Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

mouth Miss Bayles immediately filled "Don't Miss Bayles! You don't with a tart.

know what you're treading on. 'Spos“I know all about it,” answered ing Abel is hung on the gallows: do Matthew, the eldest, bringing his fist you think I'll be glad I'm the mother of down on the table; "the boys hollered children then?" at me, when I came out the grocer's, “But, he won't be !” cried her friend, *Your pa's in jail! Hooray! he's took up herself frightened at the picture. Her for knockin' Bill Connelly on the head, hands trembled so that she dropped a and he's got to swing-hooray!' Miss plate, which fell to pieces on the floor. Bayles, what is got to swing'?" “ There! I've broken your plate. You

Never mind what the boys say, must scold me well, Mrs. Bellows !" Matthew. Your father has been arrest- “It's the last of the blue-and-white ed; but I do not believe he has done set we bought the day after we was any thing wrong. Innocent persons are married," murmured the other, picking frequently sent to prison on false accu- up the ruins, and passing her hand over sations. It will come all right in a few them, lost in a dream of other days. days, and you must keep your temper, • Abel was real handsome then, -50 and not mind the boys. Don't trouble every body said." your mother with questions; she is tired She already spoke of him as of one and sick, and I wish her to drink her dead. tea."

“Would you like me to sleep with With gentle artfulness Miss Bayles you to-night ?" persuaded Mrs. Bellows into her second "Oh, if you will be so very good," cup, and was glad to observe that some- shuddering. “I allers was cowardly. thing of the wildness disappeared from · I never rested well when bel wasn't to her manner under the effect of its warmth home. And this evening, somehow, I'm and stimulus. She drew the mother's dreadful nervous." attention to the wants of the children, It was a great sacrifice on the part of helping prepare them for bed, and the young artist to forsake her own smothering Toddle's call for “papa” room and share the bed of the angular under a shower of kisses.

and unhappy woman, but her kindness As they were washing up the dishes, would not permit her to do otherwise; Mrs. Bellows broke forth again :

so she locked her own door, bringing “I can't feel to forgive him, Miss forth her night-dress and a bit of sewBayles; you wouldn't, if you was in mying, and saying, place. He's weak, Abel is. He's broken “ You look ill and tired. Go to-bed his promise more'n once,-and this is now, if you feel like it. I will sew an what comes of it. Oh, Miss Bayles, hour or two, and then follow you." whatever else you do, never marry a “I'm too fidgety to sleep yet. I'll set weak man,-a man that can't hold him- here and watch you sew.

What on self and his family up, but is allers earth I should do, if it wasn't for you, breakin' down in the wrong place.” Miss Bayles, I don't know. You're as

“ Every body has some one weak good as a sister—better'n some. I'll point.”

never forget your conduct this evenin'. “ Well, a man ought to be a man. If Abel allers declared there was nobody I'd a stayed single and stuck to vest- like you. I must wind up the clock. makin' in my native town, I'd a been Only eight. It seems to be six days inbetter off to-day”-and she looked dis- stead of six hours since them officers contentedly about the room.

come in here and begun turnin' things “Would your heart have been satisfied over.” Wearily, with sighs, she wound with vest-making? Can you imagine up the old clock, whose busy pendulum a life without your children,-without had ticked away so many sad and happy meek little Abbey's smile and Toddle's hours of her life. When that was done, fat cheeks and dimples ?”

she looked about: “There's every thing

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

in that bureau tumbled-up as they left him as soon as you can get away from it,” she said ; and as she went to it, to home." straighten its tossed contents, the sight “As to that, I'll think it over," an. of it, perhaps, reminded her of another swered the wife. All the dissatisfaction good friend.

of years was stirred up in her heart, and “I wonder if Mr. Dassel won't come though moments of tenderness overto see me, when he hears about it? He whelmed her indignation, her prevailing was always so fond of Abel and the mood was more of pity for herself and children.”

little ones than for him who had "Oh, Lordy," she added, suddenly, brought them into this wretchedness. sitting down, “now I remember it, And, indeed, there was plenty of reathem men said something about Mr. son for her self-pity and anxiety. She Dassel,—that it was him saw the lace knew that an unpaid note of a hundred behind the drawer, when he fixed the dollars threatened to sweep off their lock for me, the other day." The hands furniture, much of which had been her of her listener dropped into her lap, marriage-portion, and to which her and she looked up eagerly, at this, pride clung as the proof of respectable wbile Mrs. Bellows wailed on:

“bringing-up.” She had no relative to “ It never struck me what it meant whom she felt free to apply for aid. till now.

It must be that Mr. Dassel The rent was behind; and had it not discovered it, and told of it. I did not been, she could not pay rent in so good think he would do it. No, for my sake, a house as this, should she be compelled and little Toddle's, I should not have to earn support for herself and three thought he would have done it. He children. Then, the disgrace! Keenknew how much trouble I had already; est trouble, sharpest pang of all ! he was so friendly. If it had been you It was a long time before she arose who found it, you would not have from her chair, and mechanically re. ruined us, I know,-and I thought 80 arranged the contents of the bureau ; much of him!

then, with a deep sigh, she withdrew The tone of this complaint, in a wo- into the sleeping-room, and Miss Bayles man less practical and more sentimental heard her weeping beside her children's than Mrs. Bellows, would have betrayed bed. a dangerous depth of interest in the A new direction had been given to man; but Miss Bayles understood it and this lady's thoughts by some revelation the woman who uttered it, and whose made by the owner of the bureau. She tears again were falling in big drops had been wakeful before; but now new over her sharp chcek-bones.

thoughts and suspicions crowded upon “He may have acted as he felt it his her so closely, that she felt it impossible duty to act, no matter how personally to sleep. It was midnight when she painful such a course might be. He laid down her sewing, and crept to-bed, certainly appeared to think a great deal without awakening the unhappy woof your family. Have you seen your man, whose heavy breathing showed husband since he was arrested ?”

that she had found transient relief from “No, I couldn't leave the children. the care and sorrow which must beset Some of the neighbors went with the her in the morning. officers to the police-court; they told Miss Bayles breakfasted early, that me he was regʻlarly committed to await she might not lose too much time in her his trial. I didn't ask 'em the particu- purpose of seeing the prisoner. One of lars."

the line of cars which passed the Tombs “Well, I shall stop, on my way up- was not much out of her ordinary path, town to-morrow morning, and see if and as she aligbted before it and ascendthey will permit an interview. I wish ed the steps of that barbaric building to hear what Abel has to say for him- for the first time, she realized something self, and to tell him that you will visit of the shame, wickedness, and despair

66

which hung about it and over it like a satisfied to go to-bed without papa, last stifling atmosphere.

night." Obtaining permission to see Abel “Nobody to say · Blow the Bellows' Bellows, she was ushered into the damp to him-poor little man! This Bellows room, by whose grated door the prison- is blowed up, at last, Miss Bayles. I er was sitting.

know who has done it, and I know he “Oh, is it you, Miss Bayles," he said, may prevail, -'twon't be the first time holding out his hand and smiling; yet an innocent man has suffered.” she knew that, pleased as he was at

" Who first accused you or suspected seeing her, his first thought had been you ?” of his wife. "I might have known it. “Mr. Dassel. It seems he suspected You're not made of the stuff that fades me from the first. You can find the in washing."

whole thing in the morning-papers, I “I come to bring you your wife's s'pose. Read the report, and tell me, love, and to say that she will be around next time you come, what you think to see you as soon as she can get some of it. He had reason to suspect me, of the neighbors to mind the children.” from some slight betrayal I made, and

“She don't believe it, then ?” he pretended friendship with my family,

Her eyes sank before his eager look; in order to have an opportunity to she was truth itself, and could not de watch me, and prove or disprove his clare that the wife did not accuse her suspicions. It seems he had a pair of nusband.

sleeve-buttons stolen from his desk at “She hopes it is not so, --so we all the time, and he learned that I had one do, Mr. Bellows."

of them, if not both. He found the “Hope-hope!” said the man, sar- button in the clock, when he went to castically,—“ do I look guilty? Don't wind it up, and in fixing the locks of be afraid! Look at me well, and say, the bureau, at my wife's request, he de--for you are honest and true, Miss tected a piece of lace hidden between Bayles,—the best woman I know." the draw and the back. In the mean

She did look full into his eyes, and time he had discovered that, though answered him,

not otherwise dissipated, I spent a great “ You do not look guilty, Mr. Bellows, deal on lotteries, and had got myself in and I, for one, do not think you so. I debt. Borden & De Witt believe I'm have come to offer my services,—to ask guilty. They believe every thing Mr. what I can do for you. Shall I get you Dassel says." a lawyer ?"

“ He has the gift of winning people's "Be kind to my wife and babies, Miss hearts." Bayles. I know I have left them in a “Not yours, Miss Bayles.” tight place. If I should be kept here “No, indeed,” blushing ; " but I have long I don't know wbat in the world admired him, and been singularly interthey'll do ;-starve, I suppose.”

ested in him." “Not while my purse holds out. You “ So have I. The next time you come don't know how rich I am, Mr. Bellows. I want to talk it over." I've earned a good deal of money at Mrs. " But I must go now.

What can I Grizzle's, and I certainly shan't let my do for you ?” friends come to hunger, while there's “ You've done all you can, in being

good to my family,—and God bless you “ Thank you; I believe wbat you for it. There's front seats up above for say;"—there was a choking in Abel's such as you, Miss Bayles." throat, which he got rid of by a little Miss Bayles had reasons for believing cough, and then asked, the tears in his in the porter's innocence of which he eyes, but laughing—“How's Toddle ? was not aware. Disagreeable as it and the other young ones ? "

would be for her, a lady, to appear upon " All well. Toddle would hardly be the witness-stand, she resolved that she

VOL. II.-13

any left."

A CAMELIA IN TIE HAIR MEANS “YES."

Fould do it, if her testimony was likely ence which had so early fallen upon to benefit Abel, as she believed it would. Elizabeth's warm, truthful nature, In the meantime, with the generosity They felt momentary spasms of hate of a most noble and womanly nature, and aversion for the man who had she took his family under her protec- caused her mortification and suffering, tion.

which, again, would leave them, under

the irresistible influence of his candor, CHAPTER XIV.

the spell of his accomplishments and grace; while, even had the feeling of

dislike been permanent, tbey would WHEN the family-circle is once dis- have fought against it for Milla's sake. turbed, either by the withdrawal of one Whether Louis Dassel were worthy of its precious links or the addition of or not; whether, as Lissa had begged a stranger, how seldom is it again per- her mother to observe, he had a selfish fectly reunited in the same happy per- object in view, or really loved, as he fection as before! The Camerons had seemed to, the fragile and exquisite dwelt peculiarly in an atmosphere of creature who clung to him like the love and peace. The parents, setting morning-glory to its pillar, certain it the example of mutual love and atten- was that Milla's existence was bound to tion, bringing the rich stores of taste his, and that she would wither like that and cultivation into the service of their delicate vine if torn from the embrace. home, to beautify and spiritualize it, into which her nature had grown. had drawn forth all the wealth of affec- At first they had designed to be very tion of which their children were ca- prudent, very reserved—to hold Milla pable.

in check, and permit no sudden ripenThen, as we have seen, the misfortune ing of her attachment; but the footof the youngest daughter had singled hold which Louis had established in her out for the zealous and never-weary- the family, and maintained for so long, ing service of love. Even the old ser- made it difficult to adopt another manvants fell under the influence of the ner to him now, unless the friendship universal spirit, performing their duties were absolutely broken. For a few con amore, as far as the household was days he had remained grave, pressed concerned, whatever their private down by sorrow and embarrassment, wranglings may have been. The air of scarcely venturing to call; and then the house was so pervaded by this de- Milla had grown languid, lost her new lightful influence, that no one could bloom, and was so evidently dissatiscross its threshold without becoming fied and ill, that the anxious parents aware of the charm. People always were fain to encourage Louis to resume liked to visit the Camerons. Some said his former relations. The feelings of Mrs. Cameron was a good housekeeper; Elizabeth must be sacrificed to the welothers that the gentleman of the house fare of that frail blossom which had was so efficient in helping to entertain drawn already its bloom and perfume company; and again, that “they were from the soil of their self-abnegation. such a sweet family ;” but, however And thus the change came into the each one explained it to his or her satis- home atmosphere-still loving, more faction, the fact was there-it was a devoted than ever, but no longer peacepleasant home, the abode of happiness. ful.

Since the breaking of Lissa's engage- Only a mother can enter into Mrs. ment, there had come a change. Each Cameron's trials, and comprehend the member of the circle was kinder, if pos- conflicting feelings with which she sible, to the others than before; but strove to make up to Elizabeth, by the Robbie's absence was keenly felt; and, doubling of her own tenderness, for that in the depths of their hearts, father and indulgence which she was compelled to mother mourned over the bitter experi- extend to Milla.

Milla's education, doubtless, had not the marvellous skill of Louis interpretbeen what it should have been. Her ing each separate character, and giving friends had erred, through too much to the poet's utterance even more than love; Mrs. Cameron saw the error too its own rich meanings. Was she a late to remedy it. Sheltered, with ex- statue to sit near and hear them di treme and jealous caution, from every coursing to each other the impassioned cold breath of the outside world which tendernesses of Faust and Margaret ? might breathe upon her sensitiveness, and, somehow, as she mused, Dassel she was unfitted for the least adversity. seemed not Faust, but Mephistopheles, Repaying the fond attentions of her and she thought of her brother's comrelatives by l passionate, impulsive munication, and shuddered. affection, they had not been able to see Mingled feelings like these had sent that they had fostered the weed of self- her forth on that impetuous drive and ishness along with the heavenly flower, into the very arms, as it were, of Sam until her conduct in this new phase of Grizzle's declaration. Now she stood life betrayed it. Even now it seemed in her own chamber, panting, like a so much the thoughtless waywardness hunted deer, while Sam, slamming the of a child, that they loved her and pitied gate loudly in the strength of his sudher, and could not bring themselves to den exultation, stood before his mother, train her to the stern realities of duty. luminous as a pumpkin-lantern. If Louis did love her, if she was so “For the lord-sake, Sammy, how did blessed in his society, it was, after all, a you and Miss Lissa happen to be out happier fate than they had dared to a-ridin' together ? I thought I saw you · anticipate for her. Surely, Louis—no goin' off with Miss Bulbous ? " boy, but a man tried in suffering, know- “So you did, mother. But she got ing himself and her, patient, calm, wise-,' tired of me, and shoved me off on to ly tender-would be a husband out of Miss Cameron." ten thousand for their afflicted darling. “ You seem to think it a good joke."

Thus with trembling hopes the pa- Golly, mother, it is the luckiest rents solaced their fears. Elizabeth, thing that ever happened to me." too, putting aside her own feelings, “No! you don't say? I declare, Sam, looked at the matter in the same light, you hain't really had the spunk !” praying secretly that such might be the “ You don't think I'm such a fool as truth. Cheerfully, gladly would she to let a chance like that slip? When a have given up all to Milla, though her fellah's alone with the girl he likes, he'd life had gone with it, did she feel unfal- be a ninny not to take advantage of tering confidence in the man she had that circumstance." once, and still, loved. The vague un- “Of course, Sammy. But I r'ally did easiness which she felt, which lay about not think you had the face. How'd all her thoughts like a cloud, she could you get along ?—what did you say ? not show to others. She could only You ought to have been as flowery as watch and pray.

them dahlias and crysanthemuns—said Elizabeth was not quite a saint. something rally genteel and nice. I Noble and generous to a fault, she was hope you wasn't awkward, as your pa mortal, and felt the pangs of jealousy, was when he asked me. Laws, how the loneliness of unmated youth. There well I remember it! We was settin' on were times, as we have said, when her the horse-hair sofa with brass nails in mood was reckless or despairing, as on the front parlor,—I'd been expectin' it the day of the invitation to Miss Bulbous' for six weeks, and was all of a tremble party. How could she bear it? Had not with its being eleven o'clock at night, he borne her over all the rough places of and he not speakin' for an hour, and a foreign tongue, and taught her soul thinkin' every minute that pa'd rap on to float on the river of Goethe's song? the chamber-floor, and all of a sudden They had read “Faust” together, with says he : Malvina !' and 'Oh dear,'

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »