Part 3 out of 6
as in New England, sugar in the West is never made until the winter
snow has disappeared, and the surface has become dry, and the woods
pleasant, and the opening day at the boiling was as brilliant as its
Bart and Edward, with a yoke of steers, gathered the sap towards
evening, and George tended the kettles; many curious bright-eyed
chickadees boldly ventured up about the works, peeping, flitting,
and examining, with head first on one side and then on the other, the
funny doings of these humans in their dominions, and searching for the
store of raw pork, which, according to their recollection, ought to be
hid away somewhere near by.
The boys had pulled down, removed and rebuilt their old snug cabin,
with one end open to the broad and roaring fire; in the bottom of
which, over its floor, were placed a large quantity of sweet bright
straw, and two or three heavy blankets.
The "run" made it necessary to boil all night; and filling the kettles
and adjusting the fires, Bart and the boys, hungry and tired, went
up to supper and the chores; after which Bart and Edward, taking the
former's rifle, and lighted by a hickory torch, returned to the camp
for the night--Edward really to sleep, sweet and unbroken, in the
cabin, and Bart to take care of the kettles and fires, to muse and
dream, and think bright, strange thoughts, and watch the effects of
the lights and shadows, listen to the dropping of the sap into the
buckets, and the boding owls, whose melancholy notes harmonized with,
rather than interrupted, the solemn effect of deepest night. Man
easily reverts to savagery and nature; and this tendency was marked in
Bart, whom this new recurrence to old habits of wood-life, so dear to
him, filled with such pleasant sensations of joyous unrest, that until
near the coming dawn he was disinclined to sleep, and when he did, the
first note of an old robin from the topmost twig of a giant old maple
awoke him fresh to the labor and enjoyment of another resplendent day.
And so the days followed each other, and the spring deepened. Myriads
of flower-beds shot up through the dead leaves, and opened out their
frail and wondrously tinted petals for a single day, and faded. Not
a new one opened--not a cloud or tint varied the sky--not a note of
a bird or tap of a woodpecker, that was not marked by Bart, to whom
Nature had at least given the power to appreciate and love her lighter
The principal event of the spring among the Ridgeleys, was the return
home of Henry. He had closed his novitiate, and was awaiting
his examination for admission to the bar. He had already, on the
recommendation of his friend and instructor, Wade, formed a favorable
business connection with the younger Hitchcock, at Painesville; and
now, after a year's absence, he came back to his mother and brothers,
for a few days of relaxation and visiting. Less strong than the Major,
of grave, thoughtful, but cheerful face and mien, heavy-browed and
deep-eyed, with plain, marked face, and finished manners, he was well
calculated to impress favorably, and win confidence and respect. His
mind was solid, but lacked the sparkle and vivacity of Bart's, and
compensatingly was believed to be deep. He was the pride and hope of
the family: around him gathered all its expectations of distinction,
and no one shared all these more intensely than Bart, who had awaited
his coming with hope and fear. He was accompanied by a fellow-student
named Ranney, of about his own age, and like him, above the usual
height, broad and heavy-shouldered, with a massive head and strong
face, a high narrow forehead; rather shy in manner, and taciturn.
They came one night while Bart was in the sugar-camp, where he spent
many nights, and he met them the next morning at the breakfast-table.
No one could be gladder than he to meet his brother, but, like his
mother, he was struck by his emaciated form and languor of manner.
Bart had heard of Ranney as a man of strong, profound, ingenious mind,
with much power of sarcasm, and who had formed a partnership with
Wade, on the retirement of Mr. Giddings from the bar. He stood a
little in awe of him, whose good opinion he would have gladly secured,
but who, he had a presentiment, would not understand him. Indeed, he
was quite certain he did not understand himself.
The young men had been fellow-students for two years, had many things
in common, and were strong friends.
Bart soon found that they had a slender view of his law reading,
and spoke slightingly of Ford as a lawyer. They had both diligently
studied to the lower depths of the law, had a fair appreciation of
their acquisitions, and would not overestimate the few months of
solitary reading of a boy in the country.
Bart did not mention his studies, and only answered modestly his
brother's inquiries, who closed the subject for the time by saying
that if he was serious in his desire to study law, "he would either
arrange to take him to Painesville in the Fall, or have his friend
Ranney take him in hand." Bart was pleased with the idea of being with
either; and possibly he may have wondered whether whoever took him in
hand would not have that hand full.
The young men strolled off to his sugar-camp during the forenoon,
lounged learnedly about, evincing little interest in the camp and
surroundings, although the deepening season had filled the woods with
flowers and birds; and Bart wondered whether "Coke on Littleton," and
executory devises, and contingent remainders, had produced in them
their natural consequences. He watched to see whether new maple sugar
was sweet to them, and on full reflection doubted if it was.
They did not interfere with his work, and sauntered back to an early
dinner, and Bart saw no more of them until night.
He closed out his work early for the day, and spent the evening with
them and his mother.
Henry naturally inquired about his old acquaintances, and Bart
answered graphically. He was in a mood of reckless gayety. He took
them up, one after another, and in a few happy strokes presented
them in ludicrous caricature, irresistible for its hits of humor,
and sometimes for wit, and sometimes sarcasm--a stream of sparkle
and glitter, with queer quotations of history, poetry, and Scripture,
always apt, and the latter not always irreverent. Ranney had a
capacity to enjoy a medley, and both of the young men abandoned
themselves to uncontrollable laughter; and even the good mother, who
tried in vain to stop her reckless son, surprised herself with tears
streaming down her cheeks. Bart, for the most part, remained
grave, and occasionally Edward helped him out with a suggestion, or
contributed a dry and pungent word of his own.
As the fit subsided, Henry, half serious and half laughing, turned to
him: "Oh, Bart, I thought you had reformed, and become considerate and
thoughtful, and I find that you are worse than ever."
"But, Henry, what's the use of having neighbors and acquaintances and
friends, if one cannot serve them up to his guests; and only think,
I've gone about for six months with the odds and ends of 'flat, stale
and unprofitable' things accumulating in and about him--the said
Bart--until, as a sanitary measure, I had to utter them."
"How do you feel after it?" inquired Henry.
"Rather depressed, though I hope to tone up again."
"Bart," said Henry, gravely, "I haven't seen much of you for two or
three years; I used to get queer glimpses of you in your letters, and
I must look through your mental and moral make-up some time."
"You will find me like the sterile, stony glebe, which, when the
priest reached in his career of invocation and blessing--'Here,' said
the holy father, 'prayers and supplications are of no avail. This
must have manure.' Grace would, I fear, be wasted on me, and our good
mother would willingly see me under your subsoiling and fertilizing
"Do you ever seriously think?"
"I? oh yes! such thoughts as I can think. I think of the wondrously
beautiful in nature, and am glad. I think of the wretched race of men,
and am sad. I think of my shallow self, and am mad."
Henry, with unchanged gravity: "Do you believe in anything?"
"Yes, I believe fully in our mother; a good deal in you, though my
faith is shaken a little just now; and am inclined to great faith in
your friend Mr. Ranney."
All smile but Henry. "Yes, all that of course, but abstract
propositions. Have you faith, in anything?"
"Well, I believe in genius, I believe in poetry--though not much in
poets--music--though that is not for men. I believe in love--for those
who may have it. I believe in woman and in God. When I draw myself
close to Him, I am overcome with a great awe, and dare not pray. It
is only when I seem to push Him off, and coop Him up in a little
crystal-domed palace beyond the stars, and out of hearing, that I
dare tell Him how huge He is, and pipe little serenades of psalmody to
"Oh, Barton, you are profane!"
"No, mother, men are profane in their gorgeous egotism. We are the
braggarts, and ascribe egotism to God Himself; while we are the sole
objects of interest in the universe. God was and is on our account
only; and when men fancy that they have found a way of running things
without Him, they shove Him out entirely. I put it plainly, and it
"This is a compendious confession of faith," said Henry; and, pausing,
"why do you put genius first?"
"As the most doubtful, and, at the same time, an interesting article.
I am at the age when a young man queries anxiously about it. Has he
any of it--the least bit?"
"Well, what is your conclusion?"
"Sometimes I fancy I feel faintly its stir and spur and inspiration."
"When it may be only dyspepsia," said Henry.
"It may be. I haven't ranked myself among geniuses."
"Yet you believe in it. What is it?"
"I can't tell. Can you tell what is electricity or life?"
"That is not logical. You answer one question by asking another."
"I am not sure but that is allowable," interrupted Ranney. "You pose
your opponent with an unanswerable question, and he in turn proposes
several, thereby suggesting that there are things unknown, and that if
you will push him to that realm you are equally involved. It may not
be logical, but it usually silences."
"Not quite, in this instance," said Henry, "for we know by their
manifestations that life and electricity are; they manifest themselves
"And by the same rule genius manifests itself to your brother,
although it may not to you."
"Thank you, Mr. Ranney," said Bart.
"Now I do not suppose," he went on, "that genius is a beneficent
little imp, or genie, lodged in the brain of the fortunate or
unfortunate, who is all-powerful, and always at hand to give strength,
emit a flash of light, or pour inspiration into the faculties, nor
does it consist in anything that answers to that idea. But there are
men endowed with quick, strong intellects, with warm, ardent, intense
temperaments, and with strong imaginations; where these, or their
equivalents, are found happily blended, the result is genius. There
is a working power that can do anything, and with apparent ease. If
it plunges down, it need not remain long; if it mounts up, it alights
again without effort or injury."
"And such a 'working power,' you suppose, would, of itself, be a
constant self-supply, and always equal to emergencies, and of its own
unaided spontaneous inspirations and energies, I suppose," said Henry,
"and has nothing to do but float and plunge about, diving and soaring,
in the amplitude of nature?"
"Well, Henry, you can't get out of a man what isn't in him. You need
not draw on a water-bottle for nectar, or hope to carve marble columns
from empty air; genius can't do that. An unformed, undeveloped mind
never threw out great things spontaneously, as the cloud throws out
lightning. Men are not great without achievement, nor wise without
study and reflection. Nor was there ever a genius, however strong and
brilliant in the rough, that would not have been stronger and more
brilliant by cutting," said Bart, with vehemence. "All I contend for
is, that genius, as I have supposed, can make the most and best of
things, often doing with them what other and commoner minds cannot do
"This is not the school-boy's idea of genius," said Ranney.
"And," said Bart, a little assertively, "I am not a school-boy."
"So I perceive," said Ranney, coolly.
"The fault I find with you geniuses--"
"Is," said Henry, "you perpetually fly and caracol about, and just
because you can, apparently, and for the fun of the thing."
"Eagles fly," said Bart.
"And so do butterflies, and other gilded insects."
"Therefore, flying should be dispensed with, I suppose," said Bart.
"Because things of mere painted wings, all wing and nothing else, can
float in the lower atmosphere, are all winged things to be despised?
Birds of strong flight can light and build on or near the ground, but
your barn-yard fowl can hardly soar to the top of the fence for his
"But your geniuses, Bart, will not work, will not strip to the long,
patient, delving drudgery necessary to unravel, separate, analyze,
weigh, measure, estimate and count, and come to like work for work's
sake, and so grow to do the best and most work. They deal a few heavy
blows, scatter things, pick up a few glittering pebbles, and--"
"Leave to dullards the riches of the mines they never would have
found," broke in Bart.
"And fly away into upper air," pursued Henry.
"Oh, I know that some chaps rise for want of weight, as you would say;
but mere weight will keep a man always at the surface. Your men who
are always plunging into things, digging and turning up the earth--who
believe with the ancients that truth is in a well--often lose
themselves, and are smothered in their own dirt-holes, and call on men
to see how deep they are. God coins with His image on the outside,
as men mint money, and your deep lookers can't see it; they are for
rushing into the bowels of things."
"There is force in that, Bart. Men may see God in His works, if they
will; but men don't so stamp their works. At his best, man is weak;
unknowing truth, he puts false brands on his goods, mixes and mingles,
snarls and confuses, covers up, hides and effaces, so far as he can,
God's works, and palms off as His the works of the other. And it is
with these that the lawyer has to do: a work in which your mere genius
would make little headway. He would go to it without preparation; he
would grow weary of the hopelessness of the task, and fly away to some
pleasant perch, and plume his wing for another flight, I fear."
"Might not his lamp of genius aid him somewhat?" put in Bart.
"It might," said Ranney, "and he might be misled by its flare. He
would do better to use the old lights of the law. Some are a little
lurid, and some a little blue, but always the same in tempest or
calm. The law, as you have doubtless discovered, is founded in a few
principles of obvious right. Their application to cases is artificial.
The law, for its own wise purposes, takes care of itself; of its own
force, it embraces everything, investigates everything, construes
itself, and enforces itself, as the sole power in the premises. Its
rules in the text-books read plain enough, and are not difficult
of apprehension. The uncertainty of the law arises in the doubt and
uncertainty of the facts; and hence the doubt about which, of many
rules, ought to govern. A man of genius, as you describe him, ought
to become a good lawyer; he would excel in the investigation and
presentation of facts; but none but a lawyer saturated with the spirit
of the law until he comes to have a legal instinct, can with accuracy
This was clear and strong to Barton, and profitable to him.
"Now Barton," said Henry, turning to Ranney, as if Bart were absent,
"went through with Blackstone in a month, and probably would go
through it every month in the year, and then he might be profitably
put to read Blackstone. If I were to shut him up with the
'Institutes,' in four days there might be nothing of poor Coke left
but covers and cords."
"And what would become of Bart?" asked Ranney.
"Go mad--but not from much learning," answered the youth for himself;
"or you would find him like a dried geranium-leaf hid in the leaves of
'Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead.'"
There was a touch of sarcasm in his mocking voice; and flashing out
with his old sparkle, "Be patient with me, boys, the future works
Are mountains ungrown,
And fountains unflown,
And flowers unblown,
And seed never strown,
And meadows unmown,
And maids all alone,
And lots of things to you unknown,
And every mother's son of us must
Always blow his own--nose, you know."
And while the young men were a little astonished at the run of his
lines, the practical and unexpected climax threw them into another
Soon Henry took a candle, and the two young men retired. They paused a
moment in the little parlor.
"Was there ever such a singular and brilliant compound?" said Ranney.
"What a power of expression he has! and I see that he generally knows
where he is going to hit. If you can hold him till he masters the law,
he will be a power before juries."
"I think so too," said Henry; "but he must be a good lawyer before he
can be a good advocate,--though that isn't the popular idea."
"Let him work," said Ranney. "He will shed his flightier notions as a
young bird moults its down."
How kind to have said this to Bart! Oh, what a mistake, that just
praise is injurious! How many weary, fainting, doubting young hearts
have famished and died for a kind word of encouragement!
When Bart returned to the sitting-room, his mother and younger
brothers had retired.
"I am scorned of women and misunderstood of men--even by my own
brother," he said bitterly to himself. "Let me live to change this,
and then let me die."
The old melancholy chords vibrated, and he went to his little attic,
remembering with anguish the stream of nonsense and folly he had
poured forth, and thought of the laughter he had provoked as so much
deserved rebuke; and he determined never to utter another word that
should provoke a smile. He would feed and sleep, and grow stupid and
stolid, heavy and dull, and bring forth emptiness and nothings with
solemn effort and dignified sweatings.
Early on the morrow he was away to the camp, to renew the fires under
his sugar-kettles. The cool, fresh air of the woods refreshed and
restored his spirits somewhat. He placed on the breakfast-table two
bouquets of wood-flowers, and met his guests with the easy grace and
courtesy of an accomplished host; and both felt for the first time
the charm of his manner, and recognized that it sprung from a superior
As they were about to rise from the breakfast-table, "Gentlemen," said
he, "Miss Kate Fisher gives, this afternoon, a little sugar party, out
at her father's camp. Henry, she sent over an invitation specially for
you two, with one to me, for courtesy. I cannot go; but you must.
You will meet, Mr. Ranney, several young ladies, any one of whom will
convert you to my creed of love and poetry, and two or three young,
men stupid enough to master the law,"--with a bright smile. "I
promised you would both go. The walk is not more than a mile, the day
a marvel right out of Paradise, and you both need the exercise, and to
feel that it is spring."
"And why don't you go, Barton?" asked Henry.
"Well, you are not a stranger to any whom you will meet, and don't
need me. In the first place, I must remain and gather the sap, and
can't go; in the second, I don't want to go, and won't; and in the
third, I have several good reasons for not going,"--all very bright,
and in good humor.
"What do you say, Ranney?"
"Well, I would like to go, and I would like to have Barton go with
"Would you, though?"--brightening. "No, I can't go; though I would be
glad to go with you anywhere."
WHAT THE GIRLS SAID.
Kate's little party, out on the dry, bright yellow leaves, gay with
early flowers, under the grand old maples, elms and beeches, in the
warm sun, came and went, with laughter and light hearts. If it could
be reproduced with its lights, and colors, and voices, what a bright
little picture and resting-place it would be, in this sombre-colored
annal! I am sad for poor Bart, and I cannot sketch it.
The young lawyers had been there, seen, talked to, got acquainted
with, were looked up to, deferred to, admired and flirted with, and
had gone, leaving themselves to be talked about.
Two young girls, amid the fading light, with the rich warm blood of
young womanhood in their cheeks, and its latent emotions sending a
softened light into their eyes, with their arms about each other's
waists, were pensively walking out of the dusky woods to the open
fields, with a little ripple and murmur of voices, like the liquid
pearls of a brook.
They had been speaking of the young lawyers. "And these two," said
Julia, "are some of those who are to go out and shape and mould and
govern. I am glad to have seen them, and hear them talk."
"Do you think these are to be leading men?" asked Flora Walters.
"I presume so. It is generally conceded that Henry Ridgeley is a young
man of ability; and I don't think any one could be long in the company
of Mr. Ranney without feeling that he is no ordinary man. Indeed,
Henry said that he was destined to a distinguished career."
"Well, now to me they were both a little heavy and commonplace.
Mr. Ridgeley was easy and gentlemanly; Mr. Ranney a little shy and
awkward. I've no doubt one would come to like either of them, when one
came to know him."
"Oh, Flora! the beauty of a man is strength and courage, and power and
will and ability. When one comes to see these, the outside passes out
"Do you think that absolute ugliness could be overcome in that way?"
"Yes, even deformity. I should be taken even by beauty, in a man,
and should expect conforming beauty of heart and soul. Do you know, I
sometimes half feel that I would like to be a man?"
"You, Julia! with your wealth, beauty and friends, who may, where you
will, look and choose?"
"Yes, I, as much as you flatter me. I can feel the ambition of a
young man; and were I one, how gladly would I put the world and its
emptiness from me, and nurse and feed my soul and brain with the
thoughts and souls of other men, till I was strong and great; and
then, from my obscurity, I would come forth and take my place in the
lead;" and her great eyes flashed.
"If you are ambitious, you have but to wait until the leading spirit
comes. What a help you would be to him!"
"He might never come, or I might not know him when--"
"Or you would not love him, if you did know him."
"He might not love me; or, if he did, I might drive him away. But that
is not what was in my mind, although a woman must be ambitious through
another. To be one of these young men, to know their minds, to feel
their hopes and ambitions, and struggle with and against them, for the
places, the honors and leaderships!"
"And would you never love and wed, woo and marry?"
"Yes; and I would like to see the woman who would scorn me. I would
take her as mine, and she should not choose but love me!"
"Why, Julia! who would think that you, sweet and deep as you are,
could say such things! Would you like to be wooed in that way?"
"I never came to that. I am only a woman without aim in life. I am
only to float along between flowery banks, until somebody fishes me
out, I suppose!"
"I am sure, were I you, I could well float on until the right man
came; and you, Julia, it is your own fault if you do not marry for
love. You will not be obliged to consult anything else."
"And you?" said Julia, laughing.
"I? oh! I am dependent on my brother, you know."
"Yes, and there comes in the hardship; were you a man, you could go
out and make and choose. Now, a daughter remains where her father and
mother leave her. The sons may rise, the daughters stay below, and if
sought for, it is usually in the same channels in which the parents
move, and that is the hardship of those who, unlike you, are on a
lower plane, or who, like you, have no father and mother to sustain
them in their proper place. If you could win wealth, you would only
marry for love; and I am sure you will do so now."
"A woman who wins fortune usually loses the capacity to win love, I
fear," said Flora.
"And the woman who wins nothing deserves nothing," said Julia. "I am
a little like my mother, I presume; but who would win you, and how, I
"Oh," answered Flora, "I suppose the man who really and truly loved
me. I would like to have him come, as the breeze comes, with the odor
of flowers, as the spring comes, with music and song, with all sweet
and gentle influences, with beauty and grace; but he must not be
"He would have to be a good waltzer, I presume?"
"Would that be an objection?" asked Flora.
"No; but a man who excels in these light accomplishments may fail in
the stronger qualities. I admit that beauty and grace would go a great
way, if one could have them also."
"Julia, were I you, I would have them all."
"Girls, what are you loitering along there for? Talking over the young
lawyers, I'll bet; who takes which?" called back Kate, impetuously; "I
don't want either."
* * * * *
All the afternoon long, Bart was sad and silent, and spite of himself,
his thoughts would hover about that bright place in the maple woods,
sweet with one face of indescribable beauty; one form, one low,
many-toned voice which haunted--would haunt him.
He came in to a latish supper, with a grave face. The spring was not
in his step; the ring was not in his voice, or the sparkle in his
The two guests were in high spirits, and talked gushingly of the young
ladies they had met, and they wondered that it did not provoke even a
sarcasm from him.
"It would compensate you for not going," said Ranney, kindly, "if we
were to tell you what was said of you in your absence."
"And who said it," added Henry. Not a word, nor a look even.
"One might be willing to be called a genius, for such words, and from
such a young lady," ventured Ranney.
"I am not sure but that I would even venture upon poetry, under such
inspiration," said Henry.
To the youth these remarks sounded like sarcasm, and he felt too poor
even to retort.
"Oh, boys!" finally said Bart, "it is good exercise for us all;
_persiflage_ is not your 'best holt,' as the wrestlers would say,
and you need practice, while I want to accustom myself to irony and
sarcasm without replying. If by any possibility you can, between
you, get off a good thing at my expense, it would confer a lasting
obligation; but I don't expect it."
"Upon my word--" began Ranney.
"We all speak kindly of our own dead," said Bart, "and should hardly
expect the dead to hear what we said. Mother said you had determined
to leave us in the morning;" to Ranney--"Our brother the Major will be
home in the morning, and would be glad to make your acquaintance, and
show you some attention." And so he escaped.
When Ranney took leave the next morning, he kindly remarked to Bart
that he would at any time find a place in his office, and should have
his best endeavor to advance his studies. It was sincere, and that was
one of the charms of his character. Bart was pleased with it, and it
almost compensated for the unintentional wounds of the night before.
Morris came, and the brothers were together, and the two elder went
around to many of their old acquaintance--many not named here, as not
necessary to the incidents of this story. For some reason Barton did
not accompany them. If anything was said between them about him, no
mention of it was made to him. Henry came to regard him with more
interest, and to treat him with marked tenderness and consideration,
which Bart took as a kindly effort to efface from his mind the pain
that he supposed Henry must be aware he had given him. Had he supposed
that it arose from an impression that he was suffering from any other
cause, he would have coldly shrunk from it.
* * * * *
At the end of ten days, Henry's baggage was sent out to Hiccox's
for the stage, and he took leave of his mother, Morris, Edward, and
George, and, accompanied by Bart, walked out to the State road, to
take the stage for Painesville, where his work was to begin. He was
in bright spirits; his hopes were high; he was much nearer home; his
communication was easier, and his absences would be shorter.
Bart, for some reason, was more depressed than usual. On their way
down, Henry asked him about a Mr. Greer whom he first saw at the sugar
party, and afterwards at Parker's, and who had seemed to take much
interest in Bart. Bart had met him only once or twice, and was not
favorably impressed by him. Henry said that he had talked of seeing
Bart, and that he (Henry) rather liked him.
It had been already talked over and understood that Bart should go to
Painesville in the Fall, and enter fully upon the study of the law. As
they reached the stage-road, Bart's depression had been remarked by
Henry, who made an ineffectual effort to arouse him. Finally the stage
came rattling down the hill, and drew up. The brothers shook hands.
Henry got in, and the stage was about to move away, when Bart sprang
upon the step, and called out "Henry!" who leaned his face forward,
and received Barton's lips fully on his mouth. Men of the Yankee
nation never kiss each other, and the impression produced upon Henry
was great. Tears fell upon his face as their lips met, and from his
eyes, as the heavy coach rolled into the darkness of the night.
Are there really such things as actual presentiments? God alone knows.
Is the subtle soul-atmosphere capable of a vibration at the approach
and in advance of an event? And are some spirits so acutely attuned
as to be over-sensible of this vibration? God knows. Or was the act
of Bart, like many of his, due to sudden impulse? Perhaps he could not
tell. If the faculty was his, don't envy him.
Barton had already resumed his connection with Gen. Ford's office.
The General had returned full of his winter's labors, and found an
intelligent and sympathizing listener in Bart, who had a relish
for politics and the excitements of political life, although he was
resolved to owe no consideration that he might ever win to political
Under the stimulus from his intercourse with his brother and Ranney,
and profiting by their hints and suggestions, he plunged more eagerly
into law-books than ever. He constructed a light boat, with a pair of
sculls, and rigged also with a spar and sail, with which to traverse
the pond, with places to secure it on the opposite shores; and early
passers along the State road, that overlooked the placid waters, often
marked a solitary boatman pulling a little skiff towards the eastern
And once, a belated picnic party, returning from Barker's landing,
discovered a phantom sail flitting slowly in the night breeze over the
dark waters to the west. They lingered on the brow of the hill, until
it disappeared under the shadow of the western wooded shore, wondering
and questioning much as to who and what it was. One, the loveliest,
knew, but said nothing.
The Markhams, one day, in their carriage, passed Bart with his books
toiling up Oak Hill. He removed his hat as they passed, without other
recognition. All of them felt the invisible wall between them, and
two, at least, silently regretted that they might not invite him to an
unoccupied seat. They were at the Fords' to dinner that day, and Bart,
being invited to join them by the General, politely declined.
The General was a little grave at the table, while Mrs. Ford was
decided and marked in her commendation of the young student, and
described, with great animation, a little excursion they had made
over to the pond, and the skill with which Bart had managed his little
A SHATTERED COLUMN.
In mid June came the blow. George brought up from the post-office, one
evening, the following letter:
"PAINESVILLE, June 18, 1837. BARTON RIDGELEY, ESQ.:
"_Dear Sir_,--I write at the request of my sister, Mrs. Hitchcock. Your
brother is very ill. Wanders in his mind, and we are uneasy about
him. He has been sick about a week. Mr. Hitchcock is absent at court.
"Henry is ill," said Barton, very quietly, after reading it. "This
letter is from Mrs. Hitchcock. He has been poorly for a week. I think
I had better go to him."
"He did not write himself, it seems," said his mother.
"He probably doesn't regard himself as very sick, and did not want
us sent for," said Bart, "and they may have written without his
knowledge. I will take Arab, and ride in the cool of the night."
"You are alarmed, Barton, and don't tell me all. Read me the letter."
And he read it. "I will go with you, Barton," very quietly, but
"How can you go, mother?"
"As you do," firmly.
"You cannot ride thirty miles on horseback, mother, even if we had a
horse you could ride at all."
"I shall go with you," was her only answer.
An hour later, with a horse and light buggy, procured from a neighbor,
they drove out into the warm, sweet June night. At Chardon, they
paused for half an hour, to breathe the horse, and went on. Bart was
a good horseman, from loving and knowing horses, and drove with skill
and judgment. They talked little on the road, and at about two in the
morning they drove up to the old American House in Painesville, and,
with his mother on his arm, Barton started out on River Street, to the
residence of Mr. Hitchcock.
How silent the streets! and how ghostly the white houses stood, in the
stillness of the night! and how like a dream it all seemed! They had
no difficulty in finding the house, with its ominous lights, that had
all night long burned out dim into the darkness.
The door was open, and the bell brought a sweet, matronly woman to
"We are Henry Ridgeley's mother and brother," said Barton. "Is he
The question indicated his utter hopelessness of his brother's
"Come in this way, into the parlor," said the lady; and stepping out,
"Mother," she called, "Mr. Ridgeley's mother has come. Please step
A moment later, a tall, elderly lady, sad-faced as was her daughter,
and much agitated, entered the room.
"My mother," said the younger lady. "I am Mrs. Hitchcock."
"Your son--" said the elder lady.
"Take me to him at once, I pray you! Let me see him! I am his mother!
Who shall keep me from him?"
"Mother," said Barton, stepping up and placing his hands about her,
"don't you feel it? Henry is dead. I knew it ere we stepped in."
"Dead! who says he is dead? He is not dead!"
"Tell her," said Barton; "she is heroic: let her know the worst."
"Take me to him!" she said, as they remained silent.
Up the stairs, in a dimly-lighted room, past two or three young men,
and a kind neighbor or two, they conducted her; and there, composed
as if in slumber, with his grand head thrown back, and his fine strong
face fully upward, she found her third-born, growing chill in death.
She sprang forward--arrested herself when within a step of him, and
gazed. The light passed from her own eye, and the warmth from her
face; a spasm shook her, and nothing more.
She did not shriek; she did not faint; she made no outcry,--scarcely
a visible sign; but steadily and almost stonily she gazed on her dead,
until the idea of the awful change came fully to her. The chill passed
from her face and manner; and seating herself on the bed,--"You won't
mind me, ladies. You can do no more for him. Leave him to me for a
little;" and she bent over and kissed his pallid lips, and laid her
face tenderly to his, and lifted with her thin fingers the damp masses
of his hair, brown and splendid, like Bart's, but darker, and without
"What a grand and splendid man you had become, Henry! and I may toy
with and caress you now, as when you were a soft and beautiful baby,
and you will permit me!" and lifting herself up, she steadfastly gazed
at his emaciated face and shrunken temples, and opening his bosom, and
baring its broad and finely-formed contour, she scanned it closely.
"Oh, why could not I see and know, and be warned! I thought he could
not die! Oh, I thought that all I had would remain! that in their
father God had taken all he would reclaim from me! that I should go,
and together we should adorn a place where they should come to us! Oh,
Merciful Father!" and the storm of agony, such as uproots and sweeps
away weak natures, came upon her.
As for Barton, his sensibilities were stunned and paralyzed, while
his mind was left to work free and clear. All his anguish was for his
mother; for himself, the moment had not come. He was appalled to feel
the almost indifference with which he looked upon the remains of
his manly and high-souled brother, and he repeated over and over to
himself: "Henry is dead! he is dead! Don't you hear? don't you know?
He is dead! Why don't you mourn?"
An hour later, came a gentle tap at the door. Barton went to find Mrs.
Hitchcock standing there.
"Your mother must be aroused and taken away. My mother and I will take
you to her house. She must be cared for now."
"Mother," said Bart, taking her lightly in his arms, "these dear good
ladies must care for you. Let me take you out; and our dear Henry must
be cared for, too."
How unnatural his voice sounded to him! Had he slain his brother, that
he should care so little?--that his voice should sound so hoarse and
His mother was passive in his hands,--wearied, broken, and
overwhelmed. He carried her across a small open space, and into a
large house, where her kind hostess received and cherished her as only
women experienced and chastened by sorrow can.
Barton was conducted to a spacious, cool room, luxurious to his eyes;
yet he felt no weariness, but somehow supernaturally strained up to an
"Why don't I shriek, and tear my hair, and make some fitting moan over
this awful loss? Why can't I feel it? O God! am I a wretch without
nature, or heart, or soul? He is dead! Why should he die, and now,
plucked and torn up by the root, just at flowering? What a vile
economy is this! what a waste and incompleteness! and the world full
of drivellers and dotards, that it would gladly be quit of. Wasn't
there space and breath for him? Why should such qualities be so
bestowed, to be so wasted? Why kindle such a light, to quench it so
soon in the dark river? What a blunder! Why was not I taken?"
Why? Oh, weak, vain questioner!
He threw off part of his clothing, and lay down on the bed and slept.
He awoke, offended and grieved that the sun should shine. Why was
it not hidden by thick clouds, and why should they not weep? But why
should they, if he did not? And what business had the birds to be
glad and joyous, and the perfume of flowers to steal out on the bright
He knew he was wrong. He was no longer angry and defiant, but his
grief was dry and harsh, and his sensibilities creaked like a dry
He found his mother tender, calm, and pitying him. Awful as was the
bereavement to her, she felt that the loss was, after all, to him.
Her strong nature, quivering and bleeding under the blow, had righted
itself, and the sweet influence of faith and hope was coming up in
her heart. She saw Barton with his pallid face, and steady but bright
eyes. She knew that she never quite understood, had never quite
fathomed, his nature.
Gentle voices, assuaging hands, and sweet charities were about the
stricken ones; and pious hands, with all Christian observances,
ministered to their beautiful dead. Nothing more could be done; and
before mid-day Barton, with his mother, started on their return, to
be followed at evening by the remains of the loved one, arrayed for
Barton, with every faculty of mind intensely strong and clear, and
weighted with the great calamity to absolute gravity, had struck those
he met as a marvel of clear apprehension and perception of all the
surroundings and proprieties of his painful position. The younger
members of the Painesville Bar, who had begun to know and love their
young brother, had gathered about him in his illness, and now came
forward to take charge of and prepare his remains for final rest, and
to render to his friends the kindness of refined charity. Barton knew
that somehow they looked curiously at him, as he introduced himself to
them, and fancied that his dazed and dreamy manner was singular; but
knew that such considerate and kind, such brotherly young men, would
make allowances for him.
When they gathered silently to take leave, he turned: "Gentlemen, you
know our obligations to you. Think of the most grateful expression
of them, and think I would so express them if I could. Some day I may
more fittingly thank you."
They thought he never could. He remembered the fitting words to Mrs.
Hitchcock and her mother, Mrs. Marshall, and drove away, with his
pale, silent mother.
All the way home in a dream. Something awful had happened, and it was
not always clear what it was, or how it had been brought about.
About midnight the Painesville hearse drove up, accompanied by the
four young pall-bearers, of the Painesville Bar, who attended the
remains of their young brother. The coffin was deposited in the little
parlor, and the carriages drove to Parker's for the night.
The stricken and lonely mother was in the sanctity of her own room.
The children had cried themselves to sleep and forgetfulness. The
brother, who had been sent for, could not reach home until the next
Barton had declined the offers of kind friends to remain, and was
alone with his dead. The coffin-lid had been removed, and he lifted
the dead-cloth from the face. He could not endure the sharp angle of
the nose, that so stabbed up into the dim night, unrelieved by the
The wrath of a strong, deep nature, thoroughly aroused, is sublime;
its grief, when stirred to its depths, is awful. Barton knew now
what had happened and what he had lost. The acuteness of his fine
organization had recovered its sharpest edge. The heavens had been
darkened for him nearly a year before, but now the solid earth had
been rent and one-half cloven away, and that was the half that
held the only hopes he had. He didn't calculate this now. Genius,
intellect, imagination, courage, pride, scorn, all the intensities of
his nature, all that he supposed he possessed, all that lay hidden
and unsuspected, arose in their might to overcome him now. He did not
think, he did not aspire, or hope, or fear, or dream, or remember: he
only felt, and bled, and moaned low, hopeless, helpless moans. If it
is given to some natures to enjoy intensely, so such correspondingly
suffer; and Bart, alone with his pale, cold, dead brother, through
this deep, silent night, abandoned himself utterly to the first
anguish at his loss, and it was wise. As it is healthful and needful
for young children to cry away their pains and aches, so the stricken
and pained soul finds relief in pouring itself out in oversweeping
The storm swept by and subsided, and Bart, kneeling by the coffin of
his brother, in the simple humility of a child, opened his heart
to the pitying eye of the Great Father. His lips did not move, but
steadily and reverently he turned to that sweet nearness of love and
compassion. Finally he asked that every unworthy thought, passion,
folly, or pride, might be exorcised from his heart and nature; and
then, holding himself in this steady and now sweet contemplation and
silent communion, a great calm came into his uplifted soul, and he
slept. And, as he passed from first slumber to oblivious and profound
sleep, there floated, through a celestial atmosphere, a radiant cloud,
on which was reclining a form of light and beauty. He thought it must
be his departed brother, but it turned fully towards him, and the face
was the face of Julia, with sweetest and tenderest compassion and love
in her eyes; and he slept profoundly.
In the full light of the early morning, the elder brother stole into
the room, to be startled and awed by the pale faces of his dead and
his sleeping brothers, now so near each other, and never before so
much alike. How kingly the one in death! How beautiful the other in
sleep! And while he held his tears in the marvellous presence, his
pale, sweet mother came in, and placed her hand silently in his,
and gazed; and then the young boys, with their bare feet; and so the
silent, the sleeping, and the dead, were once more together.
* * * * *
At mid-day, those who had heard of the event gathered at the Ridgeley
house, sad-faced and sorrow-stricken. The family had always been much
esteemed, and Henry had been nearly as great a favorite as was Morris,
and all shared in the hope and expectation of his future success and
eminence. Uncle Aleck came, feeble and heart-stricken. A sweet prayer,
a few loving words, a simple hymn, and the young pall-bearers carried
out their pale brother, and, preceding the hearse in their carriage,
followed by the stricken ones and the rest in carriages and on foot,
the little procession went sadly to the burying-ground. There a
numerous company, attracted from various parts where the news had
reached, were assembled and awaiting the interment. The idle and
curious were rewarded by the sight of a hearse, and the presence of
the deputation of the Painesville Bar, and impressed with a sense of
the importance and consideration of the young man in whose honor such
attentions were bestowed.
The ceremony of interment was short, and of the simplest. The
committing of the dead to final rest in the earth, is always
impressive. Man's innate egotism always invests the final hiding
away of the remains of one of his race in perpetual oblivion, with
solemnity and awe. One of the lords has departed; let man and nature
observe and be impressed.
Uncle Aleck was too feeble to go to the grave.
The mourners--the mother sustained by Barton, and Morris, attended by
his promised bride, a sweet and beautiful girl, and the two young
boys so interesting in their childish sorrow, so few in number, and
unsupported by uncles, aunts or cousins--were objects of unusual
interest and commiseration. But now, when the last act was performed
for them, and the burial hymn had been sung, there was no one to speak
for them the usual thanks for these kindnesses, and just as this came
painfully to the sensibilities of the thoughtful, Barton uncovered his
head and said the few needed words in a clear, steady voice, with such
grace, that matronly women would gladly have kissed him; and young
maidens noticed, what they had observed before, that there was
something of nameless attraction in his face and manner.
Kind hands and sympathizing hearts were about the Ridgeleys, to
solace, cheer and help; but the great void in their circle and hearts,
only God and time could fill. The heart, when it loses out of it one
object of tenderness and love, only contracts the closer and more
tenderly about what it has left.
* * * * *
Time elapses. It kindly goes forward and takes us with it. No matter
how resolutely we cling to darkness and sorrow, time loosens
our hearts, dries our tears, and while we declare we will not be
comforted, and reproach ourselves, as the first poignancy of grief
consciously fades, yet we are comforted. The world will not wait for
us to mourn. The objects of love and of hate we may bear along with
us, but distance will intervene between us and the sources of deep
So far as Bart was concerned, his nature was in the main healthy,
with only morbid tendencies, and the great blow of his brother's death
seemed in some way to restore the equilibrium of his mind, and leave
it to act more freely, under guidance of the strong common sense
inherited from his mother. He knew he must not linger about his
brother's grave and weep.
He knew now that he was entirely upon his own resources. His brother
Morris's speculations, and dashing system of doing things, had already
hopelessly involved him, and Bart knew that no aid could be expected
from him. He had returned to Painesville, and closed up the few
matters of his brother Henry; had written to Ranney, at Jefferson,
and already had resumed his books with a saddened and sobered
determination. He supposed that Henry had died in consequence of a too
close and long-continued application to his studies; and while this
admonished him, he still believed that his own elasticity and power of
endurance would carry him forward and through, unscathed.
He began also to mingle a little with others, and to take an interest
in their daily affairs. People affected to find him changed, and
vastly for the better. "He's had enough to sober him." "It is well he
has been warned, and heeds it." "God will visit with judgments, until
the thoughtless forbear," and other profound and Christian remarks
were made concerning him. As if Providence would cut off the best
and most promising, for such indirect and uncertain good as might, or
might not be produced in another less worthy!
A LAW-SUIT (TO BE SKIPPED).
A young lover's first kiss, a young hunter's first deer, and a young
lawyer's first case, doubtless linger in their several memories, as
events of moment.
Bart had tried his first case before a justice of the peace, been
beaten, and was duly mortified. It is very likely he was on the wrong
side, but he did not think so; and if he had thought so, he would
not have been fully consoled. A poorer advocate than he could have
convinced himself that he was right, and fail, as he did, to convince
the court. It was a case of little importance to any but the parties.
To them, every case is of the gravest moment. He acquitted himself
creditably: showed that he understood the case, examined his
witnesses, and presented it clearly.
Others came to him, and he advised with caution and prudence; and as
Fall approached, he was in request in various small matters; men were
surprised at the modesty of his deportment, and the gentleness of his
speech. Instead of provoking his opponents, and answering back, as was
to be expected of him, he was conciliating and forbearing.
A case finally arose, of unusual importance in the domestic tribunals;
it attracted much attention, helped to bring him forward in a small
way, and gained him much reputation among some persons whose esteem
Old man Cole, "Old King Cole," as the boys derisively called him, an
inoffensive little man, with a weak, limp woman for a wife, and three
or four weaker and limper children, had for many years vegetated on
one corner of an hundred-and-sixty acres of woods, having made but
a small clearing, and managed in some unknown way to live on it. His
feeble condition exposed him to imposition, and he was the butt for
the unthinking, and victim of the unscrupulous and unruly. For some
years his land, a valuable tract, had been coveted by several greedy
men, and especially by one Sam Ward. Failing to induce Cole to sell
what right it was admitted he had, Ward, as was supposed, attempted
to intimidate, and finally to annoy Cole to such an extent, that for
peace and safety he would willingly part with his possession. He was
one of the earliest settlers, had become attached to his land, and
declined to be driven off.
A lawless set of young men and boys were Ward's agents, although his
connection with them was never made very apparent, and had committed
various depredations upon the old man; until one night they made a
raid upon his premises, cut down several fruit-trees, filled up his
spring, tore down his old barn, and committed various acts of trespass
of a grave character. It would seem as if some intelligence controlled
their movements; no act criminal by the statutes of Ohio had been
committed, and, so far as was suspected, none but those under age had
been concerned in the affair.
Poor old Cole, an object of derision, was barely within common
sympathy; and living remote, few knew of, and fewer cared for his
misfortunes. He applied for advice to Bart, who was indignant at the
recital, and entered upon an investigation of the outrage with great
energy. He was satisfied that the fathers of the trespassers could not
be held for their acts, that no breach of the criminal laws had been
committed; but that the boys themselves could be made liable in an
action, and that on failure to pay the judgment, they could themselves
be taken in execution and committed to jail. He at once commenced
a suit for the trespass before a magistrate, against all whom he
The commencement of the suit caused greater excitement then the
perpetration of the outrage. Many of the young men belonged to
respectable families, while many were old offenders, who had been
permitted to escape for fear of provoking graver misdemeanors. It was
known that Bart had taken up the case, and there was a feeling that he
had at least the courage to encounter the dangerous wrath of the young
scamps; the only ground of apprehension was that he had mistaken the
law. The popular impression was that an action could not be maintained
On the return-day of the summons Barton appeared, and demanded a jury,
then allowable, and the time for trial was fixed for the fifth day
In that day, with the exception of one or two small lawyers at
Chardon, and Ford at Burton, there were none within twenty-five
miles of Newbury, and the legal field was gleaned in the magistrates'
courts, as in all new countries, by pettifoggers, of whom nearly every
township was made luminous with one. Of these, the acknowledged head
was Brace. In ordinary life he was a very good sort of a man, not
without capacity, but conceited, obstinate, and opinionated; he never
had any law learning. In his career before justices of the peace, he
was bold, adroit, unscrupulous, coarse, browbeating, and sometimes
brutal; anything that occurred to his not uninventive mind, as likely
in any way to help him on or out, he resorted to without hesitation.
At this time he was in full career, and was constantly employed,
going into two or three counties, occasionally meeting members of the
profession, who held him in detestation, and whom he was as likely to
drive out of court as he was to be worsted by them.
He had been employed by the young scamps to defend them. He and Bart
had already met, and the latter was worsted in the case, and had
received from Brace the usual Billingsgate. He was on hand well
charged on the day for the appearance of the defendants, and was at no
pains to conceal the contempt he felt for his young opponent.
Bart said no more than the occasion demanded, and seemingly paid no
attention to Brace.
The magistrate, a man of plain, hard sense, adjourned the case to a
large school-house, and invited Judge Markham to sit in, and preside
at the trial, to which the Judge consented, which secured a decorous
and fair hearing.
On the day, parties, witnesses, court, jury, and counsel, were on
hand--a larger crowd than Newbury had seen for years. The case was
called and the jury sworn, when Brace arose, and with a loud nourish
demanded that the plaintiff be nonsuited, on the ground of the nonage
of the defendants, and concluded by expressing his surprise at the
ignorance of the plaintiff's counsel: everybody knew that a minor
could not be sued; he even went so far as to express his pity for
the plaintiff. Bart answered that it did not appear that any of the
defendants were under age. If they were infants, and wanted to escape
on the cry of baby, they must plead it, if their counsel knew what
that meant; so that the plaintiff might take issue upon it, and the
court be informed of the facts. The court held this to be the law, and
Brace filed his plea of infancy. Bart then read from the Ohio statutes
that when a minor was sued in an action of tort, as in this case, the
court should appoint a guardian _ad litem,_ and the _parol_ should not
_demur_; and he moved the court to appoint guardians _ad litem_, for
Brace's eyes sparkled; and springing to his feet, he thundered out:
"The parol shall not demur--the parol shall not demur. I have got this
simpleton where I wanted him! I didn't 'spose he was fool enough to
run into this trap; I set it on purpose for him: anybody else would
have seen it; anything will catch him. The case can go no farther;
the phrase, may it please the court, is Latin, and means that the
case shall be dismissed. The _parol_, the plaintiff shall not _demur_,
shall not have his suit. Why didn't Ford explain this matter to this
green bumpkin, and save his client the costs?"
Barton reminded the court that the statute made it the duty of the
court to appoint guardians _ad litem_, which was a declaration that
the case was to go on; if it was to stop, no guardians were needed.
Brace had said the terms were Latin; he presumed that his Latin
was like his law; he thought it was old law French. He produced a
law--dictionary, from which it appeared that the meaning was, the
case should not be delayed, till the defendants were of age. Guardians
should be appointed for them, and the case proceed, and so the court
Bart went up immensely in popular estimation. Any man who knew a word
of Latin was a prodigy. Bart not only knew Latin, but the difference
between that and old law French. Who ever heard of that before? and
he had lived among them from babyhood, and they now looked upon him in
astonishment. "It does beat hell, amazingly!" said Uncle Josh, aside.
After brief consultation the court appointed the fathers of the
defendants their guardians, when Bart remarked that his learned and
very polite opponent having found nurses for his babies, he would
proceed with the case, and called his witnesses.
Against two or three of the ringleaders, the evidence was doubtful.
When Bart moved to discharge three of the younger of the defendants,
Brace opposed this. Bart asked him if he was there to oppose a
judgment in favor of his own clients? The court granted his motion;
when Bart put the young men on the stand as witnesses, and proved his
case conclusively against all the rest.
What wonderful strategy this all seemed to be to the gaping crowd; and
all in spite of Brace, whom they had supposed to be the most adroit
and skilful man in the world; and who, although he objected, and
blustered, and blowed, really appeared to be a man without resources
of any sort.
Barton rested his case.
Brace called his witnesses, made ready to meet a case not made by
the plaintiff, and Bart quietly dissmissed them one after the other
without a word. Then Ward, who had kept in the background, was called,
in the hope to save one of the defendants. Him Bart cross-examined,
and it was observed that after a question or two he arose and turned
upon him, and plied him with questions rapid and unexpected, until
he was embarrassed and confused. Brace, by objections and argument,
intended as instructions to the witness, only increased his
perplexity, and he finally sat down with the impression that he had
made a bad exhibition of himself, and had damaged the case.
It was now midnight, when the evidence was closed, and Barton proposed
to submit the case without argument. Brace objected. He wanted
to explain the case, and clear up the mistakes, and expose the
rascalities of the plaintiff's witnesses; and the trial was adjourned
until the next morning.
When the case was resumed the following day, Bart, in a clear, simple
way, stated his case, and the evidence in support of it, making two or
three playful allusions to his profound and accomplished opponent.
Brace followed on full preparation for the defence. Of course it was
obvious, even to him, that he was hopelessly beaten; and mortified and
enraged, he emptied all the vials of his wrath and vituperation upon
the head of Bart, his client and witnesses, and sat down, at the end
of an hour, exhausted.
When Bart arose to reply, he seemed to stand a foot taller than he
ever appeared before. Calmly and in a suppressed voice he restated
his case, and, with a few well--directed blows, demolished the legal
aspects of the defence. He then turned upon his opponent; no restraint
was on him now. He did not descend to his level, but cut and thrust
and flayed him from above. Even the Newbury mob could now see the
difference between wit and vulgarity, and were made to understand that
coarseness and abuse were not strength. His address to the court was
superb; and when he finally turned to the jury, with a touching sketch
of the helplessness of the plaintiff, and of the lawless violence
of the defendants, who had long been a nuisance, and had now become
dangerous to peace and good order, and submitted the case, the crowd
looked and heard with open-mouthed wonder. Had a little summer cloud
come down, with thunder, lightning and tempest, they would not have
been more amazed. When he ceased, a murmur, which ran into applause,
broke from the cool, acute, observing and thinking New Englanders and
their children, who were present.
Judge Markham promptly repressed the disorder, and in a few words gave
the case to the jury, who at once returned a verdict for the largest
amount within the court's jurisdiction; judgment was promptly
rendered, execution for the bodies of the defendants issued, and they
The excitement had now become intense. Here were half a score of young
men in the hands of the law, under orders to be committed to jail. No
one remembered such a case in Newbury. Breaches of the law, in that
usually orderly community, were unknown, until the acts which gave
rise to this suit, and some fainter demonstrations of the same
character. The poor youths and their friends gathered helpless and
anxious about Brace, who could suggest nothing. Finally, Barton came
forward, and offered to take the promissory notes of the parties and
their fathers, for the amount of the judgment and costs, and release
them from arrest, which offer they gladly accepted, with many thanks
to their prosecutor; and the blow which he thus dealt was the end of
disorder in Newbury.
For the time being Cole was left at peace, and enjoyed more
consideration than had ever been conceded to him before. He was
destined, however, not long after, to appear in the higher court,
to defend the doubtful title of his property, as will appear in the
progress of this narrative.
As a general rule, the people of new communities are more curious
and interested in law--suits, and trials, and lawyers, than in
almost anything else to which their attention can be called. Lawyers,
especially, are the objects of their admiration and astonishment.
Unaccustomed to mental labor, conscious of an inability to perform it,
and justly regarding it as holding the first place in human effort,
the power and skill to conduct and maintain a long-continued mental
conflict, to pursue and examine witnesses, answer questions as well as
ask them, make and meet objections, make impromptu speeches and argue
difficult propositions, and, finally, to deliver off-hand, an
address of hours in length, full of argument, illustration, sometimes
interspersed with humor, wit, and pathos, and sometimes really
eloquent, is by them always regarded, and not without reason, as a
marvel that cannot be witnessed without astonishment.
And here was this young Bart Ridgeley, who had been nowhere, had read
next to nothing, whom they had esteemed a lazy, shiftless fellow,
without capability for useful and thrifty pursuits, and who had in
their presence, for the last two days, taken up a hopeless case, and
conducted it against a man who, in their hearts, they had supposed was
more than a match for Joshua R. Giddings or Chief Justice Hitchcock,
beaten and baffled him, and finally thrashed him out of all semblance
of an advocate.
When the case was over, and he came out, how quickly they made way for
him, and eagerly closed in behind and followed him out, and looked,
and watched, and waited for a word or a look from him. "What did I
tell you?" "What do you say now?" "I allus knew it was in 'im." "He'll
do," etc., rained about him as he went into the open air.
Greer had attended the trial, and was one of the warmest admirers of
Bart's performance. Nobody knew much about this man, except that he
was often on hand, well dressed, drove good horses, was open, free and
pleasant, with plenty of leisure and money, always well received, and
often sought after. He had, at the first, taken a real liking to Bart;
and now, when the latter came out, he pleasantly approached him, and
offered to carry him home in his carriage, an offer the tired youth
was glad to accept.
On their way, he mentioned to Bart something about a very profitable
and pleasant business, conducted by a few high-minded and honorable
gentlemen, without noise or excitement, which consisted in the sale
of very valuable commodities. They employed agents--young, active, and
accomplished men, and on terms very remunerative, and he thought it
very likely that if Bart would enter their service, it could be made
much for his advantage to do so; he would call again after Bart had
thought it over.
His remarks made an impression on Bart's mind, and excited his
curiosity, and he remembered what Henry had said about Greer when at
Judge Markham had been very much impressed by Bart's management of his
case; perhaps to say that he was very much astonished, would better
express its effect upon him. He had always given him credit for a
great deal of light, ready, dashing talent, but was wholly unprepared
for the exhibition of thought, reflection, and logical power which he
had witnessed; the young man's grave, cautious and dignified manner
won much upon him, and he was surprised when he reflected how slender
was the ground of his dislike, and how that dislike had somehow
disappeared. Then he recalled the favorable estimate which his wife
had always put upon the qualities of Bart, and that he had usually
found her opinions of persons accurate. The frank appeal of Bart to
him was manly, and almost called for some acknowledgment; and he felt
that the invisible barrier between them was unpleasant. After all, was
not this young man one of the few destined to distinction, and on all
accounts would it not be well to give him countenance? And in this the
Judge was not wholly politic. He felt that it would be a good thing to
do, to serve this struggling young man, and he came out of the crowded
room with the settled purpose of taking Bart home to his mother's, if
he would ride with him, let what would come of it. He would frankly
tell him what he thought of his conduct of his case, and at least open
the way to renewed intercourse.
He was detained for a moment, to answer questions, and got out just
in time to see Bart, apparently pleased, get into Greer's carriage and
ride away. The Judge looked thoughtful at this; and a close observer
would have noticed a serious change in the expression of his face.
Of course he was well and intimately known to all parties present,
and his frank and cordial manners left him always open to the first
approach. He listened to the comments upon the trial, which all turned
upon Bart's efforts, and the Judge could easily see that the young
advocate had at once become the popular idol. He was asked what he
thought of Bart's speech, and replied that one could hardly judge of
a single effort, but that the same speech in the higher courts would
undoubtedly have gained for its author much reputation, and that if
Bart kept on, and did himself justice, he was certainly destined to
high distinction. It was kind, judicious, and all that was deserved,
but it was not up to the popular estimate, and one remarked that "the
Judge never did like him"; another, "that the Judge was afraid that
Julia would take a liking to Bart, and he hoped she would"; and a
third, "that Bart was good enough for her, but he never did care for
girls, who were all after him."
How freely the speech of the common people runs!
Two or three things occurred during the Autumn which had some
influence upon the fortunes of Barton.
Five or six days after the trial, he received a letter, postmarked
Auburn, which read as follows:
"Beware of Greer.
Don't listen to him.
Be careful of your associations."
Only three lines, with the fewest words: not another word, line, mark,
or figure on any side of it. The hand was bold and free, and entirely
unknown to him. The paper was fine-tinted note, and Bart seemed to
catch a faint odor of violets as he opened it; a circumstance which
reminded him that a few days before he had found on the grave of his
brother, a faded bouquet of flowers. There was perhaps, no connection
between them, but they associated themselves in his mind. Some maiden,
unknown to him, had cherished the memory of his brother, may have
loved him; and had secretly laid this offering on his resting-place.
How sweet was the thought to him! Who was she? Would he ever know? She
had heard something of this Greer--there was something bad or wrong
about him; Henry may have spoken to her about the man; and she may
have seen or known of Greer's taking him home, and had written him
this note of warning. The hand was like that of a man, but no man in
Ohio would use such paper, scented with violets. How queer and strange
it was! and how the mind of the imaginative youth worked and worried,
but not unpleasantly, over it! Of course, if the note was from a
woman, she must have written because he was Henry's brother; and it
was, in a way, from him, and to be heeded, although Henry had himself
been favorably impressed by Greer. The warning was not lost upon him,
although it may not have been necessary.
A few days later, the elegant and leisurely Greer made his appearance;
and after complimenting Bart upon his success in an easy, roundabout
way, approached the subject of his call; and Bart was duly impressed
that it arose from considerations of favor and regard to him,
that Greer now sought him. The visitor referred to the rule among
gentlemen, which Bart must understand, of course, that what he
might communicate, as well as their whole interview, must be purely
confidential. The agents, he said, were selected with the utmost care,
and were usually asked to subscribe articles, and sworn to secrecy;
but that he had so much confidence in Bart, that this would not be
necessary. Bart, who listened impassively, said that he understood
the rule of implied confidence extended only to communications in
themselves right and honorable; and that of course Mr. Greer could
have no other to make to him. Greer inquired what he meant. Bart
said that if a man approached, with or without exacting a pledge of
confidence, and made him a proposition strictly honorable, he should
of course regard it as sacred; but if he proposed to him to unite in
a robbery, house-burning, or to pass counterfeit money, or commit any
breach of morality, he should certainly hold himself at liberty to
disclose it, if he deemed it necessary. "If I am, in advance, asked to
regard a proposed communication as confidential, I should understand,
of course, that the proposer impliedly pledged that it should be of
a character that a man of honor could listen to and entertain; of
course, Mr. Greer, you can have no other to make to me, and you know I
would not listen to any other."
During this statement, made with the utmost courtesy, Bart looked
Greer steadily in the face, and received a calm, full, unwinking look
in return. Greer assured him that his notions of the ethics of honor,
while they were nice, were his own, and he was glad to act upon them;
that he was not on that day fully authorized to open up the matter,
but should doubtless receive full instructions in a day or two; and he
had called to-day more to keep his word with Bart than to enter upon
an actual business transaction. Nothing could be franker and more
open than his way and manner in saying this; and as he was trained to
keenness of observation, he may have detected the flitting smile that
just hovered on Bart's lips. After a little pleasant commonplace talk
of common things, the leisurely Greer took a cordial leave, and never
approached Bart but once again.
At the Whig nominating convention, for the county of Geanga, that
Fall, Major Ridgeley, who had, by a vote of the officers of his
regiment, become its Colonel, was a candidate for the office of
sheriff. He was popular, well-known, and his prospects fair. The
office was attractive, its emoluments good, and it was generally
sought after by the best class of ambitious men in the counties.
He was defeated in the convention through a defection of his supposed
friends, which he charged, justly or otherwise, upon Judge Markham.
The disappointment was bitter, and he was indignant, of course.
Like Bart, when he thought a mishap was without remedy, he neither
complained nor asked explanations. When he and the Judge next met,
it was with cool contempt on his side, and with surprise, and then
coldness, on the part of Markham. Their words were few and courteous,
but for the next eighteen months they avoided each other. Of course,
Bart sympathized with his brother Morris; although he did not suppose
the Judge was ever committed, still he felt that he and all his
friends should have stood by his brother, and apprehended that the
Judge's dislike to him may have influenced his course. However that
may have been, Judge Markham never approached Bart, who continued to
act upon his old determination to avoid the whole Markham family.
His engagements took the Judge to the State capital for the winter,
where, with his wife and Julia, he remained until the early spring,
following; as did also General and Mrs. Ford.
Barton undertook the school in his mother's neighborhood for the
winter, with the understanding that he might attend to calls in the
line of his proposed profession, which grew upon his hands. He pushed
his studies with unremitting ardor; he had already made arrangements
with Mr. Ranney to enter his office on the first of the April
following, and hoped to secure an admission in the next September,
when he should seek a point for business, to which he proposed to
remove his mother and younger brothers, as soon afterwards as his
means would warrant.
His friend Theodore had gone away permanently, from Newbury, and the
winter passed slowly and monotonously to Bart. He knew, although
he would not admit to himself, that the principal reason of his
discontent was the absence of Julia. What was she to him? What could
she ever be? and yet, how dreary was Newbury--the only place he had
ever loved---when she was away. Of course she would wed, some time,
and was undoubtedly much admired, and sought, and courted, by elegant
and accomplished men, this winter, upon whom she smiled, and to whom
she gave her hand when she met them, and who were permitted to dance
with her, and be near her at any time. And what was it all to him? How
sore, after all, his heart was; and how he hated and cursed himself,
that he must still think of her! He would go forever and ever away,
and ever so far away, and would hear and think of her no more. But
when she came back, with March, he somehow felt her return, and Spring
seemed naturally to come with her; and bright thoughts, and beautiful
and poetic figures and images, would arrange themselves in couplets
and stanzas, with her in the centre, in spite of him.
Then came sugar making, with life and health of spirit, in the woods.
His brother was arranging to dispose of his interests, and had gone
further West, to look for a new point, for new enterprises.
March and sugar making had gone, and Bart had completed his scanty
arrangements to depart also; and no matter what the future might have
for him, he knew that he was now leaving Newbury; that whatever might
happen, his home would certainly be elsewhere; although it would
forever remain the best, and perhaps sole home of his heart and
What he could do for his mother he had done. His limited wardrobe was
packed. He went to the pond, to all the dear and cherished places in
the woods; and one night he was guilty of the folly, as he knew it
was, of wandering up the State road, past Judge Markham's house. He
did not pretend to himself that it was not with the hope of seeing
Julia, but he only passed the darkened house where she lived, and went
disappointed away. He would go on the morrow, and when it came, he
sent his trunk up to Hiccox's, intending to walk down in the evening,
and intercept the stage, as Henry had done.
He went again to his brother's grave, and there, on its head, was an
almost fresh wreath of wild flowers! He was unmanned; and, kneeling,
touched the dead children of the Spring with his lips, and dropped
tears upon them. How grateful he was that a watchful love was there to
care for this consecrated place, and he felt that he could not go
that night. What mattered one day? He would wait till to-morrow,
he thought, but was restless and undecided. George left him at the
cemetery, and went to the post-office, and was to have gone with
Edward to see him off, on the stage. As the time to leave approached,
Bart found his disinclination to go even stronger; and he finally told
his mother he would remain until the next day.
She, unwomanlike, did not like the idea of his yielding to this
reluctance to go. "He was ready, nothing detained him, why not have
the final pain of going over at once?"
He made no reply, but lounged restlessly about.
At about nine o'clock George came bursting in, with his eyes flashing,
and his golden hair wet with perspiration; and catching his breath,
and reducing and restraining his voice, cried out: "Julia Markham is
lost in the woods, and they can't find her!" The words struck Bart
like electricity, and at once made him his best self.
"Lost, George?" taking him by both hands, and speaking coolly, "tell
me all about it."
A few great gasps had relieved George, and the cool, firm hands of
Bart had fully restored his quick wits.
"She and Nell Roberts had been to Coe's, and Orville started to go
home with Julia, and he did go down to Judge Markham's fields, where
he left her."
"She did not go home, nor anywhere, and they have been looking for
her, all through the woods, everywhere."
"All through what woods, Georgie?"
"Down between Coe's and the State road."
"They will never find her there; there is a new chopping, back of
Judge Markham's fields, which she mistook for the fields, and when
she found out the mistake she turned back to the old road, and I will
wager the world that she went into 'the woods,' confused and lost."
After a moment--"Mother, put some of your wine in my hunting-flask,
and give me something that can be eaten. Edward, bring me two of those
bundles of hickory; and George, let me have your hatchet and belt."
He spoke in his ordinary voice, but he looked like one inspired.
Throwing off his coat, and arraying himself in a red "wamus," and
replacing his boots with heavy, close-fitting brogans, he was ready.
"Boys," said he, "go about and notify all in the neighborhood to meet
at Markham's, at daylight; and tell them for God's sake, if she is not
found, to form a line, and sweep through the west woods. If I am
not back by daylight, push out and do all you can. Mother, don't be
anxious for me. If it storms and grows cold, you know I am a born
woodsman. I know now what kept me."
"I am anxious, Barton, only that you may find her. God go with you!"
With the other things, Edward placed in his hands a long wax taper,
made for the sugar camp, lighted, and with a kiss to his mother, and a
cheery good-night to the boys, he sprang out.
As Julia did not return at dark, her father and mother supposed she
had stopped with Nell Roberts. Mrs. Markham remembered the adventure
which signalized her last walk from Coe's, and was anxious; and the
Judge went down to Roberts's for her. Nell had been home one hour, and
said Orville had gone home with Julia. A messenger was hurried off to
Coe's, and word was sent through the neighborhood, to call out the men
and boys. It had been years since an alarm and a hunt for the lost had
occurred. The messenger returned with young Coe, who said that he went
with Miss Markham to within sight of her father's fields, when she
insisted that he should return, and he did.
Cool and collected, the Judge and his party, with lanterns and
torches, accompanied by Coe, proceeded to the point where he parted
with Julia, when it was discovered that what she had mistaken for
her father's fields, was a new opening in the woods, a considerable
distance back from them. It was supposed that in endeavoring to find
a passage through, or around the fallen timber, she had lost her way.
Obviously, if she went back towards the old road, which was a broad
opening through the woods, she would in no event cross it, and must
be somewhere within the forest, east of it, and between the State
road and the one which led from it to Coe's. Through these woods, with
flashing torch and gleaming lantern, with shout and loud halloa, the
Judge and his now numerous party swept. As often as a dry tree or
combustible matter was found, it was set on fire, there being no
danger of burning over the forest, wet with the rains of Spring.
This forest covered hundreds of acres, traversed by streams and
gullies, and rocky precipices, rendered difficult of passage by fallen
trees, thickets, twining vines and briers.
The weather had been intensely hot for the season, ominously so, for
the last two days, and on this day, the sun, after hanging like a
fiery ball in the thickening heavens, disappeared at mid-afternoon,
in the dark mass of vapor that gathered in the lower atmosphere. The
night came on early, with a black darkness, and while there was no
wind, there was a low, humming moan in the air, as if to warn
of coming tempest, and the atmosphere was already chill with the
THE BABES IN THE WOODS.
"There, Orville, here are our fields. I am almost home; now hurry back.
It is late. I am obliged to you." They had reached the opening, and
the young man turned back, and the young girl tripped lightly and
carelessly on; not to find the fence, as she expected, but an expanse
of fallen timber, huge trunks, immense jams of tree-tops, and numerous
piles of brush, under which the path was hidden. As she looked over
and across, in the gloomy twilight, trees seemed to stand thick and
high on the other side. Julia at once concluded that they had taken
a wrong path; and she thought that she remembered to have seen
one, which she and Barton passed, on the memorable night of their
adventure; and without attempting to traverse the chopping, or go
around it, she turned and hurried back to the old road. As she went,
she thought of what had then happened, and how pleasant it would be if
he were with her, and how bad it had all been since that time.
When she got back to the old road, it seemed very strange, and as
if it had undergone some change; looking each way, for a moment,
undecided, she finally walked rapidly to the north, until she came to
a path leading to the left, which she entered, with a sense of relief,
and hurried forward.
It was quite dark, silent, and gloomy in the woods, and she sped
on--on past huge trees, through open glades, down through little
sinks and swales, and up on high ground, until she came to an opening.
"Thank God! thank God!" cried the relieved and grateful child; "I am
out at last. How glad I am!" And she reached the margin of the woods,
to be confronted with an interminable black jungle of fallen and
decaying tree-trunks, limbs and thick standing brush, over which, and
out of which, stood the dense tops of young trees. She paused for
a moment, and turning to the left, thought to skirt about this
obstruction, until she should reach the fence and field, which she
was sure were now near her. On and on, and still on she went; over the
trunks of fallen trees, through tangles of brush and pools of water,
until, when she turned to look for the opening, she was alarmed and
dismayed to find that it had disappeared. Her heart now for the first
time sank within her. She listened, but no sound, save the ominous
moan in the air, came to her ear. The solemn, still, black night was
all about her. She looked up, and a cold, starless, dim blank was
all over her; and all around, standing thick, were cold, dark, silent
trees. She stood and tried to think back: where was she, and how
came she there? She knew she had once turned back, from something to
somewhere--to the old road, as she remembered; and it flashed across
her, that in the strange appearance of things, and in her confusion,
she had crossed it, and was in the awful, endless woods! How far had
she gone? If lost, had she wandered round and round, as lost folks do?
Then she thought of her dear, distracted mother, and of her brave
and kind father. She had been missed, and they were looking for her.
Everybody would hear of it, and would join in the hunt; and Barton
might hear of it, and if he did, she knew he would come to find her.
He was generous and heroic; and what a wonder and a talk it would all
make, and she didn't care if it did. Then she wondered if she had not
better stop and stand still, for fear she would go wrong. How awfully
dark it was, and the air was chilly. Did she really know which way
home was? And she strained her unseeing eyes intently for a moment,
and then closed them, to let the way come into her mind. That must
be the way, and she would go in that direction until she thought she
could make them hear; and then she would call. And ere she started,
amid the cold, unpitying trees, in her purity and innocence, that
savage nature reveres and respects, she knelt and prayed; she asked
for guidance and strength, and arose hopeful. But she found that she
was very weary: her feet were wet and cold, and when she was to start,
that she was confused and uncertain as to the direction. One more
invocation, and she went forward. How far or how long she travelled,
she had no idea. She paused to listen: no sound. Perhaps they would
now hear her, and she raised her voice, and called her father's name,
and again and again, with all her force, through the black, blank,
earless night, she sent her cry.
As her voice went out, hope, and spirit, and strength went with it.
She trembled and wept, and tried once again to pray. She clasped her
hands; but suffocating darkness seemed to close over her, and she felt
lost, utterly and hopelessly lost!
A sense of injustice, of ill-usage, came to her, and she dried her
eyes; she was young, and brave, and strong; and must; and would care
for herself. She should not perish; day would come some time, and she
should get out. She found she was very cold, and must arouse and exert
herself. Then came the thought and dread of wild animals; of that
awful beast; and she listened, and could hear their stealthy steps in
the dry leaves, and she shrunk from meeting the horrid glare of their
eyes. Oh, if Barton were only with her, just to drive them away! God
would protect him.
There--as she could not help but stare into the black darkness, there
surely was the glare of their eyes, that horrid, yellowish-green,
glassy glare! and with a shriek she fled--not far, for she fell, and a
half swoon brought her a moment's oblivion; when the dead cold night,
and the dumb trees came back about her again. With the reaction she
arose, and found that she had lost her hood. She felt that a wild
beast had torn it from her head; and that she had taken his hot, brute
Weak, hardly with the power of motion, she supported herself by the
trunk of a tree. "Father! Father God! a helpless, weak child calls
to Thee; show me my sin, let me repent of it; weak and lost, and
hopeless; sweet Saviour, with Thy loving sympathy, stay and help my
fainting heart. If it be Thy will that I perish, receive my spirit,
and let this weak, vain body, unmangled, be given back to my poor
grief-stricken parents. God and Saviour, hear me!"
There now came to her ear the voice of running water. It had a sweet
sound of companionship and hope, and she made towards it, and soon
found herself on the banks of a wild and rapid stream. "Oh, thanks!
thanks!" she murmured, "this runs from darkness out to human
habitations, somewhere. It will lead out to daylight, and on its banks
are human homes, somewhere. Oh, give me strength to follow it, it is
so hard to perish here!"
The wind had long been blowing, and had now risen to a tempest, bitter
and sharp from the north, and the trees were bending and breaking
under its fury. Julia was thoroughly chilled, and her feet were
benumbed with cold. She had been aware for some time that snow was
sifting over her, and rattling on the dry leaves under her feet.
She was dizzy, and almost overcome with sleep; and was conscious of
strange visions and queer voices, that seemed to haunt her senses.
Could she hold out till morning? She could not fix her wandering mind,
even on this question. She occasionally heard her own voice in broken
murmurs, but did not understand what she said. It was like the voice
of another. She knew her mouth was dry and parched with thirst, but
never thought of trying to drink from the stream, whose drowsy voice
ran through her wandering consciousness. The impulse to move on
remained long after all intelligent power of directing her movements
had left her; and blindly and mechanically, she staggered and reeled
about for a few or many minutes, until she sank to the earth unable
and unwilling to struggle further. Her last act was with pure womanly
instinct, to draw her torn and draggled skirts about her limbs and
feet. The faces of her father and mother, warm and sweet, were with
her for a moment, and she tried to think of her Heavenly Father; and
another face was all the time present, full of tenderness and love;
and then all faded into oblivion, blank and utter ...
What was it? something whispered, or seemed to whisper in her heart as
vague consciousness returned, unutterably sweet; was it the voice
of an angel coming to bear her hence? Once again! and now her ear
caught--and still again--a voice of earth, clear; and it had power
to start her up from under the snow, that was surely weaving and
thickening her virgin winding-sheet. God in heaven! once again!
Strong, clear and powerful, it pealed through the arches of the
forest, overtopping the tempest. It was a voice she knew, and if aught
might, it would have called her back from death; as now, from a deadly
And once again, and nearer, with a cadence of impatience, and almost
doubt, a faint answer went back; and then a gleam of light; a broad,
wavering circle of glory, and Barton, with his flashing eyes, and
eager, flushed face, with his mass of damp curls filled with snow, and
dashed back, sprang with a glad cry to her side!
"Barton!" she cried, trying to rise, and throwing out her hands to
"Oh, Julia! you are found! you are alive! Thank God! thank God!"
Throwing himself on his knees by her, and, clasping her cold hands
in his, and, in a paroxysm, pressing them to his lips and heart, and
covering them with kisses and with tears.
"God sent you to me! God sent you to me!" murmured the poor, dear
Bart's self-command returned in a moment; he lifted her to her feet,
and supported her. "You are nearly frozen, and the snow had already
covered you. See what my mother sent to you," filling the top of his
flask and placing it to her lips. "It is nothing but old wine." How
revivingly it seemed to run through her veins! "I am very thirsty,"
she said, and he brought her a full draught from the running stream.
"Can you walk? let me carry you. We must get to some shelter."
"I thought you would come. Where is my father?"
"I am alone--may I save you?"
"I have not seen your father; they are looking for you, miles away.
How under the heavens did you ever find your way here? How you must
have suffered! See! here is your hood!" placing it over her tangled
and dripping hair. "And let me put this on you." Removing his "wamus,"
and putting her arms through the sleeves, he tied the lower corners
about her little waist, and buttoned the top over her bosom and
about her neck. He gave her another draught of wine, and paused for a
moment--"I must carry you."
"Oh, I can walk!" said the revived girl, with vivacity.
He lifted his nearly consumed torch, and conducted her to the stream.
"We must cross this, and find shelter on the other side." He let
himself at once from the abrupt bank, into the cold, swift water,
that came to his middle. "I must carry you over;" unhesitatingly
she stooped over to him, and was taken with one strong arm fully to
himself, while he held his torch with the other. He turned with her
then, and plunged across the creek, holding her above its waters. Its
deepest part ran next the bank where he entered; fortunately it was
not very wide, and he bore her safely to the opposite and lower bank.
The other side was protected from the tempest, which was at its
greatest fury, by a high and perpendicular ledge of rocks which the
course of the creek followed, but leaving a narrow space of hard land
along the base. Under the shelter, Bart turned up stream with his
charge, occasionally lifting his torch and inspecting the mossy ledge.
Within a few feet of them the snow fell in wreaths and swirls, and
sometimes little eddies of wind sifted it over them.
"Somewhere near here, is a place where they made shingles last summer,
and there was a shed against the rocks, if we could only find it."
Finally they doubled an abrupt angle in the nearly smooth wall, which
bent suddenly back from the stream, for many feet, making a semicircle
of a little space, and in the back of which Bart discovered the
anxiously looked-for shed;--a mere rude cover, on posts driven into
Under and about it were great quantities of dry shavings, and short
bits of wood, the hearts and saps of shingle blocks. To place a pile
of these on the margin of the creek, and apply his torch to them, took
but a moment; and in an instant a bright, white flame flashed and lit
up the little sheltered alcove. Another, and the almost overcome girl
was placed on a seat of soft, dry shavings, against the moss-grown
rock, under the rude roof, out of the reach of the snow or wind; and
another fire was lit of the dry shingle blocks, at her feet, from
which her saturated shoes were removed, and to which warmth was soon
Barton now took from a pocket on the outside of the "wamus," a small
parcel, and produced some slices of tongue and bread, which the
famished girl ate with the relish and eagerness of a hungry child.
More wine, now mingled with water, completed her repast; and Bart made
further preparations for her comfort and rest. A larger mass of the
shavings so adjusted that she could recline upon them, was arranged
for her, which made an easy, springy couch; and as she lay wearily
back upon them, still others were placed about and over her, until,
protected as she was, warmth and comfort came to her.
What a blessed sense of shelter, and safety, and peace, as from
heaven, fell upon the rescued girl's heart! And how exquisitely
delicious to be carried, and supported, and served by this beautiful
and heroic youth, who hovered about her so tenderly, and kneeling at
her feet, so gently and sweetly ministered to her! No thought of being
compromised, none of impropriety in the atmosphere of absolute purity,
came to cloud the stainless mind of the maiden. No memory of the past,
no thought of the future, was near her. She was lost, exhausted, and
dying, and God sent him to her; and she accepted him as from the hand
of God. He had restored, warmed and cheered her. She was under shelter
and protection, and now heavy with sleep, and still the storm raged
all about and over their heads, and the snow still fell within a few
feet of them, while in that little circle warmth and light pulsated,
like a tender human heart.
When all was done that occurred to the tender, thoughtful youth, and
the eyes of the maiden were dreamily closing: "Have you said your
prayers?" asked Bart, who had spoken barely a word since lighting the
"Not of thanks for my deliverance," replied the girl. "Will you say a
prayer for us?" in a low, sweet voice.
The youth knelt a little from her.
"Our Father, Whose Presence is Heaven, and Whose Presence is
everywhere, let this weary, wandering one feel that Presence in Its
sweetest power; let her repose in It; and through all time rest in
It. Hush the storm, and make short the hours of darkness, and with
the dawn give her back to her home of love. Impress her parents with a
sense of her safety. Remember my widowed mother and young brothers.
Be with all wanderers, all unsheltered birds, and lambs on bleak
hill-sides, and with all helpless, hopeless things."
"You ask nothing for yourself, Barton," in her tenderest voice.
"Have I not been permitted to save you? What remains for me to ask?"
How these words came to her afterwards! She turned, moved a little, as
if to make room, and slept.
Barton shall at some time, in his own way, tell of his experiences of
that strange night.
It had never come near him--the thought of seeking and saving her
for himself---and when he found her perishing, and bore her over the
water, and found shelter, and cheered and restored her, and as he now
sat to protect her, the idea that she was or could be more to him, or
different from what she had been, never approached him. It had been
an inspiration to seek her, and a great possession to find her. It had
brought back to him his self-respect, and had perhaps redeemed him, in
her eyes, from the scorn and contempt with which she had regarded him,
and in his heart he gratefully thanked God for it. Now his path was
open and serene, although unwarmed and unlighted with this precious
love, and so, in the heart of the forest, in the soul of the night, in
the bosom of the tempest, he had brought life and hope and peace
and rest to her, and an angel could not have done it with a purer
He sat near her, at the foot of an old hemlock, waiting for the dawn.
The forest and night and storm thus held in their arms these two
young, strong, brave, sweet, and rich natures, so tender, and so
estranged, till the morning light brightened and flashed up in the
serene sky, and sent a new day over the snow-wreathed earth. The
tempest subsided, the snow ceased, the wind sunk to whispers, and the
young morning was rosy in the east.
Barton had kept the fire burning near Julia, and when the new light
became decided, approached her, and not without some anxiety: "Miss
Markham--Miss Markham--Miss Markham!" raising his voice at each
repetition. She did not hear. "Julia!" in a low voice, bending over
her. Her eyes opened to the rude roof over her, and she started,
turned to him, flushed, and smiled: "Oh, we are still here in the
woods! Is it day?"
"Yes; how do you feel? Can you walk?" cheerily.
"Oh yes, I haven't suffered much!" rising from the woody coverings,