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Page 167


I have already spoken of the exceptional way in which
my nature developed itself — by sudden bounds, which, in
a very short time, carried me quite out of my former self.
The two, or three, or possibly twenty inherited elements were
not smoothly blended in my composition; the blood of my
father's and mother's lines seemed only to run side by side,
not mingle in a new result, in my veins. It was a long time
— very long after the period of which I am now writing —
before I could comprehend my own laws of growth and being,
and reconcile their apparent inconsistencies. As yet,
my power of introversion was of the shallowest kind. I
floated along, with closed eyes, on the current of my sensations
and my fancies.

My growing attachment to Miss Amanda Bratton, however,
was the means of pushing me a long stride forwards.
It thoroughly penetrated me with a soft, ideal warmth, far
enough removed from the strong flame of ripe masculine
passion, and gently stimulated all my mental and moral energies.
My ambition began to find its proper soil of self-reliance,
and to put forth its roots. A new force was at
work in my frame, giving strength and elasticity to the muscles,
“keying up” many a slack fibre, lifting the drooping
lid of the eye and steadying its gaze, and correcting, with
a clearer outline, the boyish softness of the face. I no
longer shrank from the coming encounter with the world,
but longed for the test of courage and the measure of


Page 168

Yet, in one respect, I felt myself still a coward. Although
convinced of the eternal devotion of my heart to
the beloved object, I had not dared to declare it. I saw
her frequently, and our relation became more and more
sweetly intimate and confidential; but I never surprised a
blush when I came, nor detected a tender tremor of voice
when I left. Her nature was as calm, and apparently as
limpid, as a shaded pool in the heart of a forest. When
I looked in her clear, unchanging eyes, as they steadily
rested on mine, I felt the presence of a pure, unsuspecting,
virgin soul. It seemed to me that my ever-present consciousness
of love was met by as profound an unconsciousness.
I longed, yet dreaded to arouse her from her peaceful
and innocent dream.

The solution of my two uncertainties was hastened by an
unexpected occurrence. Early in March I was surprised
by a visit from Rand, who came, as he said, on some business
in which D. J. Mulford and Squire Bratton were both
concerned. Of course he was the guest of the latter during
the two or three days of his stay. He came over to the
mill on the evening of his arrival, and almost embraced me
in a gush of affectionate ardor when we met. I was equally
delighted, and took him at once up to my room for a chat,
as on our Sunday afternoons in Reading.

“Why, Godfrey, old boy,” said he, lighting a cigar without
ceremony, “what a snug little den you have! And
Bratton tells me you 're a good hand at the school, and do
credit to his choice. I must say I 'm glad it has turned out
so, for I took a little of the responsibility upon myself in
the beginning, you remember. Bratton 's a keen, long-headed
man — something of a swell, between ourselves;
but so is your affectionate old uncle, for that matter. By
the way, I 've made Woolley's acquaintance, in the way of
professional business; — oh, you need n't be alarmed; your
little legacy had nothing to do with it. I 'm sorry I can't
explain myself more particularly, but these matters are confidential,


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you know. I 'm posted up about all the business
in Mulford's hands, and he finds it convenient to let me
help him now and then. I say, though, Godfrey, — no,
`Selim,' I mean, — you are getting famous. That Hero
and Leander article was copied into the Gazette, the other
day. Of course, when I saw “Yule's Mill” at the bottom,
I knew what bird had whistled. I congratulate you, —
upon my soul I do!”

I was not proof against such hearty, outspoken sympathy.
Before Rand left I had confided to him my most cherished
literary hopes and desires, had read to him the best of my
treasures in manuscript, and asked his advice as to the next
step I ought to take.

“Leave here, by all means,” he said. “Go to Philadelphia,
or, still better, to New York, where you 'll find the
right sort of work. You may come to write novels or tragedies,
in the course of time, and make as much in a month
as you would in a year with such a school as this. I should
advise you, though, Selim,” (he persisted in addressing me
so,) “to get into some newspaper or book business; it 's
more solid and respectable. Poets, you know, are always
dissipated, and finish with the poor-house.”

I resented this statement with great warmth.

“Oh, well,” he continued, “I did n't mean that that
would be your fate, Selim. Besides, it may work off after
a while. Lots of fellows catch poetry, and have it a year
or two, and it don't seem to do them any harm. Mulford
wrote a song for the last Presidential campaign, to the tune
of `Tullahgorum,' and it does n't sound so bad, when he
sings it. But, to come to the point, the city 's the place for
you, or any man that wants to live by his wits. Only keep
your eyes skinned, and don't let the hair grow on your
tongue. You must either have gold in your pocket, or brass
in your face. Most people can't tell one from t' other.”

Rand's expressions jarred harshly on my more delicate
nature; but then, I knew precisely what he was, — good-hearted,


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I believed, but thoroughly unideal. The main
thing was, his judgment coincided with my own; he, too,
recognized that I was fitted for a more important field of action.
The very materialism of his views gave them greater
practical value in my eyes. Not that I paid much regard
to this side of the question; but it is always more comfortable
to have the conclusions of Selfishness with you than
against you.

My first plan had been to select Philadelphia as my future
residence. My poetical pseudonym was known to at
least one literary paper there, and I might make the acquaintance
of Saxon, author of the series of “Moral Novels,”
and Brightaxe, who wrote the dramatic poem of the
“Traitor of Talladega.” On the other hand, the dii majores
had their seats in New York; and I fancied Irving,
Cooper, Percival, and poets whose names I will not mention
because they are still living, seated day by day
around the same Olympian board, and talking in splendid
tropes and cadences. Even if they only asked for potatoes,
there must be a certain rhythmic grace in the words,
with cæsural pauses falling at classic intervals. Ye gods!
what a fool I still was!

There was at that time a monthly magazine, called “The
Hesperian,” published in New York. It was devoted to
Literature and Fashion, and was illustrated both with colored
figures copied from Le Follet, and mezzotints of mushy
texture, representing such subjects as “The Mother's Blessing,”
or “He Comes Too Late.” I looked upon the latter
as miracles of art, and imbibed the contributions as the
very cream of literature. The names of the writers were
printed in capitals on the last page of the cover, and my
heart throbbed when I saw Adeliza Choate among them.
I wondered whether I could not keep step with her on the
Parnassian steep; to have my name so printed was a downright
assurance of immortality. Accordingly, I picked out
my choicest manuscript and forwarded it with a note, signed


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with my proper name. By a happy coincidence, the very
day after Rand's arrival I received a note from “G. Jenks,
Publisher, per W. Timms,” stating that my poem would
appear in the May number, — further, that it was not G.
Jenks's habit to pay a nom de plume, but that he would
send me the Magazine gratuitously for six months.

This piece of good fortune decided me. True, it opened
no prospect of remunerative employment, but then I should
not be obliged to pay for “The Hesperian.”

As I was walking home from school, reading the letter
over again, Rand and Squire Bratton, coming up from the
direction of the Buck, overtook me. The latter was unusually
cordial and condescending, insisting that I should
take tea at his house that evening, as my friend Rand was
to return to Reading the next morning. Of course, I was
only too willing to comply.

After tea, Miss Amanda opened her piano and sang for
us. My enjoyment of her talent, however, was a little disturbed
by Rand's prosaic whispers of, “She 's been put
through the regular paces at school, and no mistake. That
style of thing was n't meant for Upper Samaria.”

At the close of the song, tears of feeling swam in my
eyes, but Rand loudly clapped his hands. “You have an
exquisite touch, Miss Bratton,” he called across the room;
“it 's rare to find so much musical talent.”

“I have no doubt you hear much better music in Reading,
Mr. Rand,” she modestly replied.

“No, I assure you!” he exclaimed, in his most earnest
voice, starting from his seat and approaching her. “The
Miss Clevengers are called fine performers, but I prefer
your style. They bang and hammer so, you can hardly
make out what it is they 're playing. It does n't touch your

Hang the fellow! I thought. If I had but half his assurance,
I should know my fate before twenty-four hours are
over. I did not hear the conversation which ensued, for


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Squire Bratton turned towards me with some question
about the school; but I could mark the honeyed softness
of his voice, as he hung over her music-stool. I did not
know why I should feel disturbed. He was a chance visitor
— had never seen her before, and might never come
again. She was bound to treat him with proper courtesy,
and her manner was not such as to invite an immediate familiarity.
There was nothing wrong anywhere, yet a foolish,
feverish unrest took possession of me.

Later in the evening, the album was produced. Miss
Amanda immediately turned to my page, and said, “Oh,
Mr. Rand, you must read what Mr. Godfrey has written.”

“Capital!” he exclaimed, after he had persued the lines.
“What a nice touch of fancy! Godfrey, you must really
have been inspired. But such a flower would make almost
any bird sing — even a kill-deer like myself.”

He looked full in her face as he uttered the words. Involuntarily,
I did the same thing, to note how she would
receive the brazen compliment.

“You shall have a chance, then,” she quietly said; “I
will bring you pen and ink directly.”

“Oh, by Jove, that 's taking me up with a vengeance!”
Rand exclaimed. “I could n't do such a thing to save my
life. Godfrey, you must help me.”

“I 'm not a mocking-bird. I can only sing my own song.”

She smiled, but without looking at me.

“Well, then,” said Rand, “I must get something out of
my memory. How will this do?

“`My pen is bad, my ink is pale,
My love to you shall never fail.'”

“No,” said she, taking the book from his hand, “I will
not have anything of the kind. You are making fun of
my album, and I 'll put it away.”

“Aw, now,” groaned Rand, assuming an expression of
penitence. But it was too late. The book was already removed,


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and Miss Bratton came back with an arch air of
reproof, saying to him, “You must behave better another

“Oh, I shall always be afraid of you.”

I went home that night with an increase of hope, and a
growing determination to declare my sentiments. I scarcely
slept, so busily was my mind occupied in creating possible
situations, and enacting the tender drama in advance.
I succeeded in everything but her answers, which I could
not — through sympathy with myself — make rejective, yet
did not dare to make consentive.

I had hoped, all along, that some happy accident might
disclose the truth, — that some mutually felt warmth of longing
might bring us naturally to the brink where my confession
would be the first step beyond; but no such came. I
must either seek or make the opportunity. After much
painful uncertainty of mind, I hit upon what I suppose
must be a very general device of young lovers, — to announce
my approaching departure, and be guided by the
manner in which she should receive it.

The month of March drew to a close, and I had but one
week more of the school before the coveted chance arrived.
It was Saturday afternoon, and one of those delicious
days of windless and cloudless sunshine when the
sad-hued earth sleeps, and sleeping, dreams of summer. I
walked up the creek, in order to look for arbutus-blossoms
on a wooded knoll above the mill-dam. We had been talking
of them a few days before, and she had told me where
they grew. I found the plants, indeed, pushing forth from
under the fallen leaves, but the flowers were not yet developed.
I gathered, instead, a bunch of club-moss, and took
my seat upon an old stump, to listen to a bluebird that
sang from the willow-thicket below. Something in the indolent
quiet of the air reminded me of the shady glen at
Honeybrook, and I thought of my cousin Penrose. How
far away it seemed!


Page 174

After a while I heard the sound of wheels approaching
on the road from Cardiff, and a light open wagon came into
sight around the head of the knoll. I recognized Sep
Bratton by his voice before I could distinguish his figure
through the trees; and the dark-blue drapery beside him
— could it be? — yes, it really was — Amanda! The road
passed some thirty or forty feet below me, but neither of
them looked up in my direction.

“I 'm going down to the Buck,” I heard Sep say, “but
I 'll let you off at the turning. Or, do you want to stop
and see Sue Yule?”

“Not to-day,” she answered. “But don't stay long, Sep.
You know, Pa don't like it.”

I listened no more, for a wild idea shot through my brain:
I would cross the stream above the dam, hurry down on
the opposite side, and intercept her! As soon as the vehicle
disappeared, I bounded down the knoll, leaped the narrow
channel, and stole as rapidly as possible, under cover
of the thickets, towards the path she must take. I had
plenty of time to recover my breath, for she was still standing
beside the wagon, talking to Sep, who seemed excited.
I could hear the sound of his voice, but not the words.

At last, the sweet suspense terminated. Sep drove off,
and I saw her gradually approach. Assuming a careless,
sauntering air, which belied my inward perturbation, I
emerged into view, walked a few steps, paused and looked
around, seemed suddenly to perceive her, and then went
forward to meet her.

Never had she looked so lovely. Her eyes expressed
the same unchanging calm, harmonizing, as I thought, with
the peaceful sky over us, but the air had brought a faint
tinge to her cheek and ruffled a little the smoothness of her
light-brown hair. I noticed, also, the steady even measure
of her step: if there had been harebells in her path, they
would have risen up from it, elastic, as from the foot of the
Lady of the Lake. She carried a dainty parasol, closed,


Page 175
and occasionally twirled it on her forefinger by an ivory
ring at the end of the handle.

By the time we had exchanged greetings, and I had spoken
of the arbutus and given her the club-moss, we passed
the dam, and the road would soon bring us to Bratton's
gate. What I had to say must be said speedily.

“I am going to leave here, Miss Bratton.”

“Inde-e-d! So soon?” she exclaimed, pausing in her
walk, as I had done.

“Yes, I am going to New York. This may be my last
walk with you. Let us go down the bank, as far as the old

She seemed to hesitate. “I don't know,” she said, at
last. “Ma expects me.” But while she spoke her steps
had turned unconsciously, with mine, into the footpath.

“I want to tell you why I go,” I continued. “Not because
I have not been very happy here, but this is not the
life for me. I must be an author, if I can, — something, at
any rate, to make my name honorable. I feel that I have
some little talent, and if I am ambitious it is not for myself
alone. I want to be worthy of my — friends.”

“Oh, you are that already, Mr. Godfrey,” said she.

“Do you think so, Miss Amanda?”


Her voice expressed a positiveness of belief which was
grateful, but, somehow, it did not encourage me to the final
avowal. I had reached the brink, however, and must
plunge now or never.

“If I should make myself a name, Miss Amanda,” I
went on, with broken, trembling voice, “it will be for your
sake. Do you hope, now, that I shall succeed?”

She did not answer.

“I must tell you, before I go, that I love you — have
loved you since we first met. I am presumptuous, I know,
to ask for a return, but my heart craves it.”

I paused. She had partly turned away her head, and
seemed to be weeping.


Page 176

“Tell me, you are not offended by what I have said,” I

“No,” she murmured, in a scarcely audible voice.

A wild hope sprang up in my heart. “You do not command
me to forget you?”

“No,” said she, as faintly as before.

“Then may I go and labor in the blessed knowledge that
you think of me, — that you will be faithful as I am faithful,
— that, — O Amanda! is it really true? Do you return
my love?”

She had buried her face in her handkerchief. I gently
put one arm around her waist and drew her towards me.
Her head sank on my shoulder. “Speak, darling!” I entreated.

“I cannot,” she whispered, hiding her face on my breast.

It was enough. A pulse of immeasurable joy throbbed
in my heart, chimed wonderful music in my ears, and overflowed
in waves of light upon the barren earth. The hilltops
were touched with a nimbus of glory, and far beyond
them stretched a shining world, wherein the thorns burst
into muffling roses, and the sharp flints of the highway became
as softest moss. I loved, and I was beloved!

My arms closed around her. My face bent over her,
and my lips sealed on hers the silent compact. I would
not torture her pure, virginal timidity of heart. Her sweet
and natural surrender spoke the words which her voice
could not yet utter. I repeated my own declaration, with
broken expressions of rapture, now that my tongue was
loosed and the courage of love had replaced its cowardice.

We reached the old hemlock, I knew not how, and sat
down on the bank, side by side. I took and tenderly held
her hand, which trembled a little as it lay in mine. Measuring
her agitation, as woman, by mine, as man, I could
readily make allowance for all that was passive in her attitude
and words. I had burst upon her suddenly with my
declaration, startling the innocent repose of her heart with


Page 177
the consciousness of love, and she must have time to become
familiar with the immortal guest.

I explained to her my plans, so far as they possessed a
definite shape. My success in literature I spoke of as a
thing assured; one year, or, at most, two, would be sufficient
to give me a sure position. Then I could boldly return
and claim her as my precious reward, — now, I must
be satisfied with my blissful knowledge of her love, upon
which I should rely as upon my own. My trust in her was
boundless, — if it were not so, I could not possibly bear the
pangs of absence.

“We shall write to each other, shall we not, Amanda?”
I asked. “Our hearts can still hold communion, and impart
reciprocal courage and consolation. Promise me this,
and I have nothing more to ask.”

“If we can arrange it so that no one shall know,” she
answered. “I would n't have Pa or Ma find it out for anything.
I 'm sure they would n't hear of such a thing yet
awhile. But we are both young, Mr. Godfrey” —

“Call me `John,'” I murmured, in tender reproach.

She beamed upon me a sweet, frank smile, and continued:
“We are so young, John, and we can wait and hope.
I am sure if ever anybody was constant, you are. You
must write, but not very often. If you could only send
your letters so that Pa or Sep should not see them! Sep
would soon notice them, and you know how he talks!”

I was equally convinced of the propriety of keeping our
attachment secret for the present. The difficulty in relation
to correspondence had not occurred to me before. It
was a new proof of the interest she felt in the successful
issue of our love.

“How can it be done?” said I. “We might send our
letters through somebody else. There 's Dan Yule, as honest
a fellow as ever lived!”

“Oh!” she exclaimed, “nobody must know what — what
you have said to me!”


Page 178

“He shall not know!” I protested. “I 'll make up some
story to explain the letters to Dan, and he 's so simpleminded,
he never suspects anything. Or, is there anybody

No, she could think of no one, and she finally consented,
though with reluctance, to the proposal. She now insisted
on returning home, and I must, perforce, be satisfied with
one more kiss before we emerged from the screen of the
brook-trees. On reaching the road, we parted with a long
clasp of hands, which said to me that her heart now recognized
the presence of love, and would be faithful forever.

I saw her twice again before my departure, but could
only exchange a few stolen words, hot with compressed
emotion. Sorrow for the parting, and a joyous impatience
to be away and at work for her sake, were strangely mingled
in my heart; yet joy was most natural to my temperament,
and it now poured through my days like a freshet,
flooding over and drowning every lingering barrier of doubt
or self-distrust.

When my school closed and my account with the directors
was settled, I found myself in possession of nearly
seventy dollars, as the net result of my winter's labors. I
was also, had I known it, entitled to receive the annual interest
on the sum in my uncle's hands; but I was too little
alive to mere material matters to make any inquiry about
it, and supposed that, in breaking away from his guardianship,
I had debarred myself from all claims of the kind,
until I should be my own master.

The arrangement with Dan Yule, with regard to my correspondence
with Amanda, was easily made. My repeated
declaration that it was mere friendly interchange of letters
would have made any one else suspicious, but Dan merely
nodded his head, and said, “All right, — I 'll 'tend to it.”

The day of departure came, and, with many a hearty
farewell and promise to revisit them, I took leave of the
kind Yules, and commenced my journey into the world.