbanding our re-
sources here, we can send the finished
products abroad multiplied many times
in value, and make them the foundation
of a material prosperity in banking, in-
surance, manufacture, intensified agricul-
ture, electricity, architecture, etc. far

48 The Teller's Tale

beyond our present conceptions of what
prosperity means.

Inheriting a taste for politics from his
ancestors, and having the same culti-
vated in the not over-ratified atmosphere

2 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryPhil. A. (Philip Augustus) RushThe teller's tale; a banking story for bankers, a law story for lawyers, a love story for lovers → online text (page 2 of 9)