University of Virginia Library




“There's mischief brewing.”

We return to poor Amy. The humblest have their own
world of day and night, sunshine and storm. Amy had
gone on quietly with her duties since her encounter with her
father at the mill. Conscious that her anxieties implied distrust
of her father, she buried them in her own bosom.
When Goddard, knowing the rectitude of his child, had endeavored
to exact a promise from her to give up Seymour
forever, she, with the caution which our Puritan people seldom
lose sight of, replied, “I promise to give him up, sir,
for as long as father lives—or as long as he feels to wish me
to give up Martin.”

“That will do,” replied her father, with fearful emphasis.

“Providence may open up a way for us,” thought Amy,
“and if He don't, we must submit.” Neither sage nor
Christian could teach better philosophy than Amy's.

Seymour bore his trials as he could—he was no philosopher.
He no longer met Amy at the accustomed places.
She came not to the “Sabbath evening singing-school,” the
village lovers' common meeting-ground; “not even,” as
Martin despairingly remarked, “when they were preparing
the anthem for the cattle-show.” “When, before this,” he
said, “was there ever a donation-party at the Reverend Mr.
Smith's, and Amy not there?” He “guessed the minister
missed the comforter she knit for him, and the little boys
their stockings.” “Well, may be she'll go on the Cochin-China


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mission, after all. Folks think Mr. Blight has intentions—or
may be she'll marry Rufus Bradley; he's lost his
third, and the street thinks he's looking out again for permanent
help—looking towards Amy!” This seemed too
intolerable an hypothesis for Martin; after a sigh or two, he
turned short about. “No,” he said, “she won't take up
with three women's leavings, I know. It's all Uncle Nat.
He always was a despot, and now he's kind o' deranged, and
what can Amy do?”

What poor Amy could do, she did. She tapped at Mrs.
Clifford's door in the early morning, and appeared at her
bedside pale, and woe-begone.

“What now, Amy?” said her mistress, starting from
heavy sleep, “has any thing happened at the mill?”

“Oh, ma'am,” she replied, “one of the children brought
me a note from mother last evening, saying he had left in
the morning more so than usual, and had not come home—
it was long past supper-time; I surmised, and went straight
to the mill. There he was! I have had the dreadfullest
night holding him back; I prayed, and begged, and tried to
reason with him; but what's the use when folks have no
reason to speak to? But I gained something; I staved off
harm till daylight, and when people began to stir, he went
home, and I come to you for advice, feeling I ought not
to leave with our house full of company.”

“Never mind my company, Amy—Alice and I can do
your work.” It is one of the felicities, as well as humanities
of household life in New England, that ladies can perform
domestic service when an exigency occurs; nor need
the family wait for breakfast, or eat a bad one, because a
cook or waiter falls out of line. “You must go back to your
father, Amy,” continued Mrs. Clifford, “and stay by him
for the present—your mother has no power over him?”

“No, ma'am, none—not half so much as Benny.”


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“Then go, Amy; you will be both firm and gentle with
him. Humor him, and tell him—for though Seymour wished
that neither you nor your father should know it, yet in this
exigency it may do him good—it certainly will you, poor
child—tell him, then, that it was Seymour, not I, that was
surety for him.”

“Was it Martin!” exclaimed Amy, starting from her dejected
posture, leaning on her elbow, her eyes downcast and
dropping heavy tears; as she turned, her face shone as if
sunshine passed over it. “Was it indeed Martin?” she repeated.
“Oh, it seems as if that must melt father.”

“I believe it will. So go straightway to him, good child,
and do not fear or falter.”

Goddard's dwelling was a mile from the village. Amy
took the shortest way to it, a “cross-lots” path through a
birch and maple wood, where there was a full choir of the
few birds whose notes last into August. The air was filled
with happy insect life. The still leaves were dripping from
a shower that had just passed. The breezy clouds were flitting
over the sky, alternating with the brilliant gleams of
sunshine that penetrated to the stems of the trees with their
dark shadows. Amy, not much given to observe or interpret
nature, noticed this pretty play of light and shade.
“It's the passing clouds make the sunshine seem so bright,”
she thought; “and the silence, darkness, and despair of
last night make these pleasant sounds so musical, and I
guess it's father's awful state makes Martin's nobleness shine
clear down to the bottom of my heart. What a difference!
Father cares for nothing but gain—gain—gain; and Martin's
altogether above it.

Insensibly she caught the cheerful spirit of the morning,
and she began building a small castle in the air hovering
near the mill-stream, and was just settling it on a firm foundation


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when, coming in sight of her father's homestead, it
toppled down.

Goddard was sitting on his own door-step, his eye fixed
on the ground, the image of sullen melancholy. Benny,
his pet boy, was lying on the grass at his feet, playing with
a garter snake.

“Oh, Amy,” cried the child, as Amy drew the gate-latch,
“come and see this cunning little snake—I can't make father
look at it.”

Goddard, startled by Amy's approach, rose, and feeling
the reptile at his foot, crushed the life out of it, muttering,
“I hate them—snakes in the grass.”

“Oh, father!” cried the child, “how could you?”

“I am sorry,” said the father, patting the boy's head, the
muscles around his mouth slightly relenting, “I was not
thinking when I did it.”

“But you should think, sir, before you do things, and
then you would not have to be sorry afterwards.”

“Benny is right, father,” said Amy, looking steadfastly
into her father's eye.

“Amy,” said Goddard.

“What was father going to say?” asked Amy.

Goddard's voice had softened—it resumed its monotone.
“No matter, no matter, we both know what we're thinking
of; there's no use wasting breath talking.”

“Father does not know what I have to tell him—'twill
make him feel different.”

“No, Amy, nothing will—you've tried, mother has tried,
and,” he added, his voice faltering, “Benny has tried.”

“Tried what, father?” asked the petted child, who had
slipped into his lap, and put his arm around his neck, clinging
to him when every one else recoiled from his dreary

“You can't do it, child,” he said, “you can't all do it—


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it's a cursed load that's crushing me, and I and it must go
down together.”

“Oh, father don't know all,” cried Amy.

“What is it I don't know?” he asked, turning fiercely
upon the gentle girl; “are you keeping company with him
again; are you married to him?”

“Oh, no, sir; did I not promise, father?”

“You did, and you never broke your word yet, child.”
Goddard drew his hat over his brow, his lips quivered. It
seemed a gracious softening, and Amy ventured, with some
circumlocution, to communicate the fact of her lover's generosity.
Once only he raised his eyes to her, and a gleam of
light shot from them, but he settled back into his habitual

“Why father,” said the boy, clearing his way to the only
idea he could gather from Amy's communication, “I think
Cousin Martin is very good—don't father think he's good,

“No, no, no—did not I tell you I hated snakes in the
grass? A thousand dollars surety is he?—hum! I should
have owned the mill but for his underhand work, and I
should have made five hundred dollars out of it year by
year. He has wronged me, he has!” and setting the child
down, he walked off toward his potato-field. There he continued
till late in the afternoon, hoeing steadily, except when
once he came to the bars, beckoned to his boy, took him in
his arms, embraced him vehemently, and without speaking,
left him.

Towards evening he was seen in a neighboring village-shop
buying a considerable quantity of gunpowder. An
acquaintance seeing he had no fowling-piece with him, asked
what he was going to do with it? “What is that to you?”
he gruffly replied, and walked out of the shop.