University of Virginia Library




“Oh! how full of briars is this working-day world!”

Grace was sitting by a table with her open portfolio upon
it, and a pencil in her hand; and so she had been sitting for
a half hour without making a stroke with it, and lost in a
reverie, when Lisle joined her. Whether her start and the
blush that suffused her cheek as he entered, indicated that
he had any part in her reverie, must be left to conjecture.
Lisle asked “if the charming country about them had induced
her to make any sketches since she came to Mapleton?”

“A few,” she replied, “of the loveliest objects here. These
are my best sketches from nature,” she added, taking several
from her portfolio, and giving one to Lisle; “perhaps I think
so because I love my subject, and on that score it should
find favor with”—you was on her lips, but she mended
and extended her phrase, and added, “with every one of
this household. You see I have sketched from life,” she
continued, as Archibald, with a most admiring expression,
gazed at the drawing, murmuring, “How like! how graceful!
how beautiful!”

“Nothing,” said Grace, “has struck me more in Alice
than the patience and sweetness of her devotion to Daisy, a
most exacting, fretful, exhausting child. I could not do any
justice to my subject by a mere pencil-sketch, but imagine


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Alice as I saw her. She was cutting flowers from the tall
shrub beside the porch, when she discovered a bird's nest,
and called to Amy to bring the child out that she might see
it. She had her garden-scissors in one hand, as you see, and
her little hoe in the other; but oh, dear! the sketch gives
no idea of the picture she was, except, perhaps, of the grace
of her attitude, as she put aside the branches with her hand
—thanks to her for the pretty model—and her sweet smile;
I have got that, have I not?”

“In perfection!” replied Lisle, with enthusiastic emphasis.
One could not tell whether it were the artist or the subject
he most admired.

“You must tax your imagination, Mr. Lisle, for the coloring;
you know her garden-hat, and can imagine how beautifully
her heightened color contrasted with its ivy-wreath,
and the deep green ribbon with which she ties it. Here is
another sketch that I like better, as it exhibits more impressively
the patience to which I have nothing akin, and which,
therefore, perhaps, strikes me as preternatural. Poor little
Daisy was more out of humor, more impish than usual, and
Alice, after exhausting all other resources, sat down on the
floor beside her, and suffered her to pull out her comb, and
unbraid, maul, and tangle her hair at will. As you have
only seen it confined, you have no idea of its abundance, of
what a mass of waving beauty it is—you see how it sweeps
the floor; and while she was enduring this teasing torture,
she was intently reading—a volume of the `Promessi Sposi'
in the original. And here,” she added, taking still another
drawing from the portfolio, “here is another, a pendant for
the last, if I am ever called on to illustrate the daily occupations—the
arts and domestic arts—of a New England
young lady. Here is Alice again with her wealth of tresses
neatly tucked up under a morning-cap, her sleeves rolled
quite above her dimpled elbows, her white apron tied over


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her breakfast gingham, bending over a marble `paste-board,'
where she works many domestic spells, such as Eve did in
paradise, involving the fruits of her garden in flaky paste,
`tempering dulcet creams,' etc., etc. How often I wish my
Uncle Walter were here; such a blending of le beau et
as there is in Alice's life would enchant him, it enchants
all men, I think.” Grace raised her eyes from the
drawing to Archibald's face; his eye met hers and he
blushed (Lisle's youthful infirmity of blushing had of late
returned upon him); he blushed as if on the verge of betraying
a secret; he started too, as if awakened from a dream,
and Grace, giving to the blush, and the start, and the very
grave look, her own interpretation, said, “I see, as I foresaw
—my subject imparts a value to my sketches; if you like them
pray keep them, they may prove pleasant souvenirs hereafter.”
He thanked her, rather coolly, as she thought, and then
suddenly recollected that Alice had sent him to ask her to
go with him on an errand to Goddard's. While she went
for her hat, Lisle stood musing over the sketches, and handling
them with the true feeling of a lover, as if Grace's
touch had consecrated them. “What an exquisite perception
she has,” he thought, “what talent to express so much
of Alice's attractive graces in these slight sketches! Yes,
yes, Alice is made and trained for the best married life, and
he who wins her should esteem himself most happy.” But
Lisle did not seem as if he were gazing upon a paradise
in perspective, and he was half way to Goddard's before the
sun had risen above the clouds around his horizon. But he
did cast his care behind him, and yielded for the hour without
further resistance to the magic of Grace Herbert's charms;
and again in his world she, for the time, shone and ruled alone.

Grace, utterly unconscious of the feeling she inspired,
blinded partly by her past reserved intercourse with Lisle,
and partly by her conviction that Alice was his destiny, gave


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free rein to her natural frankness and earnestness; and thus
with every hour put a new rivet in poor Lisle's chains. Lisle
would pause in the midst of a delightful conversation with
her, with a feeling akin to that which one who has long, in
silence and awe, knelt and worshiped before his divinity, might
have, if that idol were suddenly to awake to human sympathy
and bestow a sweet, familiar, condescending smile upon him.
Certainly, a striking change was wrought in Grace; she had
arrived at one of those rare and short intervals in any life,
blessed with unclouded serenity. If a storm were gathering,
she had no forebodings. Her's was the thoughtful happiness
consequent upon having finished a painful experience,
escaped a great peril, and opened with a holy purpose a new
chapter of life. Though her intents and aspirations were
higher and more distinct than ever before, she had a touching
softness and gentleness of manner not natural to her; it
indicated the genuine humility that springs from past failure.
Humility is the angel of that furnace in which the gold becomes
fine gold.

For the first time in her life she had worked, and she now
felt the sweetness of rest purchased by labor; the air of the
hill-country was inspiring; the common events of every day,
the little accidents of household life, had a surprise and a
new charm for her, like light through tinted glass; and the
simplicity and freedom of social intercourse at Mapleton were
a revelation to her, contrasting as they did with the only country
life she had ever tasted (a loathsome dose, she called it)
when she went with Mrs. Herbert and Anne Carlton to spend
the hot months at watering-places. She was now beyond
the fretting discords of their society, and en rapport with
the people around her. We beg the loan of this mystical
phrase, to express the instinctive sympathy between characters,
however variously modified, which have the same basis.

With all the ardor of her impulsive feelings, that were too


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apt to rise above the high-water mark of reason and rationality,
Grace had (so she believed) renounced love forever.
She had come to the station where she must make the decision,
married or single?” and recoiling from the first, as a
burnt child dreads the fire, she would entrench herself in the
safety of the last. “I can not live without affection,” she
thought; “but is not that a harvest sure to the sower's
hand? and have I not Eleanor, and Frank, and their children,
and dear Alice, with her ardent, self-forgetting, too
partial love? and by-and-by, when Archibald Lisle is her
husband, I shall get the better of his prepossessions, and,
alas! his just judgment against me, and conquer his brotherly
affection.” But it was not merely in a selfish point of view
that Grace Herbert contemplated her future. She knew
that God had instituted relations, and human dependencies,
had so bound man to man, had made the happiness of one
so dependent on the happiness of another, that no one could
sunder the tie and live, in the highest sense of that significant
word; and having withdrawn her maiden meditations
from their natural subject, she was surveying, with characteristic
ardor, the vast fields of dignified occupation and blessed
benevolence patent to a single woman. We rather think
that this sincere mapping of the future was suspended by
the insidious pleasure of the long morning walk with Lisle.

Before they returned from their mission to Goddard's,
Alice and her mother, having disposed of their domestic
concerns, met in the sitting-room, where Daisy, on a low
chair, in the midst of rejected play-things, was fretting as
usual. “Alice,” she said, pettishly, “Pixie is getting to be
such a naughty dog—he does not mind me a scrap; I have
told him, ever so many times, to bring me my doll, and he

“Here it is, my darling; don't scold Pixie. Poor Pix, he
is a little lame, and very dull, since we came home.”


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“Pixie lame! How happened that, Alice?” asked her

“Oh! did I not tell you that I saw le pèrre (looking significantly
at the child) in New York. It was just as I was
going into that horrid prison, where poor Max was, that a
man passed, muffled in his cloak up to his eyes: Pixie ran
after him, and I suppose snapped at his heels, for the man
turned and gave him a brutal blow with his cane; and that,
together with something the good matron, Mrs. Barton,
told me, made me think it must be he.”

“I hope not,” rejoined Mrs. Clifford; “but I should not
wonder if he were waiting, and watching there for the opportunity
of a violent revenge.”

“Mother! do you think so?” exclaimed Alice, in a tone
very different from the cool one in which her mother had
suggested an every-day probability.

“Why, Alice,” said the child, over whom Alice was bending,
“have you got your tooth-ache again?” Her mother's
words had shot a sharper pang through Alice's heart than
the touch of the nerve of a tooth inflicts.

Her mother did not see her suffused face, and she proceeded,
without suspicion. “Why, my dear child,” she
asked, “did you say any thing to Max about that person?
You know we agreed on perfect silence as the only security,
and Max is so reckless.”

Alice explained that her brother's mention of Maltby was
in another connection than their's with him, and reminded
her mother that she had never relieved their neighbors'
curiosity, in relation to the mystery of the child. “I think,”
she said, “it has died out, of inanition.”

“You have been a miracle of prudence, my dear child.”
Mrs. Clifford was yet to learn that this, like many other assumed
miracles, was explicable by natural causes.


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“Oh dear!” exclaimed Daisy, “I wish they would not
come back.”

“`They'—who do you mean, Daisy?”

“Why, they,” she replied, pointing to Grace and Archibald,
who had just emerged from the wood; “you don't
play with me all the time when they are here.”

“No, Daisy, you have a rival now,” said Mrs. Clifford;
“and to tell the truth, I wish her away as much as you do.”

“Mother—dear mother!” exclaimed Alice.

“I can't help it, my dear child; I beg your pardon, but
I do. What does this mean?” she added, looking out at the
door, “little Benny is with them. How did they find their
way to Goddard's?”

“I directed Archy. I knew you wanted to send up the
croup-syrup you made against Benny's next attack; I was
sure they would have a lovely walk this delicious morning
along the lake, and it would not much matter if they did
lose their way.” Mrs. Clifford looked, she did not say it,
“Oh, my child, you are losing your way!” After a moment's
silence, “See, mother,” exclaimed Alice, “Archy has
made little Ben a bow and arrow—how kind! Aren't they
altogether a lovely picture? if you would only see Grace
with my eyes.”

Grace had sat down in a rustic chair under a sugar-maple,
whose massive foliage excluded every ray of the August sun.
Her cheek crimsoned by exercise, and her expressive face,
lit up by happiness, justified Alice's exclamation. Archibald
was half recumbent on the turf at her feet. The rustic boy
was kneeling before them, aiming his arrow at a bird on the
wing. “Ah,” murmured Mrs. Clifford, “if Archy were
only as safe as the bird!”

“Archy is not aimed at, mother.”

“I am not so sure of that, Alice. I heard you repeating
to Miss Herbert Archy's extravagant admiration of her


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voice, and his telling you that he once heard her quote and
`set to music' by her delicious voice Bryant's `Waterfowl.'
If I do not mistake it is your Bryant she is now reading to
him—she is a practised woman.” Mrs. Clifford shook her
head distrustfully.

“Mother, you do misunderstand her. She is not reading
from vanity, or to charm Archy, except by the poetry; she
maintains that Bryant is our `truest poet and our best;' to
this Archy assents, but he is not quite prepared to agree
with her that there is not a poet in the English language
who mirrors nature with more absolute truth and beauty.
Like our deep still mountain lakes, he gives back the sky, the
trees, the least little floweret on their brim, without changing
the tint of a leaf, or deepening a shadow; not presuming to
improve by artistic elaboration the divine work. This
Grace said, mother, and she took the poems with her to-day
to test them in their own atmosphere, as you would a portrait
by its original.”

“Vanity is `the most subtle beast of the field,' my child;
a complex artificial character like Miss Herbert's is quite out
of your ken, Alice.”

“No, mother; it is you that have dimmed your mental
eye-sight by straining it to look too far. Grace has infinite
variety, but that does not involve dissimulation or affectation
of any sort. She has not our air-line, unadorned ways, but
she is as true as we are. She is all sweetness, nobleness;
she is—she is glorious.”

Mrs. Clifford listened coldly, and Alice felt as if she were
plunged into a snow-bank, when her mother interrupted her
with, “Don't rant in such a school-girl fashion, Alice; you
are quite carried away with the condescensions of this town-bred

“`Belle!' what a name to apply to Grace Herbert. `Condescensions!'
that's hardly kind or just, mother. Has she


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not always treated me as if I were every way her equal?
Poor little me!—have I not always loved her?”

“Yes, as girls love and worship the idols of their imaginations.
You were but a chit when you were together at
Canda's, and you then adored her as girls do a young lady
senior, especially if she have the advantage of beauty and
fashion. Your correspondence since has had the interest of
intimacy without the disenchantment of personal intercourse.
I have no faith in amies inconnues.

“`Inconnues!' mother; have we not maintained a constant
correspondence? Grace's letters are a history of her
life, and a perfect revelation of her character.”

“Like some other revelations—made only to the believing.”

“You know why I have not shown them to you, dear
mother; there was always something confidential in them.”

“I know—about that fellow Copley. Why don't they
wind up their affairs? Such shilly-shally does not argue any
great superiority on Miss Herbert's part.”

“If I could only tell you all about that affair, mother—
but I must not. Thus much I may venture to say, I am
sure it will never come to any thing.”

“I am very sorry for it.”

“Mother,” said Alice, playfully, laying her hand on her
mother's shoulders and looking steadfastly in her face, “has
not some conjuror changed my generous, candid mother for
a purblind old lady? Now you know Copley is not worthy
of Grace, and you know it from your oracle, Archy who,
long ago, gave you such a mean opinion of him.”

“And I still hold that opinion; but `he belongs,' as we
say, `to Miss Herbert's congregation.' In the trashy society
she lives in, I doubt if she could do much better.”

“You forget that your paragon makes one of that society.”


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“That is accidental. His relations with it began with the
accident of a professional service for the Herberts.”

“And has been a long time maintained, dear mother, by
a `casual concurrence of calamitous circumstances.'” She
smiled archly; her mother in no wise returned the smile.
“The crowning `accident' of their acquaintance,” continued
Alice, “is their meeting here—`there is a tide in
the affairs of men,' you know, dear mother, and of women

“Poor child!” thought Mrs. Clifford, “can she be in
earnest in persisting in this idea?”

Alice was in earnest. Many a warm, true-hearted young
girl's love for another girl approximates, as did Alice's, to
worship. To her ardent fancies there was one other mortal
not to be graduated by an ordinary scale, and that other
being a captivating young man, and now brought with
Grace to the romantic accessories of Mapleton, at the moment
that she was providentially unshackled, the hour had
come when they were to go straight forward to that goal,
to which heaven as well as she, poor little Fate, Alice, had
predestined them.

The pause in the mother's and daughter's colloquy was
broken by Daisy calling out to Alice, “Do please carry me
out where that little boy is. I don't want to sit here forever.”
Alice lifted the helpless creature in her arms, and
caressed her tenderly. “You forgot me,” she said, “did
not you, Alice?” Alice reassured her, and removed her and
her playthings to join the group under the maple-tree. Her
mother looking after her said mentally, “Yes, poor foolish
child, she forgets even herself. At this critical moment,
from a mere girlish fondness, she is playing into the hands
of that potent woman of the world, who, indeed, could win
the game without my poor little girl's help. Oh, Alice!
Alice! you are throwing away the richest chance of your


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life; and I have wasted so many hopes and purposes, and
little plottings—heaven forgive me!”

So much has been said and written against “manœuvring
mothers,” that it requires some boldness to betray the fact
that Mrs. Clifford had hoped to promote the union of her
daughter with Lisle, by bringing them together at Mapleton.
A mother may plod and plot day and night to secure for her
daughter an advantage of education; she may compass sea
and land to promote her health, and toil and save to augment
her fortune; but when it comes to the great event on
which her character and true prosperity, the welfare of soul,
body, and estate, mainly depend, the mother—the heaven-appointed
guardian—must not lift a finger, but must stand
back, and wait on time and chance.

Mrs. Clifford had loved Archibald from his boyhood, and
after the death of her son Arthur, this affection became
as strong and sensitive as if a maternal instinct, and as
sacred as a religious duty. She had watched with infinite
satisfaction over Lisle's career. She had gathered from his
letters—the almost preternatural sagacity of a woman in
such affairs being rendered more acute by her personal
interest—that Miss Herbert's intimacy with Copley had, in
breaking Lisle's confidence in her, dispelled her charm for
him; and now that at the moment a fair field was opened
for Alice, when it seemed so natural, inevitable, that her
favorite, prepossessed in her favor, finding all he had loved
in the child ripened in the woman, her domestic education
answering to his wants, her qualities and tastes so in accordance
with his own; that her sweet and loveable child should
be overshadowed, her mild effulgence dimmed in a more
dazzling light, was more than Mrs. Clifford could bear,
human as she was, without some injustice to her who was
thus thwarting her.


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We feel bound, as we have been compelled to expose
Mrs. Clifford's prejudices, to say that they were not wholly
personal to Miss Herbert. She regarded her as coming
from an “infected district.” She looked upon the fashionable
society of New York much as it has been portrayed
by certain popular writers, and if she did not believe that
every fashionable woman is a “Mrs. Potiphar,” she did hold
them all to be vain, vapid, wearisome, and superfluous, and
honestly believed that the world would be all the better if
they were swept out of it. And therefore, independent of
her secret deprecation of Miss Herbert's visit at this juncture,
she dreaded the contagion of the fine-lady tastes
and habits that would in no wise harmonize with Alice's

Mrs. Clifford, too, was shy of new friends. She loved her
old ones, often for no better reason than that they were “old
ones.” She loved the country, as a child loves its mother.
She loved old books; like dear “Cousin Bridget,” she
“browsed” on old English literature. Johnson and his club,
Pope and his cotemporaries were to her like familiar friends.
Her romantic reading did not date later than the blessed era
of the “great unknown;” it was a joke among her gossips
that the only time she ever fainted was, when she discovered
a novel of Madam George Sand in Alice's hands. She rather
thought it lost time to read any later poet than Pope, except
Bryant. A copy of his poems, that had belonged to her son
Arthur, was kept with her Bible on the table of her private

Her social prejudices were nurtured by the charming
society of Mapleton, small, but eclectic, consisting, as in most
of our New England villages, chiefly of women; some few
living in happy conjugal life; some honoring the past by a
modest and dignified widowhood; and some maidens, “not
young,” who, as was pithily said of them by a married cotemporary,


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“having as much happiness and more usefulness
than usually belongs to married life, were occupied in the
certain good of relieving the poor mortals already here, instead
of the uncertain benefit of bringing others into the
world, who might not find it well to be in it.”

But this vicarious maternity was not their sole occupation.
There was a healthy vigorous intellectual life among them,
free from literary ambition, but not without adornment.
Accident having thrown some political exiles of the highest
order, upon their kindness, the young women “followed the
arts,” and while acquiring music, German and Italian, they
naturally imbibed the generous political creeds of which
their teachers were the apostles and martyrs.

Mrs. Clifford, in regard to Alice, gave in to these “foreign
trimmings,” as she called them, not that she valued the garniture,
but that she thus gave “material aid” in the most
delicate mode in which it could be imparted. So it became
common law in Mapleton that the credential of a foreign
teacher there must be a diploma from an Austrian fortress