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1. BOOK I.


“I 'll tell it your Honor,” quoth the Corporal, directly.
“Provided,” said my uncle Toby, “it is not a merry one.”
“It is not a merry one,” replied the Corporal.
“Nor would I have it altogether a grave one,” added my uncle Toby.
“It is neither the one nor the other,” replied the Corporal.
“Then I will thank thee for it with all my heart,” cried my uncle Toby: “so prithee begin it, Trim.”


Himmel! Cospetto! Cielo! May our nests be built
on the strongest and leafiest bough of the great tree
Ygdrasil! May they be lined with love, soft and warm,
and may the storms be kind to them: Amen, and
Amen!” said Paul Rübetsahl.

Now, a murrain on all villainous lodging-houses, say
I! Here one's soul has but now taken a body to shelter
in, a year or two, from the rains of time; and, diable!
the poor tenant must straightway fall to and arrange
for repairing his house three times a day, or else the
whole building will give way, break down and rot in a
week, and the unhappy soul must crawl out from the
ruins, full of bruises and bad odors, a regret to old
neighbors and a laughing-butt to angels!

Old Adam, thou shouldst be tried for a swindling
landlord, in that thou hast erected this long rotten row


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of tumble-down houses for thy tenants, who were also,
more shame on thee, thy children!

Now, gentle reader, strange to say, the ability of an
author to rise above the mere drudgery of these tri-daily
repairs and plunge into his beloved music, — into his
beloved music which must now forego fine melody by
reason of the din and vile clatter of work about the
house of the body, — this ability, I say, depends upon
nothing but thy name.

Thy name, most sweet reader, should be Legion: and
it is done.

Poets' logic, forever! and so, O twenty-five thousand
gentle readers, there is probably among you but one
individual who is totally unaffected by some ghost of a
shadow of an inkling of a curiosity to know the causes
precedent of those ejaculations which commence this

That one individual?

You all know him.

He is a grocer.

His sign extends across the sidewalk, obtrusively and
triumphantly: as who should say, “Pass sub jugum,
conquered customers!”

His sign beareth device


and there is a certain complacent truculency in the
whole of it. For the G is a round sound G; and the
P is as if a man should stick thumb in his vest armhole
after a good dinner, and the E extends his arms to
see the mad R lifting his right foot and kicking poor C
over against Y with his hands thrown up protesting,


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while the two M M's scramble away on all fours, to the
round amazement of O, who would fain see the N of
it all!

Mr. Percymmon is a match-maker. He says to himself,
“Love and Liquor, Friendship and Fools, Fiddles
and Fol-de-rol!” — that is the way he pairs them off.

Mr. Percymmon is a philosopher. He accounts for
the aggregation of men into societies, in this way: —
“Once upon a time,” says he, “there arose in the breasts
of men a simultaneous desire for the formation of stock-companies,
and for the protection of their charters and
vested rights: hence villages, towns, cities, municipal
governments, state governments, United States!”

Mr. Percymmon is a satirical iconoclast. Once he
was decoyed into a theatre. In the critical and supremely
pathetic moment when Romeo was declaring
the pain of his passion, Mr. P. said, in a voice audible
to the whole assembly, “Try J. Bovee Dod's Stomach

Mr. Percymmon is a punster. He believes that marital
bonds are flat i' the market, and that the ties of
humanity are railroad ties.

Well, one saved makes more rejoicing than twenty-four
thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine that were
not lost. And I will have a word with thee, O Percymmon!

When thou higglest over mackerel prices, occurreth
ever to thee that, as mackerel swim in the sea, so swim
men in the diaphanous waves of time? And when thou
hearest the noise of thy busy trucks, dreamest thou
ever it is the never-ending melancholy monotone of the
time-sea beating upon the desolate sands of death?


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And that this monotone is the devil's dainty hush-song
and lullaby wherewith he lulleth himself to rest? And
when thy new customer drinketh his whiskey with thee,
anticipatest thou that some day soon the vast thirsty
Cyclops-shadow of eternity shall stoop and drink down
the sea of time at a swallow? Hast thou studied the
intimate inter-balance of the prices of cheese and of salvation?
And thinkest thou there is any wide difference
betwixt cutting down the salary of John Simpson, thy
pale book-keeper, and cutting up the coat of him for
whose garments they cast lots?

And knowest thou the tie betwixt mess-pork and

Gentle Twenty-four-thousand-nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine,
who have waited so long, it were but just you
should forthwith see Paul Rübetsahl, who has as yet
been nothing more than the voice of the fisherman's
Genie, and who has lain like a cloud confined in the
sealed brazen vessel of




—“And since we have the vaward of the day,
My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go!
We will, fair queen, up to the mountain's top.”

Midsummer Night's Dream.

Not far above the junction of the Little Tennessee
and Holston rivers, immediately upon the banks of the
former stream, occurs a level plat, or “cove,” as it is
there called, of most romantic beauty. Here the river
suddenly ceases its wild leaping down the mountains, and,
like a maiden about to be married, pauses to dream
upon the alliance it is speedily to form with a mightier
stream. On each side the wide expanse of this still
river-lake, broad level meadows stretch away some miles
down the stream, until the hoydenish river wakes from
its dream and again dashes down its narrow channel
between the mountains.

The meadows are inclosed by precipitous ridges,
behind which succeed higher ridges, and still higher,
until the lofty mountains wall in and overshadow them

The hills sit here like old dethroned kings, met for
consultation: they would be very garrulous, surely, but
the exquisite peace of the pastoral scene below them
has stilled their life; they have forgotten the ancient


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anarchy which brought them forth; they dream and
dream away, without discussion or endeavor.

On the last day of September 1860, huntsman Dawn
leapt out of the east, quickly ran to earth that old fox,
Night, and sat down on the top of Smoky Mountain to
draw breath a minute. The shine of his silver hunting-gear
lit the whole mountain, faintly. Enough, at any
rate, to disclose two men who with active steps were
pursuing a road which ascends the mountain half way,
and which at a distance of two miles from the cove just
described diverges from a direct course to the summit,
passing on to the Carolina line. The younger of the
two, equipped with a light sporting-rifle and accoutrements,
walked ahead of his companion, a tall, rawboned,
muscular mountaineer, who with his right hand
carried a long slim-barrelled gun, while with his left he
endeavored to control the frantic gambols of a brace of
deer-hounds whose leash was wrapped round his bony

“Waal I reckin!” exclaimed the mountaineer, whom
the 24,999 may hereafter recognize as Cain Smallin;
“and how many bullets, mought ye think, was fired afore
he fotch the big un to the yeth?”

“O! Gordon Cumming was a hunter, you know, and
all hunters exaggerate a little, perhaps unconsciously.
He says he fired two hundred balls into the elephant
before he fell.”

“A maaster heap o' lead, now, certin, to kill one
varmint! But I suppose he got a mortial sight o'
ven'zon, an' hide an' truck o' one sort an' another
off'n him. I recommember Jim Razor flung fifteen
bullet into a ole b'ar over on Smoky Mount'n, two


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year ago come Chris'mas; but hit ai'nt nothin' to your
tale. Would 'n' I like to see one o' them — what was 't
you called 'em? I 'm forgitful.”


“One o' them elephants a-waddlin' up yan mount'n
of a hot summer's day!”

As this idea gained upon the soul of Cain Smallin,
he opened his mouth, which was like a pass in the
mountains, and a torrent of laughter brawled uproariously
through it.

“I hardly think he would make as good time as that
deer yonder, that you 've frightened half to death with
your monstrous cackle. Look, Cain! In with the
dogs, man! I 'm for the top of the mountain to see the
sun rise; but I 'll come down directly and follow along,
as you drive, to catch any stragglers that may double
on you.”

With a ringing yell the mountaineer loosed his dogs,
and followed after with rapid strides.

“Take my hat,” muttered he, “an' boots! The boy
said he had 'n' seen a deer sence he left here four year
ago fur college, an' I raally thought he 'd be master
keen fur a drive. An' he a runnin' away f'om the
deer, an' hit in full sight, an' the dogs a'ter it! But
them blasted colleges 'll ruin any man's son, I don't
care who he is!”

Meanwhile, Philip Sterling, the unconscious object
of the mountaineer's commiseration, by dint of much
climbing and leaping over and across obstacles which he
seemed to despise in the wantonness of youthful activity,
at length reached the mountain-top, and stood still upon
the highest point of an immense rock, which lay like an


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altar upon the very summit. A morning mist met him,
and hung itself in loose blank folds before him, like
the vast stage-curtain of some immeasurable theatre.
But the sun shot a straight ray through the top of the
curtain and, as if hung to this horizontal beam with
rings of mist, it drew itself aside and disclosed the
wonderful-scened stage of the world — a stage (thought
Philip Sterling) whose tricksy harlequins are Death
and Chance, and whose trap-doors are graves — a
stage before which sits an orchestra half composed of
angels, whose music would be ravishing did not the
other half, who are devils, continually bray all manner
of discords by playing galops for our tragedies, and
dirges for our farces — a stage whose most thrilling
performances are sad pantomimes, in which a single
individual's soul silently plays all the parts — a queer
“Varieties” of the Universe, where rows nightly occur,
in which the combatants are Heaven and Hell.

Airy 24,999 who hover with me round this mountain-top,
ye might almost see these thoughts passing in
review in Philip Sterling's eyes, as he stands dreamily
regarding the far scene below him. Ye do not notice,
I am certain, the slender figure, nor the forehead, nor
the mouth, nose, and chin; but the eyes — Men and
Women! — the large, gray, poet's eyes, with a dream
in each and a sparkle behind it — the eager, hungry
eyes, widening their circles to take in more of the
morning-beauties and the morning-purities that sail invisibly
about — these ye will notice!

“From the eyes a path doth lie
To the heart, and is not long;
And thereon travel of thoughts a throng!”


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— quoth Hugo von Trimberg. And these eyes of
Philip Sterling's go on to say, as plainly as eyes can
say: “Thou incomprehensible World, since it is not
possible to know thee perfectly, our only refuge is to
love thee earnestly, that, so, the blind heart, by numberless
caresses, may learn the truth of thy vast features
by the touch, and may recognize thy true voice
in the many-toned sounds that perplex a soul, and may
run to meet thee at hearing thy step only.”

“Yet I know not, O World, whether thou art a
wrestler whom I must throw heavily, or a maiden whom
I must woo lightly. I will see, I will see!” cried Philip
Sterling to himself.

(Bless my life, 24,999! How long our arms are
when we are young! Nothing but the whole world
will satisfy their clasp; later in life we learn to give
many thanks for one single, faithful, slender waist!)

“And so,” continued our young eager-soul, “I choose
to woo thee; thou shalt be my maiden-love. I swear
that thy voice shall be my Fame, thy red lips my
Pleasure, thine eyes my Diamonds; and I will be true
knight to thee, and I will love thee and serve thee with
faithful heart and stainless sword till death do us part!”

“But what a fool I am,” said Philip Sterling aloud,
“to be vowing marriage vows before I'm even accepted,
nay, before I 've fairly declared my passion! Hasty,
mi-boy! But I wish I were down in the cities; I'm
ready for work, and it's all a dream and a play up here
in the mountains.”

One may doubt if Pygmalion, being so utterly in
love, was at all surprised when his statue warmed into
life and embraced him. Philip Sterling, at any rate,
making love to this sweet statue of the world, did not


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start when he heard a step behind him. He turned,
and beheld a tall figure, in whose face, albeit mossed
like a swamp-oak with beard, beamed a cheerful earnestness
that was as like Philip's enthusiasm as a star is
like a comet.

“`Life is too short,”' quoted the stranger, advancing
with open hand extended, “`to be long about the forms
of it.' My name 's Paul Rübetsahl!”

“And mine is Philip Sterling!”

The two hands met and clasped. Philip had always
a penchant for the love-at-sight theory, and I know not
if Paul Rübetsahl was any more sensible. The two
young transcendentalists looked in each other's faces.
The frank eyes searched each other a moment, and
then turned away, gazing over the valley, along the
river dividing the mountains, on, to the far horizon.
In this gaze was a sort of triumphal expression; as
who should say, “Two friends that have met on a
mountain may always claim that as their level, and
their souls may always sail out over hills that are hard
to climb, over valleys that are tilled with sweat and
reaped with Trouble's sickle, over cities whose commerce
perplexes religion, over societies whose laws and
forms oppress a free spirit; from such a height we
may look down and understand, at least not despise,
these things.”

And with that high egotism of youth whereby we
view the world in its relations to us, and not also in
our relations to it, and stretch out our eager hands to
grasp it, as if it were made for us and not we also for
it; in this happy exaltation, each of these two youths
cried out in his heart, “Behold! O world, and sun,
and stars — behold, at last, two Friends!”




First Keeper.
—“Under this thick-grown brake we 'll shroud ourselves:
For through this laund anon the deer will come.”
— “And, for the time shall not seem tedious,
I 'll tell thee what befell me on a day
In this self-place where now we mean to stand.”

King Henry VI.

Cain Smallin's deer-drive was now in the full tide of
success. The ridge, or bench, along whose “backbone”
ran the road which has been referred to, was admirably
adapted for the style of hunting now in progress. On
one side of it yawned the deep ravine down whose fern-bedded
declivity the mountaineer was conducting the
drive; whilst, on the other side, at the foot of a continuous
steep precipice, the river foamed and brawled and
dashed madly down the rocky descent, as if it fled from
some horror in the mountains. As the bench gradually
descended the mountain-side, however, approaching the
valley, its perpendicular escarpments became less
savage, and began to slope more gently, until near the
foot of the mountain, they changed into cool beautiful
glades running by almost imperceptible descent into the
water. It was along that part of the road which passed
through these glades, just commencing the ascent of the
mountain, that the standers had been posted; in the
expectation that the deer, naturally seeking the lower
parts of the ridge by which to cross over to the water,
would come in gun-range of some of the party.


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Nor was this anticipation disappointed. It was not
long before the mountaineer, who seeing his dogs well
on trail had now begun to pick his way with more deliberation
amongst the huge fallen logs and boulders
which strewed the side of the ravine, was gratified by
the sharp crack of a rifle, quickly followed up with the
shout which announces the success of the lucky stander.

“Jim Razor's rifle,” muttered he, “Jim Razor's holler;
thar 's ven'zon, certin. And yan crazy Phil. Sterlin'
away off up yan mount'n, a-watchin' the sun rise an'
not a-carin' whether the dogs is come in or not! Ef
he 'd 'a' seen the sun rise as many times as I have, I
scarselie think he 'd be leavin' a fresh trail an' climbin'
the steepest bench this side o' old Smoky, for nothin'
but that! But them blasted colleges 'll ru— what is
old Ring a-doin' now?” said he, stopping short and listening.

Ring was the swifter of the two hounds: if both dogs
had been on trail of the same deer, Ring should have
arrived at the stand first; — he was still in full cry far
down the ravine.

“Lem me look for sign,” muttered the curious
driver, and bent himself close to the ground, attentively
scanning the clear spots in various directions.

His suspicions were soon verified. “Each dog 's got
his deer, an' I 'll be dad-blasted ef old Ring aint a'ter
the biggest buck in Smoky range! Whoop!”

With his customary yell the mountaineer turned and
began rapidly ascending the side of the ravine in order
to regain the road and make better time. Down this
unobstructed path he struck out with huge strides. He
hoped that, as sometimes happened when hard pressed,


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the stag had turned aside from the water with its deadly
line of standers, and had run in among the farms of the
cove, where the chase would be prolonged and would
become intensely exciting. As he arrived at the foot
of the ridge where the road turns off among the open
meadows, away from the water, an animated scene met
his eye. The standers, attracted by the continued and
excited trailing of old Ring had all gathered here and
were loading, firing, and talking as rapidly and as ineffectually
as possible. Not a hundred and fifty yards
distant, the stag, a noble, eight-pronged fellow, was
swimming rapidly towards the opposite bank of the
river, and was now more than half way to freedom.

The mountaineer joined his forces to the main army
immediately and commenced to fire “at will.”

“Whar 'd he cross the line?” inquired he, as he
rammed down his bullet.

“At Mr. Sterlin's stand!” replied some fiend in
human shape.

“Why did n't you kill him, Mr. Sterlin'?” shouted
Smallin in the ear of a well-dressed gentleman of forty-five
or fifty, whose countenance wore that half-foolish,
half-defiant expression that distinguishes the derelict
stander; and who was loading and firing his double
barrel energetically, although the deer was far out of
his range, in the apparent sweet hope of drowning in
noise and good intentions the memory of his unpardonable

“Well, Smallin, the — the fact is,” wiping the powder-grime
and perspiration from his eyes, “I, — I was reading,
and upon my word” — hastily pouring down a
handful of buck-shot — “I had no idea he was so near.


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Did you never lose a deer Mr. Smallin?” concluded
John Sterling, defiantly carrying the war over the border,
and at the same time discharging both barrels, with
a roar like a salvo of artillery among the thin-cracking
rifles. The victorious goddess reclined in the smoke of
John Sterling's double-barrel. Cain Smallin was too
indignant to reply.

“Whar 's the canoe?” asked he, turning to the crowd
that had gathered from the field at the unwonted firing.

“Jeems is gone up the creek a-fishin' in it!” replied
one of those disagreeable-information-furnishers,
of which every crowd boasts at least one.

“By Jove, what a pity to lose him!” said John Cranston,
a tall, black-mustached, wicked-eyed man, guest of
the Sterlings, and honored with this deer-drive.

“Hit's a maaster buck!” observed a native.

“The biggest I 've seed sense I was in the Smoky!”
echoed a second.

“How come he to git thru'?” inquired a late arrival,
drawing upon his devoted head a bodeful look of undying
revenge from John Sterling.

Amid all this confusion of questions and exclamations,
which were uttered far more quickly than they
have been read, the stag was gallantly breasting his way
through the water unheeding the shots, which fell far
wide of him. But who could have foretold Blücher?
Suddenly the fortunes of the day changed. The dripping
deer had emerged from the water and was in the
act of taking his first leap toward his hills and liberty,
when a puff of smoke floated from behind a bush a few
yards from him, the crack of a rifle smote upon the ears
of the disappointed hunters on the other side, and the


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poor buck, with a mighty bound, fell back upon his
antlers and lay still.

“Good!” shouted he of the wicked eyes: “Blücher
with his thirty thousand! And the day is ours!”

“Told you so, Smallin! Told you so, gentlemen!”
said John Sterling. “If I had n't let the buck pass, we
would n't have had half as much sport!” and the guilty
stander held up his head and waved his hand triumphantly,
like one conscious of being a great public benefactor.

“Them blasted Injuns!” said Smallin, whose indignation,
not yet subsided, seized upon the first ventworthy
object; “always a-sneakin' about an' a-eatin'
of some other person's meat! Well, a fool for luck,
they say!” with which comforting reflection the mountaineer
wheeled away, and winded his horn with vigorous
too-toos to fetch in the dogs.

Meanwhile the fortunate hunter on the other side,
whose dress — of an old slouch hat, homespun shirt and
trousers, and yellow moccasins — betokened his Indian
blood, had glided from his place of concealment, and
having “bled” the game stood quietly watching the red
stream flow, when Philip Sterling and Rübetsahl joined
the unsuccessful party. These two young gentlemen,
having descended to the untranscendental common-level
of humanity, suddenly became aware of the usual
“forms” of life.

“My father, — Mr. Rübetsahl!”

Hand-shaking, and so on.

“My friend, Mr. Cranston, — Mr. Rübetsahl!”

Philip noticed that at the first mention of Rubetsahl's
name John Cranston's face turned white, and his hand


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trembled a moment; but he quickly recovered himself,
and expressed his high sense, as in duty bound, of the
happiness which had fallen upon him in knowing Mr.

“And now, gentlemen,” cried John Sterling to his
son and his two guests, “it 's high breakfast-time;
wherefore I move that we adjourn to my house and discuss
a rib of the buck there, broiled as only old Ned
can broil it.”

The hearty old gentleman led the way towards Thalberg;
whither you, O 24,999, and I, albeit none of us
are invited, may follow, for even if I failed to make
you invisible, and John Sterling saw the whole crowd,
he would welcome you every one, — so big, so big was
his heart!

Now, I promise to quit apostrophizing when I get
fairly into my tale; but while we 're walking up this
slope behind old John, indulge me, I pray ye, in a
little of it done on mine own account. For how can I
forget that jocund party of friends with whom, in the
early fall of '60, I penetrated these mountains, on a

Can I forget the mighty hunter of the black eye and
beard whom in solemn convention we did dub (it was
the time of the Japanese invasion!) the Grand Tycoon;
or the six-footer uncle whom, being unfamiliar with the
Japanese gradations, we assigned him as Deputy Tycoon;
or old Ned, the French cook, whom the Deputy
touched off; or Cricket, the dog, who climbed on old
Ring's shoulders and stole the meat one night, as Ned
averred? Can I forget how, one divine morning, when
we had just returned to camp from the killing of a


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buck, and were taking our several ease (as Lorrie
said), recubans sub tegmine of certainly the most
patulæ fagi any of us ever saw, the Grand Tycoon, in
his lordly way, suddenly exclaimed, “Get out of the
way, old Ned, with your French fripperies; hand me
the side of that buck, there!” and how the Grand
Tycoon did then purvey him a long beechen wand
with a fork on the end thereof, did insert the same in
the ribbèd side of the deer, and did rest the whole
upon a twig deftly driven in juxtaposition with a bed of
glowing coals of the wood of hickory; and how the Grand
Tycoon did stand thereover with his muscular right arm
outstretched, like Hercules over the Lernean Hydra,
save that our Hercules held in his right hand a bottle
of diabolical hue wherefrom he ever and anon did drip
upon the crisping ribs a curious and potent admixture
of butter, hot water, lemon-juice, mustard, pepper, salt,
and wine; and how, presently, the Grand Tycoon came
to me and said, “Try that rib, —!” and how I took
hold of the rib with both hands, it being long as my
arm, and near as large, and did forthwith, after the
hyena fashion, bite into the same; and how as the
meat, with its anointments and juices, did fare slowly
down the passage appointed for such, the titillation
thereof upon the uvula or palate was so exquisite
that the world grew brighter upon a sudden, and
methought even the brook that ran hard by did murmer
a stave or two from the Drinking Song of Lucrezia?

Alas, and alas! O jocund hunters of the fall of '60,
how hath the “rude imperious surge” of the big wars
tossed us apart, hither and thither! The Grand Tycoon


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is sunken; he hath gone into a wood contract with
railroads, and old Ned languisheth. The Deputy beareth
scar of Gettysburg, and yet deeper scars beareth he;
I scribble; and poor Lorrie, the ever-genial, went, I
hear, at Shiloh, to the happy hunting-grounds!

Abiit ad plures; whither, I forget not, we also, O
Tycoon and jocund hunters, go soon to join him!




King Henry.
—“Let me embrace these sour adversities,
For wise men say it is the wisest course.”

King Henry VI.

It is a full mile, and up hill too! to John Sterling's
house, from where we started; and I have yet time,
before we enter the doors of our host-in-spite-of-himself,
to button-hole these 24,999 people and tell them
how it came about that John Sterling found this soft
valley far off there among the hills and, as it had been
a violet, plucked it for his own long delight.

John Sterling's essays, at college, were broad and open
and genial, like a breeze that blows with equal beneficence
upon the hot foreheads of the virtuous and the
sinful; and his speeches, hung with sparkling fancies
and mellow with calm sunlight, made his hearers feel as
if they were a-field early, in one of those charming old
sedge-fields that one finds in quiet corners of the plantations,
where the silver dew-drops and the golden
broom-sedge strive together to see whether the early
sunlight shall be mellow or sparkling. Now, because
all healthy men love sunlight and fresh breezes and
dew, all the college loved John Sterling, and he
them. Of course, John Sterling studied law — what
young man in our part of the country did not? —
and one day came to John Sterling, senior, with


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news that he had been admitted to the bar, with
credit. The old gentleman, in his bluff way, drew
a check and pushed it to John's side of the table,
remarking, “Well, my boy, I have foreseen it and prepared
for it. Here's a thousand or two that 'll open
your office for you, and so forth. Go to work and
make your fortune. When I tell you that your success
depends entirely upon yourself, I do not say anything
that ought to frighten a Sterling!”

John Sterling junior went forth and committed what
may be most properly called a chronological error. He
took a wife before he took any fees; surely a grand
mistake in point of time, where the fees are essentially
necessary to get bread for the wife! Nor was it
long before this mistake made itself apparent. Two
extra mouths, of little Philip and Felix Sterling, with
that horrid propensity to be filled which mouths will
exhibit spite of education and the spiritual in man,
appeared in his household; outgo began to exceed income;
clouds came to obscure the financial sky.

Even to those of us who are born to labor and know
it, it is yet a pathetic sight to see a man like John
Sterling going to his office every morning to sit there
all day face to face with the “horny-eyed phantom” of
unceasing drudgery, that has no visible end; to know
that every hour this man will have some fine yearning
beat back in his face by the Heenan-fists in this big
prize-ring we call the world, wherein it would seem
that toughness of nose-muscle, and active dodging do
most frequently come out with the purse and the

And how shall I speak of that first bill that John


Page 21
Sterling could not pay? The poor men in this crowd
will believe that when, a few minutes afterward, John
met his creditor on the street and did not look him in
the eye as they passed, he stopped suddenly short, gazed
for one hesitating moment at the pistols in the gunsmith's
shop-window there, then thought of wife, and
little Phil, and Felie at home yonder, and so walked on
to his business, with a final glance of piteous appeal up
towards the blue skies which smiled and smiled away
in infinite unconcern and did not send down the sun to
see about it!

Happy is he who, like John Sterling, has courage
under such circumstances to say broadly and without
subterfuge, “I cannot pay you, sir!” and so saves his
manhood's truth, wherewith to draw to himself a little
solace in the bitter hours.

But, one summer, the weather in the city grew diabolically
warm. Wife looked pale and the children languished.
John Sterling sware his great oath.

“Wife,” said he, “let the world end in the fall! but
we 'll go and spend this summer in the mountains!”

The world did not end in the fall; and John Sterling
brought back with him a new idea that helped to stave
off many a bitterness. In his explorations among the
mountains, of whose scenery he was passionately fond,
he had discovered the little valley, or cove, which has
been described. Many a night he would sit round the
fire in midst of wife and children and amuse himself by
building ideal houses on sites he had selected there, by
planning grounds and gardens and fountains, and the
like; into all of which wife entered, heart and soul, and
when the interest in the topic waned, would draw him


Page 22
back to it in her sweet artful way, by all manner of cunning
devices, because she saw that it served to chase
away the wintry look that in these days was beginning
to dwell in his face. “If we only had about three hundred
thousand, wife!” he would say, and a genial smile
as of old would overspread his face.

24,999, you will be glad to hear, in a general way, that
troubles and stories have their end; and, in a special
way, that one day when John Sterling came home to
dinner, his wife met him at the door, and with that extremely
reasonable procedure which women adopt when
they have important information to communicate, fell asobbing,
with her arms round his neck, insomuch that
she could not speak for a little while.

But it came out presently that one uncle Ralph of
hers had been sick years ago, and that she had tended
him and laid cool girlish hands upon his hot forehead
and so on, and that whereas he was rich, now he was
dead, and she was legatee!

Therefore, John Sterling built his house in Valley

And there it stands!

The Arabs say, the best description is that by which
the ear is converted into an eye: for saying which I am
infinitely obliged to the Arabs, because it gives me color
of title to beg these 24,999 that they shut their eyes and
listen; since I am bent on having a word or so on John
Sterling's house.

To-wit: Nature surely intended that a house should
be built here! For the mountain, half-way up whose
side the house lies, sends out a “bench,” or level shelf,
which then begins to slope and so gradually falls away


Page 23
down to the river's edge. Yonder, to the eastward, the
hills and ridges lean kindly to right and left, opening
so a vista through which one can see old Smoky and
the Bald and the other kingly peaks, each with his
group of smaller peaks and mountainlets around him,
like chieftains standing in midst of their clansmen when
Montrose caused the pibroch sound war through Scotland.
And here, below, lies the valley with its lake-like
river: shut in, far away yonder to the westward, by
ridges upon whose heads, every sunset, the sun lays his
last wavering beams of light, that are like the tremulous
thin fingers of an old man, dying and blessing his children.

This house acknowledges the majesty of the mountains,
and, feeling itself in the presence, scorns to display
any architectural flippancies or fripperies. Standing
severe in simple dignity, it somehow makes me think of
old Samuel Johnson, who took a chair and sat when the
king bade him, although the king stood up, and who,
when afterwards questioned about it, replied, “Yes, sir,
it was not my place to bandy civilities with my king!”
This house does not bandy civilities with the mountains,
but presents to them a simple reverential front, while
on the other side it turns to the valley a broad façade,
smiling with many windows and long Doric-pillared
colonnade. Small unadorned balconies present themselves
everywhere: whether one wish to admire the
chieftains over yonder marshalling their clans, or to
pity the foolish frightened river fleeing through the
upper end of the valley, or to amen the sun's blessing
upon the hills at the lower end, or to get a plenteous
smile from the rich meadows just beneath there, one


Page 24
will always find some balustraded niche or stand-point,
from which to look and be filled. One battlemented
tower rises up, as if the architect just wished to record
that he remembered the feudal castles among the
mountains. Parks are here in which are no tame deer,
but many a wild one; and over the hill, on the south
slope, the vineyards cling. Somehow the stables and outer
offices, though well-built, are cunningly hid; and rightly,
for here in the high presence of the primary intrinsically-beautiful,
no mere secondary economically-beautiful
should obtrude itself. In the rear rises up the
mountain, a benignant, overshadowing genius loci.


I am done with description; but I wish ye were all
in the music-room, for in this house Music is a house-hold-gold.
I think ye would say with me that even the
dumb walls were eloquent with the harmonies of fair
colors; and with John Keats, —

“Heard notes are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter: therefore ye soft pipes, play on,
Not to the sensual ear, but more endeared,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone!”

As John Sterling, his son and his two guests,
walked up the steps of his house, they turned and stood
still a moment, and saw the river below lying in the
arms of the brawny mountains and smiling up like a
blue-eyed child to those from whose loins it sprung. It
was a sight John Sterling could never brook without
saying some pretty thing.

“Look, gentlemen!” cried he, “It is like a Raphael's
Madonna in a gallery of dark Salvator Rosas!”

“It is like sweet Joan of Arc smiling in midst of the
grim knights of France!” said Cranston.


Page 25

“It is as if Liszt, in the rush of that storm-galop on
the piano, should suddenly glide away into a peaceful
Lied of Mendelssohn!” said Rübetsahl.

“Or like a sudden lull in a battle, during which one
hears a Sister of Mercy praying over a man just
killed!” said Philip.

“Aye, it is like a sunshiny Sabbath coming between
twelve stormy week-days. It is my Valley Beautiful.
Come, enter, Mr. Cranston. Mr. Rübetsahl, I had a
fancy to call my house Thalberg, because it belongs
equally to the mountain and the valley; and I bid
you welcome to it very heartily,” said princely John


Page 26


— “And 't is no marvel he is so humorous.
By 'r Lady, he is a good musician.”

Lady P.
— “Then should you be nothing but musical,
For you are altogether governed by humors.”

King Henry VI.

In youth, when each moment brings before us some
new soul with whom ours is to clasp hands or cross
swords, perhaps both, there is an inexpressible charm
in meetings that occur first under beautiful and uncommon
circumstances. To him who has not loved some
man with the ardor of a friendship-at-first-sight, one can
only say, Nature has dealt hardly with you, sir!

For I am quite confident that Love is the only rope
thrown out by Heaven to us who have fallen overboard
into life.

Love for man, love for woman, love for God, — these
three chime like bells in a steeple and call us to worship,
which is, to work. Three notes to a full chord, say the
musicians; and this is the three-toned harmony our
world should make, in this immense musicial festival of
the stars.

Inasmuch as we love, in so much do we conquer death
and flesh; by as much as we love, by so much are we
gods. For God is love; and could we love as He does,
we could be as He is. So thought Philip Sterling, and
loved his friend Paul Rübetsahl.


Page 27

And somehow it did not seem strange to anybody at
Thalberg that Philip should have found this man wandering
among the mountains at sunrise, in that lonely
country. For Rübetsahl talked of mountains as he
would talk of absent friends; he seemed to have peered
into their ravines and nooks as if he were studying a
friend's character, and to have slept upon them as on a
friend's bosom.

An hour after supper on the night of that first day at
Thalberg, John Sterling laid down his pipe, and, as he
had been lost in that cloud of smoke he had puffed
forth, sung out at the top of his voice,

“`And where be ye, my merry, merry men?”'

“Here,” chorused voices in the music-room.

As he entered, Philip was turning over some music
on a stand; Cranston was stretching a new E upon his
violin, frowning savagely and breathing hard the while,
as if he were strangling the poor instrument by the
neck; and Rübetsahl and Felix Sterling were conversing
composedly at the piano.

It was about this moment when Rübetsahl began to
discover that he had mistaken the tall, gray-eyed girl
with whom he was talking; that her coldness was rather
a transparent purity like that of star-beams which seem
cold to the hand but warm to the soul, and that her apparent
unimpressibility was rather the veiled impressibility
of an enthusiasm which was so strong that it
feared itself. He had yet to find that music was the
Moses-wand that could smite this crystalline rock into
a soft refresher of the thirsty. For indeed the soul of
Felix Sterling was like a sea, concealing in its immense
translucency myriads of unknown things; but, when


Page 28
music was toward, it was as if a spirit plenipotentiary
sailed down the wind and stood over the centre of this
sea, and uttered some tremendous word at which all the
sea-shapes, terrible and beautiful together, rose in
strange shoals to the surface.

That day, at dinner, Rübetsahl had remarked that
Frankfort-on-the-Maine was his birthplace; and Felix
added that Mr. Cranston had passed some time at that
place when he was in Germany; whereupon quick flashing
glances were exchanged between Cranston and
Rübetsahl; all of which Philip had detected, and he was
puzzling over it, as he idly turned the leaves of his music.

“Come, Phil; your flute, man! I always begin my
musicale with the flute, Mr. Rübetsahl: it is like walking
in the woods, amongst wild flowers, just before you
go into some vast cathedral. For the flute seems to me
to be peculiarly the woods-instrument; it speaks the
gloss of green leaves or the pathos of bare branches; it
calls up the strange mosses that are under dead leaves;
it breathes of wild plants that hide and oak-fragrances
that vanish; it expresses to me the natural magic in
music. Have you ever walked on long afternoons in
warm sunny spots of the woods, and felt a sudden thrill
strike you with the half-fear that a ghost would rise up
out of the sedge or dart from behind the next tree and
confront you, there in the broad daylight? That is the
sensation Phil's solos — he won't have an accompaniment
— always produce upon me.” Old John stopped:
he was out of breath.

“Father, give me half a chance!” said Philip, already
toot-tooting low flourishes and runs.

“`How sharper than a serpent's tooth' and so forth!”


Page 29
rejoined the father, holding up his hands in mock horror.
“O filial impiety! But you will believe, Mr.
Rübetsahl, that I love to hear it as much as I do to talk
about it. Go on, Phil — age!

A series of irregular modulations comes purl — purling
along, like a rivulet shooting down smooth moss,
then eddying over rough pebbles, and shooting and
eddying again; straight lines and circles of notes, as it
were. But he manages that through all the modulations
a certain note is dimly but repeatedly presented
to us. Presently he stops on this note, lingers there a
moment, and then glides into a simple liquid adagio of
sixteen notes. Comes suddenly a warbling movement
in which the lower notes are fingered so rapidly that
they make harmony instead of melody, and we quickly
discover the adagio displaying itself in short upper
notes struck between the lower ones, as the sky displays
itself in patches, each with a faint star in it, through the
crevices of an arabesque ruin. Then comes a thin
clear romance, as if stealing from afar, in which the
notes rise and fall, and complain and rejoice, and echo
and answer, till one voice pours out a stream of tender
appealings, which seem to prevail, and the piece ends
with a long sigh of satisfied relief.

“Well, and what do you mean by it?” impatiently
broke in Felix, “for your `descriptive music' is all
humbug unless you give us the idea!”

“Well, I 'll tell you. One day, at college, I had just
read this magnificent line:

— “Or Lady of the Lake
Lone sitting by the shores of old Romance!”
when a messmate broke into the room, and swore our


Page 30
ham was out and the mess fund was dry, and begged
my assistance in an expedition then organizing in my
mess to steal the President's turkeys, that night! I
did n't go with 'em, but played that piece, in defense
of my poor, lonely Lady of the Lake!”

Even the ridiculous could not cloud the sparkle that
was now shining in the eyes of Felix Sterling.

“O,” cried she, “I see, I see. Romance, —

`Fresh as a spouting spring amongst the hills,'

seeks to clear itself of the vile commonplace `cares that
have rilled into it,' and asserts itself and exhibits its
beauty, and pleads and prevails and becomes pure
again! It was too beautiful, brother Phil, and I 'll kiss
you this night, and there 's my hand on it!”

“Good!” cried old John, and laughed, and bravoed
uproariously at the girl's sally.

“Himmel!” said Rübetsahl. “Friend Philip, you
are a poet: Miss Sterling, you are a poem!”

Whereat “Bravissimo!” from old John again, while
Cranston sat still, with wicked eye, and lip just curling
into the semblance of a sneer.

“Well,” said John Sterling when he had subsided,
“My time now, eh, Phil? And I do protest, Mr. Rübetsahl”
(“Bless my life, what a listener that German
Rübetsahl was!” old John used to say after Paul had
gone to the wars), “I wonder how it is that many good
American people even now consider music a romantic
amusement, rather than a common necessity, of life!
When surely, of all the commonplaces, none is more
broadly common or more inseparable from daily life.
Music! It is as common as — as — as — Phil, I 'll
thank you for a simile! — as —”


Page 31

“Bricks, father!”

“So — common as bricks, common as anvils (I only
wanted a start, d'ye see!), common as water, common as
fire-places! For every brick-mason sings to his trowelstrokes,
and blacksmiths strike true rhythmical time,
even to triplets—I 've heard 'em—and sailors whistle in
calm or windy weather, and households jangle and thrum
and strain on all manner of stringed and wind instruments.
Music is in common life what heat is in chemistry,
an all-pervading, ever-present, mysterious genius.
The carpenter whistles to cheer his work, the loafer
whistles to cheer his idleness. The church for life, and
the bar-room for death; the theatre for tears, and the
circus for smiles; the parlor for wealth, and the street
for poverty — each of these, now-a-days, has its inevitable
peculiar orchestra. And so every emotion continually
calls, like the clown i' the play, `Music without
there!' Victory chants; defeat wails; joy has galops;
sorrow has dirges; patriotism shouts its Marseillaise;
and love lives on music, for food, says old Will!

“Moreover, the Chinese beats his gong and the African
his jaw-bone; the Greek blew Dorian flutes; the
Oriental charms serpents with his flageolet; German
Mendelssohn sends up saintly thanks, Polish Chopin
pleads for a man's broken heart, and American Gottschalk
fills the room full of great sad-eyed ghosts — all
with the piano! Aye, —

`There 's not a star that thou beholdest there
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubim!'

“And so from `street-mud' up to `star-fire,' through
all grades, runs the multitudinous song of time. From


Page 32
a christening to a funeral is seventy years: one choir
sings at the christening, another choir sings at the
funeral; all the life between, the dead man sang, in some
sort, what tunes his heart could make.

“Late explorers say they have found some nations
that had no God; but I have not read of any that had
no music! Wherefore, since in all holy worship; in all
unholy sarcasm; in all conditions of life; in all domestic,
social, religious, political, and lonely individual doings;
in all passions; in all countries, earthly or heavenly; in
all stages of civilization, of time, or of eternity; since, I
say, in all these music is always present to utter the
shallowest or the deepest thought of man or spirit — let
us cease to call music a fine art; to class it with delicate
pastry-cookery and confectionery; and to fear to take
too much of it lest it should make us sick! Fine Art,
indeed! It is no more a fine art than — than — than
— help me, Philip, or I sink! — than —”

“What do you think of bacon and greens, for instance,
now, Pa?”

“Good: no more than bacon and greens to a Southerner;
or beans (I 'm off, children!) to a Northerner;
or rats to a Chinaman; or lager-beer to Mr. Rübetsahl

“And that 's a good place to say,” cried Philip,
“that it 's a burning shame that here in the South
so many of those Germans who teach their divine
music are continually found haunting the lager-beer saloon
when they are not giving a lesson. I wish that in
all the colleges the Professor of Music were considered,
as he should be, one of the Professors of Metaphysics,
and that he ranked of equal dignity with them; and that


Page 33
he stood as much chance of being elected President of
the college as the Professor of Chemistry or the Languages!
It will be so, it must be so; and I hope, not
long hence!”

“Ah,” exclaimed Felix, “we spin out the subject.
Why not sum all up, and say: Music means harmony,
harmony means love, and love means — God!”

“`A judgment, a judgment,”' said Cranston. “Proven
by irrefragable poet's logic. It reminds me of the old
schoolboy's brocard: An eel-pie is a pie of fish, a fish-pie
is a Jack-pie, a Jack-pie is a John-pie, a John-pie
is a pie-John, a pie-John is a pigeon; ergo, an eel-pie
is a pigeon-pie; and damned be he who doubts logic!”

“Cranston, an' you will scoff,” said John Sterling,
“I'd rather hear you scoff on your violin, than a-talking.
Rübetsahl, he 's the most musical of skeptics;
listen to him; he fiddles Pyrrhonisms and wickedness!
Scrape away, man!”

Cranston seized his violin and played; and although
his black eyes gave no sign of feeling, and a half-smile,
sometimes shading to a half-scowl, dwelt upon his lips,
yet it somehow seemed as if the violin had fastened its
serpent-fangs in the throat of the man, and he had
grasped it, as Laocoon grasped the serpent, to thrust
off the horrible snaky hold; you could almost see the
violin writhe and shudder through its length.

And the music? It was an improvisation; Cranston
never played anything else. The only way to give any
idea of it is to say that it made one think of some
soul that had put out its own eyes in a fury, and gone
blindly dashing about the world in spring, wounding
itself against fair trees, falling upon sweet flowers and


Page 34
crushing odors out of them, rising and cursing and
falling again, too busy in imprecating to perceive the
fragrance it created even by its fall. I always knew
that in the glittering brocade of music there ran (as
is the case in all earthy weaving) a dark thread, but,
until I heard Cranston, I never saw this dark thread
grow so large and overshadowing, nor assume such fantastic
and diabolical patterns. Presently, while the
man and his violin still struggled, —

“Quit, Cranston; quit, man!” shouted John Sterling.
“The devil 's in the fiddle, and the lights are burning
blue, and we 'll all be dancing a diabolical saraband in
five minutes more, as if a tarantula from the lower
regions had crawled up and bitten us! Phe-ew! I
smell brimstone!” concluded he, sniffing the air and
awrying his nose.

All were glad to laugh, like children when they 've
just heard a ghost-story before bed-time. Cranston
ha-haed louder than any; but it was too uproarious to
be natural. Evidently, the man was getting excited by
his own diablerie.

“Mr. Cranston,” commenced Felix curiously, as if
she were inquiring the habits of some strange wild beast
of his keeper, and were half afraid he 'd jump out of
his cage, “you do not show any sign of that strange pain
which good music always produces — at least, produces
in me, and in every other musician I ever saw. Why?
Don't you feel it?”

“I may confess to a twinge or two sometimes, very
much like the gout, I imagine; but I always crush it
as a mere sentimental weakness.”

“Humph! a lucky man, you!” said Rübetsahl;
“now I never could crush it, nor wanted to, even!”


Page 35

“Jean Paul,” said Philip, “once exclaimed to music,
`Away, away! For thou remindest me of what in all
my endless life I have not seen, and shall not see!'
And Emerson speaks of the strong painful yearning
created by the beautiful either in sound or sight. Even
old rugged Tom Carlyle cries out, `Who shall say what
music means in his soul? It leads us to the verge of
eternity and lets us gaze on that.”'

“Yes,” said Felix, “if, by `the verge of eternity,' he
means a sort of boundary-line between pleasure and
pain; a wavering boundary, too! There must be a
wild debatable-land between joy and sorrow; borderers
are predatory, you know, and this border-land is
one while devastated by forayers from the dark side,
another while cultivated by peaceful villagers from the
bright side; and it 's fine that music should carry us to
such a place! I do not think it is exactly the fascination
of a flame for the moth; for we walk deliberately
into our flame, and our wings don't scorch!”

“Too much flame, Felie, and `fuliginous glare,' about
that! But you are young, yet; and I remember I
used to like to go to a big fire in town, and see the
huge smoke-billows foaming with flame, and did n't
think much of the poor weeping families in the street!
But we 've talked enough. Felix, exorcise Cranston's
devil, there! Sing us a prayer with Rübetsahl's accompaniment!”

Felix chose one of the Lieder ohne Wörter, merely
articulating the tones; and Rübetsahl's accompaniment
did not follow, but went with the voice, waving and
floating and wreathing round the voice like an airy
robe around a sweet flying form above us. The homage


Page 36
which the Thalberg household paid to this holy music
of Felix Sterling's and Rübetsahl's and Mendelssohn's,
was perfect stillness, which reigned for some minutes,
until Philip repeated in a low voice,

“`The notes kept falling silverly,
Till it was almost like a pain
Until the next should come again.”'

Was John Cranston drunk? He had only taken a
glass or two of the sherry. Was he intoxicated with
the music, or with Felix Sterling's eyes and queen-limbs,
or with his mysterious hate of Rübetsahl? Who
knows? As the party met in the centre of the room,
all saying good-night and wishing pleasant dreams,
suddenly Cranston looked fiercely into Rübetsahl's face,
held his head aloft, and said, in German, in a harsh
husky voice, —

“I am the man!”

“Then,” answered Rübetsahl, quick as lightning,
speaking also in German, “for her sake, not for mine,
receive that!”

Whereupon, with open palm, he struck Cranston a
mighty blow upon the cheek, that felled him to the

“Sir,” said John Sterling, “you came here unknown,
but supposed to be a gentleman. Must you be brawling
in my parlor the very first time you enter it?
Leave my house instantly.”

“O, Rübetsahl —!” exclaimed Felix, and checked
herself and blushed, as Rübetsahl, who had stood with
folded arms listening to John Sterling, silently turned
towards the door.

This sweet interest made Paul Rübetsahl turn again.


Page 37

“Sir,” said he, “you are just; but I was just too. I
am loth to leave your kind house unjustified; but if to
ask for time before I justify myself be to ask too much,
then I must go; I cannot do it now.”

The calm dignity of the man appealed to all manhood.

“Father,” said Philip, “I believe him. I know —!”
and he pointed to Cranston, still prostrate. “Make
Rübetsahl stay.”

An appealing glance from Felix supported Philip's
attack. John Sterling's genial face was full of pain.
That a night so full of music should have so pitiful
end as this! Yet he could not resist Rübetsahl's noble
look of honest self-assertion, and honest regret that
self-assertion was necessary.

“Have your own way, my children!” said he, and
walked hastily to his den, and fell to smoking vigorously.

Meantime, servants had come, and Cranston, still
stupefied with the reaction of his unnatural excitement
and the stunning surprise of the blow, was conveyed to
his apartment.

Presently, he opened his eyes, and sternly commanded
his attendants to leave him.

In the morning, his room was empty. No one knew
whither he had gone.




“But Reynard, having heard his voice, said, `Well, to be sure! and I
should have been frightened, too, if I had not heard you bray!”'

The Ass in the Lion's Skin.


— “Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves; to bring in
— God shield us! — a lion among ladies, is a most dreadful thing; for there
is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion living; and we ought to look to


— “Therefore, another prologue must tell he is not a lion.”


— “Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be
seen through the lion's neck; and he himself must speak through, saying
thus, or to the same defect,— `Ladies,' — or `Fair ladies, — I would wish you'
— or `I would request you,' — or `I would entreat you — not to fear, not to
tremble; my life for yours. If you think I am come hither as a lion, it were
pity of my life: no, I am no such thing; I am a man as other men are;'
and then, indeed, let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug, the

Midsummer Night's Dream.

Society (bless her heart!) loves a lion.

Any prudent gentleman, however, who decides upon
earning his “sixpence a day in Pyramus,” by performing
the lion rôle, will surely heed the admonitions of
sweet bully Bottom. He must be none of your horrid
man-eaters out of the wild desert; but a decent, well-curried
and well-behaved lion, who will roar an' 'twere
any nightingale, at the command of his keeper, and
who can be uncaged without fear of personal detriment.
Nay, however much she may laugh with Theseus,
Society would yet, rather than not, see half a


Page 39
human face through the neck, or hear the familiar ass-voice.
These conditions being answered, with what a
pretty boldness does Mrs. Society trip near to the
pseudo-royal animal, the quasi-kingly beast, the Snugalias-lion,
the lion's-hide-over-joiner's-heart, and stroke
the mane of the gentle-terrible one with her plump,
white, be-diamonded fingers!

But, alas! this penchant of Madame Society for
quasi-royal wild beasts is become known to the real
lions, and is sometimes taken advantage of for horrible
ends. It occasionally happens that a genuine fierce
man- (or woman-) eater does simulate the simulation
of honest Snug, the joiner, so that when Society, in her
charming bravery, has drawn near to stroke his mane
(ostensibly; but white fingers look well through a maze
of hair), horrors! upon a sudden, in a twinkling, some
member of Society (a finger, perhaps, or even so important
a member as the head of Society) is snapped
off, and gobbled up!

John Cranston was a veritable woman-eater, with
neither asinine nor clownish qualities beneath his leonine

It has for a long time been the peculiar privilege of
this glorious country to produce John Cranstons; for
the exercise of which prerogative the country at large
is responsible to almost as great a degree as the immediate
progenitors, or producers, of such articles. For
when John C., senior, went about to beget John C.,
junior, that worthy and prudent man probably embarked
in the only enterprise of his life in which he
could not see his way clear from beginning to end.
Under these circumstances, it being impossible that


Page 40
John C., senior, could have foreseen the precise result
of his action in the premises, he is surely not to be
blamed for departing in this one instance from the
hitherto unbroken rule by which he guided his conduct;
for, as the Prince Rasselas very sensibly remarked,
“The world must be peopled by marriage, or
peopled without it.” Nor can I at all agree with the
somewhat sarcastic sentiments contained in the reply
of the Princess Nekayah, —

“How the world is to be peopled” (said that pert
young lady), “is not my care and need not be yours. I
see no danger that the present generation will omit to
leave successors behind them!”

A cold-blooded shirking of manifest responsibility,
thou Abyssinian maid! In which suppose thine own
royal father and mother had concurred, where then
had commenced thy search after happiness, thou tawny
and o'er-froward minx!

But — John C., senior, having presented his boy to
the country, that amiable foster-mother ought to have
done much for him, because John C., senior, had done
much for the country, with his charities, his dry-goods,
and his prosperity on Broadway. Now it was an ill
turn of the country to John Cranston, junior, that, at
the age of twenty-one, he entered life as if he had been
invited chief-guest to a complimentary dinner; and,
forgetful even of customary forms of politeness, reached
out both his hands for the crême de la crême and the
patês and all the other world-dainties on the table, unheeding
that shorter-armed neighbors were starving
about him; and that the “Low vulgarities, the children
of Rahag, Tahag, and Bohobtayil” were living, or rather
dying, upon the smell of the roast beef.


Page 41

When Cranston thought of virtue and such things,
he formed to himself a vague idea that the earth was a
mysterious wild-cat bank, doing a very inflated business
by brazenly issuing, every day, multitudes of irredeemable
bills in the shape of hypocritical men; and in his
heart Cranston was certain that the teller of this bank
had long ago robbed its vaults of all the virtue, or bullion,
and absconded to very unknown parts. A brave,
nervous-souled boy, strong of limb, strong of passion,
unboundedly energetic, unconquerably persevering, with
an acute intellect to guide these qualities; but thoroughly
selfish, and without even the consciousness that this
last was his bad trait — John Cranston was capable of
building up many things; but his life was nothing more
than a continuous pulling down of all things.

A terrible mêlée of winged opposites is forever filling
the world with a battle din which only observant souls
hear: Love contending with Impurity; Passion springing
mines under the calm entrenchment of Reason;
scowling Ignorance thrusting in the dark at holy-eyed
Reverence; Romance deathfully encountering the attack
of Sentimentality on the one side and Commonplace on
the other; young Sensibility clanging swords with gigantic
maudlin Conventionality, whose reliance is upon
main strength and awkwardness, — and a thousand more.
I have seen no man who did not suffer from the shock
of these wars unless he got help from that One Man
whom it is not unmanly to acknowledge our superior.

Cranston was too proud, that is to say, too selfish, to
get any help: he became impure, not loving; he was
unreasonable, passion firing him; he did no reverence,
being ignorant of its objects; he despised romance,


Page 42
foolishly confounding it with sentimentality; he killed
and utterly destroyed conventionality, instead of merely
disarming and subduing it.

Allusion has been made to an occasion in the life of
the elder Cranston when he did not precisely foresee
the result of certain actions. Twenty-two or three
years afterwards, he involved himself in a similar uncertainty.
Which is to say, he hung a golden chain
about the neck of his young lion-cub, and turned him
loose upon Germany.

At Frankfort-on-the-Maine, people said young John
was like Goethe. He had Lucifer-eyes; he spoke
French and German and English; he walked like a
young god; he played them mad with his violin; he
accepted invitations with little return-poems that
breathed sweetly a satanic despair; he was six feet one;
— what more should one want to make one a lion at




“They were together and she fell,
Therefore revenge became me well.
O the Earl was fair to see!”

The Sisters: Tennyson.

“... And so, since I am left alone for the day,
if Herr Cranston will bring his violin at six, he will be
considered very kind by his friend,


To receive such a note as this, from which, as it is
opened, a faint violet odor floats up, as if the soul of
the sweet writer exhaled from her words; to know that
she is gray-eyed, oval-faced, lissome-limbed, full-souled,
rising up to anything beautiful as quickly and as surely
as shadows in water rise to meet their falling flowers; —
this is meat, drink, and raiment to a young, untamed,
venturesome lion, who is currying himself and curling
his mane in the best den of the city, or ere he begins to
rampage over Germany.

Young John was not a deliberate man; he had no
affaires du cœur, and he had not resolved not to have

Young John was accustomed to declare to himself, in
a lively way, “Who will say to-day that he will do so
and so to-morrow? Does not man change with time?
The past is gone, it is nothing; the future is to come,
it is nothing; the present, even while I speak, is gone


Page 44
— it is become the past, it is nothing; time is a lie,
and clocks do not measure time, they only measure
life, and only waking life, for our dreams have no
clocks and no time. Of all clocks, clepsydras, Geneva-watches,
hour-glasses, sun-dials and Linnæan flower-clocks,
commend me” would say John Cranston “to thy
clock, O Festus, which was a heart, and measured time
by throbs. If old Doctor Brain wants to know the time
of life, let him look down there and count the beats.”

Of course Cranston knew, because everybody in
Frankfort-on-the-Maine knew, that Ottilie had been
long engaged to one Paul Rübetsahl whom Cranston
had not met, he being away in the mountains on unknown
mission; and of course this knowledge of her
engagement only heightened John Cranston's devotion
to her, since it gave her the only additional charm she
could have possessed, and crowned her allurements
with that sweet necessity-to-be-stolen which sugars the
forbidden fruit.

Cranston's contempt for time-pieces in general, like
most such truculent disgusts of youth, did not extend
to that particular hunting-case whose chain dangled
from his vest button-hole; and so he did not fail to consult
its oracular countenance, nor to obey its warning
hands when those members pointed, like the hands of a
man in a stretch, to twelve and six.

“You are punctual: I thank you,” said Ottilie, as
Cranston entered her music-room.

“Fraulein, you make a virtue of what was to me a
necessity,” replied he, and bowed.

“Ah, a compliment! What necessity is the mother
of so pretty an invention as that?”


Page 45

“No less a necessity than the fitness of things.
Fair greeting to a fair woman; like to like!”

“But we Germans say, like cures like; and so your
last compliment destroys your first.”

“And that is well, too; otherwise the embarras de
would cause the Fraulein to suffer.”

“Again! Herr Cranston reminds me of the good
maiden in the fairy-tale, from whose mouth, whenever
she spoke, there dropped either a pearl or a diamond.”

“If it be so, then you are the fairy that has conferred
this gem-gift upon me!”

“Du Himmel!” cried Ottilie, and seizing a Chinese
parasol from the étagère, spread it out between herself
and Cranston. “One might as well be killed with a
shower of hail-stones as of diamonds; it is but death
after all.”

“Thou rose! No shower would ever disturb one petal
of thine, save to pelt a perfume out of it.”

“Ah, well! one way remains. I will, in the woman's
way, conquer you by surrendering to you. So; I announce
myself tired of compliments, Herr Cranston,
and I long for some music. See, there is your violin,
which your servant brought an hour ago!”

Cranston unlocked the case.

“Poor violin! Take him up tenderly out of his dark
case, Herr Cranston. Ah, when life has played its
long tune upon me, and locked me up in my grave-case,
I hope the Great Musician will take me out so, and
draw a divine love-melody from me. Is not a violin
wonderfully like a man? It can be heavenly, it can be
earthy, it can be fiendish! It can make lark-music that


Page 46
draws our eye towards heaven, it can make dance-music
that keeps our feet moving upon the earth, and it can
make Circe-music that allures us to —”

“To hell, Fraulein?”


“Which of these styles does the Fraulein prefer?”
said Cranston, gravely arranging his bow.

“O, Mephistopheles! play what pleases thy satanic

Who, being led to the edge of a precipice, has not
felt the insidious and alluring desire to leap over it
rising stronger and stronger within him, until he draws
back, shuddering?

There are some unaccountable moments when one is
wild with insane longing to leap from the rock of what
is fixed and known as virtuous, into the terrible mist
of the unknown and bad, floating below.

It was this desire that sparkled in Ottilie —'s eyes,
and drew her to the very brink.

“Sound me,” said she, “some strains from thy native
Hades. I do not want any brimstone and agitato and
thunder, and all that traditional infernal-music; but
something beautiful and wicked and very sweet.”

“As if tawny Cleopatra peered wickedly at you over
Godiva's white shoulder?”

“So; and play, thou Satan in chains, till I bid thee

Let it be said only, that this music which John Cranston
improvised was like a rose, with the devil lying
perdu in its red heart; was like a soft, gray eye, with
a voluptuous sparkle in it; was like a silver star-beam,
only not cold, but hot with intoxicating perfumes.


Page 47

Ottilie sat at the open window. Presently the sun
sank beneath to the horizon.

“Stop, Herr Cranston, look yonder!”

One modest star had stolen out in the east, and stood,
with all its dainty silver-soul a-tremble, in the passionate
gaze of the sun. And all the west blushed to see
the sun stretch out two long beams, like arms, which
drew down a cloud towards him for a kiss. A costly
caress! For, as the kiss of the heaven-born Zillah
consumed his earth-born beloved to ashes before his
eyes, so now the cloud, as it neared the sun, caught
a-fire, and flamed with unutterable brilliancy.

Ottilie turned away, with sparkling eyes — into the
arms of Lucifer.

O, Ottilie, thou should'st have looked a little longer
at the display in the west, yonder! For, presently, the
unpitying sun went on his way down the heaven-slope,
and left the poor cloud alone; and the cloud gradually
darkened from glowing red to a bruise-purple, and then
to ashen-gray, dull and dead.

So shalt thou fare, Ottilie, thou poor gossamer summer-cloud;
so shalt thou be consumed with bliss, and
then left in the ashen-gray of grief that changeth not,
of regret that blotteth not out its sin, of crime that
hateth itself, and stingeth itself; but never to death.

And that day sank slowly into its night, as into a




“Who cross the sea, but change their sky,
And not their thought.”


Possibly the reason why few heroes are so to
their valets, is because full many a hero pulls off his
pantaloons and his heroism together. What! That
spindle a heroic leg?


This is what the valet says to himself, and glances at
his own well-developed calf.

I will not pursue this subject.

But, surely, every woman is a heroine to her maid!


Who knows?

Perhaps it is because the maids are themselves
also women; and women have a Hindoo faculty of
making idols out of the most commonplace wood and
stone, and weaving their beautiful faiths and worship
about these like strings of precious beads, and building
churches for these in their hearts.

For which faculty let women give thanks; for they
have need of it in this world.

“And so, Gretchen,” said Ottilie to her maid that
night, “thou shalt not kneel to take off my shoes,
to-night. It were better I knelt to take off thine!


Page 49
Sit here by me. Thou hast been a faithful, good maid.
How much dost thou love me?”

“I will go with thee to the end of the world!”

“It is answered as if thou wert the oracle of
Heaven! Thou shalt go with me to the end of the
world. I must leave my Germany. The glance of my
friends will blast me. The Rhine-breeze would scorch
my face. I am glad that my father and mother are
in heaven, where I cannot see them, and where I hope
they have forgotten me. Pack, Gretchen! Let us go
where there are strange mountains, and solitude disturbed
by none but thee and me — and God, whom
alas, alas, I cannot banish!”

In the old poisoning days (I 've heard) a delicate
kind of Venetian glass was used by the suspicious,
which, if poisoned wine were poured into it, would instantly
shiver into a thousand pieces. It is so with that
dainty world which an imaginative woman builds up in
her soul, out of the things that surround her. One
drop of poison, concealed in whatever wine of pleasure,
does straightway jar the whole delicate fabric into
destruction. And it would seem that there is no rebuilding
of the old soul-world after this. If she still
have pure aspirations, there is for her only a waiting
here, to see what the most blessed Christ may do for
her hereafter. And, at first, there is not even this.
The cry is then, “Fall upon me, ye mountains, and
crush me out of sight!”

Ottilie thanked Heaven that no brother or sister
bound her to the places which had suddenly become
terrible to her. As for her betrothed, she did not dare
think of him, except to long that she might get away
where she would never again meet his eye.


Page 50

Gretchen packed, the bankers received instructions
under secrecy, and the two thickly-veiled women took
departure by night for America.

To the sick soul, rapid physical motion is like a sea-breeze
to fevered men.

“Gretchen,” said Ottilie, as the steam — good genius
of our day! — bore them bounding along, “I think I
know why the world and the stars move. And the sea
— must it not be happy, since it is forever in motion?
Poor, unhappy trees on the shore, there — they cannot
move. They seem to thank the good kind breeze with
swelling whispers and sighs of delight, when it but
shakes their unwieldy arms! Motion forever, for me!
Gretchen, what is thine idea of heaven?”

“It is to sink into the Everlasting Arms and be at

“And mine is, to dash about like lightning, my soul
being unclogged by dull old sins; to move through
thousands of worlds, wherever I list, with unlaborious
motion which is but the result of a mere volition, yes,
to think myself along through the Paradises! Perhaps
I would stop, sometimes, and dream on meditative wing,
feeling myself well and buoyantly upbrone by nothing
grosser than the atmosphere of sunlight which I
breathed. Once I could almost do this; but now —
Gretchen, look at that sea-bird, yonder! he can hardly
fly for the weight of the fish he is carrying in claws and
beak; and it is so with us on earth: we cannot make a
flight, without being dragged down by some fleshly pro-vision-for-the-morrow.”

Sorrow makes poets. Memnon's statue sang when
the morning-light struck it, but I think men and
women sing when the darkness draws on. Nevertheless

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Page 51
those are the best poets who keep down these
cloudy sorrow-songs and wait until some light comes to
gild them with comfort.

The two women arrived at New York, and travelled
on, through Virginia and Tennessee. Ottilie had
glimpses of the mountains occasionally. These blue
distant hills enticed her to them, as the blue distant
skies entice a lark upward.

At Knoxville, even patient Gretchen must needs confess
she was a little tired.

“Well,” exclaimed Ottilie, with a sudden resolution,
“yonder are the mountains — they look lonely. Let
us stop here, and go to them. I yearn to plunge myself
into that blue ocean of loneliness over yonder. What
a color is blue, Gretchen! I will wear it hereafter.
The sea is blue, the mountains are blue, the heavens
are blue. One might think blue was good for sick souls
as for weak eyes.”

The road from the Knoxville depot into the city is a
perilous one. As Ottilie's hack started, the horses became
frightened. In vain coachee cracked whip and
jerked rein. The animals became unmanageable, and
reared; in another instant they would have backed the
carriage over the precipitous embankment, when a tall
Indian, in slouch hat and moccasins, who, with folded
arms and stolid countenance had been watching the passengers
emerge from the train, seized the bridles with
strong arm, turned the hack into the road, and at length
succeeded in quieting the horses.

Gretchen was half-dead with terror; but Ottilie, who
had been looking on with a half-smile of admiration
at the quivering muscles and magnificent attitudes of


Page 52
the rearing horses, called to the driver to stop, and beckoned
their preserver, who had again resumed his position
of apparent indifference, to approach. Possibly her eyes
grew more eloquent, as she thought of the melancholy
remnant of the fine old Cherokees that once bounded
over these hills, while the Indian, a majestic, brawny
man, was walking up to her carriage: at any rate, those
great orbs beamed in upon the half-tamed soul of the
fellow like a beautiful gray dawn. Half-shamefully,
Ottilie offered him money. Believe that this Indian
was in love at first sight: he refused it!

“Do you live here?” asked Ottilie.

“No. Way over yonder!”

“When do you return?”

“To-morrow mornin'. We carry books to Obadiah.
Obadiah our preacher.”

“Listen, Gretchen. Let us go with him!”

“I go with you, Fraulein, anywhere.”

“What is your name?” asked Ottilie, addressing the

“Me? Jim Saggs!”

“O Gretchen, what a name for that magnificent
creature! He says he lives beyond — what did you call
the mountain?”


“Beyond Chilhowee. Let us call him that. I like
good names.

“Chilhowee, come to the hotel at twelve, to-day. I
wish to make arrangements to be guided by you over
to the mountains, where you live. Will you come?”


The arrangements were made, and after infinite


Page 53
trouble, the two women got themselves transported to a
small “cove” in the mountains, a few miles from John
Sterling's Valley Beautiful. Here they fitted up a
cabin with a piano and a few books and pictures, retaining
Chilhowee in their service to supply them with
game and be guard for the house. The sparse population
of simple mountaineers at first regarded with
much wonder the two lone women who never visited,
and were always riding and walking about the mountains;
but the wonder soon settled into a vague feeling
of suspicion and dislike, which vented itself in “them
stuck-up creeturs over yan on the hill,” and other the
like epithets. News does not travel fast in these mountains,
and Chilhowee, possessing all the proverbial taciturnity
of his race, never tattled. The Thalberg family
knew nothing of these singular visitors.

So, the mountains received the lost. To Ottilie, a
majestic maternity dwelt in the broad bosoms of these
hills. They seemed to have swelled and heaved, long
ago, in a mighty love-sigh, and been petrified into
eternal symbols of an eternal passion. With a delicious
abandon she plunged into the deep ferny ravines, or sat
upon rocky heights and sung to opposing rocks across
the foaming streams far below. If the stern, pure rocks
upbraided her with their seams and furrows, got in resisting
so long the temptations of the wanton winds, she
had only to turn to the trees, that ever lifted their arms
toward Heaven, obeying the injunction of the Apostle,
praying always: the great uncomplaining trees, whose
life is surely the finest of all lives, since it is nothing but
a continual growing and being beautiful; the silent,
mysterious trees, most strong where most gnarled, and


Page 54
most touching when wholly blasted, for gnarling is but
another name for conquering, and they were blasted
only by wayward lightnings, for no sin.

Wretched men and women in this world, wretched
with the only wretchedness that deserves that name,
which is the suffering of one's own transgressions, —
have ye ever been “alone with God in His mountains?”

Up along those broad ascents one's thought glances
straight to Heaven. These be the kings that fling to
the plains kingly largesse of water that is better than
gold coins. Here come breezes right from the sea, that
have not been low enough to get the reek of the cities
nor the malaria of the valleys upon their wings. Here
salutes the sun, in the morning like a brother with
dewy-pure blessing, in the evening like a lover with
warm, passionate caresses. Here grow the strong, sweet
trees, like brawny men with virgins' hearts. Here is
the baby-hood of the rivers. Here wave the ferns, and
cling the mosses, and clamber the reckless vines. Here
Falstaff-beeches stand rollicking by straight Puritanpines
and substantial Flemish burgher-oaks, while the
mosses and ashes, forest dandies, pose in nonchalant

Here old giant Convulsion, horrible orge that wont
to swallow up so many young things, is tamed and humanized
into deep and benign Repose.

And here one's soul may climb as upon Pisgah, and
see one's land of peace — seeing Christ, who made all
these beautiful things.




“You are very good to put yourself to all this trouble for a young girl!”

Prince Cherry.

Silently, seven months like seven ghosts flitted by
our two women in the still mountains. At last came a
day which was not ghostly, but which opened its mouth
and gave news.

On the day before the deer-drive at Thalberg,
Gretchen was stirring before Ottilie awoke, and must
needs run out to pluck a fern-spray and a heart-leaf,
and mayhap a lingering tiger-lily, that her beloved
Ottilie might be greeted with something beautiful upon
the breakfast-table. At about this same hour Mrs. Razor,
the nearest neighbor of Ottilie, had an exposition of
gooseberry-pie come upon her, and the good lady had
sallied forth, basket on arm, to gather wherewithal to
satisfy her longing.

“Goot morgen, Mrs. Razor.” Gretchen was not on
good terms with the king's English.

“Mornin', mum. A'ter gooseberries, this mornin'?”

“No. I am come to find some little grün leaf for
mein frient. How ish all width your house?”

“Waal, so 's to git about, thank ye. Th' ole man's
jest started over to Mountvale Springs. Gwine to have
a mighty shootin'-match that to-day; an' I do hear as
how there 's to be a treemenjious fancy-ball thar tomorrer


Page 56
night, ur the night a'ter, an' I forgit which, preecisely!
Haint a-gwine, I reckon?”

“No, no.”

“Thought may be you was, like. All the folks from
Talburg is a-gittin' ready to go. Mister Cranston —”

“Who?” quickly interposed Gretchen.

“Mister Cranston tole my Jake yistiddy as how they
was all a-gwine from thar, an' tole him he must come
over an' shoot fur the beef.”

“Who ish dis Mr. Cranston?”

“Why, massy me, aint you heerd of him afore this?
He seed John Sterlin's gal at the Springs this season, an'
follered her over to ther house, in the cove, yan. They
do say as how he is gwine to marry her, afore long.”

“Und was für ein man ish Mr. Cranston?”

“Waal, I haint nuvver seed him myself, you know;
but my Jake says, he 's a maaster tall un', 'ith black
beard to his face, an' says he kin play the fiddle jest
about as peert as the next un.' Mought know him

“Oh no.”

Forgetting fern-leaves and Mrs. Razor, and the conventionalities
alike, Gretchen turned and walked rapidly
back toward her cottage.

If I could only get them together, what might not
happen? She dies here. Her heart grinds itself to
powder, revolving upon itself with its weight of grief.

But she would never go willingly to meet him.

Then I must bring him to meet her.

But she would refuse to see him.

Then I must manage it without her knowledge.

The fancy-ball; — if she would but go! The excitement


Page 57
of strange faces would be charming for her pale
cheeks. Ah! would Cranston be willing to meet her?

I must mystify him till it is too late for him to retreat.

These thoughts flashed through Gretchen's mind, as
she hurried home. Her heart was lighter, because her
brain was busier than it had been for many a day.
The premonition of some catastrophe which, whatever
it should be, would at least change the dreadful monotony
of these dead days, animated her soul as she
entered and saluted Ottilie, just sitting down at the

“Well, Gretchen, since they do not print any morning
paper in Cade's Cove —”

“O Fraulein, the idea!” said Gretchen, glad to speak
her German again. “A morning paper here! Imagine
the local column: `We are pained to record
that our esteemed friend and neighbor, Mrs. Razor,
met last night with a serious domestic calamity, in the
loss of two fine chickens and a goose, supposed to have
been kidnapped by a wild-cat:' or, `It is our unpleasant
duty to record an unfortunate personal rencontre, which
took place late on yesterday afternoon, in the streets
of Cade's Cove, between a black bear and four hounds
belonging to Mr. Razor, in which, though the bear was
worsted, two of the dogs were badly wooled;' and
then, Fraulein, the commercial column: `The market
in Cade's Cove has been exceedingly quiet the past
week, and commercial transactions extremely limited.
Indeed, except in the single article of whiskey, we have
to report absolutely nothing doing. We have account
of sales of whiskey, yesterday, amounting in all to


Page 58
twenty-six (26) drinks, twenty-five (25) of which being
bought on time or by barter, we make no cash quotations,
especially as the twenty-sixth sale might prove a
false criterion and mislead dealers, it being a drink
paid for, cash, by a stranger going through to North
Carolina, who, not knowing the prices of whiskey in
Cade's Cove, was charged double rates by our enterprising
friend who runs the distillery.' And so forth,
and so forth, Fraulein!”

“Why, Gretchen, thy tongue trips it garrulously this

“Indeed, I am the morning paper to-day! I am
just come from `'Change:' that is to say, I have been
talking with a neighbor. Do me the favor, Fraulein,
to glance down my column headed `Great news!
Grand things toward, not far from us! Our readers
will be thrown into a state of frantic excitement, when
we tell them that there is soon to be a masque ball at
Montvale Springs, in which, besides the present guests,
the whole country-side is expected to take part. The
enterprising managers have determined to close the
season with an affair worthy of the brilliant company
now sojourning at that popular watering-place, and to
make this ball one unsurpassed in variety and splendor
of costume. Madame So-and-So is to come over, to
superintend the costumes;' and so forth, and so forth
— you need not read the whole column, Fraulein!”

And then came silence. Gretchen plotted and
plotted, the hypocrite! and Ottilie became grave and
thoughtful, as if a curious idea had presented itself.

Toward the close of the meal Ottilie looked up,
and with a nonchalance which did not half conceal


Page 59
from Gretchen the earnestness which underlay it,

“How far to these Springs, Gretchen?”

“It is but four or five miles.” Aha, thought
Gretchen, my little trout nibbles! Entice thou, O
bait, as never bait enticed before!

Ottilie went out for her walk; whereupon ensued a
diplomatic interview between Gretchen and the Indian,
Chilhowee, which resulted in the departure of that
taciturn individual toward Thalberg, where he had
arrived, as was related, just in time to kill John Sterling's
escaping buck.

He met with no opportunity to speak with Cranston
that day, and had lounged idly about the grounds until
night came on, when he threw himself upon the grass
and slept; that is to say, dreamed of Ottilie.




“I would that each might scrutinize the passion within him, for each passion
exacts and builds its own world. Anger wishes that all the world had but
one neck: Love, that it had only one heart: Grief, two tear-glands: and
Pride, two knees.”

J. P. F. Richter.

When John Cranston awoke from the short stupor
into which he had fallen, his first feeling was a vague
sensation of disgrace, followed by a more defined wish
to be alone.

Sending away the servant who had been ordered to
remain in his apartment, he sat up in bed, clinched his
fists and pressed them tightly against his head, to stop,
of course, the giddy whirlpool which was amusing itself
in a very noisy way in that member.

Performing that strange operation which seems almost
to indicate that each man has two selves —
namely, concentrating his mind, — Cranston gradually
began to see and hear over again the occurrences
of the night. But the sprites that worked the panorama
in his brain were tricksy elves, and it was long
before they would show him the particular scene
upon which he wished to fix his attention. A strain
of music floated from behind some mysterious curtain
in his brain. The music was from Mendelssohn, and,
while it sounded, the curtain rose and displayed the
face of Felix Sterling, with that shoal of deep-sea
shapes floating in her eyes, as she sang.


Page 61

Cranston shook his head, as who should say, “Tempting,
but I 'm looking for something else.” And so,
amid a confused intermingling of sounds and faces, he
at length managed to fix his attention upon the face of
Rübetsahl, until a full recollection of the whole last
scene in the music-room shone before him.

Perhaps anger is the most complex deceit of them
all, shifting its wrath from one's self, richly deserving,
to some other self, undeserving, upon the most pitiful
excuses. Indignation may be just; but anger forever
cheats for a victim. And so, John Cranston, instead
of cursing his own crime, or gnashing his teeth over
the insane folly which had prompted him to betray
himself, cursed Rübetsahl instead, and snarled at him.

“Good God! Good God!” he said, setting his teeth
and stretching out his hands as he sank back on the
bed. “He struck me — in her presence — in presence
of them all! The miserable scoundrel — to take advantage
of me when the sherry had unsteadied my
nerves! And now, I suppose, he 'll blab every thing to
make capital for himself; and add from his own invention,
until he gets capital enough to buy the whole
family!” — with a bitter laugh. “And he struck me;
he struck me; he struck me!” An idea hard to

“I can see the whole tale he 'll tell. `He heard of
my — adventure with this Frankfort friend of his;
she had no father or brother; he determines to avenge
her' — the dear, chivalrous knight of damsels in distress
—; `he will devote his life to this sacred cause;
he thinks he will likely find me in America; he comes
over, nay, 'gad, he rushes over, flies over, inquires for


Page 62
me, tracks me here, and if he can find me again,' — for
the fool will know that I 'm going to leave to-night —
`he 'll — play the devil,' and so forth, and so on. He 's
probably gone through the whole tale by this time.

“But, by God,” said he, jumping from the bed, a
maniac in eyes and face and hair, “and by the devil
and all, I 'll kill him, — I swear it, — I 'll kill him this

Cranston walked to his window, and examined the
ground outside. It was an easy leap. He turned, and
glanced round the room, which was one that Philip
Sterling had occupied. Opposite the bed hung two
swords, which had been wont to serve his young friend
in the peaceful capacity of dream-provocatives, or reverie-superinducers,
the said swords being respectively
a long, two-handed, naked blade like Richard Cœur de
Lion's, and a delicate rapier such as a gallant might
wear at court. This huge brand, that looked grim as a
battle, and this dainty rapier, that could make one
think of nothing but waving plumes and arras and
lovely women, seemed strangely opposed, as if war and
love had married: a lion lying down with a lamb.
Many a long, delicious hour had Philip spent over
these two relics of chivalric days; as the Lily Maid of
Astolat watched the shield of absent Lancelot:—

“And made a pretty history to herself
Of every dint a sword had beaten in it,
And every scratch a lance had made upon it,
Conjecturing when and where: this cut is fresh:
That, ten years back: this dealt him at Caerlyle:
That, at Caerleon: this, at Camelot:
And ah! — God's mercy! — what a stroke was there!
And here a thrust that might have killed, but God
Broke the strong lance, and rolled his enemy down,
And saved him: so she lived in fantasy.”


Page 63
And so had Philip wound his fine dreams, like silken
scarfs, about his swords.

But John Cranston, bent on destroying the greatest
of all dreams — life — cared little for idler reveries of
romantic boys; and, taking down the rapier, whose use
was nearly all he had learned at college, he leaped from
the window and strode up the abruptly swelling knoll,
as if, upon some height, he could better see what course
to pursue.

Like a tear upon an eyelid, wept in a dream, glittering,
tremulous, ready to drop, hung the morning-star
upon the fringed horizon. A white mist, which had
sought shelter in the water-valley for the night, was
beginning to wake and ruffle wing for another day's

Cranston had stopped and smiled a bitter smile, that
such peaceful things should dare to go on in the world
when he was angry. As he turned to mount the knoll,
the morning-star was suddenly obscured by a tall form
which uprose as if by magic out of the earth, and
which loomed gigantically in the dim light before him.
All the blood in his frame rushed backward toward his
heart, as the reflection flashed across his mind that it
was Rübetsahl, waiting for him. For one moment, the
consciousness of being in the wrong subdued his natural
bravery, and he fairly staggered with the weakness
of relaxation.

But his vengeful anger restored his courage and
heated his soul. Unsheathing the beautiful taper blade
which he carried, and throwing the scabbard as far as
he could hurl it, in emphatic token of war to the death,
he advanced rapidly toward his opponent, speaking, as


Page 64
he went, in passionate jerks and crowding eddies of

“Aha, you — you waylay me in the darkness, do
you?” O Cranston! was it waylaying a man to rise
up in front of him and stand still with folded arms as
this tall figure did? “Not content with taking advantage
of a moment when I was — was —” (he has objections
to the word drunk), “when my nerves were unsteadied,
you — you wait all night to ambush me, do you?”
The said ambuscade being on the top of a bare knoll,
which would reveal a cricket against the sky, to one

“I suppose you 've told 'em all how it was by this
time, and got your maw full of praise for your — your
heroism and your devotion, you dear good man, you
sweet constant man, you — you damned contemptible
scoundrel!” thundered he in an irrepressible flood of
fury, and leapt forward to thrust, forgetting to put himself
en garde even.

“Why you kill me?” said the Indian; for it was
Chilhowee. He had slept until his light slumbers had
been broken by the sound of approaching footsteps.
He quickly recognized the man with whom he had in
vain sought an interview the day before.

Cranston dropped his sword with an oath, as he saw
the mistake into which his blind rage had led him, and
took from the Indian's hand a piece of paper which he
was silently holding out.

“For me?”


“From whom?”

“No tell.”


Page 65

“`Gad!”' muttered Cranston, opening his cigar-case
and striking a match, “but the German is prompt with
his challenge! He might have waited for it to come
from me. Maybe he was afraid it would n't come,” —
with a murderous laugh. “Let 's see what the poor
injured man says.”

The note was short. It was written in German.

Translated, it said:—

“Would 'st thou an adventure? Follow the bearer.

(Signed) “Frankfort.




“A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that utters.”

Edgar Poe declares, with much gravity, that he has
often thought he could distinctly hear the sound of the
darkness coming over the horizon; and some one else,
perhaps the same poet, has listened to the growing of
the grass.

Late in the afternoon of this day when Cranston had
plunged into the forest behind the Indian, as the sun
was declining behind the ridge which bounds Montvale
Springs to the westward, a noise similar to the sound
of flying darkness and growing grass might have been
borne to the ears of three or four invalids, who had
crept out of their cabins to take the cool air and a
draught of the Chalybeate.

But this noise came neither from the gathering of
dark powers, nor from the struggle of grass-growth.

It was the rustle of silken dresses, and so forth, and
the crinkling of sundry coats, and so forth, in which
the male and female sojourners at beautiful Montvale
were at this moment arraying themselves for the
masque-ball of that night.

The impudent and invisible 24,999 may go with me
up into room 93, west wing, gentlemen's quarters, of the
seven-gabled hotel at Montvale.


Page 67

B. Chauncey Flemington, a gay representative of a
big plantation in Mississippi, is drawing on the left individual
of a pair of boots, whose yellow “insides” he
has caused to be cut and pulled over, after the manner
of the boots that Pizarro wears in the theatre.

John Briggs, whom nor I nor anybody know, except
that he was the best fellow in the English language, is
tying a blue ribbon round his knee to fasten a flesh-colored
long stocking, such as the genteel shepherd
wears in the theatre. Alf. Aubrey is tying the thong
of a Roman sandal upon his foot, occasionally pausing
to glance at an open Shakespeare lying on the table,
after each glance throwing back his head and shutting
his eyes, while his lips move slowly, as if he were repeating
in silent enjoyment the words of the master.

Boots, towels, trunks, trunk-trays, cologne-bottles,
and a thousand miscellanea of the masculine toilet, lie
scattered in inextricable confusion about the floor of
No. 93.

“John,” said Flemington, giving a last hitch to his
boots, “I wish to direct your serious attention to Aubrey,
there. I,” — regarding the right boot with intense
gaze, — “I wish to remind you that I have known Aubrey
from — I may say, from his youth up, or, I should say,
in view of his present course of life, from his youth
down. Now, during all this amazing stretch of time
that I have known Aubrey there, it has never been my
lot to see him read any book whatever; but adhering
with great consistency to his belief that books were
theoretical things, he has continued to study human
nature in the light of the sternly-practical, without the
assistance of written help. I wish to direct your serious


Page 68
attention (after this short preamble) to the fact that
from a period nearly contemporaneous with the first
hints that were given of this fancy-ball to-night, my
friend Aubrey there, discarding that rigorous practicality
which has hitherto distinguished him, has become
nothing more nor less than a — bookworm! The singularity
of this change is heightened by the fact that this
worm crawls only in one book, — that book, Shakespeare:
only on one page of that book, — that page, the
page where occurs the ninth scene of the third act of
Antony and Cleopatra, about the middle of the left-hand
column, beginning with the words — with the
words,” — and with an adroit movement, Flemington
snatched the book off the table before Aubrey could interpose,
and assuming a tragic attitude, continued: —
“with the words, I naturally imagine, which my friend
Aubrey there has marked in brackets with a pencil,
to wit: —
`Antony... Egypt, thou knewest too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied by the strings,
And thou should'st tow me after: o'er my spirit
Thy full supremacy thou knewest, and that
Thy Beck —'
I entreat you to believe, Briggs, that the capital B
which commences this word `beck' is Aubrey's and not
Shakespeare's, —

... `and that
Thy Beck might from the bidding of the Gods
Command me.'

“John Briggs, have I your serious attention?”

“At your request, I have concentrated my serious
attention, like the nozzle of a fire-engine, upon our


Page 69
friend Aubrey there. It is now spirting against him,
full steam. If you do n't relieve it shortly, I have no
doubt it 'll knock him out of the window!”

“It is well. I wish you to retain this quotation,
marked in brackets by my friend Aubrey there, in your
mind, while I relate a little circumstance that befell, a
matter of ten days ago. While I was one day reading
Shakespeare at the big oak out yonder, the sun crawled
round and shone too warmly for me, insomuch that I
was fain get behind the tree and lie down on the grass,
leaving my book open on the bench. In this situation
I fell asleep. Being presently awakened by the sound
of voices, I perceived a gentleman and lady approaching,
down the walk, and my attire being somewhat disordered,
I lay still, hoping not to be discovered. It is
hardly necessary for me to state that the gentleman was
my friend Aubrey there,” — Aubrey leaned his face
upon his hands — “and it is almost equally unnecessary
for me to state that the lady was the mother of Rebecca
Parven, whom Aubrey has been adoring in sight of
everybody for a month or more. They sat down on the

“`And so, my dear Mr. Aubrey,' Mrs. Parven said,
`Beck and I (I call my daughter Rebecca, Beck, —
you know `call me pet names, dearest' — ah!), Beck
and I concluded that we would bring you into our little
plot for having something recherche in the way of costumes
for the ball; because we want your advice about
the dresses, and we wish that you 'd get up a little
speech to make the characters go off natural like, you
know, and so on. Now, Beck wants to come as Cleopatra,
because Beck, you know, is a brunette, and
Cleopatra was a brunette, was n't she, Mr. Aubrey?'


Page 70

“`Ah — ah — so far as my recollection of history
serves me, Mrs. Parven, — she was!' says Aubrey.

“`Very good. Oh, I knew we would get on famously,
for our tastes run so together,' says Mrs. Parven, with a
heavenly smile at Aubrey. `Well, now, Beck, as I
said, will be Cleopatra, and I thought that I, being her
mother, would go as — as Egypt, you know, Mr. Aubrey,
represented in an allegorical costume. Now,
mind, Mr. Aubrey, this is confidential; what costume
shall I wear to — to represent Egypt allegorically?'

“Aubrey did not reply, Mr. Briggs, for some minutes.
I think I can see the exact process which went on in
his mind. `Let 's see,' says he to himself, `Egypt, —
Egypt: — Alligators, no, Crocodiles: and Mummies:
and — Sphynx; — yes, and Pyramids: — good!'

“`Well, Mrs. Parven,' says Aubrey at last, — `Crocodiles:
have you any crocodiles' skins among your very
extensive collection of — of furs?'

“`Oh, Mr. Aubrey,' cries she, `I thought they were

`Ah, no, Madame. In my trip to Europe, having of
course to pass through Egypt, I often saw them disporting
in the cool waters, and would have taken them for
beavers. However, it is immaterial. But,' says he,
`Mummies: — ah — have you any mummy - cloth
amongst your very extensive collection of — bareges,
Mrs. Parven?'

Mrs. P., you may remember, does not hear very distinctly,
Mr. Briggs.

“`Gummy - cloth?' says she, meditatively. `Well,
there 's Mr. Parven's gum-coat he goes duck-hunting
in; and I could rip it up, you know. Would it do,
Mr. Aubrey?'


Page 71

“`Oh, excellently well, ma'am,' says Aubrey. `Splendidly;
and, by the way, your naturally fair complexion
must be darkened a little, Mrs. Parven; it has passed
into a proverb, you know: “black as Egypt,” we say.
Your face must be dark — and hands,' added the atrocious

“`Dear me, Mr. Aubrey, how in the world shall I do
it? Ink, you know, would n't wash off, after it was
over; and I would n't like to lie abed a month to wear
it off,' says amiable Mrs. P.

“`Cork, ma'am: cork 's the thing. Get one out of a
champagne-bottle, you know, and hold it in a candle,
and then rub it on. Washes off, too, easy.'

“`Very well, then. The dress of gum-cloth. I suppose
I may relieve the sombre effect of the gum-cloth
by trimmings to suit my own fancy?'

“`Oh yes, certainly. And do n't forget your headdress,
which must be a pyramid. You can make it —
like a pin-cushion, you understand, of bran, or something
like that.'

“`Well,' says Mrs. P., with a long breath, `and that 's
all. Oh, I 'm so much obliged to you, Mr. Aubrey. I
know I shall make a good Egypt. And so kind in you
to tell me! I should have asked Mr. Flemington,
but —'

“`Madame,' says my friend Aubrey there,”' (Aubrey
slid from his chair and sat cross-legged with his face to
the wall); “`Madame, I advise you, as a friend, not to
apply to Mr. Flemington, for the reason that his lamentable
ignorance of history and of historical personages
would be certain to betray you into some ridiculous
mistake. And he 'd never admit that he knew nothing


Page 72
about it. No, madame, leave out Flemington, by all

“`Indeed, I certainly shall do so; especially since
you 've been so kind. And we want it to be a secret,
you know, so as to seem unpremediated. And now,
since all that is arranged, could n't you, please, Mr.
Aubrey, compose a little address to deliver to us, in
character, as we entered the ball-room door, to make it
all go off smooth and natural like?' Mr. Briggs, my
friend Aubrey there was staggered for a moment; his
eyes fell, — and that fall saved him! For they fell upon
my Shakespeare, which was lying open at Antony and
Cleopatra. Taking up the book, he commenced to read
the identical passage which I have described as marked
in brackets, and which I have just spoken. “O Egypt,”
and so forth, read he, until he came to the line —

“Thy Beck might from the bidding,”

when Mrs. P. cried out, `Oh, Mr. Aubrey, that 's not in
the book, and you 're just composing, you dear genius,
you! My Beck, indeed! How could Shakespeare
know any thing of my Beck?'

“`Madame,' says Aubrey, laying his hand on his
heart with that dignity for which his family is distinguished:
`Madame, the Latin word vates means at once
poet and prophet — a philological observation which
most satisfactorily accounts for the striking phenomenon
you have just mentioned. For doubtless the prophetic
eye of Shakespeare foresaw —

“`Dear me, Mr. Aubrey, I thought I heard a rustling
behind this tree. Maybe, it was a snake, and I do fear
snakes, so, and I saw one yesterday on the hill yonder,'
says Mrs. P., who felt that Aubrey was drawing her


Page 73
into dangerous grounds, philological and otherwise.
`There 's the gong, now, for tea; let 's go. Indeed, I
and Beck are very much obliged to you, and the little
speech will make it all go off so smooth and nat —'
and then they turned out of hearing. Mr. Briggs, have
I your serious attention?”

“I am an ear, Flemington,” said Briggs, sententiously;
but looked more like a nose, as he bent, with red
face, over his second ribbon-knot.

“I wish you to support me in the demand which I
feel I have a right to make upon Mr. Aubrey, after
what has passed. That demand is that Mr. Aubrey
shall immediately recite his little speech to us, so that
our hearts may not forebode his disgrace on the great
night; and that, failing in his rehearsal, he shall stand
on his head and drink a cobbler. Mr. Aubrey; recite!”

Aubrey, still sitting tailor-wise, had leaned his nose
against the wall, and was flattening the end of it
thereagainst, as if his soul's happiness depended thereupon.
At the summons he rose, and putting his best
foot foremost, which was the foot with the sandal on it,
the other being nude of sock or shoe, began in deep-tragic

“Egypt, thou knew 'st too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied with —”

“No; not `with': `by'!

“... was to thy rudder tied by the strings
And thou shouldst oh — should'st oh — oh —”

The prompter pointed in pantomime of deep significance
at the nude foot of the speaker; but this latter
looked utter ignorance.

“Toe, Aubrey: think of your toe!”


Page 74

“Ah, yes:

`And thou should'st tow me after: o'er my spirit
Thy full supremacy thou knew'st, and that —
And that — and th —”'

“Oh, monstrous! to break down right at the joke.
Briggs, he 's been cramming it ten days.”

“Nine, Flem; just nine!”

“Nine days, and can 't say it over. I do forthwith
adjudge that you, Alfred Aubrey, B. A. of Oxford, Mississippi,
do immediately reverse the ordinary position
of manhood, and during said reversal imbibe a sherry
cobbler. Bute,” — to the waiter at the door,” — “cobblers
for three. John, give me your assistance in drawing
out this table to the centre of the room, for my friend
Aubrey there to stand on his head on, and have free
play of his legs. I were loth, Mr. Briggs, that Mr.
Aubrey should receive detriment in the matter of legs.
Cobblers here. So; — time, Aubrey. Briggs, we must
have music!”

Steadily, and without a shadow of smile, Mr. Aubrey
reverse himself, head on table and feet in air, while
the entire band, through hollowed fist, trumpeted,
“Dying, Egypt, dying,” with most brilliant intonation;
but as Bute approached with the cobblers, a drop of the
lemon and sherry splashed into Aubrey's eye, and that
gentleman, with the most natural gesture in the world,
attempting to rub his spasmodically-closed optic with
his forefinger, suddenly lost balance. As he came down
with a mighty crash, he involved in one wide ruin all,
bringing down Flemington and cobbler with his legs,
and by a wild lunge of arms upsetting John Briggs
and cobbler after the most approved style of the clutch-desperate.


Page 75

Now broke the icy barriers of their gravity, and each
lay as he fell, with sides shaking and uproarious torrents
of laughter issuing from healthy lungs. When
the first paroxysm was over, “John,” commenced Aubrey;
but broke down, and the rest joined him in a
fresh burst. At length with many a fresh jet and eddy
of laughter,

“John,” said Aubrey, “you ought to have seen Flem
and me weigh — oh, I 'll die — weighing the old lady,
the other day. Flem got — ah — got it up. We invited
her to take a walk with us down to the stables to
loo — to look at the horses. You know the hay-scales
down there. I gently, very gently, guided her course
across 'em, Flem being behind; and just as we got on
the plat — platform, I stopped, engaging her in a very
animated discussion on Duplex Elliptics, while Flem
quietly arranged the beam behind and weighed the pair.
Presently he coughed, and at the signal we walked on.
On the way back to the hotel, `by the way, Aubrey,'
says he, `I must show you the result of those astronomical
calculations I was making last night,' and he
handed me this piece of a letter. Look on the back
of it.

“Weight of both  407 
“Mr. Aubrey (as ascertained 
by previous experiment),  139 
Remainder. Weight of Mrs. P.  268 
Deduct for Dup. Ell. and other hardware 
outside, say  10 
And exact nett weight Mrs. P.  258 

At this moment Bute announced the ball in half an
hour; whereat No. 93 proceeded to dress itself.


Page 76



— “Weapons! arms! What 's the matter here?”

King Lear.

No, 24,999! You shall not witness the enduing
of Mrs. Parven with the somewhat remarkable costume
which, at some expense and much labor, she had
caused to be prepared for herself. The momentous
undertaking was accomplished by her daughter Rebecca
and her sable handmaiden. It was but once interrupted
by a mild remark from Mrs. P.

“Don't put any more of it into my eye than you can
help, Beck, dear!” said she, while the burnt cork was
being applied.

“De good father's sakes alive, Mistis! You iz black
az I iz!” observed the handmaiden.

“And you,” exclaimed Rebecca, “are as black as

Meantime, the three jovial habitants of No. 93 had
hurried their toilets and moved down to the ball-room,
where they had taken a position commanding all the
approaches, from which they delivered a steady fire of
comments upon each couple as the masquers slowly
began to enter and promenade in stately circle round
the hall. Aubrey personated Mark Antony; Flemington,
Pizarro; and John Briggs, in slippers and tights,


Page 77
bearing a crook with ribbons, was a very genteel
Shepherd indeed.

“By the nine gods, Señor Pizarro! what have we
here?” said Mark Antony, pointing to a couple just

“General, it is as if a Russian bear or Hyrcan tiger
had stolen a hawk's beak, and wore it at the end of his

“Nay, friends,” interposed the Shepherd, “it is master
Shylock, the Jew of Venice. How gracefully
locketh he arm, and how amiably converseth he —
with no less a Gentile than poor crazy Ophelia, who
hath, look! just tied a flower to the end of Shylock's
beard, and is laughing silverly that such grizzled and
curling stems should terminate in the bloom and
fruitage of a rose!”

“What manner of giant should be he that comes
now?” inquired Antony.

“Please your heathen majesty, it is Goliath of Gath,
with a spear and a bass voice, denouncing death to a
whole army —” replied Pizarro.

“And bearing on his arm, O acme of contrasts!
sweet Jeanie Deans, with the gowden hair!” added the

Suddenly Mark Antony unsheathed his sword, and
stood en garde. “Come on,” cried he, “an thou be
Fate, or Cleopatra's spirit, or other shape from hell, I
fear thee not!”

“It is a sheep-murrain embodied in shape of a man!”
said the Shepherd, and ran behind Mark Antony.

“It is the Devil!” said Pizarro, and hastily muttered
a Pater-noster as he ran behind the Shepherd.


Page 78

“How daintily he switcheth to and fro his arrow-pointed
tail!” observed the Shepherd from between the
Roman legs of Mark Antony.

Tales sunt inferni!” quoth the general.

“If all be well,” observed Pizarro “that ends well.
then is this tail of yon Devil a most excellent good tail;
for, it being already of exceeding sharp terminus, the
harlequin there is tying, unbeknown to Señor Devil,
a copy of Brownlow's Whig to the end of it!”

“By way of envenoming ye arrow-point, and God
pity ye man who reads this infernal tale, now!” added
the shepherd.

“And I could wish,” said Mark Antony, sheathing
his sword, “that the black cambric were not so tight
about his satanic legs; for I do not love your ungraceful

“It is in character, General, that the cambric tights
should be so tight; for your immortals, being ever
young, must show no wrinkles!” quoth Briggs, the

“But who is this fair star that steals in, shining, by
the side of Lucifer? A dainty girl, by my beard! to
be so arm-locked with the Devil!” inquired Pizarro.

“It is Helen of Greece, by her cymar with a battle
worked on it, and her silver sandals that seem of a
piece with her silver feet!” answered Antony.

“Methinks,” muttered the shepherd, “she of Greece
should be i' the melting mood, so near this fiery-hot

“Aye,” groaned Pizarro, “I fear me she hath caught
a Tartarus shape!”

“Friends, follow me!” suddenly shouted Mark Antony,


Page 79
and stormed, with stage-stride and clang of sandal,
across the room.

For, at the door, appeared the face of Egypt.

It was only with a wild groan that Aubrey concealed
the uproarious merriment which Mrs. Parven's appearance
excited within him.

The warm weather, and Mrs. P.'s abounding flesh,
had conspired to make that lady perspire copiously;
and as each drop coursed from her benighted forehead
across the broad and level plain of her face, it washed
away a sort of cork alluvium, and left in its track a
sinuous pathway of white, insomuch that the good
lady's face showed like the front of a Hottentot tattooed
in white.

A crowd of masquers, on the qui vive for fun, had
followed Mark Antony's rush across the floor, and were
now greeting with vociferous applause the extraordinary
figure of Mrs. P., as she slowly and deliberately
moved a step or two inside the door and there stopped,
recognizing Mark Antony, to receive his address;
which M. A. was in no sort of condition to deliver, his
whole soul being occupied in endeavoring to suppress a
fresh insurrection of laughter which broke forth within
him, as he saw one of Mrs. P.'s blackened hands
stretched back behind her to feel for that of Cleopatra-Rebecca,
— who, not unmindful of her white gloves,
was with great manual dexterity eluding these motherly
overtures of Egypt wishing to lead her daughter in.

Flemington had glided to the side of Mrs. Parven,
and stood there like Satan squat at the ear of Eve,
ready to make diabolical suggestions; which he felt
confident Mrs. P., in her excited state of mind, would
immediately execute, however ridiculous.


Page 80

Aubrey's voice trembled ominously as he began; but
with a mighty effort, he dashed on: —

“Egypt, thou knowest too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied by the strings
And thou shouldst tow me —”

“Like a ship, you know, Mrs. Parven,” whispered
Flemington rapidly; “tow him — by the nose, for instance:
that's it, take hold of his nose, so! Forward:
tow him! splendid!” he continued, as Mrs. P., deliberately
taking the somewhat extensive proboscis of
Aubrey between finger and thumb, commenced a stately
forward movement.

Aubrey followed, as in duty bound; and, with a sublime
gulp, like an earthquake taking down a city, continued:

“O'er my spirit
Thy full supremacy thou knew'st, and that
Thy Beck” —
Here Aubrey wrenched loose his nose, and made a
profound bow to Rebecca-Cleopatra walking behind —

“might from the bidding of the gods
Command me!”

A storm and salvo of cheers from the masquers testified
their appreciation of this sally, and Mrs. P., taking
Mark Antony's arm, slowly promenaded on, in the
proud consciousness of having attracted more attention
than anybody in the room, dispensing liberal
smiles. Dispensing not only, alas! smiles; for some
fiendish harlequin in the crowd had ripped a small
aperture in the pyramid which adorned Egypt's head,
and the bran was issuing therefrom in a miniature


Page 81
Nilus along her dress to the floor; whereby already the
pyramid was visibly collapsing and had that foolish
appearance of befuddlement which a hat has with a
brick in it.

So the mirth grew furious and the crowd increased.
Turk and Paynim laughed and joked with Greek and
Crusader; Cavaliers and Roundheads swore friendship,
York and Lancaster embraced; Moses gave his staff
to a harlequin who balanced it on his chin, while the
Prophet waltzed away with a masqueress in duplex
elliptic and heeled shoes; the Devil was dancing with
her highness the Abbess of —, and a grizzly bear
stood up on his hind paws to pirouette with a delicate
Greek Naiad. All nations, all natures, mingled in a
mazy whirl; costumes and customs were incongruously
scattered together in a parti-colored patchwork; the
ball-room wore motley like a clown; the last centuries
shook hands with the first, over the heads of the
middle ages; it was as if Father Time doubled together
the two ends of his course, and shook all the
racers against each other in the centre. White bosoms
heaved, dark eyes sparkled, blue eyes glowed; soul
struck against soul as body against body; spirits grew
fierce in the powerful proximity of each other; the
arch-genius of all intoxication waved his enchanting
wings, and fanned higher the rosy flame of life.

Tall Pizarro, with black, sharp-pointed beard, was
everywhere in the thickest of the press; anon leaning
down to whisper nothings in the ear of some fair neighbor;
anon flashing sallies of wit across the heads of the
crowd to some equally tall opponent, as Jura darts
back the lightning to a sister peak over the hills.


Page 82
Presently, he met Mark Antony, who had just left the
side of Cleopatra, in search of some Octavia.

“Life! Life! Down with Death!” cried Pizarro,
as he saw the glowing eyes of Aubrey.

“Aye,” quoth Mark Antony, “John Death hath no
part here. Let him go sulk i' the corner of space.
But whither away, so quick?”

“Now, by our Lady of Madrid, thou wert better ask
that question of this crowd that is rolling me along
like a round stone in a river! Himmel! Potz Tausend!
exclaimed he as the crowd gave one of those
savage lurches that crowds will give inexplicably, and
forgetting that Pizarro did not usually employ German

At the moment that he uttered a German word,
however, a short, plumply-made female, closely masked,
looked up quickly and asked, in German, if he spoke
that language.


“Then I may speak without fear of being understood
by others; and Heaven be praised! for I fear I
do not know English enough to tell you that which I

“Speak freely,” answered Flemington, suspecting
some jest. “Pizarro's life lies shining in his sword;
and that, lady, is at your service!”

“No, no, I do not jest; you misunderstand me,”
quickly answered his companion, in tone of such evident
feeling, that Flemington's attention was aroused.
“Lean down your head. Give me your arm, and open
a way through the crowd to the door. A life may be
lost while I talk to you. Come!”


Page 83

Flemington put forth all his strength and slowly
clove a way through the press, his fair client holding to
his arm, and following in his wake. As they walked,
she rapidly related her story.

“Herr, I must be very brief. I and the Fraulein —
I will not tell you her name — came to the ball with
Herr Cranston, and —”

“With John Cranston?”

“Yes. Ah, I am infinitely glad that you know him!
We rode with him five miles, from our house in the
mountains. He told us he had had a quarrel with one
Herr Rübetsahl, and swears he will kill him to-night.
Herr Rübetsahl is to come with a party from Thalberg
— at least I hope he is not already arrived,” — with a
shudder. “We would have left Herr Cranston, he was
so violent; but we were alone on the road when he told
us these things, and we could not come without an
escort. He brought us here, saw us in the door, and
then left us. But I followed him, to see! Herr, I saw
him take his place behind that large oak yonder, which
grows near the main gate of the inclosure. I do not
doubt he intends to waylay Herr Rübetsahl as he comes
in, and kill him. He carries a long, naked rapier. O,
Herr, if you would save a life, for God's sake, interpose.
Aye,” she added, as Flemington bent a somewhat undecided
countenance to her; “you will be the murderer,
and not Herr Cranston, if, after what I have told
you, you do not exert yourself to prevent this deed!”

Near the door they encountered the gentle Shepherd,
engaged in animated conversation with a tall, lithe girl,
masqued. She was conversing rapidly, but seemed continually
harrassed by some recurring idea, which often


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caused her to turn her head and glance down the winding
white-gravelled walk which led, under fine oaks and
between grass-plats, to the gate of the inclosure. It
was Ottilie, who was already excited by the unaccustomed
pleasure of conversation with strangers to such a
degree, that she would occasionally even forget the terrible
anticipation, under the influence of which she had
sent Gretchen, the stronger of the two, into the crowd,
with the faint hope of finding some male friend who
might avert the impending disaster.

For, on the ride from her cottage, Cranston, half-crazed
with revengeful feelings, had given her an account
of his quarrel with Rübetsahl. Ottilie knew not
what to think or say, passive with that feeling which I
suppose all of us know — a feeling as if the Day of
Judgment, with its astounding crash, its shameful disclosures,
and its dreadful dooms, was about to burst
upon the world.

“Come, Shepherd,” said Pizarro, “bring your Phœbe
there. Let us get into the moonlight. You three shall
be the army, and I will lead you to victory. Now pace
we down the gravel, here, — how white it gleams! — in
column of two and two, conversing upon indifferent

Laughing and chatting gaily, they strolled on through
the moonlight, towards the gate. Presently they came
full upon Cranston, who, wild with revengeful brooding
and waiting, had abandoned his position near the tree,
and was pacing violently to and fro in the walk, twirling
his rapier in rapid circles that flashed and glittered with
deadly sparkle in the light.

“Ha!” exclaimed Flemington, as, Cranston turning


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suddenly, they came face to face. “By the great horn
spoon! It's John Cranston that I have n't seen since
we did Germany in the same year. How d'ye do, old
fellow, — and over again! I 'm running the Pizarro
rôle to-night, you see, John; but, by Jove! the sight of
you converts me into solid Chauncey Flemington in a
trice. Come, turn with us, and let 's get back to the
festivities. We 've just left 'em for a little air. You
too, eh? Gad, a man might almost suppose you an
injured lover, waiting to assassinate his rival! Come
on, Cran. By the way, this is my particular bosom-friend,
John Briggs, doing the Shepherd very sheepishly.
Be acquainted! As for these fair ladies, I would introduce
you to them with great pleasure if I had only the
happiness to know them, or even to call their names.”

It was scarcely possible that Cranston was moved
even by the magnificent hilarity, which overflowed from
generous, brotherly-souled Flemington; but he was
taken aback. Stifling his anger, he muttered to himself,
“one more chance, yet!” and then, forcing a smile
which was bitter as death, said, with hoarse voice: “I 'm
glad to see you, Flemington. I was taking the air. Let
us go to the ball-room.”

A quick glance of gratitude shot up into Flemington's
eyes from those of the two women; and, more merry
than ever, the party returned, quickly separating as soon
as they met the charge of the crowd inside.

It was now eleven o'clock. Lines of grotesque dancers
advanced and receded and advanced again, like
restless waves full of the wrecks of times and nations.
Old gray Reason, the tutor of Fancy's tumultuous
children, had given them holiday to-night, and they


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bounded forth with frantic gambols to enjoy an unaccustomed
liberty. It was as if some gigantic tarantula had
in an instant bitten the whole world, dead men and all.

At this moment the whole company paused to hear a
loud clear voice proclaiming, “Make way for good King
Arthur and his Queen!” All eyes were turned towards
the door, through which, the crowd deferentially falling
back on each side, entered Rübetsahl habited as King
Arthur, in royal vestments, without armor. Upon his
arm leaned Felix Sterling, as Queen Guinevere, and
behind them, Philip, a most gentle Squire, bore the
great two-handed brand, Excalibar.

“Now our Lady keep my heart stout,” exclaimed
Pizarro, “and stiffen my knee, or I must perforce kneel
to this loveliness. Kind Heaven! Look, Antony, at
yon Queen with the lissome undulating shape, undulating
like a slow and tender no-wind wave of the blue
main and —”

“Aye, undulating like the gentle swells the Zephyrs
made in Cleo's silk sails, when we voyaged the Cydnus!”
interposed Mark Antony.

“Aye, undulating like the distant velvety swell of
upland beyond meadow!” added the Shepherd.

“Hush!” exclaimed Pizarro, not more than half in
jest, “I speak, to keep from dying of a pent admiration.
Look, Mark Antony and Shepherd, at yon Queen-feet;
mark you how they show one moment beneath the
heavy-trailing robe, then in successive instantaneousness
withdraw again; one glitters, then is dark, — then the
other, and is dark; like two white mice playing in and
out the arras of a silent room! And friends! note
ye her neck, how it curves, a stem bending with a rare


Page 87
flower-face that the botanizing angels have not gathered,
I know not why: how it curves, — like a vine-tendril now
it seems, so that I am fain offer my stout bosom to support
it; but I look again and it is become regal proud
as 't were scorning the protection of any power save the
eyes there above it! O Saxon eyes! Like two unsounded
oval seas at dawn, with silver mists upon them,
and sylvan mysteries within them! And I swear to ye,
if the convex side of our concave firmanent be alabaster-white,
then is it like yon broad Queen's-forehead, in
which white heaven I warrant ye a fairer world than
this revolves, she creating. Nay, men,” said he, hurriedly
advancing, “if loyalty be manhood then am I
wholly a man, for here do I homage!” Sinking on one
knee, in the path of the slow-advancing Arthur, and
doffing his plumed hat, —

“Most puissant Sovereign, most lovely Queen, I
know not if in puissance these queenly eyes exceed
those kingly arms, nor if in loveliness your kingly deeds
exceed these queenly eyes: nor would I solve mine
amiable doubt! I owe no subject's fealty to your throne,
but I do render all true homage to your worth.”

Quickly Mark Antony and the Shepherd were on
knee beside him; while King Arthur raised up Pizarro,
and the Queen reached him her white hand to kiss, he
kneeling again to receive this royal grace.

At this moment, two long, strong arms, with gauntleted
hands of mail, reached out in front of King Arthur
and divided the crowd to right and left, assisting the
design by circling a rapier over the heads of the crowd,
and gradually lowering its sweep till room was gained
for free play of sword. It was Cranston, attired in a


Page 88
light hauberk and helmet. These relics of the days of
chivalry were the only memorials that Ottilie had
brought with her from Germany; and, that morning,
she and Gretchen had grown almost sportive in midst
of their melancholy when, having determined to visit
the Springs, they brought out the old coat of mail and
casque, and arrayed Cranston in them. He had carried
in his hand all day the naked rapier, whose sheath he
had thrown away in the morning.

“My glove is there!” said he, throwing down a
gauntlet. “I challenge to immediate combat King
Arthur and all his Table Round! I am Lancelot of the

“By Hercules!” exclaimed Mark Antony, “an I were
to judge from the scowl of yon knight-challenger's
brow, and the hot sparkle in 's eye, I could swear some
dainty slippers in this room would be puddled with
blood ere this joust be over!”

“With you there, General,” sententiously observed
the Shepherd.

Flemington kept his counsel. It was too late to interfere.

“King Arthur condescends to accept any challenge,
but stoops not to raise any glove!” said Rübetsahl,
spurning the gauntlet with his foot. “Give me the

On one knee Philip presented the mighty Excalibar.

“Sir Lancelot of the Lake, guard thyself!”

Up rose the long, wide blade and crossed with the
thin one. Ottilie, with that oppressive doom's-day feeling
again overhanging her sluggish soul, like sultry


Page 89
clouds on hot mornings, instinctively glided close to the
inner edge of the living circle, and stood by Rübetsahl:
who, indeed, was little aware of those glazed, distended
eyes bent on his form; and well, so, for they would have
shaken his heart and relaxed the bow-tension of his
muscles, of which he had full need to parry the quick
thrusts of Cranston's rapier.

No thought struck the masquers that this sword-play
was aught more than a part of the show. Presently all
grew still, spelled by that fascination of naked steel
which, in the theatres, entrances pit and boxes alike;
which, in the silent room of the suicide, often reveals a
razor in the blood next morning; which, on the field,
makes armies stand still from fighting to see the waving
and circling and hewing of the falchions of their
leaders in single combat. So that now, even had the
masquers known the deadly earnestness with which the
two combatants were fighting, no one would have broken
the spell by interfering in the dangerous, beautiful

Cranston held his left hand aloft, presenting only his
right side to his opponent, as fencers use; but Rübetsahl,
wielding his weapon with both hands, like the old
rugged Ritters of his native land, stood full-breast to
the foe. In at this broad bosom, searching the life
lurking there, darted the rapier time and again, a
baffled but insatiable lightning. Like an angry serpent's
tongue, it leapt back and forth. Coup de reverse!
No; the broad blade received it slanting, and the narrow
one glanced harmless. Flanconnade! No; the
broad blade wound about the narrow, like one serpent
twining about another. Feint, dégagement, cut, in


Page 90
tierce, in cercle, in octave! No, still no; the broad
blade was there to receive them always, a polished,
ubiquitous-hovering shield.

Strange, that the thin and doubtful music of two
metal blades clashing against each other should so
enchant three hundred men and women! No one
uttered a sound; they drew breath, even, with an effort
to be still.

Queen Felix, who had drawn back to give room for
the swing of Rübetsahl's arm, only now began to suspect
the fearful reality of what, at first, she had supposed,
with the rest, a sham. She felt rise within her
a purer and queenlier blood than that of the Guinevere
she personated; the arch of her neck became more
regal; her head rose aloft; her nostril distended itself,
and she looked on with a proud smile, in full confidence
that bold Lancelot would lose.

Flemington, who, with Ottilie and Gretchen, alone
knew the true nature of this tragedy veiling itself in
sport, could not now have interfered if he would.
Everywhere within that magic circle gleamed the two
blades, in quick parry and thrust, either of which
would have taken the life of one in their way.

All this time, the little brook that runs by the arborhill
of Montvale, kept singing its tiny “road-melody,”
as it journeyed on toward the great Wave of Death,
accepting cheerfully and making merry over the few
moon-rays that struggled through thick overhanging
leaves to light its way.

All this time, the grace of moonlight lay tenderly
upon the rugged majesty of the mountains, as if Desdemona
placed a dainty white hand upon Othello's brow.


Page 91

All this time the old priestly oaks lifted yearning
arms toward the stars, and a mighty company of leaf-chapleted
followers, with silent reverence, joined in this
most pathetic prayer of those dumb ministers of the

And all this time the white stars said with silvery
voices, “Benedicite: peace down there! and struggle
to give more light to your fellow, not to take away his

All of which remarks of the shiny preachers were,
one may judge, unheard by Cranston or Rübetsahl, or
any of the masquers. For, presently, Cranston began
to grow tired under the unaccustomed weight of hauberk
and helmet; and Rübetsahl, who had hitherto
acted entirely on the defensive, saw himself able to put
an end to the conflict. A mighty struggle, which
crowded a month's arguments and replies into a
second, flashed through his mind.

Shall I kill this man?

He deserves it.

Shall I not kill him?

It would be generous.

Any man can mete justice, especially when it comprehends
his own revenge. The noble man scorns
justice and spares. Justice is blind; blindness is not
good. Mercy is Justice with the hood off her eyes.

Some one in the crowd whispered a word to his
neighbor, and broke the fascination. A hum went
about and began to grow; the crowd swayed and grew
uneasy. Cranston, enraged at his declining strength,
and fearful of interference, determined to risk all on a
stroke. He drew his rapier far back over his head, for


Page 92
a feint-cut and dégagement, his favorite thrust; but,
quick as lightning, Rübetsahl made a great stride forward,
his sword glittered in circle about his head, making
him look like a god with a halo, and, stretching
clear over Cranston's shoulder, he struck the backward-extended
rapier in the centre, sending it spinning in a
hundred diamond-bright gyrations to the opposite wall,
against which it struck and fell.

“Take thy life, and use it better, Sir Lancelot of the
Lake!” said he, as he struck, with his head so close
that his breath was hot in Cranston's face.

But the force of Rübetsahl's blow and the weight of
his huge sword were so great that he was swung
entirely round, by sheer momentum. As he strode
forward, Ottilie had fallen upon her knees and leaned
far into the circle, with arms outstretched. Suddenly
she felt a sharp fire leap along her arm, as the point of
Rübetsahl's whirling sword penetrated the flesh and
ran a long gash from elbow to wrist; and fainted, as
the excited crowd rushed in between the two combatants,
like a furious wave between two ships.

“Hold, men!” shouted Flemington, standing over
Ottilie and pushing back vigorously, “a lady is hurt.
You trample her to death!”

“Who is it?” cried a hundred people, anxious for
sister or wife or daughter. Two or three shrieks, from
women overcome by excitement and terror, sounded
shrilly through the din.

“I 've lifted her up, Aubrey. You and John push
ahead through the crowd, and make way for me to
bring her into the air. She has fainted.”

“Permit me, sir!” said Rübetsahl, grasping the lifeless


Page 93
form which Flemington bore. He had recognized
Ottilie as her domino fell off. Supposing that some
brother or husband claimed his right, Flemington
cheerfully yielded his burden, and joined the pioneers
who were pressing a way through the crowd.

Quickly Rübetsahl bounded down the steps, and
deposited Ottilie upon the rustic bench there, near the
door. Gretchen glided past him, sat down on the
bench, and supported Ottilie's head on her bosom. A
moment after, John Briggs was up from the spring
with a glass of cool water, which he dashed in the
fainting girl's face.

Presently the gray eyes opened.

“It is only a scratch, Gretchen, and I fainted.
Give me your arm. Let us go back into the hotel. I
thank you very much, gentlemen!” she said, to the
anxious men bending over her.

In a moment she was gone.

She had not looked in Rübetsahl's eyes.




“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,


Page 95
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


Page 96
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


Page 97
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


Page 98
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


Page 99
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


Page 100
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.




“Morn in the white wake of the morning star
Came furrowing all the orient into gold.”

The Princess.

The sun must needs be of an impudent fancy. He
alone had boldness to look on fair Godiva at Coventry:
and on the morning after the masque-ball at Montvale,
he sent peering ray-glances into every chamber-window
that opened eastward in our half of the earth. One
of these light-bolts struck John Cranston full in the face,
and woke him from the deep sleep that had followed
two days of exhausting excitement. As if he had been
uninterruptedly pursuing the train of thought in which
he had fallen asleep, Cranston immediately commenced
to discuss within himself the situation.

“If I challenge him, he 'll choose swords again; and,
by the rood! however reluctantly I confess it, I 've got
evidence to show that he can beat me at that.

“So, on swords, I lose.

“If he chose pistols, I might kill him; but then inquiry
would be aroused, the contemptible quidnuncs
would investigate, and the whole affair would be trumpeted
forth by the enterprising scoundrels.

“On pistols, I lose again.

“What a fool I am,” he suddenly exclaimed, rising
up in bed, “not to see that I have lost already! Old


Page 104
Sterling will never pardon what occurred in his house;
nor — nor Felix either. The whole thing stands about
so,” — knitting his brows and falling back upon his
pillow: “first, the gratification of revenge; said gratification
is, however, in the first place doubtful, and in
the second place, if successful, will lose me my reputation
for life and kill John Cranston, senior: second,
the postponement of the revenge till such time as I
can call this man out on some other pretext which will
not involve the discovery of my — affair at Frankfort.
For which, God knows! God knows! I 'm sorry
enough. How white her face was!”

John Cranston's face became half blank, as faces
will, when, in endeavoring to avoid a thought, one does
one's best to think of nothing. But he was a man of
short arguments and quick conclusions.

“I 'll go home and wait,” concluded he; and did so,
that day.

The sun sent another ray into the window of a room
in the second story of John Sterling's house. It fell
and dwelt lovingly upon the sleeping eyes of Ottilie.
Large, diaphanous half-globes, blue-veined, dainty, were
these white-lidded eyes. Have you ever seen two
grand magnolia petals fallen on the ground, convex
side up?

Ottilie rose, and walked to her window. From the
tranquil river below were rising a thousand rings of
mist, which lengthened into soft ellipses, or broke and
curled into fantastic curves, or stretched away into
wavering, streaming pennants, all glittering suddenly
as they floated into range of the straight sun-rays.


Page 105

“The river prays to God!” said Ottilie; and, obeying
an inexplicable impulse, she fell upon her knees
and burst forth into an agony of tears.

She had not wept in a year; nor prayed either, except
to the trees and the stars.

Rübetsahl saw his sun-ray coming. He had not
slept all night. He had been silently sitting by his
grave, and watching the pale flower that lay upon it.

And poor John Briggs, being in No. 93 of the west
wing, got no sunbeam. All the night his dreams had
hovered vaguely, yet full tenderly, about Ottilie, like
clouds gathering round a star.




“The love of nature seems to have led Thomson to a cheerful religion; and
a gloomy religion to have led Cowper to a love of nature. The one would
carry his fellow-men along with him into nature; the other flies to nature from
his fellow-men.”

S. T. Coleridge.

“Nevertheless, that great epoch cannot fail to arrive when the whole family
of mankind, by a grand universal resolve, will snatch themselves from this
sorrowful condition, from this frightful imprisonment; and by a voluntary
abdication of their terrestial abode, redeem their race from this anguish, and
seek refuge in a happier world with their Ancient Father.

A class of Nature-philosophers refuted by Novalis.

That day at Thalberg, when dinner was over, the
sun had only a half-hour for this side of earth, having
an appointment with the Antipodes at half-past six.

“Gentlemen,” said John Sterling to Flemington and
his two friends, as they rose from table, “you saw
the silver side of my valley when you were riding over
this morning. Come with me, and I 'll show you and
these ladies the golden side; for it is like the old shield
in the story, only I don't know that any foolish knights
ever quarrelled over it. Phil, have chairs brought out
on the balcony. Shall we lead the way?” He offered
his arm to Ottilie.

In laughing procession they filed out, and established
themselves upon a fair broad balcony that looked westward
and overhung the slope which swept down with
all its trees and boulders to the river.


Page 107

“Our womankind are all used to cigar-smoke, Flem,”
said Philip, handing them round. You don 't object to
it?” addressing Ottilie.

“O, what a question, — to a German! At home,” —
ah, my God! Home? What a word is this for me to
speak! thought Ottilie — “the house was always full
of smoke from a half-dozen pipes of as many German
kinsmen of mine. I made a virtue of necessity and
liked it in self-defense.”

Who grumbles that such a dinner should end in nothing
but — smoke? You 're a dyspeptic; it was n't
smoking hurt you, sir; it was the want of exercise, which
if you had taken, you might have smoked as much as
you pleased!

Be still about this Thalberg smoke. It ascended towards
heaven; and drew their thoughts buoyantly upward.

The Thalbergers began to discourse upon high topics.

“How easy is it,” — observed Philip, “when one
looks on a scene like this, to answer the arguments of
those wild disputants in Von Hardenberg's book? `Intercourse
with the powers of Nature,' says one party,
`with plants, animals, rocks, storms and waves, must
necessarily assimilate men to these objects. This assimilation,'
they go on to say, `this metamorphosis and dissolution
of the divine and the human into ungovernable
forces, is even the spirit of Nature, that frightfully voracious
power. Is not all,' — they ask with an earnestness
which only makes one smile, here; `is not all that
we see even now a prey from heaven, a great ruin of
former glories, the remains of a terrific repast?”'

“I don't feel,” said Flemington, with a long-drawn


Page 108
luxurious puff, “as if I were relapsing into barbarism,
just at this particular moment. Though, sure enough,
it must have been in some wild hurly-burly of Nature's
youth, when she piled up these huge hills so high, and
tossed them about so carelessly.”

“Yes,” said Rübetsahl, “but look! she 's sorry she
did it! She 's done her best to smooth it over! She
has covered these same mountain-evidences of folly with
picturesque rocks and loving mosses; with stately trees
and saintly flowers; with glittering springs that invite
people to drink, and with hospitable ferns that allure
people to rest. She has converted the boisterous sins
of her youth into the enchanting virtues of her age.
Her wild oats have blossomed into mountain-roses and

“That 's true,” chimed Aubrey; “whereas Nature
was an earthquake, now she is a flower. Let men
tremble with a sublime terror at her old destructions;
they can thrill with a sublimer love at her later creations.”

“And yet,” interposed John Sterling meditatively, “if
one attempt to fly from his sins into Nature, expecting to
drown the memory and sting of his transgression in her
terrors and her beauties, one fails unless he remembers
this: that Nature is nothing as an end; that Nature is
everything as a means. Nature is finite in herself; she
is infinite in her suggestions. We must not fly to her,
but to the great Christ she helps us see. Perhaps the
mysterious idea of Divinity is like a sentence written
backward; we make it out easiest by reflecting it in a
mirror. As such a mirror, Nature is a glorious revealer
to the sorrowful soul; an infinite-tongued


Page 109
preacher of the Son who is our Father. I do not know
the metaphysics; but as a practical man, hunting something
to live by through day and night, Sundays and all,
I do not want other proof of Christ and his purifying
faculty through love, than that fair pageantry out yonder,”
he concluded, pointing to the brilliant west.

Ottilie looked at the far, glowing mountains with
wistful eyes. With wistful tone, “What you say, sir,”
said she, “is charming. But, alas, does not every one
carry into Nature an eye either bleared, or long-sighted,
or short-sighted, or somewise defective? Is not this
vast mirror to some a concave one; to some a convex
one; to some a cracked one, distorting, all ways, the
sentence one wishes to read? Does not each heart interpret
Nature its own way, so that to the sad heart this
great dew-drop glitters like a tear, while to the joyful
heart it seems a diamond at a feast? One of your own
poets calls the moon Queen of Heaven, blessing all lovers;
another swears the moon is the Eye of Hell recording
the crimes of men!”

“Young lady,” replied old John solemnly, “these
vagaries of trembling human hearts only exhibit more
clearly the sympathy, the sun-pathos, the feeling-with,
of Nature. The mirror will correct itself and mend
itself for any persistent and serious eye. I think,
through all phases of wavering distortion, the heart
will find behind Nature love as well as terror, and
will spring to the most powerful of these, which is

“And so,” cried Philip, “who can believe all this
humbug of Macaulay, that the advance of imagination
is inverse to the advance of reason, and that poetry


Page 110
must decline as science flourishes? It is true Homer
was at one end, and Newton at the other, of a time. But
how long a time intervened between Humboldt and
Goethe; how long between Agassiz and Tennyson?
Moreover and what is more, one can scarcely tell
whether Humboldt and Agassiz were not as good poets
as Goethe and Tennyson were certainly good philosophers!
And nothing surprised me more than that even
fine Jamie Hogg must needs fall into this folly and say,
`Let philosophers ken causes, poets effecks'; but” —

“Hold on, Phil!” interrupted John Briggs, “Honest
Hogg, when he said that, had just come in out o' the
cold to a warm fire; the poor fellow was sleepy. He
did n't mean it. I hardly think, now, you ought to bring
that up against Jeems!”

“Well, I won't. But I feel mighty savage against
Macaulay!” replied Philip, rolling up his coat-cuffs.

“Your 're right, Phil,” said Flemington. “One can
trace, through the whole literary development of our
day, the astonishing effect of the stimulus which has
been given to investigations into material nature by the
rise of geology and the prosperity of chemistry. To-day's
science bears not only fruit, but flowers also!
Poems, as well as steam-engines, crown its growth in
these times.”

“So!” said John Sterling, “the nineteenth century
has taken a stroll into the woods and fields, and good is
come of it. For every time has its mythology of Nature.
The Gheber found, or rather placed, a God in
the sun; a strange God, nor human nor divine. The
Greek put fauns and hamadryads in the woods, not
divine, and yet not human, for they did not suffer; they


Page 111
had no human hearts. Our poets, God bless 'em!
have given to all natural forms that they shall suffer
and love as we suffer and love. They have not conquered
and made slaves of the rocks and trees; but
they have won them over to be friends, neighbors, and
citizens; which culminated when Robert Browning declared
of a stone church in Italy, that it —

`Held up its face for the sun to shave!'

The earth, through our poets, is no longer dead matter.
She has a soul, and it dreams of God, and one
can see this dream in any lake!”

“Hurrah for matter,” quoth Briggs, “mysterious,
spirit-hiding matter! I move that the freedom of the
city of the universe be presented to this new citizen by
a committee consisting of humanity at large!”

“What you say has occurred in poetry has also taken
place, I think, in music,” said Felix Sterling. “Why do
they talk of pre-Raphaelitism, and not also of pre-Beethovenism
and pre-Miltonism? These all mean surely
nothing more than the close, loving, broad-minded study
of Nature; and meaning this, they mean just what
Raphael and Milton and Beethoven must have done.
The beauty of our time is, that science has enabled us
to do so better than they could! Beethoven is to
Chopin as a wild mountain is to a flower growing on
it; as the sombre booming of the sea in a cave is to
the heavenly murmur of a rivulet in a glen. So Milton
to Tennyson and all the sweet house-hold poets of our
day; so Angelo to Bierstadt. Those were grand, but
these are beautiful; those were magnificent, these are
tender; those were powerful, these are human!”

“Wherefore,” said John Sterling, “matter is not so


Page 112
bad, after all. Verily it is true that matter does imprison
our souls; and it is absolutely impossible that
these souls can communicate directly with each other.
We may talk, sing, write, paint, carve and build; we
express our soul, so; but we must use matter each time.
We may even, to adopt the most intangible method,
gaze into the eye of our beloved, speaking many things
silently; yet this requires still an eye, which is matter.
Each soul is prisoner in his cell. Yet we can paint on
the wall, and it will remain! We can use that mysterious
cypher we call language, and the wall will send
it along! We can sing, and the wall will convey the
song to our brother in the next cell! And so, albeit
there is for souls no `kissing through the bars' of matter,
yet matter is a good jailer, and conveys our messages
to our fellow-prisoners, and even suggests better
messages than we could frame without!”

“And will never cease!” broke in Philip. “Poetry
will never fail, nor science, nor the poetry of science.
Till the end of time will deep call unto deep, and day
utter speech unto day, and poets listen, with eavesdropping
ears, to catch and sing to men some melodies from
that sounding song-rhetoric of the lights and the

Philip disappeared, as if to hide a blush. Presently
a prodigious rumbling was heard.

“Is that thunder?” said John Sterling. “Surely
those clouds over yonder are too far for that!”

The rumbling increased, like an approaching earthquake.

It burst upon the wondering Thalbergers.

“Easy there, Ned. So! Now lift, boys, all, and get


Page 113
it over the threshold. Roll it along out there, so he can
sit with his face to the west. There!”

It was the piano, which four stout negroes had rolled
from the music-room out on the balcony.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Philip, distributing
manuscript parts of music, “profiting by a suggestion
of my wise sister there, I have arranged a glorious thing
of Chopin's here, not for an orchestra, as she wished,
but for voices. We 'll have a vocal orchestra. Sister
Felie, here 's the contralto part. I know you sing,” — to
Ottilie, — “for I heard your soprano swelling up to-day
from somewhere in the house. You and Felie will do
splendidly in that duet there that commences the piece.
To it there 's a four-voiced accompaniment: Flem, you
take the bass and Briggs the tenor — here 's your part;
and mother 'll sing one part while I play the other on
my flute. Pity you and I don 't sing, Aubrey! Mr.
Rübetsahl, will you preside, as the show-bills say, at the
piano; just throb that bass along, you know, where it 's
too low for the voice; and play a full accompaniment
for this second air, here. Stand up, everybody! All
ready? Now; one, two, three, four, five, six;” and
they started, everybody infected by the music-full soul
that sparkled in his eye and fired his quick movements.

The duet rose and fell, rose and fell again, continually
reaching up and continually falling down, like a human
soul with its high aspirings and its terrible rebuffs. So
rise we, so sink we; one moment gods, another moment

Then, with a startling modulation, and a short pause
during which the singers scarcely dared to breathe,
they commenced a full-chorded chorus, sung in strict


Page 114
time, with little rallentando or crescendo, a solemn,
pathetic movement, full of sweet invitation and calm
urging, repeating itself in a dozen keys, approached by
new, yet simple modulations: it was like religion, importuning
men every day. Now came two strains which
were utterly indescribable, save by their effect. They
were full of majesty and simple sweetness. They bore
to you soft breaths from sunshiny woods, mingled with
hum of purling waters of life and murmur of angel-talk;
yet, in the midst of all, hinting by wild suggestions
of a mystery that cannot be solved and a love
that cannot be measured. The whole piece was like
life and its end. It started with human yearnings and
human failures; the second part brought religion, and
the third part spoke of heaven.

And so, the last notes floated out over the rocks, over
the river, over the twilight, to the west. The echoes
liked the music, and long after it was over, kept humming
little snatches of it, calling to each other to
admire, and answering with tiny bravos.

A breeze came like a courier and told all the trees
and the river that the great Night would shortly pass
that way; whereat the leaves did stir a moment, and
the waters ruffled, as making ready for the King.

Who came, and sat, and administered his tranquil
reign over quiet mountain and quiet valley; and over
Thalberg House, not quiet, being full of young and
passionate hearts of men and women, some sleeping,
some waking, all dreaming.