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“Every day in thy life is a leaf in thy history.”

The moon that had lit the last nights of Archibald's homeward
voyage, shone on him and Letty, as they sat on the
porch of his father's house, on the evening after his

“I was struck with the change in my father, when first I
saw him,” said Archibald. “Not only had he aged in my
absence, but he looked ill to me. His hair had hardly
begun to gray, when I went away, and now it is white.
You never, one of you, wrote me that he was ill, Letty.”

“Well, Archy, he never was what one might call ill. He
never laid by a day, when he could get work.”

“Get work! Surely my father has carried on his business
as usual?”

“Well, no; but he forbade us each time we wrote giving
you a hint of the change.”

“What change? What change do you mean? Do explain

“Well, the kind of work he did, is now mostly done by
machinery; not half his time was employed to profit, and
when he was idle, he worried. He never spoke sternly to
me, but once, and that was when I begged him to let me
write to you how things were going. `No,' he said, `don't
do it—don't think of it, you will displease me if you do.
Letty don't do it. Let poor Archy lay up what health and


Page 138
strength he can, he will need it all; we can all work a
little harder, and live a little poorer, and bring it round at
last.' But, Archy, he was discouraged, and he grew weaker
every month; I could see it, though aunt never would allow
it. You know she is so strong, and so hopeful.”

“She has nothing of your delicate perception, Letty.”

“She has something far better, Archy; she is always doing
while I am only feeling.”

“Doing!—yes—Heaven help us.”

“Don't speak so—don't feel so, Archy; it is not right.”

“But you are right, dear little girl, all right, and I beg
your pardon a thousand times. I should have remembered
that she is your aunt, and only my step-mother. Letty, dear,
she should have left us one week of peace; but such a flutter
of work! such a calling in of gossiping neighbors to fit out
the household in mourning-weeds for my father's funeral,
even consulting me about cutting down his sacred garments
for the poor little boys. What did it matter, Letty? our
hearts are sad-colored enough.”

“Well, it's her way, Archy, she is made so, and it has
turned to good account. Many an evening, when you were
gone, when your father would shut up his book because he
was too dejected to read it—and you know how he used to
love to read, and teach the children, and never could get
time enough—he would sit and look in our poor fire, and sigh,
and sigh, and aunt did not seem to hear him, but would sit
cheerily at her sewing, earning money, making garments for
the neighbors, or saving it, patching the boys' clothes, always
finding something to say, while I, a poor coward, young, and
well, and yet, Archy, not able to face life, would go and cry
myself to sleep, thinking of dear uncle's pale face—and—”
Letty paused, and stammered the rest, as if it were a confession,
“and of how you would feel, Archy, if you knew


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“You are `made so,' dear Letty,” said Archibald, and
taking her hand, and pressing it to his lips, he added, “and
I thank God for it.”

Letty drew away her hand. “I do not, Archy,” she said,
“and you ought not to—I do not mean that exactly; but if
I am weak by nature, I should resist that weakness.”

“No, no, Letty, it is your charm, it is loveable, this
weakness, as you call it, and I would not have it changed
for all the steel armor of this working-day world.” So,
young men, the most sensible of them, talk to young
women, and they believe them for the most part, and drift
down the current. Letty did not, but the words were too
sweet from Archibald to be gainsayed, and she let them

“Indeed, Archy,” she said, after a little pause, “you
ought to know all the exertion aunt has made. You must
respect her, though she is not quite to your taste.”

“God forbid I should be unjust to her, Letty; I know she
is a very good woman, though certainly, as you say, not
quite to my taste. Could not you, Letty, ask her not to wear
those long flaxen curls?”

“Archy!” Letty, for the first time smiled, but looked
graver as she proceeded. “Aunt paid for all our wood,
and many other things last winter, with the proceeds of our
little school.”

Our little school! Then you are not always indulging
your natural `weakness,' Letty?”

“Well, Archy, I could not fold my hands, and sit still;
of course I could not eat the children's bread. I had no
right here, you know, Archy.”

You, no right! you who have been the one blessed
compensating boon in my father's second marriage. Your
right in our home stands as firm as its roof-tree, Letty.”

Tears that an angel, secure in happiness, might have envied,


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suffused Letty's soft brown eyes as she turned them gratefully
on Archibald; “You must not think I am boasting, Archy,
though you tempt me to it. I did keep the school chiefly,
but poor aunt was left to do all the hard work of the house,
for she has kept no help for the last year.”

“All the work! the hard work, the washing, and that
sort of thing?”

“Aunt has done it and never once murmured.”

“She is a good woman. Letty, you are right, and I am
very, very wrong.”

“It worried your poor father more than it did aunt. He
blamed himself for having married a second time, and
brought such a burden on her. Aunt's only fault was talking
too much about home affairs; but that, you know, was
her way, she could not help it.”

“She was made so.

“Stop, Archy! the thing that most worried your father,
was the way she got Albert into the West Point Academy.”

“How was that? I never understood that matter My
father wrote to me that he had get the place, and I, but
too glad to hear it, waited till I should get home for the explanation.
Do you know how it was, Letty?”

Lettie smiled and shook her head. “Oh, dear, yes,” she
said; “we had trouble enough about it. You know each
State has a right to a certain number of appointments; and
when Mr. Medad Clapp was elected to Congress, aunt
wrote—to—to Miss—”

“Not to Adeline Clapp!”

“Yes, Archy.”

“How could she? Did my father know it?”

“Well, not till it was all settled. She said uncle was so
squeamish, and the only way was to go right ahead, and tell
him afterward.”

“Why in the name of heaven, did not you speak, Letty?


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Surely your instincts must have told you how I should
revolt from an obligation to Adeline Clapp and her vulgar

“What could I have said to influence aunt? You know
she thinks I have no energy.”

“Energy! so—she drove on her team?

“Oh, Archy! she did what she thought right and best.”

“What did she do? tell me—heaven deliver me from
such eternal doers!”

“Well—she wrote to Miss Adeline and reminded her of
your intimacy with her brother, your classmate.”

“Intimacy! go on, Letty.”

“Well, she explained how it was that you were traveling,
that you did not draw on your father, etc., but were using
your own earnings, etc., and she told her why it had become
necessary to get aid, if possible, to educate her boys so
that they should not fall below their elder brother.”

“You need not tell me any more, Letty. And so it was
the appointment was got for Albert. Miss Adeline pulled
the bell, and Uncle Medad answered it!”

“Well, Archy, she was very kind after her fashion. She
wrote directly to aunt, and said she would leave no stone
unturned to get the appointment. She would go on to
Washington herself, she said, and intercede with the members,
and she did.”

“Oh, heavens, worse and worse!”

“Well; much, as you seem to dislike her, she feels very
much interested in you.”

“The devil take her interest! but go on, dear child, forgive
me; let me know the whole of it, and make an end
on't; tell me all she said; I'll screw my courage to the sticking-point
and hear it.”

“Well, if I must tell you all—I had rather not, Archy!”

“Yes, all—all—let me hear it all.”


Page 142

“Well, she wrote two sheets from Washington, all
crossed, telling us the names of the members she spoke to,
and how she got introduced to them, and how there were
two, one quite a young man for a member, and the other a
widower, not more than forty, that made her proposals of
marriage, and how she kept them in the dark, till she had
gained her object—how Uncle Medad laughed and said,
Adeline knew when to blow hot and when to blow cold,
and they would never see the color of her money—and so

“Just as deep dyed in vulgarity as ever—dyed in the

“Then there was a long parenthesis in Miss Adeline's
letter which I read over and over, Archy. I believe I can
recall it word for word.” There was a smile of unwonted
archness on Letty's lips, as she proceeded to the citation:

“I am peculiar in my ideas; I will never marry any one,
even if he were President of the United States, who is after
my fortune. To be sure I like genteel men—Uncle Mede
says that is my weakness—but to all others I prefer a self-made
man; my father was a self-made man.”

“Yes!” interrupted Lisle, “and ill-made enough; but go
on, Letty.”

“I don't mean to marry a southerner, to waste what father
earned. I don't want any of your Virginia FF's. No, give
me a Bay State man, with no ancestors. It would not be an
obstacle if his father was a mechanic.”

Letty paused. Lisle bit his nails vehemently, and then
rather ejaculated than said, “What did your aunt say to
that, Letty?”


Page 143

Letty seemed amused at his vexation, and smiling, replied
in a low voice, that should have soothed a hotter irritation
than Archibald's,

“Well, Archy, aunt said she thought it was an advertisement
for you.”

“Heaven grant she made no answer to the letter”

“Well, Archy, no—none—except—”

“Except! except what?”

“Well, aunt had to write—just to thank her for her

“A present! and accepted? what was it?”

“Just a check for one hundred dollars, for Albert's

“Why did she not return it, why did not you burn it,


“You might at least have remonstrated. The vulgarity
of taking it was only exceeded by the vulgarity of giving it.
My father did not know it? Surely my father did not know

“No; aunt did not feel to tell him.”

“I thought so. My father had an intuitive refinement—
an instinctive perception that would have made him fly to
his own covert from a shower of Clapp gold. There was
not a drop of vulgarity in all the blood that filled his veins
—mechanic though he was.”

“It is getting chilly,” said Letty, rising; “good-night,

“Good-night—good-night, my dear Letty!”

Letty could scarcely get to her own room, shut the door,
and bury her face in the pillow, before tears and sobs came.
“Oh!” thought she, “how Archy has forgotten! He might
remember that we always used to feel alike. He might just
know I should feel as he does about that hateful Miss Clapp!


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Remonstrate with aunt? He knows aunt always follows her
own judgment. No—I see how it is—he just mixes me up
with her—knows we are of the same blood, and thinks, as
he says of Miss Clapp, that I, too, am `dyed vulgar in the
wool.' Well, I knew it was a dream! such a dream! I
knew I must wake from it—but Archy should not have
waked me so roughly.” Poor Letty! she had built a tower
of hope upon a foundation of precious memories, and at the
first light touch the fragile structure had fallen, and left the
memories but a ruin to weep over.

Letty had come into her aunt's family when Archibald
was a college lad, and she a little child. Lisle had the frank
and kindly nature that instinctively opens its heart to a child.
He treated Letty lovingly, and she attached herself fondly
to him. She was the constant companion of his holidays at
home. He had the true New England taste and habit
which blends use with enjoyment, and he brought to his
vacation days study as well as play for Letty. He supplied
to her the deficiencies of the district school. He read with
her, and taught her mathematics and the rudiments of Latin
and French thoroughly. The secret of the rapid progress
that surprised him, was in her heart, not her brain. The
hard work she achieved, depended on springs that one touch
alone could set in motion. While she was yet a little girl,
she did his bidding as eagerly and as deftly as did the gentle
Ariel Prospero's; and Archibald, invested with that mystic
power, which is as absolute over woman, as was “staff and
book” of Prospero over the island spirits, trained, and
teased, and fondled her by turns. In time, as the plaything
became the companion, Letty was not less intimately associated
with his cheerful home holidays, when he was relieved
from the harness, whip, and spur of his professional life.
When he came home he was sure to find his room daintily
arranged by her delicate hand. He was an ardent sportsman


Page 145
in his vacation days, and she had learned from the
wood-craftsmen of the neighborhood, the best fishing-ground
for the season, and the surest covers of the woodcock. Her
faculties and senses were sharpened to one service. On his
part, from a kind and lavish heart, he rained happiness upon
her. His pleasures were incomplete without his “little
girl,” as he continued to call her, after she had grown to the
medium height of womanhood, and had the tremulous susceptibility
that belongs to the age of unbounded hope, and
narrow experience. Every affectionate tone, every spontaneous
kindness, forgotten by him as soon as uttered or
bestowed, were treasured in her “heart's memory,” pondered
on, and in many a solitary walk and pensive twilight,
read into fond prophecies.

Was Archibald Lisle culpable in this? Oh no! he was,
like other men, careless, thoughtless! He was like other
honest, honorable men, who would not, for the world, authorize
an expectation in their fellow man, and not satisfy it
to the letter; and yet, by look, by word, by deed, they excite
the susceptible, imaginative nature of woman, enlarge
her horizon, extend her perspective, fill her firmament with
sun, moon, and stars, and her earth with all glorious things,
and then perhaps, surprised at the wrong they have done,
the mistake they have made—perhaps unconscious of it—
they go off to their career, be it what it may, and leave her
in a dreary world, the lights gone, the colors faded, a vacant
waste before her; and she—she bides the law of her condition.
If she be of those highest natures that love once, and
but once—if she become not saint or martyr, if she have
not power to make an independent life, she subsides into the
patient drudge of some household, and spins the silk that
others wear; or, if of a lower nature, she becomes the colporteur
of the town, or the gossip of the village!

The following is the end of a letter written by Archibald


Page 146
Lisle, on the eve of his departure from the paternal

“Pardon, my dear Mrs. Clifford, my blotted pages. I
have been raining tears over this detail to you of my brief
meeting with my father. God only knows how I loved him
in life—how I honor him in death! Had I known his condition,
I should have come home six months ago. I shall
forever regret a gain to myself, at the expense of a loss to
him. My step-mother, whose valuable qualities I do full
justice to (when I do not come in contact with her), will
maintain her housekeeping, and take three or four boarders,
and so, `by hook or by crook,' they will live comfortably.
I, by means of my own hard work and God's blessing, will
start the boys in life, and thus acknowledge a debt to my
dear father, which I can never fully pay. Letty is a little
jewel, or rather, she is worth all the jewels in a king's
crown, being more for use than decoration. Her cheerfulness
is obscured just now, of course, for she dearly loved
my father; but her pale cheek is, I think, but the livery of
the country, which strikes me in painful contrast with the
Hebe coloring in England. The dirge-like tone of her voice,
too, is but the national note, not so much the voice of sadness
as of `sickness.' `Every village has its song,' says
Carlisle; I wish ours were a livelier one.

“Pray do not suffer Alice to get this tone and drawl, and
the everlasting provincial `well,' the initiatory word of
every sentence Letty speaks. Strange, that custom should
make us so insensible to these intelegances. Poor Letty! I
am ashamed to have been annoyed by these trifles. She is
well instructed—cultivated even—and essentially refined,
and yet these little provincialisms, like an ill-assorted color
in an otherwise well-dressed woman, spoil the effect—ruin
the toilette.


Page 147

“But Letty is a dear little girl, and already looks forward
cheerfully to the career on which she is entering. I have
determined to take her to New York, to live in the family
of a worthy old German, a friend of mine; there she can
have masters, and fit herself to be a governess. Some
bright day she will be married; or, if she be not, she has
too well-ordered a character to fall into the discontents and
repulsions of old maidism.

“P.S. I am afraid that what I have written above about
poor Letty, will remind you, as it does me, of your once
saying that Miss G. H. had destroyed my taste for simplicity.

“And I am ashamed to have felt any dissatisfaction with my
step-mother. That want of tact, which (shame to us!) is so
annoying, is a mere defect of organization. This good woman
was devoted to my father, and now concurs in my plans for
the children so cheerfully, and takes up her part of the burden
so courageously, that truly I admire her.

“Right your judgment of Miss H—, dear Mrs. Clifford.
Her character is a complicated one—not artificial. It
lacks not one of the qualities or graces that make the perfect

There is a chasm of more than four years between this
letter and the preceding one to Mrs. Clifford. This chasm
was filled by a faithful correspondence that, however interesting
to the parties, is of no importance to our readers.