University of Virginia Library


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The new-comer, whom we are already taught to know
as Miles Henderson, was tall of size and graceful of person.
In these respects, he resembled his companion;
though it needed no second glance of the spectator to
discover the superiority, in all that regards bearing and
general manner, in the person and carriage of the latter.
Henderson was a fine, sprightly, and rather sensible
fellow, but scarcely so courtly, so well-bred, and well-looking
as Randall Hammond. Still, there were those
by whom the former was preferred. He was more frank
and less commanding, as a character; more accessible,
and accordingly more agreeable to the many, than the
man of superior will and general endowments. It does
not need, however, that we should strike the balance,
just at this time, between them. Such a proceeding will
serve hereafter. Enough for us, that the two are most
excellent friends; true, whole-souled, and confiding;
with neither doubt nor distrust of any kind between
them; ready to share their resources, and to peril life,
if need be, in behalf of each other. And such had
been their terms of relationship from boyhood. They
had few other associates to divide their sympathies or
provoke jealousies between them. Both of them were
the only sons of widowed mothers; and both of them
were equally docile in respect to the wishes of their
parents. They were not absolutely faultless, but very
good fellows, as the world goes; the one being supposed
to have a very decided will of his own; the other of
having a tendency to good-fellowship of every kind,
without losing his equilibrium, in the license which good-fellowship


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among young men is supposed to engender.
We may state, at the beginning, that, on the occasion
of their present meeting, there was something more of
shyness and reserve in their mutual bearing, cordial and
frank as it really appeared, than had ever distinguished
it before. The secret of this, of which each was duly
conscious, will be shown as we proceed. They had got
to some distance from the dwelling, when, somewhat
abruptly, Randall resumed the conversation with an

“So you dined at Mrs. Foster's yesterday, Miles?”

“No. I got there in the afternoon. I went down
to the village to see Ferguson about that land business,
and took the good lady in my way home.”

“By going four miles out of the way,” said the other,

“You're right, Randall,” answered the other frankly,
while a slight flush tinged the cheek of the speaker.
“You're right; but I reckon it's only what you'd have
done yourself.”

To this nothing was answered. A moment's pause
ensued, when Hammond resumed.

“Was that foolish fellow, Barry, there?”

“No! not then; but I gathered that he had been,
during the morning, from something that passed between
Geraldine and her mother—”

“Ah! What?”

“Why, as far as I could guess, Geraldine had been
rather sharp upon him, in some of her answers; and
her mother was quite displeased in consequence. She
gave Geraldine a lecture as long as one of Brother
Peterkin's, particularly when his dinner has been a good
and comforting one; and Geraldine—”

“Minded it quite as little as my roan horse does the
snaffle. But how often, Miles, you name her in the
space of a sentence!”

“Name her! How often! Who?” The response
was stammeringly made.

“Who, but Geraldine Foster? In a single half sentence,


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I think, you contrived to bring in her name at
least half a dozen times.”

“Nay, Randall, you're joking. But once, 'pon my

“Pawn nothing, or you lose. The offence is not
hanging, unless agreeably. The name is one to be
repeated. It is a sweet and musical one.”

This was said good-humoredly, a slight smile lightening
pleasantly the otherwise grave face of the speaker.
His companion discovered a something significant in the
look and speech, was himself slightly confused, and concealed
it in silence. Hammond quietly turned full upon
him, and, laying his hand with affectionate emphasis
upon his shoulder, thus addressed him:—

“Look you, Miles, old fellow, there is one small knot
between us which remains to be untied.”

“Knot between us, Randall?”

“Yes; and the sooner we take it between our fingers,
the more certain are we to escape the necessity of putting
our teeth to it. We are here by ourselves, and a
few moments more—”

“But, have we time, Randall?”

“Time! Yes; we neither of us care much for the
race; we shall lose but little.”

“But little, in truth. The horses I hear of are only
common ones. There is Vose's gray, pretty good at
a quarter; and Biggar's young filly out of `May
Queen;' and the old horse `Bob,' of Joe Balch, which
you know was never of much account; and Barry, I
understand, means to run his `Fair Geraldine,' of which
he brags so much; and—”

“Enough of your catalogue,” said the other, with a
smile: “I perhaps know quite as much as yourself with
regard to the horses likely to be upon the ground; for
Tom Nettles was with me yesterday, and he has all the
news. The race, he agrees, will be no great shakes, so
that, if we lose some of it, we lose nothing—”

“Yes, but Randall, Geraldine will be there early, and
without any male attendance. In fact, I promised her


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to be on the ground at the beginning, in order to let
her know all about the horses. She is full of it, and
is prepared to bet a world of gloves, and purses, and
handkerchiefs. She expects you there early also. She
told me, indeed, that you had promised her—”

“Ah! she remembered it, did she?—well!” after a
moment's pause; “we shall still be there in season;
what I have to say won't take many minutes. The chief
difficulty was to get up the resolution to say it at all,

“The resolution, Randall? Why, what can it be?”

“Can't you guess?” replied the other, fixing his
eyes keenly upon those of his companion. The orbs of
the latter sunk beneath the scrutiny.

“I see that you know. Let us sit here, Miles.”

They were now beneath a magnificent cluster of oaks,
covering five or more acres of ground, and looking forth,
from a noble eminence, on lawn and field, and plain,
and high road, that stretched away below. Sylvan
seats, manufactured rudely, but not without a native
ingenuity, out of wands of hickory and elm, into Gothic
and fantastic forms, were conveniently distributed for
the lounge, while great streamers of drooping gray
moss festooned the outstretching arms of the several
trees with a drapery not less appropriate than natural.
Hammond pointed his companion to one of these seats,
while he took another close beside him. An inconvenient
pause followed of a few moments, which was
finally broken by the strong will of the former, which
was of that fearless and frank character that could
soon shake itself free of all feelings of social awkwardness
when resolved on the performance of a duty. His
hand again rested kindly on the shoulders of Henderson,
as, looking him affectionately in the face, he thus
proceeded to unfold the matter which troubled him.

“Miles, old fellow, it won't do, after so many years
of close and brotherly communion; years when we were
all in all to each other, and seemed to live for nobody


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beside; I say, it won't do for us now to suffer any mistrust
or misunderstanding to grow up between us.”

“Surely not, Randall!—I wouldn't for the world!—
But what mistrust—what misunderstanding?”

“Hear me, Miles; mistrusts and misunderstandings
grow very naturally and very silently between friends
from the slightest beginnings. There's no seeing them
at first, unless the heart is watchful of itself, and even
then they are apt to be let alone to grow apace, as all
ill weeds do, unless the heart is properly jealous of itself.
Now, it may be that my heart is equally mistaken in
its suspicions of itself and of yours—”

“Of mine, Randall?”

“Yes! I have reason to believe that there has been
a slight falling off between us ever since Geraldine
Foster returned to the neighborhood.”

“Randall!” said the other, reproachfully.

“It is even so, Miles; but it must not be so any
longer. For this reason, I have determined to speak out
plainly before the weed grows too strong for the ploughshare.
We were friends from boyhood until now, and
your friendship has been, and I trust will continue
to be, quite as precious to me as any love of woman.
We must continue to be friends, Miles, even though we
should both of us love Geraldine Foster.”

The other clasped his hands together, as if with
a sudden anguish.

“Ah, Randall!—I did fear it; I did!”

“It is unfortunate, Miles, that such is the case, but
it is no longer to be feared, and it need not be fatal to
our friendship. I can love Geraldine with all the passion
of a Georgian's heart; but, Miles, I can love you too,
and I will love you to the last. To be sure of this, we
have only to understand each other. There must be no
doubts, no mistrusts, no suspicions between us. You
love her; you will seek her; you will try to win her
love if you can; and for this I shall afford you every
proper opportunity, not hesitating to avail myself of
the chances that seem to encourage me. Thus far, we


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have both sought her without interference of each other.
We will continue to do so. It is the instinct of a
true friendship which has compelled this forbearance.
I frankly admit to you that, as yet, she has given me
no proofs that she cares one straw for me more than
for another. If you can say that you have been more
fortunate, speak it out, Miles, like a man, and I pursue
her no longer; I leave the field entirely to yourself.”

“You are a noble fellow, Randall, and deserve the
girl; which I don't. I could no more have mustered
the heart to talk of it to you, as you have just done to
me, than I could have found wings to fly; yet I felt that
that was the only way. I do love her, as you say;
but I must own that, like yourself, I have had no
encouragement. But no more does she seem to show
favor to others. She has several suitors, you know?”

“Yes! but none, I think, that either of us has need
to fear. You, at least, are the only person whose
chances disquiet me. She has the sense to perceive
your worth—to respect you—”

“I don't know that,” was the somewhat sullen answer,
with a discontented shake of the head; “she
treats me mighty scurvily, at times. You know her

“Yes; but I know it is her way, which shows itself
to all others as it shows itself to you, though each
person naturally thinks himself the worst treated of
all. She is a tyrant, knows her power, and is but
too fond of abusing it; but she is a noble creature, nevertheless,
with all her faults.”

“A beautiful creature, Randall!”

“I don't speak so much of her beauty, Miles, though,
as you say, she is very beautiful; but she is a genuine
creature. She is wrong frequently, and says and does
wilful and mischievous things; but I do not think she
has any cunning, which I look upon as fatal to all the
beauty that woman could possess. She speaks, and
thinks, and feels, very much as if a feeling and honest
heart was in her bosom, which had not yet been tortured


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out of shape and nature by the tricks of society and
the teachings of other women. It is this for which I
love her chiefly, and which reconciles me to so much of
her eccentricities and wilfulness. I suppose she treats
you only as she treats me and all others. The truth is,
she not only feels her power, and is rash because of
her own impetuous spirit, but she has learned to distrust
the professions and attentions of gentlemen. She has
met with flatteries and flatterers at Savannah and
Charleston, and has learned perhaps to despise them,
not because she did not like attention and homage, but
that she required them to be interesting as well as
suppliant. It is the insipidity of beaux, rather than
their devotion, that her bold mind, which resents the
commonplace, has learned to distrust and to contemn.
Fortunately, you and I are no beaux, Miles; but she
has yet to discover what we are. That she will find
out, if time be allowed her, I make no question. I
confide in her sincerity of mind; in what seems the
very wilfulness of her heart; in its warmth, its impulse,
and the shrewd good sense, which is quite as apparent
to me in her conduct as her eccentricities.”

“Ah! Randall, you need to fear nothing,” was the
somewhat desponding answer of the other; “I'm thinking
she already sees you with kinder eyes than anybody

“Scarcely, Miles; for I am not taking the course
to win her affections suddenly. I confess to some policy
in this respect. She would rate me with the rest, if I
sought her like the rest. I must approach her as a man,
and not as a schoolboy.”

“You were always a man, Randall, even when a

“I'm not sure, Miles, that you pay me any compliment
in this opinion. My consolation is that it is not
just. Your mannish schoolboys are usually destroyed
by their precocity. Still, if I can persuade Geraldine
that I am a man now—”

“You will—you will!” said the other, with a sigh.


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“Nay, nay, Miles; I must have none of this despondency.
You must pursue your chase with as much
hope and ardor as decision. As I have said already,
I am not taking the usual course for success, and there
is one evil influence particularly at work against me.”

“What is that?”

“Her stepmother's dislike to me, which flows naturally
from the slights which she complains of at the
hands of my mother. My mother, who comes from an
old stock, and a very proud one, dislikes the obtrusive
and bad manners of Mrs. Foster. It is not that she is
of humble origin, but that she is pert and presuming,
and has made several efforts, without success, to find
her way to my mother's intimacy. Besides, Mrs. Foster
evidently inclines to this little fellow, Barry, who treats
her with a degree of deference which amounts to sycophancy,
and who, besides, has the prospect of much
greater wealth than either of us could possibly hope to
acquire. The stepmother must have succeeded before
this, had it not been for the native good sense and the
strong will of Geraldine. Yet she may at last—”

“Who, Geraldine? Never! She despises Barry.”

“Very likely; indeed, I know she must; but that
don't materially impair his chances, should circumstances
favor him. Many a passionate woman, taken in the
lucky moment, has married the object of her loathing.
This is woman's weakness. But we needn't linger in
this discussion. I have made a clean breast of it. You
have done the same. What next? Why, that we should
pursue our objects, Miles, as we have always pursued
them, with candor, with mutual sincerity and love.
Fair play between us will always keep us friends, let
who will get the lady.”

The cordial gripe of their hands which followed was
as an oath between them. Much more was said, which
it does not concern us to repeat. A few moments
found them mounted, both on blooded steeds of the
best breeds in the country, and on their way to the


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country race-course, not yet famous in the sporting
calendar, which was honored with the name of Hillabee,
after an ancient tribe of Indians, all of whom are