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“My vast pity almost makes me die
To see thee laying there thy golden head,
My pride in happier summers, at my feet.”



—“Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?”


—“A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac: find out moonshine,
find out moonshine.”

Midsummer Night's Dream.

“Ladies and Gentlemen: In consequence of the sudden sickness of my
operator, I have to run this moon, to-night, myself.”

A. Ward, Showman.

John Cranston paced to and fro in the dark shade
of an oak. A swirl of black shapes whirled in a
hideous round through his brain: revenges, angers,
self-reproaches, vague remembrances, vaguer bitternesses.
As he paced, he tottered and came near falling.

“'Gad, I'm weak,” said he to himself, “and well
might be. Don't think I slept any last night; more
by token, was drunk or crazy — God knows which! —
and got knocked down to cap it all!” He laughed the
bitterest laugh of man. “I'll go sleep a little, and
think about the pistols in the morning.”

Meanwhile, the band in the ball-room played its
most enticing waltzes, in vain. The masquers had lost
heart for it, and only one or two couples remained,


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endeavoring to get up some spasmodic enthusiasm in a

Flemington and his two friends stood under the big
oak, looking at the silvery mountain-crest, rising above
its jet-black base in the shade.

“Damned be he who first cries `Go to bed!”' exclaimed
Flemington. “Gentlemen, I'm for a smoke
and a long stroll in the moonlight. Black must be the
soul of that man that would so affront our Lady Moon,
yonder, as to put himself under cover at this time o'
such a night. What d'ye say?”

“It 's a nem. con. business, Flem,” said Aubrey.
“I 'll go. Just wait a minute, tho', till I run up and get
on a pair of boots, for these miserable sandal-soles are
so thin that I 'd as lief walk on my bare feet. Especially
the left one, somehow,” and he looked at his feet
inquiringly. His face grew blank, and his companions
burst into a loud laugh. He had loosened his thong
while dancing, and in pressing through the crowd, the
sandal had fallen off entirely; but the noble Roman,
all unconscious of his great loss, had continued to stalk
about, one shoe off and one shoe on, with far more
ostentatious dignity certainly than his ancient prototype
ever possessed.

“Thought the ground was unusually obtrusive on my
left foot,” said he, and ran off for his boots.

“Think I 'll get on a pair of pants, myself,” observed
Briggs. “These ribbons round my leg make it feel like
I had been holding a protracted session in the stocks.”

They were not long gone.

“Which way?” asked Flemington.

“I vote for the half-way spring, up there on the


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mountain. The view from the rock that juts out there
must be charming to-night,” said Briggs.

They took the road which winds up the mountain.
This road, just beyond the “half-way spring,” a mile
and a half from the hotel, forks, one branch leading
over to Thalberg, the other to Cade's Cove, where
Ottilie had resided some months.

“It 's rather difficult,” observed Flemington, puffing
his cigar meditatively, “to imagine that this old prim
earth, which now seems so demure and starchy and
modest in her moonlight night-cap, is plunging along, on
a scared nightmare, at the rate of I-forget-how-many-thousand
miles a second!”

“What a wake she must make — hang the rhyme!”
said Aubrey. “Jove! Would n't it be pleasant,
now, to fly up close to her, on a pair of long, rakish
wings, and get sucked into the boiling ether-foam behind
her, and then fold yourself up like a lazy bird, and
let her draw you along for a million miles or so!”

“And then flash out of the whirlpool, and run over
and chat with somebody in the sun, and watch Maj.
Orion sit in Cassiopeia's Chair and pull off his big military
Boötes!” suggested Briggs.

“Pleasant enough,” replied Flemington, “if one only
had the — the — transportation-facilities!”

“A bad business,” continued Aubrey, “this same
want of transportation-facilities i' this world. A fellow
feels so heavy and clogged like, when he thinks about
wings and buoyancies, and such like other-world advantages.
If one's body were only as light and as strong
as one's thought, now! I'd like, for instance, to catch
hold of that straight moon-ray yonder that shoots


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through the leaves, and pull up by it right to the moon,
hand over hand, like a sailor on a rope!”

“Or to start from a high peak on the night-side of
the world, and make five strokes of your wings, and
then curve them backward like a keen eagle, and swoop
down into the sun and flit about in his fire, like a moth
in a candle-flame!” said Flemington.

“And, when you got tired, stretch yourself on the
bright top of a cloud, and float through the red, green,
and gold of a sunset; for you could find a sunset somewhere
any time you wanted one!” quoth Briggs.

“Aye,” responded Flemington, “the old royal sun
does fare right gallantly through the heavens, with a
dainty dawn trumpeting silverly in front of him, and a
sunset retinue in scarlet and gold crowding behind

And then the three grew still, and walked and puffed
their little smoke-clouds in silence.

While they are so — here, 24,999! slip along this
steep acclivity and align yourselves upon the curving
edge of the mountain-road, and take a look at these
men by moonlight. It is a better light to see a soul
by than sunlight. For sunlight, as an economical gas-saving
arrangement, is a good thing and promotes business
— but it puts out the stars! these, dark night discloses,
and sacred moonlight purifies them white. As
with stars, so with souls. Flemington has a genius, you
observe, for commanding; Aubrey a genius for obeying;
John Briggs a talent for everything, and no genius
for anything. Flemington is independent; Aubrey
sympathetic; John Briggs impulsive. Under given circumstances,
Flemington would think the best thing to


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be done; Aubrey would recognize the weight of his
opinion; and John Briggs would do something right or
wrong immediately. If you were associated with Flemington,
his originality would attract you to himself, —
with Aubrey, his sympathy would direct your attention
introspectively to yourself, — with Briggs, his unselfishness
would send your thought away, both from him and
you, to something else. Flemington is tall and graceful,
with dark eyes; Aubrey never yet knew what to do
with his hands, and has hazel eyes; and John Briggs —
John Briggs — dear me, I have forgotten whether John
Briggs was graceful or not, or what was his height or
his color of eye; in fact I don 't think I ever knew, or
even thought of looking to see, nor would you, if you
had known glorious, unselfish, fine John Briggs. Further
information as to the parentage, birth, and early
life of Flemington and Aubrey can be obtained upon
application to this author; as for John Briggs, I do not
think he had any parentage or birth, but the probabilities
are strong that, as a man might send a dutiful son
without a tutor to do Europe, so God put Briggs down on
the earth, confident that he would return Home much
improved in his knowledge of foreign life and manners!

The three friends were now arrived at the spring.
The water bubbles into its basin, tinkling; the spring is
born to music. It gushes from the solid rock, out of
which the road is hewn, flows across this, and pours a
tiny stream down the steep channel-way it has worn for
itself. On this outer edge of the road, nearly opposite
the spring, the rock juts out and overhangs a sheer
precipice of some hundreds of feet. It is fine vantageground


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for a view, being clear of undergrowth and
trailing vines that obstruct the sight on other parts of
the road. Herefrom went up silently the three smoke-wreaths.

Far away to the left stretched the still procession of
the peaks, like pilgrims halted in a curving line, when
the foremost has reached a river. The furthest of these
hill-pilgrims had reached the Tennessee. In front, if
daylight shone, would have been a brave sweep of circular
horizon, with its sky fitted in, like a broken piece,
to the whole notched and serrated edge of the land;
but, to-night, the dark trees under the mountain grew
lighter and lighter until they reached the bright trees
that were in moon-range, and these bright trees quickly
became, further off, a mere silvery indistinctness which
blended with silver mists and blotted out the horizonline,
so that on the rock there one seemed to stand in
mid-heaven upon a vast slope that shot down away into
unfathomable space.

At this moment, the noise of horses' hoofs was heard
upon the rocky road. Soon, two voices sounded in the
still air as the riders turned an abrupt corner a few
yards below the spring. The voices were of women,
and the talk was in German.

“O, Fraulein, let us go back to the hotel! It is too
far to ride so late; and unaccompanied, too. I wish
we had not started.”

“No, no, no, Gretchen. I must go. I could not stay
there. Gretchen, you forget! He is there! My God,

“But, Fraulein, I am all bloody with helping you on
your horse. Your arm should be bound; the wound is


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still bleeding. See! You reel in your saddle. Ah,
mercy!” shrieked Gretchen, as Ottilie leaned far back
with weakness, and, forgetting the curb, made her horse
rear fearfully close to the precipice. She would have
fallen; but Flemington bounded into the road and
seized the bridle, while in the same instant Briggs
caught the fainting girl in his arms.

This time the swoon was a deathly one, and did not
yield easily.

“No wonder!” said John Briggs. “Look here!”

He pulled apart the pieces of cut sleeve, and disclosed
the arm. Pearly white shone the upper portion,
but the lower was dark with blood that still flowed from
a long, lengthwise gash.

“Great God! Will she die, here? It is terrible!
Keep throwing the water in her face till I run to the
hotel and bring up a physician!”

Flemington turned and nearly ran into a carriage
and horses, which had approached unperceived by the
excited men round Ottilie. The carriage stopped.

“What 's the matter, James?” said a cheery man's
voice inside.

“Road blocked up wid people and horses, sah!
Somebody hurt, I b'lieve, sah!”

A gentleman and lady emerged from the carriage,
two horsemen who had been riding behind it alighted,
and all came up.

“Ah!” said John Sterling, “it is our poor lady who
was wounded in the ball-room. Let me see, gentlemen.
I 'm somewhat of a physician. It is not a bad
wound,” he added, examining the arm. “No artery is
cut, though blood has flowed profusely. We 'll bind it


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up. Lend me your handkerchief, Felix, and tear mine
into strips. Fan her face, Phil, with your hat, and let
some one chafe her hands. She 'll recover in a minute.”

Cheery words of John Sterling's, that went to
Gretchen's heart!

Rübetsahl stood still, with folded arms, intently regarding
the white face of his old beloved. As Ottilie,
under the vigorous treatment of John Sterling, recovered
life, her eyes unclosed full into Rübetsahl's.
An expression of infinite yearning and infinite appealing
gathered in them, and then they closed again, while
a tear slid down one lash, glittered, and fell.

Tall Rübetsahl shook through all his frame.

He did not love her, now, and could not, henceforth.
His soul was filled with a “vast pity” for her; and
love admits no pity, on either side: it demands awe,
which is pity's opposite, on both sides. Rübetsahl felt
this. It was for this lost love, which had left only pity
behind it, that he shook through all his frame. For it is
impossible that King Arthur, breathing a vast pity
over Guinevere's low head, should, in the same breath,
have sworn, —

“I love thee still,
Let no one dream but that I love thee still!”

Pity presupposes an ugly inferiority in the pitied;
but Love demands a beautiful equality of preëminence
in both the loved.

Over this thrice-dear dead love, upon whose grave
lay pity like a flower, Paul Rübetsahl mourned and
mourned, as he stood there gazing upon Ottilie.

“She is recovering. How far is it to your home,
madame?” said John Sterling.


Page 102

“About four miles, Herr!” answered Gretchen.

“Then my house is nearest. We will take her
there. Gentlemen, assist me to get the lady into my
carriage. Felix, you and the lady's friend ride with
her inside. I 'll take her horse.”

“By the way, Flem,” said Philip Sterling, “I can't
let old college days go without one talk. What are
you going to do, to-morrow?”

“Thought I 'd pack up and go home next day.
Season 's about over anyhow.”

“Don't think of it. You 'll miss the best part of
our year. The autumn is glorious here! I 'll make a
better proposition. You and the boys there ride over,
to-morrow, to Thalberg, and spend a week or more
with me. Got plenty of room. We can hunt and fish
a little. And I 'll show you what father calls Valley
Beautiful. What do you say, Aubrey?”




“It 's all arranged then. Come early. Good

“Good night, Phil,” — from the three. And so the
footsteps passed one way, and the clang of hoofs receded,
the other.

The spring bubbled its birth-music and flashed its
little stream down the rock, a breeze woke up a minute
and rustled the vine-leaves and went to sleep again, a
dreamy bird uttered a faint half-whistle half-sigh in
his sleep, and the mountain presently became as still as
the stars.