University of Virginia Library

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WILLIAM TANSLEY, familiarly called Tip, having
finished his afternoon's work in Judge Boxton's
garden, milked the cows, and given the calves and pigs
their supper, — not forgetting to make sure of his own, —
stole out of the house with his Sunday jacket, and the
secret intention of going “a sparking.”

Tip's manner of setting about this delicate business was
characteristic of his native shrewdness. He usually went
well provided with gifts; and on the present occasion,
before quitting the Judge's premises, he “drew upon” a
certain barrel in the barn, which was his bank, where he
had made, during the day, frequent deposits of green corn,
of the diminutive species called tucket, smuggled in from
the garden, and designed for roasting and eating with the
Widow Blynn's pretty daughter. Stealthily, in the dusk,
stopping now and then to listen, Tip brought out the little
milky ears from beneath the straw, crammed his pockets
with them, and packed full the crown of his old straw hat;
then, with the sides of his jacket distended, his trousers
bulged, and a toppling weight on his head, he peeped cautiously
from the door to see that the way was clear for an
escape to the orchard, and thence, “'cross lots,” to the
Widow Blynn's house.

Tip was creeping furtively behind a wall, stooping, with
one hand steadying his hat and the other his pockets,
when a voice called his name.


Page 254

It was the voice of Cephas Boxton. Now if there was a
person in the world whom Tip feared and hated, it was
“that Cephe,” and this for many reasons, the chief of
which was that the Judge's son did, upon occasions, flirt
with Miss Nancy Blynn, who, sharing the popular prejudice
in favor of fine clothes and riches, preferred, apparently,
a single passing glance from Cephas to all Tip's gifts
and attentions.

Tip dropped down behind the wall.

“Tip Tansley!” again called the hated voice.

But the proprietor of that euphonious name, not choosing
to answer to it, remained quiet, one hand still supporting
his hat, the other his pockets, while young Boxton, to
whom glimpses of the aforesaid hat, appearing over the
edge of the wall, had previously been visible, stepped
quickly and noiselessly to the spot. Tip crouched, with his
unconscious eyes in the grass; Cephas watched him good-humoredly,
leaning over the wall.

“If it is n't Tip, what is it?” And Cephas struck one
side of the distended jacket with his cane. An ear of corn
dropped out. He struck the other side, and out dropped
another ear. A couple of smart blows across the back succeeded,
followed by more corn; and at the same time Tip,
getting up, and endeavoring to protect his pockets, let go
his hat, which fell off, spilling its contents in the grass.

“Did you call?” gasped the panic-stricken Tip.

The rivals stood with the wall between them, — as ludicrous
a contrast, I dare assert, as ever two lovers of one
woman presented.

Tip, abashed and afraid, brushed the hair out of his
eyes, and made an unsuccessful attempt to look the handsome
and smiling Cephas in the face.

“Do you pretend you did not hear — with all these
ears?” said the Judge's son.


Page 255

“I — I was huntin' fur a shoestring,” murmured Tip,
casting dismayed glances along the ground. “I lost one
here som'eres.”

“Tip,” said Cephas, putting his cane under Master Tansley's
chin to assist him in holding up his head, “look me
in the eye, and tell me, — what is the difference 'twixt you
and that corn?”

“I d'n' know — what?” And, liberating his chin, Tip
dropped his head again, and began kicking in the grass in
search of the imaginary shoestring.

“That is lying on the ground, and you are lying — on
your feet,” said Cephas.

Tip replied that he was going to the woods for beanpoles,
and that he took the corn to feed the cattle in the
“back pastur', 'cause they hooked.”

“I wish you were as innocent of hooking as the cattle
are!” said the incredulous Cephas. “Go and put the saddle
on Pericles.”

Tip proceeded in a straight line to the stable, his pockets
dropping corn by the way; while Cephas, laughing
quietly, walked up and down under the trees.

“Hoss 's ready,” muttered Tip, from the barn door.

Instead of leading Pericles out, he left him in the stall,
and climbed up into the hayloft to hide, and brood over
his misfortune until his rival's departure. It was not alone
the affair of the stolen corn that troubled Tip; but from
the fact that Pericles was ordered, he suspected that Cephas
likewise purposed paying a visit to Nancy Blynn.
Resolved to wait and watch, he lay under the dusty roof,
chewing the bitter cud of envy, and now and then a stem of
new-mown timothy, till Cephas entered the stalls beneath,
and said “Be still!” in his clear, resonant tones, to Pericles.

Pericles uttered a quick, low whinny of recognition, and
ceased pawing the floor.


Page 256

“Are you there, Cephas?” presently said another voice.

It was that of the Judge, who had followed his son into
the barn. Tip lay with his elbows on the hay, and listened.

“Going to ride, are you? Who saddled this horse?”

“Tip,” replied Cephas.

“He did n't half curry him. Wait a minute. I 'm
ashamed to let a horse go out looking so.”

And the Judge began to polish off Pericles with wisps of

“Darned ef I care!” muttered Tip.

“Cephas,” said the Judge, “I don't want to make you
vain, but I must say you ride the handsomest colt in the
county. I 'm proud of Pericles. Does his shoe pinch him

“Not since 't was set. He looks well enough, father.
Your eyes are better than mine,” said Cephas, “if you can
see any dust on his coat.”

“I luf to rub a colt, — it does 'em so much good,” rejoined
the Judge. “Cephas, if you 're going by 'Squire Stedman's,
I 'd like to have you call and get that mortgage.”

“I don't think I shall ride that way, father. I 'll go for
it in the morning, however.”

“Never mind, unless you happen that way. Just hand
me a wisp of that straw, Cephas.”

Cephas handed his father the straw. The Judge rubbed
away some seconds longer, then said carelessly, “If you
are going up the mountain, I wish you would stop and
tell Colby I 'll take those lambs, and send for 'em next

“I 'm not sure that I shall go as far as Colby's,” replied

“People say” — the Judge's voice changed slightly —
“you don't often get farther than the Widow Blynn's when
you travel that road. How is it?”


Page 257

“Ask the widow,” said Cephas.

“Ask her daughter, more like,” rejoined the Judge.
“Cephas, I 've kind o' felt as though I ought to have a
little talk with you about that matter. I hope you a'n't
fooling the girl, Cephas.”

And the Judge, having broached the subject to which
all his rubbing had been introductory and his remarks a
prologue, waited anxiously for his son's reply.

Cephas assured him that he could never be guilty of
fooling any girl, much less one so worthy as Miss Nancy

“I 'm glad to hear it!” exclaimed the Judge. “Of
course I never believed you could do such a thing. But
we should be careful of appearances, Cephas. (Just another
little handful of straw; that will do.) People have
already got up the absurd story that you are going to
marry Nancy.”

Tip's ears tingled. There was a brief silence, broken
only by the rustling of the straw. Then Cephas said,
“Why absurd, father?”

“Absurd — because — why, of course it is n't true, is

“I must confess, father,” replied Cephas, “the idea has
occurred to me that Nancy — would make me — a good

It is impossible to say which was most astonished by
this candid avowal, the Judge or Master William Tansley.
The latter had never once imagined that Cephas's intentions
respecting Nancy were so serious; and now the inevitable
conviction forced upon him, that, if his rich rival really
wished to marry her, there was no possible chance left for
him, smote his heart with qualms of despair.

“Cephas, you stagger me!” said the Judge. “A
young man of your education and prospects —”


Page 258

“Nancy is not without some education, father,” interposed
Cephas, as the Judge hesitated. “Better than that,
she has heart and soul. She is worthy to be any man's

Although Tip entertained precisely the same opinions,
he was greatly dismayed to hear them expressed so generously
by Cephas.

The Judge rubbed away again at Pericles's flanks and
shoulders with wisps of straw.

“No doubt, Cephas, you think so; and I have n't anything
agin Nancy; she 's a good girl enough, fur 's I
know. But just reflect on 't, — you 're of age, and in one
sense you can do as you please, but you a'n't too old to
hear to reason. You know you might marry 'most any
girl you choose.”

“So I thought, and I choose Nancy,” answered Cephas,
preparing to lead out Pericles.

“I wish the hoss 'd fling him, and break his neck!”
whispered the devil in Tip's heart.

“Don't be hasty; wait a minute, Cephas,” said the
Judge. “You know what I mean, — you could marry
rich. Take a practical view of the matter. Get rid of
these boyish notions. Just think how it will look for a
young man of your cloth — worth twenty thousand dollars
any day I 'm a mind to give it to you — to go and marry
the Widow Blynn's daughter, — a girl that takes in sewing!
What are ye thinking of, Cephas?”

“I hear,” replied Cephas, quietly, “she does her sewing

“Suppose she does? She 'd make a good enough wife
for some such fellow as Tip, no doubt; but I thought a
son of mine would ha' looked higher. Think of you and
Tip after the same girl! Come, if you 've any pride about
you, you 'll pull the saddle off the colt and stay at home.”


Page 259

Although the Judge's speech, as we perceive, was not
quite free from provincialisms, his arguments were none
the less powerful on that account. He said a good deal
more in the same strain, holding out threats of unforgiveness
and disinheritance on the one hand, and praise and
promises on the other; Cephas standing with the bridle
in his hand, and poor Tip's anxious heart beating like a
pendulum between the hope that his rival would be convinced
and the fear that he would not.

“The question is simply this, father,” said Cephas,
growing impatient: “which to choose, love or money?
And I assure you I 'd much rather please you than displease

“That 's the way to talk, Cephas! That sounds like!”
exclaimed the Judge.

“But if I choose money,” Cephas hastened to say,
“money it shall be. I ought to make a good thing out
of it. What will you give to make it an object?”

“Give? Give you all I 've got, of course. What 's
mine is yours, — or will be, some day.”

“Some day is n't the thing. I prefer one good bird in
the hand to any number of fine songsters in the bush.
Give me five thousand dollars, and it 's a bargain.”

“Pooh! pooh!” said the Judge.

“Very well; then stand aside and let me and Pericles

“Don't be unreasonable, Cephas? Let the colt stand.
What do you want of five thousand dollars?”

“Never mind; if you don't see fit to give it, I 'll go and
see Nancy.”

“No, no, you sha' n't! Let go the bridle! I 'd ruther
give ten thousand.”

“Very well; give me ten, then!”

“I mean — don't go to being wild and headstrong now!


Page 260
I 'll give you a thousand dollars, if nothing else will satisfy

“I 'll divide the difference with you,” said Cephas.
“You shall give me three thousand, and that, you must
confess, is very little.”

“It 's a bargain!” exclaimed the Judge. And Tip was
thrilled with joy.

“I 'm sorry I did n't stick to five thousand!” said
Cephe. “But I wish to ask, can I, for instance, marry
Melissa More? Next to Nancy, she is the prettiest girl in

“But she has no position; there is the same objection
to her there is to Nancy. The bargain is, you are not to
marry any poor girl; and I mean to have it in writing.
So pull off the saddle and come into the house.”

“If I had been shrewd I might just as well have got
five thousand,” said Cephas.

Tip Tansley, more excited than he had ever been in his
life, waited until the two had left the barn; then, creeping
over the hay, hitting his head in the dark against the
low rafters, he slid down from his hiding-place, carefully
descended the stairs, gathered up what he could find of
the scattered ears of tucket, and set out to run through the
orchard and across the fields to the Widow Blynn's cottage.
The evening was starry, and the edges of the few dark
clouds that lay low in the east predicted the rising moon.
Halting only to climb fences, or to pick up now and then
the corn that persisted in dropping from his pockets, or to
scrutinize some object that he thought looked “pokerish”
in the dark, prudently shunning the dismal woods on one
side, and the pasture where the “hooking” cattle were on
the other, Tip kept on, and arrived, all palpitating and
perspiring, at the widow's house, just as the big red moon
was coming up amidst the clouds over the hill. He had


Page 261
left a good deal of his corn and all his courage behind him
in his flight; for Tip, ardently as he loved the beautiful
Nancy, could lay no claim to her on the poetical ground
that “the brave deserve the fair.”

With uncertain knuckles Tip rapped on the humble
door, having first looked through the kitchen window, and
seen the widow sitting within, sewing by the light of a
tallow candle.

“Good evening, William,” said Mrs. Blynn, opening the
door, with her spectacles on her forehead, and her work
gathered up in her lap under her bent figure. “Come in;
take a chair.”

“Guess I can't stop,” replied Tip, sidling into the room
with his hat on. “How 's all the folks? Nancy to

“Nancy's up stairs; I 'll speak to her. — Nancy,” called
the widow at the chamber door, “Tip is here! — Better
take a chair while you stop,” she added, smiling upon the
visitor, who always, on arriving, “guessed he could n't
stop,” and usually ended by remaining until he was sent

“Wal, may as well; jest as cheap settin' as standin',”
said Tip, depositing the burden of his personality — weight,
146 lbs. — upon one of the creaky, splint-bottomed chairs.
“Pooty warm night, kind o',” raising his arm to wipe his
face with his sleeve; upon which an ear of that discontented
tucket took occasion to tumble upon the floor.
“Hello! what 's that? By gracious, if 't a'n't green corn!
Got any fire? Guess we 'll have a roast.”

And Tip, taking off his hat, began to empty his stuffed
pockets into it.

“Law me!” said the widow, squinting over her work.
“I thought your pockets stuck out amazin'! I ha'n't
had the first taste of green corn this year. It 's real kind


Page 262
o' thoughtful in you, Tip; but the fire 's all out, and we
can't think of roastin' on 't to-night, as I see.”

“Mebby Nancy will,” chuckled Tip. “A'n't she comin'
down? — Any time to-night, Nancy!” cried Tip, raising
his voice, to be heard by his beloved in her retreat.
“You do'no' what I brought ye!”

Now, sad as the truth may sound to the reader sympathizing
with Tip, Nancy cared little what he had brought,
and experienced no very ardent desire to come down and
meet him. She sat at her window, looking at the stars,
and thinking of somebody who she had hoped would visit
her that night. But that somebody was not Tip; and
although the first sound of his footsteps had set her heart
fluttering with expectation, his near approach, breathing
fast and loud, had given her a chill of disappointment,
almost of disgust, and she now much preferred her own
thoughts, and the moonrise through the trees in the direction
of Judge Boxton's house, to all the green corn and all
the green lovers in New England. Her mother, however,
who commiserated Tip, and believed as much in being
civil to neighbors as she did in keeping the Sabbath, called
again, and gave her no peace until she had left the window,
the moonrise, and her romantic dreams, and descended
into the prosaic atmosphere of the kitchen, and
of Tip and his corn.

How lovely she looked, to Tip's eyes! Her plain, neat
calico gown, enfolding a wonderful little rounded embodiment
of grace and beauty, seemed to him an attire fit
for any queen or fairy that ever lived. But it was the
same old tragic story over again, — although Tip loved
Nancy, Nancy loved not Tip. However he might flatter
himself, her regard for him was on the cool side of sisterly,
— simply the toleration of a kindly heart for one who was
not to blame for being less bright than other people.


Page 263

She took her sewing, and sat by the table, O, so beautiful!
Tip thought, and enveloped in a charmed atmosphere
which seemed to touch and transfigure every object
except himself. The humble apartment, the splint-bottomed
chairs, the stockings drying on the pole, even the
widow's cap and gown, and the old black snuffers on the
table, — all, save poor, homely Tip, stole a ray of grace
from the halo of her loveliness.

Nancy discouraged the proposition of roasting corn, and
otherwise deeply grieved her visitor by intently working
and thinking, instead of taking part in the conversation.
At length a bright idea occurred to him.

“Got a slate and pencil?”

The widow furnished the required articles. He then
found a book, and, using the cover as a rule, marked out
the plan of a game.

“Fox and geese, Nancy; ye play?” And having
picked off a sufficient number of kernels from one of the
ears of corn, and placed them upon the slate for geese, he
selected the largest he could find for a fox, stuck it upon a
pin, and proceeded to roast it in the candle.

“Which 'll ye have, Nancy?” — pushing the slate
toward her; “take your choice, and give me the geese;
then beat me if you can! Come, won't ye play?”

“O dear, Tip, what a tease you are!” said Nancy. “I
don't want to play. I must work. Get mother to play
with you, Tip.”

“She don't wanter!” exclaimed Tip. “Come, Nancy;
then I 'll tell ye suthin' I heard jest 'fore I come away, —
suthin' 'bout you!”

And Tip, assuming a careless air, proceeded to pile up
the ears of corn, log-house fashion, upon the table, while
Nancy was finishing her seam.

“About me?” she echoed.


Page 264

“You 'd ha' thought so!” said Tip, slyly glancing over
the corn as he spoke, to watch the effect on Nancy.
“Cephe and the old man had the all-firedest row, — tell

He hitched around in his chair, and resting his elbows
on his knees, looked up, shrewd and grinning, into her

“William Tansley, what do you mean?”

“As if you could n't guess! Cephe was comin' to see
you to-night; but he won't,” chuckled Tip. “Say! ye
ready for fox and geese?”

“How do you know that?” demanded Nancy.

“'Cause I heard! The old man stopped him, and
Cephe was goin' to ride over him, but the old man was
too much for him; he jerked him off the hoss, and there
they had it, lickety-switch, rough-and-tumble, till Cephe
give in, and told the old man, ruther 'n have any words,
he 'd promise never to come and see you agin if he 'd give
him three thousand dollars; and the old man said 't was a

“Is that true, Tip?” cried the widow, dropping her
work and raising her hands.

“True as I live and breathe, and draw the breath of life,
and have a livin' bein'!” Tip solemnly affirmed.

“Just as I always told you, Nancy!” exclaimed the
widow. “I knew how it would be. I felt sartin Cephas
could n't be depended upon. His father never 'd hear a
word to it, I always said. Now don't feel bad, Nancy;
don't mind it. It 'll be all for the best, I hope. Now
don't, Nancy; don't, I beg and beseech.”

She saw plainly by the convulsive movement of the
girl's bosom and the quivering of her lip that some passionate
demonstration was threatened. Tip meanwhile
had advanced his chair still nearer, contorting his neck


Page 265
and looking up with leering malice into her face until his
nose almost touched her cheek.

“What do ye think now of Cephe Boxton?” he asked,
tauntingly; “hey?”

A stinging blow upon the ear rewarded his impertinence,
and he recoiled so suddenly that his chair went
over and threw him sprawling upon the floor.

“Gosh all hemlock!” he muttered, scrambling to his
feet, rubbing first his elbow, then his ear. “What 's that
fur, I 'd like to know, — knockin' a feller down?”

“What do I think of Cephas Boxton?” cried Nancy.
“I think the same I did before, — why should n't I?
Your slander is no slander, Now sit down and behave
yourself, and don't put your face too near mine, if you
don't want your ears boxed!”

“Why, Nancy, how could you?” groaned the widow.

Nancy made no reply, but resumed her work very much
as if nothing had happened.

“Hurt you much, William?”

“Not much; only it made my elbow sing like all
Jerewsalem! Never mind; she 'll find out! Where 's my

“You a'n't going, be ye?” said Mrs. Blynn, with an air
of solicitude.

“I guess I a'n't wanted here,” mumbled Tip, pulling his
hat over his ears. He struck the slate, scattering the fox
and geese, and demolished the house of green corn. “You
can keep that; I don't want it. Good night, Miss Blynn.”

Tip placed peculiar emphasis upon the name, and fumbled
a good while with the latch, expecting Nancy would
say something; but she maintained a cool and dignified
silence, and as nobody urged him to stay, he reluctantly
departed, his heart full of injury, and his hopes collapsed
like his pockets.


Page 266

For some minutes Nancy continued to sew intently and
fast, her flushed face bowed over the seam; then suddenly
her eyes blurred, her fingers forgot their cunning, the
needle shot blindly hither and thither, and the quickly
drawn thread snapped in twain.

“Nancy! Nancy! don't!” pleaded Mrs. Blynn; “I
beg of ye, now don't!”

“O mother,” burst forth the young girl, with sobs, “I
am so unhappy! What did I strike poor Tip for? He
did not know any better. I am always doing something
so wrong! He could not have made up the story.
Cephas would have come here to-night, — I know he

“Poor child! poor child!” said Mrs. Blynn. “Why
could n't you hear to me? I always told you to be careful
and not like Cephas too well. But maybe Tip did n't
understand. Maybe Cephas will come to-morrow, and
then all will be explained.”

“Cephas is true, I know, I know!” wept Nancy, “but
his father —”

The morrow came and passed, and no Cephas. The
next day was Sunday, and Nancy went to church, not
with an undivided heart, but with human love and hope
and grief mingling strangely with her prayers. She knew
Cephas would be there, and felt that a glance of his eye
would tell her all. But — for the first time in many
months it happened — they sat in the same house of worship,
she with her mother in their humble corner, he in
the Judge's conspicuous pew, and no word or look passed
between them. She went home, still to wait. Day after
day of leaden loneliness, night after night of watching and
despair, and still no Cephas. Tip also had discontinued
his visits. Mrs. Blynn saw a slow, certain change come
over her child; her joyous laugh rang no more, neither


Page 267
were her tears often seen or her sighs heard; but she
seemed disciplining herself to bear with patience and
serenity the desolateness of her lot.

One evening it was stormy, and Nancy and her mother
were together in the plain, tidy kitchen, both sewing and
both silent; gusts and rain lashing the windows, and the
cat purring in a chair. Nancy's heart was more quiet
than usual; for, although expectation was not quite
extinct, no visitor surely could be looked for on such a
night. Suddenly, however, amidst the sounds of the
storm, she heard footsteps and a knock at the door. Yet
she need not have started and changed color so tumultuously,
for the visitor was only Tip.

“Good evenin',” said young Master Tansley, stamping,
pulling off his dripping hat, and shaking it. “I 'd no idee
it rained so! I was goin' by, and thought I 'd stop in.
Ye mad, Nancy?” And he peered at the young girl from
beneath his wet hair with a bashful grin.

Nancy's heart was too much softened to cherish any
resentment, and with suffused eyes she begged Tip to
forgive the blow.

“Wal! I do'no' what I 'd done to be knocked down
fur,” began Tip, with a pouting and aggrieved air;
“though I s'pose I dew, tew. But I guess what I told ye
turned out about so, after all; did n't it, hey?”

At Nancy's look of distress, Mrs. Blynn made signs for
Tip to forbear. But he had come too far through the
darkness and rain with an exciting piece of news to be
thus easily silenced.

“I ha'n't brought ye no corn this time, for I did n't
know as you 'd roast it if I did. Say, Nancy! Cephe and
the old man had it agin to-day; and the Judge forked
over the three thousand dollars; I seen him! He was
only waitin' to raise it. It 's real mean in Cephe, I s'pose


Page 268
you think. Mebby 't is; but, by gracious! three thousand
dollars is a 'tarnal slue of money!”

Hugely satisfied with the effect this announcement produced,
Tip sprawled upon a chair and chewed a stick, like
one resolved to make himself comfortable for the evening.

“Saxafrax, — ye want some?” he said, breaking off with
his teeth a liberal piece of the stick. “Say, Nancy! ye
need n't look so mad. Cephe has sold out, I tell ye; and
when I offer ye saxafrax, ye may as well take some.”

Not without effort Nancy held her peace; and Tip,
extending the fragment of the sassafras-root which his
teeth had split off, was complacently urging her to accept
it, — “'T was real good,” — when the sound of hoofs was
heard; a halt at the gate; a horseman dismounting, leading
his animal to the shed; a voice saying “Be still,
Pericles!” and footsteps approaching the door.

“Nancy! Nancy!” articulated Mrs. Blynn, scarcely
less agitated than her daughter, “he has come!”

“It 's Cephe!” whispered Tip, hoarsely. “If he should
ketch me here! I — I guess I 'll go! Confound that
Cephe, anyhow!”

Rap, rap! two light, decisive strokes of a riding-whip
on the kitchen door.

Mrs. Blynn glanced around to see if everything was tidy;
and Tip, dropping his sassafras, whirled about and wheeled
about like Jim Crow in the excitement of the moment.

“Mother, go!” uttered Nancy, pale with emotion, hurriedly
pointing to the door.

She made her escape by the stairway; observing which,
the bewildered Tip, who had indulged a frantic thought of
leaping from the window to avoid meeting his dread rival,
changed his mind and rushed after her. Unadvised of his
intention, and thinking only of shutting herself from the
sight of young Boxton, Nancy closed the kitchen door


Page 269
rather severely upon Tip's fingers; but his fear rendered
him insensible to pain, and he followed her, scrambling up
the dark staircase just as Mrs. Blynn admitted Cephas.

Nancy did not immediately perceive what had occurred;
but presently, amidst the sounds of the rain on the roof
and of the wind about the gables, she heard the unmistakable
perturbed breathing of her luckless lover.

“Nancy,” whispered Tip, “where be ye? I 've most
broke my head agin this blasted beam!”

“What are you here for?” demanded Nancy.

“'Cause I did n't want him to see me. He won't stop
but a minute; then I 'll go down. I did give my head
the all-firedest tunk!” said Tip.

Mrs. Blynn opened the door to inform Nancy of the arrival
of her visitor, and the light from below, partially illuminating
the fugitive's retreat, showed Tip in a sitting posture
on one of the upper stairs, diligently rubbing that portion
of his cranium which had come in collision with the beam.

“Say, Nancy, don't go!” whispered Tip; “don't leave
me here in the dark!”

Nancy had too many tumultuous thoughts of her own
to give much heed to his distress; and having hastily
arranged her hair and dress by the sense of touch, she
glided by him, bidding him keep quiet, and descended the
stairs to the door, which she closed after her, leaving him
to the wretched solitude of the place, which appeared to
him a hundred fold more dark and dreadful than before.

Cephas in the mean time had divested himself of his oil-cloth
capote, and entered the neat little sitting-room, to
which he was civilly shown by the widow. “Nancy 'll
be down in a minute.” And placing a candle upon the
mantel-piece, Mrs. Blynn withdrew.

Nancy, having regained her self-possession, appeared
mighty dignified before her lover; gave him a passive


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hand; declined, with averted head, his proffered kiss; and
seated herself at a cool and respectable distance.

“Nancy, what is the matter?” said Cephas, in mingled
amazement and alarm. “You act as though I was a
pedler, and you did n't care to trade.”

“You can trade, sir; you can make what bargains you
please with others; but —” Nancy's aching and swelling
heart came up and choked her.

“Nancy! what have I done? What has changed you
so? Have you forgotten — the last time I was here?”

“'T would not be strange if I had, it was so long ago!”

Poor Nancy spoke cuttingly; but her sarcasm was as a
sword with two points, which pierced her own heart quite
as much as it wounded her lover's.

“Nancy,” said Cephas, and he took her hand again so
tenderly that it was like putting heaven away to withdraw
it, “could n't you trust me? Has n't your heart assured
you that I could never stay away from you so without
good reasons?”

“O, I don't doubt but you had reasons!” replied
Nancy, with a bursting anguish in her tones. “But such

Such reasons?” repeated Cephas, grieved and repelled.
“Will you please inform me what you mean? For, as I
live, I am ignorant!”

“Ah, Cephas! it is not true, then,” cried Nancy, with
sudden hope, “that — your father —”

“What of my father?”

“That he has offered you money —”

A vivid emotion flashed across the young man's face.

“I would have preferred to tell you without being
questioned so sharply,” he replied. “But since hearsay
has got the start of me, and brought you the news, I can
only answer — he has offered me money.”

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Page 271

“To buy you — to hire you —”

“Not to marry any poor girl, — that 's the bargain,
Nancy,” said Cephas, with the tenderest of smiles.

“And you have accepted?” cried Nancy, quickly.

“I have accepted,” responded Cephas.

Nancy uttered not a word.

“I came to tell you all this; but I should have told
you in a different way, could I have had my choice,” said
Cephas. “What I have done is for your happiness as
much as my own. My father threatened to disinherit me
if I married a poor girl; and how could I bear the thought
of subjecting you to such a lot? He has given me three
thousand dollars; I only received it to-day, or I should
have come to you before, for, Nancy, — do not look so
strange! — it is for you, this money, — do you hear?”

He attempted to draw her toward him, but she sprang
indignantly to her feet.

“Cephas! You offer me money!”

“Nancy!” — Cephas caught her and folded her in his
arms, — “don't you understand? It is your dowry! You
are no longer a poor girl. I promised not to marry any
poor girl,
but I never promised not to marry you. Accept
the dowry; then you will be a rich girl, and — my wife,
my wife, Nancy!”

“O Cephas! is it true? Let me look at you!” She
held him firm, and looked into his face, and into his deep
tender eyes. “It is true!”

What more was said or done I am unable to relate; for
about this time there came from another part of the house
a dull, reverberating sound, succeeded by a rapid series of
concussions, as of some ponderous body descending in a
swift but irregular manner from the top to the bottom of
the stairs. It was Master William Tansley, who, groping
about in the dark with intent to find a stove-pipe hole at


Page 272
which to listen, had lost his latitude and his equilibrium,
and tumbled from landing to landing, in obedience to the
dangerous laws of gravitation. Mrs. Blynn flew to open
the door; found him helplessly kicking on his back, with
his head in the rag-bag; drew him forth by one arm;
ascertained that he had met with no injuries which a little
salve would not heal; patched him up almost as good as
new; gave him her sympathy and a lantern to go home
with, and kindly bade him good night.

So ended. Tip Tansley's unfortunate love-affair; and I
am pleased to relate that his broken heart recovered from
its hurts almost as speedily as his broken head.

A month later the village clergyman was called to
administer the vows of wedlock to a pair of happy lovers
in the Widow Blynn's cottage; and the next morning there
went abroad the report of a marriage which surprised the
good people of the parish generally, and Judge Boxton
more particularly.

In the afternoon of that day Cephas rode home to pay
his respects to the old gentleman, and ask him if he would
like an introduction to the bride.

“Cephas!” cried the Judge, filled with wrath, smiting
his son's written agreement with his angry hand, “look
here! your promise! Have you forgotten?”

“Read it, please,” said Cephas.

“In consideration,” began the Judge, running his troubled
eye over the paper, “.... I do hereby pledge myself,
never, at any time, or in any place, to marry any
poor girl.”

“You will find,” said Cephas, “that I have acted
according to the strict terms of our agreement. And I
have the honor to inform you, sir, that I have married a
person who, with other attractions, possesses the handsome
trifle of three thousand dollars.”


Page 273

The Judge fumed, made use of an oath or two, and
talked loudly of disinheritance and cutting off with a

“I should be very sorry to have you do such a thing,”
rejoined Cephas, respectfully; “but, after all, it is n't as
though I had not received a neat little fortune by the way
of my wife.”

A retort so happy that the Judge ended with a hearty
acknowledgment of his son's superior wit, and an invitation
to come home and lodge his lovely encumbrance
beneath the parental roof.

Thereupon Cephas took a roll of notes from his pocket.
“All jesting aside,” said he, “I must first square a little
matter of business with which my wife has commissioned
me. She is more scrupulous than the son of my father,
and she refused to receive the money until I had promised
to return it to you as soon as we should be married. And
here it is!”

“Fie, fie!” cried the Judge. “Keep the money.
She 's a noble girl, after all, — too good for a rogue like

“I know it!” said Cephas, humbly, with tears in his
eyes; for recollections of a somewhat wild and wayward
youth, mingling with the conscious possession of so much
love and happiness, melted his heart with unspeakable
contrition and gratitude.