University of Virginia Library




“Let her here a shelter find,
Shield the shorn lamb from the wind.”

If our readers have not forgotten our humble little friend,
Letty, they will be glad to know that if she had not conquered
her love, she had mastered herself. No thought,
bidden or unbidden, no vagrant fancy now blended her
future with Lisle's. He had become her earthly providence,
and she carried out, in a human relation, the extravagance
of those fanatics who make self-annihilation a test of religious
safety; who say one is only fit to be saved when one is
willing to be lost. Letty's love for Archibald, and her desire
to requite his generosity to her, produced a result that
genius might have failed to attain. It was her hour of study
at the piano, when she was startled by the nasal voice of a
stranger, who, entering her parlor, said, “Miss Letty Alsop,
I believe?”

“Yes,” said Letty, rising, and setting a chair for the
visitor; “do you wish to see Madam Steinberg?”

“No; it's you I came to see, Letty. I call you Letty,
for I always heard of you by that name.” One who has
chanced to see the fluttering of a dove who, lighting in a
poultry-yard, encounters a mature Shanghai hen, may imagine
the relative appearance of the parties en scene. “I conclude
you don't know me,” continued the Shanghai; “but I am
the one you wrote letters to for your Aunt Lisle.”

“Ah, you are—Miss—Clapp!” said Letty, stammering,


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and blushing, as sundry recollections rushed upon her. Miss
Adeline noticed the blush, and said, mentally, `I thought
so.' For once she felt some difficulty in a direct approach
to the matter in hand. Perhaps she was touched by the appealing
tenderness of Letty's demeanor; an ox will not set
its hoof upon a child. After looking about the room, as if
taking an inventory of its furniture, “What a spruce little
parlor,” she said; “I suppose you have a privilege in it, as
you appeared to be playing when I came in—of course it's
the family parlor, isn't it?”

“No, Miss Clapp; it is my private sitting-room.”

“Dear me! Oh, I see. You teach the young Steinbergs,
and this is thrown into your salary.”

It did not comport with Letty's Puritan habits of truth
to connive at Miss Clapp's mistake. “No,” she said, “my
salary does not include the parlor.”

“Then, how do you afford it? rents are so up in the

Letty made no reply. She looked tormented.

“I see,” continued Miss Clapp, “that you have feelings,
Letty, and I don't mean to hurt them; but I must say, a
young lady is in a precarious situation—I don't mean that
exactly—but it's not prudent, for a young lady to live in
lodgings that a young gentleman pays for; and there's no
one living has a better right to advise you than I, if that is
your case, and Archy Lisle is the man.” Letty gave way
to inevitable tears. “I am sorry for you,” continued Miss
Adeline; “I don't believe any harm of you, for you look as
innocent as a lamb.” Letty did not just then feel lamb-like;
a feeling of resistance rose in her gentle bosom. Miss
Clapp was checked in her tramp into Letty's affairs, and,
looking round for something to fill up the pause, she saw a
portfolio on the table, with drawing utensils beside it, and
putting her hand upon it, “Do you draw?” she asked.


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“Yes, a little,” replied Letty, rising to rescue the prey
from the fowler.

“Oh don't take it away,” said Miss Adeline, “I admire
to look at drawings;” and forthwith opening the portfolio,
she shook the contents upon the table; and before Letty,
whose face reddened with more painful vexation than she
ever in her life felt before, could gather them up she had
snatched from among them a crayon sketch of Archibald
reading by lamplight—as he did to Letty many an evening
—with Steinberg's little grand-daughter leaning her elbow
on the table, and gazing at him. It was a pretty and a faithful
picture, and showed that love had not deserted the art
it first inspired. Miss Adeline held it afar and near, on one
side and on the other, and then broke out in a tone of utter
amazement: “Did you do this Letty?” She probably
heard Letty's faintly articulated “Yes,” for she proceeded,
“It's much better done than any of the others! Why, I
don't see but it is as well done as Cheeny's, and they say
he makes men and women look like angels. Dear me! I
always thought Archy handsome; but this is splendid!
Why Cheeny gets two or three hundred dollars a piece for
his. A bright thought! You can take likenesses—how
much better for you than keeping on dependent. I have a
lot of acquaintances, and I will make it a business to recommend

“Oh no, no, no, Miss Clapp,” said Letty, with more vehemence
than she had ever spoken before; “don't recommend
me—don't speak about me!” and taking the drawing
from Miss Clapp, whose touch seemed to her to desecrate
that which she had kept for the contemplation of her most
private hours, she returned it to the portfolio; and having
gathered up the scattered drawings, she laid it aside, as she
would out of the reach of a mischievous child. She felt
Miss Adeline's presence to be intolerable, and mustering


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courage, she said, looking at her watch, “You must excuse
me, Miss Clapp—it is time for the children's lessons.”

But Adeline Clapp was not to be repulsed by the tactics
of civilized warfare. “Oh, my dear,” she said, “you must
keep the young ones out for a while; I have not entered on
business yet. I saw you had quick feelings, and I did not
want to hurt them; but now I'll come to the point.” Letty
sunk back into her chair, as if a dentist, with his instrument
of torture, were approaching her. “To commence, then,”
resumed Miss Adeline; “I think I can see as far into a millstone
as any one, and I believe that you are correct, and
that Archy Lisle is honorable.” This profession of faith indicated
nothing to the artless girl, and she made no answer,
though Miss Clapp paused apparently for one. She proceeded:
“You know, Letty, the city is different from the
country; there we know all about folks, here they know a
little, and guess the rest; and when a young woman that's
rather pretty, to say the least, carries a gold watch, and
has a drawing-master, and the most expensive of music-masters,
as I hear you have, and a private parlor, and a
young gentleman visiting her for a constancy—why, people
will talk.”

“What do you mean, Miss Clapp? Talk about me! I
do not know a human creature in this great, full city, but
the Steinbergs and Mr. Lisle.”

“My dear, what does that signify, so long as they know
Mr. Lisle? Folks will talk—folks live by talking. Why,
Letty, I heard a drawing-room full of ladies talking over the
pros and cons about you and Archy, and I did not let on
that I knew either of you.”

“But you should, Miss Clapp,” said Letty, speaking now
with a calmness that surprised herself, and a gentle dignity
that, for a moment, awed Adeline Clapp. “You should
have told them that I have no father, no mother, no brother


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or sister—but that Mr. Lisle is all of these to me; that he
placed me here with good people, where I am earning my
bread; and that all I have, beyond that, he gives me—masters
and books, and my sitting-room, and my `gold watch!'”
If Letty could be sarcastic, then her tremulous smile, as she
uttered the last clause, was sarcastic; but it vanished as she
added, with intense sadness, “And he has given me what I
can never have again—his time.”

“And his affection, perhaps you think?” said Miss Adeline,
plunging her probe to the quick.

“Yes,” replied Letty, with an heroic effort, “yes, as a
dear brother gives it to a dear sister—so, and no otherwise.”

“That's well—that's very well. But, child, I am older
than you, and I must tell you it is not prudent to go on so;
there's no telling when brotherly love may blow out into
something higher-colored. You and Archy are running
risks. He has given you all duty will let him, for Archy is

“Married!” Letty covered her face with her hands.

Whether it were white or red, whether it expressed mortification,
disappointment, or misery, Adeline Clapp could not
guess; in any case, she meant to speak soothingly. “I
knew you would feel,” she said; “but it's always the way in
our family, to bring things to a head. And so I repeat it—
Archy is married. A Clapp's word is as good as a bond.
What I tell you is truth, though not the whole truth—that
will come out in time; the circumstances are peculiar. I
leave you now to judge for yourself whether it is right for
you to live on in your present style. Not but what I think
it right that Archy should befriend you, and I am sure I am
quite willing to bear half the expense—” Miss Adeline was
stopped in her career by Letty's hands falling into her lap,
and her head dropping on to her shoulder. Not one word


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had she heard since Miss Clapp's authoritative declaration
that Archibald was married.

Adeline Clapp roused the house with her outcries, and as
she perceived Letty coming to life again under the tender
ministrations of the Steinbergs, she took her leave, congratulating
herself upon her wisdom in ascertaining the exact condition
of affairs, and putting a bar to their further progress.

Archibald Lisle now knew far more of the world in its
good and bad aspects, and far more of the theory and the
actuality of the world of sentiment, than when, in his youth,
he unconsciously stole away poor Letty's heart. Without
vanity, he was aware, that placed in the relationship she was
to him, and restricted to his society, he might become the
idol to her that a girl of loving heart will make to herself,
and he conscientiously guarded against the danger by talking
to her of her future career of teacher, by keeping the
ultimate purpose of his liberalities steadily in view, and by
selecting such books for reading to her as she might turn to
account in her future occupation. We do not mean to intimate
that Archibald was self-denying in his devotion to
Letty. His evenings, at old Steinberg's, harmonized with his
domestic tastes, in danger of starvation in a bachelor's
boarding-house life with all its egotistic little comforts. The
kindling of Letty's soft eye at his approach, her sweet cheerful
satisfaction in his society, the caresses of the little Steinbergs,
and their glee when like all lovers of children—childish
as they—he showered toys and candies upon them, and an
occasional gossip with the old people, all combined to diffuse
a home atmosphere over Letty's little sitting-room, and to
make it a balmy rest, after the dreary and weary bustle of
every-day life. Lisle had now and then, at long intervals,
spoken to Letty of Miss Herbert. He had mentioned meeting
her, had quoted some brilliant remark of hers, or alluded


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to some interesting circumstance that bore a relation to her,
and when he did so, there was a flash from his eye, and a quivering
of his lip that never escaped Letty's observation. But
strange as it may seem, this did not make her unhappy.
She had settled it in her mind, that Miss Herbert was
Archibald's fate, but when it was to be accomplished, had
the indistinctness and mystery that death has to common
minds—and so had her own future. It was neither near, nor
afar off. So long as she satisfied her masters, did earnestly
her duty to the little Steinbergs, and could pass half her
evenings beside Archy, she lived in absolute content with
the present. And could this have been her eternity, good
little orthodox Puritan as she was, we fear she would not
have changed it.

But now had come the declaration from that relentless
Miss Clapp that must be “the end-all.” And that there
might be no misunderstanding, Miss Clapp followed up her
interview with a note, as follows:—“Dear girl, I did
not say quite all I wished, owing to your fainting which, I
suppose, came from the heat of the room, and your surprise.
I thought it my duty to tell you of a certain person's marriage,
but as it is yet a secret, don't let it transpire, and
don't allude to it to him. A. C.”

Poor Letty! She could have plucked out her tongue
easier than to have told it to another, or alluded to it to
Archibald. All day she was restless, and in answer to the
kind solicitude of the Steinbergs, she complained of head-ache,
and head-ache and heart-ache she had. Margaretta
Steinberg brought her in a basket of exquisite flowers, and
a novel from Mr. Roberts, a lodger in Steinberg's house.
This Mr. Roberts was head master of a noted Latin school.
He had sought an introduction to Letty through the Steinbergs,
and had lately been lavish in certain demonstrations,


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which her kind friends thought most auspicious omens of
her future; and even the children interchanged whispers
about “dear Letty's beau,” and smiled when they brought
in his offerings. And Mr. Roberts might have had a fair
chance of winning any sound heart, but not poor Letty's.
The novel remained with uncut leaves on the table, and the
costly flowers would have withered there, but for Margaretta's

Letty, living out of the world, and having no data by
which to calculate its chances, never, for a moment, doubted
that Archibald was married to Miss Herbert, and all day her
tormented brain was exercised in divining the reasons of the
secresy—“Why Archy had not even had the kindness to
hint it to her? and how in the world Adeline Clapp had
found out what Archibald had meant to keep secret?” She
sent away her drawing-master, she vainly tried to get through
with her daily task with her pupils. Their report brought in
Madam Steinberg, and she, alarmed by Letty's burning
cheeks, and hot hands, sent her husband waddling round to
Mr. Lisle's office to ask him to send a physician. But Steinberg
not finding him there, or at his lodgings, the good old
people, with German placidity, determined to defer medical
aid, and in the mean time to administer, a homeopathic narcotic,
not so innocent as it might have been, as the old lady, on
paying her last visit to Letty's attic before going to bed, and
finding her sleepless, trebled the dose. How blindly mortals
work out Heaven's beneficent purposes! Dear old Madam
Steinberg never forgot Letty's good-night to her, and often
repeated it with streaming eyes, “Oh, how kind you are to
me, Madam Steinberg,” she said—“to me, a stranger;” and
then clasping her little hands, she added, “Seeing this, shall
I not trust myself to him who pities me, even as a father
pitieth his children—I do, I do!” The trust and the prayer
were answered.


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Lisle had been walking till a late hour that evening, taking
no note of time. Life seemed to him made up of disturbed and
disturbing forces, all inharmonious. Letty in her artlessness,
her gratitude to him, and her unworldliness, stood before him
in something like reproachful contrast to Grace, who was being
overcome by the world. Lisle felt, as he had never felt before,
the fact of Letty's love. He felt an irrepressible gush of pity
and tenderness for her—not love; no, that comes not for the
bidding. He was approaching Canal-street, and turned into
it, remembering, with some contrition, that a longer interval
than usual had passed since he had seen her. He heard a
cry of fire, and perceived it was in his direction. Still, so
common an occurrence excited no alarm, till he perceived
the outcries concentrating near Steinberg's. In a moment
after, he saw the flames burst out from the old man's little
wooden dwelling. In another instant he was there, and
penetrating through the crowd, he met Steinberg, face to
face, who, with a child in each arm, was screaming in German—so
completely had he lost his head—“Letty's in the
attic, save her!—the dear child!—mein Gott! mein Gott!”
Lisle understood him—he knew the localities of the house.
The fire had broken out in a crazy back-kitchen, and had
made some progress when the sleepers in the front rooms were
awakened by the smoke and crackling. “Bring a ladder!”
cried Lisle, “there's a person in the attic that must be saved!”
A ladder was brought, but intrepid as our firemen notoriously
are, they recoiled from applying it. “Ther's no use,” cried
one, “the flames are licking round the rafters—it can't be
done.” Lisle sprang upon the ladder. “Come down, young
man,” cried another. “You are lost,” shrieked a third, with
a horrid oath, “you are lost, if you enter!—it's death—
it's death, over and over.” Lisle paused on the topmost
rung, but not to retreat. With characteristic presence of
mind he took a silk scarf from his neck, put it over his face,


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and secured it. With one thrust of his strong arm he demolished
the frail window-sash, a dense column of smoke
rushed outward, and Lisle disappeared. From below arose
cries upon His name, who, if forgotten till human help fails,
is surely then remembered. Breaths were suspended till,
issuing from the blackness, and followed by the flames, Lisle
reappeared bearing Letty, whom he had wrapped in a blanket,
as if he carried but a child's weight. A general acclamation
burst from the crowd; such a response as ever comes from
man's soul to an heroic deed.

Archibald, tearing the cover from his face that had saved
him in his mortal strife with death, perceived that Letty was
incapable of motion and unconscious. Plenty of hands
came to his aid, and she was borne to the nearest safe house,
and laid on a sofa. Restoratives were brought, and medical
aid was sought and found. Her pulse beat feebly. Archibald
knelt before her, and unconsciously kissed over and
over the little hands he held in his, and felt the pulses, that
had quickened at the faintest sound of his approaching footstep,
grow feebler and feebler.

“Spare your pains, friends,” said the physician with professional
coolness, addressing the assistants who were lavishing
restoratives; “it is all over with the poor girl. It is
death by suffocation.”

“It is not death; it can not be death!” cried Archibald;
“Letty! Letty—dear Letty!” She answered not. “Oh,
Letty—dear Letty! rouse yourself. Speak to me—to
Archy!” There was a slight, a perceptible tremulousness
of the eyelids, and the least possible movement of her lips
to smile. It was the last vibration to the voice that had
mastered the finest chords of her being—henceforward, still

The coarse, hard-handed men who stood around, bowed
their heads. “Can we do any thing for you, sir?” said one


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and another in subdued voices. Lisle shook his head, and
they slowly departed, one whispering, “I think he is her
brother;” and another answering, “Something more, I

While the lady of the house went with her domestics to
prepare an apartment for the exigency, Archibald was, as he
desired, left alone with Letty. The first motion of his soul
was a devout thanksgiving to the great Shepherd that he
had taken this lamb away from the perils of life to his own
inexhaustible love—that she had passed from the rough
places of earth without dread or consciousness, to rest and
peace eternal.

And then, by that preternatural power which the memory
has at such periods of exaltation, the passages of their past
association passed in revision before him. Her loving, pleasant
childhood in his father's house; her fond clingings to
him in fancied dangers; her graceful little form playfully
hidden by the vines of the old porch, springing to meet him
with eager joy, when he came in from his field sports; the
refinements that, as she grew older and more perceptive, she
sprinkled over the homeliness of rustic life; the consolation
of her filial devotion to his father, and her cheerful patience
with the little fry at home. And, as if by a spell, came up
the memory of thrilling tones, of words half spoken, of sudden
blushes, and as sudden tears. These, passed by at the
time as caprice or moodiness, were now revelations. And the
last and dearest chapter of their joint lives, Letty's happiest
days at old Steinberg's, her sweet contentment in his
mere presence, her gratitude for even his smallest kindness,
not conveyed in words made common by common thanks,
but in floods of light that came beaming from her soul
through her eyes, in smiles that are the spirit's language,
in tones that breathe music into the simplest sentence.

“Oh, I have been hard, unkind, unfeeling!” was the cry


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of his inmost soul. “I loved you, Letty—truly. But why
have I wasted on another what should have been yours?
Bitter, bitter, vain regrets! Now you are as far beyond
my reach, as you were above my deservings.”

Is it not ever thus? Is any, the happiest relation of life,
severed without leaving us to lament over the imperfection
of our love and its irremediable failures?