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The Old Stone House By Constance Fenimore Woolson Characters: 39198

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

"Justice has never been done to the month of months," said Hugh, coming in to the breakfast-table one morning, bringing a spray of roses with the dew shining on their fragrant petals. "I propose we celebrate the day, the fifteenth of June; the most perfect day of the most perfect month of this most perfect year of our lives. Who knows where we shall be before another June comes round? 'We have lived and loved together through many a changing year; we have shared each other's pleasures and wept each other's tears.' But tempus fugit, oh, how fast! and before we know it we shall all be old! Friends, fill your coffee-cups to the brim, and let us resolve to celebrate."

"A picnic!" said Gem.

"A torch-light procession and fireworks!" said Tom.

"A croquet-party!" said Sibyl.

"A dance!" said Bessie.

"An editor's sanctum," said Hugh.

The novelty of this suggestion made a favorable impression. "Explain yourself, Hugh," said Aunt Faith; "I am afraid your project is too large for the field."

"Oh, no, Aunt Faith, it is not so large as you fancy. There is a store of hidden genius in this family, and I propose, to bring it out and let it scintillate in the light of day! We will invite a few friends to spend the evening, give them notice that they must bring to the 'Sanctum' an original contribution, in prose or verse as they please, and at nine o'clock we, will all assemble in the parlor to hear them read aloud. I will act as editor, receive manuscripts, throw them into a basket, and when the appointed time comes, take them out and read them aloud, as they happen to come."

"Splendid!" said Tom; "I'll go right away and begin mine."

"Oh, I can never think of anything to say!" said Gem in a despairing voice.

"I have never noticed any difficulty of that kind in you, Pussy," said

Hugh, laughing.

"Oh, I mean to write, of course," said Gem; "I don't know what I shall do unless you'll take my last composition?"

"Anything you like as long as it's original," said Hugh.

So Gem went upstairs with a lightened heart and the others discussed the list of invitations.

"We will have old Mr. Gay," began Bessie; "he is always an addition. I wish he would stay here permanently instead of going back to Boston."

"A Boston man will never forsake the 'Rub,'" said Hugh; "that is too much to expect. We will have Mr. Leslie, of course."

"Rose Saxon and Graham Marr," said Sibyl.

"Now, Sibyl, how can you?" said Hugh. "Graham is not a congenial spirit."

"He is congenial to me," replied Sibyl calmly.

"Of course we will have the Marrs," said Aunt Faith; "and Gideon Fish also."

"Oh, Aunt Faith! Not Gideon?" said Bessie.

"Poor Gid! If he could hear you say so," said Hugh, laughing.

"I wish he could," answered Bessie hotly; "he does not understand a hint."

"How should he, doubly enrolled as he is in his own self-importance?" said Hugh.

"I am inclined to think there are good points in Gideon Fish," said gentle Aunt Faith.

"Have you ever seen him eat?" asked Bessie with marked emphasis.

"No, my dear; but we all eat, do we not?" said Aunt Faith, smiling.

"Not like Gideon Fish, I hope, auntie. He never has enough; he is always eyeing the baskets at picnics, and the supper-table at parties. And then he never openly takes what he wants,-as Hugh does for instance,-but he always pretends he does not care for anything, that he is too much absorbed in intellectual conversation to attend to anything so sublunary as eating, while all the time he is gloating over the nice things, and sure to outstay everybody at the table. The very way he gets a piece of cake is a study. He never takes it boldly, like any one else, but eyes it awhile; then he turns the plate to the right or the left, edging it a little nearer; then he looks furtively at the slices, and gradually he gets hold of a piece, his little finger carefully extended all the time, and his face wearing an expression of pure self-sacrifice to an arduous duty."

Everybody laughed at this description, but Aunt Faith said, "Gently, Bessie, gently. If that is all you have against Gideon, he has fewer faults than most young persons of his age."

Somewhat conscience-stricken, Bessie did not reply, and the discussion went on until the list was fully made out, and Hugh departed to deliver the invitations and explain the conditions connected with the editor's sanctum. He returned in an hour with acceptances from most of the invited guests, and then silence reigned in the old stone house for the remainder of the day, while all the contributors wooed the Muses, ransacked their brains, or paced their floors in desperation, according to their various temperaments. Aunt Faith having been exempted from duty, moved about the house, arranging flowers and decorating the pretty supper-table which stood in the sitting-room. Gem had nothing to do but copy her composition, and yet she consumed the whole day in a battle with the ink, and came out with a blotted page at the last. Tom had disappeared; no one knew where he was. Sibyl came down to dinner in her usual unruffled state, but Bessie's curly hair stood on end, and there was a deep wrinkle between her eyes. "Well, Sibyl, have you made a commencement?" she asked, as her cousin took her seat at the dinner-table.

"I have finished my contribution entirely," said Sibyl.

"Did it take you all the morning? I have not heard a sound from your room."

"Oh no! I finished it some time ago, and since then I have been making a new underskirt for my Swiss muslin; the old one was not quite fresh."

"There it is," said Bessie, half laughing, half vexed; "you are always ahead of me, Sibyl. Your contribution will be perfect, and your dress will be perfect,-and I am always just-"

"Bessie Darrell!" interrupted Hugh; "and I would not have you different if I could."

"Thank you, Hugh; but the rest of the world may not agree with you."

"If you mean Gideon Fish," began Hugh, merrily, but something in his cousin's face stopped him. It was seldom that the keenest observer could detect anything like wounded feelings in Bessie Darrell's bright eyes, but when it did come, they were like the eyes of a wounded fawn.

"How has your contribution advanced, Hugh?" asked Aunt Faith.

"Done! madam, at your service," said Hugh with a low bow. "The muses visited me in a body, and I had hard work to choose between the numerous gifts they offered."

"Very well," said Bessie, "I see I am entirely behind you all. I shall shut myself into the studio this afternoon, and my ghost will come out at tea-time, deliver a manuscript written in blood, and vanish into thin air. Farewell, my friends, farewell!"

Evening came, and found Sibyl seated on the piazza looking like a lily in her white draperies. Tom and Gem were in the parlor, in their best attire, trying to look grown-up and dignified; Tom's collar was especially imposing. The guests assembled slowly; Hugh received their folded papers as they entered, and placed them in a covered basket. Nine o'clock struck, and the merry party seated themselves in the parlor, Sibyl by the side of Graham Marr, and Rose Saxon on the opposite side of the room with Mr. Leslie. When they were all in place, the door opened and Hugh appeared, carrying the basket. His entrance was greeted with applause; an arm-chair by the table, and a shaded light were ready, and, with much solemnity, the reader took his seat. Placing the basket on the floor before him, he coughed, unfolded a pocket-handkerchief, and laid it on the table at his elbow, brought out a box of troches and placed them in position by the handkerchief, gravely asked for a glass of water, which was also ranged in order, and then, putting on a pair of green spectacles, bowed to the company and began his preliminary speech:-

"Ladies and gentlemen; the humble individual who now addresses you asks in advance for your kind sympathy for his present embarrassing position. Of a gentle nature, timid as the wild rabbit, blushing as the rosy dawn, he yet finds himself called upon to address the public,-and such a public! (applause ). Ladies and gentlemen,-his feelings are too much for him, and, withdrawing to the basket, he hides his own personality in the following no doubt brilliant effusions taken at random from this intellectual vortex. Ladies and gentlemen,-I beg your attention to the story of:-


"'While I was still a school-girl, I paid a visit to a young lady friend in the pleasant city of C---. We occupied a room together in the second story, and were the only persons on that floor, as the other members of the family slept down-stairs, the house being large, with irregular one-story wings on each side in the old-fashioned style. C--- is a city of a hundred-thousand inhabitants, the streets closely built up, lighted, paved, and guarded by a well-regulated police force. It is a new town also, with no old associations, old legends, or old people to cast a veil of mystery over its new houses and young history; thus, it, would seem to be the last place for anything mysterious, and yet it was there that a singular incident occurred which I have never been able to explain. One night I had been asleep perhaps two hours, when suddenly I awoke,-it was about half-past ten when Kate and I went to our room,-and soon after I awoke, I heard the clock strike one. The street lamps were not lighted, in accordance with the almanac which predicted a fine moon without any regard for the possibility, now a certainty, of heavy clouds; not a gleam, therefore, came in through the blinds to lighten the dark, still house. Our room was large, opening into the hall which was long and broad, extending from one end of the house to the other; the stairs from below came up into this hall, and there was no way of getting to the back part of the house, where the servants slept, without going entirely through it to the west end.

"'Waking suddenly in the night always gives me a strange sensation. I feel as though some one must have called me, and, involuntarily, I listen for a second summons. This night I listened as usual, and distinctly heard a step in the hall. Our door stood partly open, but the darkness was intense. At first I thought it might be a member of the family in search of something in the upper story, for there were several unoccupied rooms and a medicine-closet opening into the hall; but, after a moment, I noticed that the step did not pause or enter these chambers, but seemed to keep in the hall, going back and forth, from one end to the other, with perfect regularity and steadiness. Much perplexed, I gently awakened Kate, and, placing my hand over her lips, I whispered in her ear, 'listen!' She obeyed, and, with beating hearts, we heard the footstep pacing back and forth before our door, now at the west end, now at the east, in a measured gait to which we could almost beat time, so regularly came the sound. The hall was carpeted, and the footfalls soft, yet not as though the unseen visitor was trying to deaden the sound. It was a natural step. From the light tread we might have supposed it to be a woman's foot, but from the stride it was more like a man. I do not know how long we lay there motionless. I felt myself growing more and more nervous, and Kate's hand, as it pressed mine, was cold and trembling. I think we would have been relieved if the step had paused, or even entered our room; that, at least, would have been like an ordinary burglar. But this steady march, to and fro, seemed so unaccountable. If the steps, too, had been soft and muffled, if we could have supposed the person was creeping about after booty of some kind, we should have been frightened, no doubt, but not so appalled as we were now at this singular, easy, and apparently aimless promenade. We did not speak, but lay trembling, and scarcely daring to breathe. Our room was long, and the distance to the open door so great that we could not hope to reach it unnoticed in the darkness, before the step would be upon us again. Besides, the lock was out of order, so that even if we could have summoned courage to shut it, it could not be fastened. The stairway, too, was at such a distance beyond our door, that we did not dare to try that way of escape, bringing us, as it would, face to face with our unseen visitor. There was nothing left but silent endurance, and thus we lay counting the footsteps through the long hours. We could not hope, either, that the other members of the family would be aroused, as their sleeping-rooms were not directly below us, but beyond, in the wings. The clock struck two, and half-past, and steadily the step kept on its regular sound, passing and repassing our door. It grew insupportable. It seemed as though I should not be able to keep from shrieking aloud each time it drew near. If we could have spoken to each other we might have regained some courage, but we were paralyzed with nervous fear; our throats were parched, and our muscles rigid with long continued tension, for we dared not move. It was like a spell, and the fact that we did not know what it was we feared, made the fear all the more intense. At length, after what seemed a century of suffering, the strange footsteps paused. Our hearts gave a leap. Was it coming in? Who was it? Would it come and stand by the bedside, and look at us in the darkness? No! Slowly-and steadily it went down the stairs. We counted every step to the bottom. Then a pause. Would it go towards the dining-room, where the silver was, or towards the sleeping-rooms? We almost hoped it would, for that would prove a desire for plunder. Still silence! We dared not move for fear it might have crept softly up the stairs; it might even now be crawling towards us in the darkness. We shuddered; the silence seemed worse than the regular footfalls. Suddenly we heard a distinct snap in the hall below. We instantly recognized the bolt of the front door, and simultaneously we sprang from the bed. It-whatever It was,-was going. We ran across the room, hearing, as we went, the sound of the footfalls on the stone walk outside, which led from the door to the street. We rushed down-stairs and alarmed the house. The front-door was found open, but no trace of our unseen visitor remained, although the neighborhood was carefully searched. Investigation showed that entrance had been effected through a dining-room window. But the silver was untouched; nothing had been disturbed, although the house contained many valuables, and it was evident that none of the sleeping-rooms had been visited. It, whatever it was, had entered, passed up the stairs, spent the night pacing to and fro in the upper hall, and then, just before dawn, had departed as strangely as it came.

"'Who or what it was, we never knew. The only possible solution was, that it might have been some somnambulist; and, in that case, it must have been some acquaintance who bad been in the house in his waking moments. But even this solution seemed unsatisfactory, and finally Kate and I gave up trying to solve the enigma, content to let it rest as the mystery of our Unseen Visitor.


"Oh, Sibyl! you never told us anything about it before!" exclaimed Gem, who had listened with breathless interest. "Is it all really true?"

"Entirely true," replied Sibyl; "it is an exact description of what happened during my visit to C--- last summer."

After a little general conversation upon somnambulism, and the stories connected with it, Hugh took up another paper.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "the next manuscript, which I have taken at random from the basket, seems to be poetical. It is prefaced by the following note:-

"'To the Editor,-Sir: I am a Boston man; I do not deny it, but glory in the title! Some winters ago I was tempted to go west on business, and found myself snowed up in that great Metropolis of the Lakes,-the Pride of the West,-the Garden City,-in a word, Chicago! It was before the great fire; the hotels were crowded; I was in the fifth story, and, need I say it, I was miserable! In addition to my bodily sufferings, my ear was tortured by the various pronunciations given to the city's name. No sooner had I mastered one than I heard another! At last, driven to desperation, I tried to while away the time in composing the following 'Ode,' in which my feelings, and the three different pronunciations are expressed:-


The wind is loud, and on the road

The snow lays an embargo,

While, in his room, a Boston man

Sits snow-bound in Chi-CAR-go.

A monkey when he is so sick

That he can't make his paw go,

Feels better than a Boston man

When storm-bound in Chi-CAW-go.

A spinster, when she cannot make

Her thin and grayish hair grow,

Feels happier than a Boston man

When storm-bound in Chi-CARE-go.

A Boston man would sooner lose

His credit, cash, and cargo,

He'd sooner be a beggar than

A dweller in Chi-CAR-go.

A Boston man would sooner far

To wigwam with a squaw go,

Than to enjoy domestic bliss

In the best house in Chi-CAW-go.

All the extreme and dreadful lengths

A Boston man would dare go,

Could ne'er include the direful thought



There was a general laugh over this effusion of the Boston bachelor. Mr. Gay was a genial, pleasant man, and although approaching his three-score years and ten, he enjoyed the companionship of young people, and, what is more unusual, the young people sought his company; he entered into their feelings and interests, and was not so devoted to memories of the past but that; he could see the advantages and improvements of the present.

"The next article to which I shall call your attention," said Hugh, taking another paper from the basket, "is a grave and scholarly essay upon that momentous subject, ambition. After the story and the poem, no doubt our minds will receive much enjoyment from the contemplation of this instructive theme:-


Ambition is the curse of nations.

If it was not for ambition, America would be a better country.

Ambition is wrong.

Americans are very ambitious.

It is always better to be content with what we have got.

Especially when we have got so much.

It is not right to be too ambitious.

It is said we are going to have Cuba, Mexico and Canada.

Of course we can have them if we want to.

Or anything else.

But we must always remember that ambition is wrong.


"Very good, my boy," said Mr. Gay to Tom, whose scarlet face had betrayed the authorship of this profound essay long before his name was read; "adhere to that moral, and, mark my words, you will-never be President of the United States."

Tom's embarrassment checked the smiles of the audience, and Hugh took up another paper. "Ah!" he said with enthusiasm, "this seems to be a poem in earnest, breathing the real afflatus, written with the pen of Melpomene! With your permission, ladies and gentlemen, I will refresh myself with a glass of water before I begin:-


After all, not to labor only,-

But to breathe in the essence of vivified sheen,

The fragrance of rarefied thoughts as they surge to and


Heaving the unknown depths up to mountains of night.

Crystalline, luminous, rare, opalescently rare,-

This,-this is June!


"Ah, blank verse," said Sibyl to her companion, with admiring interest. He bowed and stroked

his moustache with a dreamy air.

"Very blank, I should say," murmured Bessie to Mr. Gay.

"It seems to me as though I had heard the beginning of it before, somewhere," answered the Boston bachelor in the same tone.

"The next contribution consists of a series of illustrations," said Hugh, unfastening some loose sheets of drawing paper; "the following introduction is appended:-

'The hand is not only an index of character, but it has a character of its own. We may disguise or droll our features, cultivate our voices and expression, but our hands betray us; I propose to illustrate this principle by a series of sketches. To begin: when you see an irregular hand with large, broad palm, strong wrist, but shapely, tapering fingers, you may know that hand betokens a duplex temperament, where opposite characteristics are constantly struggling for the mastery. The palm may denote strength and industry, but the fingers may overbalance these qualities by their love of ease or generous prodigality. For instance, when you see a hand of this nature, you may know that its owner might give you half his fortune, might even give you his life, and yet would be very likely to keep the household in discomfort for months, for want of one new shingle on the roof. In short, my friends, you might know it was-'"

Here the reader paused, and held up a large drawing of two hands, so lifelike and alive with character that the whole company cried out with one voice, "Hugh!"

"Rather embarrassing for the editor," said Hugh, hastening on with his task as the laughter subsided. "Here, my friends is another design. When you see a hand proportioned in careful outlines, beautiful, but also firm; white, but also strong to the playing of a sonata, you may know the owner will be prompt, even-tempered and calm; you may know the owner will be such a one as-" here Hugh held up another design; "Sibyl!" said the audience, as the two hands appeared.

Mr. Leslie rose, and crossed the room to examine the drawing; he did not lay it aside, but carried it back to his seat, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Sibyl's color rose, but she turned with marked interest towards Graham Marr, and listened to his remarks with a bright smile.

"The next design," Hugh read, "requires no explanation. It is the strong, broad, long palm, and strong, long, shapely fingers of the well-balanced, resolute man, who will fight the battle of life with all his strength, and never give up until it is won. In short, it is-"

"Mr. Leslie!" said the audience, as the illustration was held up for inspection. Sibyl's eyes brightened as she saw the life-like picture, but she sat silent as the others poured forth criticisms and comments.

"Go on, Hugh!" said Mr. Leslie laughing; "this is quite an ordeal, I find."

"The next design," read Hugh, "shows all the faults of nature's worst handiwork. (No pun intended.) A scraggy little paw, brown, knotted and shapeless; of course every one will know that it is-"

"Bessie!" cried the laughing audience, as two ridiculous caricatures of Bessie's little brown hands came into view.

"Last of all, I present the fat-simile of a perfect hand. Our other designs have been youthful, but this one has borne the burden and heat of the day. Originally beautiful and shapely, it is now worn with labor for others; it has given to the poor, it has tended the sick, it has guarded the young, and soothed the afflicted. It is,-I am sure you will recognize it,-"

"Aunt Faith!"-"Mrs. Sheldon!" cried the company, as the last drawing was displayed.

"Bravo, Bessie!" said Tom; "your contribution is the best so far."

When the buzz of conversation had subsided, Hugh took another paper from the basket.

"The next contribution is poetical," he said; "it is entitled:-


The lovely month of June has come,

The sweetest of the year,-

(I've heard this somewhere;-never mind;)

The meadows green and sear;-

Sear's not the word; there's something wrong,-

I fear my muse will drop

The fire of genius' flowing song,

And so I'd better stop!


A general laugh followed this effusion, and no one joined in it more heartily than the authoress, a bright little brunette with sparkling eyes, in whose expression merriment predominated.

"Our next manuscript seems to be of a serious nature," said Hugh; "it treats of a solemn subject, and I beg you to give it your attentive consideration:-


Boys are funny sometimes, but girls are more dignified for their age. Boys are rude, but girls are polite and lady-like. It is a pity boys are not lady-like too. Once I knew a boy, a very little boy, and he had a pair of boots. Real boots,-the first he ever had. One night when his father came home, he found Jimmy sitting on the stairs in the hall. The boots were outside the parlor door,-against the wall. "What are you doing here, Giant Grimm?" said his father. (His father called him "Giant Grimm," sometimes; for fun, I suppose.) "I'm seein' how my boots 'ud look if they was stood outside the door at a hotel to be cleaned," said Jimmy. He could not speak very plain, so I have not written it plain.


"Very good, little girl," said Aunt Faith, drawing her youngest child to her side, and signing to Hugh to go on in order to divert attention from her; "I didn't know you could write so well."


read Hugh.

"When the war for the Union broke out, I had just completed my studies and entered the ministry. My intention had been to enter upon my new duties in a little village not far from my home, but as the excitement spread through the country, and the young men left their fields, their workshops, and their homes, to join the army, I could not overcome my desire to go with them. I could not sleep, through many exciting weeks; in imagination I saw this one, and that one, friends that I knew, cold in death, or lying wounded alone in the night. I seemed to walk through crowded hospitals and to hear the 'ping' of the balls; I felt that if ever there was a place where the gospel words were needed, it was after the battle, when men were left with the awful shadow of death hanging over them. My youth and inexperience would be obstacles in the well-regulated quiet village, but in the army might they not be overlooked, if accompanied by willing hands and heart? In the great haste, in the great excitement, in the great agony, might not the great tidings be delivered acceptably even by an inexperienced messenger? Thus I thought, and soon after the battle of Bull Run, I obtained an appointment as chaplain, joined the army, and remained with it until the close of the war.

"Part of this time I was with an Ohio volunteer regiment; the colonel belonged to the regular army, but all the other officers were volunteers. I grew to know them all, and among them I found many noble hearts, and, had I the time, I could relate many incidents of generosity and true courage, part of that unwritten history of the war which will never come into print. Among these officers there was one young captain whom I especially liked. He was quiet and reserved, and although he never talked with me as his companions sometimes did, although he told me nothing of his life and history, I still felt that, he was a Christian at heart, probably one of those who have never been drawn out of themselves, or taught the pleasure of sympathetic fellowship. Captain Worthington often came to the Sunday service, when I was able to hold one, and his voice joined in the hymns, which gave the greatest charm to those military prayer-meetings; but beyond this I could not pass. He was reserved and silent; I could not force myself upon him. Sensitive natures abhor an intruder.

"One evening in September, while passing through the camp, I met Captain Worthington walking up and down under the trees; he spoke to me with unusual cordiality, and we continued the walk together, strolling through the forest at, random, and talking upon any subject which happened to suggest itself. The week had been hard and annoying. The brigade had been marching and counter-marching in an apparently purposeless way, although, no doubt, there was a concealed motive in every movement; the ground was stony, and broken by deep ravines, the forage wretched, and rain had been falling almost continuously, so that deep mud alternated with sharp stones, making every mile seem two. There had, also, been no enemy in sight to keep up the ardor of the soldiers, and make them forget their discomfort; it had been, as I said before, a wretched week, and Allan Worthington, always grave, seemed this evening almost sad. We sat down upon a fallen tree, and in the still gloom of that night he first spoke of his home.

"'I have been thinking about my mother,' he said; 'I cannot explain it, but home seems very near to me to-night. I can see the house as plainly as though it stood here before me, and I see mother sitting in her arm-chair by the table, knitting. Poor mother! how lonely she looks.'

"'Has she no other children?' I asked.

"'No; I am her only child. She let me go because I would not stay; I sometimes think perhaps I was wrong to leave her. We lived alone on the hill, and when I rode into the country town and heard the latest news, I seemed to be all on fire; I would ride back over the quiet road, my blood fairly tingling with excitement. At last, as the story of the battles began to come, I could stand it no longer, and I told mother I must go. The regiments from my part of the country were all full, but I got a lieutenant's place in another county, and marched away. That was more than two years ago, and I have never felt homesick until this evening. I don't know what has come over me.'

"'In what part of Ohio does your mother live, captain?' I asked.

"'At Benton Fails, South county. I hope to get a furlough before long. I want to go home, if only for a few days; there is one there besides mother whom I want to see; I never knew how much until now.'

"These last words were spoken in a low tone, almost as if the young soldier had forgotten my presence and was talking to himself. He was sitting on the log, with his back against a large oak-tree, resting as though he was in an arm-chair. He said no more, and I strolled away for a moment, thinking that if he resumed the subject when I returned, I would gladly pursue it, but unwilling to take advantage of what might have been an inadvertent utterance. I was absent several minutes, climbing down the bank to the spring to get a drink of water; then I returned and took my place upon the log again.

"'I suppose you often hear from your mother, captain?' I said.

"He did not answer. I repeated the question; no reply. I was perplexed. Could he have fallen into a brown study? His eyes were open, and he appeared to be looking off through the forest. At length I touched his shoulder, but he did not move. I took his hand; he was dead! Shot through the heart. The roaring of the brook, and the steep bank, had prevented my hearing the report; but, as I sat there holding the dead hand, suddenly the woods seemed to grow alive with noise and light. Our camp had evidently been surprised by the enemy, and a sharp conflict began. I took poor Allan's note-book and watch, and, remembering his mother, I managed to cut off a lock of his curly hair; but, before I had gone far, I myself was struck by a stray shot, and knew nothing more until I awoke in a border hospital two months afterwards, pale and weak, the very shadow of my former self. As memory came back, I thought of the captain. The relics had been preserved, and, as soon as I was able, I sent them to the poor mother, with a letter describing my last conversation with her boy,-his last words on earth. I supposed, of course, that she knew from other sources all the details of the attack, but I felt that I must also tell her what I knew; possibly it would be some comfort to her. In about a week I received a letter written in a careful, old-fashioned handwriting. The poor mother had known nothing all that long time save this: 'Captain A. Worthington reported missing.' Our regiment had suffered severely. The camp had been abandoned, and the dead left on the field. The suspense had been dreadful, and she had prayed for relief. It had come in the inward conviction that her boy was dead; that he was not in the southern prisons or languishing in a hospital, but gone from earth forever. My letter brought her the first definite tidings, and my description of that last conversation, the first comfort. 'I shall go to him though he shall not return to me,' wrote the afflicted mother; and she gave me her blessing in such solemn, tender words, that I can never forget them. In the letter she enclosed a picture of Allan, sent home to her during the previous year; and with it another, a picture of the one of whom Allan said, 'I want to see her; I never knew how much until now.'"

As Hugh finished reading, he took the photographs from an envelope, and handed them to Aunt Faith. They were passed from hand to hand, with gentle comments, and some tear-dimmed eyes gazed on the pictured faces,-a resolute, grave young soldier, with earnest eyes, and a little, delicate, wistful maiden, as fair and simple as a wild-flower.

"The war made many partings," said Aunt Faith, as she replaced the pictures in their envelope, and returned them to Mr. Leslie; "but the lost ones are only gone before. There are no partings there."

The gayety had subsided into a quiet thoughtfulness, by common consent the reading was abandoned, and, as it was growing late, Aunt Faith led the way into the sitting-room, where the pretty supper-table soon aroused the vivacity of the young people. Youth is buoyant, and, as for Aunt Faith, she was never saddened by the thought of death. She had lost so many loved ones, that her home seemed more there than here. In a few moments all the company were talking and laughing as merrily as ever, and in the crowd around the table no one noticed that Rose Saxon had slipped away. If they noticed anything beside themselves, it was the amount of chocolate-ice which Gideon Fish consumed!

Rose was in the parlor. The basket was still in its place, and she was looking over the remaining manuscripts. "'Gideon Fish,'" she murmured, "no one wants to hear that; 'Lida Powers,' 'William Mount,' 'Edith Chase,'-oh, here is something! I know the handwriting, although there is no name. Let me see,-yes; this is Hugh's. It is sure to be good, and I mean to have it read." So, just before the company broke up, Rose rapped on the table with her plump little fist.

"Ladies and gentlemen," she began, in her merry voice, "I presume you all know Mr. Pete Trone, the distinguished terrier, whose accomplishments and sagacity are in every mouth."

"Oh, we know him!" answered the company; "we know him well." "He is the celebrated dog of republican principles,"-"who climbs trees;"-"and walks the tight-rope;"-"and dances the hornpipe!"

"I perceive that you know him," said Rose, "and therefore you will be pleased to hear an epic poem in his honor. Indeed, it is supposed that he wrote it himself. He speaks with modesty of his achievements, alludes with feeling to his fancy for digging in the garden, and begs for sympathy. With your permission, I will read the:-


I'm only a poor little terrier,

Very small, black-and-tan,

But a dog who is brighter or merrier

Never breathed, never ran.

I'm death on piratical cats,

And, mangled and gory,

The bodies of hundreds of rats

Testify to my glory.

My duty I try to fulfil

Whenever I know it;

If I do not accomplish your will

You've only to show it;

Yet, though I'm thus honest and square

In all my dealings,

It is plain that you are not aware

A dog has his feelings.

If master is kept in at school

Why must I feel the stick?

If sweetheart is distant and cool,

Why should I get a kick?

If Turk steals the mutton for dinner,

And goes off to gulp it,

Why screen HIM, the solemn old sinner,

And call ME the culprit?

And if I am fond of the sand-banks,

And fresh garden-soil,

Why should you molest with your brickbats

My hard, honest toil?

And why should you call it a 'dusty muss,'

And make me abandon

My labor? Remember, 'DE GUSTIBUS


The world should remember a canine

Has a heart in his breast;

If you knew all you never could say mine

Was worse than the rest.

Then help me to gain the position

To which I aspire,

And grant this poor dog-gerel petition

Of Pete Trone, Esquire!'"

"Excellent! excellent!" cried the audience, as Rose finished reading the verses.

"I propose we have the hero in person," said Mr. Gay.

So Tom went out, and after some delay returned with Mr. P. Trone, who had been hastily attired in his red suit for the occasion, four red pantaloons, a red coat, and little cap with a red feather. He was received with applause, and, after being regaled with macaroons, went through all his tricks, concluding with a slow horn pipe to the tune of "Lochinvar."

About midnight the guests took their departure, and the cousins assembled in the parlor for a few moments before going to bed.

"I think the sanctum was real fun," said Gem; "but you did not read all the papers, Hugh?"

"No; it would have taken too much time," answered Hugh; "what a good thing you made of those hands, Bessie. We must keep the drawings. Why!-where is Sibyl's?"

"Mr. Leslie took it away;-he laid a paper over it and put it in his pocket, just as though it belonged to him," said Tom; "but of all the contributions, I liked Mr. Gay's 'Chicago' the best."

"And I liked Mr. Leslie's story," said Aunt Faith; "it is singular he never before mentioned his army life."

"Oh! he isn't one of the talking kind like Gideon Fish," said Hugh. "Gid is always telling everybody about his 'emotional nature,' and his inner 'consciousness.' He seems to think his mental condition, a subject of public interest, and constantly sends out bulletins for the benefit of anxious friends. His manuscript was poetical, but I took good care to hide it in the bottom of the basket. By the way, Sibyl, how did you like Graham Marr's Lyric? Pretty deep, wasn't it?"

Sibyl was arranging the books and music in their proper places. "You know I am not myself poetical," she answered calmly; "but I like Mr. Marr, and therefore I like his verses, Hugh."

"Oh, Sibyl! surely not so well as Mr. Leslie's story?" said Bessie earnestly.

"Poetry and prose cannot be compared, neither can Mr. Marr and Mr.

Leslie be compared," said Sibyl; "they are very different."

"I should think they were!" said Hugh.

"And tastes are different also," added Sibyl, as she finished her task. "Good-night all."

The cousins dispersed, while Aunt Faith turned out the lights. "I almost think she likes that Marr, after all," whispered Hugh to Bessie as they went up the stairs; "she was with him all the evening."

"Let me tell you, Hugh Warrington, that if Sibyl likes anybody, it is

Mr. Leslie," returned Bessie emphatically.

"When did you discover that, Brownie?"

"I have always suspected it, but to-night I saw it plainly," replied


"To-night! Why, she was with Marr all the time!"

"Men are as blind as bats," said Bessie scornfully; "good-night."

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