University of Virginia Library




—“And wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection?”

Our friends were proceeding on their walk through the village
street, embowered with sugar-maples and far-stretching
elms, and sweet with the thousand flowers that were exhaling
heavenward in delicious incense the showers that had poured
on them at mid-day when they were met, and all romantic
associations were rudely broken by a distinguished person,
who, with a full stop facing them, glanced his eye from Alice
to her companions, plainly indicating a duty for her to do.
Alice comprehended, and introduced him as “Major Hart.”
The Major was, in no way, a man to be dodged; he was full
six feet two inches in height, and with shoulders as broad as
a porter's, and strength of limb in proportion. His face was
round as the full moon, and as jolly as that to the reveler's
eye; his hair was jet black, abundant, and curling, and his
whiskers, and elaborately-tended moustache of the same
character; in short, as our reader must perceive, if our delineation
does him justice, he bore a pleasing resemblance to
the blocks exhibited in barbers' shops, the beau ideals of the
gentry of the razor and brush.

After expressing his regret that he had been absent during
Mr. Lisle's visit to Mapleton, and his fear that it had
been very dull for him, he patronizingly added, “If you are
not going too far, Miss Alice, I will accompany you.”


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“Oh, Major Hart, we are going too far—I—I mean, we
are going very far—down to Prophet Crofts', and round by
Goddard's, through the glen, and up to Prospect hill.”

“Bless me! through the glen—why it's like penetrating
a chaparral. I don't shrink from the walk; after my Mexican
life, you know, it's a mere skirmish; but I have
an engagement with a client at seven, and it's now four

The Major stood deliberating, with his ponderous watch
in his hand, and chain and seals depending thereto that must
have drawn heavily on a Californian remittance of gold.
Unfortunately the good nature of our people does not allow
them to profit by the short process of snubbing, so thoroughly
understood in the fatherland; and Alice said, in a
tone of subdued impatience, “It is not possible for us to get
home by seven, Major Hart; not before eight or nine, perhaps

“Ah well, we professional gentlemen must make sacrifices
to the fair sex, Mr. Lisle,” replied the major, not doubting
he was bestowing a boon in inflicting his tediousness. “You
are of the profession, Mr. Lisle?” Lisle bowed. “Yes, so
I thought; I have seen your name in the law-reports in the
Daily Times—capital reports they are—and in the Boston
Law Reporter,
quite a compliment to a tyro in our profession,
Mr. Lisle.”

Lisle bowed again—not at all as if his head were turned
by the “compliment;” and Alice whispered to Grace, “The
fly in the ointment; how shall we get rid of him?”

Chance came to their aid. The daily coach passed, with
a single passenger, a lady with a fearful amount of baggage,
huge trunks, portmanteaus, and boxes. The coach was passing
rapidly with the impetus it usually receives on approaching
a country inn. The lady put out her head, bowed, and
waved her hand.


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“Was that bow to you or to me, Mr. Lisle?” asked the

“Indeed,” replied Lisle, hemming, stammering, and biting
his lips, “I do not know for which of us the honor was intended.”

“Well, what do you say, ladies? Ladies, as we of the profession
know, Mr. Lisle, are the best witnesses.” The ladies'
veils were down. They had not observed the stranger, nor
seen the salutation. “Such a polite and pleasant bow as
that,” resumed the Major, “should not pass like a `wild
goose's feather, unclaimed of any man,'” and chuckling at
what he considered his brilliantly apt quotation, he added,
“I conclude, on reflection, that must be a lady I met at the
President's levee in Washington, two years ago. I wonder
what she can have come to Mapleton for?” The Major's
further “reflection” had brought him to some other conclusions,
and to a rather satisfactory solution of his wonder;
and after walking a few paces further, he said he “was sorry
to excuse himself—it was a pity the ladies should not have a
beau a piece—but, on second thought, he felt it would be
wrong to disappoint his client;” and so he took his leave.

“Then you have bores, dear Alice,” said Grace, “even in
these purlieus of Paradise?”

“Yes, Grace, indigenous bores. But who can this blessed
lady be who wrought our deliverance?”

Archibald went manfully up to the stake, and replied, “A
very particular friend of mine, Alice, and an acquaintance
of your's, Miss Herbert—Miss Adeline Clapp.”

“Your hobgoblin, Archy, as you called her in a letter to
my mother.”

“Poor Mr. Lisle,” said Grace; “there's nothing for you
but to drown yourself in Lily pond!”

“Oh! she would bring me to life again; `water won't
drown, fire won't burn;' no elemental power can save me


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from her omnipresent clutch—there's no way of escape.
Don't speak of her again—don't allude to her; the thought
of her tears my nerves.” There was a real tragedy on Lisle's
countenance, which seemed very comical to his companions,
but they forbore, except by the exchange of merry glances,
any further allusion to the subject, and he forgot its annoyance.
The present was to him one of those rare and downy
passages in human life that are perfectly satisfactory. No
thought wandered back to the past—no restless dread
pointed to the future.

They were soon in the lovely woodland paths beyond the
village, Alice having left them, here and there, to do her
mother's errands, saying, as she did so, “Go on, I will overtake
you,” or, “I will join you at the top, or the bottom of
the hill,” as the case might be. Poor Archibald—these short
passages alone with Grace, the last perhaps he might enjoy
unfettered, seemed to him, like some moments between waking
and sleeping, to comprise a life-time of thought and feeling.

“Now one more detour and I have done,” said Alice;
“give me the book and the whip, Archy, and I will meet
you at the foot-bridge, below the dam—you remember it?”

“Remember it! Did Alice ever tell you, Miss Herbert,
how she tumbled off that bridge when she was a little thing
—not quite so tall as she is now?”

“Yes, she told me, long ago—at school, you know, Alice
—and how you fastened your arms round Mr. Lisle's neck,
and came near to drowning him; and do you remember
what else you told me about it?” added Grace, with a significant

“Oh yes, indeed, some foolery about my being in love
with Archy, as silly girls will be, ever so young. But now
we have come to something more substantial, a grown-up
friendship—have not we, Archy?” and she playfully kissed
her hand to him, as she ran off towards the Goddards.


Page 234

“How subtle is self-love!” There was something grating
to Lisle in Alice's perfect self-possession. He had certainly
nothing warmer than friendship to offer her; but he expected
something more. Men, the least selfish men, expect more
than they give.

“It's very thoughtful of your Mar,” said Goddard's wife.
“Benny will enjoy the whip; but my plate's upside down.
I always told him he was too worldly-minded—toiling and
toiling o' days, and reckoning up o' nights. Says I, `Goddard,
it's the blessing of the Lord,' says I, `that maketh
rich;' but he did not think much of that kind of riches, and
went on, and on, till it's come to where it has—I ain't superstitious,
but it looks dark. He has not tasted victuals to-day;
he has not come in from the potato field. He'll hoe,
say half an hour, and then stand stock-still as a scarce-crow,
leaning on his hoe. He even sent Benny away from him;
poor Benny, he's like a weaning child—fret, fret.”

“But, Mrs. Goddard,” said Alice, cheerily, “you must
not fret, fret, too. Put away your sewing, and try and
divert your mind with this book my mother has sent you—
the `Heart of Mid Lothian;' perhaps you have not read it?”

“La! Miss Alice, I have read it twice over; but that's
nothing. I always say Mister Scott's writings are like light
—you can't have too much of them. I am ready enough to
put aside my sewing; I feel sewing is aggravating. Thank
your Mar—she knows what will lift a body right out of the
mire.” Alice understood her people well enough to receive
this as a burst of enthusiasm from a Yankee woman, and
she left Dame Goddard, blessing Sir Walter in her inmost
heart for the charm that charms wisely, surely, and universally.

Alice rejoined her friends at the foot-bridge. They expressed
no uneasiness at her delay. As they were passing
over the bridge, Lisle paused midway to point out the precise


Page 235
spot in the narrow, but deep stream where Alice fell in.
The sight of the place recalled forgotten incidents. He related
them circumstantially, and turning to appeal to Alice,
he saw that she was leaning on the railing, apparently not
listening. She started, and turned suddenly. There were
tears in her eyes. A shadow came over Archibald's face,
and his voice changed from its animated tone to one of tender
sympathy. He took her hand affectionately; “dear
Alice,” he said, “forgive me. I was not thinking of Arthur
—you were.” Alice's tears reminded him of the passionate
tenderness with which Arthur, when they met him on their
way home, had taken his little drenched and half-drowned
sister into his arms.

Alice was the truest of human beings. Nothing like evasion,
or subterfuge, or false show of any sort was tolerable
to her. She could not take the credit to her sisterly feeling
which Archibald had given to it, and with a tremulous voice
and averted eye, she said, “I was not thinking of Arthur.
Please,” she added, hurriedly, “don't ask me what I was
thinking of.” Lisle did not ask, he only guessed—to blush
before the walk was over, for the unwonted conceit of that

“You are a little taller than you were then, Alice,” said
Grace, smiling, “but not a whit less a child.” And Grace
sighed as she made the same inference that Archibald had;
both were at fault. To what volumes of feeling may a
smile or a sigh be a key! Alice was startled: “Have I,”
she thought, “betrayed any thing to Grace's keen eye?”
But as she met that eye, there was no “speculation” in it—
Grace was reading the painful secrets of her own heart.

They proceeded, winding along the beaten path that followed
the mill-stream, and passing through the romantic
“glen,” a deep ravine sunken between hills (by courtesy,
mountains), where their wild path winded around or surrounded


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huge rocks covered with mosses, lichens, and fern;
and then ascending, through dense woodland, and along the
rocky edge of a precipice overhanging harvest-fields, they
came out on “Prospect hill,” the smooth summit of the

There they sat down, and forgot the time, as young people
will forget it and throw off its trammels, who are bound
together by a strong and developing interest. They were
tired, and rest was sweet. They looked down on a scene
characteristic of New England, and though familiar in our
hill-country, it has always a fresh and soothing charm, from
its repose and affluence of rural prosperity and contentments.
There were white villages, with their ever-attendant academies,
and church spires pointing heavenward from hill-top
and valley; orchards with their reddening fruit, and pasture-fields
with their herds; brooks gleaming, like silvery paths,
along rich green meadows; lakes looking out, like sweet,
blue eyes, from beneath the brows of overhanging hills, and
the Hudson, which in the far distance looked like a ray of
light playing around the base of the Kaatskills. There they
lingered to see the sun set, and to see the moon rise. The
scene was new to Grace, and the finest chords of her being
responded to it, like an instrument to the touch of a master.
The spirits of both Grace and Archibald were so raised
above their ordinary level, that material things were glorified
mediums to them; poetry alone seemed a fit response to the
outward influence. Grace would recite a favorite passage
from a favorite poet; Lisle responded with another—the
smallest phrase she uttered had its “prosperity in his ear,”
an undefinable charm. Poor little Alice was restless. She
wandered off and plucked wild flowers, and returned to
deck Grace's hair with them; if she spoke, it was of some
fact or circumstance that seemed to Lisle not in harmony
with the present scene of enchantment. She withdrew and


Page 237
sat apart. Suddenly it occurred to Lisle that she had felt
the embarrassment of being a third party, and he started to
his feet with a compunctious pang. “Ah, you do hear the
nine o'clock bell, Archy,” called out Alice, in a tone not the
least querulous, but whose playfulness might indicate that
he had appeared quite beyond sublunary sounds; “it is
quite time we were on our way home,” she said; “but, before
we go, please, Archy, run down into that hard-hack
field and get me a bunch of fringed gentians—they grow
like weeds there—I promised dear little Daisy to bring her
some.” These were words of small import, but they produced
a sudden revolution in Lisle's mind; they awoke him
from a delicious dream, and broke like a knell a spell of enchantment.
He went to do Alice's bidding, and in that
short walk he felt the unmanliness of suspended resolution,
and deferred duty; and resolved, at the very first opportunity,
to pledge his loyalty, and give into the hands of another
the reins he felt too weak to hold. Alas! duty is a bungler
at heart's work!

The flowers were plucked, and they set out on their return.
Varying their route, in order to shorten it, they
entered a long strip of woodland, by a footpath, in which
Alice, who was familiar with it, led the way. Grace halted
at a quagmire, over which Alice had leaped dry-shod. “Oh,
Alice, I can't do that feat,” said Grace, with a dismay, half
tragic, half comic.

“No, do not attempt it,” cried Archibald, with the eager
deference a man instinctively pays to graceful impotence
in a beautiful woman. “Is there any way of getting round
this?” he called to Alice, who was going on, quite unconscious
she had achieved any thing difficult to be done.

“Round! No, Archy, of course the path lies in the only
place where it is easy to pass it; but you come over, Archy.
Here, just by, is a pile of cut wood, and we can soon make


Page 238
a bridge for Grace to pass over this great gulf!” Before he
was at her side, she had thrown down a bit of wood, saying,

“There be some sports are painful, but their labor
Delight in them sets off.”

Lisle took up the quotation, and throwing down billet
after billet, said,

“Some kinds of business
Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters
Point to rich ends.”

“Thanks!—enough,” cried Grace. “Now, you, Ferdinand,
come on this side, and take one of my hands, and
you, Miranda, the other, and so I shall make this perilous
passage, and `love's labor' shall not be lost.”

Perhaps Archibald was disconcerted by Grace placing
them so distinctly, by her allusion to their quotation from
Ferdinand, in the relation of lovers, or it might be the
grasp of Grace's hand; he blundered, his foot slipped.
Grace instinctively pulled away her hand, the bit of wood
on which she stood so turned, that one of her feet was
submerged. Archibald, adroitly, and with confused apologies,
lifted her to the dry ground, and both he and Alice
stooped to wipe the mud from her boot; Alice exclaiming,
“French boots! and an absurdly little foot, Grace, for
a country scramble,” and Archibald admiring, as men will,
without any reference to its capabilities, the small beautiful
foot “bien chaussé.

Grace was glad of time to recover from what she fancied
was a slight sprain of her ankle, which she was eager to conceal,
that it might not hinder their walk. She struggled on,
sitting down as often as a fallen tree, or moss-covered stone
afforded her a pretext.


Page 239

“This is very pleasant,” said Alice, “but we must go on;
it's nearly ten, and my mother will be anxious.” Grace was
obliged to confess the cause of her lingering. Archibald at
once proposed to go to the village for a conveyance. “The
road could not be far from them, and while he was gone,
Miss Herbert might manage, with Alice's assistance, to reach
it; or, still better, he would bring a man from the village to
assist in bearing her to the carriage.” Alice opposed this.
“It was at least two miles to the village by the road.”
“She knew a much shorter cross-cut—Archy could not
find it.” Archy proposed attending her. “Poor Archy,”
said Alice, “it is a harder problem than the ferriage of the
goose, the corn, and the fox. But come, we will compromise—compromises
cut all the gordian knots now-a-days.
You shall come with me, Archy, to the end of the wood,
and then return to Grace, while I go to the village.” This
was agreed on, Grace protesting herself particularly pleased
with the novelty of her position.

Archibald and Alice traversed the wood in silence, and in
a much shorter time than they expected, for they seemed not
to have gone far beyond Grace's hearing, when they reached
the end of it, where the trees appeared as if they had filed off
on each side to encircle a natural vestibule or entrance. They
were startled by the beauty of the place, and paused for a
moment, in a flood of moonlight, to look at the quivering
shadows, and the stems of the white birches glistening in the

Alice was the first to move. When she reached the fence,
where it was so broken that the topmost rail was but a step
from the ground, she put her foot on it, and turning, said,
“Now is your time, Archy,” with such simplicity, that it
was strange he could misunderstand her.

But Lisle was befogged, and he did misunderstand her;
and retaining the hand he had taken to aid her, he said,


Page 240
“Come back—stop one moment—let it be my time. I will
`turn the leaf' now, and you must solve `my problem' for
me. Alice, do you?—I mean, can you—that is, will you
love me?”

“Why, Archy!—why, what do you mean? Why, certainly,
you know I do, and can, and always have loved you.”

“Alice, you surely understand me. You know what I
mean; what I am offering; what I am asking.”

“I—I—I am not sure I do,” she replied, half frightened,
and half laughing. “You seem to be moon-struck, Archy.”

“I never,” he replied, with a deadly serious smile, “was
more rational. It shall be the study of my life to make you
happy, and better to deserve the boon I ask.”

“But, Archy, you are not in earnest?”

“Indeed, I am.”

“Why, Archy, it seems to me so absurd, so strange—a
dream! It never occurred to me that you had a thought of
me. Why, no, dear Archy, I am very fond of you, but I
don't love you in the least—in that way I mean—I never
did, and I never can.” They both stood silent for a moment,
surely a moment of sharper suffering to Lisle than
was his desert. Alice's arms hung down, and her hands
were tightly clasped. Suddenly, with that inspiration of
which the finer sense of woman is capable, she touched the
truth. Archibald saw the blood flow back in flood-tide to
her blanched cheeks; her glance pierced his soul. “My
dear Archy,” she said, “you have wronged me and wronged
yourself—why, I can not tell, I can not guess. Men tell
true love without speaking, never with such faltering, freezing
speech as yours—hesitating—weighing your words—
urged on by some delusion, and held back by your own upright
soul! Oh, I am so sorry, Archy!” Turning away, she
sprang like a fawn over the fence, and disappeared from his
sight. She hurried on, feeling much like one who should


Page 241
see the sun rise from the west, or any other imaginable contravention
of the laws of nature. She hastened forward
through bush, through brake, across fields and fences, till
she came to the foot-path along the outlet of Lily Pond.
By this time clouds had gathered and obscured the moon.
Alice had no fears; her mind was preoccupied, and she was
familiar with the way. She saw the light glimmering from
the village, and the risks from an irresponsible foreign population
were yet unknown in Mapleton. She was not therefore
in the least startled by dimly descrying the figure of a man
a few paces ahead of her. He paused for a moment. She
thought he observed her, for after springing over a fence
into an orchard that was parallel to her path, and a small
distance from it, he crouched down; Alice stopped; he rose
again, and proceeded so rapidly that she lost sight of him.
His stealthy movement excited her curiosity. Suddenly it
flashed upon her that the man must be Goddard going again
to the mill to carry out his insane purpose. She forgot herself,
forgot Grace, and thinking only of averting the wretchedness
impending over poor Amy and her people, she hastened
on. Her way now ran along a bank on a level with
the mill dam and above the road. She saw the man
scramble down the bank, cross the road, and enter the mill.
When she reached the end of the bank, she paused, recoiling
from encounterig a wretch wrought up to desperate
deeds. While she hesitated, a candle was lighted within
the mill, and through a window, opposite to her, she clearly
saw Goddard walking up and down, and violently gesticulating.

“He is certainly about to do some horrible thing,”
thought Alice; “burn the mill!—perhaps burn himself in it
—poor Amy!” She then saw him take a parcel from his
pocket, and pour its contents on the floor. “Merciful God
help me!” she exclaimed, and brave in the faith of her instinctive


Page 242
prayer, she slid down the bank, crossed the road,
and entered the mill by an outside stairway, that led up to
the mill-loft. Goddard stood in the middle of the floor
with a candle in his hand, and a pile of gunpowder at his
feet. Alice seized the candle and held it at arm's length.
Goddard recoiled, awed, and overpowered. It must have
been a strange sight, this brawny man with his frenzied eye
and coarse, distorted features, recoiling before a slight girl,
who, for the moment, was a heavenly presence, a resistless
force like that the painter has given to the light figure of
the angel Michael in his triumph over the man of sin.

But it was but a minute's pause, and Goddard rallied.
“Who the devil sent you here?” he said.

“God sent me,” she answered; “God sent me to save
you, Goddard!”

“No, no,” he said, recognizing her, “Amy sent you.
Save me!—you can't do it, nor Amy, nor all the powers

“Oh, don't talk that way, Goddard—think of your family!”

“Think of them! I have thought—I have done nothing
but think—what's the use? We should all be beggars together.
Hark! there comes a wagon! Clear out—I'll not
be stopped again! Don't you see the gunpowder? Clear
out, you little fool, or by Him that made us, you'll share
and share with me!”

“I'll not leave you, Goddard—you dare not murder me.
Oh, come away, go home to little Benny.”

Goddard's heart-strings still vibrated to that name. His
head dropped; “poor little boy!” he murmured.

“Oh, you will go home to him? he will be so glad.”

“No, no—there you're out!” he cried, his fierceness returning;
“no, he left me to-day howling—I could not coax
him back—he's dropped off too! I am alone in this cursed,
black world—disappointed—ruined; they all watch me—


Page 243
they all hate me—my woman, Amy, Benny—and I hate
him more than they all hate me—she may marry him now,
there'll be none to hinder. They're coming—away with
you!” He snatched at the candle; Alice shut her hand over
it, and as she felt the darkness close around them, she
shrieked for help. Goddard laughed; his laugh sounded
like the bellowing of a brute.

“You can't stop me!” he said, and thrusting his hand into
his pocket, he pulled out a package of matches, and lighting
a single bunch, and throwing it into a pile of rags and old
cotton garments that were stowed under the roof, “We'll
soon have light enough!” he cried, and while he said it, the
fire took, and the flames streamed upward to the roof.

No human power could now save the determined man. A
flood of terror came over Alice; she sprang to the door
and opened it. How she descended the flight of stairs, she
knew not; nor in what direction she went. Her instincts
alone were left to her, and she obeyed them. She could
only afterward recall her increasing terror as the light from
the mill increased, and the horrible shock of its explosion,
when she fainted and fell by the road-side. Her next perception,
and it seemed to her like the strange vicissitude of
a dream, was of being slowly driven in an open vehicle by
a man who supported her head on his breast, whose arm
sustained her, and whose warm large hand gently inclosed her
little cold one. It still seemed a dream. She was yet but half
conscious, and made no motion till she felt lips on her cheek
and heard a low whisper of “my beloved Alice!” Her
senses returned at once and perfectly; she lifted up her
head, looked in her friend's face, and with a joyous sense of
escape, and a far more joyous sense of the dawn of infinite
happiness, she clasped her arms around his neck, and dropping
her blushing face on his bosom, cried “It is you!
thank God!”