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Page 478


On my way home, under stars that sang together, my first
thought was of my faithful Bob. It was already a late
hour for a man of his habits, but, sleeping or waking, I
resolved that he should know Jane Berry was found. I
turned out of the Bowery into Stanton Street, hastened
onward with winged strides, and reached the door breathless
with impatience and joy.

All were in bed except the journeyman's wife, who was
at first a little alarmed at my untimely visit. I reassured
her, declaring that I brought only good news, borrowed a
candle and went up-stairs to Bob's room. The noise of my
entrance did not break his healthy, profound sleep. I
placed the light on the mantel-piece, took my seat on the
edge of the bed, and looked on the plain, rugged face I
loved. The unconscious features betrayed no released
expression of guile or cruelty: there was honesty on the
brow, candor on the full, unwrinkled eyelid, and goodness
on the closed lips. Only the trouble of his heart, which he
would not show by day, now stole to the light and saddened
all his face.

He seemed to feel my steady gaze, even in sleep; he
sighed and tossed his arm upon the coverlet. I seized his
hand, and held it, crying, “Bob! Bob!”

His eyes were open in an instant. “Eh? John! what's
the matter?” he exclaimed, starting up in bed.

“Nothing wrong, Bob. I would n't rouse you from sleep
to hear bad news.”


Page 479

“John, have you found her?”

I felt the pulses in the hand I held leaping strong and
fast, and answered, “She is found. I have not seen her,
but I know where she is, — under the best protection, with
the best help, — far better than mine could be, Bob.”

He drew a long breath of relief, and his fingers unconsciously
tightened around my hand. “You 're a good
friend, John,” he said. “Stand by me a little longer.
You 're smarter at thinkin' than I am, — I can only think
with my hands, you know. Tell me what ought I to do?”

“Do you love her still, Bob?”

“God knows I do. I tried hard not to, after you told
me what she 'd done; but I could n't help pityin' her, and,
you see, that built up the feelin' on one side as fast as I
tore it down on t' other. But then, John, there 's the disgrace.
My name 's as good to me as the next man's, and
my wife's name is mine. I must look ahead and see what
may come — if — if she should care for me (which I 'm not
sure of), and I should forgive her folly. Could I see her
p'inted at, — could I bear to know things was said, even
though I should n't hear 'em? And then, — that would be
the hardest of all, — could I be the father o' children that
must be ashamed o' their mother? I tell you, my head 's
nigh tired out with tryin' to get the rights o' this matter.
I 'm not hard, — that you know, — and I could forgive her
for bein' blindly led into sin that a man does with his eyes
open, if there was more men that think as I do. But it
is n't the men, after all, John; it 's the women that tear
each other to pieces without mercy!”

“Not all, Bob!” I cried; “it is a woman who protects
her now, — a woman who knows her story, — and oh, Bob,
that woman will one day be my wife, if God allows me so
much happiness!”

I now told him, for the first time, of the great fortune
which had come to me. It seemed hard, indeed, to intrude
my pure bliss upon the trouble of his heart; but his nature


Page 480
was too sound for envy, or for any other feeling than the
heartiest sympathy. Encouraged by the bright congratulation
of his face, I allowed my heart the full use of my
tongue, and grew so selfish in my happiness that I might
have talked all night, but for the warning sound of a neighboring
church-clock striking twelve. Poor Bob had thrust
aside his own interests and perplexities, that he might
rejoice in the new promise of my life.

I broke off abruptly, and replied to his first question.
“Bob,” I said, “I believe Jane Berry is still uncorrupted at
heart. I believe, also, that the conviction of having lost
you is her greatest sorrow. But do not ask me to advise
you what to do; a man's own heart must decide for him,
not another's. See her first; I shall learn to-morrow
where she is. I will go to her, and prepare her to meet
you, if you are willing, — then act as God shall put it in
your mind to do. Now, I must go, — good-night, you good
old Trojan!”

I gave him a slap over the broad shoulders, and, before
I knew it, I was drawn up and held in iron muscles, until I
felt a man's heart hammering like a closed fist against my
breast. Then he released me, and I went down-stairs to
find the journeyman's wife sitting on the lowest step, fast
asleep, with her head against the railing, and a tallow dip,
sputtering in its socket, at her side.

The next day was only less eventful in my history than
its predecessor. I saw Isabel, and adhered to my self-imposed
duty. What passed between us belongs to those
sanctities of the heart which each man and woman holds
as his or her exclusive possession. She knew my life at
last, — nothing weak, or dark, or disgraceful in its past
was withheld. I felt that I dared not accept the bounty of
her love, if it rested on a single misconception of my
nature. Had I known her then as I now know her, I
should have understood that nothing was risked by the
confession, — that her pardon already existed in her love.


Page 481
But alas! I had looked on married life, and seen — as I
still see — concealment and cowardice — honest affection
striving to accommodate itself to imperfect confidence!
Women are stronger than you think them to be, my brother-men!
and by so much as you trust them with the full
knowledge of yourselves, by so much more will they be
qualified, not only to comfort, but to guard you!

During that interview I learned, also, the wonderful
chance — the Providence I prefer to call it — which brought
Isabel and myself together again. Some particulars, lacking
in her narrative, were supplied afterwards by Jane
Berry, but I give them now complete as they exist in my
mind. In fact, so vivid and distinct is the story that it
almost seems to be a part of my own experience.

Jane Berry's first determination, after my last interview
with her, was to find other quarters, commensurate with
her slender means, and as far as possible from Gooseberry
Alley. One of the needle-women employed by the Bowery
establishment had found better work and wages at a fashionable
dress-maker's in Twenty-ninth Street, and, with her
help, Jane succeeded, the next morning, in engaging a
humble room in Tenth Avenue, with the prospect of occasional
jobs from the same mistress. She was impelled to
this step by her desire to save Mary Maloney from the
trouble of malicious tongues, and by a vague instinct which
counselled her to avoid me. Thus it was that she only
remained long enough to finish the Christmas-gift, which
she would leave for me as a token of her gratitude.

The evening after my visit, however, she made a discovery.
In repairing the buttons of the waistcoat which Mary
Maloney had retained as a pattern for the new one, she
found a crumpled paper in one of the pockets. It seemed
to be a stray fragment of no consequence, and she was
about to throw it away, when her eye caught sight of my
name in one of the two written lines. She read them, and
her mind, simple as it was, detected a partial connection


Page 482
between them and the reckless words I had addressed to
her. I had said — she well remembered it — that I loved
one who was lost to me through no fault of mine; that one
was probably this Miss Haworth. It was natural that her
fancy, brooding always over her own shame, should suggest
that she might be the innocent cause of my disappointment;
my name was disgracefully coupled with hers by the tenants
of Gooseberry Alley, and judging New York by Hackettstown,
it seemed probable to her that all my acquaintances
might be familiar with the report. It was a suspicion
which occasioned her bitter grief, and she resolved to clear
my reputation at the expense of her own.

Thus, her very ignorance of the world helped her to the
true explanation of Miss Haworth's repulse, while the circumstance
which actually led to it was so accidental as to
be beyond my own guessing. To discover and undeceive
Miss Haworth was the determination which at once took
possession of her mind. She said to herself, — “What a
lucky name! I never heard it before. If she were Miss
Smith, or Miss Brown, I might as well give up; but, big as
New York is, I am sure I can find Miss Haworth!”

Poor girl, I fancy her search was sufficiently long and
discouraging. She may possibly have tried the “Directory,”
but it could give her no help. Installed in the working-room
of the dress-maker, she kept her ears open to the
talk of the fashionable visitors, in the hope of hearing the
name mentioned. Once it came, as she thought, and with
much trouble, much anxiety of heart, and many cunning
little expedients, she discovered the residence of the lady
who bore it, only to find “Hayward” on the door-plate! It
was wonderful that, with her poor, simple, insufficient plan
of search, she ever accomplished anything, and this is my
reason for accepting her success as due to the guidance of
Providence. One species of help, at least, she was shrewd
enough to perceive and take hold of; she learned the names
and addresses of other conspicuous modistes in the upper


Page 483
part of the city, and visited them, one by one, to ascertain
whether they numbered a Miss Haworth among their patronesses.
It was truly a woman's device, and being patiently
followed, brought at last its reward.

The manner of the discovery was curious, and I have no
doubt but that I understand how it came about better than
Jane herself. Her unsophisticated air very probably created
suspicion in the minds of some of the sharp women
of business upon whom she called; she may have been
suspected of being the crafty agent, or drummer, of a rival
establishment, for her question was ungraciously received,
and she was often keenly questioned in turn. Her patience
had been severely tried, and the possibility of failure
was beginning to present itself to her mind, when one day,
at the close of March, she was attracted by the sign of
“Madame Boisé, from Paris,” and timidly entered, to repeat
her inquiry. Madame Boisé, who spoke English with
a New-England accent, listened with an air of suspicion,
asked a question or two, and finally said, —

“I don't know any Miss Hayworth.”

While saying this, she turned a large, light parcel upside
down, so that the address would be concealed. The
movement did not escape Jane Berry's eye; the idea came
into her head, and would not be banished, that Madame did
know Miss Haworth, and that the parcel in question was
meant for her. She left the house and waited patiently at
the corner of the block until she saw a messenger-girl issue
from the door. Noting the direction the latter took, she
slipped rapidly around the block and met her. It was easy
enough to ascertain from the girl whither her errand led,
and Jane's suspicion was right. She not only learned Miss
Haworth's address, but, for greater certainty, accompanied
the girl to the house.

The next morning she stole away from her work, filled
with the sense of the responsibility hanging over her, and
went to seek an interview with Isabel. If she had stopped


Page 484
to reflect upon what she was about to do, she might have
hesitated and drawn back from the difficult task; but the
singleness and unthinking earnestness of her purpose drove
her straightforward to its accomplishment.

The servant who answered the door endeavored to learn
her business, and seemed disinclined to carry her message,
but finally left her standing in the hall and summoned Miss
Haworth. When Jane saw the latter descending the stairs,
she felt sure she had found the right lady, from the color
of her eyes; this was the naïve reason she gave.

Isabel said, “You wished to see me?”

“Yes, Miss Haworth, nobody but you. Must I tell you,
here, what I 've got to say? Are you sure I won't be overheard?”

“Come in here, then,” Isabel answered, opening the door
of the drawing-room, “if your message is so important.
But I do not recollect that I have ever seen you before.”

“No, miss, you never saw me, and I don't come on my
own account, but on his. You 'll pardon me for speaking
of him to you, but I must try to set you right about him.
Oh, miss, he 's good and true, — he saved me from ruin,
and it 's the least I can do to clear up his character!”

“Him? Who?” Isabel exclaimed, in great astonishment.

“Mr. Godfrey.”

Isabel turned pale with the shock of the unexpected
name; but the next instant a resentful, suspicious feeling
shot through her heart, and she asked, with a cold, stern
face, —

“Did he send you to me?”

“Oh, no, miss!” Jane cried, in distress, the tears coming
into her eyes; “he don't know where I am. I went away
because the people talked, and the more he helped me the
more his name was disgraced on account of it. Please
don't look so angry, miss; don't go away, until you 've
heard all! I 'll tell you everything. Perhaps you 've


Page 485
heard it already, and know what I 've been; I 'll bear your
blame, — I 'll bear anything, if you 'll only wait and hear
the truth!”

She dropped on her knees, and clasped her hands imploringly.
Her passionate earnestness bound Isabel to listen,
but the latter's suspicion was not yet allayed.

“Who told you to come to me?” she asked. “How did
you learn that I once knew Mr. Godfrey?”

“Not him, miss, oh, not him! I found it out without his
knowledge. When I saw that he was n't his right self, —
he was desperate, and said that he was parted from one he
loved, and through no fault of his, and he did n't care what
would become of him, — and then when I found this,” —
here she produced the note, — “and saw your name, I
guessed you were the one. And then I made up my mind
to come to you and clear him from the wicked reports, —
for indeed, miss, they 're not true!”

Jane's imperfect, broken revelations, — the sight of the
note, — the evident truth of the girl's manner, — strangely
agitated Isabel's heart. She lifted her from the floor, led
her to a seat, seated herself near her and said, —

“I will hear all you have to say. Try and compose
yourself to speak plainly, for you must bear in mind that I
know nothing. Tell me first who you are.”

“I am Jane Berry, the girl he saved the night of the

“Were you with him one evening in Washington

“Yes!” Jane eagerly exclaimed. “That was the time
I told him all about myself, and how I came to be where I
was. And now I must tell you the same, miss. If it does
n't seem becoming for you to hear, you 'll forgive me when
you think what it is to me to say it.”

“Tell me.”

Whereupon Jane, with many breaks and outbursts of
shame and self-accusation, repeated her sad story. Of


Page 486
course she withheld so much of my last interview with her
as might reflect an unfavorable light upon myself. Isabel
saw in me only the virtuous protector whom she had so
cruelly misjudged. Jane's narrative was so straightforward
and circumstantial that it was impossible to doubt its truth.
Pity for the unfortunate girl, and condemnation of her own
rash judgment were mingled in her heart with the dawning
of a sweet, maidenly hope.

“Jane Berry,” she said, when at last all the circumstances
were clearly explained, “you have done both a good and a
heroic thing in coming to me. I promise you that I will
make atonement to Mr. Godfrey for my injustice. You
must let me be your friend; you must allow me to assist
and protect you, in your struggles to redeem yourself. I
will take Mr. Godfrey's place: it belongs to a woman.”

Jane melted into grateful tears. Isabel, feeling that she
deserved the joy of being the messenger of justice to me,
wrote a note similar to that which called me back to her,
and intrusted Jane with its delivery. The message failed,
because I was at that time dishonorably banished from
Mrs. De Peyster's boarding-house, and my den in Crosby
Street was known to no one.

The fateful interview was over, and Jane, with the
precious note in her hands, was leaving the drawing-room,
when the street-door opened, and Mr. Tracy Floyd entered
the hall. Isabel, following Jane, heard the latter utter a
wild, startled scream, and saw her turn, with a pale, frightened
face and trembling limbs, and fall upon the floor,
almost swooning.

“Damnation! here 's a devil of a muss!” exclaimed Mr.
Floyd, with a petrified look on his vapid face. Perceiving
Isabel, he ran up-stairs, muttering curses as he went.

“Oh, miss!” Jane breathlessly cried, clutching a chair
and dragging herself to her feet, — “dear, good Miss
Haworth, don't let that man come into your house! Tell
me that you 're not thinking of marrying him! He 's the


Page 487
one I was talking of! I 've never mentioned his name yet
to a living soul, but you must know, for your own sake.
Perhaps he' ll deny it, — for he lied to me and he 'd lie to
you, — but see here! I call on God to strike me dead this
minute, if I 've told you a false word about him!”

She held up her right hand as she pronounced the awful
words, but Isabel did not need this solemn invocation. Her
pure, proud nature shrank from the ignominy of her relation
to that man, and a keener pang of reproach entered
her heart as she remembered that his insinuations in regard
to myself — doubly infamous now — had made her mind so
rapid to condemn me. It was impossible for her, thenceforth,
to meet her step-brother, — impossible to dwell in
the same house with him.

I have reason to believe, now, that Mr. Tracy Floyd was
one of the band of genteel rowdies whom I encountered in
Houston Street on the evening of the fire, — that he recognized
me and watched me conducting Jane Berry to Gooseberry
Alley. Perhaps he may have lain in wait for my visits
afterwards. Whether he also recognized Jane Berry, it is
impossible to say. Let us seek to diminish rather than increase
the infamy of his class, and give him the benefit of
the uncertainty.

Isabel only remained long enough to find a safe place of
refuge for Jane Berry. The fears of the latter were so
excited by her encounter with her betrayer that she begged
to be allowed to go as far as possible from the crowded
heart of the city, and gladly embraced the proposition of
boarding with a humble, honest family in Harlem. When
this duty was performed, Isabel, impulsive in all things
which concerned her feelings, left immediately for Boston,
resolved never to return to her step-father's house while
his son remained one of its inmates.

I lost no time in visiting Jane Berry. She, of course,
had learned nothing, as yet, of what had taken place, and
her surprise at my sudden appearance was extreme. I


Page 488
knew, from the eager, delighted expression of her face,
what thoughts were in her mind, what words would soon
find their way to her lips, and could not resist the temptation
to forestall her by a still happier message.

“Jane,” I cried, taking her hands, “it is you who have
saved me! I have seen Isabel Haworth, and she has
burned the note you took out of my waistcoat-pocket! —
burned it before my eyes, Jane, and she has promised to
write another, some day, and sign it `Isabel Godfrey!'”

“Oh, is it so, Mr. Godfrey? Then I can be happy again,
— I have done some good at last!”

“You are good, Jane. We shall be your friends, always.
Show the same patience in leading an honest life that you
have shown in helping me, and you may not only redeem
your fault but outlive its pain.”

“No — no!” she said, sighing. “I 've heard it said that
a moment's folly may spoil a lifetime, and it 's true. I 've
been trying to think for myself, — I never did it before, —
and though I may n't be able to put everything into words
as you do, it 's here,” (touching her heart,) “and I understand

I thought of Bob, and felt that I was forced to probe her
sorest wound, with no certainty of healing it. But for
Bob's sake it must be done.

“Jane,” I said, gravely, “I have found some one whom
you know, — who loved, and still loves you. Jane, he is
my dearest friend, my old schoolmate and playfellow, who
picked me up the other day, when I was a miserable vagabond,
and set me on my feet. He followed you when you
left Hackettstown, and has been trying to find you ever
since. Will you see him?”

I saw, by her changing color, and the unconscious, convulsive
movement of her hands, that the first surprise of
my news was succeeded by a painful conflict of feeling.

“Does he know?” — she whispered.

“He knows all, and it is the sorrow of his life, as of


Page 489
yours. But I am to tell you, from him, that he will not
force himself upon you. You must decide, for yourself,
whether or not he shall come.”

“Not now — not now!” she cried. “If I could look
through the blinds of a window and see him passing by, I
think it would be a comfort, — but I ought n't to wish even
for that. Don't think me hard, Mr. Godfrey, or ungrateful
for his remembrance of me when I 've no right to it; but,
indeed, I dare n't meet him now. Perhaps a time may
come, — I don't know, — it 's better not to promise anything.
I may work and get myself a good name: people
may forget, if they 've heard evil reports of me; but he
can't forget. Tell him I thank him from my heart, and
will pray for him on my knees every night. Tell him I
know now, when it 's too late, how good and true he is, and
I 'll give back his love for me in the only way I dare, — by
saving him from his own generous heart!”

I sighed when I saw how the better nature of the woman
had been developed out of the ruins of her life, and that
she was really worthy of an honest man's love through the
struggle which bade her relinquish the hope of ever attaining
it. But I could not attempt to combat her feelings
without weakening that sense of guilt which was the basis
of her awakened conscience, the vital principle of her returning
virtue. It was best, for the present, at least, to
leave her to herself.

To my surprise — and also to my relief — Bob acquiesced
very quietly in her decision.

“It 's about what I expected,” he said, “and I can't help
thinkin' better of her for it. Between you and me, John,
if she 'd ha' been over-anxious to see me, 't would n't ha'
been a good sign, and I might ha' drawed back. You know
what I asked you about, — I 've turned it over ag'in, and
this time it comes out clearer. I 've got to wait and be
patient, the Lord knows how long, but His ways won't be
hurried. I must be satisfied with knowin' she 's in good


Page 490
hands, where I can always hear of her; and maybe a day 'll
come when the sight o' me will give her less trouble than
't would now, and when it 'll be easier for me to forgit
what 's past.”

Bob bent his neck to his fate like a strong ox to the
yoke. Nothing in his life was changed: he was still the
steady, sober, industrious foreman, with a chance of becoming
“boss” in a year or two, respected by his workmen,
trusted by his employer, and loved with a brotherly affection
by at least one fellow-man. His hands might hew out
for him a more insignificant path in the world than my head
achieved for me, but they beat down snares and bridged
pitfalls which my head could only escape by long and weary
moral circuits. Our lives were not so disproportionately
endowed as they seemed to my boyish eyes.