University of Virginia Library




“Who sees not the bottom, let him not pass the water.”

Miss Herbert went in, on her way to her sister's, to
Steinberg's music-shop. He was not there. The door was
ajar that communicated with a little inner parlor; and while
she was tossing over some sheets of music on the counter,
she heard voices. One was cheerful, and familiar; the other
low, and “full of tears.”

“Letty,” said Lisle, “I see you are not well—you are
working too hard.”

“Oh no, indeed I am not; my work is my life.”

“Then the children torment you?”

“No, Archy, they are very good, and they love me, and
I love them.”

“Then the long and the short of it is, our evening lessons
are too much for you. I shall come no more.”

“Oh, Archy, don't say so.”

“What is the use, Letty, of wearing yourself out? You
read German well enough, and you are learning of the Steinbergs
to speak it charmingly.”

“Well, Archy, do as you think best; it must be a weary
task for you.” The meek are not always blessed!


Page 6

“No indeed, dear Letty, it is a pleasure—a very great

“Then continue to come; do, Archy—I have no other
pleasure,” she added, in a more cheerful tone; but the last
word did not reach Grace's ear, for the children at this moment
made an inroad, followed by old Steinberg, who passed
into the shop. He was interrupted in his excuses, by Grace
asking if those were his children?

“Mein Gott! no, Miss Herbert; my old woman and I are
not Abraham and Sarah. These are my grand-children that
Mr. Lisle, that gentleman in there, God bless him, took
charge of from Germany, and has brought us the best little
governess for them. You speak German, will you look in
upon them?”

While Grace hesitated, Lisle came into the shop. The
sight of Miss Herbert checked him. He blushed, merely
bowed, and passed on. The blush, only a suffusion caused
by the sudden meeting, recalled Mrs. Milnor's gossip at
Mrs. Tallis' reception. Grace gave no faith to it then,
or now; but her curiosity was awakened, and her feminine
imagination had woven a tissue out of Letty's sweet and
sad tones; so she graciously accepted the old man's invitation,
and followed him. She recognized at the first glance
the pale, pretty girl in half mourning whom she had seen
at the opera.

“Excuse,” said old Steinberg, addressing Letty, “this is
Miss Herbert, just looking in upon the little ones.”

At the sound of this name, Letty's pale cheek reddened,
and her soft, meek eye met Grace's. Both gazed inquiringly,
and both, feeling the gaze might be offensive, averted
their eyes. Letty shrinking from the potent lady, whom it
seemed presumption to regard as a rival, and Grace averting
her eye with a feeling that might be thus translated into
words: “Had that fellow, Belson, the audacity to eye this


Page 7
sweet, modest young woman with suspicion? How savage
was Mrs. Milnor's gossip!”

“My friend, Mr. Lisle—or rather your friend,” she said,
“for I believe he is much more your's than mine—is your

“My teacher!” exclaimed Letty, overpowered by the
grace of Miss Herbert's practiced manner; “oh! no; Mr.
Lisle is not my teacher, not at all—he only—that is—I mean
he only comes.”

“To give you German readings,” said Grace, smiling, and
anxious to relieve poor Letty's embarrassment. “I know
no man one would rather call master in all `arts and moralities,'
than Mr. Lisle.”

“So, so—just so!” exclaimed old Steinberg, rubbing his
hands; “but, Miss Herbert, I have not told you my little
ones' names yet.” This duty he eagerly did, and Grace,
after kindly chatting with them, to their delight, in German,
took her leave. Letty heaved a sigh, as if lifting a load
from her heart. Afterward, the following sentences,
blotted, with tears, were found in her private diary:

“We have different spheres. Theirs is the same—mine
immeasurably below them. But her love is not like mine!
She speaks of him without faltering. The very sound of his
name touches my heart's main-spring.

“Go on, bright, noble, captivating woman! Fulfill your
destiny and his—and oh, may I be hidden in His merciful
arms, who will forgive his weak and erring child, that she
loved the creature more than the Creator!”

As Grace emerged from Steinberg's shop, she met Horace
Copley. He, of course, joined her, and after some common-place
references to the affliction in her sister's family, he said,
surveying her appreciatingly, “What becoming mourning
you have selected!”

“My milliner must have the credit of it,” said Grace,


Page 8
blushing, “for I have been but once out of the house since
our little boy's death.” Grace's blush was due to the
thought that the exception was her visit to Ida Roorbach.

“I am delighted to meet you just now,” resumed Copley;
“I have something special to say to you.”

“Not yet—oh, not quite yet!” Grace would have said,
but she merely murmured “Well?”

“It is well—or will be, I trust,” he replied. Grace felt a
recoiling as, looking up at Copley, she met one of those inquisitorial
glances by which he seemed to divine her inmost
thoughts. His face reverted to its ordinary expression, as
incommunicative as the cover of a book. He proceeded coolly,
“This demission of your brother-in-law is a sad affair.”
Grace breathed a long breath. “I mean of course, as a matter
of discretion—with his family, and in his state of health.
It occurred to me that I might do him a small service in this
exigency. The President is my friend. He owes me a good
turn. I have written to the White House, and the answer
is every thing I could wish. Of course, nothing of this
should transpire till we ascertain whether Mr. Esterly will
accept the appointment. There are many applicants for it,
and it is a delicate matter to manage these affairs so as to
give the least possible offence in political quarters. Political
adherents, like lovers, are not fond of others' leavings. Will
you speak to your brother-in-law? I am not in his good
graces—he is, you know, whimsical—he may not relish accepting
a favor from me, but will be quite willing to owe it
to you—as it would be idle to deny that he does.”

“Oh, no—to you, and a most seasonable kindness it is.
My brother is not whimsical—he may perhaps be prejudiced.”

Nothing so common-place, as the old adage of “killing
two birds with one stone,” probably occurred to Mr. Horace
Copley, but he smiled to the very inmost fold of his heart as


Page 9
he perceived he had hit one mark. Worldly-wise as he was,
he marred his advantage the very next time he opened his
lips. Truly, “the devil is subtle, but weaves a coarse web.”
“I should not perhaps have said,” he resumed, “that Mr.
Esterly is whimsical, but, poor fellow, he is impracticable.
It was an imprudent step to throw up his rectorship. A
man who has a wife and children can not afford to follow out
his speculative notions—his duties to them are paramount—”

“To truth?” Grace thought, and would have said, but
that her attention was suddenly arrested by two men who
stood on the steps of Esterly's church, and just in the
shadow of its arched entrance. They were talking earnestly,
and seemed watching Grace and Copley as they turned into
the gate leading to the parsonage which adjoined the extreme
end of the church. Twice the men moved forward,
as if to follow them, and then retreated. In the mean time
Copley rang the door-bell, and the bell not being immediately
answered, Grace observed that all the blinds were closed.
“Ah, I remember,” she said, “they were going out of town
for a day or two.” Just then, a shuffling step was heard in
the entry, and Diana, the old colored cook first opening the
side-blind, and peeping out, unbolted the door, and opening
it, hastily said, “It's you, Miss Grace—Lord o' macy! come
in. Come in, Mr. Copley—step quick, please sir.”

“Why, what is the matter, Diana?” said Grace; “what
has happened?”

“Nothing has happened to our folks, it's only to me and
mine.” Big tears rolled down Diana's black cheeks; she
wiped them away with the end of her white turban. Diana's
coiffure was very unlike the goddess' whose name she illustrated.

Grace took a long breath, but her more immediate fears
relieved, her interest turned to the poor old petted servant
whose alarm and agitation were pitiable. “Do come into


Page 10
the parlor, Miss Grace,” she said; “please follow, Mr. Copley.”
She turned again to the window, and took a survey
through the lattice. “The hounds is gone, for the present,”
she continued, “but the Lord have macy on us, they'll come
back, there's no saving of her.”

“Who are they, Diana?” asked Grace. “What are they

“What!—why, Miss Grace—Vi'let! True as you live!
and her little boy.”

“Violet and little Prince! Is Augustus' wife a slave,

“She is that—we never let on about it—'case, says I to
'Gus, when you set a secret a travelin', you never knows
how far it will go, nor whose doors it will go into. But
they got wind of it somehow—them that's mean enough to
turn aginst their own color—and they informed. Vi'let
says there's been evil eyes round 'em for a month. As God
lives, for every penny them gets for hunting down their
fellow-sufferin' creters, they shall 'count to him who marks
all their tears and groans, and flutterin's. `Ashes always
flies back in the face of them that throws' em.' Vi'let says
they had a larum every hour that set their hearts a beatin'
like a drum. Last night Gus' brought them here, hopin'
Miss Eleanor would open up a way somehow for em', and
maybe she would, for she's kind o' 'raculous at helpin' folks
in 'stress, but la! she's gone, and Mr. Esterly and I am here
alone to fight it out with them fellows. They had just been
here with a sarch-warrant before you came. The Lord
'spired me to put mother and child out on the roof, down
agin the church. They sarched every hole and cranny—up
stairs and down, under the beds, in old barrels, and up the
chimnies, I followin' round, and tryin' to look as if I wern't
afeard of nothin'. But, la sus! Miss Grace, I've lived too
long in our family to be handy at lyin' any way. I was all


Page 11
of a nerve and a tremble. At last, says the tall one to the
little snub, `John,' says he, `we may as well gubs it up this
time;' and as soon as I was redy of 'em, I called in Vi'let
and Prince. Poor gal! her heart is a breakin' all the while,
for she knows it's only a lull, and she and Prince have got
to quit 'Gus, and go back to slavery. Ah, Miss Grace, that's
a boy! that Prince—there's nothin he don't know—he can
play a tune on the Jews-harp, and sing, `Saints are rejoicin',
Sinners are a tremblin' from first to last. Oh, I
had rather give my eyes, and my right arm too, than to lose
him—but I've got to—I've got to!” Here the poor creature
was choked with sobs, but her indignation overpowering
her grief, “My curse,” she said, clenching her hands,
and raising them, “my curse, as long as I can speak it, shall
follow them folks down to Washington that made the arm
of the law long enough and strong enough to wrench away
our own children, do what we will!”

“Oh, Di'!” said Grace, “dear old Di', they shall not take
your children from you; Violet shall come home with me, I
will conceal her till I find some way of saving her. I will
sell my last gown rather than let her go from you.”

“Ah, but, Miss Grace, they'll ask too dear; they 've got
no bowels, and so they think nobody else has got 'em.”

“Never fear, Di'—`where there's a will, there's a way,'
you know. But how shall we get her to Bond-street?”
And turning to ask Copley's advice, she saw he was standing
with his back to her at the end of the room, absorbed
apparently in contemplating a small picture of herself which
he had taken from the wall to get a stronger light upon it.

“Oh, come here, Mr. Copley,” she said with a slight tone
of impatience, “have you not heard poor Di's story?”

“Most assuredly, every word of it.”

“Then can't you advise, or devise for us?”

“No,” he replied, his tone now indicating a cordial interest


Page 12
that enchanted Grace; “but I will execute whatever
your quicker wits devise.”

Grace snapped her fingers, an apt action with her, denoting
the rapid movement of her brain. “I have it,” she
exclaimed. “Diana, is not Violet about my height and size?”

“Close on't, Miss Grace, close on't—the same pretty fall
of the shoulders, too, and kind o' proud set of the head.”

“Very well—it will be dark in half an hour. Violet
shall dress herself in my gown, bonnet, shawl, scarf, and
veil, and go in my place, arm in arm with Mr. Copley, to
Bond-street. If these men are still lurking about here,
they will be deceived. Will you play your part, Mr.

“With most entire satisfaction, provided Mistress Violet's
arm is a hostage for yours.”

Grace, in her eagerness to carry her plan into effect did
not apprehend the full import of his words. She gave him
her hand in playful ratification of their compact, and at that
moment Copley did not much err in inferring from the animation
of her face, that she would not shrink from the strict
construction that his most sanguine hope gave to the action.
“Not a word from you, Dian!” said Grace, “are you not

“La, ma'am, yes,” answered poor Di, looking desperately
bedroofed, “but you've forgot Prince; they'll hold
Vi'let by her heart-strings if they get Prince.”

Grace's countenance fell. “I did forget little Prince,” she

“Leave Prince to me,” said Copley; “I give you my
word he shall be cared for.”

Diana was content. The colored people have a feudal
dependence on the word of “a real gentleman,” in their acceptation
of the term. She went to summon her daughter-in-law,
who presently came, a graceful, young mulatto


Page 13
woman. Her beauty, alas! as well as her youth and
strength, had its money value. Her boy was clinging to
her gown, as Ishmael does to Hagar's in Da Vinci's picture.
His fine head and face were nature's protest against the
state to which he was doomed. At first Violet seemed dissatisfied
with an arrangement that separated her from him,
but when Dian had reiterated Copley's assurance, and whispered
something of which Grace heard the words “rich”
and “her suitor,” she seemed partly reassured, and went up
stairs with Grace to prepare for her masquerading.

In the mean time old Dian's heart expanded as did the
Genii, when the box was opened, he in smoke, she in

“La, sus! I wonder what 'Gus will say when he hears it
all. He's gone to Hartford with the brass band. You
know, Mr. Copley, 'Gus beats all on the tamborine—there's
nothing he loves so well, 'cept Vi'let and Prince. Why,
Mr. Copley, if our hearts is down in our shoes, he'll come in
and take down his tamborine and rise 'em right up. No
wonder 'Gus sets by Vi'let—she's been raised like a lady.
Are you 'quainted with the Guthries down in Caroliny, Mr.

“I have heard of them.”

“I s'pose so. They're one of the first families, and by
Vi'let's tell, quality to the back bone. Vi'let was three
years older than Miss Angelica Guthrie. She was set off to
wait on her—that's the way down there. They grew up together
inch by inch, and Vi'let says their hearts twined together
just like roots of a potted plant. She says Miss
Angelica was like her name—angel was the biggest part of
her; she was a feeble little piece; and sights o' watching
and tending Vi'let had to do, but she loved her misses all
the better for that, you know; and when Miss Angelica
married Massa Tom Crampton, Vi'let went with her in


Page 14
course. But as handsome as Massa Tom 'peared, Vi'let did
not quite trust him—'case, you see, he was a gay blood, and
somehow sarvents find out the real in their massas afore the
quality does. However, things went pretty straight for a
year. They went down to Charlestown and had a pretty
gay winter, but when they came back to the plantation,
Vi'let says, Miss Angelica gets feeble, and Massa Tom gets
tired—men can't help it, you know; 'tis kinder tiresome
when the missesses gets sickly—and he goes off to the races.
She had no children, and Massa Tom took to gambling, and
carrying on, and so forth. Vi'let says they mostly do—the
young youth, 'case they have not got nothing else to do.
Vi'let says she knows many good old parents that go down
to the grave. I don't argify with Vi'let, but says I to myself,
they need not—why don't they give their slaves free,
and make their boys work, and then they would crown their
hoary heads; as the Bible says, `Buy t'other world with
this, and so win both'—that's it, Massa Copley. But Vi'let's
always speaking up for 'em, 'specially the missesses. She
says they are so kind, and gen'rous, and pious. Vi'let's
heart is as tender as a spring chicken. She says they feel
the curse of slavery more than the slaves do, and more than
the abolitioners do; and some day they'll shake it off, for
Vi'let says the day is a comin' when they can't stand it no
longer, for their lands are a runnin' down, and their children
are a runnin' down, and their consciences are a gnawin', and
their hearts are a risin'; but says I to Vi'let, `Why don't they
make a beginnin'? I want you to 'splain that!'”

“Are there shad in the market yet?” asked Copley.

The old woman started at this sudden obstruction to her
flow of earnest feeling. After recovering herself, she replied,
“I think there be, sir; but my young misses is prudent,
and never buys 'em at the dearest.”

Poor Dian left the room crest-fallen. As she mounted


Page 15
the stairs to look after Violet's toilet, she muttered, “S'pose
I did run on like a house a'fire, he need not throw cold
water in my face! He's a terrible fine gentleman, but he an't
good enough for our folks arter all.”

Grace reappeared with her protegée. Copley surveyed
the young mulatto. “There is an endowment of grace and
refinement in your very shawl and hat, Miss Herbert!” he

“Oh, no,” replied Grace, “she is to that manner native.
Now take her under your ward and watch, and don't forget
to send a carriage at eight.”

“Forget!” he exclaimed, and then turning back from the
door, as if at a second thought, he added, “Unfortunately I
have a business engagement, and can not come with the
carriage.” The “business engagement” was an appointment
to look over, with Mrs. Tallis, some Paris costumes for a
fancy ball.

Grace saw by the lighted street lamp that the men in wait
did not follow, and she rightly inferred that they were
satisfied that the parties who went out were the same who
entered a half-hour before.

“Well, my dear child, what do you propose to do next?”
asked Mr. Herbert, to whom Grace was confiding Violet's
story. “Mrs. Herbert will find excellent reasons why you
should not make her house a house of refuge.”

“My dear uncle I shall beware of encroaching on Mrs.
Herbert. She always takes the prudent side, and there are
plenty of ready-made reasons in the world's economy for
that. I only hesitate to tell you what I have resolved to do
—because, Uncle Walter, you are so very saving of my
money; but you know `there is a time to spend as well as a
time to save,' and surely the `time to spend' will never come
to me with a more affecting appeal than at this moment.”


Page 16

“But, my dear child!”

“Hear me out, uncle. I can, in no way, but by paying
their price, shield this poor mother and her boy from the
law that forces them back to slavery. I am glad, at any
cost, to bear my testimony against it.”

“But Grace, consider, my child—you can not afford to
bear your testimony in this way. You have but just enough
for your own wants; remember you are always a little in
advance of your income. They may demand $1,500 for the
mother and child; Violet is a handsome creature, and
beauty, you know, enhances the price of this kind of

Her uncle's suggestion filled Grace's eyes with tears, and
made her cheeks glow. “Oh, my country! my country!”
she exclaimed, “how long are you to suffer this shame?”
Grace's mind was imbued with an heroic love of country, a
sentiment not common in these days of small and importunate
egotisms. “Don't let us talk any more about it, Uncle
Walter,” she resumed; “I must have my way this time.
Eleanor is teaching me that there is more than one mode
of securing independence.”

“Do as you will, my child—do as you will. I verily believe
you might persuade me to throw all the little money
we both have into the dock, and go round the streets with
you grinding a hand-organ. You and Eleanor will never
catch the epidemic of the country—Thank God!” he added,

It was further on in the same evening when Miss Anne
Carlton's maid was divesting her mistress of a dress (which
her mother averred had been `admired beyond every thing,'
at a small party where that lady had been the star of the
evening) that mother and daughter were discussing Grace's
sequestration of Violet. “Really, mamma,” said Miss Anne


Page 17
Carlton, “Grace imposes on you. I can not think what
right she has to make our house a hiding-place for runaway
slaves!” She caught the reflection of her handsome face in
the glass, and interjected a sentence, seemingly foreign to
the preceding, and in a quite different tone: “Do you know,
mamma, that Sabina Reeve says she has not the smallest
idea Copley means any thing by his devotion to Grace; she
says it is a way he has of amusing himself.”

“Time will show,” replied the non-committal mother.

“But, about that slave-girl, mamma. Does Grace expect
you to submit to the police searching our house for stolen
goods? How perfectly horrid!”

“Grace is trying!” said the mother. “But you know,
Anne, I wish to avoid any difference with her, and I think I
have managed pretty well so far—thanks to my knowledge
of human nature.” One could not help wondering whether
Mrs. Herbert was conscious of partaking this human nature,
which she deemed so plastic in her hands! “I do particularly
wish,” she continued, “to avoid involving myself in
this inconvenient subject of slavery. No one disapproves of
slavery in the abstract more than I do. I fear it is wrong;
and I know enough of political economy to know that it is
the most expensive mode of labor.”

“Oh, mamma, do let political economy alone to-night.”

“My dear! you are getting as nervous as Walter Herbert.
He cut me short, just as I was beginning to give him my
views. You may rest assured, Anne, that I do not approve
of any interference with the laws. Women's duty is clear
on that point. I am, therefore, not pleased with Grace's
proceeding, and above all, with her bringing the runaway
here. But you know I stand on delicate ground. Her
father, by his will, gave her an absolute right to the apartments
she occupies.”

“Yes, and Mr. Herbert to his, and absurd it was!”


Page 18

“Dear Anne, do not speak disrespectfully of your mother's
husband; few wills are made without some errors of
judgment. But, to the point: so long as Miss Herbert
keeps the girl in her own apartment, I shall not interfere.
If the house is to be searched, I shall submit—with a protest.”

“And so you would submit, if Grace Herbert turned us
both out of doors. Some people always rule, and others
always give up!” and the young lady, having concluded
with this meek aphorism, retired with the conviction that
she and her mother were among the down-trodden.

The next morning every ring at Mrs. Herbert's door
seemed to each member of her family to announce the dread
visit of the officers of justice. They did not come, but at
12 o'clock there did come a pacquet, addressed to “Miss
Herbert,” in Copley's hand. It contained “free papers” for
Violet and her boy, with a receipt to Mr. Copley for $1400,
from the agent of Violet's owner. Copley's star was in the
ascendant. He had stamped on Grace's feelings, at the moment
of their softening, his own image, beaming with sympathy,
generosity and benevolence.

The unusually happy frame of Grace's mind was somewhat
impaired by the receipt of the following curt answer
to the note to her brother-in-law, in which she had communicated
what she termed, “Mr. Copley's timely and kind intervention
in his behalf:”

My Dear Sister:

“Accept my thanks for an offer, which of course I owe
directly or indirectly to you. The appointment proposed
neither comports with my sense of duty, my qualifications,
or my inclinations.

“Yours affectionately,
F. Esterly.


Page 19
“P. S. Of course, you will make suitable acknowledgments
to H. C.”

“Very gracious! my dear brother-in-law,” thought Grace,
as she refolded the letter, feeling an implication with her
lover as an injured party, when she perceived that Eleanor
had filled the inner pages of the sheet. “Ah, sweet sister,”
thought she, “you will make all smooth—you were made to
pick the thorns out of life.”

“Don't set it down against Frank, dear sister,” said the
letter, “that his answer is a little crusty. You know how
these bilious attacks of his turn all sweet juices to acid for
the time. The harassing trials attending his resignation,
followed too close upon our boy's death, and quite knocked
him up. It seems to me that the afflictions God appoints
are sanctifying, while those of men's infliction stir up the
evil in our nature. Frank has suffered terribly from the
uncharitable denunciations of some of his brethren. It is
through their intervention that he has failed of his election to
the presidency of — College. I rather rejoice in this
failure, as giving my husband the opportunity for entire
rest. Teach he will, for to this service he holds himself
pledged by his clerical vow.

“I am sure that his perplexities will excuse to you, my
dear sister, his discourtesy to Mr. Copley. Pray make the
best of it to him. Give him my grateful acknowledgments;
and, dear Grace, do let your friend know how much I felt
his kindness to little Herbert. Apologize for my not writing
a note to him. I have been so absorbed in nursing and
cheering my husband, that I have neglected minor duties.

“Dear sister, I did not know, till trial and, in some sort,
disappointment, came, the full blessedness of the marriage
tie. Not in the days of `young love,' not in our hours of
ease, but now, when the strain of life has come, do we


Page 20
realize the worth of our bonds; storms and adverse winds
prove the ship. May your marriage, dear sister, whenever
it comes, be as happy as ours!” Grace paused, read over
the last paragraph, smiled—sighed—and then finished the
letter. “Pray, Grace, look in upon Cousin Effie, and see
that she does not over-fatigue herself with little Nel. Tell
dear old Di' we hope to be at home next week. My dearest
love to Uncle Walter, and kind remembrance to Mrs. Herbert;
and please tell Anne, that if I go to B. I will execute
her commission with pleasure.

E. E.”

“Oh, dear, perfect sister!” exclaimed Grace, “your heart
compasses sea and land—even takes in Anne Carlton! Well,
there can be but one normal character in a family—and but
one normal marriage!”