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Page 343


My ill-humor extended over several days, and even
showed itself in my professional duties. I don't suppose
that the blustering March weather of New York was ever
so savagely and bitterly described as in some of my articles
at that time. I wrote a hideously ironical sonnet to Spring,
which some country editor maliciously copied, side by side
with Bryant's poem on “March,” bidding his readers contrast
the serene, cheerful philosophy expressed in the
lines, —

“But in thy sternest frown abides
A look of kindly promise yet —”
with “the spleenful growling of Mr. J. Godfrey,” contemptuously
adding, “whoever he may be.”

This latter castigation, however, came back to me at a
time when I could laugh over it, and acknowledge that it
was deserved. It was not long before the fact recurred to
my mind that Custom required me to call upon Mrs. Deering,
and, admitting that Custom sometimes makes very sensible
and convenient arrangements, I consoled myself with
the prospect of soon knowing how far Penrose had implicated

Mrs. Deering received me with the same winning, melancholy
grace, which, from the first, had inspired me with
a respectful interest. We conversed for some time, and,
as she made no allusion to Miss Levi, I was obliged to introduce
the subject, “butt-end foremost.”

“I saw that you presented Penrose to Miss Levi,” I said.


Page 344
“Of course you did n't believe his jesting, when I asked
you to do so?”

“Oh, no,” she answered, with a smile; “I am accustomed
to that sort of badinage among gentlemen. There was
some joking about it afterwards between Mr. Penrose and
Miss Haworth.”

“Good heavens!” I exclaimed, quite startled out of my
propriety; “Miss Haworth, I hope, does not suppose it to
be true?”

Mrs. Deering's eyes rested on my face a moment, with a
sweet, gentle interest. “I do not think she does,” she
presently remarked: “it was Mr. Floyd, her step-brother,
who seemed to be most interested. He asked Mr. Penrose
to introduce him also to Miss Levi.”

“It is too bad!” I cried, in great vexation: “what shall
I do to contradict this ridiculous story?”

“Pray give yourself no uneasiness, Mr. Godfrey. I will
contradict it for you, should I hear anything of it, but I
really imagine that it has already been forgotten.”

I gave her grateful thanks and took my leave, somewhat
comforted, if not quieted in spirit.

A few days afterwards I received a little note from her
inviting me to tea. I wrote a line of acceptance at once, and
gladly, surmising that she had something to tell me, — feeling
quite sure, at least, that I should hear of Miss Haworth.
But I did not venture to anticipate the happiness which
awaited me. Miss Haworth, whether by accident or through
Mrs. Deering's design, was present. There were also two
or three other guests, who, as they have no concern with
the story of my life, need not be particularized. Before we
were summoned to the tea-table, Mrs. Deering found an
opportunity to whisper to me, —

“Make yourself quite easy, Mr. Godfrey. It was all
taken as a jest.”

I knew that she referred to Miss Haworth, and felt that
any reference to the subject, on my part, would be unnecessary.


Page 345
I was at once reconciled to the vexation which had
procured me another interview with her, and in the genial,
unconstrained atmosphere of the small company, became
my own frank, light-hearted self, as Nature designed me to
be. Our acquaintance ripened apace: we conversed, during
the evening, on books and music, and men and their
ways, developing, not always accordant views, but an increasing
freedom in the utterance of them. I was still too
ignorant of the change that was going on in my feelings to
be timid or embarrassed in her presence, and my eyes constantly
sought hers, partly because I was absorbed in the
beauty of their dark-violet hue, and partly because they
never shunned my gaze, but met it with the innocent directness
of a nature that had nothing to conceal. Naturalists
say that an object steadily looked at in a strong light, produces
an impression upon the retina which remains and reproduces
the image for hours afterwards. I am sure this
is true; for those eyes, that rippled golden hair, that full,
sweet mouth and round, half-dimpled chin, haunted my
vision from that time forth. When I close my eyes, I can
still see them.

My enjoyment of the evening would have been perfect
but for the appearance of Mr. Tracy Floyd, who dropped
in at a late hour to escort his step-sister home. We were
sitting together, a little apart from the rest of the company,
when he entered, and I could see that his face assumed no
very friendly expression as he noticed the fact. After greeting
the hostess and the other guests, he turned towards us.

“Bell, I have come for you,” he said. “Ah, Mr. Godfrey,
how do you do? Are you to be congratulated?”

“No!” I exclaimed, with a quick sense of anger, the
expression of which I could not entirely suppress.

“Very complimentary to you, Bell! Rather a decided
expression of distaste for your society.”

“That was not what you meant,” I said, looking him
steadily in the eye.


Page 346

He avoided my gaze, laughed, and said he was sorry I
did n't seem to understand a joke. There was a heightened
color in Miss Haworth's face, as she replied to a previous
remark of mine, but in no other way did she notice what
had passed between her step-brother and myself. Presently
she rose to accompany him, giving me her hand
frankly and kindly as she said good-night. I took leave
of Mrs. Deering very soon after her departure.

I postponed all reflection — all examination of the confused,
shining sensations which filled my heart — until my
work was done, and I could stretch myself in the freedom
and freshness of my bed. There was too much agitation
in my blood for sleep. At first I left the gas-burner alight,
that I might see, from my pillow, the picture of St. Agnes
— but presently arose and turned out the flame. The color,
the life, and spirit of the face in my memory made the engraving
tame. I admitted to myself the joy of Isabel Haworth's
presence, with a thrill of ecstasy, which betrayed to
me at once towards what shore this new current was setting.
At first, it is true, there was an intrusive consciousness,
not precisely of inconstancy, but of something very
like it — of shallow-heartedness, in so soon recovering from
a hurt which I had considered mortal; but it was speedily
lost in the knowledge, which now came to me, of the growth
of my nature since the days of that boyish delusion. I suddenly
became aware of the difference between sentiment
and passion. My first attachment was shy, timid, dreamy,
— shrinking away from the positive aspects of life. It
flattered my vanity, because I looked upon it as an evidence
of manhood, but it had not directly braced a single fibre of
my heart. This, on the contrary, filled me, through and
through, with a sharp tingle of power: it dared to contemplate
every form of its realization; were its blessing but
assured, I should proudly proclaim it to the world. Its
existence once recognized, I took it swiftly into every chamber
of my being: my kindled imagination ran far in advance


Page 347
of the primitive stage of my experience, and before
I fell asleep I had almost persuaded myself that the fortune
of my life was secured.

I have said but little of Miss Haworth, because, up to
this time, I had seen so little of her. My love was half
instinct, — the suspicion of a noble and steadfast character
which was yet unproved. She did not seem to be considered,
in society, a marked beauty; she rather evaded than
courted observation, — but I felt that she was one of those
women whom one would like to meet more frequently in
what is called “fashionable” society, — of faultless social
culture, yet as true and unspoiled as the simplest country
maiden. It was no shame to love her without the hope of
return. Indeed, I admitted to my own heart that I had no
right to any such hope. What could she find in me? —
she, to whom the world was open, who doubtless knew so
many men more gifted in every way than myself! Nevertheless,
I should not tamely relinquish my claim. I might
have to wait for a long time, — to overcome obstacles which
would task my whole strength,— but she was too glorious a
prize to sit down and sigh for while another carried her off.

All this occurred in the first thrill of my discovery. I
could not always feel so courageous; the usual fluctuations
of passion came to cheer or depress me. I could only depend
on seeing her, through accidental opportunities, and
my employment prevented me from seeking to increase
them. Often, indeed, I hurried through my afternoon duties
in order to prolong my walk up Broadway, in the hope
of meeting her, but this fortune happened to me but twice.
One evening, however, at Wallack's, a little incident occurred
which kept me in a glow for weeks afterwards. Mr.
Severn had given me two of the complimentary tickets sent
to the Wonder office, and I took Swansford with me, delighted
with the chance of sharing my recreation with him.
We selected seats in the parquet, not too near the brass instruments;
his ear suffered enough, as it was, from the little


Page 348
slips and false notes which were inaudible to me. Looking
around the boxes at the end of the first act, my heart
gave a bound on seeing Miss Haworth, in company with
an unknown lady and gentleman. She wore a pale lilac
dress, with white flowers in her hair, and looked unusually
lovely. They were conversing cheerfully together, and I
could study the perfect self-possession of her attitude, the
grace of her slightest movements, without being observed.

Having made this discovery, I had thenceforth but half
an eye for the play. My seat, fortunately, was nearly on a
line with the box in which she sat, and I could steal a glance
by very slightly turning my head. Towards the close of
the second act, an interesting situation on the stage absorbed
the attention of the audience, and feeling myself
secure, I gazed, and lost myself in gazing. The intensity
of my look seemed to draw her palpably to meet it. She
slowly turned her head, and her eyes fell full upon mine.
I felt a sweet, wonderful heart-shock, as if our souls had
touched and recognized each other. What my eyes said to
her I could not guess, — nor what hers said to me. My
lids fell, and I sat a moment without breathing. When I
looked up, her face was turned again towards the stage, but
a soft flush, “which was not so before,” lingered along her
cheek and throat.

I might have visited the box during the entr'acte, but
my thoughts had not yet subsided into a sufficiently practical
channel. The play closed with the third act, and at its
close the party left. Once more our glances met, and I had
sufficient courage to bow my recognition, which she returned.
I had no mind, however, to wait through the farce,
and hurried off Swansford, who was evidently surprised at
my impatient, excited manner, following so close on a fit
of (for me) very unusual taciturnity. I answered his comments
on the play in such a manner that he exclaimed, as
we reached the street, —

“What is the matter with you, Godfrey? You don't
seem to have your senses about you to-night.”


Page 349

I laughed. “I am either the blindest of bats, the stupidest
of owls,” I said, “or my senses are miraculously
sharpened. I have seen either all, or nothing, — but no,
it must, it shall be all!”

I caught hold of Swansford's arm and hurried him along
with me. As we passed a corner lamp-post, he looked at
my face in the light with a puzzled, suspicious expression,
which moved me to renewed mirth. He was as far as possible
from guessing what was the matter with me.

“Here is Bleecker Street,” said I. “Come up to my
room, old fellow, and you shall judge whether I am a fool
or not.”

He complied mechanically, and we were presently seated
in opposite arm-chairs, before the smouldering grate. I
gave him a glass of Sherry, — a bottle of which I kept on
purpose for his visits, — and when I saw that he looked refreshed
and comfortable, began my story in an abrupt, indirect

“Swansford,” I asked, “can a man love twice?”

“I do not know,” he answered sadly, after a pause,— “I
could not.” But he lifted his face towards me with a quick,
lively interest, which anticipated my confession.

I began at the beginning, and gave him every detail of
my acquaintance with Miss Haworth, — the dinner at Delmonico's,
the glimpses in the street, the “very sociable”
party at Mr. Deering's, the invitation to tea, and finally the
meeting of our eyes that very evening. There was no shyness
in my heart, although I knew that the future might
never give form to its desires.

“That is all,” I concluded, “and I do not know what you
may think of it. Whether or not I am fickle, easily impressed,
or deceived in my own nature, in all other respects,
I know that I love this girl with every power of my
soul and every pulse of my body!”

I had spoken with my eyes fixed on the crimson gulfs
among the falling coals, and without pausing long enough


Page 350
for interruption. There was so little to tell that I must
give it all together. Swansford did not immediately answer,
and I looked towards him. He was leaning forward,
with his elbows on the arms of the chair and his face buried
in his hands. His hair seemed damp, and drops of
perspiration were starting on his pale forehead. A mad
fear darted through my mind, and I cried out, —

“Swansford! Do you know Miss Haworth?”

“No,” he replied, in a faint, hollow voice, “I never
heard her name before.”

His fingers gradually crooked themselves until the tendons
of his wrists stood out like cords. Then, straightening
his back firmly in the chair, he seized the knobs on the
ends of the arms and appeared to be bracing himself to

“I have — no business — with love,” he began, slowly;
“you should not come to me for judgment, Godfrey. I
know nothing about any other heart than my own; it would
be better if I knew less of that. You are younger than
me; there is thicker blood in your veins. Some, I suppose,
are meant to be happy, and God grant that you may be one
of them! I am not surprised, only” —

He smiled feebly and stretched out his hand, which I
pressed in both mine with a feeling of infinite pity.

“Give me another glass of Sherry,” he said, presently.
“I am weaker than I used to be. I think one genuine,
positive success would make me a strong man; but it 's
weary waiting so long, and the prospect no brighter from
one year's end to another. Is it not inexplicable that I,
who was willing to sacrifice to Art the dearest part of my
destiny as a Man, should be robbed of both, as my reward?
If I had my life to begin over again, I would try selfish assertion
and demand, instead of patient self-abnegation, —
but it is now too late to change.”

These expressions drew from me a confession of the
same stages of protest through which I had passed, — or,


Page 351
rather, was still passing, — for the rebellious thoughts only
slumbered in my heart. We exchanged confidences, and I
saw that while Swansford admitted to himself the force of
the selfish plea, he still considered it with reference to his
art. If some master of psychology had said to him, “Sin,
and the result will be a symphony!” I believe he would
have deliberately sinned. If Mendelssohn had murdered
the basso, for his slovenly singing in “Elijah,” he would
none the less have revered Mendelssohn as a saint. I
did not know enough of music to judge of Swansford's
genius; but I suspected, from his want of success, that his
mind was rather sympathetic than creative. If so, his was
the saddest of fates. I would not have added to its darkness
by uttering the least of doubts: rather I would have
sacrificed my own hopes of literary fame to have given
hope to him.

The days grew long and sunny, the trees budded in the
city squares, and the snowy magnolias blossomed in the
little front-gardens up town. Another summer was not far
off, and my mind naturally reverted to the catastrophes of
the past, even while enjoying the brightness of the present
season. No word from Pennsylvania had reached me in
the mean time, and I rather reproached myself, now, for
having dropped all correspondence with Reading or Upper
Samaria. The firm of Woolley and Himpel, I had no
doubt, still flourished, — with the aid of my money; Rand
and his Amanda (I could not help wondering whether they
were happy) probably lived in the same city; Dan Yule
was married to the schoolmistress; and Verbena Cuff, I
hoped, had found a beau who was not afraid of courting.
How I laughed, not only at that, but at many other episodes
of my life in Upper Samaria! Then I took down
“Leonora's Dream, and Other Poems,” for the first time
in nearly a year. This was the climax of my disgust. My
first sensation was one of simple horror at its crudities; my
second one of gratitude that I had grown sufficiently to
perceive them.


Page 352

I was now ambitious of culture rather than fame. I saw
that, without the former, I could never rise above a subordinate
place in literature, — possibly no higher than the
sphere represented by Mrs. Yorkton and her circle; with
it, I might truly not attain a shining success, but I should
be guarded against failure, because I should know my
talents and not misapply them. The thirst for acquiring
overlaid, for a time, the desire for producing. After
Wordsworth I read Pope, and then went back to Chaucer,
intending to come down regularly through the royal
succession of English authors; but the character of my
necessary labors prevented me from adopting any fixed
plan of study, and, as usual, I deserved more credit for
good intentions than for actual performance.

Only once more, in the course of the spring, did I secure
a brief interview with Miss Haworth. During the Annual
Exhibition of the Academy of Design, I met her there,
one afternoon, in company with Mrs. Deering. It was a
gusty day, and the rooms were not crowded. We looked
at several of the principal pictures together, and I should
have prolonged the sweet occupation through the remaining
hours of daylight, had not the ladies been obliged to

“Do you go anywhere this summer?” Mrs. Deering

“No further than Coney Island,” I said, with a smile at
the supposition implied by her remark; “a trip of that
length, and an absence of six hours, is all the holiday I
can afford.”

“Then we shall not see you again until next fall. Mr.
Deering has taken a cottage for us on the Sound, and Miss
Haworth, I believe, is going to the Rocky Mountains, or
somewhere near them. Where is it, Isabel?”

“Only to Minnesota and Lake Superior. I shall accompany
a friend who goes for her health, and we shall probably
spend the whole summer in that region.”


Page 353

“How I wish I could go!” I exclaimed, impetuously.
Then, recollecting myself, I added, “But you will tell me
all about Minne-ha-ha and the Pictured Rocks, will you
not? May I call upon you after your return?”

“I shall always be glad to see you, Mr. Godfrey.”

I held her hand and looked in her eyes. It was only for
a moment, yet I found myself growing warm and giddy
with the insane desire of drawing her to my breast and
whispering, “I love you! I love you!”

When they left the exhibition-room, I followed, and leaning
over the railing, watched them descending the stairs.
At the bottom of the first flight Miss Haworth dropped her
parasol, turned before I could anticipate the movement, and
saw me. I caught a repeated, hesitating gesture of farewell,
and she was gone.

Then began for me the monotonous life of summer in
the city, — long days of blazing sunshine and fiery radiations
from pavements and brick walls, — nights when the
air seemed to wither in its dead sultriness, until thunder
came up the coast and boomed over the roofs, — when
theatres are shut, and fashionable clergymen are in Europe,
and oysters are out of season, and pen and brain work like
an ox prodded with the goad. Nevertheless, it was a tolerably
happy summer to me. In spite of my natural impatience,
I felt that my acquaintance with Miss Haworth had
progressed as rapidly as was consistent with the prospect
of its fortunate development. If it was destined that she
should return my love, the first premonitions of its existence
must have already reached her heart. She was too
clear-sighted to overlook the signs I had given.

There was one circumstance, however, which often disturbed
me. She was an heiress, — worth hundreds of
thousands, Penrose had said, — and I a poor young man,
earning, by steady labor, little more than was necessary for
my support. While I admitted, in my heart of hearts, the
insignificance of this consideration to the pure eyes of love,


Page 354
I could not escape the conventional view of the case. My
position was a mercenary one, and no amount of sincerity
or fidelity could wash me clear of suspicion. Besides, it
reversed what seemed to me the truest and tenderest relation
between man and woman. If I won her heart, I
should be dependent on her wealth, not she upon my
industry and energy. For her sake, I could not wish that
wealth less: she was probably accustomed to the habits
and tastes it made possible; but it deprived me of the
least chance of proving how honest and unselfish was my
devotion. All appearances were against me, and if she
did not trust me sufficiently to believe my simple word, I
was lost. This was a trouble which I could not lighten by
imparting it to any one, — not even Swansford. I carried
it about secretly with me, taking it out now and then to
perplex myself with the search of a solution which might
satisfy all parties, — her, myself, and the world.

The summer passed away, and the cool September nights
brought relief to the city. One by one the languid inhabitants
of brown-stone fronts came back with strength from
the hills, or a fresh, salty tang from the sea-shore. The
theatres were opened, oysters reappeared without cholera,
and the business-streets below the Park were crowded
with Western and Southern merchants. The day drew
nigh when I should again see my beloved, and my heart
throbbed with a firmer and more hopeful pulsation.