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   Chapter 22 CARY ADAMS

A Little Girl in Old Boston By Amanda M. Douglas Characters: 19092

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


It took a good while in those days for the news of peace to go around the world. But there was a general reign of peace. The European countries had mostly settled their difficulties; there was royalty proper again on the throne of France. Napoleon swept through his hundred brilliant days, and was banished for life to the rocky isle of St. Helena; the young King of Rome was a virtual prisoner to Austria, and Russia and Prussia began to breathe freely once more.

The United States had won a standing among the nations. Her indomitable courage, her successes against tremendous odds, had impressed Europe with her vitality and determination.

One by one the ships came back to home ports. Mr. Adams and Doris watched and listened to every bit of news eagerly.

The old apothecary's shop on Washington Street, to begin a famous history a decade later as "The Old Corner Bookstore," was even then a rendezvous for the news of the day. People paused going up and down, and each one added his bit to the general fund, or took with him the knowledge he was eagerly seeking.

And when someone said, "Heard from your son yet, Mr. Adams?" he could only make a negative gesture.

"If there isn't some word of Cary Adams soon, his father will never live to welcome him home," said Madam Royall to her daughter. "He grows thinner every day. What a perfect Godsend Doris has been!"

Madam Royall was hale and hearty though she had lived through many sorrows.

The coveted news came first from Betty. She had written a letter to send by a private messenger, and opened it to add this postscript:

"Mr. Bowen is waiting for this letter. Mr. King has just come in with the news that two ships have arrived at Portsmouth. Among the officers is 'Lieutenant Cary Adams.' That is all we know."

"Oh, Uncle Win!" Doris' eyes swam in tears of joy. "Read Betty's postscript." Then she ran out of the room and had a good cry by herself, though why anyone should want to cry over such joyful news she could not quite understand.

Afterward she tied on her hat and ran over to Madam Royall's and then up to Sudbury Street. For in those days people were wont to say to their neighbors, "Come, rejoice with me!"

When she returned home the house was very quiet. Solomon came and rubbed against her in mute inquiry. No one was in the study. She went out to the kitchen.

"Don't disturb your uncle, Doris," said Miss Recompense. "The news quite overcame him. He has gone to lie down."

After dinner she went out again for some lessons. Oh, how bright the world looked, though it was a day in later March, but the wind had a Southern softness. Soon the wild flowers would be out. There was a very interesting new study, botany, that the previous autumn had taken groups of girls out in the lanes and fields, and some had ventured to visit the Botanic Gardens at Harvard University. Doris was much interested in it.

Uncle Winthrop came to supper, and Doris played and sang for him during the evening. For though Cary was the uppermost thought in both hearts, they could not talk about him.

It was a tedious post journey from Washington to Boston. One had to possess one's soul in patience. But the letter came at length.

Cary had to go to Washington, as there was some prize money and claims to be inquired into. He had handed in his resignation, and should hereafter be a private citizen of dear old Boston. There was much more that gladdened his father's heart and betrayed a manly spirit.

Betty returned home, though Mrs. King declared she only lent her for a visit. She was very stylish now, and was studying French, for it might be possible that Mr. King would go abroad and take his wife and Betty.

"I do wonder if you will ever settle down?" exclaimed Mrs. Leverett anxiously. That meant marriage and housekeeping.

Betty laughed. "You know I have settled to be the old maid aunt," she returned. "But I am going to have a good young time first. And, mother, you can hardly realize what a fine, generous, broad-minded man Mat King has made."

There were lovely odds and ends of attire, dainty slippers, long gloves that came to your very shoulders, vandyke capes of beautiful lace, buckles that looked like diamonds, ribbons and belts and sashes. Mercy said Betty could go down to Washington Street and open a fancy-goods store. And, oh, the delightful things she had seen and done, the skating parties in the winter, the sleigh rides when one stopped at a cozy, well-kept tavern and had a dainty supper and a dance. The drives down around the Battery and Bowling Green, and the promenades. There were still a good many military men in New York, but it had not suffered as much from the war as Boston.

But Boston was growing beautiful by the hour, with her pretty private gardens and hundreds of fruit trees blooming everywhere, and the great Common where people went for walks on sunny afternoons.

Miss Recompense had a gorgeous tulip bed and some lilies of the valley, which were quite a new thing. Cato trimmed and trained the roses and vines, and the old Adams house was quite a bower of beauty.

One April afternoon Doris sat by the study window doing some lace work, while Solomon lay curled up on the sill. She kept glancing out. People were quite given to going around this corner to get into Common Street. She liked to see them. Now and then a friend nodded. Uncle Win had been reading aloud from "Jerusalem Delivered," but Doris thought it rather prosy, and strayed off into her own thoughts.

A tall, soldierly fellow came up the street, looked, hesitated, opened the gate softly, and glanced down at the tulips. He was quite imposing as to figure, and his complexion was bronzed, the ends of his brown hair rather long and curling. He was in citizen clothes, and Doris wondered why she should think of Lieutenant Hawthorne. She had expected Cary in all the glory of a naval uniform-a slim, fair, boyish person with a light springy walk. It never could be Cary!

"Oh, Uncle Win, quick!" as the step sounded on the porch. "It is-someone--" She was so little certain she could not utter a name.

Uncle Winthrop went out, opened the door, and his son put his arms about the father's neck. If there had been need of words neither could have uttered them for many minutes.

When Miss Recompense cleaned house a week or two before the piano had been moved into the parlor. The door stood open so that it could have the warmth of the hall fire. The two entered it when they had found their voices.

"It is Cary," thought Doris with a sense of disappointment, though why she could not have told.

Half an hour afterward they came out to the study.

"Oh, Doris!" Cary cried, "how you have changed and grown. I shouldn't have known you! I've been carrying about with me the remembrance of a little girl. In my mind you have been no taller, no older, and yet I might have known-why, we shall have to get acquainted all over again."

Doris blushed. "I am sure I have not changed as much as you. I did not think it could be you."

"Someone at Annapolis before we went out designated me as 'That consumptive-looking young fellow.' But I have grown strong and hearty, and no doubt I shall come to fourscore. I do not mean that it shall be all labor and sorrow, either."

Then Cary made the rounds of the house. Miss Recompense was as much amazed as Doris had been. Cato and Dinah were overjoyed. He had hardly dared dream that nothing would be changed, that more than the old love would be given back. He had gone away a boy, nurtured in the restraints of wise Puritanism that made a lasting mark on New England character; he had come home a man of experience, of deeper thought, of higher understanding and stronger affection. He was proud that he had done his duty as a citizen of the republic, but he knew now that neither naval or military life was to his taste. Henceforth he was to be a son in the old home.

Doris left them talking when she went to bed, a little hurt and jealous that she was no longer first, that she could not be all to Uncle Win. It gave her a kind of solitary feeling.

The old house took on an aspect of intense interest. There was a continual going and coming and enough congratulations for a wedding feast. All Cary's friends vied with each other in warm welcomes, and Madam Royall claimed him with the old time cordiality.

Was there any disappointment about Alice?

He had a boy's thought the first few months about winning glory for her, of coming back to her, and perhaps laying his triumphs at her feet. But the real work, the anxieties, the solemn fact of taking one's life in one's hands and realizing how near death might be, had changed him month by month, until he had only one prayer left-that he might see his father again. If she was happy-she surely had her heart's choice-he was satisfied. They had never really been lovers.

When the first excitement of welcome was over there were many things to think about. His interrupted career was one. Governor Gore had been chosen United States Senator the year before, but he still kept his office, and very kindly greeted the return of his student, offering him still greater advantages. Here the young Daniel Webster, a lad fresh from the country, had won the friendship of his master, and after a brief trial in New Hampshire had returned to Boston.

Boston town began to experience the beneficent power of peace. Languishing industries revived. Commerce had been crippled by the war, but the in

habitants of New England had learned the value of their own ingenuity and industry to supply needs, and now they were roused to the fact there was an outside world to supply as well.

Improvements started up on every side. There was even talk of transforming the town into a city. Indeed, it had never been a formally incorporated town. The Court of Assistants one hundred and seventy years before had changed the name from Tri-Mountain to Boston, and it had taken the privileges of a town. But there were many grave questions coming to the front.

The family party at the Adams house this year seemed to include half of Boston. One by one the old relatives had dropped out. Some of the younger ones had gone to other cities.

Madam Royall came over to be mistress of ceremonies. For besides the ovation to the returned lieutenant, Miss Doris Adams was to be presented as a full-fledged young lady, and she wore her pretty gown made for the Peace Ball, and pink roses. Miss Betty Leverett was quite a star as well. Miss Helen Chapman was engaged, and Eudora was a favorite with the young gentlemen.

"I shall be so sorry when they are all gone," declared Madam Royall. "I do love young people, but I am afraid my fourth generation will not grow up in time for me to enjoy them. You must keep good watch over Doris lest some wolf enters the fold and carries off the sweet child."

Uncle Win smiled and then looked grave. Doris carried off-oh, no, he could never spare her!

Cary Adams had not forgotten how to dance, and every girl he asked was delighted with the opportunity. It seemed rather queer to Doris to accept or decline on her own responsibility.

A week or two later, when they had settled to quite regular living, Cary came out and sat on the step one evening.

"Doris," he began, "do you remember the letter I sent you by a Lieutenant Hawthorne-that first letter--" What a flood of remembrances it brought!

"Oh, yes." She had begun to feel very much at home with Cary-his little sister, as he called her. "And I must tell you a queer thing-the day you came home-when I looked down the path-I thought of him. You had changed so. I don't know what sent him to my mind."

"That was odd. He is in town. He called on me to-day. For the last year he has been Captain Hawthorne, and he is a splendid fellow. He has been sent to the Charlestown Navy Yard, and may be here the next three months, for now the Government is considering a navy. Well-we did some splendid fighting with the old ships. But oh, Doris, you can't imagine how homesick I was. I had half a mind to show the white feather and come home."

"Oh, you couldn't have done it, Cary!"

"No, I couldn't when it came to the pinch. But if I had gone with father's consent! I understood then what it would be never to see him again. I think I shall be a better son all my life for the lesson."

"Yes," in her gentle approving fashion.

"Hawthorne wants to come over here," Cary said presently. "I think my father would like him, though I notice he has an aversion to military or naval men. But I shall never go away again unless the country is in great danger."

"I should like to see him. I wonder if he has changed as much as you?"

"I think not," and Cary laughed. "He was twenty-four then, and sort of settled into manhood, while I was a rather green stripling."

"You are losing some of the 'sea tan,' as Madam Royall calls it. I am glad of it. I like you best fair."

"Captain Hawthorne is a very handsome man. I ought to feel flattered to be mistaken for him."

"Is he?" returned Doris simply.

"Don't you remember him?"

"I remember that he asked me for a rose and I gave it to him. It was the last one on the bush. I was so glad to get the letter I couldn't think of anything else."

So Cary brought him over to tea one afternoon. Doris noted then that he was extremely good-looking and very entertaining. Besides, he had a fine tenor voice and they sang songs together.

Uncle Winthrop was troubled at first. Captain Hawthorne's enthusiasm for his profession was so ardent that Mr. Adams was alarmed lest it might turn Cary's thoughts seaward again. But he found presently that Cary's enlisting had been that of a patriotic, high-spirited boy, and that he had no real desire for the life.

What a summer it was! Betty was over often, Eudora was enchanted with the Adams house, and there was a bevy of girls who brought their sewing and spent the afternoon on the stoop. Sometimes Uncle Win came out and read to them. There were several new English poets. A Lord Byron was writing the cantos of a beautiful and stirring poem entitled "Childe Harold" that abounded in fine descriptions. There were "The Lady ol the Lake" and "Marmion," and there was a queer Scotchy poet by the name of Burns, who had a dry wit-and few could master the tongue. A whole harvest of delight was coming over from England.

There were so many curious and lovely places within a few hours sail or drive. Captain Hawthorne had spent most of his life in Maryland, and this scenery was new. They made up parties for the day, or Betty, Doris, and Uncle Winthrop and the captain went in a quartette.

"I don't know," Uncle Win said one day with a grave shake of the head. "Do you not think I am rather an old fellow to go careering round with you young people?"

"But, you see, someone would have to go," explained Doris. "Young ladies can't go out with a young man alone. It would have to be Aunt Elizabeth, or Mrs. Chapman, and I would so much rather have you. It's nice to be just by ourselves."

"The captain seems to like Betty very much."

"Indeed he does," answered Doris warmly.

Occasionally Cary would get off and join them. But he was trying hard to catch up. He had gotten out of study habits, and some days he found it quite irksome, for he was fond of pleasure, and it seemed to him that Betty was extremely charming, and Doris quaint, and Eudora vivacious to the point of wit.

One warm August afternoon he sat alone, having resolved to master a knotty point. What were the others doing? he wondered.

There was a step, and he glanced up.

"Oh," nodding to Captain Hawthorne, "I was just envying you and all the others, and wondering where you were on pleasure bound."

"It was not pleasure, but hard work over at the yard to-day. However, I have the evening, and feel like inviting myself to partake of a cup of the comforting tea Miss Recompense brews."

"Come along then. I have put in a good day and am conscience-clear."

Cary began to pile up his books.

"I have only about a fortnight more," Captain Hawthorne said slowly.

Cary changed his coat and locked his desk. "Well?" as the caller was watching him earnestly.

"Adams, do you mean-do you expect to marry your cousin?" Hawthorne asked abruptly.

"My cousin? Betty or Doris?"

"Doris."

"Why-no, I never thought of it. And I have a sight of work to do before I marry."

"Then-I suppose you never suspected such a thing-but I am in love with her."

"In love with Doris! Why, she's just a child."

"I dare say I shall have to serve seven years before I can get your father's consent. She will be older then. I was listening to a romantic story about an old house where a handsome girl leaned out of a window and her beauty attracted an English officer passing by, who said to himself that was the one woman for him, and long afterward he went back, found her, and married her."

"A handsome Miss Sheafe. Yes." Cary smiled.

"See here, Cary Adams." Hawthorne took a small leather case out of his pocket. Between two cards was a pressed rose. "When I took your packet to Miss Doris Adams almost four years ago, I gave it into the hands of the sweetest little girl I ever saw. If I had been less of a gentleman I must have kissed her. I espied one rose in the garden and asked her for it. This is the rose she gave me. I meant to come North and find her, and when I asked for leave of absence to visit Boston this business was put in my charge. Then I said, 'I will look up the little girl, who must be a large girl now, and woo her with the sincerest regard.' It shall go hard indeed with me if I cannot win her. But I have fancied of late that you--"

"She is very dear to me and to my father. But I had not thought--"

"Then I take my chances. As I said, I will wait for her. She is still very young, and I should feel conscience-smitten to rob your father. Sometime you may want to bring the woman you love to the old home, and then it will not be so hard. I could keep true to her the whole world over; and if she promises, she will keep true to me."

Cary Adams was deeply moved. Such devotion ought to win a reward. How blind he and his father had been, thinking of Betty Leverett.

Oh, how could they let Doris go! Yet a lover like this was not to be curtly refused.

"I shall not stand in your way," quietly.

"Thank you a thousand times. But if she had been for you, as I feared, I should have proved man enough to keep silent and go my way. It has been a happy summer, and in two weeks more it will end. Still, I may be able to get an appointment here. I shall try for it and return."

"Come," said Cary Adams, and he went out feeling there had been a great change in the world, and he was wrapped about with some mysterious influence.

Doris had thought of Captain Hawthorne on the day of his, Cary's, return. How many times besides had she thought of him? And she had recalled giving him the rose.

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