Page images

66 And the ruin on the hill-side is an sent theanswering servant for Dr. Devens, eye-sore," I said.

“But it is easy to re- who came at once, supposing some sight move it.

suppose it belongs to me. of the snow was in store. For-look here-it is I who must be the “ Bid them all out here, Doctor,” cried last of the Rayniers.” And I drew from Colonel Vorse. “Ah, here they come! my breast the broken thing, the halved In this part of the country we need no miniature, that in my mock sentiment I license for marriage. Here are a bride had worn so long.

and groom awaiting your blessing. Per“ You !” cried he. “ You!” And his form your office, sir. And before I could feet tottered, and he leaned against the summon heart or voice, making no recasement for support—he who an hour or sponse, bewildered and faint, I was the so ago had seemed so full of repressed wife of Colonel Vorse, and my husband's strength that he could have pulled his arms were supporting me as the words of house down about his ears. Well, had the prayer and benediction rolled over us. he not done so ?

“ There is no time like the present,” he I moved to his side, and held the cried, gayly, his tones no longer broken, thing that he might see where the pieces “as I have always found.” And sudmatched, the line of the cheek flowing denly, before he ceased, and while they into the lovely curve of the chin, the all thronged round me, there came a flickering sweetness of the lovely mouth, sharp strange sigh singing through the the lambent glance of the lovely eye. air, that grew into the wild discordant " It is my mother, you see," I said. music of multitudinous echoes, and we * And it needs no words to say it.” all turned and sprang intuitively to see,

“ It needs no words to say it,” he re- rent in the moonlight and sheathed in the peated, hoarsely. “It is your image. o glorious spray of a thousand ice-falls, the my God! What have I done! what have Mount of Sorrow bow its head and come I done! My darling, my darling, you down, and, while the whole earth shook must let me repair it by a lifetime of de- and smoked back in hoar vapours, the votion.” And he had his arms about me, great snow-slide in its swift sheeting and was drawing me to his heaving breast, splendour flash and wipe out before our his throbbing heart.

eyes the last timber of the hut and barn “No! no ! no !” I sobbed. “It is impos- and byre of the Rayniers. sible. I am wrecked; I am ruined ; I can be no man's wife. You see yourself-I will never_” But his lips were silencing mine, and I lay there with those arms

AN ÆSTHETIC IDEA. about me a moment; I lay there like one

I.-THE IDEA. in heaven suspended over hell. “What do I care,” he whispered, “ for .

HAMILTON all the Rayniers in Christendom or out of he walked, and making little or it but you? I have learned in this mo- nothing of his musings, cleared his ment that you love me! I will never brow, quickened his pace, and taking give you up."

a fresh look at life through his shining “ You must," I groaned.

glasses, mentally exclaimed, “First, I “ I tell you I never will,” he said, his will consult Margaret: she always knows voice husky and low and trembling, but how to convert a mere sentiment into his eye and his grasp firm. “I have as- an accomplished charity;" and raising sured you that environment, education, his head with the air of a man who art, can supplement nature and escheat flings aside a garment that weighs him heredity. They bave done so with you. down, he strode homeward through the You are your father's child. You re- dull dusk of a November evening. The ceived from your mother only the vital Doctor was a happy man, whose happispark, only this beauty, this fatal beauty. ness, like the rising Nile, could not If you inherited all that the Rayniers contain itself between the narrow banks ever had, then I love, I love, I love all of a selfish life, but overflowed to bless the Rayniers ever were, for I love you. I with tender verdure the barren places have your love, Helena, and I will never about him. Forty-five, and still unlet you go.” While speaking he had married, the sorrows he had known had touched the bell at his hand, and now he left behind no trace in a warped and eccentric manhood. His genial smile, upon her cheek is the woman forehis quiet humour, and hearty kindness shadowed, and woman's instinctive debespoke the contentment of one who sire to be beautiful. The ideal in her, reverences God and loves his kind. Of aroused and strengthened, would modify late years, and by tardy inheritance, his if not remould the marred visage, and lines had been cast in pleasant places, her better nature predominating, she has and he no longer, as in his youth, needed at most but the shock of the first moment to work hard for money, but the habit of to dread in meeting those to whom she work was so strong upon him that the is unknown. After that, though the poor had now as a generous gift the skill soul may have but limited space to set which he had once exercised of necessity. forth its loveliness, its irradiating power He had just come from the Children's will soften and hide, like the glory Hospital, where every day he gave un- Moses wore, the distortion, and those tiring and unrewarded service, and the who look upon her will see the spiritual engrossing subject of his thoughts as he above the sensual, and its grace above walked homeward was the fate of a the scars.” child by whose bedside he had been So he reasoned ; but generous and standing but a few moments ago. He far-seeing as he was, it was to the unhad almost wished she was a boy, this excelled executive abilities of his good little dancer and rider, who, cutting sister he must trust for the accomplishher antics in the ring, slipped and fell ment of his benevolent wishes for Anbeneath the flying feet of the horses, and nette's future, therefore he exclaimed, in one instant had the left side of her “ First, I must consult Margaret." face stamped out of recognition. The Now, by one of those coincidences travelling circus, which for her con- which may merely happen, or which tained neither father, mother, nor rela- may be governed by the laws of magnettive, and at best but impotent if not ism, it chanced that the Doctor's excellent quite indifferent friends, had journeyed relative was at that very instant resolvon and left her, totally destitute, upon ing to ask his advice, for, vigorously that desolate coast, the world's mercy. planning and busily bustling about the He looked at her to-day as she peace- multifarious duties of their home governfully slept for the first time in many ment, which had that very morning weeks, and saw, with intense pity, suffered unprecedented disarrangement, that she concealed, partly by the pillow she mentally ejaculated, as she pushed and partly by one shading hand, the aside a curtain to peer into the darkness eruel disfigurement of which she was of the fast-falling night : “I'll have becoming dimly conscious. The right John's ideas on the subject. It is just side of her face, seen as he saw it now, his way to give one a pearl of good sense in profile, was perfect, and its beauty by hidden in the tangled sea-weed of his remorseless contrast marked with more romantic fancies; and though one must bitter emphasis the ruin wrought by the search for it, it is always worth the pains. iron hoof.

How I wish he would come !” “So intimate," he reflected, “is the So when at last he did come, and had connection between soul and body, that dined and wined—for he lived like a every emotion is painted upon the sur- prince in his grand old house--had drawn face of that crystal mirror, the human his arm-chair opposite the cheerful glow countenance. If her external disfigura- of the library fire, and comfortably tion is aggravated and heightened by settled himself to arrange in suitable moraldeformity, how hideous will the sequence the thoughts which he had face of this poor waif become the head resolved to impart to his companion, of Medusa upon the graceful body of a looking up, he perceived upon her face child! Her only hope of happiness is that expression which a woman wears in a life whose benign influence will call when she has an irrepressible desire to forth the noblest and purest qualities of communicate something. Catching his her heart. At fourteen, and coming glance, she exclaimed, without prelude from such surroundings, who can say or comment, “ Sarah has

gone!” how far already moral disease may have “ Gone?” The Doctor's look was developed? Yet she sleeps like an in- startled, his tone incredulous. He could fant, and only in the outspread hand scarcely have seemed more surprised had some one proved that a planet had taken The Doctor then related the circuman eccentric swing out of its accustomed stances of the young rider's cruel marorbit, and yet Sarah was neither sweet- ring, and dwelt upon the importance her heart, cousin, nor niece; she was simply future education would have upon her the cook.

happiness, while his sister listened with “Yes," resumed his sister," she has keen sympathy and acquiescence. Here gone, after twenty years of creditable was a dilemma indeed! and they sat service. Her brother has disappeared, pondering before the bright fire, as if leaving his five motherless little ones the charity of the land had not provided wholly unprovided for, and she, faithful workhouses,_homes, and asylums by creature, few at once to their rescue. hundreds. He gazed upon the glowing She left this morning shortly after you coal, and its light flashed on his glasses, went out.”

as if the thoughts of his busy brain were The Doctor was a man whose serenity scintillating as he mused; and she sat was seldom disturbed, yet there was a near him, vigorously knitting-she did tinge of indignant scorn in his tone as he everything vigorously—and waited for exclaimed : " The coward knave? he runs him to speak. Presently, as if he had his wild race, drinks his poor rum, in- found his inspiration in the dancing firedulges every desire of his ruffianly heart, light, he began : and when the legitimate duties of life "I sat here alone last night, and through press too heavily upon him he flings the the drawn portière I heard the far-away burden off at a woman's feet, and flies. silvery tinkle of the sweet-voiced circle What does Sarah propose to do with you had gathered about you, and, neither it?”

listening nor caring, their words floated “ Carry it till she drops in the harness. upward as the enchantresses discussed That is her way.”

and settled the affairs of the whole “ Impossible to allow it! Her home earth. Indeed, for them but one subject and place are here."

seemed incapable of settlement, and I “Well, John, what shall we do? It smiled as the crystalline ring changed to has troubled me all day~"

a tone of dolorous discontent. The music “I can understand," said he, smiling, that had fallen upon my charmed ears " that the lower regions, now unqueened, with its scherzoso movement became are in a state of anarchy.”

allegro agitato, beneath which I discerned “Nonsense, John!” she answered, with the smothered cries of confusion, tumult, impetuous haste. “Do you think anarchy and dismay. And this theme—the home shall ever divide the throne with me government and management of servants while I am able to wield a gridiron or -the very one which some adventurer a rolling-pin ? I have not forgotten the from a distant star, making a tour of the days when I broiled the steak and dressed globe, might suppose would awaken all the salad myself. No: my troubled a woman's enthusiasm ; but men who thoughts were for these little children. are born upon this planet know better. Two are boys, and boys are good stock; Yet over it they should coo gently like with a little guidance they fall easily brooding doves, or chirp gayly like nestinto their places in life. But the girls, building swallows, or sing like sirens Madge, Belle, and baby Bessie !-can rocked upon the smooth-gliding waves you suggest anything for them ?

of the sea.

Since Eve spread her fatal How hearty and pleasant was the feast of apples, domestic economy-by Doctor's ringing laugh! “My dear which I mean the entire science of home Margaret, since Timon of Athens died of rule-has ever been a topic upon which too much man, I must regard it as quite our sex is either bound to have no possible to die of too much girl. I've opinion, or to strictest silence if it has.” had one on my mind for weeks, and He paused, and Miss Margaret looked resolved to-night to ask your advice up with a smile, as she remembered concerning her, but before I've a chance with what energy she and her friends you have actually quadrupled my per- had discussed over their crewels and plexities!” And again "he laughed, lace-work the everlasting problem of leaning back in his chair.

the incompetency of hired help. Re“ Is it possible? And pray where did suming, he said : you find your girl ?”

“And yet, since the day when Abra

But a

ham's wife fretted because of her hand- would be a precision and order where maid, down to the departure of our now there is a madness without method ; Sarah-centuries which have settled for observe that in many things women many a vexed question for man—what have not only the harmlessness but the progress have our gentle sisters made in simplicity of doves. A man who wants the art of household government, trained a blacksmith hires a blacksmith, but he help, and far-reaching discipline? None. never expects him to do a jeweller's Our cook gone, to-night we are tossing work.

woman who wants an on the same troubled sea as the rest of efficient, light-footed, intelligent assistthe world, and know not where to find ant--on whom does she call ? On the another Sarah.”

unhappy daughters of Erin! She needs “But if we relieve her of the children deft fingers for her frail china, and uses she will return.”

those which have been browned by the “Yes, but will she be the same Sarah ? sun in the field ; she wishes a dainty Now why should it be impossible to fill repast, and expects it of one who may or her place with another just as good ? may not know how to boil a potatoe ; So admirably trained are men in the and, disappointed in the result, sits down various occupations which fall to their to weep, never suspecting what a bundle lot that the loss of one man can seldom, of inaccuracies her logic is. Æstheticism if ever, occasion a total disturbance of in the kitchen is either a lost art or an the harmonious whole. Temporary delay undiscovered one, but its restoration or may ensue, but there is no gap in the discovery will finally be due to man's ranks; no man's place stands vacant genius, for in six thousand years women for ever, and it is on this principle of have failed to compass it.” succession that the science of govern- Rapidly the shining needles clicked, ment, even among savages, is carried but there was nothing defiant in the on. An empire, unkinged to-night, sees sound. Patiently this admirable woman to-morrow a new king; but Sarah's was sifting the sand and shells and position is unique in this it cannot be tangled weeds for the pearl she was sure filled. Cooks have no competitors. Upon to find. how insecure a foundation has our do- · But you see,” he continued, “ this is mestic comfort rested for twenty years ! due to the fact that the creative or forYou took Sarah when a girl, and with mative powers of your sex are weakinfinite pains and admirable patience the receptive powers strong. Had the taught her her business, and a reckless organisation of armies fallen to women, brother in an hour overthrows the work there would never have been any, not so of years."

much because they love war less, as I'he humorous intonation of his voice, because they signally fail in handling the twinkling gleam in his eyes, betrayed masses. For this reason the laugh in his heart, but as she calmly seldom at the head of great factories, listened she did wonder how he was even where women are employed, and going to wind up his monologue, and never, save by compliment, at the head how it would affect the children. of an army. It has justly been observed

“To find land, therefore, in this ocean that with a woman could never have of difficulty we must have another Co- originated the potent brevity of that lumbus, for there never was and never word · Halt!' for all your commands are will be a Columba. The wet clay of issued in the periphrasis of Richter's domestic capability upon which your generaless— All you people, as soon as white-handed sisters have for ages looked I have done speaking, I command you with dismay, or with which they have all to stand still in your places-stop! I unavailingly daubed their fair fingers, tell you.'” under the magical touch of an artist The ruddy face, cap-crowned, beamed embodies his heavenliest ideas. If to genially upon the orator of the evening. man instead of to woman it had naturally He could not go on for ever; presently fallen to rule the house, he would have he would gather up the ravelled ends of reduced its government to a science, as his discourse and disclose the pattern he has chemistry, or the training and of his design, and she smiled as he disciplining of armies and of the trades, continued. and in the kitchen or laundry there “What we want, but what you have



[ocr errors]

not given us, is a school where the little of the State ; and so they talked by the waifs who slave in factories, or beg in the bright fire while the unconscious chilstreets, or go to ruin in the by-ways, dren-over whose future the childless ones could be trained, and a system which arose like guardian angels-slumbered, would utilise them for intelligent service watched by Him who giveth His beloved, in comfortable homes, which they need not sleep, but while they sleep. never leave till they find happier, either here or hereafter."

II.—THE FULFILMENT. Ah, here was a gleam as of morning in the darkness of the Doctor's speech! A For weeks afterwards Miss Margaret school and a system--she could approve was a busy woman, and after numberless of that.

meetings, consultations, and appointing * With these four children suddenly of committees, it became apparent that thrust upon us, I think it possible to un- the Doctor's dream was not to fade like dertake an experiment that should have the morning mist. A site for the school been tried when the world was young. once chosen-an ancient mansion whose We will build a House Beautiful, and greatest value lay in its old rose garden, place at its head a mother, who in this where the happy children might chase safe retreat will teach these and other each other in the sun-what furnishing, little ones the æsthetics of the kitchen, buying, donating, and bringing forth the fine art from which all others sprung, from treasuries things old and new! But and with which, for her sex, no other can in all the accumulating nothing multicompare. Let them with their fairy plied like the children. As they stood, fingers keep their home orderly and surveyed with profound satisfaction by þeautiful, from the ashes on the hearth to the Doctor, he said: “Twenty already, the trash in the garret. Youth, with its and our quiver will hold but ten more. impressibility, is essential to the success Now we must advertise for a mother for of the plan, because they must come with them.” no preconceived ideas as to the menial “Nonsense!” exclaimed his sister, stamp of the work, no false notions to startled by so novel a proposition. eradicate. Let her teach them,” said “Not at all-not at all," he replied ; “I he, while enthusiasm sparkled in his would not advise you ever to advertise for eyes and flushed his cheeks, “ that this a father, for not one man in fifty has the particular class of labour is as susceptible true fatherly instinct, or, if he has, it is of idealisation as is the face of an Italian for his own, and not other people's chilpeasant in which the artist's eye discerns dren. This is where we fail, my dear; the pensive beauty of a Madonna ; that but women, thank God, from the time if it has come to have upon it a menial they carry that simulacrum of a child, stamp it is because it has fallen into the first doll, to their latest breath, are menial hands; that as an occupation the divinely gifted with a yearning so truly office which demands health, integrity, motherly that this admirable trait more and intelligence, pays not only from a than compensates for their mismanagemonetary point of view, but is rewarded ment of masses." with the appreciation, the gratitude, and “ All women may be mothers at heart, esteem of those to whom such service is but all mothers are not capable women," rendered."

said his practical sister. And after a And so at last she had her Edelstein, vigorous campaign of advertising and and to her fell the task of finding a set-interviewing, she found a matronly heart ting worthy of it. His enthusiasm had and a pair of capable hands to guide her kindled hers, and she forgot the queens, little ones in the person of a rosy-cheeked Amazons, and generalesses of whom she German, who was at once installed in was about to remind him in her eagerness her new home as “ Mother Mein." . to give to his experiment a name and When the apple blossoms blushed once shape. She would consult the Silver- more upon the trees in the high-walled Voiced. All were rich, many generous, garden, Annette and Madge, Belle and and before another year's blossoming baby Bessie, were playing beneath them spring by their united effort such a home as if they had never known a sadder and school might be founded as would in home than this, and trained by the time demand the beneficent recognition careful house-wife to perfection in all

« PreviousContinue »