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Page 381


During my interview with Penrose, I was supported by
the strength of an excitement which stimulated all my
powers of mind and heart. The reaction followed, and
showed me how desperate were my chances. He was in
every respect — save the single quality of fidelity — my
superior; and unless she should discover that hidden virtue
in me, and accept it as outweighing culture, brilliancy,
and manly energy, there was every probability that she
would prefer my cousin, if called upon to choose between
us. The first impression which he produced upon her did
not seem to be favorable, but I drew little comfort therefrom.
His face was “not easily read,” she had said, which
only indicated that she had not yet read it. Certain obvious
characteristics may clash, even while the two natures
are drawing nearer and nearer in the mystic, eternal harmony
of love. On the other hand, I had flattered my
hopes from the discovery of points of sympathy, little
tokens of mutual attraction; but how deep did those signs
reach? Had I any right to assume that they expressed
more on her side than that æsthetic satisfaction which
earnest minds derive from contact? Possessing literary
tastes, she might feel some interest in me as a young author.
It was all dark and doubtful, and I shrank from making
the only venture which would bring certainty.

I had congratulated myself on the force of character,
which, I fancied, had fully developed itself out of the circumstances
of my life. No doubt I had made a great stride


Page 382
forwards, — no doubt I was rapidly becoming independent
and self-reliant, — but the transformation was far from
being complete. This new uncertainty set me adrift. My
will seemed as yet but the foundation of a pier, not sufficiently
raised above the shifting tides of my feelings to
support the firm arch of fortune. I envied Penrose the
possession of his more imperious, determined quality. Moreover,
the gulf into which I had looked was not yet sealed;
there were hollow echoes under my thoughts, — incredulous
whispers mocked the voice of my hope, — and at times a
dark, inexorable Necessity usurped the government of

Through all these fluctuations, my love remained warm
and unwavering. I clung to it, and order gradually returned
out of the apparent chaos. It contained the promise of
Faith, of reconciliation with the perverted order of the

I now recalled, with a sense of shame, my neglect of
Jane Berry since the night of her rescue, and made it a
point to visit Gooseberry Alley next morning, before going
down town. I found her in Mary Maloney's kitchen, assisting
the latter in starching her linen. Her hair was
smoothly and neatly arranged, the bright color had come
back to her face, and she was, in truth, a very pretty, attractive
girl. A joyous light sparkled in her eyes when
she first looked up, on my entrance, but her lids then fell
and a deep blush mantled her cheeks.

“And it 's a long time ye take, before you show y'rself,
Mr. Godfrey,” exclaimed Mary Maloney. “Here 's Miss
Jenny was beginnin' to think she 'd niver see ye agin.”

“You might have told her better, Mary,” I said. “I
have been remiss, I know, Miss Berry, but I wanted to discover
some chance of employment for you before calling.
I am sorry to say that I have found nothing yet.”

“You are very kind, sir,” she answered, “and I don't wish
to trouble you more than can be helped. Mary has been


Page 383
making inquiries, and she expects to get some work for me
very soon.”

“Yes,” said Mary; “she 's frettin' herself, for fear that
she 's a burden on me; but, indade, she ates no more than
a bird, and it is n't me that 's hard put to it to live, since
Hugh airns his six dollars a wake. He pays the rint, ivery
bit of it, and keeps hisself in clothes, and I don't begrudge
the lad a shillin' or so o' spendin'-money, as well as his
aiquals. I have my health, God be praised, and indade the
company she 's to me seems to give me a power o' sperrit.
But there 's them that don't like to be beholden to others,
and I can't say as I blame 'em.”

“Oh, it is n't that, Mary,” here Jane Berry interposed;
“I 'm sure you have n't allowed me to feel that I was a
burden, but I am really able to earn my own living, and
something more, I hope. It 's what I want to do, and I
can't feel exactly satisfied until I 'm in the way of it.”

I felt ashamed of my neglect, and resolved to atone for
it as soon as might be. I assured Jane Berry that I should
take immediate steps to secure her steady employment.
But I could not say to her all that I desired; Mary Maloney
was in the way. I therefore adopted the transparent
expedient of taking leave, going part way down the stairs,
and then returning suddenly to the door, as if some message
had been forgotten.

She came hurriedly, at my call. I remained standing on
the upper step, obliging her to cross the landing, the breadth
of which and the intervening room removed us almost beyond
earshot of the Irishwoman.

“I wanted to ask you,” I said, in a low voice, and somewhat
embarrassed how to begin, “whether she knows anything.”

“I don't know,” she answered. “It seems to me that
everybody must mistrust me; — but I 've been afraid to tell

“Say nothing, then, for the present. But you wanted to


Page 384
give me your history, and it must be told somewhere else
than here. Could you go up into Washington Square, some
evening, and meet me? You can say you need a walk and
fresh air, or you can make an errand of some kind.”

She appeared to hesitate, and I added, “The sooner I
know more about you, the better I may be able to assist

“I will come, then,” she faltered, “but please let it be
some dark evening, when I would run no risk of meeting
her, — that woman. You 've saved me once, and you would
n't want me to run into danger again, sir?”

“God forbid! Choose your own time.”

In the course of a few days, with the aid of Mary Maloney,
I procured an engagement for plain needle-work, not
very well paid, it was true, but still a beginning which
would serve to allay her scruples and give her encouragement
to continue the work of self-redemption. The establishment
was in the upper part of the Bowery, and the proprietors
required her to work on the spot, in company with
a score of other needle-women, — an arrangement which she
was nervously loath to accept, but there was no help for it.

On the following Saturday night I met Miss Haworth,
quite unexpectedly, at a literary soirée. I was listening to
a conversation between a noted author and an artist whose
allegorical pictures were much admired in certain quarters.
The latter asserted that a man must himself first feel whatever
he seeks to express, — must believe before he can represent;
in other words, that the painter must be a devout
Christian before he can paint a Holy Family, or the poet a
Catholic before he can write a good hymn to the Virgin.
The author adduced Shakspeare as an evidence of the objective
power of genius, which can project itself into the
very heart of a great range of characters and recreate them
for its purposes. I was greatly interested in the discussion,
and naturally inclined to the artist's views. Not recognizing
my own limited powers, my immaturity of mind and habit


Page 385
of measuring other men by my individual standard, I was
glad to find a fact, true of myself, asserted as a general law.
I expressed, very warmly, my belief that hypocrisy — as I
called it — was impossible in Art; only that which a man
really was, could he successfully express in words, on canvas,
or in marble.

Suddenly I turned my head with the vague impression
that somebody was listening to me, and encountered Miss
Haworth's eyes. She was one of a lively group who were
commenting on a proof-engraving of one of Kaulbach's
cartoons, just imported from Europe, and appeared to have
only turned aside her head for a moment. She acknowledged
my bow, but her eyes fell, and when I sought her, as
soon as I could escape from the discussion, her usual ease
and grace of manner seemed to have been disturbed. The
soft, sweet eyes rather shunned than sought mine while she
spoke, and her words were so mechanical as to denote abstraction
of mind. I feared, almost, that Penrose had
hinted at my passion, but the next moment acquitted him
of this breach of faith, and began to wonder whether she
did not suspect it. If so, I felt that I had strong reason to
hope. The serenity of her nature was evidently troubled,
yet she did not avoid or repel me. On the contrary, I knew
that her glances followed me. Without daring to watch
her, I walked in the light and warmth of her eyes, in an
intoxication of the heart which continually whispered to itself,
“Your time has come, — you shall be blessed at last!”

Now I might venture to declare my love; for, even if its
growth in me should encounter only its first timid development
in her, I should still be sure of the end. But it required
more resolution than I had supposed to take the
important step. Perhaps Penrose had anticipated me, and
— though unsuccessful, or rather, because of it — had untuned
her heart for a time. Should I not wait for an intimacy
which might foreshadow its object? Then the image
of Amanda Bratton perversely returned to annoy me.


Page 386
Some devilish attribute of memory held up, face to face,
and forced me to see again my boyish raptures, my stolen
embraces, and the mockery of my final interview. It was
profanation to Isabel Haworth to couple her image with
that other, but the latter had left its impress on my life,
and its cold, hard features glimmered through the warm
tints of the new picture.

I remember that I walked the streets much at this time,
and I think it was in one of those aimless walks that I met
Jane Berry returning from her day's labor. Her face was
covered by a thick veil, and I did not recognize her, but
she stopped and said, hesitatingly, “Mr. Godfrey?”

“Oh, it is you, Jane; are you going home?”

“Yes, but I am ready to keep my promise, if you wish it,
sir. It 's on my mind and troubles me, and I may as well
begin first as last.”

“Very well,” said I; “here is Fourth Street. We shall
find the square empty at this hour, and it 's your nearest
way home.”

It was a cloudy evening and the dusk was rapidly deepening
into night. The gas already flared in the Broadway
shops, and the lamplighters were going their rounds from
one street-corner to another. There were few persons in
Fourth Street, and as I walked down it, beside Jane Berry,
I was conscious that my interest in her had somewhat faded.
Her rescue (if it might be called so) was a thing of the
past, and the romantic victim had become a commonplace
sempstress, — to be looked after, of course, and restored to
her family as soon as practicable; but I felt that I should
be relieved of an embarrassing responsibility when this
duty had been discharged.

Thus occupied with my thoughts, we reached the southern
gate of the square, and I stopped. The girl looked at
me as if expecting me to speak. She wanted courage to
commence, and I therefore asked, —

“Are you willing to tell me where your home is?”


Page 387

“In Hackettstown, sir,” she answered. “Though we
used to live in Belvidere. My father and brother are raftsmen.
I came to Hackettstown to learn the trade from an
aunt of mine — my father's sister — who lives there, and
does a good business. In the summer she works a good
deal for the quality at Schooley's Mountain, and that 's how
I became acquainted with — with him. Oh, pray, sir, don't
ask me to tell you his name!”

“No, Jane,” I said, “I don't care to hear it. It is enough
to know what he is.”

“He was staying at the hotel, too,” she continued. “Some
times I went up in the stage, on errands for my aunt, and
walked back down the mountain. He used to meet me
and keep me company. I was n't taken with him at first,
he spoke so bold and would stare me out of countenance.
Then he changed, and seemed to be so humble, and talked
in a low voice, and put me above all the quality at the hotel,
and said he loved me truly and would make a lady of
me. I began to like his talk, then: I was foolish, and believed
whatever he said. Nobody before ever praised me
so, — not even — oh, sir! that was the worst thing I did!
There was another that loved me, I am sure of it, and —
and I am afraid now that I love him! What will become
of me?”

She burst into a fit of passionate weeping. I saw by the
lamp that her face was pale and her limbs trembling, and
feared that her agitation might overcome her. I put one
arm around her waist to support her, bent down and tried
to cheer her with soothing words. Fortunately there was
no one near, — only a carriage dashed along, and the coachman
pulled up, as if about to stop at the opposite corner.
I involuntarily drew her away from under the lamp, and
into the shade of the trees beyond.

“Tell me no more,” I said, “if it pains you to do so.”

“I 've told you the worst now. I don't understand it at
all. I can see the difference between the two, in thinking


Page 388
over what 's happened, but then I was charmed, as I have
heard say that a bird is charmed by a rattlesnake. The
other one would n't praise me, — I thought him readier to
scold, but oh! he meant it for my good. It was pleasant
to be told that I was handsome, — that I had good manners,
and that I should be a rich man's wife, and ride in my own
carriage and live in ease all my life. Then, sir, there was
to be a farm bought for father, — it was only to say yes,
and everything should be just as I wanted, as fine as a fairy
tale. And I believed it all! Only the going away so secretly
troubled me, but he said we would be back in two or
three days, and then what a surprise! The two other girls
would be ready to tear my eyes out, for spite at my great
fortune; — oh, and I dare n't look them in the face now.
So we went away in the train, and I thought it was his house
he took me to” —

She stopped here, unable to say more. It was needless:
I could guess the rest. I saw the vanity and shallowness
of the girl's nature, but a fearful retribution had followed
her false step, and it was not for me to condemn her in her
shame. But I stretched forth my arm and crooked my
fingers, thirsting to close them around the throat of the
villain who had deceived her.

“You do not wish to return, then?” I asked. “Would
not your aunt receive you?”

“I have been thinking it all over. If I could say that I
have been at work, and have a little money to show for it,
and maybe a recommendation from the people I work for,
you see, sir, it would n't look quite so bad. Only I might
have to lie. That would be dreadful; but I think it would
be more dreadful for me to tell the truth. Do you think,
sir, that God would forgive me for the lie?”

Her simple question brought confusion upon my ethics.
I was really unable to answer it. On the one hand, the
unforgiving verdict of the world, — a life hopelessly disgraced
by the confession of the truth; on the other, a positive


Page 389
sin, offering the means of atoning for sin and repairing
a ruined life!

After a long pause I said, “God must answer that question
for you. Go to Him and wait patiently until His will
shall be manifest. But perhaps you are right in not wishing
to return at once. I hoped you might have enabled
me to assist you, but it seems best, now, that you should
depend on yourself, unless — you spoke of another” —

“Don't mention him!” she cried. “I must try not to
think of him any more. He 's as proud as the richest, and
would trample me into the dust at his feet.”

I saw that any further allusion to this subject would be
inflicting useless pain, and proposed that she should return
to her lodgings. On the way I encouraged her with promises
of procuring better employment. I already began to
plan what might be done, if Isabel Haworth should give
herself to me, — I would interest her in Jane Berry's fate,
and that once accomplished, all the rest would be easy.
It was a case, moreover, for a woman's delicate hand to
conduct, rather than a young man like myself.

I was fearful lest Mary Maloney might notice the traces
of the girl's agitation, and therefore exerted myself to turn
the conversation into a cheerful channel. On reaching
Gooseberry Alley I went with her into the tenement-house,
partly to divert the Irishwoman's attention. Feeny, smoking
his pipe at the front-window, looked down and grinned,
as we waited on the steps for the opening of the door.

Up-stairs, in the little back-kitchen, the table was spread
for supper, and Hugh, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up as
usual, was attending to the frying of some bacon. The lid
of the tea-kettle danced an irregular jig to a tune whistled
by the steam, and the aspect of the room was as cheery as
its atmosphere was appetizing. Mary Maloney dusted the
stool and handed it to me, saying, —

“Sure, now, and would you take a cup o' tay wi' the
likes of us?”


Page 390

I assented very willingly, and drank the cheap tea, out
of a grotesque cup of “rale chaney, brought from th' old
country,” with a relish. Hugh, since his promotion to
wages and his enrolment as a fireman, had acquired quite
a manly air, but he struck me as being more taciturn than
ever. The red curls were clipped close to his hard, round
head, and his freckled chin was beginning to look stubby.
When he spoke his voice betrayed the most comical mixture
of the Irish brogue and the Bowery drawl. I caught
him several times looking at me with a singular, questioning
expression which puzzled me. The idea came into my
head, without any discoverable reason, that he disliked me.
Nevertheless, when his mother commanded him to light me
to the street, he obeyed with alacrity, going in advance,
and shading the dip with his big hand, to throw the most
of its rays on the rickety steps.

I had not seen Mrs. Deering since my first visit after her
return to the city. She was “indisposed,” and her husband,
whom I encountered in Broadway, informed me that Fashion
prohibited her from appearing in society for three or four
months. It was therefore useless to count on the chances
of meeting Miss Haworth at her residence, and there was
no certain way left to me but to repeat my call in Gramercy
Park. I had now determined on the final venture,
and only sought a lucky occasion. Twice or thrice I scouted
around the house before finding appearances propitious;
once there was a carriage in waiting, and another time I
distinctly recognized the shadow of Mr. Floyd crossing the
window-blinds. It was rather singular, I thought, that I
did not happen to meet Penrose.

At last, it seemed that I had hit upon the right moment.
The house was still, and the servant informed me that Miss
Haworth was at home. I gave my name and entered the
parlor to await her coming. I was in a state of fever;
my cheeks burned, my throat was parched, and my heart
throbbed so as almost to take away my breath. I strove


Page 391
to collect my thoughts and arrange my approaches to the
important question, but the endeavor was quite useless;
not only Amanda, but Penrose, Floyd, and Miss Levi, sent
their wraiths to perplex me. The cold gray eyes of one
woman, the powerful Oriental orbs of the other, were upon
me, while each of the male rivals stretched out a hand to
pull me back. What was I — an unknown country youth,
hardly more than an adventurer as yet — to overleap, with
easy triumph, all the influences banded against me?

There was the sound of a coming footstep. Swallowing
down, by a mighty effort, a part of my agitation, I leaned
on the back of a fauteuil, and looked at the reflected door
in a large mirror between the windows. It opened swiftly,
but the figure mirrored the next moment was not that of
Miss Haworth. It was a servant-girl who was quick enough
to deliver her errand.

“Miss Haworth says she 's not able to see you this evening,
sir,” she said; “and here 's a note she 's sent down.”

I took it, — a folded slip of paper, without any address,
but sealed at one corner.

“It is for me?” I asked.

“Yes — sir!” the girl replied, very emphatically.

I opened it; there were only two lines, —

“Miss Haworth informs Mr. Godfrey that her acquaintance
with him has ceased.”

The words were so unexpected — so astounding — that
I could not at once comprehend their meaning. I felt
marvellously calm, but I must have turned very pale, for
I noticed that the girl watched me with a frightened air.
My first impression was that the note was a forgery.

“Who gave you this?” I asked.

She did, sir. I waited while she wrote it.”

“Is Mr. Tracy Floyd in the house?”

“No, sir; he dined out to-day, and has n't come back

There was nothing more to be said. I crushed the


Page 392
slip of paper in my fingers, mechanically thrust it into
my vest-pocket, and walked out of the house. I walked
on and on, paying no heed to my feet, — neither thinking
nor feeling, hardly aware of who I was. My nature was
in the benumbed, semi-unconscious state which follows a
stroke of lightning. There was even a vague, feeble effort
at introversion, during which I whispered to myself, audibly,
— “It don't seem to make much difference.”

A lumber-yard arrested my progress. I looked around,
and found myself in a dark, quiet region of the city, unknown
to me. Over the piles of boards, I could see the
masts of sloops. I had followed Twentieth Street, it appeared,
across to the North River. I now turned down
Eleventh Avenue, and walked until I came to a pier. The
dark water which I heard, surging in from pile to pile, with
a whishing thud at each, called me with an irresistible voice.
I was not conscious of any impulse to plunge in and fathom
the wearisome mystery of life; but if I had accidentally
walked off the pier in the darkness, I would scarcely have
taken the trouble to cry for help.

The pier-watchman confronted me with a rough, — “What
do you want here?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“Who are you?”


“Then take yourself off, Mr. Nobody, or I 'll make a
Somebody of you.”

I obeyed him.