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Our Helen

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Mr. Lynde quietly pushed her one side.” — Page 14-


THE MAIDENHOOD SERIES.
OUR HELEN.
SOPHIE MAY,
AUTHOR OF “THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER,” “LITTLE PRUDT fl-F—RIKS,’'
“DOTTY DIMPLE STORIES,” “LITTLE FLYAWAY
SERIES,” ETC.
XLLUSTRATED.
BOSTON:
LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in tlie year 1874,
. BV LEE AND SHEPARD,
In the Office of the Librarian 'f Congress, at Washington,
5.1A


CONTENTS.
CHAPTER " ' PAGE
I. Helen's News. 9
II. Jubilee Hill 21
III. The Arrival 32
IV. Bridal Calls. 41
V. The Black Sheep 51
YI. “ Managing.” 58
VII. Bittersweet 67
VIII. Mrs. Page’s “ Despair Pit.” 76
IX. Old Bluff. 83
X. “Girls’ Plans.” 95
XI. Sunset Hill. 104
XII. Delia’s Party. 114
XIII. Gossip 123
XIV. Ashes of Boses 128
XV. The Green Trunk 140
XVI. At Sister Page’s. 150
XVII. Mr. Lynde’s Suggestion . . 162
XVIII. Studio Life 171
XIX. A Studio Chat 179
7


8 CONTENTS.
XX. A Telegram 188
XXI. Aunt Marian’s Warning 197
XXII. Moonshine . . 206
XXIII. Mrs. Page’s Whimsey 209
XXIV. Sharly’s Secret 227
XXV. Helen's Conflict •* 241
XXVI. Ozeh’s Obedience 253
XXVII. At St. Louis 264
XXVIII. Mystified 275
XXIX. Pencil Sketches ^82
XXX. A Pleasant Surprise 289
XXXI. Journey Home 300
XXXII. The Busy Bee 313
XXXIII. An Understanding 321
XXXIV. A Misunderstanding 333
XXXV. Sharly’s Confession.- 344
XXXVI. “Extracts.” 354
XXXVII. Congratulations 362


OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER I.
Helen’s news.
“ Whosoever quarrels •with his fate does not understand it.”
“ OOD evening, Miss Helen. Glad to see you
VJT here to-night; but why always in the corner?”
“ O, I’m only a boarding-school girl; and Mrs. Sat-
terlee lets me come to her parties just to look on, you
know.”
“ Does she, indeed ? That’s kind of Mrs. Satterlee.
But she’ll allow you to talk to me — won’t she ? I
want to ask some more questions about Quinnebasset.
Do you know I have a great fancy for that village?”
“Was it really your birthplace, Mr. Lynde? ”
“Yes; but I haven’t seen it for twenty-six years.
They tore me away weeping when I was scarcely
eleven months old. But I’m very curious about the
people there, especially the Asbury family of Jubilee
Hill.”
“Why, Mr. Lynde, I didn’t tell you our place is
called Jubilee Hill.”
“Ho; but, living in Boston, one comes to know a
great many things; and I hear your family is like a.
9


10
OUR HELEN.
nest of five singing-birds in tbe top of a tree! — bow
is it ? ”
“ Well, sir, there are five of us girls, and we all sing 1 ,
but only one of us has a voice like a bird, and that is
Charlotte. We call her Sharly.”
“And you have the care of the household, Miss
Helen?”
“Yes, sir; a little.”
“ It must be hard for a young girl like you.”
“Not so very; for we all run a little wild, particu
larly when father is gone. So aunt Marian says.”
“Is your father gone a great deal?”
“ Yes, sir, — attending law courts.”
“And how can you be spared.from home then?”
An anxious wrinkle cut across Helen’s forehead.
“ 0, Sharly is mother when I am away, and we take
turns going to school; but really Sharly ought to be
the one always to go,for she is so sensitive and delicate.
When mamma was living, she was very tender of
Sharly, and said she mustn’t have a hard time.”
“And how about yourself, Miss Helen? Do you
like to work ? ”
“No indeed; but I am older than Sharly, and not
at all delicate; so it doesn’t hurt me to work.”
Mr. Lynde had heard through Mrs. Satterlee of
Helen’s motherly devotion to Sharly, and he said now,
merely to test her loyalty,—
“All, yes; I see how it is. Your sister is young,
and girls of that age are very trving.”
“Sir?”
He had stopped the conversation most effectually.
Helen shrank farther into the corner, thinking, indig-


HELEN'S NEWS.
11
nantly, “ Why have I talked so freely with this sarcas
tic young man ? I verily believe he has been trying to
draw me out.”
“ Sir,” said she aloud, “ I’m going over to the table,
if you please, to see those engravings.”
As she walked off, supremely dignified, Mr. Lynde
gazed after her with a pitying smile. “ She is certainly
a high-bred looking girl, and not especially meek, I
should say. Poor child, if this story we hear is true,
she will take it very hard.”
Then he fell into little breezy conversations here and
there, wherever he happened to drift, and quite forgot
Helen till, an hour or so afterwards, chancing to cast
his eyes towards the farther end of the long parlor, he
saw her standing in an alcove, fixed and white. No
one was near her; no one seemed to be looking that
way. Thinking she was certainly about to faint, Mr.
Lynde quickly crossed the room, and offered her his arm.
“ There is a beautiful flower in the conservatory,
Miss Helen. I would like to show it to you.”
Helen mechanically raised her eyes, and gazed at
him “ as if he were a steeple in the distance,” but finally
allowed herself to be led out of the room. Instead of
swooning, however, she had no sooner reached the con
servatory, than she turned upon her escort, saying
through her set teeth, —
“You knew it, Mr. Lynde, — you knew it when you
were talking to me just now.”
“ Knew what, my child ?”
He felt himself a hypocrite for the question, but she
would not deign to answer it.
“ It isn’t true — it can’t be true. People talk about


12
OUR HELEN.
other people’s affairs, and tell what they don’t know,
and only guess at.”
“ Gossip isn’t worth minding,” said Mr. Lynde, eva
sively. “Just look at this singular plant.”
Helen waved him back with her hand.
“ She went down there to marry my father. I heard
Mrs. Satterlee talking to Dr. Bowen about it just now.
She went to Quinnebasset. What right had she at
Quinnebasset? Who sent her off so far?”
“The story may not be true,” said Mr. Lynde, kindly.
“I’m sure I hope not.”
“Yes, sir; Mrs. Satterlee said Mr. Lynde hoped it
wasn’t true, and that was the way I found out you had
heard it. You had heard it, but you never told me.
Who is she ? Who is Miss Carver? What right had
she at Quinnebasset?”
“ Calm yourself, Miss Helen, and I will tell you some
thing about her. She is one of the finest — ”
“0,1 don’t want to hear that. Describe her—that’s
all.”
“Well, then; a large woman, plain, genial, lovable — ”
“There, stop! do stop ! And she went away off two
hundred miles to marry a man with five children ! ”
“Miss Helen, has your father ever written you
about this?”
“Hot one word,” said Helen, with glowing eyes;
“ and that’s why I know it isn’t true. I told you so
before. Do you suppose my father would take a new
wife, and not write me about it, — me, the oldest
daughter! ”
“He ought not to do so, I am sure,” said Mr.Lynde,
thoughtfully.


HELEN’S NEWS.
13
“ O, lie couldn’t, and he wouldn’t: he is just the ten-
derest man. And the idea of his marrying again!
Why, he loved mother dearly.”
“Helen,” said Mrs. Satterlee, entering the conserva
tory with a faltering step, “I — I — here is a note for
you, which came enclosed in a letter to me. Put it in
your pocket, dear. Better not read it till you go back
to your boarding-house.”
Helen answered by deliberately opening the note.
“You weren’t afraid I’d faint away, Mrs. Satterlee?
I never fainted in my life. And the truth is, I’ve heard
all this before.”
“Heard it before? Well, I must say, dear, I feel
relieved. But who'could have told you, pray?”
“ Please, Mrs. Satterlee, will you wait till to-morrow
before you ask me any questions?”
Mrs. Satterlee looked at the white, calm face with
surprise, then took it between her two hands, and
kissed it.
“Why, yes, you queer child. I’ll wait till next year,
if you wish it;” and the simple-minded lady tripped
away to tell Dr. Bowen Helen was one of the reason
able kind, and was taking it as sweetly as an angel.
Mr. Lynde knew better. There was something in
the girl’s measured tone, and the subdued fire of her
eyes, which warned him not to leave her just yet. And
indeed, the moment Mrs. Satterlee was out of hearing,
Helen’s excitement returned. Like many young per
sons, she was a strange compound of frankness and
reserve. With Mrs. Satterlee, a Quinnebasset friend,
whom she really loved, she was always shy and reti
cent, but in the presence'of this stranger, for whom she


14
OUR HELEN.
did not care a pin, she could pour out her real feelings
in a burning torrent.
“What shall I do?” cried she, crushing the letter in
her hand, and darting through the doorway. “What
will become of me ? for I suppose I can’t die! ”
Mr. Lynde sprang after her. “ Child, where are you
going ? What are you trying to do ? ” for she was
running into the street.
“ I know what I am doing! Let me alone ! ”
Mr. Lynde quietly pushed her to one side, and pur
his hand on the door-knob. The action recalled Helen
to her senses.
“You didn’t think I was trying to run away — did
you? Why, I only wanted to breathe. I never shall
breathe again, never, deep down! O, those children,
the children mother gave to me! ”
Mr. Lynde opened the door, and let the cool evening
air into the hall.
“I wouldn’t have believed it of my father, my dear,
dear father! To think he shouldn’t tell me till the last
minute, and then put the note in Mrs. Satterlee’s letter.
Isn’t it cruel, cruel ? ”
Mr. Lynde thought it certainly was, but refrained
from saying so. “Her sense of justice is outraged, and
I can’t blame her in the least,” thought he.
“ And perhaps he wouldn’t have told me of it now,
only he wants me to go right home. It is dreadful,
dreadful; it just breaks my heart. O, my mother,-my
mother! I thought he loved my mother ! ”
“So it is all settled — is it?’’said Mr. Lynde, his
sympathies strongly moved for the poor child.
“ Settled ? ” wailed Helen. “ O, yes; wedding next
Thursday.”


HELEN'S NEWS.
15
“Ah, well; we must always accept the inevitable.”
“ No, we mustn’t, either. If she is ever so inevitable,
I won’t accept her. "Who made her inevitable ?” cried
Helen, with eyes as bright as fire. “ She did it herself.
She made father believe he needed a wife: you can
make father believe anything. All she had to say was,
‘Poor man, how I pity you, with no head to your fam
ily but just Helen! ’ ”
Mr. Lynde’s mouth, which he had been keeping on
drill duty, suddenly danced out of line.
“ O, yes, you may laugh, Mr. Lynde, for you don’t
know father. See what he writes. Why, she makes
him believe she loves children, the artful creature! He
says so. There are five of us, and I wish there were
sixteen, — yes, and all wicked like me.”
Mr. Lynde stepped before Helen again, and put his
hand on the door-knob.
“ 0, I’tu not crazy. I only said Miss Carver took a
fancy to Sharly and the children when she went to
Quinnebasset; and I suppose that’s why she wants to
come to our house.”
“ She has never seen you, Miss Helen.”
Helen looked up eagerly.
“ No, — O, no. I didn’t think of that. She wouldn’t
dare come if she had seen me; was that what you
meant? You know her: can’t you tell her about me?
Tell her I’m dreadful, and never was conquered. I
take it from my great-grandmother. You tell her she’ll
have trouble with me, and she’d better look out.”
“ Helen,” said Mr. Lynde, in a tone that demanded
attention, “ you shock me. How can a girl appear so
sweet as you do, and be so bitter underneath. I will


16
OUR HELEN.
tell you now what I said to Mrs. Satterlee when I
heard this report. ‘ If the children are all like Helen, 5
said I, ‘ I don 5 t so much wonder at Miss Carver. 5 55
“ Did you say that ? 55 said Helen, blushing. “ Then
I 5 m deceitful. But when anybody comes that hasn 5 t
any right, and takes those children away from me, —
my own little Bel, and all — 55
“ My poor child, if you knew this woman you dread
so much : — 55
“ I shall know her soon enough ! But do you think
I’ll call her mother? No, never! O, please don 5 t go
away, Mr. Lynde; stay here a minute. I can control,
myself well enough, but I don 5 t want to. 55
“ Don 5 t want to control yourself? 55
“ No. I’ll have to do it by and by, and do it forever,
ril have to go into my brains, and lock inyself in, and
stay there, on account of the children, — don 5 t you
know ? don 5 t you see ? But now I want to talk, — I
must, I will, — and there 5 s nobody I can speak to but
you. If I said a word to Mrs. Satterlee, she would run
and tell. 55
“And how do you know but I, too, shall run and
tell ? You never saw me more than half a dozen times
in your life. 55
“ No, sir; but a man would be ashamed to report
what a little girl says. And, besides, you are not a
friend of our family, like Mrs. Satterlee. You haven 5 t
the least interest in this. 55
“ Perhaps I have more interest in it than you imagine,
Helen. The lady you are ready to tear in pieces is
my aunt. 55
“ What! Miss Carver ? Why, Mr. Lynde! 55


HELEN'S NEWS.
17
“My dearly beloved aunt Katherine, and the best
friend I have in the world.”
“ O, I’m so sorry, sir! but, tben, I can’t help it.”
“And, Helen, if she has really consented to enter
your family, believe me, you are a very fortunate girl,
— more fortunate than she is, I fear.”
“ O, now you are going to hate me, Mr. Lynde, and
I don’t blame you. And of course you’ll tell her what
I said, — it’s right that you should.”
“ Indeed, my child, I shall do no such thing. Why
should I prejudice my aunt against the very person she
will need to lean upon when she comes into the family?”
There was consummate tact in these words; they
thrilled Helen for the moment, and gave her a glimpse
of the noble womanhood which was latent within her.
“Well,” said she, tremulously. “But I tell you it’s
dreadful to have anybody’s father so imposed upon.
He actually says she reminds him of mother! Now,
Mr. Lynde, the truth is, mother was an angel.”
“ Helen, wouldn’t you like to go home, — that is, to
your boarding-house ? ”
“ I don’t care where I go. No matter what becomes
of me now.”
“ Because, if you wish, I will make your adieux to
Mrs. Satterlee, and take you away quietly.”
“ Thank you. You see, mother gave those children
to me.”
“ I can’t leave the girl in this state of mind,” thought
Mr. Lynde, as they walked silently along the street;
“but what shall I say to her?”
“ Helen, I suppose the children love you ? ”
“ Dearly, dearly.”
2


18
OUR HELEN.
“ And you have some influence over them ? ”
“ They don’t need any influence ; they ai-e just the
best little things, if you only let them make butter
scotch, and do what they want to.”
“ But they think very much as you think ? ”
“ Poor little dears ! — why shouldn’t they ? ”
“Well, it has just occurred to me what a Bedlam
you can make, if you choose.”
Helen stopped short for a full half minute, her face
working with a variety of expressions.
“ Couldn’t I?” said she at last, clicking her boot-heels
firmly against the pavement; “ but do you suppose I’d
do such a thing, Mr. Lynde ? ”
“ I can’t say. It depends upon what sort of girl you
are; and you are almost a stranger to me.”
“Yes; but you think I’m a perfect fury, and that
isn’t true. I’ve no idea of stirring up Sharly and the
children. Poor, poor Sharly! If she doesn’t know
she is imposed upon, I shan’t tell her. I’ll just be
quiet, and do my duty.”
“ Cheerfully, like a c child of God,’ ” added Mr. Lynde,
gently, as if he were finishing Helen’s sentence for her.
Helen started, and gazed up at him out of the cor
ners of her eyes. How white his face looked in the
moonlight! She recollected now that she had heard
that he was a sick man, — sick, and very serious-
minded, no doubt, though one would hardly take him
for that sort of person.
• “ Here we are at the house,” said she. “ Thank you;
you are very kind.”
“ Good by, Helen. Who knows but I may call to
pee you some time at Quinnebasset ? And, on the other


HELEN'S NEWS.
19
hand,” added he, in a tone of sadness, “ we may never
meet again. But in either case, my friend, you need
not fear that what you have said to me to-night will
do any harm; and I hope you won’t think I didn’t
care, and didn’t pity you, for I do care, and perhaps I
understand your feelings better than you suppose.
Only, my child, do try to be patient, and true to
yourself.”
“ O, yes; true to myself, such as I am,” responded
Helen, trying to smile.
“ Always strike your hour.”
“ I don’t think I know what you mean, sir.”
“Why, do as a clock does when its long hand reaches
twelve. It strikes its hour, its appointed hour, and
then goes on to the next without looking forward or
back.”
“ O, dear, yes.”
“Well, you have a pretty big hour to strike this
time, Helen; I can’t deny it; but your good sense tells
you it won’t do to stand and hesitate, and clear your
throat, and beg to be let off ten or fifteen minutes, for
that would set the clock all wrong. You have to do
your present duty, and let the future take care of itself.
I mean, let God take care of it. And now — ”
Mr. Lynde checked himself for Helen was gazing
fiercely at the stars as if she did not hear. He would
say no more. Never mind; perhaps his preachment
had not been lost, after all; and he smiled as he thought
of that famous cold city of the Greeks, where words
congealed as soon as spoken, and so were preserved
till the next summer, when they thawed, and became


20
OUR HELEN.
audible. There are many frozen words in the world,
but the time always comes for them to thaw.
“ And now, good by again. Will you shake hands,
Miss Helen ? ”
Helen gave him her hand without looking at him.
“ It will come to me one of these days how wicked-
I am ; but I don’t feel, it yet. When it says, c Honor
by father and thy mother,’ it doesn’t mean step-mother,
now, does it ? ”
“ Good by, Miss Helen ! ”
“ O, yes, I forgot. Good by, Mr. Lynde.”


JUBILEE HILL.
21
CHAPTER II.
JUBILEE HILL.
S QUIRE ASBURY’S house held its head high,
overlooking all the little village of Quinnebas-
set. It was of freestone, and thoroughly well built,
from the French roof, with dormer windows, to the
broad piazza steps, which let themselves down upon
the April mud with a leisurely, well-to-do air, as if
they had settled there merely to have a good time, and
enjoy the prospect from Jubilee Hill.
On the south and east, you could see the river and
the bridge, and Helen was gazing out of the “ garden
chamber” window upon a sort of Indian-ink landscape,
bare trees, and whity-brown hills against a dingy sky.
Nothing had come to life yet in the garden but the
Italian bees, and they were bumping their heads to
gether half awake, or creeping about in the patches of
snow, dreamingthey were in Italy, but finding out their
mistake when chilled to the heart, and unable to flj
back to the hive.
Helen had swept and garnished the parlors for the
expected bride, and here, at three o’clock in the after-
ternoon, she sat in her morning wrapper, “ weary
and heart-tired,” thridding her fingers through her
hair.


OUR HELEN.
“ Well, at any rate, Madam That-is-to-be, you won’t
dare come up here, for this is my castle.”
It was the prettiest chamber in the house. On a
corner bracket stood a statue of Love reviving Life — a
winged youth bending tenderly to warm with his
breath a limp white butterfly; on another bracket, a
Clytie, and against the wall several engravings and
fine pictures in oil, together with bits of framed sea
weed and autumn leaves; in the best light, at,,the
foot of the bed, Mrs. Asbury’s portrait — a noble face,
full of intellect and strength; while over that and the
largest pictures drooped caressingly the glossy leaves
of an English ivy, which extended quite across the
room. It was a sacred ivy, for Mrs. Asbury had
brought it with her when she came to the house a
bride. For eighteen years it had. adorned the parlor
walls, but to-day Helen had unclasped its tendrils from
their old supports, and brought it up stairs “ where it
belongs,” said she to the wondering children. “Father
lets me have mother’s portrait, and the ivy and the
portrait go together.”
“ But the parlor looks so bare! ” murmured Shnrly.
“Hang up a hornet’s nest, then,” said Helen, grimly.
Alas! her lightest word was law. If there was such
thing as a hornet’s nest on the premises, the twins
would find it, or perish in the attempt. Helen would
have been appalled if she had known that at this
moment Vic and Van were dragging a sort of swamp
back of the hill, and filling their aprons with rubbish.
As she sat “ dreading her hair ” and surveying the
landscape, she saw Ozera Page walking rapidly across
the garden. “Bad news of some sort,” she thought,,
for he was a man that always brought it.


JUBILEE HILL.
23
“Anything happened, Mr. Page?” said she, putting
her head out of the window.
“No, ma’am; I only came to fetch some shorts for
the cow, and I thought you’d be pleased to know that
by the blessing of Providence and Atwood’s bitters,
Dorkis is a good deal better, and thinks she can get up
here to-night for a.call.”
“O, does she?” replied Helen, faintly; “that’s as
bad news as I want to hear,” added she to herself.
“ Dorcas Page! she will be, equal to a funeral sermon
for taking down the bride’s spirits. But why do I
care ? If madam marries for money, she deserves
tribulation.”
, “ My darling friend,” cried Helen, not audibly, but
with her little gold pen, which she suddenly seized and
dipped in ink, — for whether she combed her hair or
not, she must write to her beloved Diantha Cary when
ever the mood was on her, —
“Dear Di, and O dear Di: Folks can’t die, though,
when they want to. Thurzy Bumpus, our girl, has gone
off, and left all the dishes in the house dirty. And now
Dorcas Page is cpming up here to-night to condole
with the bride. I expect next thing aunt Marian will
drop in, and that will crown the whole. The children
are in an awful way, or were when I got home, weep
ing and wailing, and threatening to drown themselves.
Sharly still declares she’ll keep her room; but bless
you, she won’t. They all exclaim, 4 O Helen, we won’t
have any mother but you! ’ It touched me to the
heart to hear them shout for joy when I got out of the
stage Saturday night. Bel hid her face in my bosom
just as she used to do when she was afi’aid of rats, and


24
OUR HELEN.
the twins seemed to have an idea that Helen would
make it all right somehow. Precious innocents ! As
if I could forbid the banns ! Father went away Satur
day morning; so I haven’t seen him yet, and shan’t
till he is that woman’s husband. When I parted from
him last Christmas, he was so dear and sweet! and
now, O Di, I wish he had failed last fall when your
uncle did. He could have failed, for he says some of
his money is “ invested in bubbles;” and then, of course,
this wouldn’t have happened, for she is a teacher, and
marries for money; you know it as well as I.
“I was going to tell you about our kitchen girls,
Polly Pidge and Thurzy Bumpus. The moment Polly
heard of the expected marriage, she ran away, though
we didn’t care much, for, as the other girl, Thurzy, says,
‘ she’s a slack piece; ’ but now, here goes Thurzy her
self! She is the one who has lived with us five years,
and is always relating her religious experiences, having
spells of being ‘ sick and tired o’ sin.’ She is a diamond
in the rough, and I never dreamed of her doing this.
Iv’e told you about her, you must remember. Her
real name is Theresa, but her mother has mispro
nounced it from the cradle.
“ ‘ O, Thurzy,’ said I, this morning, when she an
nounced her intention of leaving, ‘is this doing as you
would be done by ? What has become of your re
ligion ? ’
“‘Well, the fact is,’ said she, ‘I ain’t overstocked
with grace, and never pretended to be. Pm an inde
pendent woman, and belong to as respectable a family
as there is in the Wix neighborhood, and I don’t feel
that I am called to bear persecution in this shape.


JUBILEE HILL.
25
If it was for righteousness’ sake, I wouldn’t say a
word.’
“ ‘ What persecution do you mean, Theresa Bumpus?’
“‘A city lady,’ said she, and began to pack her
trunk. •
“I know very well Delia Liscom is the cause of this
— her sister in the church, and a great busybody.
“‘Well, girls,’said Theresa, after dinner,‘I’ve put
up with a good deal from you, first and last, because
you’re nothing but children; but I ain’t called to
slave for newfangled folks when they’re too good to
let me eat at the same table with ’em; that’s my doc
trine.’ Then she throws the dinner bones into the
stove to burn for the hens, which scents the house
, dreadfully; and off she goes, with her nose in the air,
and up I come to my garden chamber. Erastus, our
hired man, will leave next, I suppose; and why not wo
children ? This is a pretty time of year to be married
in! ‘Happy the bride the sun shines on;’ but it
doesn’t shine on her to-day, and I hope she isn’t happy,
for she has no right to be — Just here Sharly puts in
her head, beautifully frizzed. ‘ Would you wear your
best silk?’ ‘Ho,’ I say, ‘blue poplin ;’ and she retires,
dear, sweet, forgiving girl, to deck herself like a lamb
for the sacrifice. I shall wear my horrid green merino,
and yank my hair into a hard knot, as a faint express
sion of my feelings on this melancholy occasion. Chin
out, head back. ‘How d’ye, Mrs. William Asbury ?
Do .you like your tea strong ? ’ I’ll treat her with all
respect, for she’s my unfortunate father’s wife. I’ll do
my duty — ‘ cheerfully, like a child of God ! ’ What
makes that sentence keep ringing in my ears ? I do


26
OUR HELEN.
want to be good, — the very highest kind of good, —
but you may tell that pale young man it’s a little too
much to ask me to be cheerful.
“ Ah, Di, I could bear it if papa had talked to me,
and asked my opinion. He always treated me like the
head of the family before; he never bought the chil
dren a pair of shoes without consulting me, and he
would make me select the new carpets last fall, though
aunt Marian Avas to meet us in Boston the very next
day, and there is nothing she likes so well as giving
advice, fie said, ‘Helen, your taste is better than
hers; and more than that, the carpets are yours, and
you are the one that I want to please.’ My carpets,
indeed! But what wounds me sorest is his forgetting
mother. Di, there isn’t a day or an hour but I think
of that precious woman; yet here is her own husband
— he does not remember her any more. It is so dread
ful to be forgotten, to be cast away like a wilted
flower! O, my angel mother! does it grieve you up
there to know it? Her painted eyes follow me as if
her soul was in them; they keep saying, ‘ Helen, I
beseech you to take care of those children.’ ‘ Mother
dear, I will. She shan’t harm a hair of their heads.
I’ll hold Bel close to my heart, and if tender Sharly
cries at a sharp word, I’ll take her away, and make a
home for her somewhere else. You gave the children
to me, and I will always remember it. Father may
forget you, but not I. I will never call any other
woman mother ’ — Here comes my pretty Sharly in her
blue poplin, the little beauty. I’m afraid the bride will
get ‘shined on,’ after all. But I must go and see to
those children. Good by.
“ Your once happy Helen.


JUBILEE HILL.
27
“P. S. I told you how I burned my hand, when I
was a wee, wee girl, by taking up a flatiron when
mother had warned me not to do it. ‘ Now Helen
must suffer,’ said mamma, in sorrow. £ No,’ said I,
stoutly, £ Ellie won’t suffer;’ and I didn’t even cry.
I shut my teeth together, and say it now, ‘ Ellie won’t
suffer.’ ”
While Helen wrote, the whole Asbury mansion
seemed to be flying loose down stairs. Theresa
Buvnpus, in her eagerness to escape the possible in
dignity of eating at second table, had departed at two
o’clock, leaving the dinner dishes unwashed, and the
stable door open. The Jersey cow, ambling along to
the back door for her usual supply of potato parings
and crusts, was surprised to find the pail empty, and
little Miss Bel sitting on it, drumming with her leaky
boots. The children’s quest had led them through
bogs, snow-drifts, and mud; but they had succeeded at
last in finding a hornet’s nest, which, with a half bushel
or so of other rubbish, they had dropped on the parlor
sofa and chairs for Helen to arrange as it should please
her fancy. She did know how to make things look so
nice! and they had always wanted her to stick some
birds’ nests on the walls, and hang up one or two hol
low turnips, with something green growing in them,
as Lydia Ann Crane did; and she could do it, for she
had the materials right at hand. But this was not all.
Bel had been drawn bodily out of a mud-puddle, and
sister Vie had dressed her anew in a ragged frock and
faded apron; another “ lamb decked for sacrifice.”
And the soiled clothes, what more natural than that


28
OUR HELEN.
Vic should hang them to dry in the front windows up
stairs — a mass of blue at one window, a mass of red
at another, for Vic’s balm oral also needed drying.
Vandelia, the more lady-like of the twins, was scuffing
about the yard in Erastus’s rubbers, dragging after her
Sharly’s plaid shawl, well bespattered with mud. It
was evidently a headless home; there was no king in Is
rael, and each child did that which was right in his own
eyes. It seemed to be right just now in the eyes of
Victoria, the more enterprising of the twins, to make
butter-scotch, instead of dressing to receive the new
mother.
“Come, Van, butter the pan,” was her poetic sum
mons from the doorway. Time was short, and they
might never have any more jollifications after to
day.
“Will her come to stay?” wheezed ragged Isabel
through her stuffed pipes. Isabel was subject to
croup.
“Yes, she’ll stay for everlasting,” replied Vic, nasally.
Vic had a severe cold in the head.
“ Well, her musn’t; don’t want her to; Helen’s my
mamma.”
“Hush, Bel Raspberry,” said Van, patting her with
the butter-knife, and looking at Vic.
But Vic was suspending judgment; she did not
know yet exactly how to feel about the new mother,
but it would all depend upon Helen. Helen had said,—
“ Children, now don’t be rude to this person, and
hurt papa’s feelings. Let’s show her that our mother
was a lady, and taught us good manners.”
Thus preached Helen; but how did she practise >


JUBILEE HILL.
29
“ If she throws bade her head, I’ll throw back mine/
resolved the shrewd Yic.
“ Children, children ! what are you doing here ? ”
called out a clear, young voice, and Helen sailed into
the kitchen in. her sea-green merino, known as “aunt
Marian’s folly,” the most unbecoming and unpopular
dress in her whole wardrobe.
“ What 1 making candy at this time of day ? ”•
Yic whisked off the kettle, answering meekly, “You
see, we felt bad, and wanted to do something; and
what else could we do ? ”
“You think molasses cures everything,” said Helen,
with an amused smile; “but Pm really ashamed of
you. Hot dressed yet, and this nice lady coming!”
“ Well, you’d better look in the glass your own self.
What made you go and put on that awful green dress,
and not curl your hair? ”
Helen laughed, and put up her hand to feel the rich,
dark tresses which she had doubled and twisted into a
tight bunch at the back of her head.
“ So you think I’m homely, girls ■— very, very
homely?”
“Ho, we don’t,” cried Yic, flying into her arms, and
leaving Yan to scrape the kettle; “we think you’re
the handsomest girl that ever lived, only you’re hand
somer when you wear decent clothes.”
Helen was very well aware of this. She had little
permanent beauty, but great latent possibilities, and
her style of dress made all the difference in the world
with her looks. Yic began to suspect mischief.
“ Why don’t you try to be pretty, Helen ? I mis,


30
OUR HELEN.
trusted all the time you didn’t want her to come, and
now I know it.”
“ She’s no business coming here, so there! ” said Van,
dropping the kettle, and joining in the embrace.
“No binny cornin’,” wheezed Bel, clutching Helen
by a green ruffle.
“ Dearest, darling sister, we don’t want any mother
but yo'u,” cooed Vic, through her nose, echoed by Van,
and reechoed by Bel.
“ There, there; that’ll do,” said Helen, pressing the
little rebels to her aching heart. “ You all fell in love
with her when she was Miss Carver, and you didn’t
know what was going to happen; and now, if you
really love me, you’ll go dress yourselves. I look nice
and tidy — don’t I ? So must you; and we’ll all behave
as well as we can. They say she’s a lady, and no
doubt she’ll treat us well; but if she doesn’t,” — here
Helen choked a little,—.“if she scolds, there’s a sister
Helen to protect you; so never you fear.”
After which very j udicious remark, our eldest daugh
ter began to wash the candy kettle, and clear up the
kitchen; while the children started on voyages of dis
covery for their best clothes. Helen, the only one
with the least sense of order, had been gone so long
that she did not know much better than they where to
hunt, and consequently they all got in a flurry, and
there was no time for Helen to take a last look at the
parlors. She never dreamed of the hay and stubble
lying about, and Sharly did not see it, for she was in
her chamber doing her hair over again. Vic could not
find her sash, which was dangling from the rafters of
the shed; Bel’s hair ribbons had been whirled away


JUBILEE HILL.
Cl
by a breeze; Van had ripped her blue skirt off the
waist, and Helen had drawn her into the back parlor,
where somebody said there was a pincushion, when
their father’s step was heard in'the hall.
“Scamper!” cried Helen, opening the china closet
door, and pushing Van out of sight.
This done, she dropped the pincushion, and had just
got her chin in position as the door opened, and be
hold, the new mother!


32
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER III.
THE ARRIVAL.
M ISFORTUNES never come singly. As Mrs. As-
bury entered the front door, Mrs. Page walked
in through the kitchen.
“ Ah! cousin William,” sighed she, “ I haven’t been
out but once this spring, and that was to Mrs. Liscom’s
funeral; but I thought I must try to get up here to
congratulate the bride.”
It was Mrs. Asbury’s first welcome home, and it
gave her a dreary feeling, as if a hopeless rain-storm
had set in. It seemed to have a blighting effect on the
fire, for the two live coals which were left of it sud
denly turned black in the face and died. Of course
Mrs. Page was presented at once, and while she offered
a dark-gloved hand to the bride, and drojiped a trem
ulous kiss on her cheek, Helen had time to observe the -
state of the parlors, and blush for shame. She had not
looked at the bride yet. She must begin at her feet,
and take her in by slow degrees. The feet were small,
and neatly cased in French kids. So far, so good.
“Yes, quite well, thank you, Mrs. Page.” The voice
was low, sweet, delicious. Helen ventured then to
raise her eyes as far as tlie bonnet-strings; but by that
time Sharly had brushed by her, and thrown both arms


JUBILEE HILL.
33
round the intruder’s neck, exclaiming with a girlish
gush,—
“ O, my dear mamma, I am so glad to see you! ”
Helen was chilled, disgusted. Never had Sharly’s
sweetness been so little to her taste.
“It’s a lie. Sharly doesn’t know it, but it’s a lie.”
She returned her father’s greeting warmly. She had
not seen him for months, and he did look so uncomfort
able ; beginning to repent already pei'haps. Dear papa.
She must pity him, for she was sure he had been
shamefully imposed upon.
“ Katharine, this is our .Helen, the eldest, the one
you have never seen.”
He was a proud man, and there was a good deal of
the autocrat in his upper lip; but his mouth trembled
now, and his voice sounded husky. He looked plead
ingly at Helen, as if not at all sure what she would do.
He knew he had not treated her frankly and fairly':
would she visit her resentment upon the strange lady
he had brought home ? She was such a fearless girl,
and he’had seen her blaze with anger at what she con
sidered an injustice.
It was the decisive moment. Helen looked up, an
Mrs. Asbury looked down. She was only a very little
taller, but Helen had a feeling that she did look down,
or rather that she herself was looking up. It was a
grand soul that sat in those mild eyes. Even Helen
saw that. A plain face, too irregular to lay the slight
est claim to beauty. A straight mouth, but too wide;
well-arched brows, but too thin ; cheek bones high, and
jaws broad j there was nothing perfect but the high,
3


34
OUR HELEN.
calm forehead and the noble head, which was concealed'
as yet under the gray travelling-bonnet.
“He didn’t marry her for her beauty,” thought
Helen; but at that moment Mrs. Asbury smiled, and
against her will Helen felt the fascination.
It was a broad smile in more senses than one, for a
smaller mouth could hardly have expressed so muckf
and certainly would not have revealed so many superb
teeth.
“ How do you do, ma’am ? ” said Helen, faintly, but
there was no frost in the words. She had forgotten to
put it in. Yes, and worse than that, she actually
raised her lips to the beguiling face. Strange mistake,
owing entirely to the bewitchment of that smile; but
Mrs. Asbury knew better than to take advantage of it,
but playfully turned and kissed Helen on the cheek.
A sharp woman, very, but not cold-natured; for
directly after she pressed Helen close in her arms, and
whispered, —
“I know all about it, dear. I too have lost a
mother.”
Tears sprang to Helen’s eyes, but she crushed them
back with the sudden thought, —
“ That was an artful speech ! She made it on pur
pose to win me over, but I’m not so easily duped.”
“ Come here, my poor fox-lorn little Hair-Bell,” said
the fond father, taking up the baby just arrived from
the kitchen.
She owed her pet name to her luxuriant hail-, which
at this moment resembled a pathless wilderness, full of
snares and pitfalls.
“ What is that swelling on the child’s cheek ? ” ex-


JUBILEE HILL.
85
claimed Mrs. Page, as the new mother searched for a
kissable spot. “Mumps, I do believe. Does it hurt
you to swallow anything sour ? ”
“’Tisn’t sour,” replied the little one, relieving her
cheek of an instalment of butter-scotch.
Mrs. Page’s anxiety was lulled for the time.
“ Vic, my dear, where’s the other half of you ? ”
“ Coming, papa; ” and Van’s face was “ dimly seen
and withdrawn,” till she had finished pinning her frock
together, when she stole in, looking like a gypsy, or,
worse still, like a civilized child relapsed into bar
barism.
Greetings exchanged, she glanced at Vic, to know
how to behave. Vic, copying Helen to the life, was
coolly looking over an album. Van turned and coolly
looked over a book. Even little Bel had drawn away
from the stranger, after one sticky kiss, and gone to
help Helen remove the load of miscellaneous rubbish
which littered the room. Sliarly, pretty, winsome crea
ture, had attached herself to the new mother, and was
offering those little hospitalities which Helen was too
agitated to remember. It was Sharly who remem
bered dear mamma’s bonnet and wraps, and brought
fresh towels when she bathed her face and hands in
the marble basin, back of the front stairs. It was
Sharly who said and did all the pleasant things that
evening, and Mrs. Asbury never forgot the kindness.
“ There, they have cleared a partial vacuum on the
sofa,” said Mr. Asbury, with an attempt at playful
ness. “I think, Katherine, you and Mrs. Page can now
sit down and be comfortable.”
Mrs. Asbury smiled, and glanced about the room


36
OUR HELEN.
approvingly. It was all pearl color and crimson. The
carpet was of pearl-colored Brussels, with a crimson
vine running over it; the walls pearl-colored, with bor
der and panels of crimson; while crimson lambrequins
adorned the curtains and the marble mantels, and puff
ings of the same bright hue ran round the seats of the
sofas and chairs. A pleasant room, but the very lamps
which Helen lighted seemed to burn blue, as Mrs. Page
remarked.
“ Ah, yes, as I was saying, I haven’t been out before
since the funeral. Poor Phebe Liscom! I went to
her house just twice after she married; once to make a
bridal call, just as I’m doing now, and the second time
to attend her funeral. She was Hiram Liscom’s fourth
wife, and she didn’t live a year.”
Mrs. Page was in her darkest mood to-night, unfor
tunately. She was not without occasional gleams of
cheerfulness; but a wedding filled her with untold
gloom. Death was sad, but marriage far sadder; and
from the day when she rashly gave her hand to the
slow-witted Ozem Page, she had never heard of even a
love affair without a shudder.
“Mrs. Asbury, you must be a person of courage to
come into such a family as this.”
The poor bridegroom picked up a stray turnip, and
planted it on an ottoman.
“Of course you are aware it is a great undertaking,
but you don’t begin to foresee what you’ve got to go
through with. I hope you are blessed with a strong
constitution.”
“ Thank you, I am always well,” was the cheery
reply; “ and so are you, I hope, Mrs. Page.”


JUBILEE HILL.
37
Unfortunate remark!
“ Ah! Mrs. Asbury, I should think one look at me
would show you that I never had a well day in my
life.” v
Mrs. A.sbury saw then that the handsome face was
thin and' sallow, and there was a drawn look about
the mouth.
The whole village called Mrs. Page “spleeny;” but
as the stranger met her beautiful gray eyes with the
lonesome look in them like wind-clouds in November,
her great heart throbbed with pity, and she thought,
“ Here is a poor suffering soul, a monomaniac, perhaps.
Let her pour out her miseries. I can bear it.”
It was well Mrs. Asbury had fortified herself, for she
was now obliged to listen to the harrowing particulars
of a dreadful illness — such as no mortal had known
before that lived to tell the tale.
“Helen,” said Mr. Asbury, leaving the ladies to their
cheerful chat, and following his daughter into the
dining-room, “ isn’t the house a little out of order ?
There are rags in the chamber windows, — red rags, —
and we were nearly tripped up by a jumping-rope on
the piazza. What does it mean ? ”
He spoke in a tone of mild surprise, forgetting that
chaos was a common thing at Jubilee Hill.
“Father,” said Helen, distressed and ashamed,
“ Thurzy— ”
“ Say Theresa, my deai\”
“ Theresa has gone off.”
“ Hot for good ? ”
“ Yes, sir, for good or bad; at any rate, for always.”


38
OUR HELEN.
Mr. Asbury rubbed his hands together nervously,
and looked quite appalled.
“Theresa gone? What possessed the girl? Do
you know, child, we haven’t had any supper ? ”
“I’m going to get it, papa,” said Helen, tying on her
kitchen apron, and trying to look capable. “ I think I
saw a plate of cake.”
“ Send to your aunt Maria’s to borrow some bread,
if necessary, and to-morrow we’ll try what can be
done,” said the unhappy man, and went back to the
parlor with a gallows air, wondering if Mrs. Asbury was
particularly hungry.
To Helen’s surprise she found a platter of cold
chicken on the pantry shelf, besides a loaf of whitest
bread, some glasses of French custard, and a basket of
frosted cake. It was like a fairy gift.
“ Thurzy isn’t so bad, after all, the dear old soul.
How I’ll show Mrs. Asbury we can set a respectable
table if we do look like Arabs. Hot that I care much
what she thinks, except for father’s sake.”
Helen did her best, and when Mr. Asbury led his
wife out to supper his brow cleared, for the dining
room was in perfect order, the table elegantly spread;
and last, but not least, Mrs. Page could not possibly
stay, but had gone home to make herself a bowl of
gruel.
“ Is she a relative ? ” asked Mrs. Asbury. “ I heard
her address you as cousin William.”
“Yes, a third cousin; but really, Katharine, she does
not call once in three months. I was astonished to see
her here to-night.”
“ O, mamma,” said Sharly, “ she is ever so good; but


JUBILEE HILL.
89
we can’t help laughing at her. Everybody laughs,.
They say when she goes to class-meeting and talks
over her troubles, Mr. Liscom gets up and sings,
‘ Don't talk about suffering here below.
Let’s talk about loving Jesus.’ ”
“ That is very impertinent of him,” said Mr. Asbury,
smiling.
They were about taking their seats at table, and
Helen glanced at her father with -flushed cheeks and a
throbbing heart. Was it nothing to him that she, the
eldest daughter, must resign her post at the head of the
table, which she had honorably filled for more than two
years? Why, he did not even look at her; he was
thinking only of handing madam to her chair grace-
fully.
“Helen, my child, you have forgotten the butter-
knife.”
. There was an undertone of displeasure in his voice
which aroused Helen to the consciousness that she was
looking very cross. And raising her eyes, she saw, as
in a mirror, that the twins were knitting their brows,
and that Yic’s scowl approached the terrific. It was
so absurd that she could hardly help laughing.
“Guess you feels better,” said little Bel, raising her
mouth, still tawny with butter-scotch, for a kiss.
What would the strange lady think of such a family?
Mrs. Asbury, whose part it was this evening to hear
and see as little as possible, had begun to turn the tea,
with a serene face, when there came a powerful ground
swell, which set the table rocking, and the dishes to
dancing. She looked bewildered, as well she might;
her first thought being of an earthquake.


40
OUR HELEN.
“Are there any spirits present?” spoke up Yic. “If
so, will they please rap out their names? ”
“ Hush! Victoria,” said her father as sternly as it
was possible for so gentle a man to speak. “Helen,
child, what ails this table ? ”
“ Why, father, I suppose you knocked out the chip
with your foot. One of the castors broke yesterday,
and Theresa had to prop it up as well as she could.”
Mr. Asbury suppressed a groan. It seemed to him
this evening as if the underpinning had suddenly
dropped out of everything. Mrs. Page was right; his
bride must be a woman of courage to come into such a
family. Hot only were house and furniture in a dam
aged condition, but the manners of the children im
pressed him for the first time as strangely uncultivated.
Sharly was the only one who behaved properly, and
the new mother’s eyes rested on her with gratitude.
She was too much furbelowed, and would have looked
better with less jewelry. But Sharly was an extremely
pretty girl, and never failed to please. Beside her
Helen was as plain as a wimpled nun. Mrs. Asbury
wondered what her nephew, Morris Lynde, could
have seen in her which impressed him so strongly.
“ It is far from a commonplace face, and may be
capable of lighting up into beauty, but I don’t fancy
the expression. Then, her odd style of dress! I
should think her pretty sister might tell her better
than to wear green, and do her hair in that enormous
French twist. A singular girl, and very cold-man
nered. Is the coldness all for me? How sweetly
she smiles on her little sisters, while a look at me turns
her to stone. Ah! well, I must study her a while.”


BRIDAL CALLS
41
CHAPTER IV.
BRIDAL CALLS.
‘‘ Such harmony in motion, speech, and !»ir,
That without fairness she was more than fair.’
ELL, there now, how do you like her?’" cried
the children in chorus, as they rushed into
Helen’s room on their way to bed.
Helen began to unclasp her breastpin before an
swering.
“ Pshaw, now, what’s the use in being so cautious ? ”
said Sharly. “ Speak right out, and say you think she v
homely.”
Helen did no such thing; her strong point wa's hei
self-control, and she slowly dropped the window cur
tains, waiting to feel as calm as she looked.
“ I counted three gray hairs,” pursued Sharly; “ and
I’ll warrant she’s as much as thirty years old.”
“ What if she is ? ” said Helen, at last; “ wasn’t our
own mother thirty-five when she died ? ”
“ O, but that was very different, Helen ; for mamma
was married, and you see this woman is a regular old
maid.”
“ I thought of that myself,” said Vic. “ I just despise
ole maids — don’t you, Helen ? Come, speak, and say
something.”


42
OUR HELEN.
The keen eyes of 'Vic, and the milder orbs of Van,
were fixed earnestly on the eldest sister. She felt that
it was a critical moment, and the dizzy thought rushed
over her brain, “ I can set them all against her. I’ll do
it; I will, I will! ” She seemed to be deliberately
taking down her hair; but there were life and death in
her soul. “ Evil, be thou my good and she plunged
a hairpin into the cushion fiercely; then gently put in
another, as she recalled her own words of last week,—
“But do you suppose I’d do such a thing, Mr. Lynde ?”
She forgot she was in the garden chamber, and almost
heard the click of her own heels on the Boston pave
ment. “ God help me! I won’t turn the house into
a Bedlam. I’ll do my duty, — I will, I will.”
“ Can’t you as much as tell us whether you think
she’s homely or not?” said Vic, indignantly.
“Well, I think her hands and feet are beautiful.”
“ But her face ? ”
“ Pretty homely,” said Helen, laughing. “ I mean
just what I say. There is a pretty kind of homely,
and it is ever so much more interesting than a doll
face, and I’d rather have it.”
The children understood her at once.
“ I think so too,” said Vic. “ I kept noticing myself
look at her the whole time, — she’s so sort of funny.”
“I liked her when I first saw her. Don’t you re
member how she made a rabbit on the wall?” said Van.
“ There’s a charm about her, I think myself,” said
Sharly, forgetting her dislike of old maids; “ but how
stiff you were to-night, Helen 1 ” •
“ Was I ? ”
“ Why, yes,” said the twins; “ you acted some as you
do to Peeky Liscom when it’s none of her business.”


BRIDAL CALLS.
43
“ Miss Liscom — not Peeky.”
“ Well, Miss then ; and it seemed as if you didn’t
like her — say, do you? That’s what we want to know.”
Helen’s head whirled again, but she almost flayed it
with the hair-brush before answering.
“Like her, you little tiresome goosies? Isn’t she
papa’s own wife ? Remember we must always — ”
Helen scorned breaking down ; but her voice shook
now, and she rushed into the closet to hide her face.
The strain of the last few hours had been tremendous,
and she could bear no more.
The duet looked at each other in dismay.
“ Now see what you’ve done,” said Sharly. “ It nearly
kills Helen and me to have this dreadful woman com
ing in the place of our own dear mamma, but you seem
to have forgotten we ever had a mother.”
“ O, what a story, Shari Raspberry! ” exclaimed Vic.
“I went out into the summer house this very after
noon, and cried:” And, thinking what had been done
could be done again, she twitched her eyelids like the
string of a shower-bath, but was chagrined to find the
water would not come. As Sharly had the gift of tears,
and was crying with perfect ease, Vic felt her failure
to be all the more mortifying.
Helen dreamed that night of step-mothers swooping
down in the form of black birds of prey, which she beat
off continually with an iron spoon and a coffee-pot; for
the thought of breakfast haunted her, and she had for
gotten to notice how much bread had been left over
from supper. To her relief, she found next morning,
upon further exploration of the pantry, that there was
food enough there to last the family a week. Mrs. As-


44
OUR HELEN.
bury entered the kitchen in the prettiest of morning
wrappers, and offered to help, but Helen assured her
with dignity that there was no need. She did wish
Sharly would come down, but never once thought of
calling her; for, though Sharly could be a deft little
handmaiden whenever she chose, she was considered
far too delicate to be depended upon. In truth, she
did not expect, or wish, to be depended upon; and
even little Bel had come to understand the fact, and
hardly ever went to her with a request; for, though
Sharly was always sweet, she was not half so likely to
meet the little baby-wants as Vic and Van, who were
often rather cross.
They were very cross this morning, having been
waked from a sound sleep, and sent to the barn to hunt
for eggs; but they recovered their smiles, and the
breakfast passed off quite creditably in spite of a few
mistakes. In the midst of the meal, Mr. Page rushed
in pale and breathless, exclaiming, — •
“ Dorkis says she hasn’t an hour to live at the out
side, — wants you to come right down quick as you
can come.”
“ Katharine,” said Mr. Asbury, coolly, “ this is our
friend Mr. Page. Mr. Page, let me introduce you to
my wife, Mrs. Asbury.”
It was evident that the family had been summoned
to “Dorkis’s” death-bed so often that they were quite
hardened to it, for they all went on eating as if nothing
had happened.
“ But I tell you she’s in eminent danger this time,
unquestionably. The gangrene [ganglion] of nerves
same as before, only it takes a different shape; and
’twon’t do to wait a minute. Seems if — ”


BRIDAL CALLS.
45
Mr. Asbury did wait till he bad eaten another egg;
and Mrs. Asbury had time to take a full survey of the
soon-to-be-bereaved Mr. Page. He had what is called
a “pig-face,” forehead and chin both retreating, and
the long features were ridged up in the middle some
what like the reflection of your own countenance in
the bowl of a spoon. His hair was as flaxen as a
child’s, with a pinkish tint; he had a rosebud com
plexion; and his eyes might be called “baby-blue,”
both from their color and their expression. Was it
possible that this man, whose whole appearance marked
him as “none too bright,” coukl be the husband of the
intelligent woman who called last evening ?
“ Heaven'help her,” thought Mrs. Asbury. “I don’t
wonder she is a hypochondriac.”
Mr. Asbury reached the house of mourning just in
time to see his cousin Dorcas sipping a ghostly cup of
coffee. She felt a little better now, but didn’t know
how long it would last. The walk last night had been
too much for her; and worrying so about the bride’s
dark prospects had helped bring her down, she supposed.
Were the bride’s prospects dark? The children
were very anxious to make up their minds how they
liked her; but did they ever wonder how she liked
them, or what she thought of the town of Quinnebasset
and the strange people she seemed destined to meet at
every turn ?
In the course of the forenoon Mrs. Hinsdale called.
Mrs. Asbury had met her several times before; but
none the less did she quail now as aunt Mai - ian’s stately
figure crossed the threshold. Nicknames are inexcusa
ble ; but I am ashamed to say that Helen often spoke


46
OUR HELEN.
of her own mother’s sister as the “Inspector General.”
Aunt Marian was as straight as if she had been drilled
at West Point; her voice was as commanding as her
form; and her eyes saw everything, from the cobweb
that floats on the ceiling to the grain of dust that creeps
under the carpet. She was a clergyman’s wife, and her
husband was one of the most spiritual of men,— of the
sort that are “half in heaven;” and partly for that
very reason, perhaps, she had found it necessary to
keep a strict watch of things below. In short, she
called herself “ eminently' practical,” and so she was,—
and so nice witbal, that Theresa Bumpus declared she
had known her to “ chase a fly two miles; ” though this
was going too far, and Miss O’Neil stoutly* denied it.
She came now to make an unceremonious morning
call, take a general survey of the house, and assure
Mrs. Asbury that she stood always ready to be appealed
to for advice. Mrs. Asbury knew it but too well, for,
when visiting her old pupil Pauline Loring, last fall,
she had learned even more than her husband had ever
told her of Mrs. Hinsdale. She was not the favorite in
Quinnebasset that she deserved to be. If she had had
some glaring faults, which humbled her now and then,
her people might have felt more drawn towards her;
but she never needed forgiveness, never asked sym
pathy, was sufficient to herself, always right, and unfor
tunately right-angled too.
“ I understand these children perhaps better than
their father does, for he is gone from home a great
deal. Helen is the odd one ; she must resemble some
of her father’s family, for there isn’t a bit of Dillingham
about her. Sharly is very much admired"; you’ll like


BRIDAL CALLS.
47
Shariy. She is more practical than Helen, and, between
you and me, my favorite. And now, Mrs. Asbury, if
you ever feel perplexed as to what course to pursue,
don’t fail to call on me, for I have always had an over
sight of the' family, and a stranger like you must need
advice.”
“ Thank you,” said Mrs. Asbury, sweetly.
Human nature tires of constant instruction; and she
found Mrs. Hinsdale much more tedious than Mrs.
Page. What should she do to head off this threatened
stream of “ advice ” ?
“ I’m glad she is one of the yielding sort,” thought
Mrs. Hinsdale. “ I fancy I shall have just as much
oversight of that family as I had before she came.”
Mrs. Hinsdale considered herself a remarkable judge
of character: she had read her new sister-in-law all
through at one sitting.
There was another arrival before the breakfast dishes
were washed. It was Theresa Bumpus. “I guess she’s
sick and tired o’ sin,” said the twins, quoting one of
her speeches, as they saw her from the window. Helen
was delighted; but dignity forbade her to express her
feelings; and, besides, she might have come back for
part of her wardrobe.
“ Good morning, Theresa.”
Nothing chilled Miss Bumpus like calling her The
resa. It was a tacit reproach to the whole Bumpus
family, for they had dubbed her Thurzy, and what was
good enough for them ought to be good enough for
anybody. In hilarious moments the children addressed
her as Sister Bumpus, in imitation of Mrs. Page, and
nothing pleased her better than that.


OUR HELEN.
“ O, we’re so glad to'see you! ” cried Sharly; “ do take
IF your bonnet.”
The returned pi-odigal did not avail herself of this
permission, but stood bolt upright, looking deprecating-
iy at Helen.
“ It’s some of your father’s work. He went for me
this morning, and nothing would do but I must come
back with him.”
“ Take a chair, Thurzy.”
“ Come now, Helen, you wait a minute, and I’ll tell
you what made me whisk off so quick yesterday. I
caught sight of Oze Page going by in a mud-wagon,
and I run of an idea — ”
“ Yes, we all saw you run.”
Theresa laughed. “ I run of an idea it was as cheap
riding as walking, and so I off to the road like a shot
off a shovel. You see, Helen, I expected you’d be a little
crusty. You always suited me first rate, for there’s no
palaver about you ; but you ought to consider that I’m
an independent woman, and belong to a likely family;
and, as Delia Liscom says, why ain’t I good enough to
set down at the table with anybody’s folks ? ”
“ There, there; we knew Peeky Liscom was at the
bottom of it,” cried the twins.
“You hardly ever do sit at the table with us,” said
Helen, “and never when papa is at home. You say
you’d rather be scraping kettles at meal-times, for it
helps on with the work.”
“ Well, I know it, and so it does; but I’m an inde
pendent woman, and I want to feel free to do as I’m a
mind ter,” said Thurzy, elevating her sled-runner nose.
“And now I’ll tell you how I happened to come back.


BRIDAL CALLS.
49
Your father’s all for peace, you know: he needn’t be
accused of aristocracy, for he hain’t got a grain of it;
only folks that are so extra polite do appear kind of
stiff*. Well, he sounded her on the subject of eating
with her help, and she said, ‘ All right, if they’d brush
their hair, and put on a clean collar.’ She never comes
to the table herself without fixing up some, and all she
asks is for a girl to be as particular as she is. Now, I
call that fair and reasonable, and I on with my things
and started.”
“ Sister Bumpus, you’re coming to your senses, and
I begin to like you again. Take off your bonnet. I’m
so glad you’ve got back that I don’t know what to do.”
“ Why, Helen, that sounds something like. And you
just take your hands out of the dish-water — will you ?
I guess I’m capable of doing all there is to be done in
this house, if Polly Pidge will only keep out of the way.”
“ Shall you put on three clean collars every single
day ? ” queried the twins.
“Me? — no. Nobody’ll get me to go to the table
without I’m a mind ter. Has Erastus fed my cow ?
Look here; I want them egg-shells for my hens. You
better believe I’m glad .to get back, for I’m kind of
attached to things round here, and I might as well own
I was getting proper homesick. But I must go now
and rig up some, for your father said he wanted to take
me in and introduce me to herL
Another bridal call; but Mrs. Asbury was prepared
to meet Miss Bumpus with great cordiality. She was
considered the homeliest woman in Quinnebasset;
twenty-four years old, raw-boned, square-shouldered,
coarse-featured, with black hair growing too low on the
4


50
OUR HELEN.
forehead, and shaggy eyebrows meeting above a long
nose that turned up at the end rather unexpectedly.
She was a rough-spoken woman, too; as unsusceptible
of polish as a Virginia fence, or a blackberry bush. All
this Mrs. Asbury saw; but her husband assured her,
that, if she once knew Theresa’s ways, had eaten of
her pies and puddings, and felt the unspeakable com
fort there was in her trustworthiness, she would forgive
her uncouth appearance, and be satisfied and thankful
to have her take up her abode in the house.
Mrs. Asbuiy believed it.


THE BLACK SHEEP.
51
CHAPTER V.
THE BLACK SHEEP.
Jubilee Hill, May **.
EAR DI: She came, she saw, she conquered
everybody but me. She has been here new 3.
month, and it keeps on just as it began. Sharly won’t
own it, but she’s perfectly bewitched ; the duet like her
because she is so easy to laugh; and Sister Bumpus,
because she is taking lessons in cooking. They all sup
pose I’m as much in love as they are, and that the rea
son I’m so sober is owing to a cold in my head. Mrs.
Page thinks she’s too good to live, and even aunt
Marian says she has some “admirable points.” Father
considers her the “mirror of virtue and rose of delight,”
and she is to have her way in all things, because her
way is always best. I say nothing, Di, but I don’t like
the way she came into this family any better than I did
in the first place. O, I must tell you a pasquinade
the twins got off the other day.
“Mamma, O, mamma! Yan and I’ve been saying
what pretty little feet and hands you have.”
“Indeed! thank you, my dears.”
“Yes,” says Yic, who always clinches the nail after
she drives it in, “ and if folks have such beautiful feet
and hands, it’s no matter how their face looks. Helen
thinks so, too.”


52
OUR HELEN.
That was too much for madam. She ran into the
china closet to laugh, and the duet couldn’t imagine
what they had said that was funny. That china closet
is her retreat whenever she can’t keep her countenance ;
I never saw such a giggler. She seems to think Quin-
nebasset is the queerest place, and is always asking
father about the people, as if they were perfect curios
ities.
I don’t believe I told you of Miss O’Neil’s disap
pointment. Well, it was funny, her fancying father
was in love with her; but she would never have
thought of it if it had not been for that roguish Keller
Prescott. She is as much as sixty years old, and had
her head trepanned, and all the brains taken out before
she left Ireland, and I say it’s a shame to make fun of
her; but they will do it. They told her that father
wanted to propose to her, but was very diffident, and.
she must encourage him. So she beamed ujjon him at
every nook and corner, though he hadn’t the faintest
idea what was in her mind. Of course he would shake
hands with her when she stopped him in the street, and
inquire politely about her neuralgia; and she began to
think he was really getting ready to propose, when she
heard of his engagement; and it was a dreadful blow.
She was sure she had repulsed him by her coldness,
and that made it all the harder to bear. She remem
bered that one day last fall, as he was passing her win
dow, he had lingered and talked a little while, which
certainly looked very much as if he were coming to the
point; but alas, alas ! she forgot to ask him in, and the
words were never spoken. It seems too absurd to
believe, Di, but she had actually told of this over and
over again with a trembling voice.


THE BLACK SHEEP.
53
“ I never shall forget what a beautiful talk we had;
and he was going to say something sj:>ecial, but I forgot
to ask him into the house, and he never came again.”
Father knows the story now, for it was too good to
keep, and Silas Hackett, who is quite a wit, has com
posed a poem called “The Dirge of Norah O’Neil,” to
the tune of Lovely Fan : —
“Had I but asked sweet William in,
Sweet William in,” &c., &c.
Well, Miss No rah was very slow about calling upon
the bride; but she came last night, because she knew
something was going on. It was my birthday, you
know, and the Hinsdales were here, also the Prescotts,
who are a sort of “ button-hole relation,” for Dr. Pres
cott’s wife was a sister to uncle Charles Hinsdale. Miss
O’Neil saw the extra lights, and came up,.though she
did have rather an injured look at first, and said she
didn’t see how strangers could bear to come to Quin-
nebasSet in the spring of the year. Mrs. Asbury was
very polite to her — she’s a manager, I assure you, and
the poor old soul thawed out after a while, and apolo
gized for not having called before.
“I fell up the Hackett hill,” said she, “and stuck a
knot-hole into my eye; so I hope to be excused.”
Her eye is still black and blue where the knot-hole
hit it, and madam could do no less than grant pardon;
but Keller Prescott almost convulsed us by going to
the piano and striking up, on a low key, with a very
mournful voice —
“ Had I but asked sweet William in,” &c.


54
OUR HELEN.
Mrs. Asbury started post-haste for the china closet
then, but Dr. Willard made room for her behind the
hall door; he is as inveterate a giggler as she is. Talk
about young girls!
The twins had been laboring over a secret dish for
supper, which turned out to be snow creams, after a
recipe they had found in a newspaper. The creams
looked nice, and the twins looked important; but one
dip of the teaspoon dispelled the charm, for the mix
ture w r as as gritty as mortar. Nobody could eat it,
and Miss O’Neil screamed out with neuralgia and rage.
The duet were almost in tears, and I could not soothe
them; but madam knew just what to say.
“I don’t believe there is a clean piece of snow in
Quinnebasset; and why shouldn’t the creams be gritty?
But the flavor is delicious.”
They all said, “ O, yes; so it was,” and were so
complimentary that the twins almost thought; if it were
not for one’s teeth, the dirt would be quite an improve
ment.
Then Miss O’Neil came out brilliantly with “ a splen
did receipt for custards,” which caused much secret
diversion — “ three eggs and some milk.”
Now for my presents, which Sharly brought in after
tea on a salver: A gold chain from father, which didn’t
surprise me so much as it would have done if Mrs.
Asbury hadn’t told Sharly of it in Bel’s hearing. She
confesses that it is very hard for her to keep a secret.
A volume of Daniel Maclise’s pictures from Sharly,
elegant, just elegant. A ring, and pin with mother’s
hair in it, from the twins; the lace set from you,— I
wrote you a letter of thanks for that yesterday, and


THE BLACK SHEEP.
55
now I thank you again,— and various other things, too
numerous to mention. But what do you think Mrs.
Asbury gave me ?—A landscape, in oil, by her nephew,
Mr. Lynde, who stands very high, you say, as an artist.
You wonder he should paint when he doesn’t need the
money; but, O, if you should see this picture! It is
so beautiful that I meant to go to Mrs. Asbury pri
vately, after the people were gone, and tell her how
much I appreciate it; but I never can say anything in
a roomful; you know my infirmity. And now, just
think; father was offended by my coldness, and took
me off into the entry, after supper, to reason with me.
“ My daughter, couldn’t you as much as say, ‘ Thank
you, dear mother ? ’ ”
“ Why, papa, I did say ‘ Thank you,’ and I would
have kissed her, only I can’t bear a parade.”
“ Helen, you are almost rude to her, and she is an
angel.”
That repelled me in a minute. How it does set
you against a body to hear her called an angel! You
have the highest reverence for that class of beings, but
you don’t want them round in the family.
“I have always told your mother you are a very
warm-hearted girl; but the moment she came, Helen,
you turned into an icicle.”
Tears rose to his eyes as he spoke, and I was
so touched that I threw both arms round him, and
said I, —
“ O, papa, don’t talk so. I’ll bear anything for your
sake.”
That only made it worse, for he asked what I had to
bear.


56
OUR HELEN.
O, Di, Di, he was hugging me close, and pressing
his dea,r, smooth-shaven cheek to mine; hut it seemed
as if he had sent me ever so far off—you know that
shut-out feeling; and I thought of TheTesa’s hate
ful ditty,
“My mother’s my mother all the days of her life, '
My father’s my father till he gets a new wife.”
I felt as if I had lost father and mother both, for
since this stranger has come between us, papa does not
understand me as he did before.
“ Do you know that Miss Carver is a much-admired
woman, and that she has sacrificed a great deal for your
father and his children ? ”
“ Yes, sir.”
I dared not say what I thought — that she never
would have done it if he had been a poor man.
“Then, Helen, it seems to me you could at least
show a little gratitude to her for coming.”
There, Di, did you ever hear the like of that, under
all the circumstances ? I was so surprised that I spoke
right out, without stopping to reflect: —
“ Gratitude, papa ? Why, I couldn’t help her com
ing, you know, and I’m trying to bear it cheerfully, but
I never dreamed you expected me to be grateful! ”
I didn’t mean the least impertinence, I really didn’t;
but he took both hands off my shoulders, and looked at
me sternly.
“Helen, you are an obdurate child, and try your
mother’s feelings so much that she really considers you
a means of discipline.”
O, Di, wasn’t that dreadful? Then he said how


THE BLACK SHEEP.
5 7
readily she had won the love of the rest of the children,
how sweet and good Sharly had been, &c., &c., show
ing plainly enough that he didn’t see that I had used
every bit of my influence to quell the rising insurrec
tion. I supposed he knew the children well enough to
know I could turn them round my little finger, and
would give me credit for keeping peace in the family;
but he doesn’t understand. O, Di, he never will under
stand. I have tried so hard to do right! I have yield
ed my own place, and my own plans and wishes, and
have never said one murmuring word, except to you ;
yet my step-mother goes to my father and complains
that I am a means of discipline! I was beginning to
respect her,'.but my whole soul rises, in indignation at
this. If I was made for a discipline to Mrs. William
Asbury, let me fulfil my mission. I can discipline her
so that she’ll become a saint upon earth. I have the
power, and I’ll use it. “ Evil be thou my good.”
Yours, dyed in the wool,
The Black Sheep of the Family.


58
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER VI.
“ MANAGING.”
“ What shall he do that cometh after, the King? ”
‘ ISTER BUMPIJS, what do you suppose folks
are crying about this morning?” said Helen, a
few days after this, with a conscious side glance at the
spice-hox. For the first time since her step-mother
came, she had indulged in a “ cutting remark.” She
had said something about a woman’s “marrying for a
home, and then complaining that the children were a
discipline.” The remark was quietly, made, and indi
rect enough; no one need apply it that didn’t feel
guilty. It wasn’t likely Mrs. Asbury was so sensitive
as to take such a hint as that; still, Helen was uneasily
curious to know what made her eyes so red.
Sister Bumpus was entirely in the dark, but an
swered at random, with a snap of the eye, —
“I can’t justly tell you, Helen; but I kind o’mistrust
she’s been crying for your mother.”
“ What do you mean ? She didn’t know mother.”
“ That’s nothing to do with it. If your mother
hadn’t died, though, there wouldn’t have been any
chance for a second wife, and poor Mrs. Asbury
couldn’t have got into this pew. That’s what I mean
by mourning for your mother.”


If she hain’t wished her cake was dough more than once, I miss my guess.”
Page 59.



MANAGING.
59
“ She might have thought of that before,” said Helen,
doggedly.
“ O, well, I suppose she looked for smooth sailing,
— folks generally do, — but if she hain’t wished her
cake was dough more than once, I miss my guess,” said
Thurzy, with a reckless mixing of metaphors.
Helen turned and walked slowly out of the room.
Thurzy condemned her — Thurzy, her stanch friend ;
she knew it by that indescribable cant of the head:
and how was it with her own conscience? Did that
condemn her also? Tet she had treated Mrs. Asbury
with unfailing respect and politeness. O, always!
“Ah, my dear, stupid husband, you shouldn’t have
told Helen she is a discipline to me,” said Mrs. Asbury,
that evening, as they two were riding out after old
“ Dozey.”
“ Why not, my love ? I want her to see her ingrati
tude in its proper light ? ”
He did not ask how she knew what he had said to
Helen.
“ Ingratitude ? Pray, William, what has she to be
grateful for ? ”
He turned towards her in surprise.
“ Why, Katharine, didn’t you leave a refined circle,
and come here into the country to devote yourself to
me and my children ? ”
“ Well, what if I did ? That is my affair, not Helen’s;
she was not consulted.”
“Ah, well, no; perhaps not; but, my dear, she ought
to be respectful.”
“ She treats me like a queen,” said Mrs. Asbury,
with an arch smile.


60
OUR HELEN.
“I know it; and that is what I will not have — that
iciness of manner. She must and shall show you some
warmth of feeling.”
“ ISTow, now, my friend, don’t ask that high-princi
pled girl to play the hypocrite.”
“ Of course not, my dear; I simply want to bring
her to her feelings.”
“ Please don’t. Let her feelings come to her.”
“They are ‘lang o’ cornin’,’ Katharine.”
“ Hever mind ; I can wait.”
“But, Katharine, you ean’t say her excessive reserve
hasn’t wounded you ? ”
Mrs. Asbury turned her head to look at a dog-tooth
violet in a ditch by the wayside.
“I can say this, William: I shall always respect her
for smoothing my way with the children. They were
all aggrieved at my coming, and would have taken a
dislike to me if it had not been for Helen.”
“ Impossible ! ” '
“My dear husband, do you think I can’t see? It
was grand of Helen to do it when she dislikes me so
much.”
“ But why should she dislike you, unless she is the
most unreasonable of mortals ? ”
“ Because it was a very happy family till I took it
by stratagem, as a general takes a poor, undefended
city. She was indignant, and I don’t blame her one
bit.”
“ Why, Katharine, my dear ! ”
Mrs. Asbury went on earnestly, —
“You assured me that she was a very peculiar girl.
I don’t agree with you. She is only very high-minded,


MANAGING.
61
which Hike. You said it was safest to take her by
storm, and I consented; but begging your pardon,
William, I now think you were entirely wrong.”
Mr. Asbury looked rather uncomfortable. He had
lacked the moral courage to tell Helen of his engage
ment, and had persuaded Miss Carver, entirely against
her better judgment, into an earlier marriage than was
at first intended.
“ She thinks I was attracted by your wealth,” went
on Mrs. Asbury, her eyes twinkling a little. “I am
too old to have married for love, she is very sure of
that; and really, William, considering what a dunce
of a man I have married, I begin to think myself it
must have been the money — don’t you ? ”
He laughed.
“Yes; either that or a ‘halluzion of mind,’ as Miss
O’Neil calls it. The glamour of our youthful courtship
blinded you again, Katharine, or I shouldn’t be the
fortunate man I am to-day.”
“ I’m glad you know you are a fortunate man, sir;
for it shows there’s no ‘halluzion of mind’ about
youI ”
“ But what put it into Helen’s head that you mar
ried for money ? ”
“Well, she knows I was a teacher, and she supposes
I never saw you till last winter, when I visited Pauline
Loring. And more than that, she has no doubt Pauline
asked me here on purpose to bring it about.”
“ Preposterous! ”
“ She said so to her aunt Marian.”
“ But of course her aunt Marian told her better ? ”
“No; she thought proper to let it go. Mrs. Hins-


62
OUR HELEN.
dale has been at great pains to conceal certain facts
from the girls,” added Mrs. Asbury, blushing.
“That isn’t fair, my dear. I made love to you when
you were in short dresses, and I presumed the girls
knew all about it by this time. Helen ought to be
told.”
“No, William; I would rather she should not know.”
“ Why not, Katharine ? ”
“Because she holds her own mother’s memory so
precious, and guards it so jealously, that she would be
deeply wounded to learn she was your second choice.”
Mr. Asbury looked as if this was an entirely new
idea to him.
“ She has very high-flown notions on such matters,”
his wife went on. “ Shaxdy might not mind, — I hardly
think she would, — but Helen is decidedly romantic;
and I’d rather bear a little contempt than have the dear
girl fancy her own mother wasn’t duly beloved.”
“ But she couldn’t be so absurd.”
“ O, yes, she could; for I was quite as much so at
her age. I remember how keenly I suffered in just
that way, about my own father and mother, on hearing
a story of that sort, which ought never to have been
told me.”
Mr. Asbury looked at his noble wife with new admi
ration. Here was a woman so magnanimous that to
spare the feelings of a morbid young girl, she would
allow herself to be misunderstood and undervalued.
Why, it was marvellous ! He had thought all along
that he could never thank her for her charity to his
naughty child; but now she had glorified Helen till he
actually began to take a different View of her himself,


MANAGING.
63
and appreciate her feelings as he had never done be
fore. These young girls! Only God and their own
mothers can really understand them; and few are the
step-mothers with the keen insight and broad sympathy
of Mrs. Katharine Asbury.
Helen wandered along the river-bank one day, ab
stracted and unhappy, looking at the willows with their
little vapory touches of green, and plucking blood-root
flowers with their loose, white petals.
“ I know what she is like ; she is like that creeper,”
said Helen. A fair, white birch stood, or tried to stand,
near the water’s edge, but was drawn downward in a
lovely curve by a bittersweet vine. Her step-mother
was like that vine, she thought, creeping round, and
“ managing ” to spoil at last the unfortunate Asbury
family. “ But 0, what a picture it would make! I
mean to sketch it this very afternoon, and then paint
it. It will be what I heard Mr. Lynde call a ‘real
picture,’ for it expresses a thought. He said it was of
no use painting a picture unless you had a thought to
express.”
Not long after this, Helen was seen, by the watchful
Mrs. Hinsdale, with her hat awry on her head, dipping
one of the oars in Pitkin Jones’s pleasure-boat. Mr.
Jones was always rowing young ladies up and down
the river, and chancing to espy Helen on the river-
bank, had taken her in out of pure gallantry.
“ Dn you know where Helen is ? ” said Mrs. Hins
dale, donning her bonnet, and going to Mrs. Asbury
with the news. “Well, you ought to know. She is
rowing the boat like a galley slave for that indolent
Pitkin Jones. It really has quite a tomboy look; and,


64
OUR HELEN.
Mrs. Asbury, you will allow me to say that you must
keep a stricter watch over that girl! ”
Then it was that Mrs. Asbury’s courage rose to
do the thing she had contemplated ever since she
entered the family. She looked up at the “ Inspector-
General ” with a smile on her trembling lips like sun
light on troubled water, and said, gently, —
“ My dear Mrs. Hinsdale, may I ask a little favor of
you ? Will you please leave the management of the
children to their father and myself ? ”
Mrs. Hinsdale drew back her stately figure in sur
prise.
“I wish to live in harmonious relations with you,
Mrs. Hinsdale; so I thought it as well to tell you in
the beginning that I have just that sort of temper
Which will not brook interference.”
Mrs. Hinsdale positively winced. This from the,
meek woman she had promised to “ advise ”!
“Do you mean to say I am not to express an opinion
in regard to the conduct of my own sister’s children ? ”
said she, as soon as she could recover her speech.
“ O, yes; you may write me notes,” replied Mrs.
Asbury, in the same smiling manner, though her lips
had ceased to tremble. “Write your criticisms, Mrs.
Hinsdale, — you needn’t spare me, — and I promise I
will ponder your words well. But please don’t come
and upbraid me to my face; for if you do, I’m so afraid
I shall be angry, and then we shall both be sorry! Do
you understand me, Mrs. Hinsdale ? Will you shake
hands upon it, and be friends ? ”
Mrs. Hinsdale had shaken hands before she fairly
comprehended what it all meant — had bound herself


MANAGING.
65
over to keep the peace before she reflected what it
would cost her.
“I had no idea she was that sort of woman,” thought
she, inwardly chafing at this strange bargain as she
walked home; “ but I shan’t fail to write notes; for we
all have a duty to perform, and I feel that mine is as
clear as day.”
Mrs. Asbury did have a persuasive way with her,
and Helen thanked her for out-generaling aunt Marian,
though how it had been done she could not imagine.
The two ladies were on the most friendly terms, and
pretty little notes passed between them on the dainti
est of French paper; it was “touchingly sentimental;”
so Helen told Sharly.
If madam was a “manager,” her management seemed
to work for the household good. When Mr. Asbury
complained that Helen’s plants were in the way, she
suggested making more elbow-room by throwing out
a bay window from the front parlor towards the
garden. This improvement won great applause; and
the. enterprising lady made another venture, and let
the china closet into the back parlor by a large Gothic
archway, hung with damask curtains. Dishes gave
place to books, the one little west window lengthened
itself to the floor, and for the first time in its life the
back parlor was illumined by the setting sun.
Helen was so delighted with the sunsets and the
bay window, that, in a glow of gratitude, she brought
down the sacred ivy, and let it adorn the walls once
more.
“ O, that is so lovely! ” said Mrs. Asbury, much
gratified.
5


66
OUR HELEN.
“The children want it down here; I thought I would
please them,” said Helen, determined not to be too
gracious.
Mrs. Asbury sighed softly. She did not know that
Helen had been on the point of kissing her ; that, in
truth, the girl was becoming afraid of herself.
“Am I really going to love this woman? No, O,
no; she shan’t ‘ manage ’ me l n


BITTERSWEET.
67
CHAPTER VII
BITTERSWEET.
NE afternoon in August, Helen sat in the attic,
directly under the skylight, giving a last touch
of varnish to a framed painting.
“ Why, how warm it is up here! ” cried Vic, stealing
upon her unannounced. “ There’s a gentleman in the
parlor wants to see you.”
“ Vic, dear, this is my den; you shouldn’t come in
without knocking.”
“Well, you forgot to lock the door. I s’pose you
don’t care who it is that wants to see you — do you? ”
“Well, who is it ? ”
“O, you mustn’t ask, for I promised not to tell.
Maybe it’s only aunt Marian.”
“You said a gentleman.”
“Well, it is a gentleman, then, with blue eyes and
light wooling pants.”
“Mr. Jones?”
“ Poh! I guess Mr. Jones doesen’t kiss mother!
Helen, where did you get that beautiful picture?”
It was the white birch and bittersweet draped in a
tangle of green leaves.
“ I painted it myself, Chickie ; how do you like it ?
It’s papa’s birthday present.”


b8
OUR HELEA,
“ Why, it’s just gorgeous ! Let me carry it down
to the parlor and show it to Mr. Lynde.”
“What, Mr. Morris Lynde; is he here ?”
“ There, now, I didn’t mean to tell! But he came
half an hour ago. Acts real nice, only sick; and he
asked for a glass of milk, and Thurzy skimmed it off,
half cream.”
Helen had turned quite pale.
“ Dear me,” thought she, as the scene in Mrs. Satter-
lee’s conservatory rose before her, “ how my tongue
did run that night! and how shocked he looked! I
can seem to see him waving me back from the door
knob. There, I’ve a great mind not to go down, only
the whole family will be after me bodily if I don’t.”
By the time she had taken off her gingham apron
and reached the 2?arlor door, the color had come back
to her cheeks.
“ This is Helen, our oldest daughter, whom you met
in Boston,” said Mrs. Asbury. “ And, Helen, this is my
nephew, Morris Lynde — your cousin, if you choose.
Little Bel has claimed him already, you see.”
“Yery glad to meet my cousin Helen,” said Mr.
Lynde, slipping Bel off his knee and rising with courtly
politeness. But Helen fancied there was a roguish
look in his eye.
It was an eye to be remarked; deep blue, set around
with an amber-colored fringe, which gave a sunshiny
effect to the whole face. His hair, too, was amber-
ctilored, his complexion singularly fair, his features long
and nervous, with a decidedly spiritual expression ; but
a certain humorous curve under the eye showed, beyond
a doubt, that he did not live in the clouds.


BITTERSWEET.
69
He shook hands with Helen so cordially that-she
hoped he had forgotten that miserable talk.
“Well, Miss Helen, so this is Jubilee Hill ? I should
call it Blew Hill, for the wind almost blew my hat off
as I climbed up. You don’t always have such a gale ?”
“O, no, indeed, sir; it was just whistling to give
you a welcome.”
“Yes, Morris, it is a very hospitable place here, as
you Avill find,” said Mrs. Asbury, smiling.
“Thank you for that, aunt Katharine, for I’m likely
to tax its hospitality considerably.”
Thurzy caught the words as she passed by the par
lor door.
“So he’s going to stop quite a s]}ell, is he? Look
here, Sharly, what has he done with his luggage ? ”
“I don’t know,” replied Sharly, who had stolen into
the kitchen to eat “ vanities.” “ Perhaps he has left
it at the hotel.”
“ Sure enough. He don’t look like one of the ‘cous-
ining’ kind, and I guess he has. Ho you know what
ails him ? He looks dreadful slim.”
“ Something happened to him in the army, and he
never got over it,’ said Sharly, with her mouth full.
“ And never will, to my thinking. Appears to be
booked for the grave, and I guess lie’s prepared to go,
though that may be because lie’s so light-complected —
it does give anybody such a pure look; but I never
heard as a fair skin is any sign of grace. There, child,
don’t go and spoil your appetite for supper. Hain’t
you got a sweet tooth, though ? ”
When Mr. Asbury came home to tea he found he
had stumbled upon a little festival. The house over-


70
OUR HELEN.
flowed with flowers, his wife and children were in their
court dresses, and lie overheard Helen saying to Mrs.
Asbury, —
“Mother always had the waffles sugared before they
came"to the table ; fathe’r likes them better that way.”
Then it occurred to him that it was somebody’s
birthday; and while he was going through a formal
introduction to Mr. Lynde, he recollected that it was
the 17th of August, and he was forty-five years old.
Didn’t we steal a march on you, papa ? ” cried the
twins; “ we were so afraid mamma would let it out,
and she almost did to-day noon.”
Mr. Lynde thought he had never seen a pleasanter
family group. Mr. Asbury interested him at once. He
had the tired, bloodless look of a man who overworks
his brain, and his hair was too gray for his years; but,
as Helen said, “the frost had not struck in,” and a more
genial host it would be hard to find. Mr. Lynde won
dered if the harassed expression which came over his
face from time to time was all due to the perplexities
of law business, or whether there was any truth in the
report that he had risked a large amount of money in
a brilliant speculation which was likely to fail.
Sharly’s beauty was a marvel. There was always
the loveliest pink in her cheeks; not soft and variable
like other people’s, but as hard and steady as the hue
of a ruby. It was strange; but, sick or well, Sharly
was never pale.
Helen had no settled color.
“ A woman of the gods, divinely tall,
And (sometimes) most divinely fair.”


BITTERSWEET.
71
You could never depend upon her looks in the least.
She was what Sharly rather slightingly termed “ one
of your evening beauties; ” and Mr. Lynde, who had
never seen her before, except by gas-light, did not find
her as pretty as he expected. Her clear, colorless bru
nette complexion was a little dull just now, and so
were her eyes, which needed excitement to give them
fire and expression. Sharly’s blue eyes were always
bright and keen; by daylight or candle-light she was
the prettiest young girl in town.
Mr. Lynde was disappointed in Helen’s manner, as
well as her looks. Her frankness and originality had
amused him last winter; but there seemed to be an
unfavorable change in her. Her face was impassive, her
manner restrained; and he observed that his aunt was
in the habit of looking at her before speaking, as if to
make sure that wha't she was going to say would strike
the right chord.
“ The supercilious, disagreeable child,” he thought,
indignantly. “ There is power in her, and I can’t help
admiring it, but if she makes Aunt Katharine’s posi
tion here an uncomfortable one, I’m her enemy to the
death.”
There was a deal of character-reading going on at that
social supper table. The host, with his observant, pro
fessional eyes, had been reckoning up Mr. Lynde, and
had already settled it that he was a man of strong com
mon sense, but that there was some trouble on his mind.
It might possibly be owing to bad health, or some worry
about pictui’es, but there was a shade of care on his
brow, which a young man with his position in life
ought not to. wear.


72
OUR HELEN.
“You and I,should not call each other strangers,
Mr. Lynde,” said Mr. Asbury, with a cordial smile. “ I
bid you a hearty welcome to Jubilee Hill, and hope
you will make yourself quite at home with us. Kath
arine, can’t you take him around, and show him some
of our scenery? You and the girls might make up
picnics, hut unfortunately I must be left out, as busi
ness is very pressing just now.”
“ Little Beech Hill,” suggested Mrs. Asbury.
“ Old Bluff,” cried the twins.
“Elephant Rock,” put in Sharly.
“Yes, papa,” said Helen, graciously, “we’ll take
him to Mount Haze, and Mount Blue, and all those
dignitaries up there; and then, when he’s tired of
sublimity, we’ll show him someting quiet, like Para
dise Lane, and the Arcade.”
“ Thank you, with all my heart,” responded Mr.
Lynde. “I shall have to write my physician that he
has lost his patient, for who wouldn’t get well on moun
tain air, and Jersey cream, and country hospitality?”
“ O, yes,” said Helen, “ it will help you only to look
at the scenery. There are miles and miles of moun
tains, and no end of ponds; you never saw such a
place for views as it is in and around Quinnebasset.”
When Helen grew enthusiastic Mr. Lynde liked her
again. He thought he should enjoy going with her to
favorite resorts, if only to see her face light up so bril
liantly.
After supper the presents were brought in, and Mr.
Asbury received them in such a graceful and apprecia
tive way, that his guest was delighted with him. No
matter what he took up, it was perfect in his eyes, and


BITTERSWEET.
73
as well adapted to his wants as the glass slipper to
Cinderella’s foot. Last of all came the picture from
Helen.
“ Come here, my darling, and kiss me. Did you
really paint this beautiful picture for papa ? It warms
my heart to hear that.”
Helen’s heai't warmed, too, and she embraced her
father with all the old freedom of manner which had
been wanting of late. Nobody could give such sweet
kisses as papa Asbury. Great tall man as he was, his
mouth was small and delicately shaped, and all the
nicer for wanting a mustache.
“ Mr. Lynde, you are an artist. What do you think
of my picture ? ”
Helen had dreaded this.
“ O, you mustn’t ask him, father. Please don’t come
a step nearer, Mr. Lynde. It isn’t nicely done at all,
for I don’t know how to lay on the paints.”
“Don’t be too modest, my dear. You have done
that silver poplar and woodbine so well that I should
know them with my eyes shut.”
Poor Helen ! who had meant them for white birch
and bittersweet! And there were Mr. Lynde and Mrs.
Asbury, both good critics, looking on in silence. She
wished she had never brought the picture out of the
attic.
“ Is it original ? ” asked Mrs. Asbury, presently.
“Yes’m; that is, it was sketched from nature.”
“ Then I call it good. What do you say, Morris ?
She has taken lessons only one term.”
“ Very cleverly done for a beginner, Aunt Katharine ;
and begging Mr. Asbury’s pardon, I should call that
tree a white birch, and the vine a bittersweet.”


74
OUR HELEN.
“Would you? O, would you?” said Helen, pleased
and shy. “ I’m so glad! ”
“ There is more than sky and foliage in the picture;
there is real poetic feeling.”
“ Do you mean by that that I had an idea in my
mind ? ”
“Yes, an idea.”
“ Well, so I had, in the first place ; but after I had
painted a while I hadn’t — I — I — ”
Helen looked at her mother, then dropped her eyes
in contusion. Of course she could not go on and ex
plain her “ idea,” and it now seemed to her an inex
pressibly foolish one. Mrs. Asbury a parasite, a kill
joy, a creeper! It made her feel more guilty than
ever to meet her gentle, unsuspecting eyes, and it
thrilled her, too, with something so like grateful affec
tion that she had to say to herself, sternly, “ I won’t
love her — I will not! ”
Mr. Asbury was well read in Blackstone, but knew
no more of art than Baby Bel.
“ I shall prize Helen’s picture all the more since it is
approved by such good judges,” said he; “but what
you mean by £ poetic feeling,’ is past my comprehen
sion. That tree is a tree, and that sky is a sky, to my
thinking; and I can’t make any more out of it, unless
there’s a thunder-storm coming up in the west.”
Sharly thought as her father did, but kept silent.
“ Helen takes her gift from her mother’s side of the
house; she is all Dillingham, let her aunt Marian say
what she will. Who knows, daughter, but you’ll be
an artist one of these days ? ”
“ O, papa, there isn’t the least remarkability about


BITTERSWEET.
75
me. Don’t think so, please don’t,” said Helen, quite
ashamed. Mr. Asbury was a little weak in regard to
his children.
“Never mind what you think of your talent, Puss.
It’s for the rest of us to decide as to that. Let us see,
Mr. Lynde. If you are to stay with us a few weeks,
perhaps you could give bur little girl a few hints
now and then. She says it is laying on the paints that
perplexes her, you see.”
Mr. Asbury spoke from the impulse of the moment,
without suspecting that his request bordered on rude
ness. The guest responded, as in duty bound, that
teaching Helen would give him much pleasure; and
the young girl, deeply chagrined, could do nothing
but repeat, again and again, “Now, please don’t, papa;
please don’t, papa! ”


76
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER VIII.
MRS. PAGE’S “ DESPAIR PITS.”
“ I wept when I was born,
And every day sho/ws why.”
“ ■ \0 you suppose he is really sick?” asked Sharly
I / of Helen ; “ or is it only his mind ?”
For something troubled Mr. Lynde. Mrs. Asbury
had told the girls as much as that, which was very
injudicious, since she was not willing to tell them any
more.
“ O, I dare say it’s his mind ; a love affair, of course
replied Helen, who believed that broken hearts cause
most of the misery of human life.
“ And perhaps she died,” suggested Sharly. “ It
isn’t likely she refused him, he’s so nice.”
“ Or perhaps her father interfered,” returned Helen,
reflectively. “ I rather mistrust it must be some south
ern lady, for the trouble came when he was in the
army.”
“ Shouldn’t wonder. I mean to catch mamma some
time, Helen, when she isn’t on her guard, and get the
whole story. You know how funny she is about let
ting out secrets.”
Helen frowned upon this unjtrincipled course; but
there is no law against weaving romances, even out of


MRS. PAGE’S DESPAIR FITS. 77.
the thinnest material, and the girls already looked
upon Mr. Lynde as the hero of a very interesting affair
of the heart. He never seemed thoughtful, but they
pitied him for something, they did not know what.
“Well, you may depend upon one thing,” said
Sharly. “Delia Liscom will find it out, whatever it
is.”
Delia Liscom was his landlady. The girls could not
remember that they had ever seen her younger by a
wrinkle; but in days of yore, Delia had been quite a
belle, and still had the remains of a certain coarse
beauty, — bright, bold, black eyes, scanty blonde hair,
fair complexion, the thinnest possible lipos, and a sharp
nose slightly crooked. She Avas very short and rather
fleshy, but an energetic little body, fully capable of car
rying on her own business and that of everybody else
in tOAvn. Nothing Avas so high or so Ioav, so deep or so
sacred, but she usually contrived to peep into it with
the aid of her eye-glass; so that the naughty little
Asburys called her “ Peeky Liscom,” and Silas Hack-
ett, “ the Peripatetic Quinnebasset NeAvs.”
Mr. Lynde found her the best little landlady in the
world; but when he declared, as he often did, “you
are too kind, Miss Liscom,” he meant exactly what he
said, for her unremitting care and oversight jarred
upon his nerves. He never Avent to sun himself on
the balcony, but she followed with a camp-chair; he
never started for his aunt Katharine’s, but she levelled
her eye-glass at him, and exclaimed, “ Don’t fatigue
yourselfi — now don’t, Mr. Lynde.”
He had been in toAvn three days, when he and his
aunt and cousins began their carryall excursions, going


OUR HELEN.
(. at in the morning, — as many of them as old Dozey
i Duld draw, — and coming back in the evening with
Sured limbs and an empty picnic basket.
This sounded very inviting to Ddlia; and she was
... etermined to go too, once in a while, if she could bring
it about adroitly; for Mr. Lynde’s patient face, his win
ning smile, and careless grace had deeply impressed
her, and, more than that, he was sick, and she did not
like to trust him out of her sight.
The first excursion was to Old Bluff, a mountain
which hangs defiantly over the modest blue river,
throwing its unwieldy shadow almost from shore to
shore. There were five souls in all, counting Bel, in
the large, old-fashioned carryall, but the expedition
was doomed to be a failure.
“ They had ridden scant a mile,
A mile out of the toune,”
when they were overtaken by Mr. Page, riding aftef
them in a wagon, breathless, hatless, his light childish
hair flowing in the wind, his baby-blue eyes rolling and
imploring.
“Dorkis was unquestionably dying; left Delia Lis-
com with her; didn’t think she would live an hour, at
the outside. Most gone, seems if — ”
“ O, I do wish she’d stop dying,” whispered Vic to
the other half of the twins; “ it’s a shame, just as we
were going to have a good time ! ”
Mrs. Asbury had been trying for weeks to discover
the cause of Mrs. Page’s “despair fits,” and had ob
served that they always came on directly after her hus
band had said or done something particularly foolish.


MRS. PAGE'S DESPAIR FITS. 79
She began to think Ozem was a sort of magnet that
called up all her hidden diseases.
Delia Liscom stood at the front door, shading her
eyes with her hand, and making a comical face. “ Still
living,” said she, as the carryall stopped at the gate.
“ She wants to deliver her dying message to Mrs.
Asbury in private; but I’ll wait here in the parlor till
all is over, so I can help to lay her out.”
“ Poor soul! she is greatly to be pitied,” said large-
hearted Mrs. Asbury, as she passed Miss Liscom, and
entered the bedroom.
The worst was over; but Mrs. Page was still strug
gling for breath, and lay upon the bed helpless and
white, with a strange glitter in her eyes.
“ O, my dear friend, I wanted to see you,” said she,
looking up at Mrs. Asbury appealingly. “It is my
soul that is sick, and nobody understands it! If I
could talk to you, I think I should feel better.”
Then in broken words the poor creature poured out
a wretched story about Ozem, which Delia Liscom had
been so kind as to tell her that morning. The whole
village was laughing, so Delia said, at his simplicity.
He was sheriff, and during court it was one of his
duties to see that some clergyman was present who
should make a prayer; but Mr. Hinsdale was out of
town now, and, in bis absence, Ozem had gone to the
Hev. Mr. Spaulding, and said, “ Will you open the
court with prayer this morning ? It will be two dol
lars.” Of course Mr. Spaulding was amused at this
unceremonious mixture of religion and business; but
as if that were not funny enough, Ozem had followed
the astonished divine out of court as soon as the prayer


80
OUR HELEN.
was over, saying, in a whisper loud enough to be hearcl
by everybody, “Here’s your two dollars, Mr. Spaul
ding.” “The judge couldn’t keep his face straight, so
Delia told me,” sobbed Mrs. Page. “ I never should
have heard of it, if it hadn’t been for her. She thinks
I haven’t any feeling, and Pm too proud to let her see
how I suffer. But the truth is, Mrs. Asbury, I know
my husband isn’t like other people, just as well as you
do! ”
. Mrs. Asbury did not know what reply to make.
“ It is a queer thing to talk about, and I don’t know
what you’ll think, but I must speak to somebody. O,
Mrs. Asbury, Avhat can a woman do that has married a
fool?”
“ She must try to accept his simplicity as a fixed
fact, I suppose, and not fret a-fcout it,” replied Mrs. As
bury, rather perplexed.
“Yes, but I can’t always accept it. It wears the life
out of me, and then I scold the poor man for what he
can’t help, and wear him all out; and then I humble
myself before the Lord, and beseech for forgiveness>
While I had my children with me I could bear it; but
now, little Henry is dead, and my oldest boy is in Calb
fornia, and I’ve nothing to live for; and O, it is dread
ful!”
As she spoke, they could hear Ozem by the window,
telling somebody it was “ a gangrene of the nerves.”
“ There, I’ve told him ganglion a hundred times, but
he can’t remember. He wasn’t like this when I mar
ried him, Mrs. Asbury. Did you ever hear what Dr,
Prescott says of the Page family ? ”
“No.”


MRS. PAGE’S DESPAIR PITS.
81
“Well, he is a droll man to express himself. He
says the Pages haven’t spunk enough to hold on to
their brains. Their brains begin to decay or soften
when they are about thirty years old. It was just sq
with all Ozem’s brothers, and he had three. I wouldn’t
have you think now, that Ozem was always like this
He was tolerably bright when I married him, though
not my equal, if I do say it, and everybody opposed
the match.”
“ But you loved him ? ”
Mrs. Page’s sallow cheeks crimsoned.
“No ; that is the very iniquity of it, Mrs. Asbury. I
had been cruelly disappointed a little before that, and
was despairing and faithless. I said I would accept
the very next offer, and I did. Yes, I did, and this is
my punishment; but O, it is greater than I can bear!”
The conference was a long one, for Mrs. Asbury
would not leave the unhappy woman till she was in a
better frame of mind, though she knew it was growing
too late for the expedition to Old Bluff.
Meanwhile Miss Liscom had thrown open the blinds
in Mrs. Page’s parlor, and was entertaining the carry
all party.
“And so you were going on a picnic? There’s
nothing I like better than picnics. Isn’t it charming
to ramble in the woods, Mr. Lynde, so pictui'esque —
so — ”
Delia was a practical little woman, and always lost
her Avay when she attempted the sublime.
“So delightsome!” added she, looking insinuatingly
at the party. “I do so enjoy picnics. I trust you don’t
mean to be exclusive, Helen ? ”
6


82
OUR HELEN.
Helen was straightforward and truthful, not at all a
woman of the world; and Mr. Lynde wondered how
she would meet this question. She hesitated a mo
ment.
“ O, you don’t call five exclusive — five and little
Bel ? ” said she, trying to look at Miss Liscom with an
innocent stare. The stare was too innocent altogether,
and Miss Liscom saw at once that Helen was deter
mined not to take the hint. She was baffled, very
much to Mr. Lynde’s amusement; but he knew very
little about her if he supposed this would be her last
attempt to “go excursing,” as the girls called it.
After a long while Mrs. Asbury returned to the parlor.
“Well, shall I begin upon the robe?” asked Delia,
with mock solemnity. Though she was Mrs. Page’s
sister in the church, she considered her fair game, and
never hesitated to hold her up to ridicule, though
usually in a good-natured way, for Delia was not
malicious.
“ Mrs. Asbury,” continued Delia, as Mr. Lynde
went out to unfasten the horse, “now I am just ugly
enough to think she could help acting in this way. I
know I would control myself if I was in her place.”
“ Yery likely you would and could, Miss Liscom, for
you are not in the least like Mrs. Page, and I dare say
weak nerves are not your besetting sin.”
The words were spoken so gently that Delia never
dreamed of a double meaning, but there was one,
nevertheless.
“ Heaven have charity for the uncharitable,” thought
Mrs. Asbury, as she entered the carryall.


OLD BLUFF.
83
CHAPTER IX.
OLD BLUFF.
GOODY, you oouldn’t shoot that biscuit through
. a gun ! ” exclaimed Vic, who stood'by the kitch
en table, overlooking her mother’s preparations for
another basket picnic. This remark would seem to
imply that Mrs. Asbury’s cooking was not always a
success; but she smiled good-naturedly, and helped
Helen spread the light cream biscuits.
“Mamma,” cried Van, coming in from the barn,
looking like crazy Ophelia, with straws in her hair,
“ you said you wanted some eggs to boil; but aren’t
dropped eggs just as good as boiled ones ? Because
I’ve dropped two of these on the barn floor, all to
smash.”
Mrs. Asbury laughed,which Helen thought was slight
ly undignified. If the twins were to be encouraged in
such efforts at wit, there would soon be an end of ma
ternal authority. The new mamma was certainly “ very
easy,” as Mrs. Hinsdale said; no wonder the children
liked her.
Mrs. Page had no return of dying symptoms, and
the tourists reached Old Bluff this time without any
hinderance. It was a stern, bareheaded peak, with a
heart of rock, and few were the flowers which dared


84
OUR HELEN.
show their soft faces above it. It was chiefly the
hardy wintergreen, and reckless little twigs of pine
and spruce, which huddled together along its sides,
with a few tall evergreens at the summit.
The vanishing view of a snake, as they alighted
from the carriage, shook all the color out of Sharly’s
lips, but her cheeks remained as red as ever.
“ Look at her, Mr. Lynde,” said Helen; “ isn’t it
odd?”
“Yes; I never saw cheeks of a perfectly fast color
before; they are ‘the land of cherry isle,’ most sure
ly.”
Then, as they walked slowly up the mountain,
Mr. Lynde stopped on the way to'answer some of
Helen’s questions about rocks, and to amuse the chil
dren by what he called “The Feldspar’s Story,” read
from a piece of feldspar he held in his hand, begin
ning, “ It is with a heavy heart I rise to address you.”
This story won great applause from the twins; and
Helen said, “Thanks, Mr. Lynde;” but Sharly, “Ever
so much obliged, cousin Morris,” with her sweetest
smile.
“Miss Helen, see how much more gracious your
younger sister is to me than you are. She never calls
me Mr. Lynde.”
Helen did not know what to say. She had no idea
of adopting the man as cousin; it was altogether too
much of a concession. She had never yet addressed
Mrs. Asbury as “mother,” though she was obliged to
use the word “ mamma ” in speaking about her to the
children, or they would be full of questions and sus
picions.


OLD BLUFF.
85
“I know Mr. Lynde thinks I’m stiff and cold-heart
ed,” thought Helen, “ but I can’t help it.”
He did think her stiff, and strangely changed from
the bright girl he had met in Boston; but not cold-
hearted. Any one who saw her with her sisters could
never think that. It amused him to see her put on
the Lady Lofty air in climbing the mountain, and he
was tempted to tease her.
“Miss Helen,” said he, overtaking her with an effort
which put him a little out of breath, “ what do you
consider the worst name you ever heard in your life
for a woman ? ”
Helen considered a moment, then answered, with
decision, “ Phebe.”
“Phebe? Well, then, Phebe you shall be, as long
as you call me Mr. Lynde.”
“ O, now, Mr. Lynde! ”
“ Well, Phebe, I want to ask you what you suppose
your air and figure reminded me of just now?”
“ I don’t know, sir; something dreadful, I suppose.”
“ Of a- walking doll behind a carriage.”
They, all laughed, the comparison was so obvious;
and Bel, who had a rvalking doll at home, began to
imitate its movements, but fell on her face, and had to
be carried the rest of the way in a lady’s chair.
Helen was a little piqued, but kept her good-nature;
and when they reached the top of the mountain, where
they could sit on the rocks carpeted with an army
blanket, and behold the lovely blue of four ponds, aud
the peaceful white of five villages, she forgot everything
in her enjoyment of the grand repose of nature.
“ I can see old Dozey down there,” said Sharly, whose


86
OUR HELEN.
imagination never took a very high flight, “ and I can
see his harness airing on a tree.”
“He is having a good time,” said Mrs. Asbury,
taking her turn at using the opera-glass; “I always
thought Dozey had an eye for scenery.”
“ Please let me look,” said Vic ; “ he’s eating grass.”
“ That is the way he enjoys his bits of nature,”
remarked Mr. Lynde. “A penny for your thoughts,
Phebe.”
“ I was only thinking how your vexations vex you
less and less the farther up you get. I’d like to
meet all my trials on the top of a mountain, Mr.
Lynch.”
“ What are some of them, Phebe, if one may ask ? ”
“O, I have plenty, sir.”
“ One is her hair — I know as much as that,” said
Sharly, as it came tumbling down like a black water
fall, — beautiful, curling, wild hair, which it cost nice
Helen a world of trouble to keep in order.
“It’s like Liberty,” said she, blushing, as all eyes
turned to see her fasten up the refractory locks,—
“ ‘ Nets and pins cannot confine it,
Nor combs its dreadful wildness tame.’ ”
Mr. Lynde thought it almost a pity the attempt
should be made.
“Well, some more of your troubles, Phebe ?”
“ I sometimes meet with impertinent people who call
me names,” laughed she.
“ That’s a shame, Phebe. I would put a stop to it if
I were you.”
“ Call him cousin Morris, why don’t you ? That’s
what he means,” said Vic, in a loud whisper.


OLD BLUFF.
87
Helen laughed again.. It is hard to sustain one’s
dignity in. the presence of chattering children.
“ Well, sir, one of my bothers is trying to like people
that I ought to like, but can’t.”
“ She means aunt Marian,” said Sharly.
“Ho, ma’am, I don’t.”
Mrs. Asbury stooped to pluck up a sprig of ever
green. She did not quite think Helen alluded to her
self, but a wounded heart bleeds at a touch. „
“Mr. Lynde,” continued Helen, unconsciously, “I
want' to ask you one question now : Isn’t it natural for
us to dislike some people ? And how are we going
to help it ? ”
“Hot so fast. You were to ask but one question,
Phebe. Yes, there are involuntary attractions and re
pulsions; it’s of no use denying it, when plants have
them as well as ourselves.”
“ Plants ? ” said Mrs. Asbury.
“Yes, aunt; florists have told me there are flowers
which turn away from certain other flowers with what
seems like antipathy.”
“ There,- I’m glad to hear of that,” said Helen, as
Vic danced out of hearing, “ for now I shan’t think I’m
to blame for wanting to run when I see Delia Liscom.”
Mrs. Asbury turned suddenly and kissed Bel with a
relieved smile, which did not escape the quick eye of
her nephew.
“ I wonder if that girl knows she is continually pain
ing the noblest heart that ever beat?” thought lie,
puncturing a sorrel leaf with a ]flne needle. “I must
have a little plain talk with her, even if she does con
sider it an impertinence.”


88
OUR HELEN.
An opportunity did not offer very soon, for though
they took daily rides, he never saw Helen alone more
than a minute at a time. The weather was almost
perfect through August, and the sick man revelled in
sunshine and mountain air, but his loving aunt watched
in vain for the retui’n of any color to his cheeks.
v When the dear boy entered the army he gave him
self away,” said she, tearfully; “ and I am afraid the
sacrifice has been accepted; still, if he must die, I
know he will say it is sweet to die for one’s coun
try.”
He did not look or appear like a doomed man. He
had that sort of defiant hopefulness which laughs at
“ symptoms,” and will not yield till the grim enemy
actually appears.
“ I don’t give it up yet, aunt Katharine. All the
doctors’ warnings in Christendom can’t kill me, and I
intend to live as long as the Lord pleases.”
He sometimes allowed Bel to pull a string under the
lining of his coat, which instantly set him to squeaking
like a wooden toy; and this, Mrs. Page thought, was
rather light-minded for a man with one foot in the grave;
but, in the words of the old hymn, Mr. Lynde did not
“believe in death,” he believed in everlasting life; so I
dare say he would have kept on amusing the children
if he had known it was his last day upon earth.
“ And I don’t see the least harm in it, Sister Page,”
said Sister Bumpus. “ You always was rather dyspep
tic in religion. He has done me a sight of good, I’ll
say that for him, taking those young ones away from
under my feet when I’m making preserves.”
Sometimes Mr. Lynde felt like sketching a little, but


OLD BLUFF.
89
oftener like reposing upon his army blanket, his hat
shading his eyes, while he looked over the hills and far
away, with an intent gaze which seemed almost to pen
etrate the invisible. Helen wondered what he was
thinking about, but dared not watch him too closely,
for he was evidently carrying on a double action of
the mind, and, however deep in thought, never failed
to see and hear everything that passed on around him.
He was always ready to overlook the girls at their
sketching, for Sharly wanted instruction as well as
Helen; but it was soon evident that she had no eye,
— though the pretty creature was loath to believe it.
Wasn’t she quicker and more adroit than Helen at
everything she undertook? To be sure. Why, Helen
couldn’t even learn to make tatting, and the idea of her
taking the lead in drawing! Sharly was scandalized.
She could scratch off a whole landscape while Helen
was pegging away at a tree; and as for any. difference
in the pictures, Sharly privately thought her own had
more freedom df touch.
It was a habit with all her teachers to praise Sharly,
and when Mr. Lynde kindly called her attention to the
fact that her houses leaned, and her ferns and thistles
were as tall as her trees, she surprised him by bursting
into tears.
“ I never heard of perspective before,” said she.
“ Helen took lessons in Boston, but I didn’t.”
“No, indeed,” said Idelen, coming to the i - escue;
“ but, Mr. Lynde, you will be surprised to see how she
will learn when she'once takes the idea. There, now,
let’s put away our sketch-books and go after flowers.
Sharly is a great deal better botanist t-han I am.”


90
OUR HELEN.
Sharly’s tears were soon dried, but the charm of
drawing was completely spoiled for her, and she never
wanted to touch another pencil. Moreover, she felt
aggrieved if Helen attempted to sketch, and assured
her privately that it was really shabby of her to take
up so much of cousin Morris’s time.
“He is the nicest cousin we ever had, and you keep
him away from the rest of us, for you know he won’t,
leave you when you are drawing, and it spoils all our
fun to have you sit so still leaning, against a stump, and
Morris on the grass with his hat over his eyes,” said
she, her mouth drawing down in a grieved arc, which
brought out two very pathetic dimples at the cor
ners. She had two sets of dimples: one in the middle
of her cheeks for laughter, the other lower down for
tears.
“ Why, you precious child! I had no idea you felt
so about it; but just let me finish this one sketch of
Medumscott Pond, and then I’ll be good, and race and
talk all the time,” said Helen, ashamed of her own
selfishness, and never dreaming it was Sharly who was
selfish, for the two upper dimples began to play then in
the most bewitching manner, and Sharly was her own
sweet self again.
One morning, Mr. Lynde, Helen, Sharly, Yic, and
Yau were at Paradise Lane, a mile or two from home;
the twins were geologizing in a hollow, Sharly reading
a novel under a tree, and Helen sitting at a little dis
tance, bending over some work.
“ May I see your sketch, Phebe ? ” said Mr. Lynde,
coming up to her and looking over her shoulder.
“ O, I’m only mending an apron for Yic. What a —


“ o. how picturesque! how delightsome I ” — Page 93.



OLD BLUFF.
91
fall was that, my countrymen, out of the cherry-tree
just now, and what a rent it made in the calico! You
see, Mr. Lynde, I’ve grown so experienced, that I
always bring my needlework in my pocket nowa
days.”
“ But your sketch-book — where is that ? ”
“At home. I’ve finished the view of Medumscott
Pond.”
“Yes; but this arcade,” said Mr. Lynde, pointing to
a bower of trees; “ you know we were both going to
sketch it.”
Helen cast a longing look at the interlaced branches
of birch and elm.
“ Yes, and I do want to try it. I meant to; but if
I once put my mind on a sketch, I can’t think of any
thing else for the day, and it makes it very stupid for
the children. I believe I mustn’t try to draw any more,
Mr. Lynde.”
“ I don’t see but the children are having a good time,
Phebe. I left them a minute ago making a stone
grotto.”
“Yes, indeed; the twins can always amuse them
selves together. I wouldn’t give it up for them, of
course; but I — I — After all, I think, as I said, that I
mustn’t draw any more, Mr. Lynde,” said she, growing
confused under his gaze, for she was afraid she had
betrayed Sharly, and he would think, just what he did
think, that she was the hinderance.
“The little tyrant!” said he to himself; and then
aloud, to relieve Helen’s embarrassment, “Are you
never going to call me cousin Morris ? Or are you
beginning to like the name of Phebe?”


92
OUR HELEN.
“ Mr. Lynde,” said Helen, summoning her courage,
“ I suppose I might as well explain that, and be done
with it. I don’t think it would be consistent for me to
call you cousin Morris, when I don’t call your aunt
mother — now do you?”
“ O, is that all ? ” said he, smiling at her earnestness.
Helen’s earnestness was what he greatly admired in
her. “ I’m so relieved to find you don’t intend a per
sonal slight. ‘ Consistency, thou art a jewel.’ But
why not call my aunt mother? — you like her so
much! ”
“Did you ask that as a question, sir?”
“Ho; I simply made an assertion.”
“ But who told you I liked her, Mr. Lynde ? ”
“Nobody. I can see for myself that you are begin
ning to love her, Phebe.”
Without looking up, Helen plucked some arbutus
leaves, and sewed them together with her needle and
thread.
“ It was very hard for you at first, for she reminded
you of one of these creeping vines, you know, that
kill the heart of a tree.”
“ Why, there now! did you see that in the picture
I painted for father — did you, l'eally?”
“No; I saw it in your face.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to talk about this to you, Mr.
Lynde — I didn’t want to; but since you have begun
it, I’ll tell you frankly, something did draw me to that
woman the very first moment I saw her; but I
wouldn’t go.”
“ Precisely, Phebe.”
‘ £ O, now, sir, you consider it all temper, but it isn’t;


OLD BLUFF.
93
it’s self-respect. I don’t wonder you thought I was
dreadful when I talked so in Boston.”
“ I thought you were very much to be pitied,” said
Mr. Lynde, kindly. “ The marriage seemed to me, as
to yourself, a very hasty affair, for I did not know at
that time of the early attachment.”
Helen smiled sarcastically.
“Early, do you call it? I should think it was late
enough in life, for that matter, Mr. Lynde.”
“ Begging your pardon, Miss Phebe, fifteen is early,
decidedly so.”
“ Fifteen ? Why, what in the world are you talking
about, sir ? ”
Mr. Lynde looked at the upturned, wondering face,
and hesitated.
“ I am not telling you anything new: you must
have heard of this before.”
“Did you say an early attachment, sir? ISTo, I never
heard of that; it can’t be true. Why, Mr. Lynde, last
winter was the first time they ever met — didn’t you
know it? What do you mean by looking so? Do
pray tell me, quick.”
“ 0, how picturesque! how delightsome! ’’ chirped an
ecstatic voice through the trees, followed by an eye-glass
and a roly-poly little woman behind it. “ Mayn’t I
come, too, and admire the view ? See, Mr. Lynde,
what I’ve brought you,” said Miss Liscom, opening a
motherly basket, and disclosing boned, turkey, pickles,
and charlotte russe, all in excellent order, and tempt
ing to behold. “ Don’t you run away next time with
out eating a good breakfast, or I shall be sure to fol-


94
OUR HELEN.
low you, you naughty man, fori won’t have you starve#
while you live at my house.”
“ O, for a little wholesome neglect! ” thought Mr.
Lynde.
And Helen shrank back like a flower that has an
“antipathy.” How could she endure this intrusion?
And how could she wait to hear the rest of the
story ?


GIRLS' FLANS.
95
CHAPTER X.
“GIRLS’ PLAN'S.”
Quinnebasset, Sept. 5.
D EAR DI: She came, she saw, she conquered—me!
That story Mr. Lynde told about her gave me
such a prick in the conscience, not to say a stab, that I
couldn’t rest till I had gone and begged her pardon.
O, the grandeur of that woman, Di! You ought to
have heard her talk to me! If there had been the
thinnest film of ice left in my feelings — which there
wasn’t — it would have melted in a moment.
Pardon? Why, she wouldn’t own there was any
occasion ! Did. you ever hear of such magnanimity ?
She thanked me for my “ high-principled conduct ” in
helping her gain the love of the children; as if a
heathen could have done any less than I! Then she
seemed to know, with her marvellous insight, how the
little morbid spot in my heart was aching at the
thought of mamma’s not being the first; for she said
she should give Morris a fine scolding for telling me
that story.
“ Don’t let one unhappy feeling disturb your mind,
my child. Papa loved your mother very dearly, and
if I chose, I might be jealous of her memory every day
I live.”


96
OUR HELEN.
Somehow that comforted me, just as she knew it
would, I suppose, for I never could bear the idea of her
queening it over my poor dead mamma.
Then she said she had no thought of taking her
place with any of us children.
“ An own mother is God’s best gift, and can never
be repeated. I am simply your most devoted friend ;
but if you will grant me the sweet title of mother, it
will gratify me, my dear, and I am sure it cannot
offend the blessed one in heaven.”
Do you suppose I could resist that ? Do you think
I have no appreciation of saints, martyrs, and angels?
“Why, mother,” said I, throwing my arms around
her neck, “ I’ve been in love with you from the begin
ning,’ and now I’ll own it.”
“I’ve been in love with you, too,” said she; and
then we laughed and cried, and had, what your brother
Frank would call, a “ spoony time.” But she made
me promise on the spot not to put on any more airs,
and not to compare her, even in my thoughts, with my
own mother. She is not like her, she says, and isn’t
going to try to imitate her. She shan’t sugar the
waffles, or put onions in the stuffed fowls, because she
has a right to her own way of doing things. She will
have her liberty, and be an individual, and I needn’t
attempt to put her down! She said it with that sweet,
bewitching smile, showing her white teeth, but meant
every word; and I exclaimed,—
“ Three cheers for Mrs. Asbury ! Independence now
and forever!” and hugged her all the closer.
Father looks as gay as a lark. I didn’t know before
how m'y behavior had troubled him, but I see it all


GIRLS' PLANS.
97
now. He never meets me alone but he pate me on the
head, and says, “ My dear daughter,” or, “ My good
Helen,” which makes me feel like a dreadful sinner.
And yesterday Thurzy called me “an angel-creetur,”
with such emphasis that I am sure she understands it
all. The children never knew there was any coolness,
so of course they are not aware that mother and I have
had a making-up. But cousin Morris can see, — bless
you, such eyes! His visit has been a blessing all
around, for I am really learning to draw, and you know
my aspirations in that quarter. Sharly didn’t like to
have me touch a jiencil; but he has won her over, and
now she insists upon my improving every minute. It
is very funny, and I do wonder how he brought it
about. I wonder still more what is on his mind as he
lies under the trees thinking. If it is what I fancy, I
wish that cruel parent could see his pale face now, for
I’m sure he would relent, and hasten the wedding.
Adieu, dear. Helen.
P. S. — Papa sends love to you, and regards to your
father.
“ Cousin Morris,” said Helen, one day, as she was
sketching a view from Sunset Hill, with Sharly curled
at her feet sound asleep, “ can I ever learn to draw and
paint well? Please tell me, for you are honest, and 1
can believe what you say.”
“Ah, Helen, you call me cousin Morris, and pay me
a compliment in the same breath. Aren’t you afraid
I may be bribed into flattering you a little ? ”
“No; for if you do flatter me, I’ll take back thi
compliment, and never call you cousin Morris again.”
7


93
OUR HELEN.
“ Then I’ll be as truthful as the sun. But why do
you care much whether you have talent or not? If
you learn to be a good judge of pictures, isn’t that all
you want ?”
“Ho, sir; I am very ambitious.”
“ Sorry to hear it.”
“ I mean, I want to know how to paint pictures my
self, well enough to — perhaps to teach.”
Mr. Lynde rose, and clapped his hands softly.
“ Did this in Caesar seem ambitious ? Why, Helen,
you take away my breath with your audacity! ”
“How, you needn’t laugh at me. I mean, an accom
plished teacher, Mr. Lynde.”
“Ah, an accomplished teacher, Phebe! There are
those who advertise to draw a crayon head in fifteen
minutes, and a spread eagle in three. You don’t aspire
to anything like that?”
“I never heard of dauby people of that sort, sir. We
never had them in this part of the country. You un
derstand what I mean — I want to learn the art thor
oughly, and paint beautiful pictures, that good judges
will want to buy.”
“Well, Helen, so you can, if you persevere. You
are capable of a high degree of excellence in this direc
tion.”
“Really and truly? O, cousin Morris, I’m so glad!
I want to be good for something.”
“ But what do you mean by teaching, Helen — you
that were born with a gold spoon in your mouth ? ”
“ Gold spoons get lost, sometimes.”
“O, yes, I see. Moreover, women have a mission.”
“Ho, they haven’t! ” said Helen, flushing hotly. “I


GIRLS’ PLANS.
99
wish people would stop twitting about that! Men
have a mission just as much as women, but you never
hear of their saying anything about it! I simply mean
this: if papa should ever fail in business, I want to be
able to take care of the family.”
Mr. Lynde looked at the earnest, brilliant face, and
dropped his tone of raillery at once.
“ Do girls of your age generally have so much fore
thought ? ”
“ I presume so, if they are eldest daughters; at any
rate,Di Cary and I have always had plans in our heads;
but it is foolish to speak of them, and I never did be
fore. But I didn’t expect you would laugh, cousin
Morris; I thought you would understand.”
“Why, dear cousin, believe me, I am not laughing;
I am only smiling my earnest approval. I wish there
were more such girls as you and Di Cary. I have the
highest admiration for Di.”
“ I’m delighted to hear it; though of course you
have. She is full of fun; but they can’t make a fash
ionable woman of her, can they ? Did you ever see
such an independent little creature ? ”
“ Has she a talent for any special thing ? ”
“Ho, sir — there’s the trouble; she wishes she had;
but as she hasn’t, she means to fit herself for a teacher.”
“ And her father worth a million at least! Noble
girl! And here is her friend Helen, who intends to
become an artist. Have you considered that it will
cost hard work?”
“ Yes, sir.”
“ Why, my child, you haven’t learned the mere
grammar of the art as yet.”


100
OUR HELEN.
“ To be sure I haven’t. Before you came, I thought
I knew something, but now I’m finding out I .don’t
know anything.”
“Well, doesn’t that discourage you?”
“No, sir; I’m going back to boarding-school in the
fall, and I’ll have a better teacher than I had before,
if I can, and devote my spare time to drawing and
painting.”
“ A year won’t perfect you.”
“ I know it.”
“Two years won’t do it.”
“No.”
“Neither will three.”
“I should hope not. Do people ever become per
fect?”
“Let me shake hands with you,” said Mr. Lynde,
rising; “you hold the key to success, my dear, the lit
tle iron key of perseverance. If I can ever help you,
I’ll do it.”
“ O, you have helped me, sir; you do help me a great
deal,” said Helen, her whole face kindling with' youth
ful enthusiasm.
Mr. Lynde smiled thoughtfully, almost sadly, as he
regarded her.
“You will never speak of this before anybody,
please, not even before mother, for she would tell
father, and he thinks girls’ plans never amount to any
thing.”
“ And how do you know I have any better opinion
of girls’ plans than he has ? ”
“ Because you listen more respectfully, sir.”
“ Thank you. I’m glad you think me respectful.”


GIRLS' PLANS.
101
“ And I can talk to you very easily, cousin Morris.
You seem to be making sport, but you never are. I
always could talk to you, tbougb I can’t quite tell
why.”
“ I can tell why,” said Mr. Lynde; and the sad look
deepened on his bright face for a moment. “ It is
always easy to talk to sick people, Helen. You feel
instinctively that we are going” — here he made an
upward spiral motion .with his finger, describing the
flight of a bird — “ going higher; that our earthly hopes
are crushed, and there is nothing to hinder us from
listening to the schemes and plans of other people.”
“ 0, please don’t, cousin Morris ! I never heard you
talk so before. You always say you shall get well.”
“ Yes, if the Lord pleases,” said he, looking up to the
hills with a reverent gaze. “ But, Helen, between you
and me, I don’t much expect it. See,” said he, push
ing back a spotless wristband from his arm, “ the grosser
part of me is fast melting away; how long do you think
it will be before I am ready for an upward flight?”
“O, don’t speak of it, sir; don’t speak of dying and
leaving this beautiful world.”
“Ah, but it is beautiful,” murmured the young man,
stooping to inhale the fragrance of a clump of ferns,
then with a sudden impulse encircling them with both
arms, as if he would take them to his heart like friends.
“A beautiful world! And we who have never seen a
better, would fain stay here forever ! ”
“ How true that was, how very true,” thought Helen,
with overflowing eyes.
“I did not mean to pain you, my dear cousin; but
when you talked to me just now of my art, the words


102
OUR HELEN.
went closer than you knew, and I had such a sense of
the richness and sweetness of life, that my heart re
belled for a moment. For you must know, Helen,
that I, too, have a cherished purpose, the growth of
years instead of months, and it is only lately that I
am learning to give it up.”
“How thoughtless I was, sir — I, who am so well and
strong! Do, pray, forgive me.”
“For what? For your health and strength?” said
Mr. Lynde, springing to his feet buoyantly, and swing
ing his alpenstock as if he would charm away his dark
mood. “ Never mind it, Helen, I shan’t leave the world
till I have fulfilled my mission in it. I believe in a
mission, if you don’t, and I believe ‘ man is immortal
till his work is done.’ ”
Helen looked up at the illuminated face, and almost
felt as if an angel were speaking to her. She forgot
her own plans and purposes, which had just now
seemed all-important, and her whole heart was in her
eyes as she said,—
“ Won’t the voyage to Europe help you ? O, cousin
Morris, can’t something be done?”
“ Bless my little cousin Helen! Does she care ?
Would she like to keep me in this happy world ?”
“ O, yes, I care very much.”
“ That is comforting, that is refreshing! Thank you,
Helen. If you were going to die, what would you
regret most ? ”
“ Leaving my friends.”
“Fortunate child ! Think what it would be to have
none to leave! Do you know that my aunt Katharine
is the nearest relative I have in the world ? ”


GIRLS’ PLANS.
103
“Yes; and I’m so sorry for you — without father or
mother, or brother or sister.”
“Helen, I wish you were my sister. I wish I could
take all Jubilee Hill with me to Europe ! ”
“ Cousin Morris! cousin Morris! ” cried- the twins,
rushing up, each with her apron full of sticks, like a
miniature Goody Blake, “ we’ve brought you lots of
twigs to analyze; and if you can tell what trees they
belong to—”
“ Why, children, where have you been ? ” said Sharly,
assuming an upright position, and looking round in
dismay. “ I didn’t go to sleep, did I, Helen ? What
have you been talking about? ”
“ Look here, let us get through speaking. We peeped
through the bushes, and saw somebody fastening their
boat down there by the bank, and we came to tell you.
It’s Pity Jones and Peeky Liscom. Isn’t it an ever
lasting shame!”
“ Delia Liscom,” said Helen, rising suddenly. “Well,
you know that little den back there behind the alders ?
You will find me sitting there when you are ready to
go home.”
“And me,” said Mr. Lynde.
“And me,” echoed Sharly.
“And us, too,” cried the twins.


104
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XI.
SUNSET HILL.
D ID they think Delia Liscom was the woman to
be baffled by a clump of trees, overhanging a
natural cave ?
“ I thought you’d be here,” said she, walking straight
to the spot, followed by the gallant Mr. Jones. He
was a young man of elegant leisure, owned a hand
some boat, and was fond of rowing with his lady
friends, provided they would take the laboring oar.
Miss Liscom was no favorite of his; but when she
asked for his company to Sunset Hill, just to see
Helen for a moment, of course he could not refuse.
“ Haven’t you the least curiosity to know what my
errand is? ” said Delia, archly. “ I came.to ask you to
a little party at our house to-morrow evening, Helen —
you, and Mr. Lynde, and Sharly.”
“I thank you,” said Helen.
“ And you’ll be sure to come ? ”
“ 0, yes; thank you ; you’re very kind,” spoke up
Sharly, to whom grown-up parties were an unknown
delight.
Mr. Jones looked as if he supposed the interview
was now at an end; but Delia had no idea of going
yet.


SUNSET HILL.
105
“Ah,” said she, gazing around in an ecstasy, and
then seating herself beside Mr. Lynde, on a knoll,
“what is so satisfactory as Mature? Do you know I
fairly envy you these good times, Mr. Lynde?”
As she spoke, she looked up at him through the black
lace veil, which she considered very becoming to her
complexion, not knowing that he disliked spotted lace,
and had said “ it made a woman’s face look as if it were
covered with flies.”
“ O, Mr. Lynde, I could sit and gaze at these trees
forever! ”
Mr. Jones felt very sorry to hear it.
“Do tell me, Mr. Lynde, which is your favorite tree,
that I may know if our tastes agree.”
“ I can tell you,” cried Vic, as Mr. Lynde did not
answer at once; “it’s the elm!”
O, I’m so glad, so very glad ! ” said Miss Liscom,
with childish simplicity, “for it’s my darling tree ! ”
“ So it is everybody’s,” said Vic; “ and the fairies
like it, too. There’s a story about it, that they took
an elm — the fairies did — and dwindled it down, and
crowned it with gold; and what do you suppose was
the name of it then? It was just a common flower,
and you’ve seen it a hundred times.”
“You dear little creature! I couldn’t guess. Does
it look like an elm tree ? ”
“Yes, just the shape of it; only so small! ”
“ A flower ? Do tell us what it is, Mr. Lynde.”
“ No; let me guess,” said Mr. Jones ; “ it’s the gold-
en-rod.”
“Is it, Mr. Lynde?” said Delia, looking up appe^.l-
ingly. “ I won’t believe it unless you say so. Is it the
golden-rod ? ”


106
OUR HELEN.
“ Certainly,” replied Mr. Lynde, springing up sud
denly, with a motion as of brushing oft' August flies. .
Delia was very wearisome to him with her eternal
small questions. If he had only known how her with
ered heart was expanding in his pi’esence, like a faded
flower set in water, he would have wondered and
pitied, and perhaps might have had a little more pa
tience.
“ How, really, that is a beautiful idea. The golden-
rod is shaped like the elm, if you only think of it, isn’t
it, Mr. Lynde ? There, let’s sit round in a social group
— O, how cosy this is! —and talk about Nature. Pit
kin, which is your favorite tree ? ”
Mr. Jones was becoming hungry, hut his politeness
did not forsake- him.
“ Don’t ask me, Delia. ‘ Comparisons are odious.’
.It would be like deciding which is the most beautiful
woman of my acquaintance, and you know that to me
all women are beautiful,” said Pitkin, sweeping his
gloved hand over his head, as if paying homage to the
sex, though managing at the same time to brush for
ward a few scanty hairs to help cover the bald spot on
his crown.
“ Well, Helen, you then. I suppose you have no objec
tion to saying which is your favorite tree?”
“Not in the least. I prefer the Lombardy poplar.”
“ Why, Helen Asbury ! ” cried Sharly, “ what horrid
taste! I ne.ver heard of anybody that liked that stiff
thing! ”
“Nor I; and I believe the Lombardy has sense
enough to know it,” replied Helen, with a comical
twist of the lips; “and that’s why it holds itself


SUNSET HILL.
107
aloof, and doesn’t entangle its branches with other
trees. I like it because it is so dignified and delicate,
and never tries to meddle.”
Helen was looking straight at the ground as she
spoke, but the undertone of mischief in her voice set
Mr. Lynde to laughing inwardly.
“ Now that’s such a poetical idea! ” said the uncon
scious Delia. “ People that mind their own business!
Yes, yes; I see the force of the comparison, don’t you,
Mr. Lynde?”
“Well, perhaps so, Miss Liscom; but it is the first
time I ever heard of admiring a tree on purely moral
grounds; and I’m afraid Helen is too charitable to
wards the poplar. I’ve heard of another and very differ
ent reason why it holds itself aloof, as she phrases it.”
“ There, now, he’s going to tell a story,” said Helen;
“come sit here by me, Vic, and keep still.”
“Well, once there was a king,” began Mr. Lynde,
raising his yellow eyebrows seriously, “ and some one
stole his golden drinking-cup. He sent men far and
wide to search for it, and the thief trembled lest his
guilt should be discovered. He did not know where
to hide the cup; he could not put it in the ground,
for that would leave a scar. At last he thought of a
tree, and went in the dark night to a poplar, saying,
‘ Here is booty I have stolen. Guard it well till I
come again.’ It so happened, next morning, that the
king sent his servants to search all the forests, and they
went to the trees, one after another, asking, ‘ Have you
seen the cup?’ ‘Not I,’ said the oak. ‘Nor I,’ said
the elm. ‘Nor I,’whistled the pine tree. ‘You can’t
mean me,’ said the willow, bowing with shame. ‘I


108
OUR HELEN.
would rather die than steal,’ said the silver poplar,
trembling. ‘ So would I,’ said the maple, blushing.
But the poplar held up her hands to heaven, and took
oath that she had never seen the cup. Then the men
gave up the search; the cup was never found; but
from that day to this the guilty tree has been doomed
to hold up her arms, till now they have grown stiff, and
she will never be able to swing them by her side while
the world stands.”
“ How delightsome! how charming ! ” cried Miss
Delia. “ Why, Mr. Lynde, you acted it out like a play.
Do tell me, girls, does he often entertain you in this
way ? If he does, I shall have to come with you and
hear him.”
“ O, no, he doesn’t, he doesn’t,” exclaimed the duet,
eagerly; “ we’ll leave it to Helen if he does.”
And to make thorough work of it, and nip all dread
ful possibilities in the bud, Yic added, with her usual
directness, —
“You wouldn’t hear enough to pay you for coming,
Miss Liscom.”
A very good-natured look, not to say a smile, passed
over everybody’s face at this.
“ Miss Yic,” said Mr. Jones, suddenly convinced that
she was a very interesting child, “ you may keep that
jackknife I just lent you.”
“ Really, Pitkin,” said Delia, with a bland smile, “ now
we have got here, and are having such a social time
just among ourselves, suppose we stop and see the
sun set.”
“ Certainly; as you please, Delia,” replied the vic
timized Pitkin. “Are the sunsets very fine up^ here
this summer, Miss Yic?”


SUNSET HILL.
109
“No, sir; the last one wasn’t worth a cent,” replied
Vic, demurely.
“ Last time we saw the sun set up here, it was cov
ered with blueberries,” added Van.
“ What, the sun ? ”
“No, sir! O, no — the hill, of course.”
“Perhaps Mr. Jones thought we had made an impor
tant discovery, and learned the cause of the S])ots on
the sun,” laughed Mr. Lynde ; and Delia laughed also.
An hour or less of this uninteresting talk, and then the
sun set behind the blue mountains. It was a glorious
scene, and the splendors of the sky and river were one
and the same, for the water mirrored every passing
tint, like glass. If one could only have enjoyed it in
silence; but here was Delia! Mr. Lynde walked off,
to stand a little apart, while he watched the colors of
purple, crimson, and gold, as they deepened, varied,
faded, and finally blended into a roseate amber. He
was gazing reverently, with uncovered head, when there
was a light touch on his arm.
“You cannot look at it in the presence of a throng,
any more than I can, Mr. Lynde. There is such a sa
credness in Nature, such a — a — kind of holiness.”
Mr. Lynde felt like a person who prays in secret,
and is suddenly stai’tled by a listener at the keyhole.
He replaced his hat and stepped backward.
“It is seldom I see any one who feels about Nature
as I do,” sighed Miss Liscom, really moved, and strug
gling in vain to express herself. It never occurred to
her that silence was better than any speech. “ O, Mr.
Lynde, how it stirs one’s very soul! ”
“ The dew is falling, Miss Liscom.”


110
OUR HELEN.
“So it is. We really must go home, or you will
take cold,” cried Delia, with an affectionate earnestness
which made Mr. Lynde ashamed of himself. How
could he get out of patience with this good, motherly
soul, who was so faithful about steeping sage tea for
him, and looking up remedies for his cough? But, as
they walked down the hill together, behind the others,
Delia’s soul was stirred again.
“ O, Mr. Lynde, what a pensiveness there is about
moonlight! How it calls up the better emotions! ”
“ Hot always,” replied the ungrateful young man,
forgetting the sage tea; “ sometimes it makes me ner
vous.”
Miss Liscom looked up in surprise, as Mr. Lynde
swung his alpenstock in rapid circles.
“ O, I know what you mean — you mean a peculiar
sadness, Mr. Lynde — a sort of melancholy regret. I
feel it, too.”
“Yes, a mixture of nervousness and regret,” said
Mr. Lynde, mischievously.
“ There, that’s just it — that expresses it. Ah, the
moon, the moon ! how it does call up your dead friends,
doesn’t it, Mr. Lynde?”
“Ho, Miss Liscom, I am happy to say it does not.
. My dead friends are peacefully sleeping in their graves,
and I would not have them called up on any account.”
What did the man mean ? He couldn’t be making
game of her ? But Miss Liscom was not to be silenced
in this way.
“ O, you facetious creature! you almost shocked me
when you said that, just for a moment. But I under
stand you so well, Mr. Lynde—you shrink from speak*


SUNSET HILL.
Ill
ing your inmost feelings. O, I understand it, per
fectly.”
Her perfect understanding seemed to render any re
ply needless, and Mr. Lynde merely remarked,—
. “ Suppose we wait here till the others come up ? ”
And thus ended the first moonlight tete-a-tete these
two had ever enjoyed together.
“ I thought he was full of poetry,” mused the crest
fallen Delia; “but he isn’t — he likes it a great deal
better when I speak about plasters for his chest, or ask
him how he’ll have things cooked. I’ll never talk
hifalutin to him again,—never, no, never!”
It was late before the party reached home; and when
Mrs. Page went to Mrs. Asbury’s at eight o’clock, to
borrow the last Independent, the carryall was just
crossing the bridge.
“ What’s the matter, Sister Bumpus ? ” said Mrs.
Page; “you look unhappy.”
“I was only thinking what a fool I be,” replied The
resa, gashing the dough with a chopping-knife. “Delia
Liscom has been acting real curious, and I’m glad she’s
done it, and shown herself out — I like to know who to
tie to.”
“ Why, what has Sister Liscom done now ? ” said
Mrs. Page, in a tone which indicated that Delia was
not regarded as an ornament to the church.
“ Well, you know what a great fuss she makes over
dear Sister Bumpus, and now she’s gone and made a
party, and invited every one but me! ”
“ It may be a mistake,” said Mrs. Page, trying to
look astonished, for she was a woman of strong sym
pathies when she could forget her own troubles.


112
OUR HELEN.
“No, ic ain’t. She came here this afternoon and
gave out her invitations right to my face. ‘ Tell'Helen
and Sharly to be sure to come,’ said she, ‘for I shall
have all the young folks in town.’ Now, what do you
think of that, Sister Page?”
“It seemed uncivil.”
“I should think it did ! Uncivil is no name for it.
I call it the heighth of sarse. Ain’t I as upright and
truthful a woman as you’ll find in this town, making
allowance for our all being totally depraved ? And
ain’t I a good ten years younger than Delia Liscom ?
Now, what’s the reason I ain’t fit company for the folks
she’s going to invite ? ”
“ O, well, I wouldn’t mind it, Thurzy,” said Mrs.
Page, looking at the honest, hard-featured, coarse-
mannered young woman with pity. If Miss Bumpus
did not see her own unfitness for drawing-room circles,
then it were of little use, and hardly a kindness, to tell
her of it. “ Never care for what Delia Liscom says and
does. She is very aspiring, and, I dare say, wants to
have the aristocracy, and nobody else.”
“Well, she might have run the risk of asking me,
for I shouldn’t have gone,” said Theresa, harrowing
the flour-board with a knife. “ But she’s so took up
with Mr. Lynde, that I ought to overlook it. ‘ Hain’t
he got interesting eyes, Thurzy?’ says she. I was a
good mind to tell her they were bright enough to see
through her — poor, weak sister! ‘Ain’t you afraid
Helen will fall in love with him? ’ says she. Now, the
idea! ‘Why, look here,’ says I, ‘he’s a sick man, with
one foot in the grave, and Helen would as soon think
of falling in love with a cherubim as him. Besides,


SUJVSET HILL.
118
her thoughts ain’t running on matrimony the whole
continual time,’ says I, £ and I wish other folks’s wasn’t,’
for I felt it my duty to speak plain to her, though I
don’t expect' ’twill do a mite of good. Hark! here
they come. You can always hear them laughing be
fore the carryall turns into the gate. Don’t lisp a word
I’ve said, Sister Page! ” .
“Ho ; and don’t you go taking it to heart, Thurzy.”
“Bless you; you needn’t think it troubles me any!
My mind is set on higher things, I should hope. Why,
Sister Page, half the time I feel as if I didn’t care
enough about this world to keep myself together.”


114
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XII.
Delia’s party.
“ 'TXTELL, Sister Bumpus, how do we look ? ” said
f Y the two sisters, entering the kitchen, dressed
for the party.
“ O, my! don’t you shine! Sharly, you just put
some johnny-jump-ups and a sprig of cedar in your
hair, over the left ear, and you’ll look complete. But,
goodness sakes alive! you can’t come up to Helen!
Why, she looks like an angel-picture.”
“ An ‘ evening beauty ’ Helen is,” said Sharly, play
ing both sets of dimples, the merry and tearful, for she
was the conscious possessor of all the good looks of
the family, and it seemed hardly fair to have her rights
usurped.
“Yes, I know it. Folks ask me whether I think
Helen Asbury is handsome or homely, and for the life
of me I can’t tell. Which he you, Helen ? ”
“ Both. I look pretty to-night, but it’s make-believe,
for I wasn’t pretty till I put on this hair-line silk and
the rose-colored ribbons.”
“ Nobody would mistrust you are tanned,” said Shar
ly ; “ you look as white as I do.”
“Yes; but in the daytime your complexion is pearl,
and mine smoke-pearl, especially when I’m out of doors


DELIA'S PARTY.
115
so much. I’d like to have some up-and-do,wn, honest
beauty like yours, Sharly, that wouldn’t come and go;
then it seems to me I should respect myself more. I
hate shams.”
“You old darling!” said Sharly, kissing and patting
Helen, as if to assure her she was freely forgiven for
looking better than she ought.
“Well, good by, Thurzy; wish you were going with
us.”
“ Me, Helen ? I’d rather pull turnips all day in the
field,” responded Miss Bumpus, elevating her sled-
runner nose; and she spoke the truth. She disdained
parties, and all she had ever wanted was the privilege
of saying “ No.”
Miss Liscom had taken this occasion to slight her
particular friends, and invite to her house only those
who would consider it a condescension to go. Miss
“Liddy Ann Crane,” the village dressmaker, was a wo
man after her own heart, and many a spicy dish of
gossip had they shared together; but what would Mr.
Lynde say to meeting a spinster who wore a linen
switch, talked bad grammar, and went out sewing by
the day?
Then there was Mrs. Porter Smythe, the milliner.
A sudden doubt had seized Delia, whether divorced
people like her were legally entitled to a place in the
best society. No; she could ask Miss Crane, Mrs.
Porter Smythe, and Miss Bumpus to tea some time, and
make it all right.
Then, as for the young men, there were more than
the usual number in town, so she could well afford to
leave out the mechanics, and those who were employed


116
OUR HELEN.
in the potato factory. One must draw the line some
where; though, as she remarked to Mr. Lynde, “It is
really necessary to put up with a great deal of uncon
genial society in a country village.”
She did not hesitate to invite all the strangers rural
izing at the two or three hotels, though very little was
known of them, except that they spent money freely.
Dr. Willard and his bright young wife were there ;
Judith Willard, the gifted authoress, and her stylish
sisters, Tid and Mate ; Eleanor Jones, whose dark hair
had suddenly grown yellow during a visit to Philadel
phia last winter; Pitkin, her brother; and the thrice
elegant Mrs. Oscaforia Satterlee, of Boston, their sister;
Helen and Sharly, &c.
Helen was really the most brilliant-looking young
lady in the room, and Delia said to herself, with a sigh,
“The time was when I used to look like that. Pity
one has to lose it all, and grow fleshy and wrinkled.”
“ How stiff it is ; O dear ! ” said Mrs. Willard, aside,
to her sister-in-law Judith, as they watched the moon
through the window going into an eclipse.
“ I’ve attended funerals that weren’t half so solemn,”
remarked Mr. Lynde to Helen, who replied,—
“We don’t know each other; half these people are
sti’angers, and that’s the trouble.”
Delia bustled about with an uncomfortably red fac.e.
How to mingle these foreign elements which she had
brought together, was more than she knew.
“ O, Mr. Lynde,” said she, tapping him on the shoul
der in her peculiarly girlish way, “ do help me; do set
something going; there’s a dear, good man !”
“ Take them out to look at the moon,” said Mr.


DELIA'S PARTY.
117
Lynde; “I am sure you couldn’t ask for better enter
tainment than an eclipse.”
“ O, I never thought of that; how kind you are! ” said
Delia, as if the astronomical appearance had been of
his own devising for her especial benefit.
There was a little buzz, a rustle, and a movement
towards the front door.
“I’ll say something shocking, which will break the
spell,” thought Mr. Lynde, really pitying poor Delia’s
distress.
“ Mrs. Satterlee,” said he, taking that lady’s arm, and
leading her down the gravel walk, “allow me to pre
sent you to Cynthia in an eclipse,” pointing with in
imitable grace to the black, silver-edged moon; “ and
now, Cynthia, allow me to present you to Mrs. Sat
terlee, who never was eclipsed ! ”
The effect was magical. A smile went from face to
face like an electric thrill; and when Mrs. Satterlee
made a charming courtesy, and addressed dark Cynthia
in drawing-room parlance, as a “ lady she had admired
from childhood,” Dr. Willard, who was “ easy to laugh,”
laughed aloud.
There was no more formality after that. The very
proper lady from Portland said, —
“ Let us join hands and form a line, and everybody
make a bow ; ” which was improved upon by the lady
from Bangor,' who suggested that each should recite in
turn a verse to the moon. Mr. Lynde came first, and
quoted so readily, —
“ The white moon shrinks her sickle clear,”
that Delia, who of course stood next, was lost in


jl18
OUR HELEN.
admiration, and could think of nothing but
“Roll on, silver moon,” —
such a countrified line, that she chose to pay a forfeit
rather than repeat it. /
“ I must get a book of extracts and read up,” thought
she, chagrined, as the musical bits of poetry rang out
like bells on the evening air. But when it came to
composing couplets, Delia found it required more than ■
mere “ reading up” to shine in intellectual society. The
first subject given was “ Original Sin,” and Mr. Lynde,
Mr. Hackett, Judith, and Helen wrote instantly,—
“ What an ingrain thing is original sin !
It begins before we have stolen a pin;
It really came into the world by Adam,
Though he tried to palm it off on Madam.”
There were several other specimens of a like nature,
thrown off just as carelessly, for the guests proved to be
very bright and ready-witted. They had impromptu
charades from the words Nitrogen and Parasol, in which
Mr. Lynde and Mr. Hackett were decidedly the stars,
though Delia was obliged to warn Mr. Lynde continu
ally against fatiguing himself.
When it came to “ What is my thought like? ” and
Sharly answered, “ Like rain,” Mr. Hackett said, “ My
thought was a dress. Why is a dress like rain ? ” “ 0,
because it descends,” replied Sharly, quickly, looking
from her tall sister to her own little self, with a pretty,
twinkling glance which made everybody smile. Shar-
ly’s eyes did have a bright way of twinkling; but Hel
en’s, which were larger, darker, and softer, had no such,
way — they simply shone.


DELIA’S PAD TV.
119
Delia, who could not think of a single witty thing to
say, felt herself quite cast in the shade. With Liddy
Atm Crane, now, and Mrs. Porter Smythe, one might
venture to put on airs! But Delia’s crowning morti-
lication was Miss O’Neil. Just as they were making
“Characteristic Initials,” — such as “ Household. Angel ”
li>r Helen Asbury, “Merry, Exquisite Limner” for
Morris E. Lynde, — and had given out “ Neuralgic Old
Nondescript” for Norah O’Neil, the inopportune crea
ture walked in, and maliciously demanded of Delia a
“junk of pork.” It was one of the Liscom trials that
Miss O’Neil kept her pork in their barrel of brine,
identified by a red string; and whenever she felt out
of humor, and Delia had company, she took it into her
head that she must bake some beans the next day,
and Delia must go down cellar for the pork, to save
her own rheumatic limbs.
However, this vexation could not annul the fact
that Miss Liscom’s party had been a success.
“And it is all owing to you, you dear, good man,”
said she, tripping back to the parlor, after the last
guest had departed, and beaming smiles upon Mr.
Lynde.
“Did I really help you, Miss Liscom? Then I am
glad, for you have been so kind to me that I shall
always consider myself your debtor.”
And then he bade her a pleasant “good night.” She
was much older than himself, and had always remind
ed him of a hospital nurse. He was really grateful to
her; but how could he possibly know she was disap
pointed because he did not linger a while and talk?
She went to bed thinking bitterly that she had offended


120
OUR HELEN.
some of her best friends for his sake, but the sacrifice
had not been appreciated.
Delia’s party was the beginning of a round of social
entertainments, to which Delia was always invited;
but she found them very dull, for Mr Lynde seldom
attended, preferring quiet evenings with his aunt and
cousins.
The bivouacking continued whenever the weather was
mild enough; but on cold or stormy days the family,
all resorted to the large sewing-room up stairs; and
Helen, with her sketch-book and pencils, bestowed her
self in one corner, behind a dividing fence of chairs.
This was her drawing-room, she said, and no one must
enter it but her drawing teacher. It seemed to her
that she was just beginning to learn, and now cousin
Morris was talking of going away! He had already
overstaid his time, he said. The Cunard steamer, in
which he had engaged passage for Europe, was to sail
on the twenty-first of October, and as he had a little
business in New-York, he must leave Quinnebasset on
the seventeenth.
The hour of parting could not fail to be a sad one
for Mrs. Asbury and the children. The duet had con
certed in private to make a black flag, on which was
stitched in ghostly white the word “Desolation;”
and this trifling outward display of deep inward grief
they hoisted at full mast over the parlor mantel, on the
dreadful morning of departure.
“ Because we wanted to let you know how we fe-eel! ”
said Yic, wiping her unpoetically red nose. “ The other
side has got £ Good by, Mr. ,’ you see; and the
long mark stands for Line V 1


DELIA’S PARTY.
121
“Yes, we had to,” said Van, “for the cambric wasn’t
quite big enough.”
Neither was the child’s handkerchief big enough.
Her tears overflowed the borders thereof, and even
drenched the bib of her apron.
“You dear little cousins ! that ‘Good by, Mr. Line,’
carries me back to my childhood, when a naughty boy
used to stand beside me in the reading-class, and whis
per, ‘ Stop; you missed a line.’ I always did stop, very
much confused, beginning the sentence and reading it
over again, till I found out one day that he only meant
‘ YoiCre Mr. Lynde,’ and after that he couldn’t cheat
me again.”
How much cousin Morris was touched by the child
ish devotion of the twins, and the less boisterous grief
of his aunt and the older girls, it was not possible to
know, for he pretended to be in high spirits, and spoke
as lightly of this uncertain journey in search of the
ever-receding phantom of health, as if it had been a
day’s sail 011 Medumscott Pond, in pursuit of pickerel
or water-lilies.
He kissed everybody, not omitting Sister Bumpus,
who appeared at the hall door with red eyes, and black
eyebrows scowling defiantly above them.
“We shall meet on the other side of Jordan,” said
she, much gratified by this proof that he regarded her
as one of the family.
“On this side first, I hope, Miss Theresa, unless you
run away with a preacher before I come back,” returned
Mr. Lynde, with a smile which she afterwards said was
“ enough to take a tear out of a rock.”
Mr. Lynde’s final adieux to Delia Liscom were waved


122
OUR HELEN.
from the top of the stage-coach, sundry symptoms of
breaking down in her manner having warned him to
spare her feelings as much as possible.
“ The good soul seems more distressed at parting
with me than even aunt Katharine; yet here I run
away from her like a brute. Well, I hope the writing-
desk I have left Helen to give her may make some
amends.”
Then, as the clumsy stage clattered through the vil
lage, he looked back at the peaceful scenery, saying
to himself,—
“Farewell, quaint, beautiful Quinnebasset! gliding
away forever, and taking with you Jubilee Hill and
the beloved faces! I could shame my manhood and
weep like a tired child.”


GOSSIP.
128
CHAPTER XIII.
GOSSIP.
Quinnebasset, June 1.
EAR DI: Your last letter fairly bristled with
interrogation points. Yes, we will be sure, when
we write “Mr. ,” to ask him to call on you the
moment he returns; but he won’t come till September.-
( “ Mr. ” was a short-hand way of writing “ Mr.
Lynde,” ever since the twins sported the flag called
“Desolation.”)
He has now been gone more than a year arid a half;
can it be possible ? Mamma hardly believes his health
is entirely regained; she says he must be indulging in
a “ frolic of the imagination.” I want to see him very
much; but am afraid if he comes back well, he won’t
seem quite the same, for there was a peculiar purity
and delicacy about him, such as I never saw in any
man before, except uncle Charles. I often think of
those days when we all went gypsying with him, and I
know some of the words he dropped so lightly and
carelessly have helped me more than I can tell. He is
not one of the “ instructive ” kind, but, as Judith Wil
lard says, “ he exalts everybody who approaches him;
and so does Mrs. Asbury.”
I am sitting in the library, which was once the china


24
OUR HELEN.
(oset, and can get a view of the garden and Italian
ces through the long window; (we’ve had those bees
,\ree years, and not a drop of honey have we sipped!)
diile through the arched doorway I can look into the
* -nek parlor and see my ivy, which reaches entirely
.-round the room; the cosy, half-worn furniture, and
the lovely little clock on the mantel, which you ad
jured so much, but which never did and never will
keep good time. It tells white lies with its little silver
tongue; but “ look in its face, and one forgives them all.”
I can hear mamma in the nursery talking to the
baby in a voice as sweet as rippling waters. He is a
year old to-day, and not a tooth in his blessed little
head. You wouldn’t know him, for he doesn’t look
at all as he did last summer. His eyes are like tur
quoises set in gold — the deepest blue with a shining
fringe; in short, like Mr. ’s. He is little Nameless
yet, for papa still insists on Adoniram for grandpa Dil
lingham, and it isn’t our duty to consent to that.
Now for your questions in their order, not counting
the one about Morris.
No. 1. “Does Sister Bumpus tell of her religious
experiences as freely as ever ? ”
Yes. During the revival last spring she kept declar
ing she was “ sick and tired o’ sin,” and helped Mrs.
Nason shake our carpets with a kind of religious fury.
When she is “sick and tired of sin,” it is always in the
most vehement way, and she works tremendously. She
has made herself a new gown, though she insists upon
it that she “ doesn’t care enough about this world to
keep herself together.” Strange how deluded the very
best people can be as to their “ inner women.”


GOSS/P.
125
No. 2. “Are the twins the same jolly little souls?”
Yes. Yic appeared at dinner-table to-day with one
boot blacked, having forgotten the other ; and Sharly
said, “Mamma, why don’t those children have some
French kids ? ” Sharly doesn’t realize that we are be
ginning to retrench.
No. 3. “ Papa wishes to know if your father is in
good spirits about his business ? ”
No. He has met with heavy losses. I suppose your
father knows what they are. I heard him tell mother,
the other day, he had saved several thousands, and put
it all in government bonds, and shouldn’t speculate
any more. He and mother have both been quite ill,
but are better, though mother is not yet able to leave
her room. (This, probably, has nothing to do with the
government bonds!)
No. 4. “Is your aunt Marian as full of baby knowl
edge as ever ?” "
You forget that she and uncle Charles and Margaret
all went to Europe last March.
No. 5. “Is Mrs. Page still living?”
Yes; at a poor, dying rate. Regards our baby “in
a bony light,” and prescribes for him; but we don’t
mind.
No. 6. “Is her husband as bright as ever?”
Yes, more so; “seems if.” A colporteur asked him
the other day if he enjoyed religion. “No,” said he;
“ butDorkis does.” I really believe he expects to reach
heaven through her merits. Whenever he goes to
Poonoosac to take things to market, mamma invites
“Dorkis” here visiting, and we all do our best to en
liven the poor soul. She can talk politics like a states-


126
OUR HELEN.
man, and religion like a divine — and so can mother;
and they really have good times together. It never oc
curred to us, in days of old, that we owed any duty to
sick-minded Mrs. Page; hut the apostolic Mrs. Asbury
is always hunting up duties — bless her!
No. 7. “I want the Quinnebasset news — how are
the Jones’s?”
All well. They have remodelled their house, which
is now rather handsomer than ours. You know they
live twenty rods above us, on table-land, and they are
making it look like an Eden. Marietta lives still far
ther beyond, in a brick house, with a red barn before it.
You know she married Captain Coyle, and he would
set the barn where he chose. Poor Marietta Jones!
Pitkin is still gallant, and “Elly-nory” still has golden
locks; a nice girl, though.
No. 8. “And Miss O’Neil?”
The last I heard of her she was buying potatoes at
Mr. Willard’s store, and said she preferred small ones,
as they were to be made into hash!
No. 9. “And MissLiscom?”
A good deal about her. Thurzy came in the other
day, saying, “ Look here, girls, Mr. Liscom is going to
be married again ; he has been looking up another lot
in the graveyard! ” It was a grim joke, for he has had
four wives; but, strange to say, he was married the
next week to the thrice-widowed Thankful Works, of
Poonoosac. It was hard for Delia to give up the house
keeping key, but she did it pleasantly, and. mother
ways, deserves much credit. She has had a wretched
line of step-mothers coming and going ever since she
was a baby, and dear, charitable mamma says it is “ na1>


GOSS/P.
127
ural she should be anxious to have a home of her own,
and hardly strange that she acts a little silly about it.”
I may mention that she has a watch-charm in the shape
of a little gold umbrella, which completes her resem
blance to Paul Pry. Even mamma laughed when she
heard Delia was sporting the Pry umbrella.
No. 10. “Silas Hackett?”
Silas Hackett, architect, has made quite a fortune,
and bought a pretty new house for his mother. He
asked me to ride with him the other day, to Poonoosac,
and what do you suppose this old stupid thing said?
“No, thank you, sir. I have an engagement; but
Sharly would be so glad to go! ” I knew she was long
ing for a new bonnet, and poor old Dozey is dead, you
remember; so the words slipped out before I thought,
and I haven’t dared look at Mr. Hackett since. He
seemed greatly amused, but didn’t invite Sharly. Peo
ple are wondering if he and Judith Willard will re
new their engagement, which was broken so long ago..
For the romance of the thing, I do hope they will.
Is this all ? I believe so. Di, you are a natural
gossip.
Do come in July. Every soul of our family, and
everybody you knew in the village, sends love and
wants to see you. Here is my hand and seal upon
that. Helen Asbuky.


128
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XIV.
ASHES OE EOSES.
D EAR DI: “ Gray with death shall never fail.”
“ Half cup sugar, one cup molasses, little butter -
melted in, little ginger; roll it hard.”
There, this is an old sheet of paper on which I began
a letter long ago, and I turned it into a German trans
lation, then into a recipe. Such is life, Di. Things
run right in together just like that. How it’s June 15th,
and I’ll go back to you. First and foremost, we were
startled this morning by the tragic announcement,—
“ The striped bug has come ! ” I’ve been out helping
Thurzy try to save the cucumbers, and — Here Helen
was interrupted by Sharly, who came fluttering into
the garden chamber with a camp-stool in her hands,
exclaiming, —
“Don’t you smell smoke?”
“No, I don’t smell it. Where have you been?
What makes you look so wild ?.”
“ Why, I was just sitting out there on the terrace,
and such a fright as I had ! I rushed into the kitchen,
and there was Thurzy blacking the stove, as if she Avas
‘ sick and tired o’ sin; ’ so it can’t be our house. I smell
it a little up in this chamber, but not much. Why,
Helen, what’s the matter with your nose ? ”


ASHES OF ROSES.
129
“ Tired, perhaps, like the rest of me,” replied Helen,
thrusting the benumbed member out of the window,
and sniffing vigorously. “Well, yes, there is smoke
in the air, and a haze, too. I shouldn’t wonder if the
woods were on fire; they must be so very dry. Seems
to me I never knew such a drought. The flowers did
look so discouraged. I can tell you, Sharly, they
thanked me well for the drink I gave them all round.”
“You’ll kill yourself carrying water out to the gar
den,” said Sharly, with a twinge of self-reproach. “ But
come, let us go up in the attic, and see if we can see fire
anywhere.”
“ Nonsense, Sharly 1 you’re so sensational! ” yawned
Helen, thridding her fingers through her dark hair,
which was running riot over the shoulders of her white
wrapper. “ Just run up and see for yourself, if you
want to, but don’t come in here again — there’s a good
girl — for I want to write a letter.”
Sharly tripped away, and Helen sat gazing at her.
beloved garden in a half dream. Everything seemed
so sweet and drowsy out there, as if Nature were ready
for an afternoon doze. The woodbine looked in at the
window, and caught the curtain in a friendly clasp ; the
sweetbrier tried to come, too, but was not tall enough,
and had to send her regrets. Around the edges of the
flower-beds in the garden, Tlmrzy, ever full of expedi
ents, had set all the leaky pans and tin dishes the house
afforded. These dishes were full of water, which slow
ly trickled out and sank down to the roots of the plants.
“ Those flowers do look feverish, after all, poor things!
Never you mind, little dears, there’ll be rain before
night,” said Helen to herself. “ Joy to the world ! the


130
OUR HELEN.
wind’s rising. What a breeze! There’s my white
rose-bush nodding and snowing roses! What, Sharly,
back again? — you sensational girl!”
“ Why, Helen Asbury! there is a fire! There’s a
wreath of smoke over there ever so far beyond the
Jones’s. I think near Captain Coyle’s barn. Come,
see if you don’t think so, too.”
Helen toiled wearily up the narrow attic stairs, but
before she reached the top the village bell was ringing
sharp and quick.
“Yes, you’re right, Sharly; it must be Captain
Coyle’s barn. Too bad! but it isn’t as if the captain
was poor.”
“ Ho,” said Sharly; “ and it isn’t as if it wasn’t a red
barn, too, right in face and eyes of the house! How
Lase always hated that ugly old thing!”
“She’ll be glad to see it go,” said Helen, reflectively;
“ but, Sharly, what if their house should take fire! The
wind is blowing a gale.”
“ O, there’ll be men enough to put it out,” returned
Sharly. “Let’s go down to the south chamber. I
want to get a good look-out on the street, and see if
there are many people going up to the fire. Of course
the Joneses will go, for it’s all in the family. Dear!
what an excitement there’ll be at the Coyleses! ”
Helen, now thoroughly awake, followed her sister
down to the south chamber. Yes, indeed! there were
plenty of people going up the hill, almost at a run,
keeping time to the lively ding-dong of the bell with
their clattering pails and dippers, which flashed in the
sun.
“Women, too, as true as you live!” said Helen,


ASHES OF ROSES.
131
Well, well; they are stepping out of their sphere, I
should say. Won’t they be in the way, think? No,
there’s Mrs. Willard — she’s never in the way! ”
“ But, see! there’s Peeky Liscom! ” cried Sharly, “ and
Miss O’Neil! Glad it isn’t my barn! ”
“ Sharly,” said Helen, who had been slowly consider
ing the matter, “yourun down and see to the children,
and ask Thurzy to get us some pails and dippers while
I finish dressing. If everybody else is going to the fire,
we’ll go, too.”
“ So we will! ” said Sharly ; “ ’twill do Lase good to
see us, any way. Can’t you imagine her runuing round
and round like a crazy thing? Some people do seem
to lose their heads so, when they’re excited. How do
you suppose we should act, Helen, if our house was on
fire ? ”
“ I don’t know,” replied Helen, brushing out her shim
mering hair. “ One never can tell.”
“Well, I just about know I should be calm,” said
Sharly. “You needn’t smile, now; I’m just the per
son that would. Excitable about little things, you
know, but real danger braces me up to just the right
pitch.”
“ It would be real danger, indeed, if one’s house should
take fire in this little town, where there’s no engine, and
pretty much all the water gone out of the cistern.”
“Ugh! how you make my flesh creep!” cried Shar
ly ; “ seems as if I could see fire darting right at us. I
want to run out-doors and scream ! ”
“ That would be sensible, really.”
“ Pshaw! Helen; you know I’m only joking. Thank
goodness, we’re not the sort of people that have things


132
OUR HELEN.
happen to us. Father’s so remarkably cautious, and all
that. But did you ever think, Helen, what you should
do in case of fire ? ”
“Yes-. I should go the first thing and take out that
little trunk that father keeps in the closet at the head
of his bed.”
“ O, I know —full of bills and deeds.”
“ Full of government bonds, you silly! Why, Sharly,
haven’t you heard him say all his available property is
in that trunk ? ”
“ Available property ? What do you mean by that ? ”
“ All the ready money he has in the world. And he
has often said, in case of fire, we 'must save that trunk,
even if we had to let the house go. Mother asked him
why he didn’t put the bonds in the bank ; x but he says
he’s too much afraid of burglars. There, run along,
Sharly, and see what’s going on down stairs ”
Left to herself, Helen made a hasty toilet, and was
just fastening her dress, when there was a light tap at
the door, which she had no time to answer before Eleo
nora Jones rushed into the room, her delicate face dyed
crimson, and her long hair falling loose to her waist in
a golden shower. It was a most remarkable thing for
the punctilious Eleonora to do. Had she come all the
way from home in that plight? But even while Helen
marvelled, she had time to think how beautiful the girl
looked, and to recall a couplet descriptive of just such
hair, though probably not artificially colored, —
“ Down-gushing in an armful flows,
And floods her ivory neck, and glitters as she goes. ”
Recalled it at the very moment she was listening to
Eleonora’s announcement,—


ASHES OF ROSES.
133
“ Our house is burned to the ground! Can you lend
me a hair-pin ?”
“ Eleonora Jones ! ” cried Helen, confronting her with
a face as pale as ashes. . “What do you mean?”
“Just what I say,” replied Eleonora, without tear, or
smile, or sigh. “Our house is gone! Where Oscafo-
ria’s children are, I don’t know. The baby I brought
down here in my arms.”
“ Why, Nora, Nora, Nora ! I thought it was Captain
Coyle’s barn that was burning.”
“Yes, so it was. We all went up to help save it,
and while we were there, a cinder blew down on our
roof and set it on fire, and by the time we got there it
was too late. Furniture gone, too! I want some
hair-pins.”
“There’s my hair-pin cushion — help yourself,” re
plied Helen, crushing down a wild desire to laugh.
Talking of ruin and desolation, and the state of one’s
back hair, all in a breath ! Still, don’t we do it every
day ?
“But, Eleonora, I don’t understand it; your house
is so far away from that barn. Of course, Captain
Coyle’s house is burned, too?”
“No; it wasn’t even scorched. The wind didn’t
blow towards it — it blew right down this way, you
see,” said Eleonora, gathering up her glittering tresses,
and winding them round and round in a hasty bird’s-nest.
“ O, yes; it blew that cinder down to you; only think
of its flying a quarter of a mile!”
As Helen spoke, she involuntarily thrust her head out
of the window. There were thread-like films darken
ing the air, and the trees were rocking wildly.


134
OUR HELEN.
“Why, Nora! who knows but this house—■ ”
She did not wait to finish the sentence, but rushed
down stairs breathless, followed by Eleonora, with hair
pins in her mouth.
“I wish father was at home. Might as well have a
tub of water ready. I’ll be very careful, though, not to
stir up a panic.”
Wise Helen ! But her caution came a little too late.
Forty men, and half as many women, had already
stirred up a panic. Old and young, gentle and simple,
dippers and pails, ran together before her eyes in a
many-colored blur. And the very centre-piece of the
blur was a baby-carriage, winding in and out, in and
out, as if the six-months’-old passenger were the heart
and soul of the proceedings! Helen reached the door-
stone, and stood there appalled. From her own win
dow she had seen only floating specks, but here was a
thick storm of ashes and cinders, which the ever-increas
ing wind was hurling straight down from the ruins of
the Jones house! The first person she could get
speech with was Silas Hackett, who was coming in at
the hall door with an unmistakable look of desperation
on his face.
“ Tell me,” gasped Helen, “ is the house on fire ? ”
“ No, no; and shan’t be, if we can help it. Look up
all your old comforters and blankets, and get them out
to us on the roof.”
“ Helen, it’s come! it’s come! What we’ve talked
about has come! — and father gone, too! ” shrieked
Sharly, rushing through the entry, with her arms full
of glass ware.
* “ Hush! and behave yourself,” said Helen. “ Carry


ASHES OF ROSES.
135
those dishes, and put them down under some trees, and
come back to mother.”
“ Just what I’m doing —just what I started for! ”
screamed Sharly. “Don’t get excited, Helen. Just
look at me / I’m perfectly calm! ”
Sharly ran a few steps’right and left; heard some
body say, “ The house is struck! ” and, in spite of her
calmness, threw the heap of glass ware straight into
the gravel-walk, where the triumphant juggernaut
wheels of the baby-carriage passed directly over it the
next moment, and crushed it.
“ If it was my house, I wouldn’t have such a confu
sion,” growled Miss O’Neil, and somebody found time
and spirit, even then, to hum softly the words, —
“ Had I but asked sweet William in,
Sweet William in, sweet William in.”
Meanwhile Helen, who saw Sharly was not iir the
least to be depended upon, had sent Mrs. Willard to
take care of Mrs. Asbnry, who was still so ill as to be
confined to her room.
“ Keep her quiet, Mrs. Willard. Whatever happens,
don’t let mamma get excited.”
Next moment Helen had called together three or
four of the most efficient women — how she blessed
them now for stepping out of their sphere! — and was
rifling closets, and helping carry loads of blankets and
coverlets into the attic, to be taken out through the
scuttle and spread on the roof.
“Is it afire yet?” screamed Theresa Bumpus, from
time to time.
“No, no,” answered the men from the outside. “Wa
ter ! More water! ”


136
OUR HELEN.
A well-organized force of. men and boys was march
ing steadily up and down the stairs, carrying water
from the bath-room, the kitchen-pump, and the aque
duct; hut the supply from all these sources was getting
low, and they must now resort to the river. A despatcli
had been sent half an hour ago to Poonoosac for an en
gine, but it could not arrive under another half hour.
“Tell us, Mr. Hackett,” said Helen, speaking through
the scuttle, “ shall we women go to the river, too, or
shall we begin to take out the furniture ? ”
For something in the tone of the men’s voices had
struck her as insincere, and she could not helj) suspect
ing the roof was really on fire.
“You may begin to take out valuable articles; it
will do no harm,” replied Mr. Hackett, who was in
stalled leader of the amateur fire company; “ but you
will all be careful not to raise an alarm.”
The words were spoken quietly, but the women knew
too well what they meant, and Helen’s heart sank.
The fact was, the roof had already caught in several
places, and the flames had been promptly extinguished,
but how much longer it would be possible to fight fire,
neither Mr. Hackett, nor any other man, could tell; it
would depend entirely upon the caprice of the wind.
“ Look here, you, Helen, tell us what you want saved
first,” said Theresa Bumpus, swinging her muscular
arms, as the little army of five marched down the drip
ping attic stairs. “ It’s lucky you’re one of those kind
that knows what you’re about. I packed Miss O’dSTeil
off, bag and baggage. I couldn’t have her tewing
round.”
“ Well, Thurzy, you may take out all the trunks you


ASHES OF ROSES.
137
find in the trunk closet. Mrs. Selden, you go to my
wardrobe on the right; Judith Willard, to Sharly’s on
the left; Mrs. Coyle, to mother’s in the blue chamber,
and Thurzy, here, to the children’s rooms.' Pack as
fast as you can, and then carry the trunks down stairs.
I’ll go speak for a wagon,” said Helen, who was per
haps never really herself except on great occasions.
It was a satisfaction to know that everything would
be done just as she had ordered ; but it was not so
pleasant to reflect that Peeky Liscom had been prowl
ing about the chambers, may be pocketing stray letters,
or scraps of this and that, Avhich could be put together
by and by to make out some sort of a story — no mor
tal could foretell what.
But this was a small provocation, not worth men
tioning; and Miss Liscom was gone now; somebody
had seen her ride off in a wagon.
Mrs. Asbury had set several ladies to ripping up the
parlor carpets ; and when Helen went down stairs, she-
found men carrying out furniture under her direction,
while she sat in the front hall, with her bonnet on, and
her baby in her arms.
A few frightened ones, like poor Shariy, were flying
about as uncertain as the very ashes in the air. Sharly
had a battered Berlin iron breastpin in one hand, and
a tiny pin-ball in the other, carrying them carefully from
room to room; and when she saw Helen, she pressed
them upon her, saying, pathetically,-—
“ I wanted to save a little something; but where shall
I put it ? Let us be calm, Helen ; do let us be calm.”
Ozem Page, faithful to his light, was hurrying out at
the fx’ont door, first with one stove cover, and then


138
OUR HELEN.
another, which he placed conscientiously on the top of
a bushel basket full of the best china.
It was easy to find means to transport the trunks,
as plenty of horses were standing outside the gate.
One comfortable equipage had just been brought
into the yard, and old Judge Davenport came up to
assist Mrs. Asbury into it, while Mrs. Willard stood by
with the baby.
“Mother, dear mother, keep up good courage,” said
Helen; “ the house may be saved yet.”
Mrs. Asbury could have hugged Helen to her heart,
but she only said, in a business tone,—
“ I’ve had your father’s trunk put in the carriage.
Have you seen Bel?”
• There was quite a sensation for a moment, till she
was discovered bringing water from the river in a por
ringer.
“Thank .God, we are all here!” said Mrs. Asbury,
seating herself in the carriage, one arm round Bel, the
other round the baby, and her feet on the precious
trunk.
There was no longer any doubt, about the fate of the
house. The men had ceased telling their well-meant
falsehoods — it was actually in flames. While they had
been working on the roofj a firebrand had dashed against
the kitchen window, where nobody was on guard, do
ing irreparable mischief. The wind, which had been
all the while increasing, now blew a hurricane. It was
no use fighting against such odds; the house was going,
and those brave men knew it — knew it, but, choked
and blinded, they still worked on.
“ Pretty hard on Squire Asbury,” they thought, “ to


“ She was discovered bringing water from the river in a porringer.” - Page 138.



ASHES OF ROSES.
139
come home to a heap of ashes;” and not a man there -
but would almost have put his right hand into the
flames for the sake of the poor Squire.
“Let’s save the doors and blinds, boys! ” cried the
leader, at last, not confessing even then that he gave
up the house.
But why linger here among these brave hearts de
feated, when we have not so much as a dipper of water
to cool one of the tongues of flame ?
Good by, dear old house! happy home! Good by,
elm trees! — star-proofj but not fire-proof. Good by,
white rosebush! you will never more “snow roses.”
Little flowers, stand and meet your fate! — it is not
given to all of us to run away from the evil that pur
sues us.


140
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XV.
THE GREEN TRUNK.
H ELEN thought her cup was full; but there were
worse drops to come.
“ Where are we going? ” asked she, as she found her
self in somebody’s carriage — she didn’t know whose —
riding down street, with her three sisters on a roll of
carpeting. “ Where can we go ? I never thought of
that!”
“ Why, we supposed you’d naturally want to be taken
to your grandfather’s old place,” replied Mr. Applebee,
the driver. “ Mrs. Page sent word she expected you,
and your mother is there.”
Helen almost caught the reins out of the man’s hands.
But wait: was there any other place in town where it
would be possible for the whole family to go, and be
made welcome ? And as for separation, that was too
dreadful just now.
“ Not Mrs. Page’s! ” cried Sharly. “ Let me out! I
won’t go there a step ! ”
“ Hush ! ” whispered Helen, clutching her arm. “Let’s
be thankful it isn’t aunt Marian’s.”
Sharly stifled her moans. Not that a groan more
or less signified much just at this time, for the air was
full of the clang, clang of the Poonoosac engine, and the
shouts of its full corps of firemen.


THE GREEN TRUNK.
141
“ Well, well, you’ve got along at last, have you, with
your sounding brass and tinkling cymbals? Hullo
there ! ” shouted Mr. Applebee. “ It’s no use 'to lock
the stable door after the horse is stolen.”
“ Came as quick as we could,” retorted the firemen.
“Can’t make an elephant trot.”
“That’s so,” said Mr. Applebee, more amiably. “All
right. And now if you want to save the bridge, and
the rest of the village, you are welcome.”
The rest of the village! So it was all going, per
haps. Why not? The people along the street were
drawing water with might and main, or climbing their
own roofs, to lie in wait for the enemy.
“Glad of it!” wailed Sharly; “hope every house
will go! What do we care now? Other folks may
just as well be turned out of house and home as we.”
“Yes, glad of it,” resjiondcd Vic, pirouetting on a
roll of carpeting. “ Guess folks’ll find out how good
it is!”
“So do I!” chimed in less agile Van, attempting
also to pirouette, but receiving a backward twitch from
Helen just in time to save her from going under the
wheels.
As the carriage, with its load of heavy hearts, was
turning the corner, it was stopped by Mrs. Nason, the
village washerwoman, who came out of her house bran
dishing a blanket.
“ 0, but I must speak to you, girls,” cried she, with
streaming eyes. “ Bless your hearts, every one of you!
I’d sooner have spared any house in town than yours !
I wanted to go up and help, but you know I’m just off
my bed, and so all I could do was to pray. I just be-


142
OUR HELEN.
seeched the Lord to turn the wind to the west, but he
wouldn’t hear.”
“ Come up to me, Mrs. Nason; I want to get hold
af you,” said Helen.
And clasping the faithful old creature’s neck, she hid
her hot, tearless face against the bosom of red and green
calico, while Mrs. Nason sobbed forth tumultuously,—
“ There, there! your time will come to cry. I was
so loaded for a while I couldn’t; but now I’ve got
started, and can’t stop. All I have to say is, Helen,
the Lord holds the winds in the hollers of his fists, and
if so be he’d been a mind to —”
“I know it, Mrs. Nason, I know it.”
“And if so be we’re Christians,” said Mrs. Nason,
wiping her eyes on the blanket, — “ there ! I can’t talk
for choking. And your poor pa gone, that never knows
a word about it! O, what a silly woman I am — stop
ping the wagon to comfort you, and behaving like this!
Drive on, Mr. Applebee—no, wait a minute! — how
did Captain Coyle’s barn get afire ? ”
“ Sot” replied Mr. Applebee, laconically.
“You don’t say so — the thief and villain! Drive
on, Mr. Applebee. Bless you, children ! there’s bright
spots yet in your lives.”
And, overcome by this last attempt at consolation,
as well as the news that the fire had been sot, Mrs. Na
son buried her head in the wet blanket, and sobbed
aloud.
“ Look here, now,” said Mr. Applebee, as he drove
off, “ wish we could have had the old lady up there to
cry on your roof; she plays about as well as the Poo-
noosac engine, when she gets a start.”


THE GREEN TRUNK.
143
Helen knew this display of wit was made on purpose
to raise the spirits of the party ; but it was impossible
for any one to laugh.
“Look o’ here ! ” he added, “ the wind’s turning; do
you notice how it’s lulled down? Pity the old lady
hadn’t gone to praying a little sooner, so as to have
saved your house. But I reckon she has saved the vil
lage ; so we’ll try to be thankful.”
The wind had indeed spent its fury. As the carriage
drove into Mr. Page’s yard, the trees merely bowed a
faint welcome, the grass nodded drowsily, and there
was no end to the happy insects which were fluttering
their tiny wings, and bursting their wee sides with
happy noises.
“Well, that hurricane seemed to be raised just for
your especial benefit,” said Mr. Applebee — “ yours and
the Joneses. There won’t be another house burned in the
village, now the engine is come — you see if there is! ”
“ O dear, dear! ” wailed the twins, as if the thought
of saving the village was the final blow.
“ O, Helen,” whispered Sharly, “I’ve a great mind to
say I’ll never go into this house. There’s Dorcas com
ing out to condole, and Ozem behind her. And, Helen
Asbury, let’s die, and be done with it; there’s Peeky
Liscom! ”
Through the side door they got a view of the sloppy
kitchen, for Mrs. Page usually washed it the last thing
before dying, and why not now on the solemn occasion
of fire ?
“ To think your pa should have let the insurance run
out 1 ’’ groaned she, rolling down her sleeves, and coming
out to the carriage, with a sigh. “ O, Helen, why didn’t
he have it renewed ? ”


144
OUR HELEN.
It was the first time Helen had heard or thought of
insurance.
“’Twasn’t a mite like Squire Asbury not to have it
renewed,” added Ozem, who always considered it safe
to second his wife’s remarks.
“Where’s mamma?” cried the children.
“ In the parlor. Walk on your tiptoes,” said Mrs.
Page, with that peculiar solemnity of tone suggestive
of going in to look at the remains of a friend. She re
ferred, however, to the dampness of the kitchen floor.
“ Is this all the carpeting you saved ? ” queried Miss-
Liscom. “ Where’s that best rug, with roses and buds ?
I meant to have attended to that. I saw you needed
ahead, but your mother sent me off on a load of things,
for Mrs. Page was having a dying turn.”
The invalid looked exultant.
“Yes; I appeared to be just alive when she got
here, and not a soul to do for me. Your mother knew
how it would be.”
“ Hystericky as a witch,” whispered Delia to Sharly
as Mrs. Page explored the basket of china.
“ Deliver me from my friends! ” thought Helen, edg
ing into the house between a pair of piano legs and a
row of trunks; for Delia was saying, in a softly modu
lated tone of sympathy, —
“How, you needn’t feel as if you were deserted, girls.
I’ll stay and help you look over these things. — Why, I
don’t see anything of that green and white carpeting
that was in the front chamber. Somebody ought to
have ripped it up. Come, let’s sit down and count the
spoons.”
“No consequence about that,” said Helen; “if there
are any missing, we can’t help it now.”


THE GREEN TRUNK.
145
“ People didn’t know what they were about, not half
of them,” sobbed Sharly, who had been crying ever since
she saw Mrs. Nason ; “but I’m sure I did the very best
I could. Don’t you think I Avas very calm, Helen ? ”
“ As calm as most of us; it was a crazy time,” re
plied Helen, kissing her$ and remembering the pin
cushion and breastpin the poor child had saved, and
presented her with the air of a tragedy queen; but it
would be cruel to speak of that norv. Let her have
the comfort of thinking she had distinguished herself,
for everything was going to press A-ery hard upon dear
little Sharly.
It Avould be worse for her than for all the rest, so
Helen honestly believed. As for her oAvn share of the
loss, she had not got so far as to think of that yet.
Sharly first, then father, mother, and the children, and,
by and by, Avhen she found time, she would mourn for
herself. I think, for my part, Helen’s habitual care for
others was one secret of her remarkable self-control.
Mrs. Asbury Avas sitting by the west Avindow, propped
up in a splint rocking-chair, Avith her feet on the little
green trunk; and when Helen entered the parlor, and
saw her there, her heavy heart lightened.
“ Mother, mother! home isn’t all gone yet,” said she,
crying for the first time in all that dreadful day. “ Here
you are—you and the little green trunk.”
“Helen Asbury, the toilet-glass that belongs in yon
chamber is all shivered to bits,” broke in Miss Liscom,
in tones of exasperating sympathy.
“ Who do you suppose set those stove-covers on top
of the china?” cried Mrs. Page, coming in with her
apron full of broken cups and saucers.
. 10


146
OUR HELEN.
“ Do, please, throw them away,” said Mrs. Asbury.
“ I saw enough horrors when somebody seized my best
shawl and rolled some eggs in it.”
Mrs. Page stared in amazement, for Mrs. Asbury
was laughing, and so was Helen —a little hysterically,
perhaps, but actually laughing.
“Here’s another load coming! ” exclaimed Miss Lis-
com, elevating her eye-glass; “ mops, ragbags — and
if there isn’t Sharly’s very curling-stick rolling on
top! ”
“ 0, see if they’ve brought my nice dresses,” cried
Sharly; “ they might, only everybody was so bewil
dered, you know.”
“Your dresses are all in the trunks, dear.”
“ Why, Helen, are you perfectly sure ? My blue pop
lin ? my lavender silk? my India muslin?”
“Yes, every single one.”
“O, bless you forever! But my jewel-box, Helen,
and my glove-box ? —• of course you couldn’t think of
those; and my beautiful new tucked skirts, and my —
my French kid boots. 0 dear! O dear! ”
“ All in the trunks. How say thank you.”
Sharly was so deeply grateful, and smiled so prettily
through her tears, that Helen .was amply repaid for her
thoughtfulness.
“ And, Helen,” said Mrs. Asbury, “ I hope you saved
your watch ? ”
“Why, mother Asbury, I didn’t! As true as you
live, I forgot it entirely ! ”
“You poor, dear soul!” said Sharly, whose own
watch was safe at the jeweller’s; “I’m so very, very
sorry. I went up in your chamber once, and almost


THE GREEN TRUNK.
147
took it out of the case ; but then I remembered my
new bonnet, and went to get that.”
“Did you save the bonnet?” asked Yic.
“No; but it’s here. I did my very best, Vic; but
anybody can’t be perfectly calm at such times — can
they, Heleh?”
“No, indeed! Only think, Sharly, what we were
saying when we smelt smoke, wondering how we should
feel in case of fire! Doesn’t it seem as if it was a week
ago ? — no, a month ? ”
All! if they could only be left alone to talk it over!
But there was Miss Liscom, still pui-suing her investi
gations.
“ Where are all the rose blankets ? I know you had
a great many.”
“ Mostly on the roof. They called for all the woollen
things we could find. O, Miss Liscom,” added Helen,
a bright thought striking her, “ do you suppose there
are any things left lying outside our fence, that the men.
have forgotten to bring away ? ”
“ Shouldn’t wonder at all. There ought to be a head
to see to that! ” exclaimed Delia; and as her own head
was obviously the very one needed, she bonneted it at
once, and called out to Mr. Willard, who had come
with the last load, that she was ready to ride back with
him. She had the Joneses to think of, and the Coyles,
and everybody would be anxious to know how the As-
burys were enduring their affliction. She thought that
she should report that Sharly took it to heart more than
the rest. And then there was a letter in her pocket
which she must read over again the first moment she
could be alone. It was from Mr. Lynde to Mrs- Asbury,


148
OUR HELEN.
and she had found it in a bureau drawer .; but all is fair
in love and fires to such people as Delia.
It was a beautiful letter, describing places where he
had .travelled; but “Peeky” had found time to read it
all, and there was only one thing in it that concerned
her personally. It was this: —
“Ho, dearest aunt, my heart’s desire is not yet grant
ed ; but absence does not bring forgetfulness; on the
contrary, the longing only grows stronger, and the de
nial seems only the more cruel. Yet what can I do
but wait ? ”
Now what was all this about? He was evidently in
love; but with whom? It might be her own dear self,
and in that case could anything be more touching, more
sweetly expressed ? But if, as she could not help fear
ing, the cruel fair one was somebody else, (for when
had Delia ever been “ cruel ” ?) why, then hoAv foolishly
sentimental it did look in a man of his age !
“Peeky” was already punished for her unprincipled
conduct by the dreadful curiosity which raged within
her, and must continue to rage without satisfaction;
for how could she find out the rest of the puzzle? She
would almost give her right hand to know whom it
could be that Mr. Lynde was waiting for; but, alas!
she had brought upon herself a “waiting” more insup
portable than his; and all she could do was to bite her
finger-nails for rage. Still she did not forget to watcli
for the stage, and return to the Pages a few minutes
after she saw Mr. Asbury alight at the gate.
Helen had been saying, “ Poor papa! how shall we
meet him ? ” And Mrs. Asbury had replied, —
“ O, I am very sure he will bear up bravely; ” when


THE GREEN TRUNK. 149
he came up the shoijt! path, walking tremulously, like a
prematurely old man.
The girls all ran out to meet him, and the twins ex
claimed, dramatically,—
“You’ve got something left, papa — you’ve got us!”
“ Tell me,” cried Mr. Asbury, without stopping for
sentiment, “ tell me if you saved my buff linen coat ? ”
“ Where was it, dear? ” asked Mrs. Asbury, who had
risen from her cushioned chair, and looked a little be
wildered by such an unexpected question.
“ In the entry closet.”
“No, papa,” said Helen; “I don’t believe anybody
saw it, or thought of it. Did you say your buff linen coat?
Why, what of that ? We saved the little green trunk.”
“ There was nothing in it worth saving,” gasped
Squire Asbury; “ I took the coupon bonds out of it yes
terday.”
“0, father! father!”
“ While I was talking with Judge Davenport in the
library, I took them out and put them in my coat pocket,
for the first time in my life. I know I did, for I recol
lected it the moment I got into the cars.”
“What is it he forgot? What is it? what is it?”
cried Delia Liscom, entering unannounced.
“ Don’t tell her! ” shrieked Vic.
“We have lost everything we had in the world,
Miss Liscom —that is all; do you hear? ” said Helen,
calmly.
“William, dear William, don’t look so, don’t feel
so,” said Mrs. Asbury, going up to her husband, regard
less of the intruder’s presence, and clasping him in her
arms.- “It must be right somehow, William. ‘God
bless all our losses ’! ”


150
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XYI.
AT SISTER PAGE’S.
HERE don’t seem to be any sacred ness at Sister
Page’s about Sunday; they don’t even have
baked beans for breakfast,” said Miss Bumpus, as she
rode home that evening with Mr. Applebee, who lived
in the Wix neighborhood, only three doors from her
father’s. “ It is a dreadful lonesome thing to wake up
there a Sunday and hear Sister Page groan ; and I do
pity the Asburys from the bottom of my heart, but I
don’t see as I can do ’em any good by staying, and my
room is needed more than my company.”
There was not a more attractive spot in town than
“ the old Dillingham place,” now rented by Mr. and Mrs.
Ozem Page. The broad village street was lined on either
side with grand old elms, which met overhead and
clasped hands; and at the end of this vista of trees
stood a white story-and-a-half cottage, dripping all over
with woodbine and clematis. The very corn and pota
toes which flourished right and left had a poetical look.
In front was a lovely garden, and beyond the garden
sparkled the river. A delightful place; yet the Asbury
family never approached it without a tremor. The
blinds were generally closed, and the curtains clung
like shrouds, for Mrs. Page was a born invalid, and


AT SISTER PAGE’S.
151
knew better than to be cured by sunshine when there
is so much patent medicine in the world. And when
the light was let in, you were obliged to “wink” at a
great deal of dirt, as Thurzy said, for Sister Page was
a “ slack piece, any way you could fix it.”
She always complained that she wasn’t able to do
the work for two, and Mrs. Asbury wondered what
would become of her now, with nine? But she could
do no more than die —there was that consolation. To
Mrs. Asbury’s relief, however, Mrs. Page’s spirits rose
with the occasion ; for in the course of a day or two the
four girls,with Helen at their head, assumed entire charge
of the house, Mrs. Page undertaking no duties except
washing and putting away a few sacred dishes which'
had belonged to her dear mother. These she wiped
mournfully and tenderly, and never intrusted to any
other hands than her own.' She really enjoyed the ad
dition to her family. Other people’s troubles always
raised the tone of her spirits, and she was so much in
terested in cousin William’s haggard appearance, that
she forgot to look at her tongue before eating, and never
once gave Ozem the usual directions about her grave-
clothes during breakfast.
Squire Asbury was really in very poor health, and,
though he would not have let Mrs. Page know it on
any account, he had had, since the fire, some mild symp
toms of paralysis. There was a partial numbness of
the right arm and side, and he could not feel his watch-
key when he wound his watch, or use his hand freely
enough to make his wilting quite legible. Dr. Pres
cott assured him such symptoms frequently disappeared
as a patient gained strength; he had been overdoing;


152
OUR HELEN.
he must rest, perhaps for a year. This was rather hard
for a man in the prime of life, with a good prospect of
going to Congress. How could he rest a year ? What,
meantime, would become of his family? There was
very little property left now but the old Dillingham
place, the burnt land of Jubilee Hill, a few acres of
wood lot, and some outstanding debts, which he was by
no means sure of collecting. But he stood high in his
profession, and if he could only have his health, was
ready to begin the world anew with good courage.
“ That fire was a mysterious jn'ovidence,” said the
neighbors. “It seems hard enough for the Joneses,
though they are left better off, even now, than the rest
of us ; but poor Squire Asbury! — it does beat all! ”
Such sudden reverses are very rare in a country vil
lage, and when they do occur, the unfortunate victims
may be pretty sure of hearty sympathy.
Delia Liscom, whose best trait was her liberality,
would gladly have given all the Asburys a home at her
father’s, if she had been the head of the family. Even
Miss O’Neil misquoted Scripture to Mrs. Asbury, to
comfort her, instead of wounding her feelings.
“‘We have a house not made with hands — an eternal
one in the heavens,”’ said she, taking the lady’s hands in
hers; “so, if Jubilee Hill did burn up, and if Mr. Mc
Grath did cheat me out of my property, we’ll both have
a house to live in after we die.”
Mrs. Asbury tried not to smile at this odd way of
twisting the Scriptures, but to accept gratefully the old
lady’s attempt at consolation.
Miss O’Neil had learned to love the squire’s wife as
much as it was possible for her to love any human be-


AT SISTER PAGE’S. 153
ing; and when she scolded about hex’, it was in a mild
way, merely to find fault with her cooking; for when
Mrs. Asbury had sent her soups flavored with summer
savory, and mince pies lacking suet, of course it was her
duty .to tell her how such things were made at Machias.
In September the Ilinsdales returned fi’om Europe,
and auixt Marian w r as full of suggestions in regard to
her homeless relatives. She would take Sharly and the
tAvins, she said ; but she did not, for they would not go.
Well, what was to be done ? “She should advise tak
ing boarders.” That was out of the question, for Mr.
Asbury needed quiet. “ Let him go away for his health.”
But he was l’eally unable to travel alone. “ Well, then,
Helen must do something. If she were only practical;
or if Sliai’ly only had her strength.”
. For Sharly was always going to aunt Marian', and
saying, —
“ Please suggest something for me to do, aunty. I
long to work for poor papa and the children; and no
body can advise me so well as you.”
Helen never asked counsel; and was it strange aunt
Marian should call Sharly “a dear child — all Dilling
ham,” and Helen “ an odd girl, who would not amount
to anything, she feared ? ” To be sure, Sharly never
availed herself of the valuable advice she received ; but
aunt Marian did not for a moment lose faith in her
“ practical turn of mind.”
“ There is your music, Sharly ; you know you have
a perfect genius for that.”
“ O, aunty, my genius, as you call it, is the very
trouble. I can’t read music worth a pin, for I play by
ear — don’t.you know? It’s a great pity, but I really


154
OUR HELEN.
can’t learn the stupid notes half as well as Helen can.
Helen, now, could teach nicely, if she only thought so.”
“Well, a school, then, as you are so very anxious
to do something, Sharly — a district school, say. Your
uncle might look up one somewhere.”
“What! little me teaching school? O, aunty, the
boys would take me by the shoulders and put me out
of doors; and how ashamed I should be! Helen has
dignity—but I haven’t a bit. Do tell me something
easier, for I’m just wild to be at work.”
She did look too pretty to be shut up in a school
room, and the very mention of such a thing had set her
to trembling. Mrs. Hinsdale thought how hard it would
have been for her petted sister, Adelaide, to see her chil
dren brought to the strait of earning their own living,
and the pity of it stung her to sharp words, as her pity
always did.
“ What is Helen about all this time that she is will
ing to live at Mr. Page’s in this way ? ”
Helen was busy enough, and her head was full of
projects; but as she talked of them only to her parents
and Di Cary, aunt Hinsdale was none the wiser. Di,
and Di’s brother, were running about the city of Hew
York, answering advertisements, asking questions, and
doing whatever their kind hearts prompted, “ to get
poor Helen into business.”
Meanwhile Mr. Asbury, sitting in his lounging-chair,
was kept informed of these repeated attempts and fail
ures, for Helen let him read all the brisk correspond
ence, and really made her search for employment ap
pear like a choice bit of fun. Mr. Asbury needed to
be amused, and “ How shall we interest papa ? ” was a


AT SISTER PAGE’S.
155
question Helen asked' every day of her sisters. He
missed the old home, but he must not miss the home
joys, the family concerts, the little plays and surprises.
When the baby was troublesome, Helen insisted upon
removing him to the attic, so father need not hear him
cry; and when Mrs. Page died,or the kitchen chimney
smoked, or some new loss by the fire came to light,
Helen and her mother were both on the alert to keep
it from father, “ it. would worry him so.” Sharly flew
about from house to house bewailing the family woes,
and was so sweet and confiding that everybody’s heart
warmed towards the pretty creature; but Helen was
busy at home. She might not be practical by nature;
she liked many other things better than housework;
but that was the nearest duty, and she tried to do it
“ cheerfully, like a child of God.” But she failed some
times.
“ Mother,” said she one morning, when the wind blew
the wrong way, and the kitchen chimney had the blues,
“ don’t you miss our old home — the very walls of it,
the furniture, the dishes, the pump in the sink, so it
seems as if you couldn’t bear it another minute ? If I
could only see one of the children’s mugs, I’d kiss it —
or even an iron spoon.”
“Yes; I. dreamed of the tea-kettle last night,” re
plied Mrs. Asbury, with a pathetic smile.
“ And, mother, whether that fire was ‘ sot ’ or not, I do
say it is a cruel thing; and if you’ll let me, I’m going
to cry.”
The words were playful, but the tone was hard, and
instead of tears, there was the old, rebellious fire in
Helen’s eyes.


156
OUR HELEN.
Mrs. Asbury drew nearer.
“We must get a little higher up, Helen, and then out
trials won’t affect us so much. You remember when
we were on Mount Washington, how we enjoyed put
ting the clouds under our feet?”
“ O, mother, I’m ashamed to have you try to comfort
me when your own heart is breaking. It is you who
have the most to bear, and I say it is too much. I cry
out with Jean Paul, ‘ The dream of life is dreamed upon
too hard a bed.’ ”
She gazed sternly out of the window as she spoke, at
the dry, despairing garden.
“Yes, we are just beginning to think so; but haven’t
we had a soft bed until now ? I confess it never seems
quite right to me to see everything go so smoothly,
Helen. I feel a little safer when I am in trouble.”
Was ever such a sweet voice, such a patient smile?
Helen caught her mother’s hand and kissed it.
“I wish I could accept the inevitable, as you and
cousin Morris do.”
“ Well, you are young, dear. We must be in the
world some time before we learn that God is making
use of our trials to draw us up higher.”
“ Do you think I shall ever learn, mother ? I believe
it while you are saying it; I feel rebuked, and exalted,
too; but after you are done talking, the old, bitter feel
ing comes back. I do wish I were like you and Mor
ris, for the very worst things don’t crush you, or him
either.”
“ The very worst has not come yet,” returned Mrs.
Asbury, in a low, controlled voice, which thrilled Helen,
and brought tears to her eyes.


AT SISTER PAGE'S.
157
No, it could not be said that the worst had come,
while her father still lived.
“Mother, there’s somebody down stairs would like to
see you and Helen,” cried Vic, flashing into the room,
with her hands before her laughing face.
“Cousin Morris!” exclaimed Helen, with sudden
clairvoyance.
“ Impossible! ” said Mrs. Asbury ; “ he didn’t say a
word in his last letter about coming home.”
Still they both ran down stairs in a pleasant flutter,
such as they had not felt in the last dreary month.
“ Why, Helen, I don’t believe you fairly know me,”
said Mr. Lynde, laughing, as she stood with her hand
in his, gazing wonderingly in his face.
“ I didn’t suppose anybody could look so much bet
ter,” stammered she, rather incoherently.
He smiled at that. She, too, was vastly improved
in a certain way within the last two years, though he
would not tell her so.
“ It was only the white ashes of me that yon used to
,see, Helen, which accounts for your surprise.”
And now, surely, “ beauty for ashes ” had been given
him — a clear, healthful color, a bright eye, erect figure,
and firm step.
“The doctors all doomed me, aunt Katharine, but
I’ve come back to humble them, and make them repent
their rashness.”
Mrs. Asbury could hardly speak for joy.
“We are all so glad, so very glad to see you! ” cried
Sharly, always readier with words than Helen.
If Mr. Lynde had considered the eldest sister im
proved, what must he think of this exquisite creature ?


158
OUR HELEN.
Sharly knew her eyes looked just now like dewy vio
lets, and her crimped hnirdike spun gold, and was very
glad she happened to be dressed for a call, and had put
in her earrings.
Helen had been sweeping the chambers, and her dress
was a chocolate print, with a linen collar at the throat,
which always gave her an “adust” complexion; but after
all she was exquisitely nice — she could not be other
wise, for neatness was her birthright. And there had
always been a certain indefinable elegance about Helen,
over and above mere spotlessness of attire, which I can
only describe by saying she looked as if her thoughts
were <?f high things. This refinement had become
more marked than ever, it seemed- to Mr. Lynde, who
had his own criterion of faces, and saw deeper than
color or outline.
Hot a word yet about the family losses.
“You find us greatly changed, Morris,” began Mr;
Asbury; but not feeling equal to sucb a painful subject,
he broke off, and added, with a smile, “ Why, has no
body thought to bring you that baby ? ”
The smile showed how the wrinkles had gathered
around his deep-set eyes. Mr. Lynde found the Asburys
changed, indeed ; but the greatest change of all was in
the head of the family.
“There! you meant to ask for him, didn’t you? —
and isn’t he a darling ? ” said Helen, who had been out
of the room long enough to seize Master Hameless, and
adorn him with a clean white apron.
It always brightened Mr. Asbury to see his young
son and heir.
“ What do you think of that face ? ” said he, with


AT SISTER PAGE’S.
1-59
animation; “we say "it isn’t Asbury or Carver — it’s
Morris Lynde in miniature.”
1 The resemblance was not to be ignored.
“ Come to my arms, you little rogue! ” said Mr. Lynde,
delighted with his first infant relative, “ and tell me if
you’ll receive me into the family ?”
Little Nameless crowed his entire willingness to do
so, and emphasized the remark by a twitch of the blonde
whiskers.
“ I have it! ” said Mr. Asbury, with sudden enlight
enment ; “ name him Morris Melzar.”
The girls clapped their hands.
“ No,” said mamma, smiling ; “ call him Morris Wil
liam.”
So, after long waiting, the baby had a name at last.
“ Helen,” said Mr. Lynde, as he sat with Bel on one
knee, and Morris William on the other, “ what if I should
tell you of a conspiracy going on in New York to get
you away from Quinn ebasset ? ”
“Me?”
“ And, furthermore, that one of the conspirators is in
this very house ?”
“ In the closet! ” cried Yic; “ and I knew it all the
time! ”
A sudden raid upon the closet, and behold! Di
Cary! Helen screamed ecstatically, as she emerged
like the genius out of the magic bottle, for the old
school friends were the warmest of lovers, and to Helen
this was an entirely unexpected pleasure.
“ ‘They met like Righteousness and Peace, and kissed
each other,’ ” said Mr. Lynde, smiling.
As if those quiet words conveyed the least idea of


160
OUR HELEN.
the tumultuous scene ! There was a great deal said in
a very short time ; but the girls could not fully express
their feelings till they had gone away to laugh and cry
by themselves in the garden.
“You’re as small and graceful as ever, you little
fairy,” said Helen, “ and you talk just as fast and as
foolishly.”
“And you’re as tall as ever, you great giantess, and
go on wearing linen collars that make you look like a
fright; but O, Helen, you’ve got the same big, faithful
eyes, and you haven’t cried all the shine out of them ;
I’m so glad of that.”
“ Well, tell me over again how you came here.”
“ Why, Mr. Lynde called to see us the moment he
landed, and we began at once to talk of you and your
troubles, and he said, c She shall paint pictures — that’s
her best way.’ ”
“ O, Di, you know that is what I used to talk about;
but I’d given it all up, for I’m very faulty, and nobody
here can teach me properly.”
“ Listen ; you shouldn’t have interrupted. Mr. Lynde
is going to teach you ‘.Let’s get her to Hew York,’
said he ; and he is going to help you, and he’ll let me
take lessons, too.”
“How kind.”
“Yes, Helen ; and you will live with us, just as we
planned so long ago. Papa and mamma both insist
upon it, and sent me to fetch you.”
“You good Di! ”
“ Yes, wasn’t I good to come against my will! Why,
I want you so — I need you so, and I was afraid Mr.
Lynde wouldn’t be eloquent enough, for he wouldn’t


AT SISTER PAGE'S.
161
understand that part of it, you know; so papa said I’d
better come myself and present the case very strongly.
Why don’t you smile ? ”
“ Because I can’t fairly believe it yet. If anything
is particularly nice, it can’t be meant for me — ‘ seems
if,’ as Mr. Page says,” said Helen, smiling now a little
sadly.
“ Why, you’re all out of spirits, dear. It must have
a very blueing effect to live with that woman. She
and her husband were chasing a chicken as we drew
near the house, and we heard her say, ‘ There, Ozem,
don’t say hen to me again ! ’ She looked so perfectly
discouraged, and he stared about so bewildered, that
I had to hide my head behind my parasol.”
Then the girls both laughed.
“ I have been bewailing your misfortune to Mr.Lynde,
Helen, and what do you suppose he said ? ”
“ I can’t imagine.”
“ He said perhaps it wasn’t a misfortune at all — not
for you; perhaps it would bring out your powers. He
thinks we never can tell at the time of it what’s a mis
fortune and what isn’t.”
“ Well, really, Di, I hadn’t thought of that.”
11


162
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XVII.
KB. LYNDE’s SUGGESTION.
“ Shrink not from daring deeds,
For earnest hearts shall find their dreams fulfilled.”
B UT there were so many objections to the plan.
“You mustn’t go, Helen; ’twill be dreadfully
lonesome,” pleaded Sharly. “And just think what
people will say about me, — ‘that lazy girl that lets
her sister take all the care of the family ’! ”
Sharly was sure if Helen would only stay at home,
they two could perhaps do something together some
where and some time; she did not have the least idea
what it would be, or where they could go ; but O, there
was no sacrifice she wasn’t ready to make — by and by!
Sharly was perfectly sincere; but in her gay* harmless
life thus far nothing particular had ever been expected
of her, and she couldn't toughen herself all at once into
a working-woman, this pretty child.
Aunt Marian frowned upon Helen’s undertaking, and
said it was “ eminently unpractical.” Helen had not
gone to her at the first moment to ask advice, and that
was half the trouble.
“ Why don’t you take a school ? ”
“ I can’t find one, auntie ; you know how I’ve been
trying.”


MR. LYNDE'S SUGGESTION. 163
Mrs. Hinsdale did know; but she replied, uncom
promisingly, —
“ Teaching is safe business, Helen, and you are fond
of children. But as for drawing — what talent have
you for it? Hot more than your mother had, certain
ly, and what did her pictures ever amount to ? ”
Helen almost caught her breath, as if cold water had
been dashed in her face.
“ Mamma was not instructed,” said she.
But she did not know that it was aunt Marian her
self who had held her back, and told grandpa Dilling
ham it was a waste of money to give Adelaide lessons
in painting. Adelaide had been of a yielding temper,
quite different from her daughter Helen, and as Marian
Avas the eldest child, with great administrative ability,
she had ruled the Dillingham family very much as she
pleased.
“ Well, Helen,” said gentle uncle Charles, as he met
his niece coming from the house, “you have been talk
ing with your aunt Marian, I know by the waked-up
look on your face; for her words have all the effect of
a tonic sometimes.”
Bitter enough, Helen thought; but here was dear
uncle Charles, who had been obliged to swallow this
same wholesome tonic for a quarter of a century, yet-
had never been seen to make a wry face ; so she laughed
it off, and passed on.
“ Cousin Morris,” said she, going up to Mr. Lynde,
as he stood in the garden looking at the river that
“ went slowly,” “ you are very kind and good — you
want to help us; but do yon really think it’s worth
while for me to go to Hew York?”


164
OUR HELEN.
“Helen, you have the same eyes you used to have,
that gaze straight into one’s soul, as if they were look
ing for the truth.”
Helen turned them away quickly.
“ Well, it’s the truth I want. Aunt Marian makes
me feel perfectly sanguine of a failure — she thinks I’ve
no talent. How I know very well I shall never be a
Rosa Bonheur, or an Eliza Greatoreux; but can I learn
to paint really good pictures ? ”
“ Yes.”
“ There ! that revives me, cousin Morris.”
“We can’t transcend the clay we’re made of, Helen.
I won’t pretend to say how much is in you, for I don’t
know; but one thing is certain — you can at least suc
ceed in making clever pictures, for you have the rare
good sense to be willing to begin at the beginning and
go up slowly. I remember how patiently you can
work.”
After this, Helen never questioned Morris on the
subject again; her determination was fixed, and she
never wavered from it for a moment. But how could
she leave home ? The question was answered by the
timely return of Sister Bumpus, who declared if she
could come and “ work her board,” she should be per
fectly happy. She never could stay at home long with
out being homesick; and she “ spent the heft of her
time,” she said, “ running to the window to look for
teams from the village.”
Theresa did not add that she had just decided to go
to “ the factory,” when she met Delia Liseom the night
before, and learned of Helen’s project. Delia had heard
it all from the talkative Diantha, who boarded at the


MR. LYNDE'-S SUGGESTION. 165
Liscoms for the few days she was in Qninnebasset, and
delighted Delia’s 'heart by her readiness to answer
questions.
Mr. Lynde was secretly resolved that Theresa should
be rewarded for her labor of love; but the good soul
knew nothing of that — she only thought she would
“help the family over this hard place for the present,
and then perhaps things would come round so she
could go to the factory, come another winter.”
“Now,” said Theresa, rolling up her sleeves, and
blacking Mrs. Page’s stove with a vim that carried a
sense of comfort and relief to tired Mrs. Asbury; “ now
I don’t see any excuse why them twins can’t go to
school. Seems to me I heard something said about
their leaving off, to help round the house; but of course
that’s nonsense when I’m here.”
“ So, now, I suppose it’s decided that Helen will go;
and after all, painting is rather distinguished, and not
half as bad as being a shop-girl or dressmaker,” said
Sharly, who took a more cheerful view of life since The
resa had come, and she need not wash any more dishes.
“ But, dear, dear! to think of our having to work, Sister
Bumpus! Why can’t we be set back where we were
before the fire ? ”
“Because you can’t — and that’s reason enough. If
I was you, Sharly, I would try to have a little strength
of mind; don’t you suppose you could if you should
try ? I haven’t been here but a day, and I’ve heard
you talk half a dozen times a’ready about losing your
property. You’ll get as bad as Norak O’Neil, if you
don’t look out.”
“Well, if I’d been born a man I wouldn’t care,”


166
OUR HELEN.
pouted pink and white Sharly, vexed at this plain talk;
“for then I’d support the family. O, I wish I was a
man! ”
“ That’s the beatermost speech! What if I should
set up and wish I was handsome ? If wishes were horses,
then beggars might ride.”
“ Sharly doesn’t appreciate the high privilege of be
ing a woman,” said Mrs. Asbury, smiling, as she looked
up from the ironing table.
“How, mamma, when men have all the strength and
power! ”
“ But men are not as much beloved as women, my
dear, and not as unselfish.”
“ O, I never thought of that.”
“ But look here, Mrs. Asbury, there’s an odds in men,
and there’s an odds in women, too.”
“ I know it, Theresa; but I am speaking of them
both as a class. I believe we women have in the
main fuller and richer lives than men have — don’t
you ? ”
Theresa had never looked at it in that light, but had
the highest respect for Mrs. Asbury’s opinions.
“Well, I don’t know. Life seems to be a horrid
grind to some women. How, there’s — ” She pointed
with her finger to the bedroom door. “If some folks
should finish themselves off with laudanum, I don’t
know but I’d a’most bear ’em out in it! ”
“Yes,” said Helen, laughing; “and really I don’t
know what mamma means by richer and fuller lives.
Why, women suffer more than men — ever and ever so
much more.”
“ Why so ? ”


MR. LYNDE’S SUGGESTION. 167
“ Because they can, mamma; they are more capable
of suffering.”
Mrs. Asbury set down her flat-iron, and looked up
triumphantly.
“Well, if I were a lawyer, I should say I had got my
case! The capacity for suffering and enjoyment is
exactly balanced — everybody admits that; therefore,
by your own confession, Helen, women can be happier
than men.”
“ Mrs. Asbury,” said Thurzy, admiringly, “ you’d
make a tip-top lawyer! ”
“ ‘ Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure,
Thrill the deepest notes of woe,’ ”
repeated Helen.
Yes, her mother was right; it really was a high privi
lege to be a woman -— that is, if one would only make
the very best of one’s selfj and not fret about limita
tions.
Ho one but Mrs. Asbury gave Mr. Lynde due credit
for assuming the task of instructing these two girls.
She knew it was a great sacrifice, for she remembered
that he had always said he would never consent to take
a pupil; he had not the time to spare.
Helen’s outfit was soon ready. Di had a soul above
clothes; but she did feel a little dismayed as she saw
her friend’s dresses spread out, one after another, on the
star bedquilt up stairs. They were all very well for
Quinnebasset; but Hew York requirements are so dif
ferent ! Pity Helen was so much taller than Sharly, for
Sharly might have lent her some elegant garments.
There was more difference than usual between the


168
OUR HELEN.
wardrobes of the two sisters this year — Helen having
firmly refused to have anything new, as soon as she
began to see the anxious look in her father’s face, and
understood that it meant business losses.
“Just see this elegant lace, Di Cary. Aunt Marian
gave it to me after that last lecture. She is so good and
kind, and never has the least idea of hurting my feel
ings ; indeed, I suppose she really is perfect.”
“ At any rate, Helen, the lace is perfect, and I’m glad
you’ve got one nice thing.”
“How, never you mind, Di; just wait till I make
my fortune, and then I’ll have the loveliest clothes ! ”
“Ho, you won’t; not till all the children are sup
plied. Don’t you suppose I know what you’ll do with
your money, Helen Asbury? Sharly will have more
of it than you will — you see if she doesn’t.”
“Diantha Cary—ophyllics ! This isn’t the first time
you’ve hinted that that blessed child is selfish. Take
it right back, or I won’t go with you one step.”
“ On my bended knees I take it back,” cried Di,
throwing herself into a tragic attitude on the floor;
“ and she’s the prettiest girl I ever saw in my life.
There, will that do ? ”
Something occurred before the trio left Quinnebas-
set, which was both a pleasure and a pain. Dr. Willard
had always said it was the height of his ambition to
own Jubilee Hill, the handsomest site in town; and
hearing that it was for sale, he made a liberal offer,
which Mr. Asbury accepted. Why not? It was of
no use keeping the place,, without the remotest pros
pect of living on it again. Dr. Willard Would proceed
at once to build, and would sell the house he now oc-


MR. LYNDE'S SUGGESTION. 109
copied on the most reasonable terms — or rather Dr.
Prescott would sell it, for it belonged to him; a story
(and a half cottage in a very pleasant part of the village,
on low land overlooking the river.
Thus there was good hope that the Asburys would
be able to leave the Pages before many months. They
tried to be thankful; but the Prescott house had low
ceilings, small rooms, and none of the modern improve
ments. It did seem hard to accept it in place of their
beautiful, spacious, lost home.
Sharly poured out her soul in tears. It is an easy
habit to form, this of crying and lamenting, without
troubling ourselves to think what effect it will have on
our friends.
Helen was afraid of herself, and kept still. Being
naturally rebellious, she dared not speak of the family
woes except in the lightest manner; for, as she said to
Di,-
“ If I should once let myself down, where should I
go to ? ”
She knew very well she should be homesick at Hew
York; but she went off bravely, smiling through her
tears.
“Remembei', you are all three to drink tea with us
at the ‘Intervale Cottage,’ on the first of next July,”
said Mr. Asbury, as they entered the stage.
“Intervale Cottage” was the name they had already
given the new home.
“How little we know what may happen before
another July,” sighed Mrs Page, going into the house
to take her after-breakfast medicine, while Vic threw
an old shoe after the stage for good luck. Unfortu-


170
OUR HELEN.
lately, Yan was just behind with another shoe — a
Mate to the first one — and the pair met in the middle
of the road.
“That’s a bad sign; seems if!” ejaculated Ozem,
rtfiratching his head.


STUDIO LIFE.
171
CHAPTER XVIII.
STUDIO DrPE.
“ ‘ TTTEAR the sledges with the bells, silver bells.’
M M They make me just wild to be sleighing,” said
Diantha Cary, as she and Helen sat in their own pri
vate boudoir, copying a picture. “ They’ve had a six-
inch storm at Quinnebasset,” said Helen, gazing thought
fully out of the window.
“Always Quinnebasset, Quinnebasset,” said Di;
“ don’t you more than half think she’s homesick, Mr.
Lynde ? ”
Mr. Lynde had a large studio, which was his proper
working-place, out of which this pleasant den opened;
but he had several easels, supporting half-finished pic
tures, and often of a morning sat here with the girls,
painting a marine view. At such times he was al
ways ready to answer questions relating to their work,
but never encouraged general conversation. Di, how
ever, was an impulsive, social creature, and not feeling
any very absorbing interest in art, she was apt to for
get herself and break forth in little exclamations and
bits of talk.
“ I should be sorry to think our Helen is homesick,”
said Mr. Lynde, suspending his brush a moment, and
casting a searching glance at her face. The words and


172
OUR HELEN.
look had all the force of a direct question, and Helen
felt obliged to answer, “ O, no sir, — not now.”
“Then you have been?” cried Di, “and never let us
know.”
“ Only a very little now and then,” said Helen, with
averted face. “Everybody is so good and kind to me
that I’m ashamed to confess it, and you weren’t fair to
make me.”
Di wheeled about in a flutter, —
“I always knew it was constitutional, but I thought
you’d outgrown it, Helen. You remember what you
were doing when I first saw yon, I suppose ? ”
“Hush, Di; do hush ! ”
“ She was kissing a rag baby, Mr. Lynde, and calling
it all the names of the family, one after another.”
“ Now Di!”
“Yes, you were, and crying over it. You sat on the
bed in our room at Mrs. Phelps’s boarding-school; and
I wasn’t going to let you know I was there, but I did
hate Boston so that I began to cry myself. And that
was the beginning of our friendship, Mr. Lynde.”
“No,” said Helen, looking ashamed, “ she had a paper
of lemon-drops, and that was the beginning of it.”
How could Di laugh about their sacred friendship
before a third person ?
“ And you ought to have seen that doll, Mr. Lynde!
If it hadn’t been for the ‘ pumple feet,’ it was equal to
any statue. She made it herself, and the girls thought
she was a second Harriet Hosmer, when I carried it
round for a show.”
“Yes, after you stole it. You have always been a
great trial to me, Di Cary! You can’t be trusted to
keep the least thing to yourself.”


STUDIO LIFE.
178
“Of course not. Didn’t I tell you, in the first place,
I never kept a secret in my life; but you took me for
better for worse, and it’s too late now to complain.”
“It’s very provoking,” said Helen, as if thinking
aloud; “but the pmojfle you like to confide in arc the
very ones that run and tell. Now, there’s mother —
but no, mother isn’t as bad as Di; she does keep some
things to herself.”
For Helen remembered just then Mrs. Asbury’s strict
secrecy in regard to cousin Morris’s affairs. Would
that mystery ever be brought to light? Was the man
still haunted by it? she queried, peeping up at him
through her eyelashes. He looked neither sad nor happy,
but entirely absorbed in his painting. Probably he had
not heard a word of this talk: she hoped not.
“ Listen, listen ! she, compares me to her mamma,”
cried the vivacious Di, rising and brandishing her pal
ette like a flag. Mi - . Lynde smiled. Di was a favorite
with him as with everybody else, for in spite of her vol
uble tongue, she had a fine mind, and the very sweet
est temper in the world.
“Dear, dear! there you both sit, painting away till it
seems as if I should fly. I think art is hungry work;
what do you think, Miss Asbury ? ”
“ I think ‘ art is long,’ Miss Cary, and you’d better
keep at it.”
“Well, I would, only now I’ve splashed some Paris
green right into my sky. Dear, dear! I meant to drop
it in the grass. Ah, here comes my only brother! How
well I know that elephantine tread ! ”
Enter Frank Cary, a fashionable youtb, who was
reading Blackstone at odd times, when he could not
possibly avoid it.


174
OUR HELEN.
“ Good morning, Mr. Lynde; good morning, girls.
Allow me to look over your shoulder, Helen? Well,
upon my word, your picture is growing. It really has
a sort of finish about it very different now from Di’s.”
Finish ! She considered it scarcely begun.
“Your trees are trees, you know, but Di’s look like
corn brooms tbe soft side up.”
“Fie, Sir Critic,get thee to thy law books !” saidDi,
blushing at this brotherly frankness. “ Mr. Lynde has
kept me making ‘ nonsense-leaves and Hardingesques,
just for practice, and this is my very first real picture :
so you’re not fair at all.”
“ Did you notice the sign over our door ? ” asked
Helen.
“ O, yes ; a very neat thing.”
It Avas “ Miss Cary and Miss Asbury,” in plain gilt
letters.
“ I’ll tell you Avhat I’m going to do,” said Di, recov
ering her good humor, “ I’m going to put this mofto
under my name, — ‘ I must have fame or die.’ ”
Frank laughed at that, a real rollicking, boyish laugh
in which all the rest joined.
“FToav I suppose you think it is an original idea with
me, but it isn’t, though it’s bright enough to be original.
Mr. Lynde actually saAV a young man in Rome who had
that motto painted over his studio door, ‘ I must have
fame or die.’ ”
“ ’Pon honor, Mr. Lynde ? ”
“Certainly; I knew him very well. It was some
time ago, and I suppose he is dead noAV, for he hasn’t
become famous, poor fellow.”
“ There, Frank, do run away! I’m going to turn my


STUDIO LIFE.
175
picture Avrong side up, and then the sky will he an
ocean, and that little green spot in it will be an island,
don’t you see? But’tisn’t fair for you to look at
Helen’s work, and then come and make fun of mine.
She’s a genius — and I am not! ”
“ Is Helen a genius, Mr. Lynde ? ” asked Frank, look
ing interested.
“ Genius is a troublesome word, Mr. Cary. Michael
Angelo settles it by saying it is ‘ eternal patience,’ and
if it is, Avhy, then I should say Helen j>ossesses it.”
Mr. Lynde said this Avith an approving glance, which
made Helen happy for weeks aftenvards. She did not
feel quite as familiar with her teacher now as in the old
days when they had both spent the summer out of doors
at Quinnebasset; for then he had nothing to do but
lie on the grass and talk. How his brain and hands
were so busy that he found little time for conversation,
and she hardly knew Avhether she were really acquaint
ed with him or not. She had ceased to call him cousin
Morris, but that Avas because the name belonged to him
only at Quinnebasset, and Avas out of place here.
“ Well, I always said Helen would be a marked wo
man one of these days,” said Frank, admiringly.
“ She distinguished herself yesterday,” said Di; “ we
must tell Mr. Lynde of that. You knoAV hoAV ner
vous papa is? Well, and when he goes to sleep in
church we never dare touch him ; but Helen didn’t
know it, and yesterday, just as he dozed off, she gave
him just the slightest little pat, no heavier than a rain
drop, and he screamed right out in meeting ! positive
ly screamed.”
“Yes,” said Frank, “and it made such a sensation


176
OUR HELEN.
that I expected our names would appear in this morn
ing’s Herald.”
This anecdote was pathetic rather than amusing, if
Mr. Cary’s children had only known it. He was an
overworked merchant, who schemed all day in his
counting-room, and schemed all the evening over his
newspaper; and there was a whisper in the air, that if
he did not stop soon, softening of the brain might be
impending. t
“ Come, girls,” said Frank, recollecting his errand,
“ don’t you want to go to ride in the Park ? ”
An ecstatic little cry from Diantha; a broad smile
from Helen.
“ But if you’ll only wait till after lunch.”
“Well, Salloway can’t go this afternoon, for there’s a
case coming off at coui’t that he has to attend to.”
It was well that no one happened to be looking at
Di, for a soft color spread over her cheek, more cleverly
blended than anything her brush would ever achieve,
and all done in a flash.
“Mr. Salloway? You didn’t mention him before. If
this is the way he asks young ladies to ride, I think he’s
rather unceremonious.”
“Well, you didn’t want him up here, of course, and
I made him understand that. It’s no place for fellows
to come and be hanging round,” said the thoughtful
brother; “ it’s best to nip that sort of thing in the bud.
I’ll tell him you’ll go, shall I, girls ? ”
Helen looked at Mr. Lynde. She wanted his opinion,
but dared not ask it. It seemed to her that some of the
young men she met at Mr. Cary’s would hardly be
very cordially welcomed in her father’s parlor, hut Hew


STUDIO LIFE.
177
York was so unlike Quinnebasset that she did not feel
sure of anything. Mr. and Mrs. Cary had their own set
of friends, and their children had theirs, with scarcely
any question or even comment. Mr. Cary took no in
terest in drawing-room matters, and his wife was a
lovely, vacillating little woman, trying her best to serve
both- God and mammon, and beginning already to look
up to her daughter, whose mind she instinctively felt
was stronger than her own.
Thus, to Helen’s surprise, it really happened that Di’s
gentlemen friends were half of them chance acquaint
ances of Frank’s, ‘in society,’ to be sure, but unknown
to Mr. and Mrs. Cary. Reared in a country town, Helen
held the old-fashioned idea that it is best to know who
are the fathers and mothers of one’s associates. She
liked Mr. Salloway best of any of the young men she
had seen, yet even he was not to her taste; and she
did not think her father would fancy him either. She
•had not been asked to ride this winter by any young
man but Frank, and she did wish Mr. Lynde would
give some sign, if it were only the lifting of an eye
brow, to let her know whether he approved of Mr.
Salloway.
I have kept her apparently looking at him a long
while, but in fact it was not two seconds, and I am
compelled to say, that while Mr. Lynde was fully con
scious of the beseeching glance,—having a double pair
of eyes always in use,— he paid no heed, but kept on
painting with supreme indifference.
At last Helen spoke timidly,—
“Mr. Lynde, shall I go ? Shall I run away from my
painting ? ”
12


178
OUR HELEN.
He looked up then, smiling, —
“You are altogether too industrious, Helen. Don’t
mind going — that is, leaving your work.”
That was an unsatisfactory answer. If she had been
alone with him, she would have made him say more. She
would have explained to him that people and things
were all strange to her here in the city, and Mr.- an.d
Mrs. Cary did not prove as good guardians for the lit
tle country girl as he seemed to suppose.
“ Of course you’ll go,” said Frank. “ Helen is grow
ing pale every day with the smell of these paints.”
“ ‘ O, call her fair, not pale,’ ” struck in Di, cleaning her
palette in high spirits.
“Well, we’ll be round with the horses at sharp
twelve.”
“ Hot at the studio ? ”
“ Ho; unless you want to ride in your sleeved aprons,”
said Frank, departing. “ Remember, sharp twelve.”


A STUDIO CHAT.
173
CHAPTER XIX.
A STUDIO CHAT.
“Manhood with a female eye.”
“'Y'YTHAT, Lynde, still harping on my daughter?
\ Y Give it up as hopeless, and let it go.”
“ Never while I live ! ” was the fervent response.
Helen, sitting alone in the boudoir, had been con
scious of an indistinct hum of voices in the studio; but
knew now that Mr. Lynde and his friend Mr. Howe were
talking together, and it flashed across her instantly that
the conversation was in reference to that mystery which
had been hanging over cousin Morris for years, and
which she was so eager to unravel. She could not have
told why, but hardly a day passed that she did not rack
her brains over that problem. Now, a little more, and
it would be unravelled. She did not deliberately in
tend to listen; she would not have left her chair and
gone to the keyhole; but if they spoke so loud that
she could not help hearing where she sat, whose fault
was it but their own ?
“I tell you, Lynde, you are chasing a phantom. It
won’t do for us to set our hearts on what we can’t get
— do you know it ? ”
Mr. Lynde laughed a short, dry laugh.
“ Behold, you know not anything,” said he, misguot-


180
OUR HELEN.
ing Tennyson in a tone which Helen thought expressed
annoyance.
“ Yes, I do ; I know and appreciate the whole thing,”
returned his friend; “ but I can tell you just how I
should take it: I should give it up, and settle down
comfortably. What’s the use for a young man like
you — ”
Mr. Lynde cleared his throat in a warning manner,
whereupon Mr. Howe dropped his voice, and said, in a
stage whisper, —
“ What! doesn’t your cousin know ? ”
That was the last Helen heard. They seemed to
move farther away from the door, and whether the con
ference went on or not, the mystery remained a mys
tery still to her. Was it a hopeless love? Did the
lady live at the South ? Had some cruel parent or
guardian forbidden their meeting? and was Morris de
termined to hope against hope ? Why should she care ?
What right had she to care? He evidently meant she
should not know even that there was a secret at all.
What an Eve-ish curiosity she did have, and how she
hated herself for it! She tried to fix her mind on a
bit of smooth blue river, which required a firm, even
stroke of the brush.
Presently Mr. Howe left, and Mr. Lynde came into
the boudoir.
“ Why, where is Di ? ”
“ She has an engagement with her dressmaker.”
Mr. Lynde seated himself before his easel, and began
to paint. He was extremely industrious, giving his full
strength to each task before him ; but while the colors
were drying on one jncture, he could turn to another


A STUDIO CHAT.
181
with fresh zeal. He had none of that feverish unrest
and hurry of spirits which is the bane of so many art-
ists and writers; he had learned self-control by hard
experience.
“Well, Helen, what is it ? ”
Without appearing to raise his eyes from his woi’k,
he saw that she looked dull and unhappy.
“ What is what ? ”
“The shadow on your face? Are you still a little
homesick ? ”
“ I want to see papa. I am afraid, by what they
write, that he doesn’t gain much.”
Mr. Lynde had the same fear.
“Well, Helen, you are going to him in July.”
“And you, too. You and Diantha and I are to drink
tea at Intervale Cottage — don’t you remember? Vic
is beginning to plan what they’ll get for supper: su
gared waffles for one thing.”
“ 0, but I never promised,” said Mr. Lynde; “ and I
fear it would be quite impossible for me to go as early
as the first of July. I have made other arrangements
this morning with Mi 1 . Howe.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Helen ; and could not help fan
cying the “ other arrangements ” had something to
do with the mysterious hope which he “ never would
give up while he lived.”
“Was your letter sadder than usual this morning,
Helen?”
“O, no; but rather short. They were moving, ana
it is all mud and snow. Why, the gate posts are only
beginning to peep up through the snow, like stoppers
out of bottles. Sharly said, ‘ Tell that to Mr. .’


182
OUR HELEN.
She always indicates your name with a dash, to save
work.”
Mr. Lynde shrugged his shoulders.
“Snow in April? Why, to-day is the third. Is
Quinnebasset moving up towards the North Pole ?”
“ And mamma wrote,” said Helen, “ that Mrs. Page
had just been in to see them in the new house. Father
was rather poorly — and what do you think her greet
ing was? ‘How do you find yourself to-day, cousin
William ? I just called to see old Mrs. Davenport, and
she is very low.’ ”
“ She is a cheerful visitor,” said Mr. Lynde, smiling.
“ Yes ; I think her name ought to be Dolorosa.”
“ Helen, wouldn’t it be a good idea for your father
to take a journey? I have suggested it in every letter
I’ve written to your mother, but she always says he
is not in the mood.”
Helen’s mouth drooped a little.
“ Papa is rather discouraged, I think. He used to
have so much life and energy; and now I don’t see
what can have become of it all.”
“It is a very common thing for invalids to feel de
pressed,” said Mr. Lynde; and then, to change the cur
rent of her thoughts, he asked, “Now I want you to
tell me if you mean to come back to New York next
fall ? ”
“ Yes. I shall be very glad — if you are willing.”
“ As I certainly am; you can’t doubt that.”
“ I want to come; for only think, you’ve made me
earn four hundred dollars already.”
“ Made you ? ”
“ Certainly. Didn’t you touch and retouch, and rub


A STUDIO CHAT.
183
out and paint over those two pictures till they weren’t
mine at all ? 0, I know just how kind you are, and I
thank you all the time in my thoughts.”
“ Helen, you are sucli a grateful soul that it is a pleas
ure to do anything for you. But you don’t really like
living at New York ? — now confess it.”
“ I like earning money.”
“ Mercenary girl! If you could have either fame or
money, which should you choose ? ”
“ O —money! ”
“ How shocking! Still, as you want it for your
friends, and not for yourself, I’ll forgive you. But,
Helen, you haven’t told me yet how you like New
York.”
She had been in the city seven months, and in all
that time Mr. Lynde had scarcely seen her, except in
Di’s presence. He had sjtared no pains in teaching
her; but what she did, and where she went, when away
from the studio, he had never inquired, thinking,
“ That is Mrs. Cary’s affair, not mine.” But a few re
marks lately from Mr. Howe had opened his eyes to the
fact that Mrs. Cary took very little responsibility of
the girls, and he began to think he had been treating
Helen with neglect.
“ How do I like New York ? Not at all. The noise
is dreadful, but I’d rather hear it than listen to the
talk of the people. I do think everybody here is so
stupid,’ cousin Morris.”
“ Thanks for the ‘ cousin Morris ; ’ it is refreshing to
hear it once more, though I feel that I don’t deserve
it. I have been so busy, so engrossed, that I have not
stopped to think how affairs were going with you; I


184
OUR HELEN.
have left you to the Carys, and the Carys, it seems,
have left you to yourself.”
“ O, no, I haven’t been neglected for a moment,
cousin Morris; everybody has been wonderfully kind.”
“ I mean, Helen, that no one has a proper oversight
of you; and some of the people you meet at the Carys
are not desirable acquaintances.”
“ I don’t like any of them — I detest Hew York soci
ety ! ” cried Helen, passionately, giving vent at last to
her strong feeling. “ I don’t take the least comfort
with anybody but Di and Frank — and yon.”
“ I wish you had told me this before, though I ought
to have found it out for myself. But, Helen, you
mustn’t think the people you meet comprise the best
part of Hew York society.”
“ O, I know better than that. I know there are men
and women I should like, for I have had glimpses of
them here at tbe studio ; but they are out of my reach,
you know,” said Helen, trying to speak brightly, for she
would not have Morris think she meant to complain.
“ They are not out of your reach. I can easily bring
it about that they shall wish to know you. My dear
cousin,” said he, rising impetuously, and going over to
her, “I have kept you out of sight, thinking the Carys
sufficed for you, and you would not wish for other soci
ety. Tell me you forgive me, and I will begin this very
day to make friends for you. Henceforth I will con
sider you my especial cai’e.”
Helen, a little surprised, looked up with another glow
of gratitude, which broke into a delighted smile. Why
did Mr. Lynde drop her hand almost abruptly, walk
slowly back to his easel, and keep silence for a full


A STUDIO CHAT.
185
minute? Had he marie the promise against his better
judgment? Was there some secret reason, only half
known to himself, why he had kept a little aloof from
Helen ever since she came to Hew York?.
I am not writing his story, but hers. I will merely
say that a shrewd observer might have surmised, by the
intent expression of his eye, that he was forecasting
the future, and saw something there which perplexed
him; still, he may have been only mixing colors.
How 1 kind he was, Helen thought. She should have
more of his society after this, and make the acquaint
ance of some of his friends, whose name was legion;
and they were among the best people, too, for “ a man’s
gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before
great men.” She knew she should like them, and they
surely would not talk all the time about theatres and
fashions; they would talk of books, and art, and things
that are worth hearing.
“ And Di,” said Helen, timidly, “ she would like to
know your sort of people, too.”
Helen could not quite enjoy anything from which her
friend would he excluded.
“ 0, yes, Di, by all means.”
“I don’t think there’s a soul in her set she cares much
for except Mr. Salloway,” added Helen ; “ and I, for my
part, don’t like him. He is always questioning me
about my‘grounds of belief,’ and calls Christ a re
former, and immortality a beautiful dream.”
“Poor fellow! he has no right to talk to you so.
Well, Helen, the people you are to know after this be
lieve devoutly in God and the vast forever. You will
hear no sceptical speeches from them. You remem-


186
OUR HELEN.
ber that brown-eyed young man who comes here so
often ? ” .
“ 0, yes — Mr. Howe. You introduced him to us
the other day.”
. “ Well, he is a delightful man, and would like to know
you ; but do you believe I had the coolness to tell him
last winter that you were too busy to make acquaint
ances outside your own circle ? You know you did say
that, when I asked if I should present Mr. Balkham.”
“ Yes ; but I didn’t think of really being acquainted
with these people, cousin Morris. I thought they only
wanted to come in and look at my work, and crit
icise it.”
. ‘tThat was your idea, was it ? — Seems to me you and
I are having an unusually long chat this morning. Do
you know that your friend Di, though a very charming
young lady, does monopolize the conversation ? I’d
like to have you tell me what it was you said the
other day about composing pictures — do you want to
doit?”
O, of course I’m not advanced enough yet; but I
do get tired of copying.”
“ Do you ever see any pictures in your mind ? ”
“Yes, indeed — scores of them.”
“ Suppose you paint one for me in words.”
“ Well, I see a winter sunset in Qumnebasset, late in
the season. I’ll tell you first how the ground looks.
There are patches of snow, and bits of half-frozen grass,
with here and there a mullein-stalk curled up in its
woolly coat against the cold.”
“ I see it so far, Helen. Go on.”
“ It’s by the bank of the river. The river is a sheet


“ She tossed the paper at Mr. Lynde’s feet, and rushed to the window ”
Page 189.


I


A STUDIO CHAT.
187
of smooth, pearl-white ice, and reflects the trunks of
the trees just like a mirror; it is surprising how clear
and distinct they look. The sun is setting, and the
houses on both banks have ruby-red windows, and so
there are ruby-red windows down below; and, indeed,
half the ice is in a perfect blaze of glory.”
“ You dazzle me, Helen.”
“ O, I forgot to say there is a white vapor rising like
the spirit of the snow, and it softens everything. In
other words, a fog.”
“ Ah, that is lovely ! ”
“Yes ; but I’m keeping the best for the last. Sharly
is in the very heart of the picture, skating and waving
her arms; it looks as if she were beckoning to the water
spirits down under the ice.”
“ That will do. Graceful Sharly in the foreground :
that completes the picture, Helen.”
“ Yes, if you could see her move. That is what tries
me with pictures, Morris — they have to be so still.
After you paint a cloud, don’t you want to blow it a
little with your breath, just to make it move?”
“Yes; and when I paint a face I am dissatisfied be
cause the expression is fixed. For instance, Helen, if
I could only paint the thought that is growing in your
face now as you look up at me! ”
“ Paint a growing thought! How queer! ”
“Well, here you are, talking like a couple of mag
pies,” cried Hi, rushing in breathless. “ Who lectured
me yesterday morning, Helen Asbury, upon the im
portance of keeping one’s mouth shut in a studio ? ”


188
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XX.
A TELEGRAM.
“ It is very good for strength
Xo know that some one needs you to be strong.”
I N the next few months Helen’s opinion of New
York underwent an entire change. She and Di
made the discovery that there were people in the city
as single-minded as themselves, but of far more culture ;
men and women who each had some special thing to do,
and could not stop to give more than a passing glance
at the fashions; and these peojole did, in their abundant
charity, condescend to reach out warm hands of friend
ship to our humble little artists. Life is worth so much
more when it is lived among ‘real folks,’ who are in
earnest about something, and whose hearts are- big
enough to take us right in!
“ I do think they are the brightest, free-and-easiest,
nicest people ! They make you feel as if you couldn’t
waste a minute, and yet must enjoy every minute, for
time is short, and there’s so much to do,” said Di, work
ing away at a tree with ‘ real leaves ; ’and somehow
I’ve changed my opinion about Mr. Lynde since I’ve
known Mr. Howe and Mr. Balkham.”
“ Changed your opinion ? ”
“ Yes. I always thought he was a hard master, but
now I don’t: he is just right.”


THE TELEGRAM.
189
Mr. Lynde was averse to flattery. He was a severe
critic of his own work, and made it a point to find every
possible fault with that of the girls.
“If one is too easily satisfied,” he said, “there is an
end of improvement. We never strive for what we
think we have already attained.”
Di had always longed for a little praise. Why, what
did the man expect of her ? Hadn’t she told him all she
wanted was to learn to paint pictures good enough
for the parlor ? She didn’t care for “ art’ power,” or
“art excellence:” she wished he would just let her
jog along in her own way. How she was beginning
to agree with Helen, that the more criticism she had
the better.
They were right in the heart of June by this time,
and longing for the country. In order to make sure of
not disappointing Mr. Asbury, Di and Helen were to
leave Hew York on the twenty-ninth of June.
On the twentieth, Di and her brother Frank took an
excursion to Ingleside; and as Helen and Mr. Lynde
were sitting painting in the boudoir, a despatch was
brought in for Helen. Business men do not mind tele
grams any more than “How d’ye do’s ” in crossing the
street; but to womankind they are thunderbolts of
terror. Helen tore open the envelope with trembling
haste, and read, —
“ Father worse ; failing fast; come at once. Char
lotte D. Asbury.”
At first she wondered vaguely who Charlotte D. As
bury could be ; then she tossed the paper at Mr, Lynde’s
feet, and rushed to the window. Her surprise was as
great as if her father had been well up to this hour. She


190
OUR HELEN.
had expected to find him grown older and frailer—she
was prepared for that; but this ! what did it mean but
the one thing that ends all ? She hardly knew where
she was till some one touched her shoulder, and pressed
a glass of water to her lips. Then she looked round,
her mind clear again.
“ How soon can I go ? ”
“The next train leaves at three.”
She forgot that Di was out of town, and the journey
must be made alone; but Mr. Lynde had thought of it,
and rapidly changed his plans to meet the emergency.
“ I shall go with you,” said he, as quietly as if he had
intended it from the beginning.
“You ? 0, if you could ! ”
For she remembered he had just been telling her that
every hour had its special work up to the third of July.
But waiving all that, he moved about the room, begin
ning already to turn the pictures toward the walls, put
the portfolios in brackets, and set everything in proper
order for leaving.
Helen felt thankful more than once during the jour
ney that Morris was with her rather than Di, for he
was just like her mother in the soothing effect of his
presence. It is a rare endowment, this of knowing the
right thing to say, or not to say, to a soul in affliction ;
it is a thrice blessed gift from the Father of love.
Arriving at Poonoosac the next afternoon, they took
the stage for Quinnebasset. Helen had been longing
to meet some one from home who could tell her of her
father; and as if in mocking answer to the poor child’s
wishes, the first person she saw in the stage was Miss
O’Heil, her wiglet awry, and her voice at a fine scold-


THE TELEGRAM.
191
ing pitch. Her “ particular friends ” at Poonoosac had
overwhelmed her with presents in the housekeeping
line, and she did not know where to bestow them on
account of the crush of passengers.
“ Just take this hind quarter of fore lamb, won’t you,
and hold it for me ? ” cried she to Mr. Lynde, and then
gave him and Helen her little finger to shake, through
the handle of a maple-sirup can.
“Well, Helen Dillingham, so you are really going
home at last, and high time, I should think.”
“ When did you hear from father, Miss O’Neil ? ”
“ Hear from him ? I saw him yesterday noon. But
you won’t get there in season with this slow stage.
Why didn’t you come a month ago?”
“ How did he look, Miss O’Neil ? What did the doc
tor say? Pray tell me everything you know.”
“ Why, I know the whole story, child, and I’ve
been explaining it to my particular friend, Dr. Rideout
of Poonoosac, and he has given me a tin pail of mineral
water; I’ve got it under the seat here, with — ”
“Where was he, Miss O’Neil? How did he look?”
“Helen, I never allowed you to interrupt when you
went to my school! This tin pail has got a kind of a
stopper to it — and came out of a spring; it is a min
eral and has been dissected, and Dr. Rideout thinks
may cure him ; and so do I, for I can remember when
cold water was discovered.”
The passengers, all strangers, were amused, but
looked as if their sympathies were enlisted for Helen.
“ Miss O’Neil,” said Mr. Lynde, authoritatively, “whar
we want to know is, where and in what condition did
you find Mr. Asbury yesterday noon ?”


192
OUR HELEN.
“ Well, he was in the chamber over the sitting-room,
— Helen broke in before I could explain it, — it’s the
chamber where Dr. Prescott used to sleep, with an
open fireplace, and the paint is green; it is a pretty
pearl-color, but too green; he ought not to have gone
in yet. I told them to wait and lot Helen paint it, for
she was learning how ; but it don’t make much differ
ence, as I know of, when folks are on their death-beds.
‘Life is the time to serve the Lord’ — ”
“ 01 Miss Neil,” cried Helen.
“We want the particulars, if you please,” said Mr.
Lynde, sternly. “ Was Mr. Asbury sitting up or lying
down ? ”
“Why,they had lifted him on to the beck It is a
mattress, though, and I told his wife I hope if ever 1
die, it will be on a feather bed.”
Helen touched Mr. Lynde’s arm, to signify that he
need not ask any more questions. She could not bear
the truth garbled in this way, for her mind was al
ready in a whirl with the vain attempt to get at the
facts.
“You see,” continued the bird-witted old lady, “he
can’t open his eyes ; he is in what they call a catamouse
state.”
Some of the passengers smiled, and no wonder; but
Mr. Lynde looked grave, for he thought at once that
catamouse must be an insane attempt at the word com
atose., as used by Dr. Prescott. Well, they would soon
know.
When the stage reached the old Prescott house, the
four sisters all ran out to the gate, and clung about
Helen and Morris with sobs and broken words of wel-


THE TELEGRAM.
193
corn,}. Papa went to sleep yesterday morning on the
sola, and nothing could rouse him, they said. The doc
tor ana Silas Hackett had lifted him upon the bed, but
his sleep only seemed to grow deeper and deeper.
Mrs. Asbury met Helen and Morris at the chamber
door, and received them into her arms, weeping silently.
“Don’t you think, mother, if I go to him and whis
per in his ear, and take his hand, — dorilt you think he
will know me ? ”
Alas, no! Her pleading cry fell on dull ears; her
hand met no answering pressure. Never in all her life
before had her father failed to greet her with a smile.
“ O, father, do know me, please know me.” .
“It is of no use, Helen, he will never speak again,”
said aunt Marian, who stood with uncle Charles by
the bedside. Helen knew it all, but it seemed dread
ful to hear it put in words, and she cried out under the
pressure of her grief, “What does God mean? O, it
does seem cruel! ”
Uncle Charles knew that the girl was hardly respon
sible, and he put his arm around her gently, and would
have tried to soothe her; but aunt Marian, who had
never, since she began a Christian life, uttered one mur
muring word against Providence, was horrified, and
could not let Helen’s imj)iety go unrebuked.
“It is none of our business, Helen, why God afflicts
us,” said this really excellent woman ; “ all we have to
do is to bear it.”
Now Mrs. Hinsdale’s heart was really throbbing with
sympathy for her niece ; she only meant to remind her
of the sovereignty of God ; but O, how unlike the way
in which uncle Charles would have done it I
18


194
OUR HELEN.
Helen rushed out of the room, and Mr. Lynde fol
lowed her.
“ Say something to me, Morris,” said she, confronting
him in the little entry down stairs. “ It is my father
that lies there. He doesn’t speak to me; he never will
speak again. I can’t bear it, — O, I can’t bear it! ”
Her wild eyes, her rebellious manner, recalled the
girl he had met at Mrs. Satterlee’s party. He knew it
was aunt Marian’s harshness that had driven her fran
tic ; still he must also be stern — it was the only way
just now.
“ Open the door, Morris: I can’t breathe.”
“ Helen,” said he, leading her down the short path to
the gate, “ think of your sisters, how they have longed
for your coming. Control yourself; you can do it.”
She struck her hand against the top rail of the fence
so roughly, that is must have hurt her
“ There, it is over now. I can go back, for I will —
and aunt Marian may talk to me as she likes.”
“ That is a good girl.”
But she still lingered, looking off at the quiet river
and the sweet evening sky, scarcely seeing anything,
only feeling that all Nature was too lovely to be en
dured. The very odor of the willows and the'fresh
turf oppressed her almost with a feeling of pain.
“ Where is father ? He is not here ; he is not gone.”
“ Hovering between the two worlds.”
“ O, Morris, the other world is so still; not a word or
a sign,” said she, straining her eyes as if she would look
into infinity. “ Mother went there, so long, so long
ago — how can I spare father to go there too?”
“ Be still, and know that I am God,” was Mr. Lynde’s
response, in a low voice, with uplifted head.


THE TELEGRAM.
195
That quieted her a little; but still the inevitable
questions would rise. Who, that thinks, has not asked
them in an hour like this?
“ O, Morris, he doesn’t know he is going. Only think
of falling asleep, with mother and the girls in the room,
— they never left him alone a minute, — and then
waking —how it will startle him ! —waking in a strange
world! He will want us — he will want his friends —
but instead of that he will see —pale spirits ! ”
“ Helen, look yonder at those violet hills touching
the sky.”
“Yes; but why do you speak of that now?”
“ Can you see where the hills end and the sky begins ?”
“No.”
“So it is with the earthly and. the heavenly life.
They will blend so perfectly, that when we reach the
other world, we shall hardly be sure it is not the very
world we have left.”
“Why do you say so, Morris ? how do you know?”
“I don’t know : I only reason from analogy. It is
not our Maker’s way to startle us — as you express it.
Everything moves into its place harmoniously here;
why not there ? ”
“ Why, really, now that seems reasonable,” said Helen,
in a tone of relief. “ Precious father, I will try to give
him up.”
“ He will be among dear friends, Helen, not pale
spirits. It must be so, for the good God would not
leave him comfortless.”
“ 0, Morris, you have made me feel so much better 1 ”
“I have told you nothing, my dear, only that God is
good. That is the beginning and end of it all, We


196
OUR HELEN.
don’t know his ways; but can’t we trust him that they
must be right ? ”
“ Yes, O yes ! I have been so wicked! I mustn’t ask
questions ; I must just have faith and be patient. Now
I shall go back and be very brave; and won’t you go
too ? Let us try to help mother bear up.”
Aunt Marian had preached resignation, and so had
Mr. Lynde; but Mr. Lynde had sp>oken in the gentle
spirit of Christ, and the effect was so different! The
bitterness was past with Helen — she would never know
its like again —for though the bereavement was yet to
come, our deepest anguish always lies in the first act
of surrender.
She went back to the chamber with a look of strength
in her face which was a great support to the children.
They were always guided, more or less, by the eldest
sister, and as she shed no tears, it was therefore wisest
and best to be calm.
Helen had never felt so clearly the grand distinction
between the “ natural ” and the “ spiritual body ” as
now, while they all stood watching the mysterious far
away look steal over their father’s face. It was more
than the fluttering breath; it was the real man that
was going away. When he had gone, Sharly threw
herself upon the bed, calling “ Papa! O, papa! ” in an
agony of grief; but Helen turned away : a finer instinct
told her not to look there for her father, for he had
risen.


AUNT MARIAN'S WARNING.
197
CHAPTER XXI.
AUNT MAKIAn’s WARNING.
^ID they take on much ? ” said Mrs. Applebee,
of the Wix neighborhood, to Miss O’Neil.
“ No; I never saw people so calm. The whole family
staid up stairs, and Mr. Lynde, too; but when they
passed out through the entry, I could see it was as much
as ever Helen had been crying at all.”
“ Pretty actions at a funeral! Why, I always thought
the Squire’s folks set everything by him. Didn’t they
wear mourning?”
“No; not a scrid or a Scrap.”
“Well, of all things!”
“ And Helen never even looked at the corpse,” added
Delia Liscom, who had driven Miss O’Neil as far as
Mi’s. Applebee’s, and was going herself to Jonathan
Wix’s for butter. She could not forget or forgive the
peculiar tenderness with which Mr. Lynde had sup
ported Helen in coming down the stairs, and it was a
little relief to her feelings to hear the ignorant Mrs.
Applebee exclaim, —
“You don’t say she didn’t look at her father! Well,
I should feel disagreeable if I thought my children
would treat me that way after I’m gone!”
Delia knew better than to speak disparagingly of the


198
OUR HELEN.
Asburys to any but ber social inferiors. Among the
better class of people the family stood above criticism.
The fortitude with which Mrs. Asbury had borne her
trials, and the sweet trust with which she accepted
this last dispensation, had proved her to be a very high
type of woman, and endeared her to the whole village.
First poverty, then bereavement; but she was still try-
ing to make the best of what was left her of life. Faith
is the highest common-sense after all, but it is the rarest.
“Your aunt is so remarkable,” said Delia to Mr.
Lynde, in her childlike way; “ what does make her so
different from other people ? ”
And he replied, briefly but significantly, —
“ A pair of wings.”
“ And O, Mr. Lynde, hasn’t our dear Helen grown
pretty ? ”
“I should never think of calling her pretty,” said
he, smiling. Delia’s heart bounded. She did not know
that Mr. Lynde considered “pretty” a very meagre
word for Helen.
“I’m sure the New York air, or something else, has
cleared her complexion astonishingly, Mr. Lynde. Ev-.
erybody thinks she’s so pretty, you know! But why
do you go away so soon? You will come back again
— promise you will.”
“In August,” said he.
And Delia changed her plans, deciding to spend July
at Harpswell, and stay at home in August.
It was a sad summer for Helen. She had been
growing up to her father of late, and they would have
had delightful times together, for she had intended to
devote every moment to making him happy. She


AUNT MARIAN'S WARNING.
199
longed for him more than she would have done if he
had died two years ago. The house was strange, too;
it was full of Prescott memories, which were nothing
to her, of'course; there was no Asbury look about it,
either inside or out, except the furniture, and her eyes
would wander longingly towards Jubilee Hill, though
the new house which sat there was stranger still than
Intervale Cottage.
But she could not give way to despondency, with her
mother’s high example before her. Sharly was half
the time in tears; somebody must help keep mamma
up, and, as usual, Helen forgot her own sorrow, and rose
to the need of the hour; for it was as true of her now
as ever, that she was “ herself only on great occasions.”
Her painting materials were all in New York, and
she missed them. It was an effort to turn from art to
needlework; but the children were in need of clothes,
and she threw herself cheerfully into the vortex of
dressmaking. It was Thurzy’s “private opinion,” free
ly expressed, that Sharly might drop her worsted work
and help about the plain sewing; but Helen did not seem
to think so. I am afraid Helen did spoil Sharly a little,
and perhaps Mrs. Asbury did it, too; aunt Marian had
always considered her “ too easy” with all the children.
“ Sharly never hurt herself working; but I’ll tell you
one thing,” said Thurzy to Helen, with an air of pride,
“ she’s a perfect colcioette. She’s kind of subdued now;
but you’ve no idea how she can flirt! ”
To poor Theresa, who frankly confessed that she was
“ twenty-six years old and had never had an offer,” the
power of flirting seemed an amazing gift. Thurzy had
given up all idea of the factory, and still clung to Mrs.


OUR HELEN.
i&sbury like Ruth to Naomi. “ There might be better
V/omen,” she said, “but she never had seen one yet.”
The twins, now tall girls of fifteen, had attended the
■» jmale academy for the past year, but Helen hoped
some time to send them to boarding-school.
Baby Bel was shedding her front teeth, and Baby
Boy had become such a dead weight of sweetness, that
taking him in your arms was like lifting a firkin of
sugar; but he had the same blue eyes, and Helen was
glad his name was Morris.
After all, it was a delight to be at home with all
these dear ones, despite the strange silence felt through
all the noise — the silence of the one voice that would
never speak again.
She had been feeling unusually oppressed one day,
and sat by the window “weary and heart-tired,” but
sewing busily, when Morris’s well-known step was heard
in the hall. It seemed to her she had never been so
glad of his coming before.
“We wanted you,” said Bell; “ where did you go to,
and stay so long ? ”
“To New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and several
other states, little cousin.”
Everybody was talking at once; but Helen heard •
that evasive reply. It did not seem like Morris that
he should not tell frankly all about his journey, and
she was sure there was something to be concealed by
the meaning glances which passed between him and
her mother. Well, what did it matter to her?
“ Helen,” said Morris, “it is too late to sew. Won’t
you put by your needle and go to walk?”
She gladly threw on her light shawl and “ snow-


AUNT MARIAN'S WARNING. 201
flake,” and went with him. They instinctively bent
their steps towards the graveyard.
“ I have only been here twice before,” said she, as
they entered the arched gateway, and walked through
the tall grass and brambles ; “but Sharly comes every
day, and strews flowers on papa’s gxvave.”
A little vase, half imbedded in the sod, was filled
now with geranium leaves, myrtles, and monthly roses.
“ Morris,” said Helen, in a low voice, “ I would not
confess it to everybody — but I don’t like grave
yards.”
“ Nor I.”
“ There, I’m glad you understand it! Mother and I
both say father never seems so far away as when we
are standing by this-cold, white stone — what can be
the reason ? ”
“Because the grave recalls the idea of decay, which
we ought to forget, as the angels do.”
“Yes, that must be it, for I have all sorts of mouldy
thoughts when I am here, but they pass away when I
get home. O, I want to ask you how you like this
stone ? ”
“ I like the shape, but not the size.”
“ But it had to be low; do you know there’s a fash
ion in these things ? ”
“ Yes, so I understand; but it seems rather absurd,
when you consider that there’s no particular fashion
about dying.”
Helen smiled — right by her father’s grave she smiled ;
and aunt Marian, who was going by on her way to Mrs.
Nason’s, saw her, and thought her manner “eminently
frivolous.”


202
OUR HELEN.
“ There goes aunt Marian. I wish I could love her,
for she is full of kindness. Now Sharly, the dear, sen
sitive child, was half frantic when the first rain fell on
father’s grave, and aunt Marian said she knew we should
all feel so, and she came over to spend the evening with
us, though it was pouring. But mother and I were not
nervous in the least; we had not once thought of dear
papa as lying out in the rain.”
“ I hope not; it is ‘ unthinkable,’ ” said Mr. Lynde,
shuddering. “ But some good Christians do suffer need
less pain in that way, and I suppose it’s a matter of
temperament.”
Helen wondered why her own temperament should
be so much like her step-mother’s and Mr. Lynde’s, and
so little like Sharly’s. Fondly as she loved this favor
ite sister, she never found her half so congenial as Mor
ris and mamma; she could not say her inmost thought
to her without her exclaiming, “ O, Helen, you’re so
very peculiar! ”
“Your walk has freshened you very much, dear,”
said Mrs. Asbury, as she and Helen were having their
usual cl>at that night at bedtime. “ I hope you will go
out more now, for you should not confine yourself so
steadily.”
“ It was the talk that did me good, more than the
walk,” said Helen, brightly. “ It was so beautiful com
ing home by the river, and listening to Morris. Why,
mamma, he makes me feel that living is sublime. What
if our friends do fade from our sight for a while ? We
are to have them again in the happy forever; and till
then we can wait, for there’s so much work to be
done! ”


AUNT MARIAN'S WARNING. 203
Mrs. Asbury received a note from Mrs. Hinsdale next
day, which read in this wise: —
“ My deab Sistee : I do not approve of Helen’s
returning to New York, unless she is engaged to your
nephew; for there is danger of an unrequited attach
ment on one side or the other. Whether you see this
or not, I do, and give you fair warning. You and I
are too old to believe in Platonic love. '
Sincerely yours, Maeian Hinsdale.”
I think Mrs. Hinsdale’s advice was “ eminently sen
sible.” If there was any fatal reason why Helen and
Morris ought not to care for each Other, Mrs. Asbury,
who knew her nephew’s affairs, must have been aware
of it, and ought to have interfered now. But she did
not; she was always rather “easy.” Was she stone
blind ? Or did she at her time of life still believe in
Platonic love ?
Helen returned to New York, and never heard of
the “ fair warning.” I have no idea of following her
through this second year, though from various causes
it was the happiest she had ever known. For one
thing she was allowed to paint original pictures, and
with Mr. Lynde always near to suggest and criticise,
bade fair to become an accomplished artist.
Her “ studies,” some of which were hung at the Acad
emy of Design and other public places, attracted so
much attention that she narrowly escaped becoming
famous. But love of notoriety was not Helen’s weak
ness. She shrank from notice, feeling really ashamed to
receive credit for work she considered only half her own.
“ Those pictures have all been retouched,” said she


204
OUR HELEN.
to a gentleman who admired them so much that he
came to see her at the studio, and tried to engage her
to go to St. Louis the next fall and teach drawing in
his seminary.
But Mr. De Witt still insisted. Helen would have
declined firmly, but the thought of the money was
rather tempting, and his offer very liberal. Was she
growing mercenary ? She almost feared so.
“ I will talk with my mother and sisters about it
•after I go home,” said she, giving him her address,
which he carefully preserved, together with several ad
dresses of Mr. Lynde at three or four places, which he
was to visit during the summer on sketching tours.
Helen scarcely thought of Mr. De Witt again while she
staid at Hew York; but the sequel showed that he did
not forget her.
It was the fashion for people who came to the studio,
to praise Helen’s pictures, but she had learned by this
time that the world in general knows very little about
art, and easily-won popularity is hardly worth having.
“It makes one shudder to be extolled by the news
papers,” said Mr. Lynde, “for they often lie, and half
of them don’t know what true merit is. The life of an
artist, Helen, must be one of rigorous duty and cease
less endeavor. Ho matter what the public may say —
he must never rest satisfied with anything but the con
sciousness of excellence. I am glad to see that your
ambition is of the true sort,” added he, with a smile.
“ Our teacher is very proud of you,” said Di, private
ly, without a shade of envy. “ I mean proud every
way, artistically and socially. Dear, dear! if I could
only learn to hold my tongue, I might be considered
‘ superior’ as well'as you.”


AUNT MARIAN’S WARNING.
205
Di would never get, beyond the servile task of copy-
mg; but she would not give up the cosy studio-life
with her friend, for she was not happy; she needed
work and needed Helen. It was their last year to
gether, for Helen was to go home in June, let a sky
light into the attic, and continue her painting there,
while Di would set sail for Europe with her father the
last week in May. His physicians had ordered him
abroad, and his daughter needed the change almost as
much as he. Her mother said she had worked too
steadily, and pointed proudly to the handsome paint
ings on the parlor walls ; but Mrs. Cary and her hus
band knew there was a deeper cause for the girl’s pale
cheeks and weary air. They had discovered rather
late in the day that Arthur Salloway was an unprin
cipled, dissipated young man, quite unworthy their
daughter’s affections. It was an unfortunate mistake;
but a year in Europe would blot it all out, for the grand
tour can do almost everything — it can give rest to
the weary, brains to the foolish, and the balm of heal
ing to the wounded heart.
“But what shall I do when I come back next fall -
and find the boudoir empty?” said Mr. Lynde. “The
memory of you girls will be locked into it, and will
meet me here the moment I open the door. I shall
have to write ‘Ichabod’ all over the room, and shut it
up again.”
He spoke with earnestness, and the girls were pleased
at the thought of being missed — selfish creatures !
Well, it was a satisfaction to know they had not been
the annoyance to him that their friends had predicted.


206
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XXII.
MOONSHINE.
“I am not old for nothing : I can tell
The weather-signs of love ; — you love this man.”
EYERAL strange things happened that summer,
which'''affected at least three people, Helen, Sharly,
and Thurzy. For one thing, a new circuit preacher
came to supply every other Sunday the pulpit of the
modest little brown meeting-house on Hackett Hill.
Thurzy admired his zeal, though it was not according
to knowledge, admired his muscular figure, broad
shoulders, and red hair, and her admiration did not
abate when she learned that he was a widower with one
child. Thurzy pitied that child.
Mr. Bangs called often at Mrs. Asbury’s, and talked
to Miss Bumpus about the broken-up state of his house,
but had the shrewdness not to mention that she had
been recommended to him for a wife. That would have
destroyed the charm in a moment; for, strange as it may
seem, the matter-of-fact woman had a spice of romance
in her composition, and wanted to be loved for herself,
big nose, homely mouth, and all, and would have lived
single to the end of her days, rather than have married
merely to fill a vacancy.
She had been going about the house one morning,


MOONSHINE.
207
singing in a powerful voice the Celestial Railroad, and
had got as far as,
“ If you’ll repent and turn from sin,
The train will stop and take you in,”
when Mrs. Asbury entered the kitchen.
“ The Bible is the engineer,” .
sang Thurzy, wandering off the track, with a flurried
look quite unusual to her.
“Mrs. Asbury,” said she, as she slowly insinuated a
custard pie into the oven, “ I’ve got something on my
mind, but I’m such a fool that I can’t say it.”
Mrs. Asbury knew that Thurzy had ree'eived very
pointed attentions from Mr. Bangs, sucli as a box of
steel pens, so she was prepared for the coming revela
tion.
“ Ah, Thurzy, don’t be afraid! ”
“ I’m going home, to die no more,”
hummed Thurzy, flushing hotly.
“ ‘ God’s love’s the Are, ’tis true as steel.’
No, that ain’t it neither, and I might as well out with it
first as last. I’m thinking of going to the ‘ Roostick.’”
“ To Aroostook County ? ” said Mrs. Asbury, affect
ing great dullness. “ That is a wild country up there.
It seems to me single women like you are wiser to keep
within the limits of civilization.”
“Now you needfft pretend to such ignorance, Mrs.
Asbury. I ain’t going alone. I’ve been fallen in love
with, and you know it as well as I do.”
“Ah, Thurzy, do you refer to Mr. Bangs? If you
. tell him plainly it is of no use, he won’t insist. Men
get over such fancies, you know.”


208
OUR HELEN.
“I ain’t sure I want him to get over it,” said Thurzy,
with a foolish look at the rolling-pin. “I ain’t sure but
I’m as deep in the mud as he is in the mire.”
“ O, that alters the case; but why does Mr. Bangs
strike off so far into the wilderness, Thurzy? ”
“ Well, they are short of gospel up there, and he was
made for rough -work, and the conference seems to so
understand it. He was appointed to the’Roostick last
spring, but you know his child was so sick that they let
him off a while, and then when our preacher, Mr. Pullen,
died in a fit, he was needed here to supply the pulpit.”
“ How soon will he go to Aroostook?”
“Well, as soon as I can get ready,” replied Thurzy,
opening the oven-door, and taking an anxious look at
the pie. “It’s kind of ice-o-lated up there, and I ain’t
in any hurry to change my situation; but I suppose, con
sidering they’re dejjendent on lay preaching, I’d ought
to go : and then again he thinks the child ’11 be better
off up there; it’s so kind o’ pindling.
‘ Come then, poor sinner, now’s your time
At any station on the line.’
I tell you it’s a solemn thing to be a preacher’s wife,
Mrs. Asbury,-and I’m afraid I ain’t fit for it; but I mean
to do the best I can, with the Lord’s help; and seems
as though he wouldn’t have led me into this, if he
hadn’t meant to carry me through somehow.”
It was a family affliction to think of losing Thurzy,
and the children looked very sober, after the first excite
ment was over. But she wouldn’t go away till some
time next fall; and at any rate they should have Helen,
they said, trying to console themselves — Helen, who


MOONSHINE.
209
had come home to stay forever. And for a long while
they should have cousin Morris, too. He had found
several views of unusual beauty, which would keep him
in Quinnebasset during the most of August and Sep
tember, and he would come again for autumn sketches
in November. The twins did not mean to be slangy,
but they did consider it festive .
Helen’s heart unconsciously grew lighter when she
learned that he was not going away on any mysterious
journey like last year’s, and she happened to know that
he had no very special correspondence, for the children
brought his mail half the time, and he was quite in the
habit of giving her his letters to read. Her unquiet
feeling about that imaginary lady down south, had died,
or was fast dying out. Life was fuller and sweeter to
her than it had ever been before. She was not in the
least aware of it, but she had that delicious sense of
novelty and expectation which perhaps a rosebud feels
when the west wind moves it to open its heart and be
come a rose.
I have called it a strange summer. There seemed to
be a great deal of moonlight sprinkled over it, espe
cially when Mr. Lynde was in Quinnebasset. He often
took his cousins, and Margaret Hinsdale, and the two
Willards, out rowing in his boat, the Evening Star.
Helen had rowed in other boats a thousand times, but
it was a remarkable moon that shimmered over the
water just now, and it had a new charm for her which
she dimly felt but could not define. Nothing could
define that charm but music, and it was well that Mr.
Lynde usually carried his mellow old flute in his pocket,
for when he played it, the preciously sweet notes, echo-
14


210
OUR HELEN.
ing across the water, did really interpret the meaning
of the moon, Helen thought. The idea of making
moonshine audible, of setting it to music, how Sharly
would have laughed !
But what was Sharly herself thinking about in these
long summer days, when she seemed strangely absent-
minded, and spent so much time alone in her chamber?
Helen had many a tender worry over her odd behavior.
Could the child be in love? she thougbt, half fright
ened ; for love is a mystery, and she did not want it to
come into the family just yet. Ho. She was quite sure
there was nothing of that kind troubling Sharly. Plenty
of young men were fluttering about her, but she openly
declared she liked none of them so well as cousin Mor
ris ; he was the most delightful jjerson she had ever
known. It amused Helen to see her pretty fondness
for him, quite cousinly, of course, and the wrath of her
adorers as she hung on his arm at walks and picnics.
Cousins are a convenience sometimes, and Mr. Lynde
smiled good-naturedly whenever he found himself
standing between Sharly and one of her troublesome
lovers. He liked her, and Helen was glad, for she had
thought formerly that he did not quite appreciate her
darling sister.
I am sure our heroine’s state of mind must be clear
enough by this time to the most careless reader, but
how Mr. Lynde stands affected it is not so easy to dis
cover. Helen was happy, she knew not why, but evi
dently cousin Morris was not happy. The old cloud
came into his eyes more and more. What sent it there ?
What did it mean ? ’His manner changed a little too.
Helen was just as sure as ever that he liked to talk with


MOONSHINE.
211
her better than with any one else, which was perfectly
natural, for nobody understood him as she did; but late
ly he never showed her any marked attention without
seeming directly afterwards to beg her pardon for it, as
if he had forgotten himself. She did not understand
this; still it did not trouble her in the least.
As Helen sat on the front door-stone with Mr. Lynde,
listening to his reading of Robert Falconer, little Bel
flew into the yard, all in white, with two letters in her
mouth.
“Well, little carrier-pigeon, what have you brought
this time ? ”
“ It’s for Helen, and one of them has ‘ P. M. please
forward ’ on it,” said the small messenger, pouting; “ and
Mr. Willard made me promise not to drop it, just as if
I was a baby! That’s the way he always talks.”
As Helen took the letters, a shade of annoyance
passed over her face.
“ Why, it’s from St. Louis again, and was misdirect
ed to Kennebunk, care of Mr. Lynde, artist. The post
master in that town must have known you, for he sent
it to Hew York, and now it comes back to Quinnebas-
set, and the date inside is July 31st.”
“I hope it is nothing of importance?” said Mr.
Lynde.
“ O, yes, it is; it is another letter from that Mr. De
Witt, who wants me to teach painting in his seminary.
How he does haunt me! I was just thinking it was
too late to hear anything about that school, and I
might roll it off my conscience.”
“ You don’t mean the man who called on you at my
studio in New York? I had no idea you thought seri
ously of accepting that offer.”


212
OUR HELEN.
“Yes, but I did, Morris. You forget the conversa
tion. I couldn’t give him a positive answer then, but
told him I Avould talk with my friends at home, and
decide in the course of the summer.”
“O, Helen Asbury, Helen Asbury, you shan’t go
away! ” exclaimed Ilairbell, who was always crying be
fore she was hurt.
“Please run into the house, little carrier-pigeon, and
bring out a shawl for your sister; but mind you don’t
speak of the letter — there’s a good girl! How, Helen,
let us talk together rationally. What does Mr. De
Witt say ? ”
“Just listen, and see if it is not a temptation. ‘ We
are now prepared to offer you a salary of six hundred
dollars, with board, washing, lights, fuel, and all inci
dentals, together with your travelling expenses one
way. The time required for teaching will be only two
hours each day, Saturdays, of course, not included.
Please let us hear from you at once, and if you decide
to come, we will put you into communication with Mr.
and Mrs. Pardee, two of our teachers who are spending
the summer in Maine, and will take pleasure in escort
ing you to St. Louis. Our school year commences on
the 3d day of September.’ There now, only ten days’
notice! Don’t you suppose it’s too late ?”
“ Of course it is; they have probably secured an
other teacher before this time.”
“I do hope so.”
“ I thought you didn’t want to go, Helen.”
“No, indeed. You don’t know how my heart clings
to mother and the children. But let me look at my
other letter, postmarked Portland. I don’t know the
writing.”


MOONSHINE.
213
To her chagrin it proved to be from Mr. Pardee, who
said Mr. De Witt was still awaiting her answer, not
knowing lie had misdirected his letter, and the pro t
posal he had made would stand open till the 26th of
August. Mr. Pardee had just discovered Mr. De Witt'v<
mistake, and hastened to acquaint Helen with the prop
osition, which he repeated minutely. Would she go?
He assured her she could not fail to like the t.-chool
and the principal; and as for the journey ouf if she
would accept the escort of himself and wife, they would
gladly do their utmost to make her comfortable and
happy. Would she despatch to Mr. De Witt as early as
the 26th, also to the undersigned on the same day, that
he might meet her at the Portland and Maine station
prepared to continue her journey?
“ There, Morris, you see it is clinched this time, and
there is no excuse. I must make up my mind day after
to-morrow. Now what shall I do? ”
“You should not ask me, Helen. I am not a disin
terested person.”
Her face was upraised to his inquiringly.
“Why not?” she asked without reflecting, then
turned away embarrassed, for his eyes had already an
swered her question in a language subtler than words.
“ Because, Helen, if you are to go away from home
at all, it naturally seems to me you may as Avell go to
New York; but I am afraid I am too selfish to see the
matter clearly, wanting you there so much. Have you
ever thought how I shall miss you ? ”
“Well, you will be glad to miss my questions. Di
and I have always been such chatterers.”
“ Helen! ”


214
OUR HELEN.
She could not help looking up at him again, but in
stantly withdrew her eyes, like one who is dazzled by
gazing at the sun. Neither of them spoke for a full
minute. Apparently Morris could not, would not, or
dared not give expression to his thought, while Helen,
who would gladly have broken the somewhat awkward
silence, could think of nothing in the world to say.
“ But perhaps this is my duty,” faltered she, at last.
“Maybe I could paint pictures when I wasn’t teach
ing, and make more money than if I were at home.”
Mr. Lynde started up suddenly, and began to pace
the door-stone.
“ Must that question always stand in the way ? It
isn’t worthy to he considered.”
Helen had wondered sometimes if Morris really did
look upon her as a mercenary person, and if that was
the reason he always showed such signs of impatience
whenever she spoke of the necessity of earning money.
“ Indeed, Morris, I ought to think of that part of it,
now I’ve lost my gold spoon. Here are the twins grow
ing up, and how are they to be educated ? ”
“Let me send them to school.”
“ 5Tou ? ” Helen laughed, and shook her head.
“I know what that means, you self-willed girh It
means that you are as firm in some absurd notions as
the everlasting hills. You would not take a penny of
mine if I should offer it on my knees.”
“Of course not: you are not my cousin.”
“No; but I am cousin to the twins — say brother —
I am sure they seem as near as sisters.”
Helen shook her head again, with her eyes on the
ground.


MOONSHINE.
215
“ Thank you ; but I thought we were to talk to
gether rationally, and here you don’t help me one bit.
I’m going into the house to lay the matter before
mother and the children, and take the sense of the
meeting.”
Mr. Lynde made an effort to detain her, but she
glided away, and left him still pacing the door-stone,
and looking at the sky. She laid the letters in her
mother’s lap, and while the rage of words was going on,
retired into a shadowy corner, hearing nothing, and
seeing only that golden and purple light in Morris’s
eyes.
“ I always said they bordered on purple.” She had
forgotten for the moment all about the school, and
when the children cried, “You shan’t go; we’ll bind
you hand and foot,” she wondered why so many little
arms were round her neck, and where they thought
she was in danger of going.
“ Wh} r , children dears, a body’d think it was a fixed
thing; but it isn’t by any means, and I shall take all
day to-morrow to think it over in.”
“ No, you won’t, Helen ; you are going to Medum-
scott Pond to-morrow, and how can you do any think
ing in a hay-rack party ? ”
“ O, people can think in very queer places, Sharly.
And you know I shan’t go fishing with the rest of you,
but just sit on the shore in a ‘mournful muse,’ so I can
settle my mind while you are getting nibbles. Mother,
you haven’t spoken yet. What do you think I ought
to do ? ”
“ It does not seem to me a case of duty,” replied
Mi's. Asbury, in her clear, sweet tones; “ I want you to


216
OUR HELEN.
act for yourself, Helen. But isn’t it your turn to stay
at home this year ? ”
Sharly dropped her eyes at the words “your turn.”
It had never been quite plain to her that her mother
perceived the wide difference between herself and
Helen. Could she he so unreasonable as to expect her
to take Helen’s place in supporting the family ?
“ I feel like death about it,” said Sharly, with eyes
afloat. “It looks just as if I wasn’t willing to do my
part, when I’m perfectly willing, — you know I am,
Helen, —if anybody would only tell me what to do ! ”
“ I’m sure you work worsteds,” cooed Vic, consolingly,
“ lots of worsteds.”
“ I was only thinking if I could earn this six hundred
dollars, and lay it all aside, what a help it would be,”
said Helen, still a little bewildered, and adding to her
self, “ How good it was of him to propose educating the
twins! ”
“Yes, Helen, it would be a great help,” said Mrs.
Asbury; “ but can’t we manage very well without it ?
We need you at home, and you want to stay with us,
I am sure.”
Helen felt a prick of conscience. Yes, she wanted
to stay at home, but not quite as much as she wanted
to go to New York. What! Had it come to this,
that she was growing indifferent to mother and the
children ? Why, it was nothing less than treason, and
she Avould not harbor the feeling for a moment.
“ Well,” said Mr. Lynde, coming in and taking a
chair beside Sharly, who immediately set him to hold
ing worsteds, “ have you settled the St. Louis affair ? ”
“Yes, indeed,” replied Sharly, twinkling off a tear;


MOONSHINE.
217
“ do you suppose we’d let our Helen go off so far among
strangers ? ”
“ I should hope not,” said Yic; “ we’d live on bread
and cheese before we’d allow it.”
“ If it turns on bread and cheese, the question must
be laid on the table,” said Helen, laughing. “ Hark!
hear that clock striking wrong again. It keeps about
as good time as Captain Cuttle’s watch.”
“ Morris, she is really talking seriously of this. Have
you any advice to offer ? ”
“ I would refer her to Mrs. Hinsdale, aunt Katha
rine.”
The words were spoken gravely enough, but every
body laughed.
“ Why is it,” queried Sharly, “ that we never do care
about consulting aunt Marian ? ”
“Because she wants us to so much,” replied Yic
promptly, with her cheek against Helen’s.
Mr. Lynde began to talk with Sharly about the fish
ing-party, and St. Louis was not mentioned again for
the evening, much to Helen’s relief, for she wanted to
be left to herself to think. Only there was this disad
vantage; her thoughts would spin round in an orbit of
their own, and she could not get St. Louis into the
middle.
“ Strange I should see Morris so much, even with my
•eyes shut. His face has been in my work-basket all
summer, in the books I have read, in the stars, in the
fire. He must have what is called a strong personal
magnetism : yet I do not remember that I was always
thinking of him in those days when he first came to
Quinn ebasset.”


218
OUR HELEN.
Thus mused Helen in the corner, with her head on
her hand. Beyond the present year she never thought
oflooking. All the bright, endless future was God’s,
and, somewhere, or somehow, Morris was in it as inevi
tably as the sun, moon, and stars.
“Helen, you are not asleep? ” said Sharly, breaking
off her worsted, and releasing Morris.
Helen roused herself, and looked a little confused.
“No, not asleep, but I believe I have been dream
ing.”
“ ‘ When we dream that we dream, we are near wak
ing,’ ” said Mr. Lynde, coming up to her corner to bid
her good night.
Helen thought only of his smile just then, but after
wards she recollected the words he had quoted : :
“Yes, ‘ when we dream that we dream, we aee near
waking.’ ”




MRS. PAGE’S WHIMSEY.
219
CHAPTER XXIII.
MRS. PAGE’S WHIMSEY.
“ He’ll take suggestion, as a cat laps milk.”—Tempest.
J UST here I believe we must leave Helen a few
moments, and take a review of the Page family,
as a little affair went on there two' weeks ago which is
destined to add to the strange events of the summer.
Ozem had been mowing bis “ aftermath ” in the field
back of the house, and, feeling tired and hungry about
ten in the forenoon, concluded to go in and take a
luncheon of doughnuts and sweetened water. Dorcas,
who had contracted a bad cold, either by leaving the
window open the width of a crack, or by using a hand
kerchief not sufficiently aired, had just been brought
to her level — a bed. Ozem saw at once that she was
in a “despair fit;” but the mental causes that had
led to it were as dark a mystery to him as usual. That
his putting salt in the brook could have anything to
.do with her approaching death, he never suspected;
nor did Dorcas suspect it herself. He had said to her,
on leaving the house that morning,—
“Dorkis, I’ve contrived a first-rate plan for giving
salt to the cattle. I’ve dropped a bushel of rock salt
into the brook in the meadow, and I calculate it will
last them the rest of the summer.”


220
OUR HELEN.
“ I’ve married a fool! ” thought poor Dorcas. It was
an old refrain which she had repeated to herself for
more than .twenty years, whenever Ozem displayed
unusual vacuity of mind : “I’ve married a fool.” This
was the fountain-head of all her misery, for conscience
would give her no peace after she had once begun that
reiteration. “ He is not to blame for being a fool. It
was I who sinned against my own soul by marrying
him. And, O Lord, to think I haven’t even the conso
lation of leading him into the kingdom of heaven!
Speak, and tell me what I shall do with him, or take
me out of the world, for my trouble is greater than I
can bear.”
Then began a tearful reading of Job, followed inva
riably by a perusal of Dr. Warren’s Household Physi
cian, witli her finger on her wildly-beating pulse.
“ Come in here, Ozem,” said she, faintly, as his figure
appeared in the doorway, “ for I’m dying; but don’t
you make tracks on my nice floor.”
Ozem had become so accustomed to the arrival of the
grim messenger, that he was not at all dismayed, but
began to mix his premeditated refreshment of molasses
and water, adding a little vinegar and ginger, and tasting
it now and then to make sure the proportions were
right. Not that he lacked feeling; but he had thus
far found Death very obliging, and willing to postpone •
final accounts indefinitely. He rubbed his dusty boots
with due deliberation, ate a twisted doughnut and a
half, and then stole softly and mournfully to the bed
side of the dying woman.
She raised herself on her elbow, and looked at him
with tearful reproof.


MRS. PAGE’S IVHIMSE V 221
“My dear, would I care to eat doughnuts if you
hadn’t half an .hour to live ?”
Ozem wiped his mouth on his checked handker
chief, and looked as if he knew he was a barbarian;
but apologies wouldn’t help the matter.
“ It is reasonable to suppose,” said Dorcas, catching
her breath hoarsely, “ that I can’t hold out long. Take
a towel, Ozem, and tie up my head in a hard knot.
Pull tight, for there’s a peculiar feeling in it such as I
never had before.”
Ozem pulled with a will.
“How,” said she, waving both hands tragically, “take
this camjihor in one hand and hold it to my right nos
tril, and this hartshorn in the other, and hold it to my
left nostril. Perhaps both together will bring me to.”
Ozem plied the bottles, now and then reversing the
order, for better effect.
“You see, dear, I’m breathing with only one lung,
and part of one nostril; but I have something on my
mind, and must talk if I possibly can. O, Ozem, did
you ever think our marriage Avas a mistake ? ”
Ozem sighed. There seemed to be no other mode
of expression possible just then, as both hands were
occupied, and his mouth filled with glass stoppers.
• “ My voice has a far-off, hollow sound,” continued
the sufferer. “You know I have had only one lung
for years, and now the left one adheres to my side. It
will soon be over, dear, and you’ll forgive me if our
marriage was a mistake.”
Ozem unstopped his mouth, and replied, —
“Yes, ma’am.”
In his more serious moments he never failed to add


222
OUR HELEN.
“ sir,” or “ ma’am,” to his answers, and he often said
“Yes, ma’am,” to a toddling child.
“ I’ve nearly worn you out with my ailings,” said
Dorcas, remorsefully ; “ I know I have, and that’s been
part of your cross.”
“ O, no, ma’am,” said Ozem, “ there’s a good deal left
of me yet. You’ve died so much nights that it has
made it rather bad in haying and harvesting ; but take
it by the year together, I’ve generally got my sleep
made up.”
It may be that these honest remarks were not pre
cisely what the dying wife had intended to call forth,
for she added, on a higher key, and with suppressed
feeling, —
“Yes, I’m what the villagers call ‘ spleeny,’ and that
has been your cross, Ozem; but what my cross has
been, the Father of all only knows.”
“ That’s true, ma’am,” replied Mr. Page, gazing at her
with his innocent blue eyes, which saw only a head
bound up in a towel, a pair of withered, tear-wet cheeks,
and a mouth trembling, he knew not why.
“I shouldn’t so much mind dying,” said Dorcas,
laying a little gum camphor on her tongue, “ if it wasn’t
for leaving you. You are not fit to take care of your
self, Ozem.”
“ O, don’t you worry about that, now,” said the wid
ower expectant, in a soothing tone; “ I shall get along
first-rate.”
“ What! without me to plan for you ? Haven’t
you always looked to me as the mainstay, and the
headpiece, as you call it?” exclaimed Mrs. Page, so
utterly astonished that she raised herself in bed, and


MRS. PAGE’S WHIMSEY.
223
spoke without a trace of hoarseness. “ Why, Ozem!
you have no more idea of your own weakness than a
baby! You would become an up-and-down fool if
there wasn’t somebody always trying to stir up your
mind, and keep it going. If I die, you’ll have to marry
again.”
“What! what! O, don’t talk so ! ” said the bewil
dered husband. “You’ve got on a new tack, Dorkis;
I’ve heard all the rest of your talk a hundred times
over, but you never said anything before about another
wife.”
“ I know it, dear; it is a subject I have always shrunk
from mentioning; but it seems clear to me now that I
have done wrong.”
Here the monomaniac tore off the towel bandage in
her earnestness.
“ It isn’t as if I hadn’t had warning, you know. I
am dying with my eyes open, Ozem.”
“ As it were,” added he, solemnly.
“And I feel the responsibility of you now in these
last moments just the same as I have felt it all my life.
You must marry again, Ozem, and I want you to choose
somebody before I die.”
“Why, I didn’t know ’twas customary,” began Ozem,
in a deprecatory tone.
“It is not, generally, I’ll admit; but circumstances
alter cases, Ozem, and I don’t see any harm in our look
ing these things in the face, and talking it over togeth
er. There, dear, I drew that last breath a little easier.
I’ve got a reprieve this time, but I must finish what I
was going to say, for there is no knowing how soon I
may be taken speechless.”


224
OUR HELEN.
Mr. Page twirled his thumbs, and looked really em
barrassed. lie usually had his lesson by heart, but this
time the eccentric wife of his bosom had taken him by
surprise, and he was not a man who knew what to say
or do in an emergency.
“It isn’t everybody that would be satisfied with you,
Ozem. I don’t say it to hurt your feelings, but just to
put you on your guard. It isn’t everybody that would
marry you; but I shouldn’t wonder a bit if Sister
Bumpus would be glad of the chance.”
This was before her betrothal to Mr. Bangs.
“What, Thurzy Bumpus! I can’t help it if she
would! ” cried Ozem, roused to sudden and vehement
self-assertion. “ She’s the homeliest woman I ever set
eyes on — seems if.”
“ She’s a blessed follower of the Lord,” said Mrs.
Page, with a side glance at the looking-glass as she
gathered up her back hair. “ She would care for your
spiritual interests, Ozem. But I shan’t insist upon
Thurzy, for there are other women as pious as she is,
who have better features; and you know all I want is
to set you thinking upon the subject, which is only
wise forethought, I’m sure.”
“ Well, I’ll do anything in reason to please you,” said
the affectionate husband ; “but I can truly say I don’t
want to marry Thurzy, if there is any way of getting
round it.”
The shadow of a smile c2-ept into Mrs. Page’s sombre
eyes at this remark, for, though anything but a humor
ous person, there were times when Ozem’s extraordina
ry simplicity amused her.
“Please hand me the brush and comb, dear, and


MRS. PAGE'S WHIMSEY. 225
don’t look so down-hearted, for I have come back to
you once more from the borders of the grave. But
with regard to your marrying,” added the hypochon
driac, as she began to make cheerful preparations for a
steamboat pudding, “ I only insist upon one thing, and
that is that you look round and make your own choice,
and then come to me for approval, for I do feel the
responsibility of you, my dear, and-1 shall die easier
if the matter is fairly decided. I’ve lived through this
attack, but it’s no sign I shall live through the next
one; there must come a last time, Ozem.”
Ozem’s weak brain was completely turned, and he
walked in a dream for the rest of the day.
“What a singular woman Dorkis is! But I posi
tively declare there’s some truth in what she says. I
should be the poorest hand in the world to get along
alone. I shall miss her desperately, that’s a fact. I
haven’t known what it was to be in the house five
minutes without hearing her groan — it comes ’most as
natural as the ticking of the clock. Poor Dorkis 1” —
leaning on his hoe-handle reflectively,—“but she has got
to die—'I suppose there’s no doubt of that—sooner or
later, and as these spasms keejr growing more and more
frequent, I presume she’s nearer her end than what
she was a month ago, say. ‘There must come a last
time, Ozem; ’ that sounds to me kind of prophetic.
!‘I only insist on one thing,’ said she, ‘ and that is that
you look round and make your own choice, and then
come to me, for I shall die,’ etcettery, etcettery. That
sounds singular; but then there isn’t a woman any
where about that has such a headpiece as what Dorkis
has. I always trusted to her judgment, and came out
15


226
OUR HELEN.
straight. Some folks might be jealous that she ain’t
in her right mind, but I never saw her stir up a pud
ding any more regular than she did just now. There’s
only one thing that looks a little suspicious to me,”
mused he, peering into the hole he had made with his
hoe, “ she seemed to think it doubtful abput my getting
hardly anybody to have me. Nov/ that strikes me as
odd. It’s different, you know, from what it would be
if I was a widower with four or five little children, and
no means of support. Now I stand well in this town;
haven’t I been deputy sheriff? ain’t I received in some
of the best families? Now, there are the Asburys,
they belong to the aristocracy, if anybody does, and
what did Helen say to me the other day about the
favors I had done them in the way of errands ? Hark!
there’s the dinner-bell. I dread to go into the house,
for now Dorkis has taken up this notion, I shan’t hear
the last of it — seems if.”
He was right. The half-crazed woman carried her
new whimsey to the usual lengths, and ‘sounded it in
his ears till the thought of a second wife grew familiar,
and ere long ceased to shock his sense of propriety.
The strange scene into which he was betrayed in con
sequence may seem too absurd for beliefj but I beg
to state that it is substantially true.
And now we will return to Helen.


SHA ELY'S SECRET.
22 7
CHAPTER XXIY.
sharly’s secret.
“ For prying into any human affairs, none are equal to thoB»
whom it does not concern.”
EAR Di: Have you suffered a sea-change into
something rich and strange ? For when I write
you now I don’t feel quite at my ease; it almost seems
as if Queen Vic would be peeping over your shoulder
while you read. If she is, I hope she will pardon these
bits of paper; they were torn out of cousin Morris’s
note-book, for I am at Medumscott Pond, and of course
didn’t bring my writing-desk. We are having a very
gay party, and I am wearing on my head a hat seventy-
five yenrs old, that belonged to great-grandma Dilling
ham— the most comical thing you ever saw. The front
and crown both flare, up six inches skyward, then make
a courtesy and meet in the middle. I felt just like wear
ing it, and it was a bright idea, for it has kept every
body laughing. There are twenty-five of us, and all
gone fishing but Miss Liscom and myself. She sits
under a pine-tree, reading, and I only wish she’d fix
her eyes on her book. I don’t like fishing, but I would
have gone in a minute if I had had the faintest idea
Medumscott Pond, August 25.


228
OUR HELEN.
‘Peaky’ was to be my companion. Cousin Morris
offered to stay, but I wouldn’t listen to such a thing,
and then he started for the boat with Sharly on his
arm. It amused me to see how adroitly she managed
to walk with him instead of Mr. Hackett, whom she
can’t abide, because everybody calls him such a “ worthy
young man.” By her means it happened that Mr. Hack
ett and Judith Willard went together, and I saw a few
wise ones smile, for it is the darling desire of Quinne-
basset to have that old engagement renewed. People
say Judith is too dreamy and cold ever to marry, and
I know there is a look on her lovely face that makes
you think “ her soul is like a star, and dwells apart; ”
still, I have my own opinion about one or two things,
and will tell you by and by whether I am right.
But speaking of Sharly: I am still in the dark about
her. She is all smiles to-day, but half the time looks
worried and absent-minded, stays alone for hours, and
though her color is as bright as ever, I never saw her
so thin. Mrs. Page advises podophyllon; but it seems
to me the trouble is in her mind instead of her liver.
Nothing blighting, such as “a worm in the bud,” or
that sort of nonsense; but I think the dear child’s con
science is reproaching her for not having done more
towards the support of the family. I am afraid this is
it, for she keeps saying she can’t afford pretty things to
wear, because she has been such a drone. I always tell
her she has done as much as I in a certain way, for she
has made sunshine in the house by her bright face and
pleasant smiles, and surely sunshine is better than dol
lars and cents — it is heaven’s own gold. That suk
dress I brought pleased her very much, and I am going'


SHARLY’S SECRET.
229
to talk to you by and by about some lovely trifles 1
know she would like. You remember your rash promise
about buying things — don’t you begin to repent ? I
am earning so much from the sale of my pictures, that
I feel quite elated, and almost think it will be right to
stay at home this year with mother and the blessed
children. I am debating to-day whether I ought to go
to St. Louis or not,.for I have had another letter from
that Mr. De Witt. I must decide by to-morrow; but
I won’t trouble you with my pros and cons. It goes
against the grain to talk about money matters on this
beautiful day; you just want to lie under the trees,
and look, and listen, and do nothing else but be happy.
What do the sky and water know of “ getting a living”?
A thousand insects are playing on their tiny trombones,
but they never call on you for sixpence. The birds
sing as confidently as if they knew and rejoiced in what
our Saviour said about caring for the sparrows. The
gray-headed thistles are holding a sort of “Aged
Brotherhood meeting,” but they won’t need any funds
to “ carry them through the winter.” I wish you were
here, Di, for the whole world seems glad. As dear
Lucy Larcom says. —
“AH things are beautiful,
Because of something lovelier than themselves,
Which breathes within them, and will never die.”
The tree-trunks are picturesque with bright mosses
and sundry “ tag-locks ” of wool, which show that sheep
. have passed by. Thistle-down floats in the air as light
as wandering thoughts, and now and then an antique
raspberry, having lived out its little glowing life, drops


230
OUR HELEN.
to the ground to rise no more. I’m so glad I’m alive\
(Delia Liscom, keep your eyes on your book!) But
it is so warm, and the air is so heavy with the odors of
pine and sweet-fern, that, if you’ll excuse me, I believe
I’ll take a nap.
Ah, it would be many a long and bitter hour before
Helen would sleep! She had just rolled her water
proof cape into a pillow, and was lying down, as she
supposed, to pleasant dreams, when Delia Liscom arose
and came slowly towards her, trailing an oak branch
in the sand.
“ So you’ve finished your writing, Helen ? I’m glad,
for it seems sort of unsocial to sit here and not speak,
now don’t it ? Wonder how long they’ll be out fishing?”
“Hot later than noon. I presume, if we are to have
the chowder at one,” replied Helen, languidly.
“ Yes; and we are to be home by three without fail.
Mr. Lynde promised me that, or I wouldn’t have come.
I do hope I shall have good luck with the chowder.
Do you prefer it with onions or without ? ”
“ Without.”
“Do you? Well, I must get a vote on that ques
tion. How Mr. Lynde does like fishing, Helen ! Isn’t
it funny ? ”
“ Yes; very.”
“ Almost boyish about it, you know. I do think it’s
splendid when people can throw off care, and enjoy
themselves as he does — don’t you?”
“Yes.”
“And I don’t call them heartless or frivolous for it;
but some people do, and I say it’s a shame. A man can


SHARLY'S SECRET.
231
be just as good a Christian, and yet be full of fun ; and,
for my part, I stand up for Morris Lynde. He may be
rather fickle,—I won’t dispute that, — but light-com-
plexioned people are apt to-be fickle; didn’t you ever
think of it, Helen ? ”
“I can’t say I ever did.”
“Why, how strange! How, when I see anybody
with a fair skin, I don’t look for much depth of feeling,
or any real warmth, you know; and I’ve noticed it a
thousand times, though I always insist upon it people
are not to blame for their natural dispositions.”
Thus far Delia’s words had produced no impression
upon Helen beyond a feeling of annoyance at the loss
of her nap.
“ Of course artists make the poorest kind of hus
bands, if you come to that,” went 011 Delia, innocent
ly; “but I don’t believe Mr. Lynde has any intention
of marrying — do you ? It has always seemed to me
that he likes to amuse himself with pretty faces, but
doesn’t care to settle down — what do you think?”
“ Perhaps so,” replied Helen, “ settling down ” into
her pillow.
Delia looked at her keenly. There was something
about this young girl that always baffled her. Had
she no weak side? If she was going on in this way,
answering in cool monosyllables, how was it possible to
come to the point with her, and tell her the story she
ought to hear?
“ She is Dillingham all over, and I don’t feel free
with her any more than I do with her aunt Hinsdale,”
thought Delia, listening to a woodpecker beating out
its brains against a tree.


232
OUR HELEN.
“Doesn’t Sharly look pretty to-day?” she .began
again, and the reply was more encouraging this time.
“ Yes, lovely, I think.”
“ And Mr. Lynde admires her — how evident that is.”
Helen picked an inch-worm off her dress and threw
it away.
“But Sharly hasn’t been as well as usual this sum
mer, has she ? Seems to me she looks thin.”
“ Do you think so ? ” asked Helen, anxiously. “ She
never complains.”
“ O, I dare say it’s nothing serious — some little affair
of the heart, probably,” said Miss Liscom, braiding oak-
leaves into a chain. “You young girls will have these
tender experiences, you know.”
“Isn’t it growing very warm here by the water?
Suppose we go farther into the shade?” said Helen,
rising.
Miss Liscom followed, with a desperate .resolve.
“ I don’t want to say or do anything that looks like
interfering, Helen ; but may I ask you one plain ques
tion as a friend ? Did you ever think it possible that
Sharly was interested in your cousin Morris?”
Helen turned with a look of intense surprise.
“We are all interested in him, Miss Liscom. Do you
mean that she cares particularly ? If so, you are very
much mistaken.”
She had spoken hastily, and regretted it the next
moment. Was this the person with whom one would
choose to discuss family affairs? Yet she had given
her an advantage, and Delia was not slow to im
prove it.
“ Why, Helen, you don’t mean to tell me now that


SHARLY'S SECRET.
238
this is all news to you? But of course you would be
the last to see it, for you are the most unsuspicious per
son I ever beheld ! ”
Helen walked on towards a thicket, and her tormen
tor pursued.
“I always knew you were very artless and straight
forward, and everybody admires you for it; but theie
is such a thing as carrying it too far, and there are
times when friends, if they are friends, ought to
speak.”
Helen found it hard to restrain her temper.
“Please let us talk of something else, Miss Liscom._
I am very sure my sister Sharly would not like to over
hear us imagining all this about her.”
“ Imagining ? Do you take me for an idle gossip,
Helen Asbury? Do you suppose I would be at the
trouble of coming to you with anything like this un
less I was sure it was true, and you ought to know
it?”
There was a glow in Delia’s eyes that looked like
righteous indignation. Helen began to wonder if the
woman really believed in herself.
“ To be frank with you, I really wanted to go fishing,
but wouldn’t do it because I was afraid I might not
have such a good chance to talk to you again very soon.
And now you treat me as if I were meddling. If I
wasn’t sustained by the thought that I’m doing my
duty, I would shut my lips together, Helen Asbury, and
let this thing go on.”
“ But, Miss Liscom, why need you tell it to me ?
Even if it were true, I have no right to know it. What
have I to do with Sharly’s affairs ? ”


234
OUR HELEN.
“It is not for me to say what you are to do; but if
you ask my advice — ”
“ I do not ask your advice, Miss Liscom. Beg par
don, but you are mistaken from beginning to end.”
Helen seated herself under the shade of abeech tree,
and Delia reclined at her feet.
“ How that loon does screech! Don’t you abominate
a loon, Helen? — Well, so I am mistaken, ami? I
imagine all this! — and there’s nothing the matter with
Sharly ? ”
“ I thought we had dismissed the subject, Miss Lis
com?”
“Just as you please; but what if I can prove every
word I’ve said ? Will you accuse me of lying then ?”
Delia fanned herself with the oak bough, and looked
over-heated; but Helen’s face, under the antique bon
net, grew white with a nameless dread.
“ Come now, Helen, drop a little of your dignity, and
let’s talk together confidentially. Can’t you put faith
in me when I tell you the poor little thing is dead in
love with Morris Lynde, or do you want me to prove
it?”
“ I have already told you it is a mistake, an impossi
bility,” said Helen, steadily, for she knew the least
quaver of the voice would betray her to the sharp-
witted Delia.
“ I think you might believe my word, Helen Asbury
— I’m sorry you won’t; but if you demand proof, here
it is,” said she, taking a paper from her pocket, and
passing it, with a subdued sparkle of the eye, to Helen,
“It is directed to you. Read it.”
Then, with surprising tact, Delia withdrew to another


SHARLY’S SECRET.
tree, four or five yards away, and pretended to pick
moss. She had, after all, a little womanly delicacy, and
perhaps some pity for the distress she knew Helen was
about to suffer.
The paper was a half sheet foolscap, folded, ready for
an envelope, and the handwriting was Sharly’s. Helen
stared at it spellbound. It did not seem as if she read,
but as if the words spoke aloud in her ear, —
“ To my Sister : Ah, my sister, my sister! Some
times I think I must tell you my heart is just breaking
— but what would you care? Would you help me?
Eyes have you, but see not; ears have you, but hear
not, or you would know by this time that it is I he
loves — and not you. I saw in the first place that you
had appropriated him ; you took it all for granted, and
so did I — upon my word and honor, I did. I never flirt
ed with him ; I was very careful about that.. But there
are some things one can’t help feeling, and some things
one can’t help knowing; and I found it all out after
a while, and so did he. You would not blame me if
you knew what Mr. has said to me, and you
wouldn’t blame him either. Hot that he — But you
never will know, for I shall not have the courage to tell
you. You are standing between me and the sun, but
you won’t go away. You are selfish, and that is why
you don’t see things as they are. Now I shall tear this
up, and you will be none the wiser, for I can’t let you
look into my heart.”
The loon screamed again, and a farmer’s wife on the
other side of the pond blew a horn to call the work
men to dinner. Helen heard nothing; she was still


236
OUR HELEN.
reading. It might have been five minutes that she sat
without moving; then she rose, and deliberately walked
over to Delia.
“Where did you find this bit of nonsense?”
Delia looked up amazed at such coolness.
“I found it on Miss O’Neil’s entry floor, yesterday
noon.”
“Did Miss O’Neil see it?”
“ No ; I presume Sharly had just dropped it out of
her pocket. She had been in to carry a dish of soup.”
“ Have you showed it to any one but me ? ”
“Helen Asbury, what sort of person do you take me
for? Do you think I’d want to expose that poor child’s
weakness to the world? No, I have not showed it to
any one else, and should not have showed it to you, if
you had been civil enough to believe me without it!”
“Thank you, Miss Liscom. You have meant to be
kind, and I do thank you very much. I am afraid I
have been rude.”
She extended her hand, and Delia grasped it with
ready forgiveness.
“You see this is something Sharly must have scrib
bled for amusement; and she would be dreadfully
ashamed if she knew any one had seen it. You will
never speak of it, Miss Liscom ; do promise you never
will.”
“ Of course not; you may depend upon me,” said
Delia, so much overawed by a certain something in
Helen’s manner that she dared not say another word,
though she had almost hoped to be called on for advice
and condolence, and was chagrined to find that both
were unneeded.


SHA ELY'S SECRET.
237
Had the girl no feeling? If she had any, and could
brave it out like this, she was one of a thousand.
“ She is sort of stunned, and doesn’t take the sense of
it yet,” mused Delia ; “but she thinks more of that bit
of paper than she pretends to, else why didn’t she tear
it up instead of hiding it in her bosom? I declare, for
my part, I’d give a cookie to know how Mr. Lynde
stands affected! Needn’t tell me Sharly was the one
he meant when he wrote that letter to Mrs. Asbury, and
said, ‘ The desire of my heart is not yet granted.’ I’d
give anything if I hadn’t come across that sentence, for
it has worried me ’most to death, and there’s no pros
pect of my ever being any the wiser. Only seems as
if it couldn’t be me, or he would have spoken before
now.”
The sail-boat was coming back. Presently there was
a sound of laughter and merry voices, as the draggled
party wound slowly up the bank, followed by two fish
ermen bearing the result of the morning’s work — the
ponderous fishes, as Mr. Hackett called them — in a
bushel basket.
Then Helen and Delia heard how Mr. Lynde had
caught more fish than any one else; how Eleonora Jones
had screamed “a nibble! a nibble! ” more than fifty times,
and finally secured a prize in the shape of a smoked
herring, which Mr. Hackett wouldn’t own he had fast
ened to her hook; how Judith Willard had lost her
ring in the pond, and Sharly had made a sensation by
landing an eel as big as a sea-serpent.
The bare recollection of it was too much for Sharly’s
nerves, and she hung her lily-crowned head, and clung
to Mr. Lynde with jwetty little terrors, while the story
was told.


238
OUR HELEN.
Helen listened to everything, and smiled indulgently
upon Sharly ; but after the talking was mostly over, and
the serious business of frying and stewing had begun,
she tilted her comical bonnet over her eyes, stood up
white and still, and gazed from Sharly to Mr. Lynde, as
if she would read their souls.
Miss Liscom regretted, for once in her life, her famous
skill in chowder-making, for she wanted to linger near
the interesting group, and take notes of their behavior.
But as she bent over the stone fireplace, watching pork
and potatoes, she could catch a sentence now and then
from the leading characters in the drama.
“ Why, Helen,” remarked Mr. Lynde, “ your eyes are
the eyes of the gazelle when she is troubled about her
little ones, to quote from the Arabs. Have you and
Miss Liscom been telling ghost stories — or what’s the
matter ? ”
“ Only mourning for the fishes, Morris. Every one
of those little fishes expected to become a whale, poor
thing! ”
“ Well, what if he did ? It was a dream he had no
right to indulge in, and he was sure to be disappointed
sooner or later.”
“ Dear me! ” said Sharly, “ what a pity dreams can’t
be realized — don’t you think so, Mr. Hackett ? ”
“ Some dreams — yes.”
“ Helen looks as if she had a contrary opinion,” said
Mr. Lynde. “What were you going to say, Helen?”
“I was not going to say anything; I was only think
ing dreams are cruel things sometimes. I like the bald,
simple truth a great deal better.”
“I know it,” said Sharly; “we’ve got one looking-


SHARLVS SECRET.
239
glass in the hcmse that flatters, and she won’t go near
it. O, Morris, will you please see if you can’t do some
thing to my parasol ? It keeps shutting up as fast as I
open it.”
“Good by,” said Helen ; “I’m going to help set the
table.”
Delia watched her moving about very quietly, taking
pies, cakes, bread, and joarcels of sugar, salt, and pepper
out of the baskets, while young Mrs. Willard, Judith,
and Margaret Hinsdale laid the damask table-cloths,
and placed the dishes. It was of no use trying to meet
her eye—-it was always averted; but at dinner Delia
observed that she sat beside Mr. Jones, made wrong
answers to his questions, ate little, and looked across
the table continually at Sharly and Mr. Lynde. She
was secured from all eyes but Delia’s, for hungry people
at a picnic have no time to speculate on the workings
of other people’s minds.
Mr. Lynde scarcely glanced at Helen, for, placed be
tween Miss Jones and Sharly, he had all he could do
to keep the young nymphs supplied with coffee and
edibles. And then, going home, he happened to sit at
one end of the hay-rack, and Helen at the other; and
Sharly — by his side — sang so sweetly all through the
pine woods, and across the plains, that nobody felt like
talking; and if Helen was more silent than usual, no
body remarked it but Delia, and the ever attentive and
gallant Mr. Jones.
Mr. Hackett had a surprise for the party which he
kept till the very last.— it was Judith’s lost ring. He
had marked at the time the precise spot where it fell,
close by the shore, had seen.it lying glittering in the


240
OUR HELEN.
sun, though no one else perceived it, and had gone back
quietly, dived in and secured it, and now presented it
to Judith, with great solemnity, on the point of her
parasol.
Of course there was much laughing and marvelling;
and though nobody uttered a single jest, everybody
secretly thought the finding of the ring was ominous.
On the whole, it had been a jolly fishing party.
“I declare I never had so good a time in my life,”
said Sharly, as Morris helped her out of the hay-rack.


HELEN'S CONFLICT.
241
CHAPTER XXV.
Helen’s conflict.
HERE were callers at the Asburys, coming and
going, one after another, till tea-time, and it was
seven o’clock before Helen could venture to be alone.
Then she walked slowly, very slowly, up stairs, as if
the overwhelming desire she felt to rush away from,
the whole world must be kept in check, or some one
would divine how she suffered.
“ Did you have a first-rate time, Helen ? ” called out
Thurzy from the dark passage, where she stood fasten
ing a scarlet ribbon in her hair. “ I heard the curious-
est story yesterday about Morris Lynde. You couldn’t
guess what it was if you should suffer.”
Helen fairly shivered. If she could only have reached
her own room without this!
“ Somebody said they heard he was engaged to Delia
Liscom. It was Liddy Ann Crane, and she said it just
to see what she could get out of me.”
Helen had gained the door of her chamber, and held
the latch in her hand.
“ But she didn’t get much. I said I couldn’t tell how
that was, but I believed Delia had been paying him
some attention.”
Helen knew she was expected to laugh at this,
16


242
OUR HELEN.
but could not. Why would not everybody let her
alone ?
“ Then Liddy Ann goes to pumping me about you,
but I was amazing ignorant. Of course I can see plain
enough how it stands between you and him; but do
you suppose I’m going round peddling stories to the
neighbors ? ”
“ How things stand between you and him! ”
Helen passed quickly into her room, and shut the
door. Hext moment she regretted that she had not
undeceived Thurzy. It was too late now, but she must
do it to-morrow, in a quiet, matter-of-course way, so that
there should be no further mistakes. Hothing like this
must happen again ; she could not bear it. She seated
herself by the window, and looked out. She had not
“let herself down” yet; she would not think, she
would not feel, for the children might be up at any mo
ment to carry her off bodily : they never could get
through an evening without her.
“ But I cannot go down stairs to-night; I would not
risk myself in that parlor for a thousand worlds !
Doesn’t my head ache ? Yes, I think so — in fact, I am
sure of it; I shall say I must go to bed. I am looking
at the moon now ; that is what I am doing. Is Sharly
really — really — Is that why she shuts herself in her
room so much ? Is that why she laughs and cries ?
Then Dr. Prescott needn’t give her wine of calisaya,
for it won’t help her, poor little thing! Hush, I’m
looking at the moon — that is what I am doing. — Is
that you, Vic? Come in. Ho, dear, I can’t help you
sing, I have a headache and ought to be in bed.”
“ But it isn’t singing. Cousin Morris wants you to
go to walk.”


HELEN'S CONFLICT.
243
“ Not if ray head aches..”
“ Then you can lie on the sofa, you know. We want
you where we can look at you. If you act like Sharly,
and stay off by yourself, we won’t stand it. You never
spoke but twice at supper-time, and Yan noticed it as
much as I did.”
“ Come and kiss me, Yic. You do love sister Helen,
don’t you ? And if you do, don’t tease, but go light
away like a good girl, and give my compliments to
everybody, and tell mother she needn’t come uj:> to see
how I am, for it was only that bonnet that tired me all
out, and I thought I’d just go to bed and get rested.”
Helen dared not see her mother. She was afraid
she might open her heart to her, and it was always a
little uncertain whether she could be trusted. Eyes, or
voice, or manner were apt to betray Mrs. Asbnry, even
when she tried her best to keep a secret. It was a pity,
but it happened to be so with both the people Helen
would have chosen to confide in — with mamma and
Di Cary.
Yic went away muttering, and Helen waited till the
last unwilling footstep had died on the stairs, then rose
and fastened the door. She need no longer bribe her
aching heart to keep the peace ; she would shut out
that German-silver moon, and be quite alone.— But
who was that walking on the bank ? O, it was Morris
and Sharly; who else should it be ? Sharly talking
fast, and raising her eyes from time to time to Morris’s
face, as if asking a question; but he had his hands
folded behind him, and his gaze fixed on the ground.
Once he looked up at her window, and she was glad
there was no lamp lighted, and she could creep into a


244
OUR HELEN.
dark corner unobserved. Why would Sharly persist
in talking? He was thinking, and did not wish to be
disturbed. Helen never spoke to him when he was in
that mood ; but Sharly did not understand him as she
did ; how was it possible ?
It was, maybe, a little odd, but Helen thought of
Morris at this moment as her very own ; and, what was
odder still, she did not recognize the ownership as any
new thing. It had been so all along; they belonged
to each other, and they both knew it, and the idea
that a third person could come between them was sim
ply absurd.
“There, they are walking towards the house now,
and he is looking up to the window again, and Sharly
is gazing into his face.”
The daze was not quite over, and Helen did not be
lieve that story yet: it lacked internal evidence; it
didn’t sound at all like Sharly.
“Delia’s teeth are false, and so is her mouth,” said
Helen, moving restlessly towards the looking-glass, and
beginning to brush her hair; “ and she found me very
easily imposed upon, didn’t she ? But no, to do Delia
justice, she couldn’t and wouldn’t make up such a bold
faced lie as that; besides, it was certainly Sharly’s
writing.”
Helen lighted the lamp now, and taking the crumpled
missive from her bosom, smoothed it, and eagerly
scanned every dreadful word and letter.
“ Ah, my sister, my sister, sometimes I think I must
tell you my heart is just breaking! ”
It was Sharly’s. There was no mistaking that pecu
liar little j, set too high above the line, that swan-necked


HELEN'S CONFLICT.
245
capital E; and, certainly, if Delia Liscom had been ever
so wickedly disposed, she could not have got possession
of Sharly’s gold pen with one broken nib, and made
those little spatters of ink in the middle of the page.
Dear, wretched little Sharly! She had imagined all
this about Morris, and had been foolish enough to com
mit her thoughts to paper, not intending that any liv
ing soul should see what she had written, least of all
Miss Liscom, but her habitual carelessness had brought
the story to light. Helen would have given worlds if
she could have saved her sister from this mortification,
but the deed had been done, and what mercy was to
be expected of Delia now ?
It was not the future exposure, though, that troubled
Helen just now, — it was poor Sharly’s unhappiness.
When you came to think of it, who could wonder she
was interested in Morris, a man so superior to the rest
of his sex ? She must be as insensible as granite if she
could help it. Helen not only excused her, but loved her
all the better for her unspeakable misfortune, for no
body could know so well as she what a blessing the poor
child had prayed for, and missed. Sharly had always
been her especial care, and her heart yearned over her
now with such motherly tenderness that she would
almost have given up Morris for her sake; that is, if
lovers were transferable, “ which fortunately they are
not,” as Helen thought with a secure little smile.
“You would not blame me, if you knew what he
has said to me.” Could it be that Morris— What had
he said? He loved the whole family, and had an affec
tionate way of speaking; but Sharly knew him too
well to be deceived by that. She must mean some-


246
OUR HELEN.
thing more, something different. If she had only
quoted one little sentence ! That agonizing first
doubt which Helen had felt at Medumscott Pond
came back to her again, and with it another doubt
that had never troubled her before.
Surely it was strange, in all her long, happy talks
with Morris, when his eyes seemed so full of tender
meanings, he had not once spoken of love. Hot, that
she had cared for, or expected it, only she did wish
something to hold on by just now, something definite
and sure. He had almost said so many precious things
— he had never quite said anything. Then again she
certainly had thought his manner was rather different
of late, more formal and reserved, though that hardly
expressed it either. Had the change begun since they
came home (she spurned the question, but it would
rise), since he had seen Sharly again ? She did not
know — she could not remember : but there really was
a change, else why should she have thought of it at all?
And what could have, caused it? What was this in
definite, shifting shadow which hung over him? Once
she might have thought it was the memory of that un
known southern lady; but now the idea did not even
occur to her, for she had long ago laid that ghost, and
it would never walk again.
“ There is something, I know there is something —
but it isn’t, it can’t be, Sharly ! ”
She felt an inward conviction of what she said ; but,
after all, what do convictions amount to against facts ?
She knew as well as she knew anything that there was
no congeniality between Morris and Sharly ; but what
of that either ? Hadn’t she heard that congeniality is
for friends, not lovers ?


HELEN'S CONFLICT.
247
“ And Sharly is so beautiful! It seems very strange
that looks should have anything to do with liking,”
thought the poor girl, with a troubled gaze at the glass;
“ but I suppose it has — yes, I really suppose it has —
that is, with men’s liking. And how much Morris has
always admired Sharly! He has been frank enough
certainly, yet I never dreamed of' this ! And noAV she
wants me to go away, for then she thinks she shall be
happy. But where shall I go ? ”
She could only sit there, and listen to the torment
ing thoughts of her brain, as one endures the surgeon’s
knife. Why, it was all so new, the pain and the
capacity for pain ! She had always believed in love,
but O, not in anything unreasonable! She had sup
posed it would come when called for, and be perfectly
orthodox and proper — a sentiment as convenient and
adjustable as the little girl’s doll’s “ hair that takes off
and puts on ; ” but here was something she did not
know what to do with; a tree of forbidden fruit which
she should never, never be able to tear up by the roots !
“Ellie won’t suffer,” said she; but she buried her
face in her hands, and her hands tingled to the finger
tips with shame. Hadn’t she always cried out against
girls who gave their hearts away before they were
asked ?
“ Don’t be sorrowful, darling,” sang Sharly’s exquisite
voice down stairs, accompanied by Morris’s flute—in
admirable accord.
Time passed ; the clock struck ten, and soon after
she heard a chorus of merry “ good nights,” and the
closing of the front door. She could not believe in
that letter yet; she must ask Sharly a few questions


248
OUR HELEN.
first; so, when she heard her coming up stairs, she
unfastened the door and called for her to come in.
Sliarly entered with a smile, thinking of a witty
repartee she-had just given Morris.
“ Why, Helen, you are shockingly pale; shan’t I get
you something ? ”
“Ho. Just look in the glass, and see how your
eyes shine! I only wanted to have a little talk with
you. You don’t seem happy nowadays, Sharly —
not as you were last summer.”
“ Me ? O, I am happy enough.”
But as she spoke, the smile was gone.
“You don’t seem to be happy,” repeated Helen,
watching her closely.
“ What makes you think so ? ”
“Because you stay in your room so much.”
“ Poll! what a queer reason ! ”
“Is it? Well, I only thought there might be some
trouble on your mind that you wanted to tell, but
hadn’t the courage — and I — well I just wanted to say,
‘Don’t be afraid of sister Helen,’ that’s all. There’s
nothing in this world she wouldn’t do for little
Sharly.”
“You’re an old darling,” said Sharly, falling on her
knees, and hiding her head in her sister’s lap. “ I’ve
sometimes thought— But, pshaw! there’s nothing
ails me, only I —I — ”
Then it was all true, and there was something to
tell.
“ Don't be afraid, Sharly.”
It was Helen herself who was afraid. It would be
terrible to her to hear Sharly utter such a confession


HELEN'S CONFLICT.
249
as she had written on that slip of paper; hut she shut
her eyes, and went on, —
“ I would hold out ray right hand to have it out off'
for your sake; so speak, and tell me all about it.
Don’t be afraid ! ”
“ How good you are, Helen. But what makes you
talk so ? I wouldn’t give up anything for your sake,
and why should you for mine ? ”
“ Because I am older and stronger than you, Sbarly,
and because mother put you in my care when she
died.”
Sharly raised her head, and pressed her lips to her
sister’s cheek; but before her face could be seen, she
had veiled it in a golden mist of hair.
“Ah, Helen, the truth is — ” Helen’s heart beat
thick. “ I can’t tell you this, I really can’t, for you
would think I am so foolish,” said Sharly, twisting her
fingers nervously.
“Never; I promise you I never would.”
“But I know you couldn’t help it, Helen.” •
“Try rue, and see.”
“ But I can’t tell you to-night,” said the poor child.
“ Wait a while ; please wait.”
“Forever,” said Helen, her last hope gone.
Delia Liscom was right: the slip of paper was genuine;
and the sooner she went away from home the better.
“Don’t try to tell me, Sharly. I’ve been wrong to
press you so. I don’t want to know a single word
about it: all I want is for you to bid me good night
and go to bed.”
“Well, good night, then,” said Sharly, in a tone of
relief, for the interview had evidently made her uncom-


250
OUR HELEN.
fortable. “0, but I have a message for you from
cousin Morris.”
With what studied indifference she spoke his name!
“ He’s going off with a trouting party to-morrow, and
left his love and good bys to you, for he won’t be
back before midnight, and hopes your head will be
better before he sees you.”
“ He shall not see me,” thought Helen.
For the whole night she lay awake, thinking. This
was the first purely personal trial she had ever known.
Her grief for her father had been shared with mother
and sisters; this heartache was hers alone, and no
other human being had part or lot in the matter. She
could not go to Morris with it, as she had gone with
everything else, though, strangely enough, she half be
lieved that, if she only could go, he would explain the
whole mystery, and set her mind at rest. She was by
no means sure he cared for Sharly. In spite of a thou
sand growing doubts, she still clung to her unreasoning
trust, as girls will. But she said to herself, if it was
possible for him to care for Sharly, she would not
stand in the way; if there was a fickle drop of blood
in his veins, she wanted to know it now. She did not
think there was any magnanimity in her leaving home.
Sharly longed to be rid of her, and that was enough.
It was very fortunate that this situation had offered;
she would not have hesitated to accept it now, if the
school had been in the wilds of Africa. “ Any port in
a storm,” was the cry of her heart.
Mrs. Asbury was shocked, next morning, at Helen’s
wretched looks, and blamed herself for neglect.
“ You have been really ill,” said she, “ and I did not
go to you.”


HELEN'S CONFLICT.
251
“No, not ill, only thinking, and that never agrees
with me,” said Helen, looking at Sharly’s bright face,
and almost believing the whole story must be a horri
ble nightmare.
How she longed to talk with her mother, and ask for
her sympathy and advice!
“I have been debating whether to go to St. Louis
or not. Don’t you suppose I could earn a great deal
more money if I should teach, as well as paint pictures ?”
said she, feeling like a deceitful wretch.
“ O, you mustn’t, we shan’t let you ! ” cried the chil
dren, one after another; and Harebell, taking the whole
thing for granted, began to cry.
“ I did not suppose you thought seriously of it,” said
Mrs. Asbury, surprised. “I hoped we were going to
keep you at home.”
“ I declare it’s downright selfish of you to talk of
such a thing,” said Sharly, pouting; but Helen thought
she looked secretly pleased, nevertheless. The dear
girl did sometimes make affectionate little speeches,
just to save people’s feelings.
“But you won’t decide upon this till you’ve seen
Morris ? ” said Mrs. Asbury.
“ Why not ? Morris has nothing to do with it,
mamma. You understand I must make up my mind
to-day, for if I meet those people in Portland, I shall
have to go to-morrow, and of course I’d rather hurry
away than take all the long journey alone.”
“ Certainly, if you must go at all.”
“Now, let me lay the reasons before you,my friends,
and see what the junto will decide it’s best for me to do.”
She talked very calmly and reasonably— out of the


252
OUR HELEN.
logical side of her brain ; but the children could see by
her face that the die was cast, and at the end of every
sentence they joined in a chorus of unavailing wails.
It was the first time our Helen had ever set up her
own will in direct opposition to that of her sisters,
when they would be made unhappy by such a course;
but she was impelled now by an “inward must,” and
even Sharly’s tears were of no av-ail.
Mrs. Asbury was the first to yield the point.
“ Children,” said she, “ Helen is old enough to decide
for herself, and as she is going because she really thinks
she ought to go, we will not make it harder for her;
we will do all we can to help her off.”
So, before noon it was a settled thing, and the twins
spent two hours cracking oil-nuts and filling a paper
with the “saddlebags,” well salted with their tears.
When Helen went to bid her aunt Marian and Mrs.
Page good by, Mrs. Page said, with neighborly good
will, that Ozem should take her to Poonoosac, for he
was going down next morning early with the last
churning of butter. And Helen, who seemed of late to
have become the victim of adverse fates, said, “ Thank
you, Mrs. Page,” without even looking at Ozem, whom
it was not customary to consider in any other light
than that of a humble instrument.


OZEM’S OBEDIENCE.
253
CHAPTER XXVI.
ozem’s obedience.
“ If all fools wore white caps, we should seem a flock of geese.”
I F Helen had known what was before her, she would
have walked all the Avay to Poonoosac, sooner than
have ridden with Mr. Page. But as she suspected
nothing particularly amiss with his brain beyond the
usual lack of common sense, she considered herself
fortunate to have him for an escort. To be sure, he
was obliged to go an hour earlier than the stage, for
the mornings were warm, and he had a week’s churn
ing of butter in the neat wagon, hidden from view by
a curtain of carriage-cloth; but Helen was glad to go
early, for she dreaded a meeting with Morris.
It was a strange flitting. The good bys had sunk to
her heart, and her eyes were heavy with tears and loss
of sleep, as she drove "with Mr. Page down the broad
village street, saying to herself, —
“ ‘ Ellie won’t suffer.’ If I can’t be happy, there is no
reason why I should not be strong.”
Long before they reached the Liscoms, Helen dis
cerned a man’s figure standing in the doorway, and
kneAV instinctively that it Avas Mr. Lynde.
“Mr. Page,” said she, forcing a laugh, “you’d better


254
OUR HELEN.
drive fast, for if cousin Morris sees us, we shall have to
stop and talk — and I’m tired of good bys.”
Mr. Page would willingly have obeyed, but Helen
had been so long revolving the speech in her mind,
that it came too late, and before he could urge his horse
to better speed, Mr. Lynde had come forth and way
laid them.
“ An early ride, Helen ? ”
“ Yes, Morris; I am going to St. Louis.”
Mr. Lynde gazed at her in utter amazement.
“It is the school I told you of; but I didn’t fairly
decide till yesterday. Good by.”
But good by was of no avail, when he was holding
both her hands, and the horse was standing stock still.
“ The St. Louis school ? ”
“ Yes.”
“ And you didn’t tell me, Helen ? ”
She quietly released one hand, and arranged her veil.
What right had he to put that slight emphasis on the
pronoun me?
“ You went away, you know.”
“ Helen, won’t you look at me ? ”
She could not but raise her eyes then, though his
gaze as it met hers was drawing her heart away from
her control.
“ Helen, this is very stra/nge.”
Mr. Page’s eyes of baby-blue were fixed inquiringly
upon the pair, who seemed to have forgotten his exist
ence entirely.
“I thought I would make as few words as possible,
Morris, that’s all. Don’t you think it is easier to slip
away unceremoniously ? ”
“Ho”


OZEM'S OBEDIENCE.
255
He had reclaimed the wandering hand.
“Well, good by, Morris; you see we are detaining
Mr. Page — and the butter will melt.”
“Beg pardon, but unquestionably we ought to be
going,” said Ozem, gently jerking the reins.
“Helen,” said Mr. Lynde, quite insensible to the
claims of the butter, “I don’t understand one word of
this. All I know is that you will be at the station two
hours before the cars leave. Why won’t you let me
drive you down, by and by, if you must go, and on the
way you can tell me what it all means.”
“O, no, no, no!” cried Helen, in the very words of
the little fly when entreated by the cunning spider.
“ But we will go instantly if you wish to have any
time at Poonoosac.”
“ O, no, no, no ! ” repeated she, with passionate em
phasis ; “ no, thank you, Morris. The butter is melting
every minute. Good by. Please don’t detain us. Go
up to our house, and they’ll tell you all about it. Good
by.”
It was three against one; for by this time the horse
also had waked to proper anxiety about the butter, and
was beginning to move on. Morris was left standing in
the street, gazing after the neat buggy, and wondering
whether there Avere not some other reason, invisible as
the pail of butter, for this singular haste. It Avas not
in the least like Helen to treat an old friend so coldly.
He had offended her; or was it possible that she had
heard— Here his face changed from perplexity to a
look of the keenest annoyance.
“ I meant to tell her myself, but Avas’t man enough,
and noAv she has heard it, and despises me.”


256
OUR HELEN.
. He went at once to Intervale Cottage, but learned
very little beyond the fact that everybody had been
crying.
“ Aunt Katharine, what upon earth does this mean ? ”
“ She was obliged to hurry away to meet those
people. Don’t say a word, Morris; I’m heart-broken
enough already.”
“ What people ? ”
“Why, the Pardees — didn’t she tell you ?”
“She told me nothing. O, yes, now I remember, the
Pardees were teachers. But, aunt Katharine, why did
she go ? ”
Morris and his aunt were standing together in the
front doorway, and his eyes were fixed keenly on her
face; but he was satisfied by her questioning look that
she was not aware of the change in Helen towards him
self.
“ Why, my dear boy, you understand it just as well
as I do. There’s no mystery about it; only I wish she
had let me send word to you this morning, as I sug
gested. I was sure you’d like to drive her to Poonoo-
sac, if you only knew.”
“ She did not honor me so far,” replied Mr. Lynde,
moving the grass with his cane.
“ 0, she thought you Avould be too tired, she said.”
“ Aunt Katharine, I regret her going; I disapprove
of it. It is too much for her.”
“ I fear you are right; but how could I help it, Mor
ris? We need the money, and she could not earn so
much in any other way.”
“ Money,” echoed Morris, impatiently. “ Aunt Kath
arine, I wonder you will continually deny me the pleas-


OZEM'S OBEDIENCE.
257
ure of helping yon. What would a few hundreds, more
or less, signify to me ? Yet every time I allude to such
a thing, you motion me away with both hands.”
“My noble boy, you forget that I have already ac
cepted several presents from you, and my pride hasn’t
been hurt; but with my girls it is quite different. You
can’t blame them for wishing to be independent, can
you ? — when there isn’t the slightest relationship be
tween you ? ”
“ Be careful what you say ! ” called out a sweet young
voice overhead ; “I hear every word ; ” and in another
minute Sharly had floated down stairs, and stood be
fore them like a pink morning-glory.
It was not in the heart of man to behold such a vis
ion of loveliness without smiling upon it, and I do not
for my part indorse the cross-grained remarks made by
Thurzy, as she afterwards saw the cousins walking to
gether about the yard, with the morning sun shining
on their fair heads.
“Well, Sister Page, I wouldn’t have believed it of
him; but he’s a male cokwette ! ”
Mrs. Page looked mystified.
“ Warn’t it always your opinion that he was after
our Helen ?”
“Yes, I must say I have thought he seemed interest
ed in her.”
“ So’ve I; and I guess Helen did, too. But look now,
ain’t he one that’s dreadful easy consoled?”
“He’s only talking to Sharly — the little guileless
thing.”
“ She ain’t a mite more free from guile than you or
I be.”
17


258
O UR HELEN.
“But can’t he talk to Sharly ? ”
“0 lor’! ’tain’t that. You see I kind o’joked Helen
about him the other night, in a roundabout way, and
she turned as red as fire, and says she, ‘ Thurzy,’ says
she, ‘ don’t harbor such a thought for a moment. Mor
ris and I are friends — nothing more.’ ‘ But you will
be more,’ says I. ‘ No, never,’ says she, just as serious
as you please. I don’t suppose she had an idea how
she looked then; but she had turned as white as marble,
and every mite of the sparkle had died out of her eyes.
Thinks I to myself, ‘I’ll never plague you about him
again, you dear angel creetur.’ He’s hurt her feelings
some way, you may depend upon that, Sister Page.
And here he is looking as innocent as a kitten, and
flirting with Sharly 1 Men don’t mind such things,
Sister Page; I believe, for my part, the conscience is
feminine.”
While Thurzy was thus kneading her indignation
into a loaf of hard gingerbread, Helen, Mr. Page, and
the all-important butter were wending their dusty way
to Poonoosac.
Mr. Page had already cleared his throat several times
nervously, and as Helen turned towards him, she per
ceived that he seemed painfully embarrassed.
“ How is Mrs. Page this morning ?” asked she, rous
ing herself.
“ Ma’am? O, very well, I thank you, ma’am,” mum
bled Ozem; “ I mean sick — I mean indisposed, you
know.”
“No worse than usual, I hope, Mr. Page? ”
“O, no, ma’am ; a great deal better — much better,”
said Mr. Page, with a laugh as dry and mirthless as


OZEM’S OBEDIENCE.
259
the popping of corn; “ that is, I should say worse —
that’s what I set out to say — worse, and more frequent
— seems if.”
A deep crimson was spreading over his rosebud com
plexion, and the very reins in his hands trembled.
“There must be a last time, Helen, and I am beginning
to be afraid she may actually die one of these days.”
“ It is barely possible,” Helen could not help saying,
roguishly; “ but I am sure you have every reason to be
prepared for it; and there is this consolation, Mr. Page,
you have always been a kind husband.”
“Well, now, that’s very good of you — seems if,”
stammered the poor man, his whiskers fading to a pink
ish white in the intense glow of his face ; “ and she says
— she says — she told me, you know — ”
Helen waited a reasonable time, but did not hear
what Dorcas had told.
“ Is it anything she wishes you to do ? ”
“ Yes — O, yes; but I didn’t know — it ain’t custom
ary— ” Ozem wiped his brow.
“Is it something new for her cough ? ”
“ O, no! ” gasped Mr. Page, “ she’s got a chest full of
medicine, as it were. Calico was what she named this
morning; but I know I shouldn’t suit her.”
“ He wants me to help him buy her a dress,” thought
Helen, remembering that Mrs. Page never ventured as
far as Poonoosac, yet was extremely fastidious as to
shades and qualities of goods. “Of course that’s what
the man means; but I wonder if he will be able to
say it?”
“ I’ve had an idee put into my head,” began Mr. Page
again, with a snap> of the whip which urged his steed


260
OUR HELEN.
forward, and an inadvertent shuffling of the feet which
sent the butter-pail backward ;• “I’ve had an idee put
into my head — ” and stopped short.
“No wonder it bewilders him, if it really is an idea,”
thought Helen.
“ I believe you said you wanted to say something to -
me, Mr. Page?”
Redder yet glowed the fires in Ozem’s cheeks.
“Nothing very particular, Miss Helen,” said he, snap
ping his teeth together audibly.
“ O, then I misunderstood you.”
And she fell into reverie again.
“Miss Helen, won’t you please to wait a minute?’'
gasped Ozem. “Is there any — any— Are you eu
gaged to Mr. Lynde, you know?”
“No,” answered Helen, too much surprised to per
ceive that the question was an impertinence.
“ O, bless me! I didn’t think there was, Miss Helen.
I knew you didn’t — that is to say, I knew you wasn’t.
Very dry weather, ma’am. How’s your mother this
morning ? and how’s her health ? Is Sharly pretty
well? and how’s her health? Very dry weather*
ma’am, but some appearance of rain.”
It was of no use for Helen to try keeping the muscles
of her honest face straight, as Mr. Page uttered these
disjointed sentences in a monotonous voice, like a man
talking in his sleep.
• “Don’t be so incoherent, Mr. Page. I think I can
imagine what your errand is before you give it.”
“Can you, though, Miss Helen ? Well, I can truly
say you’re the quickest-witted girl I ever saw, consider
ing I never said a word to a living soul! I’m very


OZEM'S OBEDIENCE.
261
glad, for it certainly isn’t customary, you know, as I told
Dorkis; and if she hadn’t hetcbelled me into it, seems
if I should certainly wait till she was dead.”
“I'don’t see why you feel this extreme delicacy,”
said Helen, looking puzzled. “I should be really glad
to do you a favor, only I’m afraid I shouldn’t satisfy
Mrs. Page.”
“Yes, you would; I know you would. You’re just
the kind of a wife she wants me to have for all the
world!”
Helen turned, and gazed at her companion in speech
less amazement, but he was carefully looking another
way.
“ There must be a last time,” said he, repeating his
lesson, with his eye fixed on the zenith. “Dorkis says
it’s her wish that I should look round and make my
own selection, and then come to her for approval, for
she says she shall die easier when it’s all arranged, as
it were.”
“ Ozem — Page ! ”
“ She requested me to look round,” went on this semi
bereaved husband, not daring to take breath till he had
finished the business; “and I did, and my choice fell
upon you. And as you are going away to be gone
some months, I thought I’d name it to you, so you could
be thinking it over, for she’s liable to go sudden, and
you won’t be here ; but I don’t ask for any answer now.
There ain’t any hurry, you know — not as I know of—
not yet — seems if”
“Do you suppose I shall sit here and listen to this,
sir?”
“ O, wait a minute, ma’am — wait a minute! ” ex-


262
OUR HELEN.
claimed Ozem, startled by her springing forward and
seizing the reins. “I didn’t mean the least harm. It
was she that put the idea into my head — it was Dorkis
that did it.”
“Ozem—Page!” cried Helen, controlling a .wild
desire to laugh, “ do you know that you are an unprin
cipled, bad man, and if I should tell Judge Davenport,
he could have you put in jail?”
“Goodness sakes, Miss Helen! what have I said to
stir you up so ? And you helped me along, or I shouldn’t
have durst to say it.”
The whiskers had returned to their original hue, and
even more, for Ozem’s face was ashy pale.
“ Goodness sakes alive, ma’am, you didn’t think I
wanted to marry you while Dorkis is alive, I hope! ”
“ Stop the horse, Mr. Page! — now, this minute! ”
“ Why, we haven’t got there yet, ma’am,” faltered
the poor culprit, in a terror of agony and remorse. “ I
wish I could make you look at it in the right light,
ma’am.”
Helen secured the reins from his trembling hands,
turned the wagon half way round, and prepared for a
spring.
“ Shall I render you some assistance, ma’am ?”
He might have had a floating vision of a sort of pul
ley, or inclined plane, by which to let her down, but
sat quite motionless till she had fairly alighted ; and
then, with a deadly sober face, and eyes that seemed to
be looking straight into his own grave, he drove on
furiously, quite regardless of the delicately-stamped
butter.
Helen had two whole miles to walk. It was warm


OZEM'S OBEDIENCE.
268
and dusty; and she stopped so often to give way to
one of those uncontrollable fits of laughter known only
to young people not far from the “ giggling age,” that
the Poonoosac stage overtook her before she had
reached the depot. It was unfortunate, for the passen
gers — mainly Quinnebasset people, or strangers who
had boarded so long in the village as to seem like old
acquaintances — had a full view of her dusty figure, and
she met more than one glance of recognition and sur
prise, cast back upon her from the coach-window. She
felt a little humiliated at this, and rather nervous when
obliged to go out upon the platform to identify the two
trunks the stage had brought for her. Of course Mr.
Page was not there to procure either checks or tickets,
and she must manage for herself. It was a new expe
rience, for it so happened that she had never travelled
alone before in her life.
“ Good morning, Miss Asbury.” “ Good morning,
Miss Helen,” said one voice after another, till it seemed
as if half Quinnebasset was at her elbow. She was not
going alone, after all.
“ O dear! ” thought she, her heart full of both laugh
ter and tears, as the gallant Pitkin Jones appropriated
her to himself, on the shady side of the car, and began
to make profuse apologies for not attending to her
trunks, though he had the baggage and final destina
tion of at least five other lone females on his mind.
“ O dear! if I could only be let alone to laugh and
cry it out by myself!”


264
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XXVII.
AT ST. LOUIS.
“How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through an
other man’s eyes.” — Shakespeare.
St. Louis, Sept. 3.
D EAR HOME PEOPLE: Thanks for your de
spatch yesterday in answer to mine. You know
that I am here safely; and now I’il tell you a few par
ticulars.
We were five days on the way, and Mr. and Mrs.
Pardee were very kind, but so deeply in love that I
verily believe I might have slipped out of the cars “ at
any station on the line,” and I should not have been
missed. At Albany we took in another teacher, who
is the wisest woman I ever beheld. She began in
stantly to talk Huxley’and Spenser, and evolution and
protoplasm, and asked me if I was interested in “molec
ular action?” I told her “No; it was as blind to mo
as the animal it was named for.” It was a joke, for of
course I know what molecular means, after all the sci
ence we’ve been reading this summer; but Miss Poin
dexter thought I was in earnest, and peered at me
through her intellectual blue spectacles as if I were an
“ evolving ” worm, without even the rudiments. of


AT ST. LOUIS.
265
brains. She speaks all the live languages, and most
of the dead ones, wears her hair in short twists that
haven’t evolution enough to curl more than half-way
round, is very stiff and pretty, glistens like a silver
poplar in a new Japanese silk — but, O dear! she is so
learned! Why is it that gazing over spectacle-riins
gives one sucli a look of wisdom? She must have
cracked the great nut of the world long ago, and picked
out the meat; but she isn’t so very old — only twenty-
eight, perhaps.
“So you teach drawing?” said she. “I suppose it
requires very little brain-force, but it is something I
have never learned. I have a head for the sciences —
not for the arts.”
“ What do you teach ? ” asked I, quite overawed.
“ Ancient history, Greek literature, and geology.”
I wondered she should try to keep up a conversation
with me, but she did; she talked incessantly. At the
end of the second day I understood it.
“You must think I am very social, but the truth
is, neVer yet have I found any one so stupid or so
ignorant that I could not learn something from con
versing with them,” said she.
“ Thank you, Miss Poindexter,” said I, and I had a
feeling of humble gratitude such as that little mouse
must have had when he gnawed the net, and set the
noble lion free. Then she went on to question me
about the State of Maine, but had “evolved an idea
of it out of her own consciousness,” which was very
disagreeable indeed. It was so benighted, she said.
No books worth reading; no schools worth mention
ing. Of course the people were illiterate; and what


266
OUR HELEN.
could we have there to eat ? She talked, and she talked,
and she talked, while I grew angrier every minute, and
cut my answers as short as I could.
“You appear to he tired,” said the learned lady.
“ Excuse me, Miss Poindexter, I am only tired of
hearing my native state berated.”
“ You don’t mean to say you have that sort of sensi
tiveness, MissAsburv? blow, that is really too nar
row! Why, I am broad as the universe,” said she,
waving her stiff little hands. “ You may say what you
like of New York — that is my native state.”
I told her I was greatly obliged, but had only
lived in New York two years, and couldn’t be sup
posed to know much about it. (That’s a joke! She
was never in Maine !)
Well, we reached St. Louis at noon yesterday. I
should like it better without the dust, but I mean to be
“broad,” and not mind trifles. Mr. De Witt, the prin
cipal of the seminary, called on me at once. He is very
gentlemanly, and did not frighten me at all. He says
the school is flourishing, but I have not seen it yet;
shall go in Monday morning. There are six teachers
now, and one hundred and fifty pupils — more than the
usual number; and I cannot board with the principal’s
family as I expected. But I have no reason to find
fault with the place provided ; it is far more elegant
than I had a right to look for. Mr. De Witt would not
allow his teachers to have second-rate board, but he^,
manages the terms to suit himself, as the landlady, Mrs.
Tasker, is greatly indebted to him for many favors.
She has seen better days, and has saved from the wreck
a large quantity of silver; and Miss Poindexter as-


AT ST. LOUIS.
267
sures me it is genuine — cake-basket, ice-pitcher, and
all; but I’m so “ narrow ” that I don’t believe it.
Miss Poindexter is to board here too. Rejoice with
me, for my mind is in a fair way to become evolved to
a “beautiful unfolding.”
Love untold to every soul of you; and tell cousin
Morris I will answer his letter when my head stops
spinning. Good by.
Helen.
The message to cousin Morris was added just before
she dropped the letter into the mail, for a note had
come from him, saying,—
“ My precious Helen, have I done anything to offend
you? Tell me at once ; I cannot bear this suspense.”
Then Helen sat down to think.
“ There, wasn’t that doing pretty well ? No tears
on the paper, and my hand never once trembled. Mor
ris will ask, ‘ Have you heard from Helen ? ’ and they
will show him the letter; but he’ll be none the wiser
regarding my state of mind — not he. Morris Lynde,
I impeach you for high trifling! You trifled with me
— you certainly did! Hush! what am I saying? I
look at it in so many lights that I get confused. He
meant no wrong; it was I that was blind, and I should
have been blind to this day, if Delia Liscom hadn’t
helped me with her quizzing-glass. Delia, I thank you!
I’m not going to ‘eat my heart’ for any man, more par
ticularly my sister’s lover! I’ll write him by and by,
-when I get ready, and tell him I am not offended —
how could he have fancied such a thing? I only wished
to save him the trouble of taking me to Poonoosac,


268
OUR HELEN.
when Mr. Page was going, and had offered me a ride.
Poor, demented Mr. Page! I’ll write like a good,
friendly icicle, »if there is such a thing. No, that
wouldn’t do; he would detect the change in a moment
— and he mustn’t, he mustn’t! Ah me! what has be
come of my enthusiasm, my interest in life? Nothing
seems worth while now ; but I must make believe I
care, and by and by perhaps I shall care. But I do
hate shams. There, now, there’s that rose — it has
been standing in that vase all day, making believe
smile. See, it expresses what it doesn’t feel —a sense
of beauty and content. ‘Aren’t you tired of keeping
up appearances, ma’am?”’
And Helen flung the rose out of the window. Then
she took up her pen again, and wrote out the whole
state of the case to her bosom friend, beginning,
“Something has happened to me, Di.”
Did she mean to send the letter across the ocean, at
the risk of its falling into papa Cary’s hands? No;
she had fancied at the moment that she would send it;
but second thought told her this was unwise. It was
a relief to free her mind to Di, even though she de
stroyed the letter afterwards. It was not the first time
she had done such a thing, and it would not be the last.
Sympathy is sweet; but there are some troubles which
are best borne alone.
“ Life hath sorrows, which, unspoken,
The resolved heart may dare;
But have words the silence broken,
Broken is the strength to bear.”
She wrote it all — put her whole heart into it; then


AT ST. LOUIS.
269
deliberately tore the four sheets into inch pieces, and
stuffed them into the “ morning-glory stove.”
This was the letter she really sent a few days after
wards : —
Dear Di: Thanks for yours of the 8th. Now I’ll
make a safety-valve of you, as usual, and tell you the
disagreeable things which I don’t like to write to home
friends.
Firstly, this is a genteel boarding-house, and my new
alpaca looks poor-relations-y, sweeping against the fine
dresses that appear in the dining-room.
Secondly, the food is so rich that I’ve already had
two sick headaches and a half. This is a new fault in
a boarding-house, and I don’t understand it, for there
are signs of rigid economy in various other respects;
and Mrs. Tasker has those little twinkling eyes that
seem to be looking for money. She is half English
and half French, and her table is neither one nor the
other. What Avould I give for some of Thurzy’s yeast
bread ? Do you like little baby pigs half baked, and
sprinkled with sweet marjoram and thyme? I don’t.
If I had the heart to make a pun, I should say I wished
piggy-wiggy could have had the “ time ” given him
while he Avas in the oven, for then he might have come
out broAvn instead of white. Do you like things hot
Avith spices, and at the same time so fresh that no
amount of salt can season them? Nor I, either. You
know Avhat the schoolboy said about salt: “ It is one
of those things that if you leave ’em out, things don’t
taste good.”
Thirdly, I don’t fancy Mrs. Tasker. She thinks too


270
OUR HELEN.
much of outside appearances, I judge. Isn’t it queer
that the adverb oftenest on her lips is “ seemingly,” or
“apparently”?
Fourthly, Miss Poindexter rooms with me. A very
elevating and instructive companion; - but she will
evolve me to death with her learned talk, talk, talk;
and she puts cade oil on her head at night, that seems
to my uneducated nose precisely like tar. But how can
I get away from her ? for she came before I did, and it
was very “ broad ” in her to accept a room-mate at all,
more especially one from the wilds of Maine ! I can’t
say a word to Mrs. Tasker, for not only is the house
overflowing, but she “ seemingly ” looks on Miss Poin
dexter as n superior being — and so do I myself; in
deed, that is my chief objection to her.
As for my class, I like it very well, and try to put my
whole heart into it; but I am downright homesick, and
have to work every minute out of school to keep my
courage up. Work! — what a blessing it is! When
Adam wiped his forehead the first time before eating
his bread, I just wonder if he didn’t feel a little satis
faction in it. And I tell you I’ve been thinking, if
everybody were happy in this world, there wouldn’t be
so much work done. Did you ever think of that?
And now I come to the “ strictly confidential,” which
I’ve been dreading all the while. You ask me what I
think of Mr. Salloway. I think if the Lord had meant
him to marry Diantha Cary, he would have made him
worthy of her. 0, don’t hesitate a moment. Cast him
away from you at once and forever. You say you can’t.
Yes, you can. You say I have never loved, and don’t
know how to pity you. Well, dear, I can guess it is


AT ST. LOUIS.
271
liai’d. I suppose we women were all made alike, weren’t
we ?— made to care more for being loved than for any
thing else in the world? And when this sort of idola
try creeps into the heart, it is like tearing up a strong
tree by the roots, to get it out. But, Di, with God’s
help you can do it; really, you must, you must! Life is
hard, O, it is so hard! If there is anything particularly
good, anything we desire with our whole hearts, it is
certain that we mustn’t have it. Maybe you’ll think
this is morbid, owing to pound cake; but if I’d eaten
toasted cheese and mince pie, I should have said the
same. Life is hard; but we must brace ourselves up
to bear it. Di, forgive me for saying it, but it is debas
ing to love an unprincipled man —it is wicked, and I
shan’t let you do it. Think of something else ; that’s
the way I should manage if I had any trouble to throw
off. Look at all the wonders, and keep yourself tired
and busy.
There, I’ve finished my preachment, and, as uncle
Charles says before dismissing the congregation, “ I
leave the subject with you.”
And now for the other confidential crumb. You
hinted strange things in your letter, Di. What have
you ever seen, or what have I said or written, that
could make you suspect there was more than a cousinly
friendship between Morris Lynde and myself? For
there is not — there never was, there never will be. I
may tell you of his engagement, one of these days, to
some one you have heard of, so you may prepare for a
surprise. For my part, I shall never marry, as I think
I have said to you before. Peojfie can live worthy lives
without love, Di, — don’t you believe it ? Come and


272
OUR HELEN.
see me after I have earned a snug little fortune by my
pencil and brush. Como and see me pour out tea for my
nephews and nieces; and be sure you bring your bus-
band with you, for I shall want to hear you say that
he whispered to yon, “Pity that woman never mar
ried, she is such a capital cook!”
There, I’ve wasted too much time on nonsense, and
must go to work on my picture. It is ten o’clock at
night, but I can paint very -well by gas-light; and for
tunately it doesn’t disturb Miss Poindexter, who likes
to sit up even longer than I do, improving her mind, to
say nothing of the time it takes to cade her head, and
mummify it in silk bandages.
Good by, dear. I direct to Lausanne, Suisae Porte
Restante, hojfing you will receive this letter some time.
Think of me now and then, when you see castles
and pictures. Adieu.
Helen.
And how fared it all this while with Sharly ? Weeks
passed before Helen heard anything from her, except
bits of talk in her mother’s letters, written with that
same “spattering” gold pen, about nothing in particu
lar; but one day there came a confidential scrap.
“ What would you think, dearest sistei’, if your little
Sharly should be l'eally and truly engaged? Tell me,
— are you perfectly willing? Am I too young? We
can’t be quite settled and happy till we know our Helen
gives her consent! ”
Helen immediately replied,


AT ST. LOUIS.
273
“Yes, darling; whatever makes you happy, will
make me happy, too. Write at once, and tell me all
about it.”
Then she dropped her pen, saying to herself, —
“It is coming. I did not think it would be so soon.
Ache on, poor heart! nobody minds you.—JBeg par
don, Miss Poindexter; what were you saying about
cosmic force ? ”
“ I was merely speaking of the absurdity of prayer,
and alluding to Professor Tyndall’s state of mind when
he was on the Alps.”
“Well, I’m glad I didn’t hear you, then, for I de
voutly believe in a heavenly Father, for my part. Why,
if I didn’t, Miss Pointdexter, I should cry out with
horror, and I’m sure I wouldn’t try to live ! ”
“ She’s a very handsome girl when she is roused,”
thought the teacher of geology, as Helen walked out
of the room ; “ pity she’s so narrow.”
Ah, but Helen needed all her “narrowness” just
now. She was at the age when we consider our own
personal happiness of the first importance; indeed, it
takes the most of us a great while to outgrow that
way of thinking. She was not old enough to know
that —
“ Nothing can be withdrawn from us,
That we have any need to keep,”
for she thought she did need this thing that was with
drawn. She only knew that her sky had grown black,
and she supposed, as all young people do, that her sun
had gone down forever. What could help her in this
18


274
OUR HELEN.
strait bat to fold her hands and say, during that long
night,—
“ Thy will be done, though in my own undoing ” ?
She did say it, and it soothed her.
“And if only one of us can be happy, let it be Shar-
]y,” she added, with a rested smile, which all Miss
Poindexter’s philosophy could never have summoned
to her lips.


MYSTIFIED.
275
CHAPTER XXVIII.
MYSTIFIED.
. “ What am I, that I should love her,
But for feeling of the pain ? ”
H ELEN’S letters became less and less frequent,
and the “ home people ” began to wonder a little.
“I don’t understand it,” said Sliarly, every time the
children returned from the post office empty-handed.
“Helen used to write such entertaining letters when
she was away. I wish you could see some I had the
first year she was at boarding-school, Morris; but now
all we get is little scraps scribbled off in a hurry.. I
say it’s too bad ! ”
“ I’m afraid she is over-working,” returned cousin
Morris, who had been more chagrined than he liked to
confess by his own . brief corresiiondence with Helen.
It was useless for him to write her: she either paid no
heed to his letters, or answered them jocosely, just as
she could snatch a moment from school duties. In vain
Mr. Lynde pondered over her dainty little notes; they
were unsatisfactory in the extreme.
“ It is like her to be serio-comic at times, but she is
nevei persistently so. She was always in earnest with
me whenever I wished it; nowit is impossible to draw


276
OUR HELEN.
anything from her but this airy jesting. I can’t imagine
what ails her,” thought the young man, rending over
her second letter for the forty-second time. It never
occurred to him that he could be in any way at fault.
“Auntie,” said he, throwing himself on the sofa be
side Mrs. Asbury, “I want you to help me with you?’
woman’s wit. What keeps Helen at arm’s length from
me? We have had the most delightful friendship, and
there has been no jar that I know of In anybody else
I should call it caprice, but in Helen — ”
“My dear boy,” said his aunt, laying her hand on his
forehead, and looking into his eyes, “ will yon allow me
to answer your question by asking another? Has there
ever been any romance between you and Helen ?”
“ Aunt Katharine ! ”
A girl could not have blushed more beautifully than
he at this home thrust, — but he did not turn away his
eyes. Was there just a grain of truth then in Thurzy’s
sweeping remark, “ Men don’t mind such things; the
conscience is feminine ? ”
“Ho, aunt, never. Friendship is one thing — love
is another.”
Mrs. Asbury looked into the clear eyes which met
hers so frankly, and hesitated before speaking again.
“Morris, there is one thing I do know: love and
friendship lie very near together in some minds. In
deed, I have seen a few highly organized people who
could hardly distinguish the difference. Pardon me,
my boy, but I have fancied it might be so with
you.”
“ Did you ? Hot in regard to our Helen ? ” said the
young man, with another girlish blush.


MYSTIFIED.
277
“Yes, of course in regard to Helen. I could not
think seriously of you and Sharly.”
“ Because she is too much of a child yet ? Is that
your meaning? ”
“ Because I have never supposed there was any affin
ity between you.”
“ Auntie, look at me.”
A needless request, for her eyes had not stirred from
his face.
“ And tell me candidly why you have thought such
a thing of me.”
“ Such a thing as what ? ”
“ That I should aspire towards Helen.”
“Is it then so very strange, Morris? I think, for
my part, there are few girls more lovable.”
“ ‘ White, radiant, spotless, exquisitely pure.’ ”
“Well, what then ? ”
“ I fling the words back at you, aunt Katharine:
‘ what then ? ’ The stars are fair, hut we have no power
to call them down from the sky — have we?”
“You certainly talk like a man in love, Morris?”
“ Do I ? And with Helen, you think ? ”
A new idea, and apparently not a very pleasing one,
flashed across Mrs. Asbury’s mind.
“Sharly is a bewitching little creature, Morris; but,
somehow, that is not what I should have expected.”
“And why not?” said Morris, with averted head,
taking up his aunt’s work-basket, and entangling his
fingers in a skein of silk.
“Because—Ah, give that silk to me — I did not
think it, because there are some thoughts which come
to us naturally, and some which come only when they
are put into our heads.”


278
OUR HELEN.
“ Lucid! So you naturally thought of Helen; but now
you think of Sharly, because the idea has been put into
your head. Pray who put it there, aunt ?”
“Morris, you’re a very provoking boy. I suppose
you must have put it there yourself, for it has certainly
come since I have been talking with you.”
“Yet I don’t remember to have spoken Sharly’s
name.” Another raid upon the work-basket.
“Perhaps not; I don’t know where the suggestion
originated. But, Morris,” and here her voice took
the rising inflection, “Sharly is an extremely fascinat
ing girl, more likely to turn a young man’s head than
Helen is.”
“Auntie, you’re trying to probe me!” said the
nephew, looking up with a roguish smile.
“ I might as well try to probe an artesian well with
a knitting-needle then.”
“Aunt Katharine, Fll be as frank with you as this:
Sharly is a bewildering little fairy, and woe to the
young man whose heart is not encased in triple armor.”
“Ah? Indeed!”
“We men are irresponsible creatures. We can’t
depend upon what we will do,” went on Morris, rising
hastily and overturning the work-basket.
“There now, I will pick them all up. But, aunt
Katharine, you shouldn’t try me too far.”
“I know it.” She stooped and kissed him gravely.
If he really meant all his words seemed to imply, he
had sunk a little in her esteem. What? Prefer
Sharly to Helen ? Why, that was what any common
man would do, and she had given him credit for supe
rior discernment. She did not mean to let him know


MYSTIFIED.
279
she pitied him, but he detected a little jDathos in
her voice.
“Aunt Katharine, you and I have been bantering
long enough. Could you think seriously that I would
offer love to either of your daughters ? ”
“It seems to me very natural,” replied Mrs. Asbury,
looking more than ever puzzled.
“ I’m in a hard place! ” exclaimed Morris, suddenly
beginning to pace the floor. “Aunt Kate, I’m in a
hard place! ”
“Morris, you’re a dark riddle to-day. Wait a mo
ment. You don’t mean — you can’t mean — that f ”
“Yes, just that.”
“ My dear boy! ”
“Do you suppose a man can forget a thing that is
woven into every tissue of his being, that beats with
his heart’s blood ? ”
Here Sharly came into the room, keeping step to an
imaginary waltzing tune ; and so for that time the con
versation ended, not to be resumed unless Mrs. Asbury
should make another special effort. Should she do it ?
Perhaps that old trouble had really taken such deep
hold of him that he would never think of marrying;
or perhaps he might have a growing fancy for Sharly.
She longed to know; yet it was always hard to ap
proach Morris when he chose not to be confidential.
He seemed the most amiable and yielding of mortals,
but she was well aware that he was as “set” as the
famous “shaking stone,” which a child can move, but
fifty men cannot overturn. She decided, on the whole,
to repress her curiosity.
The next news from Helen was more disappointing


280
OUR HELEN.
than ever. Merely a half-sheet of note paper, with the
hastily written words, “ I have so much work to do that
I find very little time to write. "Won’t it answer if I
send a newspaper every week? Let me off, and don’t
scold, my dear, dear friends.”
“What possesses her?” cried the twins. “Not
write?” said Sharly. “What’s a paper? Who cares
for a paper ? ”
“Might get Miss What’s-her-name to be buttoning her
boots for her while she writes, to save time,” suggested
Vic. “This note looks as if ’twas written on a cat’s
back.”
“May I see it?” said Morris, and took it to the
window, for the sun was setting. He was gone so long
that Mrs. Asbury asked with some anxiety, “ What do
you see in it ? ”
“ It is a poor specimen of penmanship,” he replied,
evasively. And when the lamps were lighted, he ex
amined the letter again.
“Now, Morris, do tell us what this means,” said
Sharly, going up to him with such a beseeching look
that a man must have had a heart of stone who could
have helped trying to comfort her. “It just wrings
my heart,” said she, half crying, to think something
may have happened to that dear unselfish girl. If she
is sick she won’t tell of it for fear we shall worry.”
“ But you do worry, and you don’t know yet that
she isn’t perfectly well,” said Morris, with a reassuring
smile, which Mrs. Asbury thought was unnecessarily
tender. “And she may repent and write, after all.”
But she did not. Three days passed, and then
came a St. Louis paper directed by Helen most cer-


MYSTIFIED.
281
tainly, though she had fallen off strangely in her hand
writing. Three days more and another; the wrappers
each time undergoing a keen scrutiny from Mr. Lynde,
who seemed to have some fancied clue to the mystery,
though he did not say what it was.
“Busy ? That’s no excuse for her,” said aunt Marian,
entering inopportunely, one evening, as Morris and
Shariy had their heads together over the third news
paper ; “ you needn’t tell me she couldn’t find time to
write. .That child is sick! It’s a strange climate, and
she went too early. I only wish I had been consulted ! ”
“ I wish you had, auntie,” said Sharly, with a look
of deference which Mrs. Hinsdale found very sweet to
her soul. But why need the child stand with her hand
resting on Mr. Lynde’s arm? She should be obliged
to write Mrs. Asbury a note if he staid in town long.
“Well, Helen is there now, and we all think some
thing is wrong,” continued she. “ Why can’t somebody
go to St. Louis and look into it ? Mr. Lynde, you
might go as well as not.”
“Yes,” replied Mr. Lynde, quietly, “I am going.”
The children gave little screams of delight; but aunt
Marian actually felt chagrined at this prompt acquies
cence.
“Wish I had held my tongue. His mind was made
up before I spoke, but now I shall be held responsible.
And I don’t know whether it’s Helen or Sharly he cares
for; I positively don’t know.”


282
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XXIX.
PENCIL SKETCHES.
“ Sorrow and silence are strong.”
HE fears of the family were well founded. There
was good reason for the sudden dropping off of
Helen’s letters; and, aided by a hint from his past
knowledge of her, Mr. Lynde had truly divined the
trouble.
A few extracts from her letters to Diantha about
this time will explain everything. These letters were
written in pencil, each line folded in with two creases,
like a game of Consequence, or crambo verses. The
words were irregular, but quite legible. She called
them “ Pencil Sketches.”
Dear Di : I am not dead; did you think it?
Have to speak in short gasps, like a person out of
breath: will explain. — You know I had a drawing-
class ; tried to paint a picture, too ; worked evenings;
gaslight, bad for eyes; didn’t notice it; eyes ached;
never minded. Suddenly, on the street, a pain came
fierce and sharp; almost fainted ; went into druggist’s;
called for hartshorn ; sat down; felt better; returned
to boarding-house; no dinner; afraid of light in dining
room ; dropped curtains in chamber.
Oct. 5. (This was the first date.)


PENCIL SKETCHES.
'283
Pain came again; horrible. Bandaged eyes with
scarf. Miss Poindexter suggested “a doctor ;” Mrs-
Tasker echoed “doctor;” Miss Poindexter said “Dr.
Hallock.” (He is studying eyes; engaged to Miss P.;
came from Boston; knows everything.) Then, of
course, Mrs. Tasker said “ Dr. Hallock,” too. I was will
■ ing; they called him in ; all thought I was going
blind.
He came; examined eyes; said lashes irritated them.
I asked “ Why? Always had eyelashes; never been
the least trouble to me before.” He squared his shoul
ders ; looked daggers; said they “ must come out.”
^ “What? Hot eyelashes?” “Yes — half of them.”
“Would that cure the pain ? ” “Yes.” “Well,” said I,
“ I’ll think about it, sir.”
But I didn’t and couldn’t think. “ lie knows,” said
Miss Poindexter. “It seems as if he must know,” said
Mrs. Tasker. But I wasn’t sure of it. Eyes went on
aching; sun went on glaring; blazed through blinds
like a Drummond light.
Doctor came next day; came day after ; kept coming.
Miss Poindexter said I was “ready.” Mrs. Tasker said
I “ seemed to be ready.” Mrs. Kazar, one of the board
ers, told me she knew a case worse than mine cured
by parting with eyelashes., I longed for Dr. Pres
cott; ought to have sent for Mr. DeWitt; didn’t think
of it. Dr. Hallock had brought some chloroform ;
I accidentally caught a sniff; that roused me. “ He
who steals my purse steals trash,” but I won’t part
with my brains. Sat upright; said, “ I’m ready, if you’ll
take away that bottle!” Wasn’t I demented? Yes,
I think so; I always consider and consider, then end
by doing something rash; that’s my way.


284
OUR HELEN.
Doctor took tweezers and began ; nearly killed me;
didn’t care for that; but when he had pulled out
every other winker of my right eyelid, I came to my
senses. “ Stop! ” I cried. “ It is the nerve of my
eye that aches; it isn’t the lashes! Stop, sir, I en
treat ! ”
But he wouldn’t. He was like Shylock. “I’ll have
my bond ; I will not hear thee speak.”
Then I caught his hand, and held it fast; I snatched
away the tweezers. That offended him. I stood my
ground. I had saved one whole eye and half of the
other, but I had lost one friend forever. The doctor
bowed himself out and never returned. I had lost two
friends, for Miss Poindexter followed; I had lost three
friends, for Mrs. Tasker went next.
Oct. 8. — Have combed my hair by sense of feeling;
will resume pencil-sketcli, otherwise letter. It ought
to be as full of dates as a palm-tree. Keejo it for “ take-
up work,” as aunt Filura knits her socks.
Well, here I am with the responsibility of my own
eyes; and most ungrateful eyes do they prove. Never
call them “ faithful ” any more, Di Cary ! Parting with
lashes did more harm than good. Felt cross, and
called Dr. Hallock “ Shylock.” Miss Poindexter had
begun to freeze before, but after that she froze solid.
She is as “ broad as the universe,” and has “ no temper,”
but she hardly speaks, and has taken another room ;
I’m so lonesome; want her now; want to hear her talk,
even if it’s only to twit me of “breaking the laws of
health, and over-using my eyes.” Didn’t she break laws
too? Didn’t she use cheap, small-print German dic
tionary, and stick it almost into the gas-flame ? She


PENCIL SKETCHES.
285
needn’t talk to me! (And, alas, she very seldom
does!)
I’m in dark room, all alone; green shade over eyes;
Mrs. Kazar made the shade. Nobody ever comes near
me but St. Agnes, the cook. She runs in before she
begins to serve the meals ; brings my food, for of course
I can’t appear at table. It tires my eyes even to look
at my plate, and blessed St. Agnes cuts up my meat.
She doesn’t understand the new school stoical philoso
phy, or she wouldn’t do it; she’d leave me alone to
suffer the penalty of a broken law. O, Di, if there wasn’t
anything but cosmic force, and evolution, an 1 molecular
action in this world ! IfGod was only a law-giver and
a law-sustainer, and had shut us up in ourselves to
bear our troubles the best we could, why, we might
as well cut loose and drop it all. But, thank Heaven,
he that made the laws is our Father, and pities us like
children even when we go astray. He converts our
very punishments into blessings. O, Di, I do believe
this, though I often forget it. I am very much like
sister Bumpus, as she described herself last spring —
“ I get religion every once in a while ; but it don’t last
me but a few minutes.”
The girls of my drawing-class have called; nice girls.
I’m ashamed to let them know how keenly I enjoy their
visits ; it seems like begging for more. I even love the
thump of the serub-girl’s broom in the passage, the
dainty tap of Mrs. Tasker’s fingers on the door, for she
makes duty-calls sometimes. But it is only St. Agnes
who asks me to lift my green shade.
“ O, Miss, how white you grow! ” she says; “ you look
like you never saw the sun.”


286
OUR HELEN.
And I haven’t seen it for weeks. It is a great blaz
ing, dazzling, torturing ball of fire. But bow I used to
love it!
- There, Di, now you understand the whole thing.
Class stopped ; picture stopped ; eyes stopped; board
running on. What will be the end, and when ? 0, Thou,
who didst set the rainbow in the sky, give me hope !
I have expected to be well to-morrow, and to-morrow,
and to-morrow; but three weeks of to-morrows haven’t
set Rowley Bowley where he was before. Mr. De Witt
says I ought to see a New York oculist; still he thinks
I can go hack to school in a month. Will wait two
months for me. Has heard of a similar case, and so has
everybody; and everybody suggests a new remedy;
but only one thing has done me any good, and that
is dry earth — a wee bag of it laid on my eyes at
night.
Now, Di, what to do? Can’t travel to Maine blind
fold without any little dog to lead me ; you see I can’t
— don’t you ? I want the dear people at home to know
how it is with me; but it would break their hearts, and
do me no good. Better hear it in silence. Besides,
mother, or somebody else, might start to come after me,
and she mustn’t; can’t afford it. So I dare not divulge,
and have given up writing home, for my handwriting
would betray me in a minute. I send newspapers, and
they scold me for neglecting them. Mrs. Kazar kindly
reads me their letters. — Here St. Agnes brought in my
dinner — oyster-patties heavy with butter, and mince-pie
fairly floating in suet. “0, dear!” said I. And then
I found out the secret of this richness: Mrs. Tasker
thinks such food is more profitable, because the board'


PENCIL SKETCHES.
287
ers can’t eat so much! Magnificent meanness ! I have
sent to beg an allowance of codfish and crackers. I
can’t risk becoming ill.
Well, well, these pencil sketches are rather mixed.
Thought I’d let you know I know it. My intellect isn’t
impaired, ma’am, not in the least. I direct again to
your Paris address, and wait in the patience of hope
for a reply. None of your condolences, Miss Pink; not
a word of ’em! Much as I can do now to keep my
upper lip respectably stiff.
Your aff. friend,
Helen.
(“Aff.” stands for afflicted! )
P. S. I was resolved not to say a word about Mr.
Salloway ; but the pitiful cry in your last letter, “ I
don’t get over it, Helen,” keeps ringing in my ears.
Well, your will is steadfast; that’s the point. No mat
ter, Di, how much the leaves of a tree may tremble, if
the tree itself only stands firm. You’ve said, “I will
not,” and that’s all that can be expected of you yet.
Don’t. suffer any more than you’re really obliged to,
though, for the man doesn’t deserve it. After all, it
isn’t as bad as caring for a really noble, good person,
who doesn’t care for you; do you think it is ? That
would indeed be a calamity, for there would be shame
in it. Your love was not won unsought, so please hold
up your head like a lady. Look at the Parisian won
ders, and report them all to me. I care more for you
than Mr. S. ever did !
P. S. Number Two. I suppose there’s no harm in
telling you that Sharly and cousin Morris are engaged.


288
OUR HELEN.
It is all settled, but they haven’t told mother yet. I
wanted to give you a hint of this before, but was not
quite sure of it myself. It seemed to hang in the bal
ance when I came away. Sharly is wondrous happy;
her pen seems dripping with joy — darling child!
Aren’t you and I glad for her ?
Yours in a “green gloom,”
Helen.


A PLEASANT SURPRISE. 289
CHAPTER XXX. “
PLEASANT SURPRISE.
H ELEN sat alone in her chamber, trying to warm
her benumbed fingers at the morning-glory stove.
“It should be called the evening primrose, for it
never wakes up before night; and this time I believe
it’s really dead,” said she, pushing back her green
shade, and opening the stove-door. “ O, no ; there’s a
breath of life here yet. It reminds me of Delia Lis-
com’s favorite picture — a mass of inky black, with here
and there a red streak.” Helen smiled faintly, but the
recollection of Delia Liscom was not a pleasure, and
she drew down her shade again with the resolute
thought, “ Ellie won’t suffer.”
“If I shiver so in November, what am I going to do
next winter ? Wonder if the trouble isn’t in my heart ?
I tried on principle to freeze up one corner of it before
I left home, and now the whole organ is growing numb.
I’m naturally fond of folks, and folks don’t come near
me. I-like to talk, and there isn’t even a cat to hear
what I say. Think, think, thinking, all day, and all
night. Thinking the same thoughts over and over
tries and hurts your mind, just as it hurts jmur lungs
to breathe exhausted air.- Ah, if I were only at home!
I’d have Vic read to me, and Theresa boil me apple
19


290
OUR HELEN.
dumplings, and baby-boy sit in my lap patting poor
Helen’s cheek. And then the neighbors would drop
in — Hush, Helen Asbury, some one else would drop
in as well as the neighbors. Shut out that picture
instantly! There now, the old heartache is coming
back, just because you forgot your principles, and
stooped to pity yourself. If you can’t b« happy, I
advise you to be strong.”
There was a light tap at the door.
“ A gentleman down stairs would like to see Miss
Asbury,” said the landlady, in apologetic tones, as if
she knew the message was an annoyance, and she was
sorry to deliver it.
“Mr. De Witt, of course.”
“ O, no, a stranger.”
“Did he give his name ? ”
“Ho; he didn’t seem to see the necessity, and I
couldn’t seem to urge it, you know.”
Helen had risen from her chair.
“ How did he look, Mrs. Tasker? ”
“I didn’t see him; I only overheard him talking to
Barbara in the hall; and then I thought I’d come my
self, and find out whether you’d like to have me ask
him up here, or whether you’d go down stairs into the
parlor? ”
“ If there is a good fire there, I think I will go down,
Mrs. Tasker,” said Helen, gathering her shawl about
her shoulders, and groping towards the door.
“Poor, dear soul, it’s too bad; but the girls don’t
seem to get time to take care of your room. And now
I come to look at it, it does appear to need sweeping.
How ashamed I should have felt to have a stranger


A PLEASANT SURPRISE. 291
come into it! Here, dear, give me your hand, and you
needn’t use your eyes in going down stairs.”
Helen took the offered forefinger, and felt like a baby
learning to walk.
“ Dear Mrs. Tasker,” said she, as they reached the
parlor door, “please let me go in alone. I do not wish
to shock any one.”
But the shock had already fallen.
“She is growing blind, sir,” had been Barbara’s reply
to Mr. Lynde, “and the doctor has most put her eyes
out into the bargain.”
This was appalling news to be thrown in a man’s
face at the end of a two thousand miles’journey; and
Mr. Lynde had withdrawn to the back parlor to recov
er himself, after the usual masculine method, by pacing
the floor.
“ Take a seat on the sofa, Miss Asbury, and I’ll go
and find him,” said the obsequious landlady.
Helen sat down with a feeling of unreality, having
had a secret doubt all along whether this visitor were
actually possessed of flesh and blood. But at the
sound of her name, Mr. Lynde immediately came
forward.
“Morris!” cried she, knowing his step, and spring
ing up eagerly from the sofa. “ O, Morris, Morris ! ”
Her first impulse was to throw her arms around his
neck; and she even wondered for a moment why it
should be ■wrong to do it. She had so longed for her
friends! and here was one who stood in place of the
whole family, only dearer and better than all. It was
not that she would have taken what belonged to Shar-
ly; she wanted nothing, claimed nothing; she simply


292
OUR HELEN.
felt how very glad she was that he had come. Mrs.
Tasker hurried out of the room with such a rustle, and
flurry, and clicking of the door-latch, that there was no
mistaking about her going; and Helen and Mr. Lynde
were left to themselves. He could not but see how
welcome he was, and it touched him.
“ Poor Helen, poor child! ” said he, in his tenderest
voice, and put both hands on her shoulders.
Then something — she could not have told what;
either the gladness that is always akin to pain, or the
thought of Sharly coming just as she was quite forgot
ten— shook Helen from head to foot. She broke away
from Mr. Lynde, and sank back upon the sofa. If she
had seen his face then, she would have wondered at
the deep emotion it betrayed; but when he broke the
silence at last, it was by a jest: —
“Well, Helen, I thought you would be glad to see
somebody from the rural districts; but you haven’t
even shaken hands with me yet.”
“O, Morris, how did you happen to come?”
“ A polite question, really! £ How did I happen to
come?’ I will make my apologies in due time; but
first I would like to know how you happened to keep
us all in the dark ? ”
“I have been in the dark myself,” replied Helen,
who had now ceased to tremble, and felt almost at
ease with her cousin.
“Yes, dear, and thought we would not care to know
it,” said Mr. Lynde, in a voice that tried to be stern.
“We are so cold and unfeeling, — mother and all of us,
— that we don’t mind what becomes of a stray lamb
of the flock. Was that what you thought?”


A PLEASANT SURPRISE.
293
“Don’t scold, cousin Morris. It was so dreadful that
I didn’t want to tell anybody till it was well over ; and
now it seems as if it never would be over. 0, dear! ”
The “O, dear,” was a great relief, but it - “ let her
down ” a little, and she began to tremble again.
Mr. Lynde, though extremely anxious to learn the
exact state of the case, repressed all signs of curiosity,
and went on in the same light vein : —
“I see you have buried your eyes like precious
gems, and I shall want you to tell me, by and by, why
you are so chary of them; but first I am going to talk
a little myself. Do you know how long it is since I
have seen you? ”
“ Three months.”
“Three months, three days, and two hours, Mad
emoiselle. I keep an almanac in my heart.”
“Do you? So do I; but my almanac says it has
been half a cycle. Pray tell me, is everybody well ? ”
“ Everybody but Mrs. Page, I believe.” Here Mr.
Lynde bit his lip, and added playfully, “She is in a
drooping, invalid state; not long for this world, unques
tionably.”
In point of fact, Mrs. Page was in a strange and
alarming condition ; but it did not seem either kind or
necessary to tell Helen of it now.
“Don’t be absurd, Moras,” said Helen, with a faint
smile. “ I always know just what to expect of Mrs.
Page; but firstly, how are mother and the baby?”
“ Baby is lively, and your mother is full of business.
She was making a pincushion when I left.”
“A pincushion ? She must be quite at leisure, then.”
“O, no, it was a sofa-pillow; now I remember. And


294
OUR HELEN.
the children are as fresh as roses; but they say they
are pining for our Helen.”
“ What of — Theresa ? ”
Sharly’s name had died unuttered.
“ Theresa is nearly ready to go into the wilderness.
Mr. Bangs’s horse stands at your gate a great deal of
the time, ‘eating post-meat,’ as Miss Bumpus expresses
it; and whenever I see the man take off his hat at the
door, it seems as if he did it to cool his head. Did
you ever see such fiery hair ? He gave Sharly a hand
ful of tracts the other day.”
“Did he? This is the first time you have mentioned
Sharly,” said Helen, folding her hands quietly. “ How
does she look? What is she doing? ”
“She is as beautiful as ever, and sent so many mes
sages that one head can’t contain them all. Has she
written much about herself of late ? ”
“Hot much,” replied Helen, huskily. “ But you can
say it all.”
“What do you wish me to say? You will have to
ask definite questions.”
Helen felt grieved and surprised. Why should he
be so reticent with her? She was ready to hear all,
anything; could he doubt it? But as to asking defi
nite questions, that was something impossible; he
might tell her or not, as he chose.
Mr. Lynde saw by the wavering color in her cheeks
that she was still agitated, and blamed himself for
trying to divert her attention.
“It is almost an impertinence, when the poor girl
can think of nothing but her misfortune. I may as
well speak of it first as last,” he thought.


A PLEASANT SURPRISE.
295
“ Well, Helen, your eyes are like the Southern’ States
— are they? They have set up state sovereignty, and
won’t obey the federal head ? Tell me how it hap
pened, dear child; for, strange as it may seem, I do
really feel interested to know.”
Why did he speak so tenderly, with his whole heart
in his words ? It made it so difficult to answer him at
once! O, it was dreadful that a person should have
such a deluding voice, — a voice that says, “ What I feel
is for you, and only you,” — when the real meaning is
merely brotherly friendship. But Helen was too just
to blame Mr. Lynde for what she believed to be quite
involuntary.
“ I will tell you all I know,” said she, presently. “ It
is the spiritual part of my eye that has gone wrong;
it is a little crazy — that is all.”
“ The nerve, you mean ? And the vision is obscured
somewhat? ”
He Waited breathlessly for the answer.
“ O, no, not at all. I can see better than ever. I
can almost see in the dark.”
“Thank Heaven!” cried Mr. Lynde, springing up,
and swinging his arms with uncontrollable emotion.
“ Why, you did not think I was going blind ? ”
“ By no means. The maid with a streak of coal on
her cheek said something of the sort; but one does
not believe such horrible stories without good proof.”
“ O, it was Barbara, the most tragic girl! ”
“ Helen, I pity you with all my soul; but you won’t
mind my rejoicing a little to find you can see? I
would rather lose my own eyes than have you lose
yours.”


296
OUR HELEN.
“My dear cousin Morris, it is too unearthly good of
you to say that.”
“Is it? I can’t see why. But, Helen, if you will
only drop that word cousin, I will be most grateful.”
He had been the very one to suggest her using it at
first, and Helen could not help thinking how times
change, and men change with them. How he wanted
her to call him brother, of course, and she was about to
do so, but remembered opportunely, that it was hardly
the thing, until he should request it himself; so she
finished the sentence with “Morris” just above her
breath.
“Thank you,” said Mr. Lynde, taking her hand, and
retaining it; “that is better, only I haven’t the slightest
objection to the little adjective of four letters, when
ever it pleases you to use it.— And now, don’t be dis
couraged about your eyes. I fancy they are just as
my father’s were once upon a time; and if so, all you
need is rest and patience. May I look at the poor
things ? ”
“Hot for the world. They are unfit to be seen, for
the fringe is all torn off the curtains.”
Then Helen poured forth the whole story, Mr.
Lynde listening with profound sympathy, till she came
to the loss of the “fringe,” when his indignation knew
no bounds.
“The dastardly knave! The unscrupulous quack!
Is he still at large? Where does he live?”
“O, he can’t give me back my eye-lashes, and it is
of no use wasting breath over him; but I do like to
hear you rave about it, Morris. You can’t imagine
how refreshing it is to have somebody care,” said
Helen, leaning back with a rested look.


A PLEASANT SURPRISE.
“You dear, patient child, how,much you have needed
your friends! ”
“Yes, sadly; I don’t believe I’m very strong-minded,
for I don’t like to bear my troubles alone.”
“I hope not. It is a hard, cold nature that chooses
to stand by itself, like a rock beaten by storms. But,
that is the very point I don’t understand, for you have
borne this trouble alone, and apparently from choice.
Can you tell me the reason, Helen ?”■
Ho; she could tell him only a small part of the
reason.
“You know it would be impossible to travel home
alone with one’s eyes bandaged, Morris.”
“I would have come after you, my dear.”
“You? O, I had no right to expect that; I could
not ask it. And then I thought all the while I should
soon he well, and it was cruel to distress my friends.”
“Helen, you have wounded me deeply. I am not
sure I shall ever forgive you.”
There it was again, that delusive tone which said,
“It is you, and you alone, who were able thus to
wound me; ” when really it only meant a general kind
liness and pity towards any one in trouble. Helen
could not hear it any longer.
“Morris, I want to show you the picture I was
painting when my eyes failed me.. Wait a minute,
and I will go up stairs for it.”
“ Can you really walk about by yourself ? ”
“ O, yes, all over the house. It must have shocked
you to see Mrs. Tasker leading me in, and I meant to
tell you she only did it to show me off,” said Helen,
tripping out of the room almost as lightly as ever, and
returning soon with the picture.


298
OUR HELEN.
It was a tree-covered mountain, sloping down to the
sea, half in shadow, half in a warm burst of sunshine,
with a drift of gray, watery clouds hanging over it,
and blotting out a few of the trees.
“ It is named ‘Solitude,’” said she. “Will you tell
me just what you think of it? ”
“ It is the best thing you have ever done. It was
conceived with a true and loving spirit, and is wrought
with remarkable skill. I did not think you could do
so well, Helen. Those blue-grays and gray-yellows
blend admirably.”
“I am proud to hear you praise me,” said Helen,
half sadly. “ Perhaps I shall never paint another pic
ture, but it helps my self-respect to think I have some
ability. Do you know I have just found out what life
means, Morris ? It means giving up.”
“ Let me count your pulse, Helen; you must be. sick.
I had the same dark view of life two years ago, but it
passed away as I grew better.”
“No,” said Helen, steadily, “this is nothing I shall
forget. You needn’t consider me morbid, for I am not.
I am only beginning to understand that people get
just the discipline they need, and that I need the dis
cipline of giving up, and so it is sent to me.”
“To cure you of selfishness,” said Morris, with a
smile, which would have flattered her too much if she
had seen it.
“Yes, it is all right, for there is nothing I hate so
much as giving up,” said Helen, hastening to change
the conversation. — “Tell me something more about
home, something about the children.”
“Let me see. Bel is teasing to have her hair cut


w\\\\
“She broke away from Mr. Lynde, and sank back upon the sofa.” — Page 292.



A PLEASANT SURPRISE. 299
off; and the twins’ heads look as if they had jumped
into a bramble-bush—the latest style, I suppose; but
you will see them soon for yourself. You are going
home with me, of course.”
“I? O, no, no'; that is not to be thought of,” ex
claimed Helen, hastily; for in her intense preoccupation
this idea had never occurred to her.
But it was the only reasonable course. What else
could she do ? She saw it all in a moment, even
before Mr. Lynde had had time to speak. She knew
how it would be; she must go home, and become the
very thing she loathed and despised — a burden upon
her family. “ It is giving up again,” thought she,
pressing her lips together hard; “ will there ever be
any end to giving up ? ”


800
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XXXI.
JOURNEY HOME.
“ Some say the king is dead, others say he is not; hut for my
part I believe neither the one nor the other.”
“ TTOW kind you are, cousin Morris, and how beau-
XI tiful it is that you can take care of me,” said
Helen, gratefully, as she sat in the cars next day, be
side Mr. Lynde r homeward bound, and closely veiled.
“ Thank you, Helen ; I would not mind going twice
as far for the sake of hearing you say that.”
Helen did not speak again for a minute or two.
There was something in Mr. Lynde’s manner that re
minded her how happy Sharly must be. Of course he
said such things as that to her, only in a different way,
more tenderly if possible. She wondered just how he
did speak to Sharly; she thought she should like to
know.
“ There is going to be sunshine all the way along on
Sharly’s life. I can seem to see the dazzle of it with
my eyes shut. I never shall ‘ stand between her and
the sun’ any more. Dear little Sharly, I’m so glad she
is happy! ”
But the gladness did not seem to be of the ordinary
sort, for it thrilled Helen’s heart with a feeling akin to
pain. It was beautiful to see Sharly enveloped in light;
but she who looked on was shut away by herself in the


JOURNEY HOME.
801
dark. It was all right, and as Helen told herself again
and again, she would not have had it otherwise — only
— well, perhaps she could bear it better if Mr. Lynde
were not quite so kind.
“ Helen, I am very glad you said to me what you did
a little while ago.”
“ What was that ? ”
“ Why, that you liked to have me take care of you.
That, and a few other little words you have spoken
lately, are very precious to me, for they make me hope
we are friends once more.”
“Friends? Were we ever anything but friends?
Why, what can you be thinking about, cousin Morris ? ”
“ O, I think of nothing now ; it’s all far back in the
past; we won’t go hunting up ghosts — will we, Helen ?”
“ But, cousin Morris, you must mean something. One
would think I had been offended with you. With you?
Was ever anything so absurd ?”
It did not occur to Helen that she was speaking to
Mr. Lynde very differently from usual. It was true he
had not yet announced to her his engagement with
Sharly; hut the fact was ner'er out of her mind for a
moment: it changed her whole manner, touching it
with the warmth of a new relationship.
“ Well, Helen, if you don’t remember any ill feeling,
I am sorry to have mentioned it. There was something
odd in your manner just before you went away ; that
was all.”
“ Was there ? ” said Helen, faintly, conscious of blush
ing under the thick veil. — “ Dear me, how can that man
play on his harp when the cars are going at such a rate ?
Do you like that tune, cousin Morris ? ”


302
OUR HELEN.
“Not particularly.”
“Neither do I. It doesn’t tell the truth. It says
life is full of sunshine, and everybody is happy. Some
music, is true, you know, but that isn’t.”
There was a dreariness in Helen’s tone of which she
was quite unaware.
“ My dear, I am afraid you are tired! ”
“ O, no, cousin Morris, not a bit of it. I’ve done
nothing hut rest for ever so long, and now I’m ‘ dread
fully rested,’ like the little boy who went to school, and
sat six hours on a bench.”
Helen was laughing now. “ Did you think some
thing must trouble me, because I said the world wasn’t
all sunshine ? I don’t like the sun nowadays, you
know. I think of taking a trip to Uranus, whei'e they
don’t see him for twenty-three years at a time, and
when they do see him he looks like a large star.”
“ May I go with you and carry a lantern ? ”
“ O, yes, if it is a dark lantern.”
“ Helen,” said Mr. Lynde, after a long pause, during
which he was apparently taking a minute survey of the
bell-rope.
“ No, no, not yet! ” thought the young girl, pressing
her hands together under her cape. “ I am not ready
to hear it yet.”
“ Cousin Morris, is it beautiful, this part of the coun
try through which we are riding ? ”
“ Yes, but you wouldn’t enjoy it, Helen, for it doesn’t
tell the truth any more than that man’s harp over in
the corner. It would be too bright for you to look at,
and part of the brightness is a sort of false sunshine,
made by the yellow leaves.”


JOURNEY HOME.
303
“Yes; but tell me how it looks, please.”
“Well, it looks as if the trees were trying to write
an allegory, and all their wondrous colors were a dream
of heaven.”
“ Beautiful! Is there a river ? ”
“Yes — a sparkling river, and a thirsty island right
in the middle of it, that seems longing to cool itself in
the water. But, Helen —”
“ What sort of trees ? ”
“ Oaks and willows. The willows are less advanced
than the others; they are an olive green.”
“Yes, I know. Willows are the first to leaf out,
and the last to leave off.”
“But, Helen, I began to say to you — ”
“ Something about trees. Pray let me hear some
more.”
“ More! There is one dead tree standing up straight
and still, while all the other trees round it are sunning
themselves. I think it is an oak, and has been blasted
by lightning.”
“Poor oak! it seems a pity it can’t lie down and rest
after it is dead,” said Helen. “ But there, I won’t make
you tell me any more, though it is very good ; it is like
eating the crumbs from a rich man’s table. By the
way,” added she, before Mr. Lynde had- time to speak,
“I’ve often speculated about Lazarus. Seems to me
he might have been just as happy as Dives if he’d
only been thankful enough for the crumbs: did you
ever think of that?”
“ Ho, I never thought of it, but no doubt it is true! ”
“ Because, you know,” continued Helen, “ everybody
can’t be fortunate; whatever you lack somebody else


304
OUR HELEN.
will have; so, on the whole, it’s rather comfortable to
be poor, for then you don’t get more than your share
of the good things.”
“Well said, Helen ! Seems to me it has made you
very, wise to bandage those eyes of yours. An old phi
losopher put his out that he might think more pro
foundly. I wonder if people who sit in darkness do
really see more light than the rest of the world.”
“Ho, they only see into themselves, and there it is
pitch dark,” said Helen, laughing a little ; but as she
said no more, there was a long silence, during which
Mr. Lynde looked at her intently.
“Helen, there is something I would like to say to
you, if you are ready to hear it.”
“ Certainly, O, certainly; but will you please go first
and see if you can get me a drink of water ?”
Like a flower after a breeze has passed over it, Helen
had regained her balance by the time Mr. Lynde re
turned with the water.
“Helen, suppose a man is under a ban, — an inno
cent man, I mean, —has he any right to tell a woman
he loves her ? ”
This was the question he asked, leaning over her as
she drank from his silver trdvelling-cup. It was so
different from what she had expected to hear, that it
startled her, and a few drops of water trickled over the
edge of the cup upon her dress.
“ Under a ban, cousin Morris ? ”
“Yes, I have always wanted you to know that I did
not get an honorable discharge from the army; but it
was a long story, and I was afraid you would not un
derstand.”


JOURNEY HOME. 305
“ And I certainly do not understand,” replied Helen,
her eyes shining through the double veil like cloudy
stars. “ What is an honorable discharge?”
“It is a paper stating that a man has been faithful
to his duty.”
“ Is that all ? I thought it was a sort of medal, like
what you get at school to signify your superiority.”
“By no means. It merely shows that you have
done nothing worthy of censure. Why, Helen, the
stupidest soldier, who contrives to leave the army for
some flimsy excuse, is sure to get his paper,” said Mr.
Lynde, gesticulating with warmth.
“ And you didn’t get any ? ”
« Ho.”
“ What was your rank ? ”
“ Adjutant.”
“Adjutants do the writing for the generals — don’t
they?”
“ Yes.”
“ But, Morris, I can’t imagine why you didn’t have a
paper; you couldn’t have done anything wrong; I know
you couldn’t.”
“ It was considered, Helen, that I committed a very
grave offence. I will try to explain it. You are aware
that I am not as cool as some men. I could not always
keep my pen still when I was in the army. Public
opinion was often absurdly wrong in regard to some of
our movements, and I tried to explain, now and then,
through the newspapers.”
“ Why, was that a crime ? ”
“No; it was well enough till I was so imprudent as
to express my opinion of the high powers at W ashing-
20


306
OUR HELEN.
ton. Once I thought they made a mistake, and I said
so. I loved my general, and when blame fell on him
for a thing he could not help, I wrote a letter justifying
him, and attributing the cause of his failure to the War
Department.”
“O, I understand. But are they like the Pope of
Rome there at Washington ? It is a pity if one can’t
speak one’s mind.”
“That was just what I thought, Helen, and it was
where I erred. It is against military etiquette for an
inferior officer to criticise a superior; indeed, it may be
called a crime. When the origin of the letters was
known, I was deprived of my position, suspended, and
ordered home.”
“ Why, what an outrage! And all the while you
still thought you had told the truth, and the War De
partment had done wrong?”
“Yes, and the whole world knows it now,” said Mr.
Lynde, giving Helen particulars of a certain ill-fated
battle, which was one of our mistakes during the late
war.
“ Why, Morris, they ought to forgive you. I say it
isn’t fair. But any way, I wouldn’t mind, for nobody
will ever think worse of you.”
“Wouldn’t mind? Ah, Helen, if a man fails of
getting an honorable discharge, it brands him among
strangers ; it is a stain upon his name which goes down
with him to the latest day of his life.”
“ Is it so dreadful as that ? I am very, very sorry.
You are too good to be treated so. Have you asked
to have it set right? ”
“ Certainly; I sent in a request at once.”


JOURNEY HOME.
307
“ O, well-, you will get it by and by ; I just know yon
will. ‘All things come round to him who only waits.’ ’’
“ Yes, Helen, but I have already waited seven years.”
“Jacob waited twice seven,” said Helen, soothingly.
“ It will come yet; but any way,your friends will only
cling all the closer while you are in trouble. I am sure
I never liked you so well in my life as I do this
minute.”
“My blessed Helen ! ”
“ It is the solemn truth, Morris. But now tell me ;
was this what mamma meant before you came to Quin-
nebasset, when she said there was something Aveigh-
ing on your mind ? ”
“ Perhaps so. Yes. I dare say.”
“ Because I supposed then it was an affair so very
different. Indeed, it seems to me noAV mamma must
have told me how you — that it referred to a young
lady in the south. I should hardly have fancied such
a thing Avithout any reason at all — should I, do you
think?”
Mr. Lynde must have heard Avhat she said, for he
recalled it a feAV moments later; but just noAV he was
hardly aAvare of her meaning.
“Helen, you have not answered my question. Has
a man in my position any right to tell a woman he
loves her? Remember, it is you avIio must decide,”
added he, gently taking her hand.
Helen had never felt less sure of anything in her life
than she felt just then of Mr. Lynde’s love for Sharly.
“ It is I he means,” thought she, and impulsively
placed the other hand in his.
But in another moment the delusion had passed.


308
OUR HELEN.
Clear and terrible, as a leaf from the Book of Fate, she
saw the sentence in Sharly’s last letter, which had al
ready burnt itself into her memory. “ Sister, I am
so happy! and when you come you shall know all
about it.”
“Ah, my dear, good Helen,” said Mr. Lynde, in a
tone “ sweeter than a heart can bear.”
It recalled her wandering senses. She drew herself
upright, and responded calmly and deliberately, though
without taking either of her hands from his.
“ Why do you call me good ? Anybody would an
swer your question just as I do.”
“Anybody? But you haven’t answered it yet. It’s
hard talking with you, Helen, when I can’t see your
eyes.”
“Nevermind my eyes. You know I am trying to
drive them out of my head — metaphorically speak
ing,” said Helen, lightly, though thinking how glad she
was of her veil, whose thick folds gave her in some sort
a feeling of invisibility. “ I told you I thought the dis
grace not worth minding. Government ought to be
ashamed of itself; that’s all. But she — this person —
you ought to tell her: she has a right to expect it.”
“ She ? Who ? ”
“ Why, the — the one you care for,” said Helen, not
liking to be the first to speak Sharly’s name. “ The
truth is, cousin Morris, I thought it was all settled; I
supposed you were engaged long ago.”
The words had no sooner passed her lips than she
was shocked at her own presumption. Mr. Lynde
gazed at her without speaking, as if what she had said
was not to be apprehended in a moment. Then, rec-


JOURNEY HOME.
309
ollecting that she had just alluded to a mythical south
ern lady, —
“ Why, Helen, you don’t mean, you can’t mean — ”
“ O, no,” cried she, snatching at his words as usual,
before they were half uttered, and thus hopelessly
clouding the matter, “I don’t know how to forgive
myself for being so forward. What are your affairs to
me, cousin Morris, any more than the war in China ?
And to think I should have spoken so! Just as if I
were reproaching you! I did not mean that at all.
Why, you see,” went on the poor girl, volubly, while
the tricksy sprite who sat on the quivering mouth, mak
ing it say just the wrong things, laughed in his sleeve,
you may be sure, “ why, the truth is, I have under
stood all this for quite a long time, and have always
looked upon you as a brother — not always, perhaps :
but don’t you remember how you said to me years and
years ago, cousin Morris, that you wished I was your
sister? I wished so too at that time, and lately it has
been growing upon me more and more, and that is why
I ventured to speak as I did ; too freely, far too freely;
will you forgive me?”
When Mr. Lynde replied, it was in a constrained
voice.
“ And so you accepted the relationship I proposed
in those days, and have 1 held to it ever since? You
still look upon me in the light of a brother — do you,
Helen ?”
There was a subdued eagerness in his voice which
told her he would be troubled if she said “Yes,” though
she knew next moment that this must be a mistake, for
had she not every reason to believe it was just what


810
OUR HELEN.
he expected and desired ? Why did he not come out
with the whole truth at once, and spare her the exqui
site torture of all these questions ?
“ Cousin Morris, can you doubt it ? ” said she, again
thankful for her veil. “ I am glad, and proud and hap
py ; and now you may go on and tell me all ab»ut it,
please.”
“ Thank you; there is nothing more to be told.”
What could he mean ? And after sitting in silence
for some moments, he said in a sort of monologue, as
if he had been revolving the subject all that time in his
mind, “ I suppose it is as if an elder brother had gone,
away while his sister was a little girl, and had come
back after she was grown up. I did not suppose you
thought of me like that, Helen; but I am glad you
have told me.”
Was this the way Sharly’s lover would be likely to
speak ? Ah, the whole thing was the very refinement
of cruelty — “a baptism of fire,” she said to herself.
And presently Mr. Lynde arose, without having once
spoken Sharly’s name, and said he would go forward
into the smoking-car to see if any one was there whom
he knew.
“ Charlotte Asbury,” murmured Helen, behind her
veil. “ Is it you that are dreaming, or is it I ? If it
were not for that letter of yours — if it were not for
that scrap of paper! Never fear, Sharly, I will give
him up to you ; he is yours. But such a glimpse as I
have had of Paradise ! Why, it seemed to me just
now that I was going in ; only — O Sbarly dear — only
I entered by the wrong door ! ”
The rest of the journey was commonplace enough.


JOURNEY HOME.
311
A change had come over Mr. Lynde; and though he
attended Helen as carefully as ever, there was yet some
thing gone from his manner which had always marked
it before. She missed the hearty undertone of enjoy
ment, the musical laugh ; and it seemed to her that if
she could look at him she should see his eyes roving
absently, and his brows knitted in thought.
She was right. In the midst of his gayest sallies he
was pursuing his study of the bell-rope, or gazing at
Helen with an intentness which threatened to pierce
four thicknesses of brown silk tissue. His demeanor
was much more befitting Sharly’s lover than it had
been at first; indeed, it was more than brotherly; it was
paternal. He talked only on general subjects, and
Helen saw that whatever might be the sta.e of affairs
between him and Sharly, she should be none the wiser
till she reached home.
He insisted upon taking her to an oculist in Hew
York, but the verdict was rather disheartening. The
optic nerve had been injured — so said the doctor —mid
the chances were, that it might never heal. She would
grow no worse; he gave her as much comfort as that;
and there was a faint possibility of a cure many years
hence.
“ That is, if I should live to the age of Sir Thomas
Parr,” sighed poor Helen, crowding back the tears
which seemed to burn her tired eyes, and entering the
cars again with a heavy heart.
Morris devoted himself at once to the task of keep
ing up her courage. He declared that doctors could
not look into the future, and had no right to frighten
patients; that he himself had had a friend in a similar


312
OUR HELEN.
condition to Helen’s, who was now perfectly restored
after two years’ patient waiting.
“Bnt were his eyes just like mine? ”
“ Precisely. At any rate, the same oculist said so ;
and now that I am satisfied yours is only a sprain, I
have every hope of you, my dear child.”
“Do you really? But you wouldn’t deceive me.”
Helen brightened after this, and was ready to talk of
other things.
“ You have been such a comfort to me! ” said she, as
they drew "near their journey’s end ; “ and I shall cling
to what you told me of that friend of yours. You
know how to say the right thing to me always, Morris.”
“ Thank you, Helen,” said Mr. Lynde, his paternal
demeanor suddenly deserting him; but added next
moment, “ Brothers like to have their opinions regard
ed, you know. They are an arrogant set! ”
“O, very. And now where are we?”
“ At Portsmouth. Courage, my dear, we are almost
home.”


THE BUSY BEE.
313
CHAPTER XXXII.
THE BUSY BEE.
“ All things come round to him who will but wait.”
ET Delia Liscom had waited in vain, for more
than two years, to discover what was “on Mr.
Lynde’s mind,” and why his “heart's desire was not
granted.” She had asked roundabout questions of
Sharly; she had catechized the twins; she had peeped
into his portfolio and his letter-case ; she had done all
an honorable woman can do; still she had not un
ravelled the mystery.
At last, on the very day that Helen and Mr. Lynde
started for home, she was suddenly rewarded for her
long and harrowing suspense. A very dashing gentle
man called and spent the night at Mr. Liscom’s, on his
way to Mount Katahdin ; and Delia, naturally inspect
ing the day-book to find out his name, saw the words
“Major Browning, Hew York.” Of course the next
thing she naturally did was to ask if he had ever seen
or heard of Morris Lynde, for it was rarely, indeed,
that any one from the great metropolis was ever seen
at Quinnebasset.
Major Browning was a reckless fellow ; I believe it
turned out afterwards that he was only captain ; but
he really did know something of Adjutant Lynde’s


314
OUR HELEN.
army life and disgrace ; or had known once, though lie
had now forgotten the very gist of the whole affair
However, what he didn’t remember he could invent;
so he very glibly made up a story to suit himself; and
it suited Delia also, for it was scandalous, and would
create a great sensation when repeated.
With remarkable self-control, she kept the secret
two whole days, in order to spring it upon the sewing-
circle that was to meet at her house on Wednesday
afternoon. [ This sewing-circle was called the Busy
Bee, because it went about doing good — not because
it carried a sting! ]
Village society is made up of concentric rings, and
the best part of Quinnebasset was securely fixed in
the middle, while Delia and her cotei’ie floated on the
outside, feeling aggrieved, as if it were an arbitrary
shutting out; for they never reflected that in this
world, as well as the other, we must each go to our
own place, which is sure to be the place exactly fitted
for us. '
The people in the middle rings aforesaid — such as
the Asburys, Willards, Lorings, Joneses, Seldens, &c.—
were so slow to believe evil, that Delia rejoiced to think
#he could a tale unfold which would startle them for
once, and make them turn pale. Not that she had any
ill will against Mr. Lynde, beyond a petty spite ; there
was not a living human being, outside her own family,
that she would not have slandered for the pure love of
gossip.
Fortunately the Asburys did not come to-day, and
the Queen Bee, Mrs. Hinsdale, was called away at the
outset; but everybody else was present, and the meet-


THE BUSY BEE.
315
ing was a very busy one, full of the phthisicky sound
of needles catching their breath in cotton cloth, for a
certain poor family, near Old Bluff, was in pressing
need of clothes.
“ Miss Bumpus,” said Mrs. Dr. Willard, “ when do
you expect Helen ? ”
“ To-morrow, maybe, but day after, sure.”
“ And what about her eyes ? We all feel so anxious
to know.”
“ Well, I ain’t any better informed than you be,”
said Theresa, rolling her right sleeve back, and plying
her needle with almost as much force as a teamster
would use in driving a plough. “ All we know is, we
had a telegram Monday : ‘ Helen well, but eyes weak;
start for home to-day.’ You may make what you can
out of that.”
“ Poor child,” said Judith Willard. “ She has made
such an effort to support the family, that it does seem
hard she should be so afflicted.”
“They can’t be any worse than my eyes were that
time I fell up hill and stuck a knot-hole into ’em,” said
Miss O’Neil, reflectively. “Tell her to wash ’em in a
preparation of sulphur and ink ” (sulphate of zinc);
“that’s what I used.”
“ Morris Lynde is coming with her,, it seems. How
convenient it is to have a cousin in the family!” re
marked Delia, artlessly.
“ He travels with Helen a great deal, Delia; didn’t
you ever notice it?” said Miss O’Neil, surprised at her
stupidity. “ Why, I rode up in the stage with them
just before Squire Asbury died, the time he was in
that oatarnouse state. When I lived at Machias, such
things were not looked upon as proper.”


316
OUR HELEN.
“ He has always been considered a very fine man,”
returned Delia, with a doubtful inflection on “con
sidered.”
“That’s nothing,” said Miss O’Neil, tartly. “I was
always brought up to think everything of family, and
he didn’t come from one of the first families by a great
deal.”
“Why, Miss O’Neil, what can you mean?” said
Mrs. Selden. “ His father and mother were as fine
people as ever lived in this town.”
. “I beg leave to correct you, Mrs. Selden. Mr.
Lyman came here from the British Providences when
I was a young lady, and used to go round splitting
cucumber seeds, and selling ’em for muskmelon seeds.
I remember it just as plain! I was visiting at your
house, Mrs. Selden, making my velvet cloak, when he
called with the seeds.”
“ Who called, did you say ? ”
“Mosus Lyman.”
A smile went round the room; but Miss O’Neil sat
stern and grim. In her haste she had made a mistake,
and called up a dead grandfather of quite another
name and lineage from the Lyndes; but though she
saw her error, it was against her principles to correct it.
“ There is a great deal of wickedness in the world ;
we never know what people will do,” said Delia, in
great haste to get at her story. “ For instance, don’t
you suppose there were a great many hypocrites and
traitors in our last war, that we little dream of?”
“ O, yes, indeed, lor yes,” said Mrs. Porter Smythe,
the divorced widow, who thought she understood man
kind, if anybody did.


THE BUSY BEE.
317
“How look here,” said Theresa Bumpus; “ we are
all poor sinners, but I guess them soldiers were better
than the average; anyhow. You haven’t got any spe
cial case in your mind — have you, Delia? ” added she,
sharply.
“Well, yes, I did hear something, but it comes
pretty near home; something about Morris Lynde.”
“ Well, then, ’taint true, and jmu’d better not tell it.”
“ When I lived at Machias, that would have been
called impudent, Theresa Bumpus. What makes you
think Mr. Lyman can’t do wrong?” said Miss O’Neil,
still retaining the feeling that in some vague way he
was responsible for the cucumber seeds.
“ Perhaps Theresa wouldn’t call it wrong to desert
the old flag!” said Delia, looking around to note the
effect of her words.
“You don’t say! ”
“Yes, I do! Pm sorry to be the first to tell of it,
but it will have to be known.”
Needles stopped, hands were raised, a murmur, of
surprise and incredulity ran round the room. Delia
had made a sensation this time; and O, triumphant
glory of littleness, how her eyes did sparkle, and the
umbrella-charm on her watch-chain dance with delight!
“I have always known something was troubling the
man’s conscience, by his actions, and by little things
that have been dropped now and then; but I got the
whole story when I saw Major Browning. Wasn’t he
a splendid looking man, mother ? — of the same regi
ment and company with Mr. Lynde; and he says he
deserted fair and square, and they would certainly
have shot him if he hadn’t belonged to a secret society


318
OUR HELEN.
that contrived somehow to clear him. Now, I do wish
there was some chance for a mistake, ladies, hut there
isn’t; Morris Lynde is a deserter and a hypocrite!”
“ May I be allowed to speak ? ” said Mrs. Dr. Wil
lard ; but nobody seemed to hear her.
“1 never liked his eye,” said Mis. Porter Smythe.
“Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion,” mum
bled Miss O’Neil, looking about to see which way the
current was setting, so she could be ready to head up
stream at a moment’s notice. She seemed to behold
Morris Lynde striding away with a great load of silver
sewed up in a bedtick, like a man she had heard of
once who deserted. Stealing runs in families ; still, if
the ladies were going against Mr. Lynde, she should
stand up for him of course.
“ I don’t believe one word of that story, now come! ”
said Theresa Bumpus.
“Nor I!” “Nor I!” “Why haven’t we heard it
before, if it’s true ? ” said several voices.
“ Because we live so far back in the country,” said
Delia.
“ Ladies,” began Mrs. Willard again ; but Delia con
tinued : —
“ He thinks he can come here and impose upon us
simple-minded folks. It always did seem queer to me
that he should spend so much time in this little village ;
but now I understand it.”
“Why shouldn’t he come to his native place, where
he’s appreciated and beloved?” said Mrs. Selden,
echoed by Mrs. Loring, Mrs. Willard, Miss Willard,
and Miss Jones.
Delia was out of all patience.


THE BUSY BEE.
819
“You talk as if you didn’t believe my word. For
my part I never was so very much taken up with
Morris Lynde; and I think I have as good a right to
judge of him as any of you, living in the same house
with him so long as I have. He is no favorite of
mine, and I always knew there was something behind
the curtain that would come to light some day.”
Here there certainly was a motion of Liddy Ann
Crane’s foot towards the foot of Mrs. Porter Smytlie,
under the table; accidental, perhaps, for these ladies
were Delia’s friends, — if, alas, she had any friends! .
“ Ladies,” began Mrs. Willard again ; and this time
she was allowed to speak.
“ My father and my husband have known this all
along, but have not thought best to mention it, for
fear it would be misconstrued. Mr. Lynde did not
desert; he was merely imprudent; and my father says
there is not a more honorable man living.” Then she
told the story in few words, and so clearly that every
body understood it but Miss O’Neil, who could never
be expected to understand anything.
“ I’m so glad ! ” “ So thankful! ” “I knew it must
be right somehow; ” “I couldn’t have believed it of
him any more than my own son;” “ I was always
proud of Morris Lynde,” said one after another, and
all together; while Delia Liscom Would gladly have
shrunk up to the size of a dried pea, and disappeared
from notice, if it had been possible.
“You’d better send word to that Major What’s-his-
name, that he didn’t make out much, trying to put
Morris Lynde down in the town of Quinnebasset,”
said Theresa, rather cruelly; for her old liking for


320
OUR HELEN.
.Delia had died out long ago. “ Strange how somn
folks will lie, and stranger still how some other folks
are always ready to believe ’em.” And she began to
roll up her work, for it was nearly time to go home.
“Felicia Bumpus,” said Miss O’Neil, severely, “I
haven’t found a chance yet to speak. I was going to
say, What right had Morris Lynde to stop fighting,
and go to writing for the newspapers? It comes as
near deserting as it can, I’m sure. All you could ex
pect of a Blue Nose though,” pursued she, digging up
the cucumber seeds again. — “Delia, won’t you be so
good as just to step down cellar and get me a junk of
pork? I’m very lame, and going to bake beans to
morrow.”
Delia obeyed; and as she was returning through the
kitchen with the desired article wrapped in a news
paper, she overheard this cutting remark from Liddy
Ann Crane to Mrs. Porter Smythe in the front entry: —
“Well, if I was in love with a man, and he wasn’t
with me, I don’t know as I should be so fierce to see
him hung for it; should you ? Delia has shown herself
out this afternoon.”
Poor Delia ! And she had expected such a triumph!
Now she had gained the contempt of her neighbors;
and through her means Morris Lynde would only rise
higher than ever.
Indeed she had not the slightest idea how strongly
she sympathies of the Quinnebasset people would be
enlisted for the unfortunate man as soon as his story
was fairly known,


AN UNDERSTANDING.
321
CHAPTER XXXIII.
AN UNDERSTANDING.
“Then, darling, wait;
Nothing is late
In the light that shines forever.”
HEX the travellers reached Quinnebasset, it
was pouring with rain, and so nearly dark that
Helen supposed they would pass almost unnoticed;
but as the stage drove up to the post-office, half the
men in the village, and all the boys, seemed to be
waiting on the steps to welcome them home. The
first hand thrust through the stage window was Dr.
Prescott’s.
“How do you do, child? Bless your heart, how do
you do ? ”
Hext came Silas Hackett’s hand, with a grasp that
was almost painful; then Dr. Willard’s; Pitkin Jones’s;
Mr. Selden’s; followed by various boyish palms of all
sorts and sizes. Everybody said, “ Aren’t you a little
better, Helen?” or “I hope you’ll soon be well;” but
she observed that they did not once venture upon the
plain, broad question, “ What is the matter with your
eyes?” It might be positive blindness for aught they
knew, and with true delicacy they shrank from any
direct allusion to the subject.
21


322
OUR HELEN.
Helen observed another thing, as she sat in darkness,
listening to the familiar voices; she observed that Mr.
Lynde, as well as herself, was greeted with unusual
warmth. Every one who came to her window went
round, directly after, to his, not satisfied with tossing
him a careless “Glad to see you back again, sir,” but
bent upon an honest hand-shake, as if he had been
gone months, instead of only a few days.
There was an unusual tenderness in this, as if he,
too, were in affliction, and needed sympathy. Helen
thought it merely the brimming-over of full hearts, for
she did not learn till afterwards that Morris’s army affair
had just become known throughout the village, and
everybody liked him the better for it, and longed to
show him hearty good-will.
It seemed very odd, even now, not to drive up to
Jubilee Hill, but to keep on in an opposite direction to
Intervale Cottage.
“ Tell us you are not blind, Helen, and no matter
what else it is, we will try to bear it,” cried the twins,
as heroically as if the worst were their own; and drew
Helen into the house between them. The laugh which
followed their brave little speech prevented the meet
ing from being too tearful.
“ O, it does seem so warm and good to get home,
mother, Sharly, everybody! ” said Helen, going from
one pair of arms to another, and just escaping a smoth
ering from the baby and sister Bumpus.
“ Drefful news,” said Bel, plucking Helen’s dress the
moment her cloak was off. — “How you just hush,”
whispered Vic. “ But mamma said I might if I’d wait
a minute : and I did.” remonstrated the little one.


AN UNDERSTANDING.
323
“ Tell it; so you shall, dear. I love the sound of your
sweet little voice, let you say what you will.”
“ Well, she’s crazy : yes, she is she’s crazy.”
“ Who’s crazy ? ”
“ Mrs. Page is in a rather peculiar state,” replied
Mrs. Asbury, guardedly. “ Gloomy, and has strange
impressions.”
“ O, that’s nothing new,” said Helen, with a queer
smile. “ I can tell you of one strange impression she
has had, which you never dreamed of, I know.”
“ O, but she’s drefful worse.”
“Yes,” said Mrs. Asbury, “the clouds have shut
down more darkly than ever upon her mind, and with
in a week or two she has been saying wild things
about her husband.”
“ Thinks he is cutting her with knives,” broke in
the twins.
“ The knives are his own thoughts,” said Sharly.
“ She calls them spiritual knives.”
“ I don’t know what you mean,” cried Helen. “ Is
she really crazy ? ”
“Yes: didn’t I tell you so?” said Bel. “Tooked
her to the ’Sylum.”
“ To the Insane Hospital,” explained Vic. It was
all out now.
Mr- Lynde had refrained from telling Helen the
story himself, and it had come so suddenly that she
sank back upon the sofa half stunned. It is true the
Asbury family and everybody else in town had repeat
edly declared Mrs. Page would be insane some day,
but nobody had ever really believed it. .
“ Tell me all about it, every single particular,” said


324
OUR HELEN.
Helen, in a trembling voice, for in spite of Mrs. Page’s
whimseys she was really attached to the woman.
They all answered together, that it had seemed at
last to come on rather suddenly; and when Ozem really
comprehended the state of the case, he went round
with his mouth half open, exclaiming, —
“ Who’d ’a thought this of Dorkis, a woman with
her head-piece! It’s more’n I can beai’, seems if! ”
“It is too hard, too hard,” said Helen. “It is his
foolishness that has caused it all; but he will never
know it.”
“ It was a shame to tell you before supper,” said Vic,
as they went to the table. “We made the waffles and
sugared them on purpose, but now you can’t eat.”
“ I shall eat famously, darling, if I once stop talk
ing,” returned Helen, briskly.
There was much to depress her besides her grief for
Mrs. Page; she felt more sadness in coming home than
any one supposed, for she mourned her father afresh
to-night, and longed, too, for the old house which the
rest had forgotten to miss.
Not a word was said about the dreadful subject of
eyes till after supper, and then Morris had slipped
away, much to Helen’s disappointment, for she had in
tended to watch him and Sharly closely that evening.
Sharly’s welcome had been unusually warm, but she
talked little; and wise as Helen was becoming in
voices, she missed the key-note to this one, and could
not tell whether the music was happy or sad.
“ Yes, sit down here in a group now, round the Veiled
Lady,” said Helen, “and hear all about the bewitch
ment that came over her eyes.”


AN UNDERSTANDING.
325
But all the while she talked, the undercurrent of her
thoughts was about Sharly.
“ Do I hope she is happy ? Let me ]3ut self one side^
as if I were dead, and then see. Yes, I do hope it,.I
certainly do.”
“Well, there, Helen, I’m glad you’ve come home in
such good spirits after all,” said Sharly. “It’s awful to
have anybody round that’s low-spirited, and I almost
dreaded to see you, I declare ! ”
They were on their way to bed as she spoke, and
Helen/groped along by the baluster, feeling as if she
were struggling up the hill of life, and it was steeper
than any one knew.
“Ho; I have so much trouble that I can’t afford to
be low-spirited,” said Helen, though she was pretty
sure Sharly would not understand her, and Sharly did
not; she had never had the least experience in fight
ing against Giant Despair.
“ How queer you are, Helen ! If my eyes were like
yours, I should just die of horror; I couldn’t laugh as
you’ve laughed to-night; dear me, no ! There’s such a
difference in people about taking things to heart: don’t
you think so ? ”
“I don’t know — There now, you precious child, tell
me all you promised to tell in your last letter,” said
Helen, shutting the door of her chamber, and hold
ing Sharly as if she had wings, though Sharly was
quite willing to be held, and had no thought of flying
away.
“All about what, Helen? You have such a funny
way of beginning right in the middle! How do you
like, this new style of hair ? ” with a peep into the
glass. “ O, I forget you can’t see.”


326
OUR HELEN.
“ Well, Sharly ? ”
“Well, Helen? Why, there’s a white hair in your
curls.”
“That’s nothing new; I’ve already found two or
three.”
“ Why, what a pity! Gray hairs,- Helen Asbury? ”
“ Yes, a June frost, I suppose. People do get nipped
a little at twenty-one, sometimes. But why don’t you
begin, darling, and tell me all about yourself ? ”
“ Well, I will; ask me something, Helen.”
“ How long lias it been going on ? ”
“ It f People don’t talk English where you have
been — do they? ”
“Your love affair, Sharly! There, is that plain
enough, or shall I speak it in French ? ”
“ O, that has been going on ever since — well, ever
since you went away.”
“ Indeed! ”
“ Yes, and before, too, only I didn’t really know it.”
“Ah?”
“ I didn’t think there was enough of me. If it had
only been you, now, Helen ! ”
“I? What an idea! Go on, Sharly.” For she had
made another pause, and was twirling a pearl and
emerald ring round her pretty forefinger. “ Has he ever
talked to you about this ? ”
“ Talked to me ? ” Sharly’s gay little laugh rang
out at the question. “ Perhaps you think I made the
proposal myself. O, what a Helen! ”
“ Sharly,” said the., elder sister with tender anxiety,
though it pained her to utter the words, “are you
sure you understand him perfectly? Men are very


■AN UNDERSTANDING.
327
strange sometimes, and appear to mean one thing when
they really mean another, or don’t mean anything
at all.”
“ Now, you dear old goosie,” said the little coquette,
with a pout and a smile. “ I’m the sort of girl to fall
in love before any one asks me—am I? Thanks for
your lecture ! But it may relieve you to know he had
to go down on his knees, almost, before I would pay
the least attention. Why, I kept pretending it was a
great joke ; and when he said, ‘ Sharly, do listen to me,’
and — and — well, you know what they say — I told
him he was making believe, and his heart was some
where else. I did really think so, Helen.”
“ Ah ? ” Helen stood holding her hands towards the
fire. She had not turned her head or moved a muscle
while Sharly was speaking.
“Why should you have fancied he cared for some
one else ? That could not have been true, Sharly.
You don’t think so now?”
“ Why, yes, Helen, you forget he did once; but that
is all over now, and I don’t mind it a bit. Should you
mind it, do you think? ”
“I don’t quite know — what you mean.”
“ Well, it isn’t likely he ever truly cared for her, not
as he does for me,” said the little beauty, confidently.
“I don’t believe Judith was ever so very pretty — do
you ? ”
“ Judith ? ”
“ Why, yes; she was the one Silas was engaged to,
you know.”
Silas Hackett!
The truth came to Helen with such a shock that her
heart stood still.


828
OUR HELEN.
“Why, Helen, what are you doing? Don’t open
that window; it will make the room as cold as Green
land.”
“ O, I was only getting a breath of air. What a
beautiful night it is, and the sky so full of stars! ” said
Helen, who had slipped off her green shade, and was
folding her hands softly together.
“Tell me the rest, Sharly. It seems very odd — so
odd I want to laugh ; but I believe I never was so glad
in my life.”
And down went the window and the green shade at
the same instant, while Helen began to pace the floor
rapidly, pausing every now and then to warm herself
before the stove.
“Are you really so glad? ” said Sharly, much grati
fied. “ I was afraid, in the first place, you weren’t, for
you seemed so stiff. I declare I never did have such
hard work telling anything. — Why, what does ail you,
Helen? Are you crying or laughing? ”
“ Laughing, I believe,” said Helen, wiping her eyes,
and pausing suddenly as Delia Liscom’s story rushed
into her mind. “Was this what troubled you last
summer ? Was this what made you unhappy ? ”
“Me ? Ho ? As if I would fret over a lover! ”
“ Then it was nothing of the sort, Sharly ? ”
“ Of the love sort ? Why, no, indeed,” was the curt
reply.
“ Really and truly ? ”
“Really and truly, Helen. I was bothered about
something; but you needn’t ask what it was, for I shan’t
tell. O, how I do hate last summer! ” said Sharly,
stamping her foot pettishly.


AN UNDERSTANDING.
329
“ Then we won’t talk about it,” said Helen, so happy
that she was fain to open the window again for another
peep at the stars.
“Helen, it’s rather queer for you to laugh in this
way,” said Sharly, drawing back half offended. “ Are
you making sport of me, I’d like to know?”
“ O, 110, no. Only you’ve acted so oddly all the way
along, never telling me any names, and leaving me to
puzzle my head till it almost went distracted. You’re
a harum-scarum old Sharly, and I don’t more than half
believe it’s Mr. Hackett this minute. Are you sure it
isn’t Arthur Selden, or that Fred Mellen from Boston?”
“ O, is that what you’re laughing at ? ” said Sharly,
greatly relieved. “ Why, it was easy enough to guess!
Who could it be but Mr. Hackett ? And wasn’t he
very attentive dast summer? As if I would look at
Fred Mellen, or Arthur Selden, or any of those! ”
“ You did look at them a great deal,” laughed Helen.
“ And next time you write letters to me, I want you to
put things down in black and white, if you want me
to know what you mean.”
“The fact is, I didn’t want you to know,” said
Sharly, with charming frankness. “ I thought likely
’twould blow over.”
“ O, yes, I remember you always despised ‘ worthy
young men.’ ”
“Well, Silas isn’t so worthy as I supposed he was —
not half. He’s ever so nice and jolly when you are
fairly acquainted with him, Helen. I know just what
you think—-that he’s slow and poky; but it’s the
greatest mistake. O, I do want you to know him,
he’s such a darling ! ”


330
OUR HELEN.
“ I must know him, Sharly. I’d like to kiss him this
minute! ”
Such an outburst delighted Sharly immensely, and
she threw her arms round Helen’s neck, exclaiming,—
“ O, I shall love him dearly if you say that. He
thinks you are perfectly splendid, and I’m going to tell'
him what you say. He thought you didn’t like him
because you wouldn’t go to ride with him once. Don’t
you remember you said, ‘Ho, thank you; but I’m sure
Sharly would be glad of the chance ’ ? ”
Helen laughed immoderately at the recollection.
Surely her spirits were remarkable, considering the
state of her eyes. “But tell me, you little irresponsi
ble butterfly — are you sure of your own mind, — no,
your heart, — as sure as sure can be? You know it
would be dreadful for Silas to be deceived again.”
Sharly looked the picture of injured innocence.
“ You didn’t think I’d engaged myself to him ? Ho,
indeed; O, no. I’ve only tied a sort of beau-knot, and
I can slip it out any time within six months, — we call
it an understanding, you know, — and nobody has been
told but mother and you.”
“ That is cautious enough, I declare, Sharly; but it
looks as if you have a little doubt of yourself.”
“ Why do you keep saying that, Helen ? Who is
there any better than Silas ? Why, Dr. Prescott says
he is an honor to this town, and if he had turned his
attention to politics, he might have gone to Congress.”
“Yes, I’ve always heard he had a good deal of
ability,” said Helen, thinking of his awkwardness and
of Keller Prescott’s comment which had been handed
down for years: —


AN UNDERSTANDING.
331
“ ‘ When Si Hackett speechifies, he makes gestures
like a galvanized frog.’
“ He has a good mind and good principles, and if
you only love him, it’s all right.”
“ There it is again ! I know what you mean. You
think he is too awkward for anything ; but I’ve changed
my mind on that subject. It does seem to. me awk
wardness is rather nice in a man ! ”
“ O, it is — is it ? ”
“Yes; and some men are too polished and grace
ful : now there’s cousin Morris, for instance.”
“ You little simpleton ! ” said Helen ; but she said it
to herself.
“ And I’m so glad you appreciate and approve, for I
know I never could love any one else ; there’s nobody
like him in the world.”
And Sharly, having once begun, prattled on in her
pretty way all the while they were unpacking Helen’s
trunk; and Helen, with her grand self-forgetfulness,
listened and sympathized, hardly pausing to think why
it was that her heart rejoiced.
The last night she had spent in this room, three
months ago, she had hardly closed her eyes for wretch
edness ; to-night she lay awake for very joy.
“ It was I he meant, it was I he meant! I have a
right, to be happy, and it won’t defraud Sharly. Life
is so beautiful and symmetrical when you only get
hold ^of'the right clew !”


832
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XXXIV.
A MISUNDERSTANDING.
“ Alas ! how love can trifle with itself! *
“ OOD morning, Princess Helen. I see you are
still playing the Veiled Lady.”
“ Good morning, Queen Mother. Yes, I can’t exhibit
my ‘tristful eyes ’ yet a while. But do tell me how it
has fared with you all this long, long time ? ”
“ O, I’ve got on bravely, better than I expected.”
Mrs. Asbury had gone half way up stairs to meet
Helen, and they were now pacing the hall with their
arms about each other’s waists.
“But I’ve missed you so, my daughter! I drift into
dark places sometimes, and it brightens me to have a
little talk with you.”
“ Ah, mother dear, you can’t have needed me as I’ve
needed you. I shan’t live long enough to forget how
I’ve pined for the sound of your voice ! I want to
hear you talk a week without stopping. Firstly, are
you pleased with Sharly’s engagement.”
“ Entirely; her understanding, you mean.”
“Yes, I know; isn’t she a cautious child ? I believe
I’d like it better to see her a little reckless — wouldn’t
you? As if Silas were the whole world, and she
didn’t care for the rest of it! That’s the way I shall
feel, if I’m ever engaged.”


A MISUNDERSTANDING. 333
“You and Sharly are two people.”
“Very true, mother; but does she care for Mr.
Hackett with her whole heart and soul? For that is
the only love that is safe and sure. It ought to strike
clear down to the very roots of her life, or she will act
Judith Willard right over again.”
Helen spoke so fervently that Mrs. Asbury stole a
glance at her earnest face, wondering where she had
learned so much of the power of love.
“You know Sharly better than I do, Helen, and I
want you to study her. She has a profound respect
for Mr. Hackett, so far as that goes.”
“ Respect! ” cried Helen, contemptuously.
Mrs. Asbury smiled.
“Would you have her marry without it? It is the
very corner-stone of wedded happiness.”
“ O, I suppose so; but a stone is cold and hard; you
want something more than that.”
“Well, dear, I think it’s all coming right. You are
inclined to be too anxious about Sharly. You know
you always take her affairs to heart more than she does
herself.”
Yes, so she did; Helen began to see that this was
true. Even if Sharly had really cared for Morris, as it
once appeared, the feeling would not have been so deep
that anybody need run away for her sake!
“ You alwaye judge Sharly by yourself, Helen, and
there is-where you make a mistake. She isn’t in the
least romantic, and you mustn’t expect it.”
“ No, mother, and I hope Mr. Hackett doesn’t expect
it, either.”
“ O, no; I fancy he is easily satisfied, as people usually


334
OUR HELEN.
are who have all their lives given more than they have
received. And this is a new thing, as yet. Why, I
did not even know it was in progress till about a
month ago.”
“How could that be, mother? He came here, of
course.”
“Yes, he has been coming all the fall, and so have
all the other young men in town. Sharly has boated
with one,- and croqueted with another; and really,
though I had my suspicions, I was sure of nothing till
she told me herself a fortnight ago.”
“ So that is the reason you didn’t write me about it,
mother. If I had known — ” Helen checked herself.
“ It is almost strange Morris shouldn’t have given me
a hint of this.”
“ I dare say he knows nothing about it. He and
Sharly are the best of friends, but there was never the
least intimacy between them.”
“Ho, not the least, mother, and couldn’t be.”
Helen had always seen this clearly enough, till Delia
Liscom threw dust in her eyes.
“ They admire each other,” went on Mi’s. Asbury,
^‘but their only meeting-point is music. They are
very dull without you.”
“ Ah ? ”
“ Don’t stumble against the hat tree, little blind girl.”
“Not blind; mother, I’ve only had a glimpse into,
the darkness,” said Helen, gayly.
It was pleasant to think she had come into the light
again in spite of Delia Liscom. But what could that
letter have meant? After all, it still remained a
mystery.


A MISUNDERSTANDING. 335
Morris was not in the dining-room when they entered.
It had been quite the usual thing for hirn to drop in
just as they were sitting down at table, and the
girls had placed an extra plate beside the Veiled
Lady’s place this morning.
“ He will be here soon,” thought Helen, “ to ask how
I bore the journey.”
But breakfast passed without him, and it was three
in the afternoon before he came.
“ He had been sketching; had heard, through Mrs.
Hinsdale, that Helen’s eyes had received no injury, or
he should have run in at once to inquire.”
Helen was sitting before the cheerful wood-fire in the
sitting-room, holding Bel in her arms, and there were
only those three in the room.
“ Helen, you are looking pale. I’m afraid the jour
ney was rather hard for you.”
“O, no.”
She knew that she was pale, and that she trembled.
It vexed her too. Morris was calm enough, and espe
cially paternal. No sudden enlightenment had come to
him. He did not know yet of Sharly’s “understand
ing”; but if he had known, what then ? How could
Sharly’s affairs affect his relations with Helen ?
“Well, little Harebell, are you glad to have big
sister at home?” said he, drawing his chair towards
them, and stroking the child’s curls.
“Yes, gladder ’n I’d be to have a great pile o’ gold,
high as this house! ”
“Flattering! And how are you going to make big
sister happy? ”
“ 0, I shall sit in her lap and tell her stories, and


336
OUR HELEN.
Baby Boy’ll ’muse her, he’s so cunning. And mamma’ll
make her nice things to eat, — and 0, some candy!”
“ That’s right, Harebell. Only make the candy sweet
enough, and she’ll be happy. — Didn’t you and I
have a grand reception last night, Helen ? ”
“ At the post-office, you mean ? O, Morris, wasn’t it
enough to warm one’s heart through and through ? ”
“Yes, I thought so. Did you understand my part
of the ovation ? ”
“Hot then, but I do now; and I love Quinnebasset
for showing such sympathy.”
“ So do I. Blessings on the dear little village.
Blessings on every soul in the whole length and
breadth of it.”
“ On Delia Liscom, too ? ”
“Yes, on Delia Liscom, too,” laughed Morris. “Very
likely she’d be glad to see me hung in ‘jeopardy,’ as
Miss O’Neil informed me just now; but as it’s a.down
right impossibility for such a thorough gossip as Delia
to be a real friend to anybody, I overlook her pecca
dilloes. — Did your picture come safely ? ”
“ Yes, thanks to your packing. But you’ve forgotten
to tell me what you’ve been doing this fall. What is
your last work ? ”
“ A study of Old Bluff, wrapped in autumn haze.”
“ O, I want to see it. What does it mean? You
say a picture must always have a meaning.”
“ The name of this is Retrospect. It conveys a
dreamy sense of half-clouded distance, like that which
always envelops the past. By the way, Helen, I
think the past is one great cheat.”
“ Why so ? ”


A MISUNDERSTANDING.
337
“ Because when it comes back to us, we don’t see it
as it was; we see it as we used to think it was.”
“ Can’t understand.”
“ Why, we get deceived sometimes ; imagine things
that are not true — don’t we ? ”
“ O, yes.”
“And even after we are undeceived, the. delusion
still clings to us; the past is steeped in a.haze of our
own fancies, like Old Bluff in a mist.”
“Yes, I understand now. And that is why you
paint Retrospect in a softened light.”
“ Precisely.”
“Cousin Morris, what makes you look so sober?”
said Bel, when half a minute had passed without any
one’s speaking.
“I was thinking, Miss Moppet, of the time when I
believed there was a pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow, and I wish I believed it now.”
“ O, I always knew better ’n that! What a funny
boy ! How old were you ? ”
“As old as I am now; that is, I have imagined
things quite as absurd as that rainbow story within a
very short time.”
“Did you? What was it? ”
“ Bel, dear, I' wouldn’t ask so many questions,” said
Helen, in a low whisper, under cover of a kiss.
“Well, Miss Muffet, once I had a friend, and I
thought she'"cared for me as much as I cared for her;
but she didn’t, not half, or quarter, or a sixteenth part
as much; wasn’t it a pity ? ”
“Yes; I should have thought she would; but —
but — I spected you was goin’ to tell a story.”
22


338
OUR HELEN.
“Naughty little tease,” said Helen, pinching Bel’s
ear, and looking into the fire. Playful little flames
leaped up and caressed the wood softly; she watched
them with a little flutter of the heart, wondering what
Morris would say next.
“Well, it isn’t much of a story, Bel. I built a castle
in Spain — that’s all. I thought they had rocks in that
country to set a house on, but they hadn’t, and I found
my castle was built on the sand. I didn’t know it,
though, till there came a great rain and washed it
away.”
He spoke lightly, and evidently supposed neither of
his listeners had the least idea of his meaning; but
there was a quiet sadness in his tone, which Helen
thought she understood, and she longed to tell him he
had builded better than he knew; but how was it pos
sible for her to say it ? Ah, but she had deceived him
the other day in the cars, with that wicked story of
sisterly attachment; wrung out of her by the emer
gency of the case, to be sure, yet all the same a down
right lie!
“ So you haven’t any castle now ? ” said Bel.
“ No, dear, nor so much as a cobweb left to make
one of. But I must finish my story — and the last
part of it isn’t a fairy-story at all; it’s the up-and-down
truth. I’m going off to leave you, and I’ve come to
say good by.”
Helen pressed her cheek close to Bel’s, not venturing
to look up.
“ Going in the morning,” added Morris.
“ O, no, no, no, don’t go, dorUt go ! ”
Of course it was the little one who spoke, springing


A MISUNDERSTANDING.
339
out of her sister’s arms into his. Helen, suddenly-cold
and dizzy, took up the tongs and arranged the fire; but
the glare and - flicker of the coals hurt her now, and
she closed her eyes in pain.
“Hot going, Morris? . What makes you? Where
do you go ? ”
Her voice was constrained ; cold, he thought.
“To New York, Helen, to work.”
“ But you were taking autumn sketches here.”
“Autumn is over now.”
“But you’ll come back for winter sketches ?”
“ Why should I ? ”
“Because it’s just pearls and diamonds here in the
winter.”
“No doubt; but I’ve already planned more work
than I can do in two years.”
“O, wait now, and hear we,” pleaded Bel, with a
grieved lip. “You must come back, cousin Morris;
you must, for we shall all cry so if you don’t! ”
“Do you really want me, little one? That does me
good! I’ll come back some time, Bel, if I have good
news to bring. You’d wait till you had good news, if
you were in my place — now wouldn’t you ? ”
“You don’t mean those stupid papers from Washing
ton,” exclaimed Helen ; “ you wouldn’t wait for those.”
She. spoke like herself now, all the restraint gone.
“ I don’t know; perhaps I can wait if I try.”
“ Why, Moms, it’s nothing in the world but foolscap
and trumpery! ”
“ Peter Schemil’s shadow might be called trumpery
by the world in general, Helen, but he couldn’t live
without it.”


340
OUR HELEN.
“ O, fie! Peter was morbid.”
“ Cousin Morris,” said Sharly, coming in with her
worsted-work, and leaning over the back of his chair,
“mamma says, JBe sure to go into the library before
you leave; she has something particular to say.”
What a pretty, caressing manner Sharly had! Helen
liked it especially well just now, for she thought it must
be soothing to Morris; but she could never have leaned
over his shoulder in that way, much less have stroked
the hair on his forehead.
She knew Sharly must be expecting a visitor; for
she could see her exquisite little slippers peeping out
from the folds of a flowing brown poplin, and observed
that in walking about the room, she managed to set
things to rights, here and there, with a touch. Present
ly Mr. Hackett entered; and after Mr. Lynde went
away, he came up to claim the sisterly kiss from Helen,
which she had promised through Sharly.
It was very pleasant, and an entirely new sensation,
this of having a grown-up brother; and Helen de
clared to herself, over and over, that she was very
happy.
As for Morris, what a strange interview she had had
with him! It had begun and ended in a misunder
standing a thousand times foggier than his picture of
Old Bluff. However, he would come again in the even
ing; and then somehow the fog would blow away.
But he did not come, and she saw no more of him
till next morning, when he ran in hurriedly to bid the
family good by. As usual, everybody was sorry enough
to lose him, while he pretended to take their lamenta
tions all in sport, and to be going away in high spirits.


A MISUNDERSTANDING, y 341
It was all over, and the door had closed npon him,
before the truth fairly came home to Helen that he was
gone, and their broken conversation of yesterday would
not be finished.
She stood like one dazed, still feeling the warm clasp
of his hand, and hearing the words, “ Good by, Helen ;
God bless you.” He had come to her last, though she
was in the very middle of the group.
“I don’t believe you care one bit about cousin Mor
ris,” said Vic, reproachfully; “you haven’t once said
you were sorry to have him go.”
“What chance has Helen had to speak?” asked
Mrs. Asbury, smiling, but glancing a little curiously at
the silent girl. “ You children talk so fast that we
older ones are obliged to keep still.”
“But are you sorry, sister? Just say so, and I’ll
believe it.”
“ Yes, very, very sorry; but you mustn’t expect me
to cry, Vic, for it hurts my eyes.”
Thereupon Vic was satisfied; but Mrs, Asbury still
pondered.


•342
OUR HELEN.
CHAPTER XXXY.
sharlt’s confession.
“ What’s writ is writ; would it were worthier.”
T HE days seemed much alike after this. Winter
set in early, with a white glare, and Helen dared
not look at the snow, even from the windows. Her
chief exercise consisted in brisk walks across the front
entry and through the cold chambers, for Intervale
Cottage did not boast of a furnace. When the twins
met her in her promenades, muffled to the chin, they
called out, —
“ Well, my lady, how is the travelling to-day ?” and
Helen threw back some playful answer, though it must
be confessed that she found it hard work sometimes to
be cheerful. As she wrote Di, she felt “like ‘ still cider’
nowadays; the sparkle was all gone.”
“ Shall I ever look back to this winter and say,
‘ When I had that trouble with my eyes ’ ? I tell you,
Di, it’s very easy to have faith when you know exactly
how things are going to turn out! But with this great
thick curtain of uncertainty right before you, faith does
come hard! £ Howsomdever,’ as Mrs. Nason says, I
may never have another opportunity just like this to-
learn patience, and I’d better be about it.”


SNARLY’S CONFESSION. 343
A few times in dull days she ventured to take short
runs in the front yard with an umbrella over her head,
and her eyes protected by a lovely pair of smoke-col
ored goggles. But one day a traveller, passing the
liouse, and seeing her going at such flying speed, stopped
at the Liscoms to inquire what crazy woman they had
in the village, and why she wasn’t taken to the Plospital ?
After this, Helen felt obliged to walk very circumspect
ly whenever she went out with goggles and umbrella.
Mrs. Asbury read aloud when she could spare the
time, the twins when they could think of it; and Shar-
ly’s intentions were good, but she never got beyond the
first page of Froude’s History of England, owing to the
daily letters to Mr. Hackett. “ It was surprising how
anxious the man was about Helen’s eyes! ” said little
Sharly, laughing.
The great event was Theresa’s departure for Aroos
took. She called herself a “ weak sister,” and wished
her heart was “ as hard as linkumvity,” so she wouldn’t
mind leaving her old friends. She wrote after her arri
val that she was “ all scrimped up with the cold,” and
it was “ kind o’ lonesome olf there, nobody to neighbor
with, you know ; ” but ended by declaring she was “ the
happiest woman in these United States, and was proper
glad she had come. Hoped the Asbury children would
all experience pure and undefiled religion, that fadeth
not away. Yours truly, Theresa Bumpus B.”
They all missed Theresa at first, but soon got on very
comfortably without her. The evenings especially were
always pleasant, for Helen had plenty of young friends,
who vied with one another in trying to make her im
prisonment as cheerful as possible.


344
OUR HELEN.
On the whole, considering the extra amount of taffy,
butter-scotch, and oilnut candy consumed in the fami
ly, the twins pronounced it the joiliest winter they had
ever spent. It was so nice to have Helen in the house,
with nothing to do but knit baby’s stockings and talk.
They supposed she did suffer; but then the goggles
made her look like a frog; it was really too funny!
“Glad you bear it so well,” said Helen, demurely.
“You show a great deal of fortitude.”
Sharly’s “understanding” had become a full-grown
engagement, and she was quite ojien about it now, es
pecially since she had heard it hinted that Eleonora
Jones was “the least bit in the world envious.” Hot
that Sharly had a desire to triumph over Eleonora or
anybody else; only it was rather gratifying to know
that Silas was appreciated in the very highest quar
ters. There was one thing certain; Judith Willard
was not at all disturbed by Mr. Hackett’s engagement;
on the contrary, she rejoiced in it.
Helen watched Sharly tripping about the house,
with little snatches of song on her li]:>s, and had not the
least excuse for “ worrying ” as to the state of her affec
tions. “Your voice is as sweet as. a robin’s, Sharly.”
“ Is it ? — There, I meant to read to you this af
ternoon, but I suppose I ought to finish this splasher.
Silas’s birthday is coming next week.”
“ 0, yes, never mind the reading. I do very well.”
“I know it, Helen; you look as contented as a kit-
'ten, sitting there in that dark corner. I suppose you
can bear it better because everybody jnties you so. —
Now don’t shake your head. You are very much ad
mired, too. Judith Willard says you are a heroine, and


SNA ELY’S CONFESSION. 345
Dr. Prescott calls you a philosopher. How do you
keep up your spirits ? ”
“Do I keep them up, though ? Well, there’s a little
refrain, that’s always running through my mind, to the
tune of 4 Bunker Hill.’ 4 Remember Mrs. Page.’ — I
keep humming that over to myself whenever I begin to
dwell upon my own troubles, 4 Remember Mrs. Page,’
and I won’t let the dark waters go over me; I won’t, I
won’t, I vjonH ! ”
44 O, Helen, you’re strong-minded. I don’t think
strong-minded people deserve the least credit, for my
part. If you were like me, now, so sensitive, so alive
to every feeling, you couldn’t bear this as you do; I’m
sure you couldn’t.”
44 4 Don’t talk about suffering here below,’ ” cried
Helen, shivering at the bare thought of her beloved
Sharly’s having anything to endure.
44 And to think of your taste for painting,” went on
Sharly, heedless that she was giving pain. 44 Cousin
Morris says it’s in you to make a first-class artist; and
here you are moped up in the house, and can’t look at
a brush.”
44 Well, I ought to be thankful it is in me, even if it
has to stay there,” said Helen, shutting her teeth to
gether hard.
44 Do you know what Morris calls you? ”
'“Ho.” ''O
44 He told mother you were a skylark with your
wings clipped.”
44 Did he? He’d call me a chimney-swallow now, if
he could see me hovering over the pots and kettles.
Isn’t it nice that I am so much better as to wash
dishes ? ”


346
OUR HELEN.
“Ah— urn. Just as a body thinks. But, Helen, I
never did understand about Morris’s popping off so
suddenly last fall — did you ? ”
“ He said he had ever so much painting to do, I be
lieve.”
“Yes; but it was rather odd; you know we all
thought so, for he did seem to care so much for you;
and as true as you live, Helen, I believed there really
was — ”
“ Fie ! you foolish Sharly — ”
“ Some sort of understanding between you; so there! ”
“ Charlotte D. Asbury, you’re just like all engaged
girls. You look upon life as a kind of checker-board,
and when you are married you’ll get into the king-row
and be crowned, and that’s the end of it. Now I want
to talk to you about something else besides matrimony,
if I can make you feel interested. I want to talk about
what I shall do to earn money. I’ve an idea of learn
ing the piano: what say ? ”
“ Why, you can’t look at the keys.”
“Not yet, though pei’haps I can by and by. And
I can play with my eyes shut, for there are blind pia
nists, you know. I wish you were competent to instruct
me, Sharly, and I’d begin this very day. Don’t you
think by a few months’ study I should be able to teach
little girls ? ”
“ Why, Helen, you could do it now.”
“Yes; but I wouldn’t. It would be like Naomi
Giddings’ taking that class in Virgil, when she hadn’t
been through the Latin Reader.”
“ Now, Helen, you know as much as half the teach
ers : you understand music twice as well as I.”


She could never have leaned over his shoulder in that way.” — Page


I
I


SHARIF'S CONFESSION. 347
“O, well, you’re a prodigy; you don’t need to know
anything; it’s all intuitive. Now I’ve been thinking,
if Mrs. Loring would only come here and give me les
sons, it would be just the thing, for she is so accom
plished in music. And who knows but she might, for
she is very lonely this winter, with her husband in the
legislature, and no children in the house. Think
’twould do any harm to ask her ? ”
“ Perhaps not,” replied Sharly, waiting till she had
counted a few stitches. “ Splashers ” were more im
portant to her than business affairs.
“ I’m so glad you don’t object, Sharly, for I should
be sorry to moftify your pride. Let’s see; what music
have you here ? It won’t hurt me just to look at the
titles — Chopin ; Beethoven’s Sonatas.”
As she turned over the sheets, something dropped to
the floor. She stooped and picked it up. “ A letter
to me. How very strange! And the seal has been
broken ! ”
“ That — why, that — I thought I put it away,” stam
mered Sharly, reaching out her hand for the letter.
“ You mustn’t read it: think of your eyes, Helen ! ”
“Mustn’t open my own letter, indeed !”
“ O, no, no; please don’t; do give it to me. I’ll ex
plain it all by and by,” cried Sharly, seizing the letter
in a sort of frenzy, and wrenching it from her sister’s
grasp. This was too much.
“ I am in no mood for child’s play,” exclaimed Helen,
authoritatively. “ That is my letter, and I must have it.”
“ Why, Helen, you really show temper,” said Sharly,
looking shocked. “Didn’t I tell you I’d explain if you’d
wait? Hark, there’s the door-bell; Mr. Jones, I’ll
warrant.”


348
OUR HELEN.
And off ran quick-witted Sharly, with the contested
letter safe in her bosom, leaving Helen to pick up the
wandering worsteds she had left, and face the guest
with a smile, if she could.
Mr. Jones came often, and usually brought some lit
tle offering in his hand ; sometimes a well-selected bou
quet from his own green-house for Mrs. Asbury ; some
times the last new book or magazine to discuss with
the family ; now and then some dainty dish for Helen,
with his mother’s compliments. As he was a perfect
gentleman, a good small-talker, and never wearisome,
both the girls found his visits very agreeable. “ And
he is so safe ! ” said the experienced Sharly: “ no matter
how often he comes; Silas would never think of being
jealous.”
But Sharly and everybody else had made a slight
mistake in regard to Mr. Jones: his delicate attentions
were not so aimless as it might appear.
“ Why, what a short call! ” said Sharly, rushing back
for her splasher the moment she heard the front door
close. “ I don’t believe you talked to him much. Didn’t
he inquire for me? There, Helen, you’re looking so
handsome, and you may thank me, for it’s all owing to
your getting so excited over that letter.”
Until this moment Helen had entirely forgotten the
letter.
“ Now you’ll be ashamed of your temper, for I’ve
come, like a good little girl, on purpose to ’fess,” said
Sharly, dropping on her knees.
“ Here it is; hold it while I read ; but if you ever
tell anybody, I’ll never, no, never forgive you.”
The letter bore date of the last October, and read
after this wise : —


SHARLY'S CONFESSION. 349
“Dear Madam: Your MS., entitled ‘The Stormy-
Bridal, or The Wife-Hater,’ has been duly read, and we
regret to say will not serve our purpose. Thanking
you, &c., &c.”
The signature was that of one of the leading publish-
ing-houses in Boston.
“ Never sent a line to a publisher in my life. ‘ The
Wife-Hater ’ ? That must be Bluebeard. What in
the world — Aren’t you going to speak, Sharly ? ”
The child was in a paroxysm of laughter. .“Wait
till my heart stops going pitty-pat,” said she, with a
pretty make-believe of shame. “It was I, Helen.* I
wrote the story; and now put an end to me, for I
don’t feel fit to live.”
“You, Charlotte Asbury — you wrote a story?”
cried Helen, clasping her hands and laughing for very
amazement.
Shaily looked aggrieved now. “ There, I knew you’d
make fun of me, and think I was too ambitious. You
never did have any opinion of my abilities, and I didn’t
mean you should know it. But after you once saw the
letter you wouldn’t be satisfied, and I had to tell you.
Yes, Helen, it was a novel, that was; and I wrote it to
help support the family. — Why, Helen Asbury, you’re
shaking this minute! ”
“ Go on, Sharly; it’s enough to make a pyramid
shake!”
“Yes, laugh at me, do! You don’t appreciate me,
Helen, and never did. 0, I’ve borne a great deal of
looking down upon, but mamma has been the worst.
She thought I didn’t care about our being poor; she
thought you were the only one that cared and wanted


350
OUR HELEN.
to work; but all the time I was working, — O, how
hard I worked ! ”
“ You darling child ! And this — this novel — you
sent it in my name, did you ? ”
“Well, yes. I was afraid it would be rejected, and
I didn’t want it coming back to my address, for Mr.
Willard would mistrust what it was.”
“But you were willing he should think it was your
sister Helen’s. Thank you, dear! ”
“Well, you weren’t at home, and any way I didn’t
think you’d care ; you don’t, do you, Helen ? ”
'“ Hot one fig. But what was the story about ? ”
“ O, there was a man that was married in a dark
night, in a thunder-storm, to the wrong woman. He
thought it was Leonora, but it was her wicked foster-
sister, Madeline. And then — Do you want to hear
the rest ? ”
“Yes, some time, when my nerves are stronger.”
“ Why, Helen, how strangely you look! You don’t
care ? ”
“Ho; O, no. But tell me, did you make your her
oine say, —
“ c Ah, my sister, my sister! Eyes have you, but they
see not, ears have you, but they hear not. If you were
not here Mr. would love me. You are standing
between me and the sun. If you don’t step out of the
way, you cruel girl, I shall freeze to death ! ’ ”
Helen repeated the words without pause or mistake.
“Why, yes; Madeline said that, as she,stood over
Leonora in the night with a,bottle of prussic acid in
her hand; but how did you know?”
“ One of your slips of paper was found on the floor,
and I saw it,” replied Helen, quietly.


SHA ELY’S CONFESSION.
351
“ O, well, I don’t care now; but you mustn’t tell.”
“ No, I'shan’t; but what did you mean by Mr. ? ”
“ Why, that was the hero, Algernon Fitzwilliam.
You see I didn’t decide on the Fitzwilliam till I began
to copy it off. You don’t know what a bother that last
name was to me.”
It had been a far gi-eater bother to Helen; that
name, or rather the lack of-a name ! Had it not been
the means of exiling her to St. Louis, and bringing all
sorts of calamities upon her devoted head ? But this
Sharly should never know, the dear unconscious child ;
though it would have been a satisfaction to tell Delia
Liscom! Mr. Fitzwilliam indeed ! It was impossible
to help laughing.
“You wouldn’t think it was so funny if you’d seen
how I worked. And then to have it come back ! I
tell you this writing is nothing but luck. If Judith
Willard had written ‘ The Wife-Hater ’ now! ”
“ But, Sharly,” said Helen, as seriously as she could,
“ what made you think of undei’taking a novel, when
you have never had any practice in wilting ? ”
“ O, I got Vic to weave the plot. She hadn’t any
idea how I was going to use it, though.”
“ Vic ? It must have been a wild one ! ”
“Yes, anil there was the trouble, I suppose; for I’m
sure the language was good It was a little too absurd
having Algernon meet Leonoi’a and her father on the
ship — and the storm and the pick-up by boats — ”
“Did you send the stoi-y anywhere else ? ”
“No ; I was disgusted when it came back, and burnt
it up. I don’t care for fame now,” said Sharly, blush
ing, and looking into the fire ; “ but I ask you, haven’t
I done what I could for the family ? ”


352
OUR HELEN.
Helen wanted to say “ Ho, you have done what you
couldn’t; ” but she prudently held her peace. Sharly
had made a great effort; and, considering her natural
instability, it really was extraordinary ; but she would
never try to do anything more; she was going to be
married next summer; and “O dear, of all the piles of
sewing! ”
“Dear little thing,” thought Helen, with a sudden
pang of envy, as she looked at the bright young face*;
“she is in a beautiful dream-land. Ab, well, let her
stay there; but I, for my part, must be wide awake.
I’ll go this minute, and ask mother if she won’t call and
talk with Mrs. Loring about the music-lessons.”


SHARLY’S CONFESSION.
358
CHAPTER XXXVI.
“ EXTRACTS.”
“ Cheerfully, like a child of God.”
Qdinnebasset, April 3.
EAR DIDO : Aunt Marian interviewed me last
week on the Pitkin Jones affair. She had just
returned from a long stay in Boston with aunt Pauline
Raymond, who is sick; and I supposed she had given
up the care of our family during her absence; but no,
indeed.
“ Why, auntie, how in the world did you ever hear
of that ? ” said I, “ I’ve been so private about it.”
“ Pitkin told me himself last winter, Helen. He
thought he was doing you a high honor, and I thought
so too.”
“ Told her! ” She got it out of him by questions,
of course.
“ And Helen, you may imagine my surprise, when I
learned the sequel yesterday! I never could have
dreamed of your refusing a fine young man like that,
and a church member — too/ What have you against
him?” said she.
We were sitting together in our little sitting-room,
and she had brought her work, which was a thibet
dress to mend.
23


354
OUR HELEN.
“ Nothing at all against him, annt Marian.”
“ Now that’s absurd. It is something, of course,”
said she, looking up in her “ eminently practical ” man
ner, as if she were going to sift the whole thing
through the sieve of common sense.
“Isn’t he intelligent enough?”
“ Yes’m..”
“ You don’t like his manners ?”
“ They are perfect.”
“Well, he’s wealthy, and a general favorite. So
what can it be ? O, too old, perhaps ? ”
“ I never thought of his age. I simply don’t love
him, aunt Marian.”
“ Is that all ? ”
“ All, and quite enough, I think. I wouldn’t marry
a man I didn’t love, if he were ‘ brother to the sun, and
king of the four and twenty umbrellas,’ ” said I, as
bold as a lion.
“ What do you know about love, child ? ” said she,
cutting me through and through with those steel-blue
eyes of hers.
“I have an idea what it is, ma’am; every girl has.”
“Ah, you’ve dreamed a dream — have you? And
how does the right one look ? ”
“He doesn’t look like Pitkin Jones.”
“ Indeed! And so you throw away an excellent
offer, because you fancy it doesn’t come from the right
source ? ”
“ Yes’m.”
“ I’ve no patience with you! Do you know you may
never have another opportunity so good as this, as
long as you live ? ”


EXTRA CTS.
355
“ Yes’m, I don’t expect I shall,” said I, shocked to
the ends of my fingers to hear such very practical
remarks !
“ Well, what then? Suppose nobody should ever
arrive who quite suits your fastidious fancy.”
“Then I shall never marry; that’s all.”
“Yes, that will be the amount of it, though you
don’t think so now, and don’t mean a word you say.
You will settle down into an old maid, Helen Asbury,
as sure as you live.”
“ You can’t frighten me that way, auntie. I’d rather
be an old maid than marry Mr. Jones.”
“Nonsense ! If he was distasteful to you, or you could
bring up any reasonable objection, it would be all very
well; but you ought to have a little forethought and
common sense, Helen, and consider how you are situat
ed. Here you are, with no prospect of ever being able
to paint again, and nothing to fall back upon, refusing
the good fortune which Providence kindly holds out to
you. It seems to me absolutely wicked. What do you
expect to do for your own support ? ” said she, with
that chilly look, that makes me want to get nearer the
fire.
“ I begin to-day to teach a music-class,” said I, and
it was the first she had heard about it.
“ A music-class! You’re not competent.”
Then I told her of my three months’ course under
Mrs. Loring’s instruction. We’ve all felt a wicked
delight in keeping this from the Inspector General.
(Beg mamma’s pardon, I promised not to use that pet
name again!)
She was amazed — I declare I did feel a little triune
phant.


856
OUR HELEN.
“ But you’ll find it very hard to get scholars.”
“ Hot at all so, auntie. I have fifteen already.”
More amazement. Then I named them over: Katie
Haokett, Maggie Selden, &c., &c. She dropped her
work, and was too excited to be able to thread her
needle; for of course she was mending the dress with
ravellings of the same, in the very best manner.
But I needn’t expect to triumph a great while where
aunt Marian is. I happened to mention that Mrs. Lor-
ing and Mr. Jones had both been-interested in getting
up the class; and she rated me soundly for “letting
Mr. Jones do anything for me, after I had treated him
so unhandsomely.”
In vain I assured her we were the best of friends,
and he thought I had done exactly right; she would
listen to nothing but her own voice. O, how hard it
is to appreciate that woman !
N. B. She said afterwards to mother, “ I approve
of this music-class. There is a great deal more of
Helen than I ever used to think. I shall begin to
own her as a Dillingham ! ”
Heedn’t trouble yourself, auntie; I’m satisfied to be
an Asbury.
Well, and how do I like teaching?
O, it is glorious to be alive once more! Three
months of making believe dead has quite cured me
of idleness, and I’d enjoy any work, even shingling a
barn.
It takes patience — some of the girls haven’t any
“ears,” and can’t “carry a tune;” and of all the dis
cords ! Sharly runs out of the house during lesson
hours, for her ear is too exquisitely fine to endure it.


EXTRACTS.
357
These are the very girls she might have had last spring,
or two years ago; but I’m glad she didn’t undertake it,
for she is too sensitive to teach music. Mother wishes
she was too sensitive to work worsteds. I find this
eternal “filling-in” is positively Avearing to mother’s
nerves; so it seems she does possess nerves, though
she has a Avonderful gift of concealing them.
You ask about cousin Morris. We have weekly
letters from him (not Aveakly). He is as bright and
busy as ever, but I don’t knoAV Avhether he Avill visit us
this summer or not.
Theresa writes occasionally; confesses that “his
little girl is a case,” but is in the highest spirits ; feels
that she is in the right place, and signs herself “yours
truly, Theresa Bumpus B.”
April 5. — O, Di, Ave have neAvs to-day, that Mrs. Page
is dead, and her husband is coming with her remains
this afternoon by a special train. We were not pre
pared for this, as the superintendent had pronounced
her fully restored to reason, and she was about to return
home, Avell and in tolerable spirits.
Evening. — It is all a mistake. She merely had
a dying attack, caused very likely by Ozem’s guileless
behavior (he is visiting at the hospital), and Avith her
usual forethought she instructed him just Avhat to do
Avith her remains. O, those poor remains of hers, how
many times they have been buried — in imagination !
He did as directed; Avent to the conductor and char
tered a special train — the only trouble Avas, he Avas
ahead of the times, as usual — “Dorkis” failed to per
form her part of the agreement, and Ozem could not
fulfil his contract with the railroad.


358
OUR HELEN.
Vic says, “Somehow it doesn’t seem as if ‘Dorkis
ever will die, because she never has died, you know.”
Sharly won’t be married till fall, and we’re all so
glad! Ever yours, Helen.
Quinnebasset, June 12.
You dear little Diamond: You say “Let us
bury Mr. Salloway in the Dead Sea; ” and I hasten to
the funeral. It is a capital grave for him, dear, and
may he sink quite, quite to the bottom !
You ask if I’m happy? Yes, very — or I suppose
so, for I never think anything about it. Of course life
isn’t what we exjiected it would be, when we were
young, say fourteen and sixteen ; but it’s sublime, and
what’s the use wasting a minute of it in vain regrets
for what might have been, when there is Some One
taking care of all our affairs, and doing better for us
than we can ask or think ?
You say, “ In childhood you fancy there’s such a
good time for you in the world.”
I know it. The trees and flowers promise it, and
the blue sky, and the stars. But after long years of
disappointment (we are twenty-two now!), when you
are perhaps giving up and thinking it is all a cheat,
and there is no happiness, you turn and find it in ymir
own heart! Right there, Di, shut in like honey in a
cell. I suppose the “peace that passeth understand
ing” is the . name for it, and when it comes to you so
softly, then the old glamour is over everything again,
just as it was in the far-away days of your childhood.
I like my music class more and more, and my eyes
grow better and better. I do hope I shall paint again


EXTRACTS.
359
some time; I certainly do ; as soon as next fall perhaps.
This long waiting has only made me all the more eager
for work.
“ Still our place is kept, and it will wait,
Ready for us to fill it soon or late;
No star is lost we once have seen ;
We always may be what we might have been.”
P. S. I’m glad you continue to like Mr. Sanborne
so well. How did he happen to change his mind and
go with you to Rome ? Hid he have anything to do
with casting Mr. S. into the Dead Sea aforesaid ? These
are rather saucy questions, but you must remember
I am
Niece to the Inspector General.
Quinnebasset, Sept. 12.
Dearest Di : Such an excitement! The bells are
ringing all over town, and you can’t guess what has
happened. Morris Lynde has received an honorable
discharge from the army! Yes, a,t last! He tele
graphed the news to mother, and somehow Delia Lis-
com heard of it before we did, and spread it all over
town. Then the church bell, the court-house bell, and
the bell in Memorial Hall, began to peal at the same
instant, as if they were rung by electricity — or a corps
of boys.
Morris is coming to-morrow night, and —
Sept. 13. — You never saw any one more over
whelmed with astonishment than Morris was when lie
arrived last evening. You see,- the first thing he heard
was a cannon. The men and boys had dragged it all
the way from Poonoosac, and tugged it up to the very


360
OUR HELEN.
tip-top of Jubilee Hill, back of our old bouse ; and the
moment the' stage came in sight, they fired it off.
Morris asked very innocently, “Who’s elected?” sup
posing they were celebrating a political victory. “ W e
are only congratulating a man whom Quinnebasset de
lights to honor,” said Dr. Prescott. “Do you know
of a native of this town who has been abused by the
government, and. has just got his rights at last ?”
Then all the men and boys at the post-office — and
I suppose it was half the village — took off their hats
and cheered with a three times three.
But that isn’t all of it. They have let him run into
our house long enough to get a few breaths, and at
eight o’clock they are coming en masse to march him
off to Memorial Hall. I’ve come up to my room to
calm myself a bit, for we are all going to the hall to a
grand banquet. The twins are perfectly hilarious, and
I tell mother she must take them in hand, for it will be
as much as I can do to dress Sharly’s hair in the new
style, and help Mrs. Dr. Willard make the coffee.
Yours, in a high state of flutter,
Helen.


CONGRA TULA T10NS.
361
CHAPTER XXXVII.
CONGRATULATIONS.
“ ‘ Joy never feasts so high
As when the first course is misery,’ ”
S AID Mrs. Asbury, thinking of her nephew’s long
years of waiting.
It was a great jollification, and everybody came to
it, from the remotest corner of the Wix neighborhood
to the very borders of Poonoosac; from the head of Me-
dumscott Pond to the foot of Old Bluff; the top, cen
tre, and sides of Quinnebassett, with bits of several
Other towns thrown in.
The tables in Memorial Hall were loaded down with
“ all sorts of genteelnesses done in sugar,” not to men
tion fish, flesh, and fowl, or the enormous oyster-stew
over which Miss Delia Liscom presided with as high an
air of importance as her stature of four feet six inches
would allow.
Mr. Lynde received all his felicitations with an air of
gratitude which gained universal approval. He also
did his best at trying to talk with everybody at once,
and appearing to eat a little of every viand offered him ;
for he would not be such an ingrate as to confess, even
to himself, that a quiet evening with his aunts and
cousins would have been preferable to all this hilarity.


362
OUR HELEN.
“Mr. Lynde, allow me to congratulate )on," sain
Mrs. Hinsdale, rustling towards him in her stateliest
black silk, and smiling graciously, though there was an
undercurrent of disapproval in her manner even now,
for aunt Marian was an eminently investigating per
son, and it had never been quite clear to her logical
mind why Mr. Lynde should spend so much time in
Quinnebasset, if he did not intend to marry either of
her grown-up nieces.
“We have not seen you here for a very long time,
Mr. Lynde.”
“No, madam; my engagements have been quite
pressing during the past year.”
“ I know your aunt and the girls have missed }’ou
exceedingly. Isn’t it fortunate that Helen’s eyes are
better? ”
“ Very.”
“ You have heard of her teaching music. I believe
you correspond with Helen ? ”
“ Occasionally; yes.”
“ It seems so sensible and practical of her to turn to
the very thing she could do, when painting failed. She
has shown an eminently Christian spirit too. I take
pains to say this to you, Mr. Lynde, because I wish you
to understand and appreciate my favoi’ite niece.”
“ Thank you, madam.”
Mr. Lynde had never smiled so warmly upon Mrs.
Hinsdale before, and the good woman felt attracted
in spite of her judgment, but said to herself imme
diately, —
“ I really believe it is this man, with his fascinating
manners, who has bewitched Helen, and cast poor Pit-


CONGRA TULA TIONS.
363
kin in the shade. I’m determined to find out, once for
all, whether he has any serious intention's. Sister
Katharine is so easy that I suppose she never gives it a
thought.” Helen was somewhere in sight, and nothing
but his good manners prevented Mr. Lynde from leav
ing Mrs. Hinsdale and going over to her. “ Have you
observed how handsome Helen grows, Mr. Lynde ?”
“ Does she ? She scarcely needed any improvement.”
“ Now, that is sheer gallantry, Mr. Lynde. Of course
you know, as well as I do, that Helen was one of the
large, quiet sort of girls that grow better-looking as they
grow older. I tell her uncle Charles she will make a
really beautiful old maid.”
“ Ah, is that to be her destiny ? ‘ By the pricking of
my thumbs, something comic this way comes,’ ” re
marked Mr. Lynde, as Miss O’Neil approached, of
course putting a sudden end to the conference, and
leaving Mrs. Hinsdale as much in the dark as ever.
“I’m so glad the war has cleared you, Mr. Lyman,”
said Miss O’Neil, extending her mitted hand with her
courtliest smile ; for somehow the fancy had struggled
through the cobwebs of her brain, that she herself had
instigated and directed all the honors he was receiving
to-night. “I never did believe you were guilty of
stealing, and if you’ve got a friend in this town, it’s
Norah O’Neil.”
“ Thanks, my dear lady,” said Mr. Lynde, bowing
low over the still handsome hand.
“Ah, Mr. Lyman, your manners remind me of the
young men I used to know at Machias, very much
so,” said the old lady, highly delighted.
“Indeed!” His eyes were roving towards a group


364
OUR HELEN.
a few feet distant, of which Helen was the centre, and
he was thinking how much her face had gained in
meaning since lie saw it last. “ It grows fairer every
year in the qualities of the soul. There has been a
great change since I met her first in Boston ; the stub
born look is all gone now, and she is as sweet as a
‘ saint’s lily.’ ”
“Yes,” continued Miss O’Neil, “ there was one of them ?
by the name of .Fontleroy, that my father and I met at
Boston; and he went with us to the Athenaeum. It
was before I joined the church, and I think it was called
‘ The Taming of the Slioe; ’ at any rate, a man came out
and began with one accord to scream as loud as he
could scream : ‘ My kingdom for a — a — ’ I declare I
forget what.”
“ Could it possibly have been a horse ? ” suggested
Mr. Lynde, with infinite gravity, his eyes still wander
ing to that charmed group. Sharly had come up now
and joined it.
“ As hopelessly pretty as ever,” thought the artist.
t£ Sharly’s beauty is too complete; it has a smoothness,
like some of Pope’s verses, which becomes a little fa
tiguing sometimes. Now Helen’s face — ”
“ It doesn’t seem to me it was a horse,” said Miss
O’Neil; “but it’s no matter now. Mr. Fontleroy was
a great admirer of mine, and that’s why I always thought
so much of you, Mr. Lyman.
Half a dozen people were standing near, listening, to
this highly edifying conversation.
“Did you really tell Delia Liscom you were going
away in the morning ? ” asked some one.
“I told the stage-driver so; perhaps .Miss Liscom
heard me.”


CONGRA TULA TIONS.
365
“Not to-morrow ! ” exclaimed two or three voices.
“ Well, I’m sure I’m sorry ; and it reminds me of the
last evening I spent with Mr. Fontleroy,”- said the old
lady, shrewdly following the direction Mr. Lynde’s eyes
were .taking. “He tried his best to declare himself,
but there was such a crowd coming and going that he
couldn’t find a chance. It was at Mrs. Gilman’s par
ty, and I always thought Mrs. Gilman was to blame. —
Doe3 Helen know you are going away in the morn
ing?” added she, so abruptly that Mr. Lynde began to
think she was losing the remnant of her mind.
“Helen? No: I have not mentioned it to any one.
I have hardly seen my friends yet.”
“Well, she ought to know it! — Helen Asbury ! ”
exclaimed Miss O’Neil in a higher key, “ come here a
minute; I want to see you.”
Helen came, just a little tardily, with a slight look of
apprehension in her face; for what embarrassing posi
tion the bird-witted spinster might be about to place
her in, it was impossible to foresee.
“Hush!” said she, in a loud whisper. “I called you
because I knew Mr. Lynde wanted to see you ! ”
Purely unselfish for once in her life, and prompted
by the vague wish, —
“ God send them together
Who fain would he loved.”
“He has been looking at you just as Mr. Fontleroy
looked at me the night of Mrs. Gilman’s party; and if
Mrs. Gilman had only found a chance for him to
speak!” said Miss O’Neil, with a sentimental sigh for
the lost husband of her youth; one of the lost hus-


366
OUR HELEN.
bands, for she had a score or two in her memory, and
mourned them, one after another.
Helen dropped her eyes. “Miss O’Neil, if you
have nothing particular to say, please excuse me, and
I’ll run back again. Mr. Jones, and Mate Willard, and
I were discussing a plan for to-morrow.”
“ No, no,” said Miss O’Neil, with playful good humor,
“you shan’t go back. I’ll go back myself I’ll slip
olf without his noticing, for I’ve been young myself.
O, yes! ”
“You forget I’m not deaf,” said Mr. Lynde, laugh
ing most unexpectedly, to the infinite relief of Helen,
whose cheeks were now ‘rose sublime.’
“Well, I’m sure I haven’t said anything improper,” '
retorted Miss O’Neil, looking blighted, but immediate
ly recovering; “ and I couldn’t help seeing how steadily
you looked at Helen; but I shouldn’t have taken any
notice of it, though, if you hadn’t said you were going
off to-morrow.”
“ Going to-morrow! ” exclaimed Helen, raising her
flushed face in supreme amazement.
“Yes; I have engaged passage to Europe, and only
came for a hail and farewell.”
“To Europe, Morris! You can’t mean it.”
“Yes, it is as well to go while my laurels are fresh ;
is it not ? ”
“It was just so with Mr. Fontleroy,” sighed Miss
O’Neil. “I never had a supicion he was going away,
but he went to the other end of Massachusetts, and a
friend of mine sent me a paper last week with the
obituary of his death; consumption and bled at the '
lungs; died rich, with a wife and family.”


CONGRA TULA TIONS
367
Mr. Lynde was looking at Helen again, and with
preternatural acuteness the benevolent spinster con
tinued, —
“Well there, I must go before I think of it, and
thank Benjie Prescott for that handkerchief. Did I
show it to you, Helen ? It has ‘ H. O’jST.’ all spangled
with rosebuds in the corner, and came in a letter; but
Delia Liscom says it’s the general opinion that it stands
for Latin, and means fool! She needn’t expect me to
believe that, when Benny was an old scholar of mine,
and I used to keep him under the table half the time
for tickling the boys! ”
With which lucid reasoning, the “ neuralgic old non
descript” departed, to stir up another farrago at the
farther end of the room. Helen turned then to the
window, for she could not run away without rude
ness. Mr. Lynde turned also.
“ What moonlight! What shadows! ” he exclaimed.
.“Yes.”
There was nothing left in the world but moonlight
and deep shadows to Helen just then. So many years
as she had known Morris, such pleasant talks as they
had had together, how could she spare him again, when
a few months without him had seemed so long, and
nobody knew how tedions ! But he was going without
a regret — perhaps would never come back. She
had been entirely deceived in thinking he ever cared
for her. — Well, let him go. Hadn’t she promised her
self she wouldn’t “ eat her heart ” for any man ?
“ Looking at the constellations, Morris ? ” said she in
a tone as cold and clear as her name; he had always
said “ Helen ” was “ a cold word.”


868
OUR HELEN.
“ I am not looking at any constellation in particular.
I was merely thinking how the stars seem to be
crowded together, having friendly times ; whereas they
are really as distant as the worst enemies.”
“ Appearances are deceitful,” said Helen, flippantly.
■.“It is just so down here, Helen. People stand side
by side, and seem to be on the most intimate terms,
when in fact they are eternities apart.”
“I know it; eternities apart,” said she, bending her
head a little to play with the tassel of the window-cur-
tain. She did not mind his taking her hand, for they
were out of the range of people’s eyes; and even had
it been otherwise, every one knew Morris was a family
friend. What she did mind was the untimely down-
plashing of a tear from her eyes ujDon his forefinger.
“In wine is truth;” in tears, too, much oftener.
“ What have I done ? ” was her terrified thought.
“You were going without letting me know,” said
she, like an idiot, — not intending to say that at all,
but something more about the stars.
“And you were letting me go without knowing you
cared,” said Morris, turning towards her with a half
enlightened look, adding very irrelevantly, “ Open con
fession is good for the soul. Helen, it is a fearful
wrench for me to tear myself away from you ; but I can’t
stay where you are, and hear you call me brother.”
“ I’ll make oj:>en confession too — that was a lie,”
said Helen, quickly, though she could have bitten, her
tongue out next moment for its foolishness.
That was all; but the. remark seemed to give entire
satisfaction. Morris looked as if his enlightenment
was complete; and there came a “ clear shining ” in


CONGRA TULA T10NS.
369.
his eyes, like the pleasantness of summer meadows.
There was a gradual illumination of Helen’s face also,
and the slightest possible movement of it towards his
inclining cheek, as he whispered, “ Thank God for the
happiest moment of my life.”
There were no more “ open confessions,” and they
bad time for none, as a sudden thump upon his shoul
der warned Mr. Lynde that Delia Liscom was present
with fan and eye-glass; and next moment Miss O’Neil
rushed up to prepare their minds for some “ singing by
the core.”
It was an odd coincidence that Morris’s face and
Helen’s should both be so radiant, and Miss O’Neil
could not help exclaiming, “I knew lie had some
thing particular to say, Helen ; but he wouldn’t have
found any chance to say it, if it hadn’t been for me.”
Delia saw at once that all her flirting and meddling
had come to nought, and the little umbrella danced a
quickstep, with envy, and what would have been disap
pointment, if hope had not died out long ago; but she
rallied her feminine pride, and said archly,—
“Allow me to be the first to congratulate you, Mr.
Lynde! O, you needn’t think I haven’t had eyes all
this time! ”
As if any one had ever accused Delia of not having
eyes!
Morris and Helen stood together during the “ singing
by the core,” silent, but with the silence the soul keeps
when it confers for the first time consciously with
another soul. And they did not need sjrnech just yet,
for there are no words worthy to stand in the place of
that voiceless communion.
24


370
OUR HELEN.
“ Morris,” whispei’ed Helen, suddenly, “there comes
aunt Marian, Can you hide me anywhere ? ”
“ I’ll take you over to that chair beside Mrs. Page,
and then escort the enemy to the refreshment table and
get her a cup of coffee,” said Mr. Lynde; so the Inspec
tor General was out-generalled for once, and did not
come near Helen that night.
When the jubilee was over, and had been thoroughly
discussed at the Asburys, and the children had gone
up stairs, Mr. Lynde drew his aunt Katharine one
side, with Helen, into the library.
“You can guess what I want to ask of you, dearest
aunt,” said he.
“ Yes, Morris; you want an early breakfast,” said she
with tears in her eyes ; for it was a fashion which ran
through the whole family to veil their real feelings with
a jest. It had always been her dearest wish to see
Morris and Helen united, but she had long ceased to
expect it, and the sudden revival of the old idea
thrilled her now with pain.
“ And what would you like for breakfast? One can
afford to make quite a parade when a nephew is start
ing for Europe.”
“Hot a step do I start for Europe yet a while, and
you can’t bribe me with the best breakfast that was
ever served, my dear, hospitable aunt! ”
“Helen, is it really true? isn’t be going? ” said Mrs.
Asbury, her voice trembling with emotion.
“ He’ll have to go; he has spoken to the stage-driver,
and to Delia and Miss O’Heil,” said Helen, hiding her
face on her mother’s shoulder, and clasping her arms
round her neck.
“ O my precious daughter, how can I give you up ?
How can I do without you ? ”


CONGRA TULA TIONS.
371
After this little outburst of selfishness, Mrs. Asbury
wiped her eyes, and when she spoke again, it was with
her usual loving kindness.
“Thank Heaven it has turned out so exactly as it
should! God bless you both, my children ! ” The
last words were spoken with her hands upon their
heads. “Ah, Morris, I suppose you know, or, if you
don’t, you ought to know, that you are the only man
in the world to whom I would be willing to give our
Helen.”
“My best aunt, my dear mother, there is no man
alive worthy of her,” said Mr. Lynde, fervently.
Then she turned away and left the lovers. For
them life was a path of roses; but for her the roses
had all shed their leaves, and an early winter was set
ting in. Mr. Lynde opened the. door, and called after
her softly.
“ Auntie dear, wait till Sharly is married, and then
we’ll all go abroad together, and the twins shall finish
their education in Pai’is.”
It was a passing thought, and Mr”. Asbury only
laughed as she walked away, little thinking that the
plan would really be carried into effect within another
year.
“You are pur Helen to her and the rest,” said Mor
ris, as the door closed; but to me you are my Helen
henceforth and forever.”
Then he raised her sweet face to see what was writ
ten on it; for she did not show her heart like a wild
rose; she was like a lily which reveals itself only to
those who take the trouble to look.
“ Ah, Helen — ”
Then there was more said on both sides, but not for


872
OUR HELEN.
your ears or mine, my dear girls; so pray let us have
the delicacy to withdraw. I am sure your principles
forbid you to listen at key-holes; moreover, we have
lost our last claim upon this heroine, as she is no longer
Ornt Helen.


SOPHIE MAY’S "GROWN-UP” BOOKS,
Uniform Binding. All Handsomely Illustrated. $1 BO.
IN OLD QUINNEBASSET.
“ It does not seem an exaggerated statement'to say that there is no
living author of books for and about girls who portrays with more
fidelity the mischievous, sparkling, winsome girl of the hearth and
home in all the freshness and sweetness of early youth than does
Sophie May.’ In ‘ In Old Quinnebasset ’ the author sustains her
reputation by taking her readers back one hundred years and intro
ducing them to the equally charming ancestresses of this sweet type.”
—Public Opinion.
JANET, A POOR HEIRESS.
'-‘The heroine of this story is a true girl. An imperious, fault-finding,
unappreciative father alienates net love, and nearly ruins her temper.
Tbe mother knows the father is at, fault, but does not dare to say so.
Then comes a discovery, that she is only an adopted daughter; a for.
saking of the old home; a life of strange vicissitudes; a return; a mar
riage under difficulties; and a discovery, that, after all, she is an heiress.
The story is certainly a very attractive one.”— Chicago Interior.
THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER.
“ Sophie May, author of the renowned Prudy and Dotty books, has
achieved another triumph in the new book with this title just issued,
She has taken ‘ a new departure ’ this time, and written a new story for
grown-up folks. If we are not much mistaken, the young folks will
want to read it, as much as the old folks want to read the books written
for the young ones. It is a splendid story for all ages.” — Lynn Semi-
Weekly Recorder.
THE ASBURY TWINS.
“ The announcement of another work by this charming and popular
writer will be heartily welcomed by the public. And in this sensible,
fascinating story of the twin-sisters, ‘ Vic ’ and ‘ Van,’ they have before
them a genuine treat. Vic writes her story in one chapter, and Van in
the next, and so on through the book. Van is frank, honest, and practi-
cal; Vic wild, venturesome, and witty; and both of them natural and
winning. At home or abroad, they are true to their individuality, and
see things with their own eyes. It is a fresh, delightful volume, well
worthy of its gifted author.” — Boston Contributor.
OUR HELEN.
“ ‘ Our Helen ’ is Sophie May’s latest creation; and she is a bright,
brave girl, that the young people will all like. We are pleased to meet
with some old friends in the book. It is a good companion-book for the
‘Doctor’s Daughter,’and the two should go together. Our Helen’is a
noble and unselfish girl, but with a mind and will of her own; and the
oontrast between her and pretty, fascinating, selfish little Sharley, is very
finely drawn. Lee & Shepard publish it.” — Holyoke Transcript.
QUINNEBASSET GIRLS.
‘‘The story is a very attractive one, as free from the sensational and
impossible as could be desired, and at the same time full of interest, and
pervaded by the same bright, cheery sunshine that we find in the author’s
earlier books. She is to be congratulated on the success of her essay in
a new field of literature, to which she will be warmly welcomed by thos«
who know and admire her ‘ Prudy Books.’ ”
by all booksellers and newsdealers, and sent by mail, postpaid,
on receipt of price.
LEE & SHEPARD, Publishers, Boston.


MARY A. EElNiBOiN’S iNOVELS.
Uniform Edition. Cloth, $1.00-
IP SHE WILL, SHE WILL.
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17


{^TmMkRsm
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A WOMAN’S WORD, AND HOW SHE KEPT IT
" The celebrity of Virginia F. Townsend as an authoress, her brilliant
descriptive powers, and pure, vigorous imagination, will insure a hearty
welcome for the above-entitled volume in the writer’s happiest vein.” —
Fashion Quarterly.
THAT QUEER GIRL
“ A fresh, wholesome book about good men and good women, bright
and cheery in style, and pure in morals. Just the book to take a young
girl’s fancy, and help her to grow up, like Madeline and Argia, into the
sweetness of real girlhood.” — People's Monthly.
ONLY GIRLS
“ This volume shows how two persons, ‘ only girls,’ saved two men
from crime, even from ruin of body and soul. The story is ingenious aDd
graphic, and kept the writer of this notice up far into the Bmall hours of
yesterday morning.” — Washington Chronicle.
The Holland Series Cloth $1.00 each
THE HOLLANDS
SIX IN ALL
THE DEERINGS OP MEDBURY
THE MILLS OP TUXBURY
“ There is a fascination about the stories of Miss Townsend that gives
them a firm hold upon the public, their chief charm being their simplicity
and fidelity to nature.” — Commonwealth.
Meld by all booksellers and newsdealers, and sent by mail, postpaid,
on receipt of price
Vgg AND SHEPARn D,,hi$ S hers Boste-


M ary-qtqries»-
-IflKEMflN'S.© * for GIRLS
RUTH ELIOT’S DREAM
A Story for Girls Cloth Illustrated
$1;
“ Since Mrs. Whitney surprised the reading public with her story of 1 Faith
Gartney’s Girlhood,’ a book which marked the beginning of a new epoch in
young people’s literature, there has been nothing published more exquisitely
delicate and dainty than this little book. It is the record of the girlhood ol
half a dozen young maidens in an old sea-side town. They are genuine New*
England girls, who have known only the protected side of life, although they
arc, with one exception, none of them daughters of rich families, but rather ol
families of position and ancestry, but of merely comfortable means. They
are all of different types, and the whole form a lovable group. Sometime.’
the scenes pictured are so vivid, that the reader cannot help feeling that the
author is giving more than a mere story, and is making a personal record.
Not only is the story exceptionally good, but the manner in which the
book is written is remarkable for its fairness and purity.” — Salem Gazelle.
PRETTY LUCY MERWYN
Cloth Illustrated $1.25
“Is as charming in description as in face, and the gentle current of her
pure, happy life flows smoothly and brightly. There is not much plot to
the story, but only a succession of incidents which introduce us to Lucy’s
friends and pleasant family. The setting of the story is very attractive, and
Lucy’s surroundings are well adapted to so lovely a heroine. She wins
our hearts from the first, and we follow her career with the same pleasure
and interest that we feel in the fortunes of many of the sweet girls of our
actual acquaintance.” — Art Interchange.
FAITH’S FESTIVALS
Price in Cloth Gilt $1.00
In Palatine Boards with Chenille Trimmings 75 cents
“In a white cover, delicately ornamented with a design in gilt, cream*
white, gilt-edged pages give the story ol 4 Faith’s Festivals,’ by Mary
Lakcman. The material of the story’ is as dainty as its outward form
From childhood to old age, Faith finds her golden days upon Christmas
and Easter. It is a simple record ol joy and happiness, so natural that
it seems to portray personal experiences of a real life, and the little booV
is in full harmony with the story.” — Boston JournaL
?old by all booksellers and sent by malt postpaid on receipt of prlu
LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers Boston


|rsae §L Jerome g
.... ®00fig
SUN-PRINTS IN SKY TINTS. Over Thirty Illustrations
engraved on wood, accompanied by appropriate selections in Poetry
ana Prose. Elegant cover design. Size, 7% x 11)4 inches. Price, $3.00.
FROM AN OLD LOVE LETTER. Designed and Illuminated
by Irene E. Jerome. Antique covers, tied with silk, boxed, $1.00.
Each page beautifully decorated and containing some selection from
the New Testament on the subject suggested by the title.
ONE YEAR’S SKETCH BOOK. An Original Series of Ulus-
trations from Nature, comprising forty-six full-page Pictures (9J£ x 14
inches) of great power and beauty, engraved on wood by George T.
Andrew, in the best manner. The volume is bound in gold cloth, full
gilt, gilt edges, $0.00; Turkey Morocco, $15.00; tree calf, $15.00; Eng
lish seal style, $10.00. The same bound in four books, sold separately,
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter; Each book bound in a unique style
of boards, with decorated dies, boxed, $1.50 each.
NATURE’S HALLELUJAH, Presented in a series of nearly
fifty full-page original Illustrations {9]4 x 14 inches), engraved on wood
by George T. Andrew. Elegantly bound in gold cloth, full gilt, gilt
edges, $6.00; Turkey morocco, $15.00; tree calf, $15.00; English seal
style, $10.00.
IN A FAIR COUNTRY. With fifty-five full-page Illustrations,
engraved by Andrew. Nearly 100 pages of Text by Thomas Wentworth
Higginson. Gold cloth, full-gilt $60.00; Turkey morocco, $15.00; tree
calf, $15.00; English seal style, $10.00.
A BUNCH OF VIOLETS. Original Illustrations, engraved on
wood, and printed under the direction of George T. Andrew. 4to, cloth,
$3.75; Turkey morocco, $9.00; tree calf, $9.00; English seal style, $7.00.
THE MESSAGE OF THE BLUEBIRD, Told to Me to
Tell to Others. Original Illustrations engraved on wood by
Andrew. Cloth and gold, $2.00; palatine boards, ribbon ornaments,
$1.00.
"The daintiest combinations of song and illustration ever published, ex
hibiting in a marked degree the fine poetic taste and wonderfully artistic
touch which render this author’s works so popular. The pictures are
exquisite, and the versos exceedingly graceful, appealing to the highest
sensibilities. The volumes rank among the choicest of holiday souveni.J,
and are beautiful and pleasing.” — Boston Transcript.
“ Every thick, creamy page is embellished by some gems of art. Some
times it is but a dash and a few trembling strokes; at others an impressive
landscape, but in all and through all runs the master touch. Miss Jerome
has the genius of an Angelo, and the execution of a Guido. The beauty
of the sketches will be apparent to all, having been taken from our unri
valled New England scenery.” — Washington Chronicle.
Sold by all booksellers, and sent by mail, postpaid, on receipt of price.
LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS BOSTON


Yo
=THE=— HOOK OF-S-—■
UNG FOLKS’ D * POETRY
CONTAINING A COLLECTION OF THE BEST SHORT ANT) E A K\
FOEMS FOR READING AND RECITATION IN
SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES
SELECTED AND ARRANGED BY
LOOMIS J. CAMPBELL
AUTHOR OF “PRONOUNCING HANDBOOK*’ “COLUMBIAN SPEAKER,” ETC.
COMPRISING
Part 1. Simple Poems and Easy Rhymes
Part 2. Select Poems for School and Home
Part 3. Classic Poems for School and Home
Complete in one volume, illustrated, 80 cents net. By mail 85 cents
Separate parts in paper covers, 20 cents eacli, net . By mail 22 cents
Separate parts in board covers, 30 cents each, net. By mail 35 cents
/"tONTAINS upward of two hundred and seventy short poems, which
are, or should be, favorites with children from seven or eight tc
fourteen or fifteen years of age. All the selections are well adapted for
reading aloud and for paraphrasing; as an aid in practical composition,
they may be made of great use.
PEAKING # „
— /
ITTLE SCHOLARS
BOLDER PUPILS
) PlEGES
By Ellen Ortensia Peck
Price, boards, 50 cents
HPHIS, in very truth, is a “rare gem of a book” of its character. I*
-L common phrase, it “ tills the bill ” for the exceedingly useful purpose
for which it was designed. The book includes within its pages originar
recitations and dialogues, charades and entertainments for school exhi*
bitions and home pleasure, with pieces for birthday and wedding
anniversaries, Decoration Day, and other occasional celebrations. The
foundation purpose of the book is grand, — the many varieties of composi.
tion, which include almost numberless methods of expressing beautiful
and valuable thoughts and sentiments; the remarkable adaptability of the
pieces to .elevate the mind, attract the quick and abiding interest of the
reader; the noble spirit; the persuasive and gentle rhythm; rich, yet
plain language, — render this little volume one of substantial merit and
permanent worth ; and as the simple expression of great thoughts appeals
to young and old alike, so “Speaking Pieces” will find admirers otliet
than “ little scholars and older pupils.”
LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers Boston


[EE AMD * * DOLLAR * *
L • SHEPARD’S U • JUVENILES
Comprising the following New Books and New Editions in attractive
English cloth binding and illustrated. Any volume sold
separately $1.00 per volume
OARING-DEEDS SERIES 6 vols. Illustrated
Daring Deeds of the Cld Heroes of the Revolution
The Old Bell of Independence and Other Stories of the Revolutior
The Father of his Country A Young-Folk’s Life of Washington
The Friend of Washington A Young-Folks' Life of Lafayette
The Great Peace-Maker A Young-Folks’ Life of Penn
Poor Richard’s Story A Young-Folks' Life of Franklin
THE LIVE BOYS’ SERIES 6 vols Illustrated
Live Boys in Texas Young Trail Hunters
Live Boys in the Black Hills Crossing the Quicksands
Paul and Persis Young Silver Seekers
NATURAL HISTORY SERIES By Mrs. R. Lee Illu»
trated by Harrison Weir 5 vols.
Anecdotes of Animals The African Crusoes
Anecdotes of Birds Reptiles and The Australian Crusoes
Fishes T/ie Australian Wanderers
THE WILD SCENES LIBRARY 5 vols. Illustrated
Wild Scenes of a Hunter’s Life Pioneer Mothers of the West
Noble Deeds of American Gulliver’s Travels
Women ZEsop’s Fables
OLD ROUGH AND READY SERIES 6 vols. Illustrated
Old Rough and Ready Young Folks' Life of General Zachary Taylor
Old Hickory Young Folks’ Life of General Andrew Jackson
The Little Corporal Young Folks’ Life of Napoleon Bonaparte
The Swamp Fox Young Folks’ Life of General Francis Marion
The Mill-Boy of the Slashes Young Folks' Life of Henry Clay
The Great Expounder Young Folks Life oi Daniel Webster
300D AND GREAT SERIES 6vols Illustrated
Good and Great Men The Whales We Caught
AROUND THE WORLD LIBRARY By Jules Verne
Round the World in Eighty Days Wreck of the Chancellor
A Winter in the Ice
DORA DARLING LIBRARY
Women of Worth
A Quaker among the Indians
House on Wheels.
Inn of the Guardian Angel
DGra Darling
The Year’s Best Days
Dora Darling and Little Sunshine
Sold by all booksellers and sent by mail postpaid on receipt 0/price
.LEE AMD SHEPARD Publishers Boston


ISE AND * * HOLLAR * ♦
L* SHEPARD’S JJ . JUVENILES
Comprising the following New Books and New Editions in attractive
English cloth binding and illustrated Any volume sold
separately $1.00 per volume
r iMOUS BOY SERIES 4 vols. Illustrated
The Patriot Boy A popular life of George Washington
The Bobbin Boy The Early Life of Gen. N. P. Banks
The Border Boy A popular life of Daniel Boone
The Printer Boy or How Ben Franklin made his Mark
FRONTIER CAMP SERIES 4vols Illustrated
The Cabin on the Prairie By Dr. C. H. Pearson
Planting the Wilderness By James D McCabe Jun.
The Young Pioneers By Dr. C. H, Pearson
Twelve Nights in the Hunter’s Camp By Rev. Dr. WimJdi
Barrows
GALLANT DEEDS LIBRARY 4 vols. Illustrated
Great Men and Gallant Deeds By J. G. Edgar
Yarns of an Old Mariner By Mary Cowden Clarke
Schoolboy Days By W. H. G. Kingston
Sand Hills of Jutland By Hans Christian Andersen
INVINCIBLE LIBRARY 4 vols. Illustrated
The Young Invincibles By I. H Anderson
Battles at Home By Mary G. Darling
In the World By Mary G. Darling
Golden Hair By Sir Lascelles Wraxhall Bart.
LIFE-BOAT SERIES of A.dventures s vols. Illustrated
Dick Onslow among the Red Skins By W H. G. Kingston
The Young Middy By F. C. Armstrong
The Cruise of the Frolic A Seu Story By W H. G. Kingston
The Life Boat By R M. Ballantyne
Anthony Waymouth By W. H. G. Kingston
THE CASTAWAY STORIES 6 vols
Adrift in the Ice Fields
Cast Away in the Cold
Willis the Pilot
The A-ctic Crusoe
The Prairie Crusoe
The Young Crusoe
Sold by all booksellers and sent by mail postpaid on receipt of price
LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers Boston


TEE AND . OPENTY-FIYE CENT • •
L« SHEPARD’S U * * JUVENILES
Comprising new editions of the following popular Juveniles Bound in
best English cloth bright colors Any volume sold separately
CHARLEY AND EVA STORIES By Miss L. C. Thurston
How Charley Roberts became a Man
How Eva Roberts gained her Education
Home in the West
Children of Amity Court
Miss Thurston writes with a purpose. She is an admirer of manly hoy
and womanly girls, and so carries her characters through scenes an-
situations that elevate and purify. The books are by no means slotj,
being full of adventures.
GOLDEN PROVERB SERIES By Mrs. M. E. Bradlry
and Miss Kate J. Neely
Birds of a Feather
Fine Feathers do not make Fine Birds
Handsome is that Handsome Does
A Wrong Confessed is Half Redressed
One Good Turn deserves Another
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Two capital story-tellers, “birds of a feather,” have flocked togeth*,,
and produced from six old proverbs six as bright and taking story-bot^s
as ever gladdened the hearts of Young America; showing, indeed, that
“ handsome is that handsome does.”
GOLDEN RULE STORIES By Mrs. S. C. B. Samuels
The Golden Rule Nettie's Trial
The Shipwrecked Girl The Burning Prairie
Under the Sea The Smuggler’s Cave
CELESTA’S LIBRARY fot-' Boys and Girls
Celesta A Thousand a Year
Crooked and Straight Abel Grey
The Crook Straightened May Coverley
Mrs. Samuels has written many attractive books. The scenes anft
incidents she portrays are full of fife, action, and interest, and decidedlj
wholesome and instructive.
BALT-WATEfi DICK STORIES By May Manneewg
Climbing the Rope The Little Spaniard
Billy Grimes’s Favorite Salt-Water Dick
Cruise of the Dashaway Little Maid of Oxbow
Not all tales of the sea, as the title of the series would imply, but stories
of many lands by a lady who has been a great traveller, and tells what sht
has seen, in a captivating way.
UPSIDE-DOWN STORIES By Rosa Abbott
Jack of all Trades Upside Down
Alexis the Runaway The Young Detective
Tommy Hickup The Pinks and Blues
VACATION STORIES for Boys and Girls 6 vob
Illustrated
Worth not Wealth Karl Keigler or The Fortune*
Country Life of a Foundling
The Charm Walter Seyton
Holidays at Chestnut Hill
GREAT ROSY DIAMOND STORIES for Girls
6 vols. Illustrated
The Great Rosy Diamond Minnie or The Little Woman
Daisy or The Fairy Spectacles The Angel Children
Voilet a Fairy Story Little Blossom’s Reward
Sold by alt booksellers and sent by mail postpaid on receipt of price
LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers Boston


|EE AND SHEPARD’S
££ Star Juveniles
WITH NEW AND ATTRACTIVE DIES.
Messrs. Dee and Shepard announce a new edition of this fine line of 12mo
Juveniles, consisting of books by Kellogg, Kingston, Ballantynh,
Headley, and others. Printed on a fine quality of paper, fully illustrated,
and bound in polished buckram cloth, at $1.00 per volume. Liberal discount
for quantities.
By ELIJAH KELLOGG.
Lion Ben of Elm Island.
Charlie Bell; The Waif of Elm Island.
The Ark of Elm Island.
The Boy Farmers of Elm Island.
The Young Shipbuilders of Elm Island.
The Hardscrabble of Elm Island.
Sowed by the Wind; or, The Poor Boy’s Fortune.
Wolf Run; or, The Boys of the Wilderness.
Brought to the Front; or, The Young Defenders.
The Mission of Black Rifle; or. On the Trail.
Forest Glen; or, The Mohawk’s Friendship.
Burying the Hatchet; or, The Young Brave of the Delawares.
A Strong Arm and a Mother’s Blessing.
The Unseen Hand; or, James Renfew and his Boy Helpers.
The Liv'i Oak Boys; or, The Adventures of Richard Constable
Aflnat and Ashore.
Arthuv Brown, the Young Captain.
The Young Deliverers of Pleasant Cove.
The Cruise of the Casco.
The Child of the Island Glen.
John Godsoe’s Legacy.
The Fisher Boys of Pleasant Cove.
A Stout Heart; or, The Student from Over the Sea.
A Spark of Genius; or, The College Life of James Trafton.
The Sophomores of Radcliffe; or, James Trafton and his Bos
ton Friends.
The Whispering Pine; or, The Graduates of Radcliffe.
The Turning of the Tide; or, Radcliffe Rich and his Patients.
Winning his Spurs; or, Henry Morton’s First Trial.
By P. C. HEADLEY.
Fight it out on this Line ; The Life and Deeds of Gen. U. S. Grant.
Facing the Enemy; The Life of Gen. William Tecumseh Sher^>
man.
Fighting Phil; The Life of Lieut.-Gen. Philip Henry Sheri den
Old Salamander ; The Life of Admiral David Glascoe Farragut
Tb« Miner Boy and his Monitor; The Career of John Ericsson
jEngineer.
OJ Stars; The Life of Major-Gen. Ormsby McKnight Mitcbe>


By GEORGE MAKEPEACE TOWLE.
Seroes and Martyrs of Xnveiuuu.
Vasco da Gama; His Voyages and Adventures.
Piaarro; His Adventures and Conquests.
Magellan; or, The First Voyage Round the World*
Marco Polo; His Travels and Adventures.
Raleigh; His Voyages and Adventures.
Drake; The Sea King of Devon.
By CAPT. CHARLES W. HALL.
Adrift in the Ice Fields.
By DR. ISAAC I. HAYES.
Cast Away in the Cold; An Old Man’s Stbry of a Young Man’*
Adventures.
By W. H. G. KINGSTON.
The Adventures of Dick Onslow among the Redskins.
Ernest Bracebridge; or, School Boy Days.
' By JAMES D. McCABE JR.
Planting the Wilderness; or, The Pioneer Boys.
By DR, C. H. PEARSON.
The Cabin on the Prairie.
The Young Pioneers of the Northwest.
By JAMES DE MILLS.
The Lily and the Cross; A Tale of Acadia.
By F. G. ARMSTRONG.
The Young Middy: or, The Perilous Avdentures of a Boy
Officer.
By B. M. BALLANTYNE.
The Life Boat; A Tale of Our Coast Heroes.
Sent by mail, postpaid, on receipt of price.
Lef and Shepard, Publishers, Boston