MoboReader> Literature > Westways

   Chapter 17 No.17

Westways By S. Weir Mitchell Characters: 32955

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


When Leila sat upon the upper deck of the great Hudson River steamer, she was in a condition of excitement natural to an imaginative nature unused to travel. Her mind was like a fresh canvas ready for the hand of the artist. She was wondering at times what John Penhallow would look like after over two years of absence and hardly heard the murmur of talk around her, and was as unconscious of the interested glances of the young men attracted by the tall figure standing in the bow as the great river opened before her.

"That," said her uncle, "is Weehawken. There-just there-Hamilton was killed by Burr, and near by Hamilton's son four years before was killed in a duel-a political quarrel." She knew the sad story well, and with the gift of visualization saw the scene and the red pistol-flashes which meant the death of a statesman of genius.

"And there are the palisades, Leila." The young summer was clothing the banks with leafage not yet dark green, and translucent in the morning sun. No railroads marred the loveliness of the lawns on the East bank, and the grey architecture of the palisades rose in solemn grandeur to westward.

"It is full of history, Leila. There is Tarrytown, where André was

taken." She listened in silence. The day ran on-the palisades fell away.

"Dobbs's Ferry, my dear;" and pointing across the river, "on that hill

André died."

Presently the mountains rose before them, and in the afternoon they drew up at the old wharf. "We stay at Cozzen's Hotel, Leila. I will send on the baggage and we will walk up to the Point."

She hardly heard him. A tall young man in white pantaloons and blue jacket stood on the pier. "Good gracious, Uncle Jim, it is John!" A strange sense of disappointed remembrance possessed her. The boy playmate of her youth was gone. He gave both hands of welcome, as he said, "By George, Leila, I am glad to see you."

"You may thank uncle for our visit. Aunt Ann was not very willing to part with me."

He was about to make the obvious reply of the man, but refrained. They talked lightly of the place, of her journey, and at last he said very quietly, even coldly, as if it were merely a natural history observation, "You are amazingly grown, Cousin Leila. It is as well for cadets and officers that your stay is to be brief."

"John, I have been in Baltimore. You will have to put it stronger than that-I am used to it."

"I will see if I can improve on it, Leila."

Now this was not at all the way she meant to meet him, nor these the words they meant to use-or rather, she-for John Penhallow had given it no thought, except to be glad as a child promised a gift and then embarrassed into a word of simple descriptive admiration. When John Penhallow said, with a curious gravity and a little of his old formal manner, "I will reflect on it," she knew with the quick perception of her sex that here was a new masculine study for the great naturalist woman. The boy-the lad-she knew were no more.

"Who is that with Uncle James?" she asked.

"The Commandant."

"My niece, Miss Grey. Colonel Beauregard, my dear. Let us walk up to the Point." The Commandant, who made good his name, took possession of the delighted young woman and carried her away to his home with Penhallow, leaving the cadet to return to his routine of duty. As they parted, he said, "I am set free to-morrow, Leila, at five, and excused from the afternoon parade. If you and Uncle Jim will walk up to Port Putnam, I will join you."

"I will tell Uncle Jim. You will be at the hop of course? I have been thinking of nothing else for a week."

"I may be late."

"Oh, why?"

"We are in the midst of our examinations. Even to get time for a walk with you and uncle was hard. I wrote Uncle Jim not to come now. He must have missed it."

"And so I am to suffer."

"I doubt the anguish," he returned, laughing, as he touched his cap, and left her to brief consideration of the cadet cousin.

"Uncle Jim might have been just like that-looked like that. They are very unlike too. I used to be able to tell just what Jack would do when we were children-don't think I can now. How tall he is and how handsome. The uniform is becoming. I wonder if I too am so greatly changed."

It is well here to betray the secrets of the novelists' confessional. Leila Grey had seen in the South much of an interesting society where love affairs were brief, lightly taken, easily ended, or hardly more than the mid-air flirtations of butterflies. No such perilous approaches to the most intimate relations of men and women were for this young woman, on whom the love and tactful friendship of the married life of Grey Pine had left a lasting impression. One must have known her well to become aware of the sense of duty to her ideals which lay behind her alert appearance of joyous gaiety and capacity to see the mirthful aspects of life. Once long ago the lad's moment of passionate longing had but lightly stirred the dreamless sleep of unawakened power to love. Even the memory of John's boy-folly had faded with time. Her relation to him had been little more than warm friendship. Even that tie-and she was abruptly aware of it-had become less close. She was directly conscious of the fact and wondered if this grave young man felt as she did. She lay awake that night and wondered too if his ideals of heroism and ambition were still actively present, and where too was his imagination-ever on the wing and far beyond her mental flight? She also had changed. Did he know it or care? Then she dismissed him and fell asleep.

As John Penhallow near to noon came out a little weary and anxious from the examination ordeal, he chanced on his uncle and Leila waiting with the officer of the day, who said to him, "After dinner you are free for the rest of the afternoon. Mr. Penhallow has asked me to relieve you."

As he bade them good-morning, his uncle said, "How goes the examination?"

"Don't ask me yet, sir; but I cannot go home until the end of next week.

Then I shall know the result."

"But what examination remains?" persisted the Squire.

"Don't ask him, Uncle Jim."

"Well-all right."

"Thank you, Leila. I am worn out. I am glad of a let-up. I dream equations and pontoon bridges-and I must do some work after dinner. Then I will find you and Uncle Jim on Fort Putnam, at five."

"I want to talk with Beauregard," said Penhallow, "about the South. Leila can find her way."

"I can," she said. "I want to sketch the river, and that will give me time."

"Oh, there goes the dinner call. Come in at a quarter to one with Uncle

Jim. I have leave to admit you. There will be something to interest you."

"And what, John-men eating?"

"No. One of my best friends, Gresham from South Carolina, has been ordered home by his father."

"And why?" asked Penhallow.

"Oh, merely because his people are very bitter, and, as he tells me, they write about secession as if it were merely needed to say to the North 'We mean to cut loose'-and go; it is just to be as simple as 'Good-bye, children.' I think I wrote you, uncle, that we do not talk politics here, but this quiet assumption of being able to do with us what they please is not the ordinary tone of the Southern cadets. Now and then there is a row-"

Leila listened with interest and some presently gratified desire to hear her cousin declare his own political creed. She spoke, as they stood beside the staff from which the flag was streaming in the north wind, "Would it not be better, John, as Mr. Rivers desires, to let the Southern States go in peace?" As she spoke, she was aware of something more than being merely anxious that he should make the one gallant answer to the words that challenged opinion. The Squire caught on to some comprehension of the earnestness with which she put the question.

To his uncle's surprise, the cadet said, "Ah, my dear Leila, that is really asking me on which side I should be if we come to an open rupture."

"I did not mean quite that, John, and I spoke rather lightly; but you do not answer."

He somewhat resented this inquisition, but as he saw his uncle turn, apparently expectant, he said quietly and speaking with the low voice which may be so surpassingly expressive, "I hardly see, Leila, why you put such a question to me here under the flag. If there is to be war-secession, I shall stand by the flag, my country, and an unbroken union." The young face flushed a little, the mouth, which was of singular beauty, closed with a grip on the strong jaw. Then, to Leila's surprise, the Captain and John suddenly uncovered as music rang out from the quarters of the band.

"Why do you do that, Uncle Jim?"

"Don't you hear, Leila? It is the 'Star Spangled Banner'-we all uncover." Here and there on the parade ground, far and near, officers, cadets and soldiers, stood still an instant bareheaded.

"Oh," murmured Leila. "How wonderful! How beautiful!" Surprised at the effect of this ceremonial usage upon herself, she stood a moment with that sense of constriction in the throat which is so common a signal of emotion. The music ceased, and as they moved on Penhallow asked, "What about Gresham, your friend?"

"Oh, you know, uncle, when a cadet resigns for any cause which involves no dishonour, we have a little ceremony. I want you to see it. No college has that kind of thing. Don't be late. I will join you in time."

The captain and Leila attracted much attention from the cadets at dinner in the Mess Hall. "Now, dear, look!" said Penhallow. At the end of the long table a cadet rose-the captain of the corps in charge of the battalion. There was absolute silence. The young officer spoke:

"You all know that to our regret one of us leaves to-day. Mr. Gresham, you have the privilege of calling the battalion to attention."

A slightly built young fellow in citizen's dress rose at his side. For a moment he could not fully command his voice; then his tones rang clear: "Most unwillingly I take my farewell. I am given the privilege of those who depart with honour. Battalion! Attention! God bless you! Good-bye!"

The class filed out, and lifting the departing man on their shoulders bore him down to the old south dock and bade him farewell.

Penhallow looked after them. "There goes the first, Leila. There will be more-many more-to follow, unless things greatly change-and they will not. I hoped to take John home with us, but he will come in a week. I must leave to-morrow morning. John is in the dumps just now, but Beauregard has only pleasant things to say of him. I wish he were as agreeable about the polities of his own State."

"Are they so bad?"

"Don't ask me, Leila."

The capital of available energy in the young may be so exhausted by mental labour, when accompanied by anxiety, that the whole body for a time feels the effect. Muscular action becomes overconscious, and intense use of the mind seems to rob the motor centres of easy capacity to use the muscles. John Penhallow walked slowly up the rough road to where the ruined bastions of Port Putnam rose high above the Hudson. He was aware of being tired as he had not been for years. The hot close air and the long hours of concentration of mind left him discouraged as well as exhausted. He was still in the toils of the might-have-been, of that wasting process-an examination, and turning over in his mind logistics, logarithms, trajectories, equations, and a mob of disconnected questions. "Oh, by George!" he exclaimed, "what's the worth while of it?" All the pleasantly estimated assets of life and love and friendship became unavailable securities in the presence of a mood of depression which came of breathing air which had lost its vitalizing ozone. And now at a turn in the road nature fed her child with a freshening change of horizon.

Looking up he saw a hawk in circling flight set against the blue sky. He never saw this without thinking of Josiah, and then of prisoned things like a young hawk he had seen sitting dejected in a cage in the barracks. Did he have dreams of airy freedom? It had affected him as an image of caged energy-of useless power. With contrasted remembrance he went back to the guarded procession of boys from the lyceum in France, the flower-stalls, and the bird-market, the larks singing merrily in their small wicker cages. Yes, he had them-the two lines he wanted-a poet's condensed statement of the thought he could not fully phrase:

Ah! the lark!

He hath the heaven which he sings,-

But my poor hawk hath only wings.

The success of the capture of this final perfection of statement of his own thought refreshed him in a way which is one of the mysteries of that wild charlatan imagination, who now and then administers tonics to the weary which are of inexplicable value. John Penhallow felt the sudden uplift and quickened his pace until he paused within the bastion lines of the fort. Before him, with her back to him, sat Leila. Her hat lay beside her finished sketch. She was thinking that John Penhallow, the boy friend, was to-day in its accepted sense but an acquaintance, of whom she desired, without knowing why, to know more. That he had changed was obvious. In fact, he had only developed on the lines of his inherited character, while in the revolutionary alterations of perfected womanhood she had undergone a far more radical transformation.

The young woman, whom now he watched unseen, rose and stood on the crumbling wall. A roughly caressing northwest wind blew back her skirts. She threw out her wide-sleeved arms in exultant pleasure at the magnificence of the vast river, with its forest boundaries, and the rock-ribbed heights of Crow's Nest. As she stood looking "taller than human," she reminded him of the figure of victory he had seen as a boy on the stairway of the Louvre. He stood still-again refreshed. The figure he then saw lived with him through life, strangely recurrent in moments of peril, on the march, or in the loneliness of his tent.

"Good evening," he said as he came near. She sat down on the low wall and he at her feet. "Ah, it is good to get you alone for a quiet talk, Leila."

She was aware of a wild desire to lay a hand among the curls his cadet-cropped hair still left over his forehead. "Do you really like the life here, John?"

"Oh, yes. It is so definite-its duties are so plain-nothing is left to choice. Like it? Yes, I like it."

"But, isn't it very limited?"

"All good education must be-it is only a preparation; but one's imagination is free-as to a man's future, and as to ambitions. There one can use one's wings."

She continued her investigation. "Then you have ambitions. Yes, you must have," she cried with animation. "Oh, I want you to have them-ideals too of life. We used to discuss them."

He looked up. "You think I have changed. You want to know how. It is all vague-very vague. Yet, I could put my creed of what conduct is desirable in life in a phrase-in a text."

"Do, John." She leaned over in her interest.

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things which are God's." The seriousness of the upturned face for a moment kept her silently reflective.

"Caesar! What of Caesar, John?"

"My country, of course; that is simple. The rest, Leila, covers

all-almost all of life and needs no comment. But how serious we are.

Tell me all about home and the village and the horses and Uncle Jim.

He has some grey hairs."

"He may well have grey hairs, John. The times are bad. He is worried.

Imagine Uncle Jim economical!"

"Incredible."

"Yes. He told me that his talk with Colonel Beauregard had made him despair of a peaceful ending, and usually he is hopeful."

"Well, don't make me talk politics. We rarely do. Isn't this outlook beautiful? People rarely come here and it often gives me a chance to be alone and to think."

"And what do you think about, John?" She was again curious.

"Oh, many things, big and little. Uncle Jim, Aunt Ann, Mr. Rivers,

Dixy-hornets, muskrats," he laughed. She noted the omission of Leila

Grey.

"And what else?"

"Oh, the tragedy of Arnold,-the pathos of Washington's despair,-his words, 'Who is there now I can trust?'"

"It came home to me, John, this morning when Colonel Beauregard showed us the portraits of the major-generals of the Revolution. I saw a vacant place and a tablet like the rest, but with 'Maj

or General-Born 1740' and no name! I asked what it meant. The Colonel said only, 'Arnold.' That is too pitiful-and his wife-I read somewhere that she was young, beautiful, and innocent of his horrible treason."

"Yes, what crime could be worse than his, and, too, such a gallant soldier. Let us walk around the fort. Oh, by the way, I found here last week two Continental buttons, Third Pennsylvania Infantry. Like to have them, Leila? I thought you might."

"Would I like?" She took them eagerly. "They ought to be gilded and used as sleeve-links." But where she kept them John Penhallow never knew. They did not make the sleeve-links for which she agreed they were so suitable.

"Isn't there a walk down through the woods?" asked Leila.

"Yes, this way." Leaving the road they followed a rough trail through the woods to a more open space half-way down the hill. Here he paused. "This is our last chance to talk until I am at Grey Pine."

"That will be very soon, John." She sat down amid numberless violets, adding, "There will be the hop to-night, as you call it."

"Yes, the hop. I forgot. You will give me the first dance?"

To her surprise he asked no others. "Cadets have to learn to dance, but

Baltimore may have left you critical."

Still on her investigation track, she returned, "Oh, Baltimore! It seems odd to me that I should have seen so much of the world of men and women and you who are older so little in this military monastery."

He laughed outright. "We have the officers' families, and if we are allowed to visit, the Kembles and Gouverneurs and Pauldings across the river-no better social life anywhere. And as for young women-sisters, cousins-embarras de choix, Miss Grey. They come in flocks like the blackbirds. I assure you that this branch of natural history is pretty well illustrated at the Point. We are apt to be rather over-supplied in June."

"Indeed!-all sorts, I suppose."

"Yes, a variety, and just now three charming young women from the South."

"Rather a strong adjective-charming. I might hesitate to apply it to a whole flock. I think men are more apt to use it than women."

"I stand by my adjective. Take care of your laurels, Miss Grey. I am lucky enough to have two dances with Miss Ramsay. Her brother is a cadet."

"Introduce him to me. What myriads of violets!"

"Do you remember how, when we were small, we used to fight violets?"

"How long ago it seems, John. It must have been the first June after you appeared in that amazing cap and-the cane I have it yet. Let's fight violets. It may have a charm to make me look young again-I feel so old sometimes."

Intent on her game, she was already gathering the flowers in her lap, while the young man a little puzzled and a little amused watched the face which she described for his benefit as needing to look young. She ran on gaily, "You will pick five and I will pick five. I never heard of any other children fighting violets. It is a neglected branch of education. I got it from the Westways children. Now, fair play, John Penhallow." He was carelessly taking his five violets, while Leila was testing hers, choosing them with care. The charm she sought was working-they were children again.

"That's not fair, Leila."

"Why not?"

"You are testing yours. It is a mean advantage. I would scorn to do such a thing. It is just like a woman-the way you do about dress. All women ought to dress alike-then the competition would be fair."

Leila looked up from her lap full of violets. "I should like to see your Miss Ramsay in one of my gowns."

"My Miss Ramsay! No such luck."

"You're a goose, Jack."

"You're a silly, Leila."

"Oh, now, we are children, John. This is the magic of the June violets."

"And you are just fourteen, Leila. The wrinkles of age are gone-they used to be dimples."

"Nonsense! Let's play."

They hooked together the bent stems of the flowers. Then there was a quick jerk, and one violet was decapitated. "One for you, Leila;-and another."

"You are not paying any attention to the game. Please to keep young a little while." He was watching the sunlight as it fell upon her neck when it bent over the flowers.

"And how am I to keep young, Miss Grey?"

"Oh, any woman can answer that-ask Miss Ramsay."

"I will. There! you have won, Leila, three to two. There used always to be a forfeit. What must I pay?"

"Now, John, what terrible task shall I put upon you? I have it. You shall ask me to give you the third dance."

"That is Miss Ramsay's. I am sorry."

"Oh, one girl is as good as another."

"Perhaps-for women." He did not ask of her any other dances. "But really, Leila, the better bred of these Southern girls we see here are most pleasant acquaintances, more socially easy of acquaintance than Northern girls. As they are butterflies of the hour-their frank ways are valuable in what you call our monastery."

"Yes, I know them well. There may be time here for some brief flirtations. I used to see them in Maryland, and once when Aunt Margaret took me on visits to some old Virginia homes. These pleasant girls take to it with no more conscience than birds in the spring. I used to see it in Maryland."

"Oh, yes," he said, "but it means very little;-quite harmless-mere practice, like our fencing bouts."

"Did you ever kiss a woman, John-just for practice?" "Why did I say that!" thought Leila. "Come, sir, confess!"

"Yes," he said, not liking it and far from any conception of the little mob of motives which betrayed to her a state of mind he had not the daring to guess. "Did I? That requires courage. Have I-ever kissed a woman? Yes, often-"

"Oh, I did not ask who."

"Aunt Ann-and a girl once-"

"Indeed!"

"Yes-Leila Grey, aged fifteen-and got my ears boxed. This confession being at an end, I want absolution." The air was cleared.

"How about the first polka as absolution?" said Leila.

"It is unusual, but as penance it may answer."

"The penance may be mine. I shall know better after the first round, Mr.

Penhallow."

"You are complimentary, Miss Grey," he added, with the whimsical display of mirth which was more than a smile and not a laugh, and was singularly attractive.

In place of keeping up the gay game of trifles as shuttle-cocks, Leila stood still upon the edge of the wood, "I don't think you liked what I asked."

"What, about kissing? I did not, but upon my honour I answered you truly." He was grave as he replied.

"You did not think it impertinent, Jack?"

"I don't know what I thought it." And then, as if to avoid need to defend or explain contradictory statements, he said, "Put yourself in my place. Suppose I had dared to ask you if ever a man had kissed you-"

"Oh, that's the difference between kissing and being kissed."

"Then put it my way."

"John Penhallow, I should dearly like to box your ears. Once a man did kiss me. He was tall, handsome, and had the formal courtly manners you have at times. He was General Winfield Scott. He kissed my hand."

"You minx!" cried John, "you are no better than you used to be. There goes the bugle!" And laughing as he deserted her, he ran down the hill and across the parade ground.

"He is not really handsome," said the young woman, "but no man ought to have so beautiful a mouth-I could have made him do it in a minute. Why did I not? What's the matter? I merely couldn't. He hasn't the remotest idea that if he were to kiss me-I-" She reddened at the thought and went with quick steps of "virgin liberty" to take tea with the Commandant.

In New York, on his way home, Penhallow received a telegram, "I am third. John Penhallow." Then the Squire presented Leila with a bracelet, to the belated indignation of Aunt Ann, who was practising the most disagreeable economy. Her husband wrote her that the best policy for a man financially in peril was to be extravagant enough to discredit belief in his need to lessen expenditure. He was, moreover, pleasantly aware that the improving conditions of trade this summer of 1859 had enabled him to collect some large outstanding debts. He encouraged Leila to remember their old village friends, but when he proposed a set of furs for Ann Penhallow's winter wear Leila became ingeniously impossible about choice, and the Squire's too lavish generosity somehow failed to materialize; but why or how was not clear to him because of their being feminine diplomatic ways-which attain results and leave with the male a mildly felt resentment without apparent cause of defeat.

As Cadet No. 3 of his class in this year's studies made the railway journey of a warm June day, he recalled with wondering amusement his first lonely railway travel. "I was a perfect little snob." The formal, too old-mannered politeness of his childhood had left, if the child is father of the man, an inheritance of pleasant courtesy which was unusual and had varied values in the intercourse of life. Rivers said of him later that the manner of John Penhallow's manners had the mystery of charm. Even when younger, at Grey Pine, he liked to talk to people, with curiosity about their lives and their work. Now, as the train moved on, he fell into chat with the country folk who got on the train for short travel. Soon or late they all talked politics, but 'generally guessed things would be settled somehow'-which is the easily reached conclusion of the American. When the old conductor, with the confidence John's manner invited, asked what uniform he wore, John said, laughing, "Do you not remember the boy with a cane who got out at Westways Crossing?"

"You ain't him-?? not really? Why it's years ago! You are quite a bit changed."

"For the better, I hope."

"Well, here's your station, and Miss Grey waiting."

"Oh, John, glad to see you! I told aunt no one must go for you but me.

Get in. And Billy, look out how you drive."

Billy, bewildered by the tall figure in cadet jacket and grey pantaloons, needed the warning.

Then there was the avenue, the big grey pine, home, and Aunt Ann's kiss of welcome. The old familiar life was again his. He rode with the Squire or Leila, swam, and talked to Rivers whenever he could induce the too easily tired man to walk with him. He was best pleased to do so when Leila was of the party. Then at least the talk was free and wandered from poetry and village news to discussion of the last addition to the causes of quarrel between the North and South. When tempted to speak at length, Rivers sat down.

"How can a man venture to speak, John, like Mr. Jefferson Davis? Have you read his speech?"

"No, sir."

"Well, he says the importation of Africans ought to be left to the States-and the President. He thinks that as Cuba is the only spot in the civilized world where the African slave-trade is permitted, its cession to us would put an end to that blot on civilization. An end to it, indeed! Think of it!" His voice rose as he spoke. "End slavery and you end that accursed trade. And to think that a woman like Ann Penhallow should think it right!" Neither John nor Leila were willing to discuss their aunt's definitely held views.

"I think," said Leila, who had listened silently, "Aunt Ann has lost or put aside her interest in politics."

"I wish I could," said John. "But what do you mean, Leila? She has never said so."

"It's just this. Aunt Ann told me two weeks ago that Uncle Henry Grey was talked of as a delegate to the Democratic Convention to meet next year. Now her newspapers remain unopened. They are feeding these dissensions North and South. No wonder she is tired of it all. I am with Uncle Jim, but I hate to wrangle over politics like Senator Davis and this new man Lincoln-oh, and the rest. No good comes of it. I can't see it as you do, Mr. Rivers."

"And yet, I am right," said Rivers gravely. "God knows. It is in His hands."

"What Aunt Ann thinks right," said Leila, "can't be so unpardonably wicked." She spoke softly. "Oh, John, look at that squirrel. She is carrying a young one on her back-how pretty! She has to do it. What a lovely instinct. It must be heavy."

"I suppose," said Rivers, "we all have loads we must carry, are born to carry-"

"Like the South, sir," said John. "We can help neither the squirrel nor the South. You think we can throw stones at the chipmunk and make her drop it-and-"

"Bad logic, John," returned Rivers. "But soon there will be stones thrown."

"And who will cast the first stone?" rejoined Leila, rising.

"It is an ancient crime," said Rivers. "It was once ours, and it will be ours to end it. Now I leave you to finish your walk; I am tired." As they moved away, he looked after them. "Beauty, intelligence, perfect health-oh, my God!"

In August with ever resisted temptation John Penhallow went back to West

Point to take up his work again.

The autumn came, and in October, at night, the Squire read with dismay and anger of the tragic attempt of John Brown at Harper's Ferry. "My poor Ann," he exclaimed. He went at once from his library back to the hall, where Leila was reading aloud. "Ann," he said, "have you seen the papers to-day?"

"I have read no paper for a month, James. They only fill me with grief and the sense of how helpless I am-even-even-with those I love. What is it now, James?"

"An insane murderer named John Brown has made an attack on Harper's Perry with a dozen or so of infatuated followers." He went on to tell briefly the miserable story of a madman's folly.

"The whole North is mad," said Ann, not looking up, but knitting faster as she spoke, "mad-the abolitionists of Boston are behind it." It was too miserably true. "Thank you, James, for wanting to make me see in this only insanity."

The Squire stood still, watched by the pitiful gaze of Leila. "I want you, Ann-I wanted you to see, dear, to feel how every thoughtful man in the North condemns the wickedness of this, and of any, attempt to cause insurrection among the slaves."

"Yes-yes, of course-no doubt-but it is the natural result of Northern sentiment."

"Oh, Aunt Ann!"

"Keep quiet, child!"

"You should not have talked politics to me, James."

"But, my God, Ann, this is not politics!" He looked down at her flushed face and with the fatal newspaper in his hand stood still a moment, and then went back to his library. There he stayed before the fire, distressed beyond measure. "Just so," he said, "the South will take it-just so."

Ann Penhallow said, "Where did you leave off, Leila? Go on, my dear, with the book."

"I can't. You were cruel to Uncle Jim-and he was so dear and sweet."

"If you can't read, you had better go to bed." Leila broke into tears and stumbled up the stairs with half-blinded eyes.

Ann sat long, hearing Penhallow's steps as he walked to and fro. Then she let fall her knitting, rose, and went into the library.

"James, forgive me. I was unjust to say such things-I was-"

"Please don't," he cried, and took her in his arms. "Oh, my love," he said, "we have darker days than this before us. If only there was between North and South love like ours-there is not. We at least shall love on to the end-no matter what happens."

The tearful face looked up, "And you do forgive me?" "Forgive! There is no need for any such word in the dictionary of love." Between half-hysterical laughter and ready tears, she gasped, "Where did you get that prettiness?"

"Read it in a book, you goosey. Go to bed."

"No, not yet. This crime or craze will make mischief?"

"Yes, Ann, out of all proportion to the thing. The South will be in a frenzy, and the North filled with regret and horror. Now go to bed-we have behaved like naughty children."

"Oh, James, must I be put in a corner?"

"Yes-of my heart. Now, good night."

November passed. The man who had sinned was fairly tried, and on December 2nd went to a well-deserved death. Penhallow refused to talk of him to Rivers, who praised the courage of his last hours.

"Mark," he said, "have been twice or thrice sure I was to die-and I have seen two murderers hanged, and I do assure you that neither they nor I were visibly disturbed. The fact is, when a fellow is sure to be put to death, he is either dramatic-as this madman was-or quietly undemonstrative. Martyr! Nonsense! It was simply stupid. I don't want to talk about it. Those mischief-makers in Congress will howl over it." They did, and secession was ever in the air.

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