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Faith Gartney's Girlhood By A. D. T. Whitney Characters: 10602

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

"The tree

Sucks kindlier nurture from a soil enriched

By its own fallen leaves; and man is made,

In heart and spirit, from deciduous hopes

And things that seem to perish."

"A stream always among woods or in the sunshine is pleasant to all and happy in itself. Another, forced through rocks, and choked with sand, under ground, cold, dark, comes up able to heal the world."-From "Seed Grain."

"Shall we plan a wedding journey, Faith?"

It was one evening in April that Mr. Armstrong said this. The day for the marriage had been fixed for the first week in May.

Faith had something of the bird nature about her. Always, at this moment of the year, a restlessness, akin to that which prompts the flitting of winged things that track the sunshine and the creeping greenness that goes up the latitudes, had used to seize her, inwardly. Something that came with the swelling of tender buds, and the springing of bright blades, and the first music born from winter silence, had prompted her with the whisper: "Abroad! abroad! Out into the beautiful earth!"

It had been one of her unsatisfied longings. She had thought, what a joy it would be if she could have said, frankly, "Father, mother! let us have a pleasant journey in the lovely weather!"

And now, that one stood at her side, who would have taken her in his tender guardianship whithersoever she might choose-now that there was no need for hesitancy in her wish-this child, who had never been beyond the Hudson, who had thought longingly of Catskill, and Trenton, and Niagara, and had seen them only in her dreams-felt, inexplicably, a contrary impulse, that said within her, "Not yet!" Somehow, she did not care, at this great and beautiful hour of her life, to wander away into strange places. Its holy happiness belonged to home.

"Not now. Unless you wish it. Not on purpose. Take me with you, some time, when, perhaps, you would have gone alone. Let it happen."

"We will just begin our quiet life, then, darling, shall we? The life that is to be our real blessedness, and that has no need to give itself a holiday, as yet. And let the workdays and the holidays be portioned as God pleases?"

"It will be better-happier," Faith answered, timidly. "Besides, with all this fearful tramping to war through the whole land, how can one feel like pleasure journeying? And then"-there was another little reason that peeped out last-"they would have been so sure to make a fuss about us in New York!"

The adjuncts of life had been much to her in those restless days when a dark doubt lay over its deep reality. She had found a passing cheer and relief in them, then. Now, she was so sure, so quietly content! It was a joy too sacred to be intermeddled with.

So a family group, only, gathered in the hillside parlor, on the fair May morning wherein good, venerable Mr. Holland said the words that made Faith Gartney and Roger Armstrong one.

It was all still, and bright, and simple. Glory, standing modestly by the door, said within herself, "it was like a little piece of heaven."

And afterwards-not the bride and groom-but father, mother, and little brother, said good-by, and went away upon their journey, and left them there. In the quaint, pleasant home, that was theirs now, under the budding elms, with the smile of the May promise pouring in.

And Glory made a May Day at the Old House, by and by. And the little children climbed in the apple branches, and perched there, singing, like the birds.

And was there not a white-robed presence with them, somehow, watching all?

* * *

Nearly three months had gone. The hay was down. The distillation of sweet clover was in all the air. The little ones at the Old House were out, in the lengthening shadows of the July afternoon, rolling and reveling in the perfumed, elastic heaps.

Faith Armstrong stood with Glory, in the porch angle, looking on.

Calm and beautiful. Only the joy of birds and children making sound and stir across the summer stillness.

Away over the broad face of the earth, out from such peace as this, might there, if one could look-unroll some vision of horrible contrast? Were blood, and wrath, and groans, and thunderous roar of guns down there under that far, fair horizon, stooping in golden beauty to the cool, green hills?

Faith walked down the field path, presently, to meet her husband, coming up. He held in his hand an open paper, that he had brought, just now from the village.

There was news.

Rout, horror, confusion, death, dismay.

The field of Manassas had been fought. The Union armies were falling back, in disorder, upon Washington.

Breathlessly, with pale faces, and with hands that grasped each other in a deep excitement that could not come to speech, they read those columns, together.

Down there, on those Virginian plains, was this.

And they were here, in quiet safety, among the clover blooms, and the new-cut hay. Elsewhere, men were mown.

"Roger!" said Faith, when, by and by, they had grown calmer over the fearful tidings, and had had Bible words of peace and cheer for the fevered and bloody rumors of men-"mightn't we take our wedding journey, now?"

All the bright, early summer, in those first months of their life together, they had been finding work to do

. Work they had hardly dreamed of when Faith had feared she might be left to a mere, unworthy, selfish rest and happiness.

The old New England spirit had roused itself, mightily, in the little country town. People had forgotten their own needs, and the provision they were wont to make, at this time, each household for itself. Money and material, and quick, willing hands were found, and a good work went on; and kindling zeal, and noble sympathies, and hearty prayers wove themselves in, with toil of thread and needle, to homely fabrics, and embalmed, with every finger touch, all whereon they labored.

They had remembered the old struggle wherein their country had been born. They were glad and proud to bear their burden in this grander one wherein she was to be born anew, to higher life.

Roger Armstrong and his wife had been the spring and soul and center of all.

And now Faith said: "Roger! mayn't we take our wedding journey?"

Not for a bridal holiday-not for gay change and pleasure-but for a holy purpose, went they out from home.

Down among the wounded, and war-smitten. Bearing comfort of gifts, and helpful words, and prayers. Doing whatsoever they found to do, now; seeking and learning what they might best do, hereafter. Truly, God left them not without a work. A noble ministry lay ready for them, at this very threshold of their wedded life.

In the hospital at Georgetown, they found Nurse Sampson.

"I told you so," she said. "I knew it was coming. And the first gun brought me down here to be ready. I've been out to Western Virginia; and I came back here when we got the news of this. I shall follow round, wherever the clouds roll."

In Washington, still another meeting awaited them.

Paul Rushleigh, in a Captain's uniform, came, one day, to the table of their hotel.

The first gun had brought him, also, where he could be ready. He had sailed for home, with his father, upon the reception, abroad, of the tidings of the fall of Sumter.

"Your country will want you, now, my son," had been the words of the brave and loyal gentleman. And, like another Abraham, he had set his face toward the mount of sacrifice.

There was a new light in the young man's eye. A soul awakened there. A purpose, better than any plan or hope of a mere happy living in the earth.

He met his old friends frankly, generously; and, seemingly, without a pang. They were all one now, in the sublime labor that, in their several spheres, lay out before them.

"You were right, Faith," he said, as he stood with them, and spoke briefly of the past, before they parted. "I shall be more of a man, than if I'd had my first wish. This war is going to make a nation of men. I'm free, now, to give my heart and hand to my country, as long as she needs me. And by and by, perhaps, if I live, some woman may love me with the sort of love you have for your husband. I feel now, how surely I should have come to be dissatisfied with less. God bless you both!"

"God bless you, Paul!"


* * *


Mrs. Adeline Dutton (Train) Whitney, American novelist and poet, was born in Boston, September 15, 1824, and was married to Seth D. Whitney, of Milton, Mass., in 1843. Writing little for publication in early life, she produced, in 1863, Faith Gartney's Girlhood, which brought her great popularity both at home and in England, where the novel gained especially favorable commendation. Although planned purely as a girl's book, the story of Faith grew into her womanhood, and after the lapse of almost half a century continues to be a prime favorite. It is a purely told story of New England life, especially with dramatic incidents and an excellent bit of romance.

The Gayworthys: a Story of Threads and Thrums (1865), continued Mrs. Whitney's popularity and received flattering notices from the London Reader, Athen?um, Pall Mall Gazette, and Spectator. Mrs. Whitney was a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, Our Young Folks, Old and New and various other periodicals.

Among her other published works are: Footsteps on the Seas (1857), poems; Mother Goose for Grown Folks (1860); Boys at Chequasset (1862); A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life (1866); Patience Strong's Outings (1868); Hitherto: a Story of Yesterday (1869); We Girls (1870); Real Folks (1871); Zerub Throop's Experiment (1871); Pansies, verse (1872); The Other Girls (1873); Sights and Insights (1876); Odd or Even (1880); Bonnyborough (1885); Holy-Tides, verse (1886); Homespun Yarns (1887); Bird Talk, verse (1887); Daffodils, verse (1887); Friendly Letters to Girl Friends (1897); Biddy's Episodes (1904).

Breadth of view on social conditions, a deeply religious spirit, and a charming facility both in descriptive and romantic passages, give this novelist her sustained popularity.

Mrs. Whitney died in Boston on March 21st, 1906.

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Transcriber's Notes

Some punctuation has been changed to conform to contemporary standards.

The author's biography has been moved to the end of the text from the reverse of the title page.

A Table of Contents was not present in the original edition.

The "certain pause and emphasis" differentiated by the author is marked with spaced mid-dots in Chapter XVI, as in the original text.

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