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“A few forsake the throng, with lifted eyes
Ask wealth of Heaven, and gain a real prize.”

There was no bitterness in Eleanor's affliction—no dregs
in her sorrow. For years to come there must be a burning
about her heart, and a moistening of her eye, when her
thoughts turned to the lost boy who had left a life-long
aching vacancy in her home that no other child could fill;
but her resignation was perfect, and, therefore, so was her
peace. Her external condition was most prosperous. She
had respect and love, and troops of friends, and she had not
what most people, affluent in happy circumstances are pretty
sure to get up, a domestic manufactory of petty miseries.
Her hours, from early dawn till late evening, were filled with
thoughts and doings for others, that left her no time for insolent
repinings, and petty egotisms. If she were assailed
by neuralgia and dyspepsia, they made no inroads within
her intrenchments of temperance, activity and cheerfulness.
“Sickly ladies” expressed their wonder at her power of
accomplishing, “but you are so strong, Mrs. Esterly,” they
said; and nervous victims would exclaim, “how fortunate
you are, dear Mrs. Esterly, in having no nerves;” in the
sweet security of their self-complacency they never imagined
that her superiority was not so much in the machine as in
the fidelity that regulated it.

But to Eleanor there came, as comes to all in the battle


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of life, a trial that tested that strength which is made perfect
in human weakness.

Her husband had been for some time, as we have already
intimated, assailed by doubts of the soundness of points of
faith which he had publicly professed and pledged himself
to inculcate. His health was at first impaired by a natural
ambition to sustain a reputation exaggerated by popular
favor; then came this “Giant Doubt” to wrestle with, to conquer,
or himself be conquered. His days were given to the
spiritual wants and social exactions of his people, at night he
encroached on the hours of sleep, to pursue his theological
investigations. His conscience became morbid, and his
temper irritable, and of course the free communication of all
his anxieties and perplexities, and also the unrestrained outflow
of the petulance resulting from an over-taxed mind and
body were reserved for her whom he most trusted, and best
loved. These are tribulations the adored girl little dreams
of when she makes the promise “for better and for worse.
Eleanor's love was her angel through this fiery furnace.

“Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pained
“By wound,”
her patience was never exhausted, her gentleness never
abated. But Eleanor's virtue was not merely feminine
endurance. She relieved her husband of the drudgery of
his researches, and often aided him with the suggestions of
her sound judgment, unbiased by transmitted prejudices, and
unobscured by scholastic sophistries. He acknowledged her
help, comparing himself to a traveler through a tangled
forest, confused by opposing and uncertain lights, who, ever
and anon, catches a ray from the polar star, and thence is
sure of his course.

Poor Esterly struggled on, as many a man has done, in
the pursuit of absolute truth, till at last he came humbly to


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receive just as much as it pleased God to make plain to
him, and meekly to believe that this was enough for his salvation.
But what was to become of all the rest which he
had received as proven truth, and promised so to dispense?
Born and bred in the church, his most sacred associations
were with it. His mother's voice blended with its prayers
and catechism; its rites and service were sacred to him. Its
history, from its first resistance to tyranny and bigotry to
its present imperial position, was dear to him; and he felt
that he had a son's portion in the patrimony transmitted
from its glorious apostles and martyrs. This must be surrendered,
or he must appear before the world in false colors.

There was but one truth for him, and he accepted it. He
must make public his unfitness to fulfill the requisitions of the
office he had assumed; he must, in short, resign his rectorship.
Still, no loving husband and father, with a manly
sense of his responsibilities, could, without much suffering,
resign position, competency, and security—the means by
which he lives—and take the chances of poverty, and external

The comforts and luxuries of life, its roast-beef and plum-pudding,
are the oil that keeps the machinery of society in
operation. They are the bribes that sustain the unflinching
faith of the sectarian, and the partizan zeal of the patriot
at Washington. The arguments of the Southern cotton-planter
and the Northern manufacturer may be reduced to
this element; and so may the lies of trade through all the
vicious mazes of its competitions. He only who fears God,
and loves truth more than he fears labor and dreads poverty,
can command the acquittal of his conscience, and “the
glorious privilege of being independent.”

It was Eleanor's custom, when her other daily duties were
finished, to sit with her husband in his study, reading with
him, writing for him, and sewing beside him.


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They were thus sitting together late one morning, when
he, having finished, sealed, and directed a letter, said, with
an expression of relief, shaded by sadness, “There—it is
done, dear Nelly, and now we are on the wide world.” The
letter was a resignation of his rectorship, addressed to officers
of the church. “We must give up our pleasant home
on the first of May, and end our six years of worldly favor
and ease in our possessions.”

“And we shall turn over a new leaf, Frank, and begin a
new chapter in life,” said Eleanor, cheerfully.

Esterly looked at her for a moment, his eyes filling with
tears of tenderness. “Yes, Eleanor,” he said, “a new chapter—with
struggle for me, and endurance for you, for its

“No, dear husband,” she said, in a courageous tone, that
contrasted with his tremulous voice; “struggle and endurance
are for both, and for all, and for the whole book of life.
It comes under different forms, and with divers names, and
whether it comes with blessing or otherwise, depends on
ourselves. Now, truly,” she added, rising and stroking the
hair from his cold, damp brow, “I have but one fear for the
future—and that is, that you, with your generous nature,
will think it quite right to have anxieties for me and the
children. Dismiss them, dear husband. Remember our
partnership is without limitation, or condition. You must
not have all the work, and I the play—you the struggle, as
you say, and I the endurance. You shall command the ship,
as you have done; but I must have my own little ventures
on board.”

“I do not quite understand you, Eleanor.”

“Never mind—you shall to-morrow; you will be stronger
and happier, now this burden is off your mind, and you can
go forth with no responsibility to other people's consciences.”


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“I am stronger and quieter already; don't you perceive
how your little hand has calmed down the throbbing of my
temples? I think, Nelly, it communicates a magnetic charm
from your tranquil spirit—love is the true magnetism. Oh,
my wife, what a poor, helpless wretch I should be without

There was an unsealed note on Eleanor's writing-desk.
We shall take the liberty to transcribe it. It was addressed
to the principal of the most flourishing boarding-school in
New York—a lady so devoted to the duties of her responsible
station, so noble in her liberality, and unquestionable
in her disinterestedness, that she has done much to redeem
the term “boarding-school” from the dishonor heaped upon
it by accumulated abuses.

My Dear Miss H—

“Thank you, for the list of scholars—fifteen in your
school! These, with the promised five out of it, will supply
the deficiencies in our income the next year; and thus, if
we make a fortunate disposition of our house, my husband
will be enabled to repair his strength by a year's travel in
Europe, and rest from work. Thank you, too, for your assurance
that I do not interfere with your accomplished musical
professor, as my lower terms, according with my inferior
ability, also accord with my pupils' smaller means. And
thank you, more than all, for your gentle warning, lest, in
my eagerness to afford my husband material aid, I lose sight
of my first duty; that to my children and household. They
are providentially cared for. An elderly cousin of my husband,
Effie Lynn, has just lost her home. We are glad to
give her the shelter of our's. She is a delicately strung,
nervous little body, and will, in a way, increase my cares;
but she will also immensely relieve them, as, being most


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kind, faithful, and fond of children, I can tranquilly leave
my girls with her during my working hours.

“Yours gratefully,
E. E.”

There are worlds in this sphere of ours as far apart as
heaven and earth. At the hour of the scene in the rector's
study, Miss Anne Carlton returned in her carriage from a
“charity sewing-circle” to Bond-street, and entering the
room, where her mother was casting up her weekly accounts,
she subdued her voice on seeing Mr. Herbert taking, in his
arm-chair, one of those frequent naps by which he judiciously
refreshed tired nature, and said, “Oh, mamma, I have the
strangest news to tell you—I see you have heard it?”

“Yes, I had a note from Eleanor. Of course, she would
not leave me to hear it from common report—she knows
what is due to me.

“She is perfection, I do think; I am so sorry for her! Is
it not dreadful Mr. Esterly should take such a kink? What
can he expect? So admired as he has been, not to be satisfied!”

“I do not view it quite in the light of a kink, Anne.
Religious differences should be respected. Mr. Esterly has
a right to his opinions.”

“Of course he has; but why could he not keep them to
himself? He need not proclaim them. I never give myself
the trouble to think about opinions, and never could see the
use of them, one way or the other.” Was Uncle Walter
smiling in his sleep? “For my part,” continued the young
lady, “I think it is positively wicked of him.”

“No, my dear Anne, you go too far—not wicked—very
unwise, very injudicious, I allow. If Mr. Esterly has unfortunately
departed from the strict creed of the Church, it
has been since his settlement, and of course he is under no
obligation to proclaim it. His people would take it for


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granted that he is all right. He is a little crotchety, but he
is conscientious and very exemplary. It is a great advantage
in our Church that the creed and prayers are all written
down, and therefore the clergyman is quite relieved from
responsibility. On days when sermons must be preached
on particular doctrines he could easily get some one to supply
his pulpit without incurring suspicion. All life is a compromise,
as I often say, Anne, and a man who has a wife
and children has duties to them. I certainly do not blame
Mr. Esterly for his opinions; I have always been tolerant
and hope I always shall be. I believe there are many good
Christians in every denomination, but I agree with you,
Anne, in thinking it is very inconsiderate in him to resign
his place—such sort of men always run into vagaries. It is
not so much matter what is in the mind, as that its balance
should be preserved.”

Miss Anne yawned demonstratively and said, “I wonder
what in the world is to become of them?”

“Hush, my child!” replied the mother, pointing to Mr.
Herbert, and then added in a lowered voice, “I would invite
them here for a few months, for Eleanor's sake, but you
know the noise of children is peculiarly trying to me, and at
my time of life the doctor says, `one must not undertake
too much.' Besides Eleanor writes me they have a plan for
the future—probably a school.”

“A school! How dreadful to have such near connections
teaching a school—earning their bread—thank heaven, they
are not blood relations!”

“No, they are not.” Mrs. Herbert had forgotten her
once rejoicing in a remote blood-tie to her husband's family.
“And besides, Anne, Frank did earn his living when he

“Yes, but that's so much more gentlemanly.”

Walter Herbert rose, surveyed the ladies, and laughed


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aloud with little politeness, perhaps, and certainly with less
mirth, and left the apartment.

“Did they vex you, Uncle Walter?” asked Grace, at the
conclusion of a conversation on the subject which had startled
the household.

“For a moment, my child, not longer. Anne is a silly
little goose. What do chirping birds of her feather know
of this earnest working world of ours? You sigh, Grace!
Do you regret the step Frank has taken?”

“Regret, Uncle Walter, that my brother has acted sincerely,
courageously? no, he would have denied his higher
nature not to have acted thus. I sighed at comparing myself,
an idler as I am, in God's field, to Eleanor. I saw her
this morning as bright as the sun, and she intermits her
activity as little. She will go on with her German emigrant
class, though she has engaged pupils in music that she may
stave off anxiety from Frank.”

“Anxiety is Frank's infirmity, and she knows it, and provides
against it, like the best of wives as she is. What a
healing balsam is such a temper as hers to the inevitable
corrosions of married life! Yes, I rejoice that Frank has
been true to his convictions—a pity he is lost to the church.
As I have lived, so will I die in it!”