. ' I /' . .
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HARRIETT HUNT CARUS.
J (ALAF DOUGLASS.)
W r*fVWv% ;?
i IM INN ATI,
THK EDITOR PUBLISHING CO.
THE EDITOR PUBLISHING CO.
MY LITTLE SON AND DAUGHTER
Whose quaint appreciation and unflagging interest,
have been my incitive throughout this work, this little
book is lovingly dedicated.
The New Minister . .1
The Old Man's Story ... .33
Baby Violet . . 47
Little Joe ... .48
A Dutiful Daughter . . 50
Autumn . . . . .92
My Boy ... 93
Little Blue Eyes . . .93
Childhood Home . . 94
Minna's Man ....... 94
The Nation's I )<>;ul . . 95
Innisfallen . .... 96
How Long . .
Prayer ..... . . 98
Old Memories ...... 99
Sunrise ........ 99
My King ... 100
Slumber Song . . . . . .101
Burns ... 102
Appreciation .... 102
A Winter Scene 103
The Silent Acre 104
Retrospective . .104
Monopolistic Monologue ..... 106
Bethlehem . . . . . . .106
Meta Vaughan ....... 107
The Tomb Beside the Hudson . . . . 108
Sterling Castle . . . . . . .109
Trjje New Minister.
THE Churchill First Church had been without a
pastor a year or more. It was very hard to suit
everyone in that church, and previous experi-
ence had taught them the utter futility of ex-
pecting to keep a man against whom any one member
could bring the faintest shadow of objection, either per-
sonal or professional.
They had been very unfortunate in their previous
engagements, each of the many who had filled their pul-
pit failing to give entire satisfaction. For instance:
The Rev. Mr. Brown was too practical, and dwelt too
much on personal integrity and holy living, to the neg-
lect of the doctrines the doctrines were what they hir-
ed him to expound. Some one ventured to suggest a little
different course to him, but alas! when he had complied
with the suggestion, he found he had opened a door to a
score more of the same sort. Deacon Jones believed in
free will, and Deacon White in divine sovereignty, and
the half distracted parson tried to harmonize the dis-
cordant elements, leaning first a little one way and then
a little the other, to the utter disgust of first one and
2 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
then the other wing of the different members, according
to which side he inclined. And so the last state of the
man was worse than the first, for the different sections
-were unanimous upon one thing : A minister should be
above all things else, rigidly independent. They had
one weather-vane to their church and that was enough.
And so Mr. Brown resigned.
After this came Mr. Darrow. He was everything
that could be asked eloquent, gracefully uniting theory
and practice in a fine subtle way that offended no one's
prejudices, but somebody awoke to the fact that this
same subtlety of graceful generalizing was undermining
the foundation of their faith, and heads were shaken,
wisely, and " 'Twon't do!" was said more and more em-
phatically, and well, Mr. Darrow had a call from some-
where about that time and it was accepted ! The
church determined to be cautious in the selection of Mr.
Darrow's successor, and each member generally, and the
1 'leading" members particularly, had a nicely prepared
code of qualifications including theoretical, practical,
intellectual, social and domestic qualities they had
severally resolved he must come up to, in order to ob-
tain their suffrage. Strangely enough, their ideas on
these matters didn't perfectly agree, and it was perhaps
stranger still how many faults and imperfections the
clergy were possessed of.
''I'd no idee," said Deacon Harris, "what a miser-
able lot of workmen the Lord had in his vineyard. It
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 3
seems a pity that he couldn't had a little of the wisdom
and good judgment of the Northville Church before he
give 'era a call." But Deacon Harris was terribly old
fashioned in his ideas, and not at all keen in scenting out
blemishes, especially in ministers. Of course an old
fogy like this could have very little weight in so very in-
telligent and discriminating a church as the First
Churchill. After several months of candidating, they
at last settled upon Mr. Marvin, a man who at least had
not the faults of his immediate predecessors, for one
look in his face told you that he was fearless and inde-
pendent, and would both preach and practice what his
own conscience believed to be right. "At last,"
thought this perfect people, "we have a workman
worthy of our hire." And so they gave him a recep-
tion, and introduced him to the "prominent members, " and
everything was altogether lovely for six months. Then
was made the shocking discovery that the Marvin's
didn't own any silver, to speak of and hadn't any
"nice dishes," and to crown all, Mr. Marvin absolutely
refused to discharge an old and tried servant, when he
knew one or two of the "leading" members desired him
to, on account of some personal spite they had against
her. This was the beginning of the end. Mr Marvin's
antecedents were hunted up, the "specks" magnified in
a manner that put to blush the most powerful triumph
of microscopic art, and blazoned abroad with a zeal
worthy of a better cause. In addition Marvin fraterniz-
4 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
ed with the wood-sawyer, actually stopping on the street
to speak with him. Theoretically,the Churchill Church
believed a minister should visit "the poor, the sick and
the destitute; " practically, they preferred it should not
be their minister. And so Mr. Marvin went the way of
For the next year the Churchill Church "candidat-
ed" to its heart's content, and when at last, with a con-
siderable degree of unanimity, they decided on Charles
Armstrong, there were many who felt a secret sense of
commiseration for the young, untried man, who had de-
cided to risk his fate where his older and more exper-
ienced brothers had failed.
Mr. Armstrong was a single man. This was a new
feature in the experience of the First Church, and in
certain quarters a somewhat exhilarating one. After
the advent of Mr. Armstrong,the Churchill First Church
congregation soon had a proportion of from twelve to
fifteen females to one male attendant. A score of young
ladies who had left the Sunday school because they
were too old, became seriously impressed with the beauty
and worth of that institution, and hastened to show
their faith by their works, when Mr. Armstrong an-
nounced that he should give the school his constant
"Plenty of company, now, Margie," said Deacon
Harris with an odd smile, as his pretty grand-daughter*
Margie Dean, slipped her arm through his, the better to
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 5
guide the almost blind old man through the pleasant
meadow path that led from the rear of the church to the
quaint old homestead where these two dwelt alone.
"Why, yes, grandfather," she replied with inno-
cent enthusiasm. "All the girls are joining the school
again I am so glad ! It will be encouraging to the new
minister, I know he felt disappointed the first time he
came into the school, he looked so gravely about at the
empty seats, and asked 'if only children attended this
"And quite ignored my little woman, did he?" the old
man asked with a pretence of anger.
"0 no, indeed! that is, he didn't mind me at all;
it's not likely he should," she explained eagerly. "I am
not a very noticeable person, and I don't really think
Mr. Armstrong has ever seen me yet," she added with a
faint blush. "I came past Lucy Fuller and Julia Har-
per when I left the vestry to-day, talking with him at
the library door, but I don't think any of them saw me."
Then, with a little laugh : "You are not the only blind
person in the village, grandfather."
"I know it, dear, I know it," he said soberly, "but
I'd rather have a clear conscience and a spirit of humil-
ity than all their fine things. 'Man judgeth from ap-
pearance, but God looketh at the heart.' Always re-
member that, dear, and trust him for the rest."
"But, grandfather, I was not complaining," she in-
terrupted. "If people don't see me only when they hap-
6 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
pen to be alone, or want something of me, it is no reason
why I should be unhappy. It must be infinitely more
trouble to them than it is to me."
Deacon Harris' face brightened, and his tremulous
hand involuntarily closed over the firm little fingers rest-
ing on his arm.
"God bless you forever and ever, little Margie," he
whispered in a husky voice. Margie smiled brightly up
into his face, and opened the gate. At each side of the
path was a row of sweet red and white pinks, and at the
end of them, under the high, narrow windows, alternate
dumbs of daffodills and damask roses. All the rest was
greensward, and this sunny June day, of a soft green,
shading from dark to golden, as the sunshine sifted here
and there through the branches of the stately elms. Mar-
gie picked a handful of pinks as she went slowly up the
path. Her grandfather had gone on to the house, when
a murmur of voices struck her ear, and looking up she
saw Lucy Fuller, Julia Harper and Mr. Armstrong walk-
ing leisurely along the meadow path, almost opposite the
house. They had apparently discovered her at the same
moment, for they looked up and involuntarily lowered
their voices. Obeying her first impulse, Margie bowed
to the young ladies, both of whom gave her a cool stare,
and the very faintest possible inclination of the head as
they rustled on in their rich silks. A vivid flush over-
spread the pretty, sensitive face, and the sweet lips
trembled a moment. Then a voice from within called,
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES . T
'Margie," in such a strange, unnatural tone that every-
thing else was forgotten, as, in sudden affright, she hur-
ried into the house.
"Grandfather!" she called. There was no answer,
only a faint moan from the kitchen.
A moment more, and Margie was kneeling on the
floor, trying to lift the limp, nerveless form of her grand-
father in her arms. He had been sitting in the doorway
and had fallen back into the room, his feet still resting
on the broad grass-fringed doorstone.
"O grandfather, speak to me!" she cried, breaking
into tears, and again essaying to lift the insensible form.
"Let me assist you, Miss Dean," said a strong, quiet
voice the voice of the new minister at her side, and
without waiting for her to answer, a pair of muscular
arms lifted the old man as if he had been an infant.
Now where shall we put him that he will get the most
air? Have you a large cool room with a bed in it?"
Without speaking Margie threw open the door into
the "north-room," a great shadowy-looking apartment, in
one corner of which the "spare bed" had stood from time
"Just the thing, only a trifle close. Open the
north window, please, and bring some cold water," he
said, laying down his burden on the white lavender
"O, Mr. Armstrong, is my grandfather going to die?"
Margie asked sharply, her natural awe of ''the minister,"
8 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
as well as her recent mortification completely swallow-
ed up in anxiety and alarm.
"It is nothing more than a faintingfit, I am quite
sure," he said, in such a quiet, assured tone that Margie
regained her composure at once, and went quietly and
deftly at work for his restoration.
It was time for the afternoon service, however, be-
fore he was so far recovered as to speak, though he smil-
ed when his eyes rested on Margie, and pressed the hand
of the young minister warmly when he took his depar-
ture, which he did with no small degree of reluctance.
"I shall see this picture before my eyes all service
time," he said, looking down at Margie as she knelt,
very pale and still, by the side of the white haired old
man, who every now and then passed his hand caress-
ingly over hers.
"If if you could come in this evening," she stam-
mered, feeling her face grow hot. "We are so alone
here, though I never thought of it when grandfather
"Certainly, Miss Dean," he responded in a hearty
voice. "I should have come if you had not spoken of
your need. I shall be very anxious about Father Harris
until I see him in his accustomed place at church."
Then he shook hands with her in such a friendly, cor-
dial way, that her natural diffidence and dread of strang-
ers quite dissipated, and all the afternoon there was a
pleasant glow in her heart.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES y
Twenty-five years before my story opens, Mr. Harris
had been a deacon of the First Church, as well as one of
its financial pillars. He had an unbounded faith in
everybody, and believed all the world as honest as him-
self. And so, when Henry Fuller came to him, and be-
sought his name to a note for three thousand dollars,
he signed it unhesitatingly, and thought no more of it.
Henry was a rising young man, everybody said, and
Churchill was rather proud of him, and prophesied that
he would be the richest man in town in twenty years.
Three months went by, and the good-hearted deacon
had nearly forgotten the matter of the note. His son
and daughter were married, and like the prodigal, in-
sisted on having the portion that belonged to them. He
had long before invested five thousand dollars for each.
It was accordingly withdrawn and handed over to them
on the day they left home to try their own fortunes in
Another three months went by, when a startling
rumor ran through Churchill Henry Fuller had failed!
And the man who held the note for three thousand dol-
lars came post haste to Churchill to look after his inter-
ests. But a New York broker named Gripen, held
everything in his possession. He therefore called at
once on Mr. Fuller's endorser, and presented his claim.
"I shall pay it, of course, but you must give me a
few days," the deacon said with a strange sinking at his
heart, for he knew the old homestead must be mortgaged
to raise the money.
10 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
From the mortgage of the farm dated the decline in
Deacon Harris' fortunes. And after fifteen years of
anxiety and struggle, he gave up the farm, though the
pang it cost him only God and his own heart knew. He
still retained the old farmhouse with an acre of ground,
though but a pitiful caricature of what it once had
been. After a few years his wife died, leaving him
quite alone. He had long since ceased to be a deacon
of the First Church, though the familiar title still clung
to him. Younger and wealthier men, imbued with more
modern ideas, controlled its affairs now.
After twenty-one years of absence, Henry Fuller
came back to Churchill. The prophecy of his youth
was more than fulfilled, and all Churchill went down on
its knees before him. If anyone remembered the past,
they wisely refrained from speaking of it, and Deacon
Harris in his poverty was conveniently forgotten. It
was a business transaction, and if the deacon had chosen
to take the risks, why, it was only his own fault.
The deacon's children, in the meantime, had chil-
dren of their own, and were engrossed in their own fam-
ilies and interests. John could not burden himself with
an old man who might live to be a great deal of trouble.
If his father "hadn't been a fool, he would have been
Clara's husband had been unfortunate, and with a
grown-up family of boys and girls, it was as much as he
could do to live in genteel style.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 11
After his wife died, Deacon Harris visited each of
his children. It did not take him long to learn there
was no place for him in his children's home, and with a
strange sense of desolation tugging at his heart, the old
man prepared to return to his lonely dwelling. Clara
wept, and "so wished they were able to keep father,"
and the old man slipped quietly out and sat down on the
doorstep, with his head very low on his breast.
"Grandfather," said a low, sweet voice, and a soft
arm was thrown lovingly around his bowed shoulders, "do
you want me? Can I be any help and comfort to you,
if I come to Churchill?"
"You, child!" he exclaimed, grasping the little
hand in both his own.
"Why, yes, grandfather, I am almost seventeen, and
can learn to do anything if I won't be a burden to you.
May I go do you want me, grandfather?" parting the
silver hair with her slender fingers, and leaning over to
look into his face.
"Want you, little Margie!" he cried, a sudden light
in his faded eyes. "But they won't let you go to live
with grandfather, dear."
"1 shall go, most certainly," she said resolutely.
And this was how Margie Dean came to be living at
Churchill at the opening of this story. There had been
a storm of opposition, but she said quietly and firmly :
"I shall go if you all disown me in consequence. I
know it is right."
12 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
And now we will return to the "north room," and
look after our patient and his anxious nurse. The sun
threw a long slant line of p&le gold through each of the
narrow windows, and the quiet room was tremulous with
soft light and shade, and odorous with sweet-brier, when
the minister, retxirning, paused a moment on the
threshold. How long Mr. Armstrong might have been
content to stand silently and listen to the sweet voice of
Margie, as she read in low tones from one of the royal
singer's triumphant psalms, I know not, for Margie,
looking suddenly up, discovered his presence, and gave
him such a glad, welcoming smile that it drove all else
from his mind.
When after the long golden twilight hour had pass-
ed, Charles Armstrong rose to take his departure, he
felt a vague consciousness that whatever the future
might hold in store for him, this day would be forever
sacred in his memory.
It was known in Churchill that the minister went to
Deacon Harris' a great deal, but for once this very keen-
scented people were at fault. The possibility of his
falling in love with quiet little Margie never once oc-
curred to them.
But one day a thunderbolt burst over the village.
Lucy Fuller was returning from the post office, when she
met Mr. Armstrong riding in an open carriage with Mar-
gie Dean beside him, and the careless bow he gave Miss
Fuller proved how completely absorbed he was in his com-
panion. I will not attempt to picture the surprise and in-
dignation that convulsed the First Church of Churchill
when this appalling news was noised abroad.
Poor Margie ! how her gentle, sensitive heart was
wounded at every turn, by cold looks and contemptuous
smiles and vague hints which she did not understand,
till some more spiteful than others, openly taunted her
with scheming to entangle the minister, and ruin and
drag him down by a mesalliance.
It was Lucy Fuller and Julia Harper who said this,
and Margie's soft brown eyes held a pained and startled
look, as she passed on homeward, those cruel sentences
ringing in her ears. How chilly it had grown! she
shivered. She was dragging him down. It seemed
strange that she had never thought of it before. She
thought of the bright future, upon whose threshold he
had but just stepped, and her heart gave a quick throb
of mingled pain and bliss. A choking sob forced itself
through the whitened lips, but there was a new light in
the brown eyes, and the glow of a great resolve made
the pure, pale face softly luminous.
Margie was only eighteen, but at that moment her
life looked to her as desolate its bloom and sweetness as
nearly vanished as the dead summer over whose bier
the gaily-colored autumn leaves were already slowly
That night the Rev. Charles Armstrong retired in a
very un-Christian temper. He was vexed with himself,
14 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
with the First Church, and last, but not least, with
"Who cares what the members of the church say,
I'd like to know. I'm sure I don't, and Margie wouldn't
if she loved me half as well as I love her. And to think
how firm and determined she was ! She would never be
a 'millstone about my neck' what nonsense! As if she
were not fit for a queen this moment ! How pure and
brave she looked when she said : 'Because I love you,
I am firm. lean sacrifice my love, but not your future.'
"My future ! Well I shall resign, and I'll do it to-
morrow!" But he did not, he stayed and fretted him-
self ill, and was in turn jellied and dressing- gowned, and
slippered by all the young ladies in the village save
one; and with the perversity of human nature, this ex-
ception was the only one from whom he desired these
favors. But though Deacon Harris came to see him, no
word or token came from Margie.
Mr. Armstrong grew in favor with the First Church.
At last, after repeated failures, they had found a min-
ister after their own heart. They had not enjoyed such
a season of prosperity for years. The pastor of such a
flourishing society should have been happy. And yet,
I am afraid he was not nay I am sure that the only
thing that kept him from forsaking his admiring flock,
was that once a week he saw Margie. For Margie was
always at church, though (and it made him very angry)
very little notice or attention was vouchsafed her.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 15
Church aristocracy is the most cool, the most exclusive
thing in the world.
But one Sunday there came a radical change. A
stranger occupied a seat in Deacon Harris' pew, holding
the hymn book with Margie, and when service was over,
both people and pastor were much exercised by seeing
him hand her into an elegant carriage, drawn by a span
of beautiful, black thoroughbreds, with silken manes
tossing from proudly arching necks.
While the people wondered, the pastor remembered
the look of half sadness, half exultation, that crossed
the faintly flushed face of Margie Dean as she went
down the aisle and out at the church door.
There is always someone in every country town,
who contrives to get at everyone's affairs, and with the
most commendable enterprise (worthy a higher calling)
proceeds to enlighten their slower brethren. Tom
David represented this class in Churchill, and before the
carriage was fairly out of the yard he had informed
several that "that was the chap who had come after the
Deacon and Miss Margie, and they were going to leave
Churchill that very week. The stranger lived in the
West and he was rich shouldn't wonder if he was go-
ing to marry Margie."
The minister heard every word of the foregoing as
he came down the church steps.
The short winter twilight was fading out in the
west, when Charles Armstrong crossed with long, nerv-
16 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
ous strides the meadow, beyond which stood the Harris
homestead. There was a glow of yellow light against
the high windows, and coming nearer, his eyes rested
upon the sweet face of Margie his Margie ! gazing
dreamily into the glowing fireplace, her pure face bathed
in its rosy light. In that moment, all the pent-up love
he had been trying to trample out, sprang up within him,
a very giant that would not be stayed.
Another moment and Margie's startled and blush-
ing face was held against his breast, his arms folding
her in an eager clasp.
"Margie, I w r ill not give you up," he cried breath-
lessly. "O Margie! you will not leave me you will not
go away with this stranger?"
"If you mean Mr. Grant, both grandfather and my-
self have promised to go with him to his western home
as soon as necessary arrangements can be made," she
responded quietly. Charles Armstrong stood aside now,
his arms folded, his face white and grave.
"Margie," he said, "I will not censure you, but I pray
you may never know the pain you are giving me. I
hope he may make you as happy as I had hoped to do
I cannot say more."
His strong voice faltered, as he turned away, but
Margie sprang to his side, her eyes shining, her face
"O Charles! What do you what can you mean?"
she cried. "As if he as if anybody could ever take
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 17
your place! And Mr. Grant has a wife and three
''Margie my darling!" was the rapturous cry.
Well, the whole story came out after Deacon Hariss
and Margie had been gone a few days. And this was
the story: More than twenty-one years before when
James Grant was a struggling merchant, there came a
period of financial depression. He had no wealthy
friends to aid him, and with sinking heart he saw one
after another going down about him, and the way be-
fore him growing darker every day. At length there
came a crisis a day when hope died utterly out of his
heart. Deacon Harris, then one of the wealthiest men
in Churchill came into his office on business, and some-
how succeeded in getting the whole story of his troubles
from him, as well as the sum necessary to carry him
over the chasm upon whose brink he had been standing.
"We can't have this, James," the Deacon said,
smilingly, as he quietly wrote out a check for the sum
The loan had been promptly paid within a .year
'The debt of gratitude has been gathering interest ever
since," James Grant said. It was by the merest chance
he had heard of his benefactor's reverses, as he had been
in business in Colorado for nearly twenty years. As
soon as he had heard, he started for the East, and the
result of this visit was the removal of the Deacon and
Margie to his beautiful western home.
18 HEAJRTHSIDE SKETCHES
Churchill talked of nothing else for a month, but at
the end of that time, it suffered a more startling sen-
sation at least that portion of it composing the First
Church. Its eloquent young minister, who, it flattered
itself was being trained and moulded to exactly meet all
its wishes, very unexpectedly resigned.
Grief, astonishment and indignation succeeded each
other in their hearts. But the measure of their tribu-
lation was not yet full. Three days afterward Tom
David came home from the city in a state of sublime
beatitude, having in his hands a paper in which figured
the following item :
"Married, in Greenburg, Col., by the Rev. Robert
Graves, at the home of James Grant, Esq., Rev. Charles
Armstrong, of Churchill, New York, to Miss Marjorie
Dean, of Greenburg."
The pastorate of the First Church is still vacant.
Best of references required, and the preference given to
Jini might have been twenty or he might have been
seventy, so completely was his face masked by its coat-
ing of kindred clay, and so effectually was his form dis-
guised by the nondescript garments hung upon it.
Jim must have had a surname., and without doubt
"James" was the title bestowed upon him by the happy
mother when they "named the baby." Had she lived,
she might perhaps have called him "Jamie," for mother-
hood strikes gentle chords in even the roughest breast.
But she left him in his baby days; and those upon
whom his care thereafter fell scorned all sentimentality,
and dubbed him Jim. His surname? Yes, he must have
had one, at least so the census taker told him at
the same time he undertook to convince him that he
must also have an age.
Jim listened attentively to his eloquence, but only
answered doggedly : "Jim is my name, I can't tell you
no more." And he walked away, leaving "the census
man" to estimate.
Each Saturday night Jim's old roan horse might be
seen hitched outside the village tavern, while his mas-
20 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
ter sat within, cheering himself with what comfort
there could be found in its staple article whiskey. It
was an established fact that Jim could absorb more
liquor than any two men in the village, but no amount
of drink could loosen his tongue. He never treated, and
never accepted a treat. He ordered his whiskey, drank
it, paid for it, and then shuffling out to the horse,
mounted and rode away in the darkness, to his home on
Imagine a small clear spot surrounded on all
sides by massive forest giants covered with many
hued foliage, and intersected with countless thickets of
underbrush, standing so closely together that their
boughs interlace in a dense canopy, through which the
sun never breaks, and where shadows deepen to black-
ness, while the soughing of the boughs above seems a
fitting requiem for lost souls, and you have a vague idea
of Jim's abiding place; a lonely spot for even a forest
The low hut was enclosed with slabs, from which
the bark had never been stripped, and a whole in
each side served for windows, with one in the roof for a
chimney. The door was unhinged and lay on the floor
inside. When it was clear, Jim left it down all night;
but when it rained he stood it up before the opening.
The floor was of clay, and a rude stool, a bedstead and
some cooking utensils comprised the furniture. At the
end of the hut was a shed, which eeemed to have been
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 21
intended for a part of the house. It had evidently
never been finished, for some of the frame glared
naked, unmarked by a nail. . A rude mass of boughs
formed the roof, and in it Old Roan dreamed when off
This was Jim's home. Not a cheerful spot certainly
or one calculated to invite the weary traveler. It was a
wild spot, but Jim's was a wild nature; and long years
of habit had ripened in his heart a feeling something
like love for it. For Jim had a heart; and once that
heart had loved something better than Old Roan and
the gloomy hut.
Several miles farther on the other side of the moun-
tain lay a village called Glassville. This was Jim's na-
tive place. Here he passed his neglected orphaned
babyhood, his lonely childhood, and in fullness of time
reached man's estate. His manhood was the "ripe
fruit' ' of his childhood gloomy and reserved. He lived
by himself, worked faithfully for his daily bread, made
no friends, but certainly had no enemies. Thus he lived
till his twenty-seventh year, and then by that daring in-
consistency which belongs to natures like his, he fell in
love with Nancy Harke, the belle of the rude village.
Poor Jim! He hated himself for his folly; but he
hugged it closer to him every day. The mad thought
of trying to win her, or even daring to tell his love,
never entered his head. He fought his passion silently
and manfully, till at last, like all smothered fires, it
22 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
broke out one day, and he told her all, and in despair
begged her to kill him for his presumption. But she did
nothing of the kind. She turned first white and then
red, and instead of plunging a dagger into his breast,
she laid her pretty brown head upon it and whispered :
"I won't, Jim because I love you."
Poor Jim ! He was petrified. He could not think.
He felt her warm light form nestling on his breast, but
he dared not press it closer, fer fear the dream would
fade away. But Nancy was more accustomed to such
things, and slipping her plump arm around his neck,
she put her red lips close to his face and said: "Don't
look so, Jim. Ain't you glad?"
Then the full glory of his joy came to Jim. He
clasped her tight in his strong arms. He kissed her
with the hunger of a lifelong fast, and then he bowed
his head over her and wept the first tears he had shed
since babyhood. From that time he was a changed man.
The freshness which his youth had never known was
showered over him. He laughed, he danced, he sang.
His very presence seemed to scatter sunshine. Nancy
consented to an early marriage. Jim selected the little
clearing, and began the little house for his bride. Many
offers of help were made, but he declined them all; no
hand but his should hew a log for the house that was to
shelter her head, and his axe rang sharp and fast, and
the hut approached completion.
The main part was done, and he had begun the lit-
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 23
tie shed, which he, unknown to her, had added, so 1
that she could have a kitchen, and a best room, and in
the first he would have room to keep a pile of dry sea-
soned wood for her, so that she should never have her
eyes spoiled with smoke.
He laughed as he worked on this, for it was a lux-
ury unheard of in the village; but Nancy was a woman
unequalled in the world, and four rooms would not be
too good for her. The frame was up, and the clap-
boards had begun to make a show ; one more week and
it would be done. And then? Jim's heart almost
choked him ! and he whistled loud to swallow a sob.
He worked hard all that day, and when the sun sank
behind the tall oaks, even his happiness could not dis-
guise the fact that he was very tired; but he whistled-
gayly as he picked up his coat and began his long walk.-
It was dark when he reached the village. As usual he-
went at once to Nancy's home. The door stood open,
but no Nancy met him, and all within was dark. He
hesitated on the threshold, and a sob came from the
gloom. A chill crept over him. Could it be that she
was dead? He reeled and clutched the door. It swung
back with a bang, and a thick voice asked: "Who's
there!" It was her mother.
"It is I, Jim. For Heaven's sake, don't say she's
A burst of sobs was her reply, and groping his Way
to her, Jim grasped her shoulder and pleaded :
24 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"Speak Mis' Harks, or ye'll kill me. Say she ain't
"Better dead! better dead! Jim, she's gone and
disgraced us all!"
"How dare you!" cried he; "and you her
"And the more sorrow to me. You didn't know it,
Jim, but that city chap has been hanging round for
more than two weeks. I told her she had too much talk
with him, but she wouldn't take heed. This morning
she went off, and at dark little Jack ^immons came in
and told us how he met her on the mountain road with
that city fellow; and she called out to him and said,
'Tell them I'm gone forever, Jack!' and then the man
took her in his arms and kissed her. Jim ! O Jim!
What shall we do? And you so good to her!"
The echo gave back her words ; she was alone.
Without a word, without a moan, Jim left the house.
He looked around in the bright starlight. All was
strange. He saw nothing and he heard nothing but that
wagon and the words :
"The man took her in his arms and kissed her."
Her dog sprang up and put his nose in his hand.
He pushed him aside, and then, with his hands out-
stretched as if groping in the dark, he walked away
toward the dark shadows of the mountains. On, on he
he walked, and in the gray dawn he sat in the door of
his desolate house, bowed and grizzled as though by
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 25
years. All day he sat motionless, and at evening he
heard the voices of his friends, who had come to seek
him. He arose, placed the unhung door before the door-
way, and put his back agiinst it. In vain they pleaded
with him. He was immovable. He bade them go and
leave him to himself, and at last they did so. No news
was heard from Nancy, and for awhile a surreptitious
watch was kept on Jim ; but as he declined to either ac-
cept or resent any attention offered him, he was finally
abandoned to his fate. Years passed by. Jim never re-
turned to his native village. He worked faithfully, but
he took none of the comforts that his toil could buy.
The hut grew dilapidated, and the clapboards fell off.
He let them lie; even the door was never screwed to its
hinges, which lay in the mould by the doorway.
Jim allowed himself but one indulgence; that was
whiskey. As years passed by he grew fonder of it, and
often on their return from town through dark and rain,
it was Old Roan's instinct, and not Jim's hand, that
guided her over the rough road.
One stormy night Jim unhitched Old Roan from
the post and started for home. It was very dark, and
soon began to rain hard. Jim was nearly drunk when
he started, but the cold rain beating in his face cooled
his brain, and by the time he reached the hut he was
sober. He put Old Roan into the shed, and then cold
and wet, he crawled into his scarcely less miserable shel-
ter. For the first time in all those years he felt a chill
26 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
of loneliness creep over him. The rain dripped from his
wet clothes. He shivered, and put up the door, but the
chill struck deeper, and groping his way to the door, he
gathered an armful of sticks. He took them in and
soon a bright fire blazed in the chimney-place. It
warmed Jim's limbs and dried his clothes, but it froze
his heart. He tried to shake it off. He took down a
loaf of bread and cut a slice. The whiskey jug stood
on the table, but he turned from it with loathing. He
tried to eat the bread, but it choked him. In vain he
fought the feeling. The heaped-up desolation of all
those years had broken the ice at last, and when Jim
stretched his form on the clay before the dancing flames,
tears glistened on his grizzled beard. He slept at last
slept and dreamed of the by-gone days, till he heard a
voice cry : "Jim! Jim!"
He started up. The fire was burning low, and the
storm raged harder. The past and present were so
blended that nothing seemed real. He looked around,
and his eyes drooped heavily, when again the cry came:
"Jim! Jim! For the love of Heaven hear me !"
There could be no mistake this time; the cry was
real, and it was a woman's voice.
Jim sprang up and lifted aside the door, and there
in the darkness, drenched by the pitiless storm, crouched
a woman. Her long brown hair hung dripping over her
slight form, which was protected by a thin shawl. She
did not look up when Jim opened the door, but
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 27
crouched lower ; and without a word he stooped down,
and lifting her in his arms, bore her to the fire. The
fagots shot up a fitful light. She raised her head. It
was Nancy ! Not a quiver shook Jim's frame; not a
sound escaped his lips. Replaced her on the only seat,
walked to the other side of the hearth, and folding his
arms, looked steadily into the fire. The poor dripping
wretch watched him with eager eyes. He seemed like
a man of stone; and clasping her hands over her breast,
she cried :
"Jim! Jim! don't you know me?"
'Yes, Nancy, I know ye." But his eyes never left
She staggered to him and fell at his feet.
".Jim ! for the love of the good God, have mercy on
me! I daren't ask you to forgive me, but don't drive
me out in the cold storm again. I know I don't de-
serve it, Jim, but have mercy on me as you would on a
Jim's face worked fearfully. He lifted her up.
"Don't Nancy. It's all right. I know'd you'd
come back sometime. It has been a good while to wait,
but old Jim's here to take care of ye yet. Come, dry
your clothes and I'll get you something to eat."
He put her seat close to the fire, and taking the loaf,
cut a slice for her. She ate eagerly. Jim threw more
wood on the fire and she hovered over it . The fire dried
her clothes, but its warmth could not thaw the chill that
28 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
froze her. The pitiless storm had done its work. Her
teeth chattered, but her cheeks and eyes burned with
Jim filled an old can with water and put it on the
coals. It was soon hot. He mixed it with some w r hiskey
and gave it to her. She drank it. It seemed to warm
her chilled blood ; her teeth stopped chattering, and her
head drooped on her breast. Jim took hie only blanket
and spread it before the fire.
"I reckon I won't want it to-night, Nancy. You
lay down on it and I'll keep up a fire."
The tired woman obeyed, and soon she was in a deep
sleep. The wind shook the door, Jim got up and put a
log against it and then returned to his seat and watched
the blaze with a face as stolid as the logs he threw on,
till the grey dawn crept through the chinks of the hut.
Nancy still slept heavily. Old Roan neighed. Jim fed her.
Still Nancy slept on, and Jim sat down before the fire.
The sun rose brightly. The clouds broke away, and
the storm was over. Jim let the fire go out and stared at
the blackened logs. Noon came; still Nancy slept, and
still he watched, and when the sun went down he was
still at his post. All this time Nancy had not moved,
but as the twilight deepened she grew restless and
moaned. Jim went to her. Her lips were parched. He
moistened them with water, and taking off his coat made
a pillow of it for her. She seemed to sleep soundly
again. It grew dark and he lighted a fire suddenly he
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 29
heard a voice call, "Jim." He looked aiound. Nancy
was awake, and her eyes, like two burning stars, were
fixed on him.
"Come here, Jim."
Her voice was husky. Jim bent over her and saw
that the flush of firs had died away and a gray pallor
was creeping over her. He felt a cold ice-like grip at
his heart but he uttered no word.
"Bend closer, Jim, I'm going fast."
A great gulp of agony burst from him. "No, no,
Nancy, you mustn't. Think how long I've waited for
ye! Ye mustn't go so soon."
A smile passed over Nancy's face, and then she
gasped. In a moment she rallied. "Jim, I must tell
you how sorry I am. I was very bad but "
Her voice failed.
"No.no, Nancy!" cried he. "Don't talk of that; it's
past. I don't hold grudges. Stay with me now. Don't
leave old Jim."
She struggled and whispered :
"Take me in your arms, Jim."
The brawny arms were put tenderly about her and
the pale face nestled close to the weather-beaten grizzled
"Jim, say you forgive me."
"I always did that, Nancy. I was such a rough
fellow, you see ; but don't talk of that. 0, Nancy, don't
30 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
The eyes were fast growing heavy. One more strug-
gle for words.
"Kiss me, Jim."
He kissed the cold lips.
"God bless you ! Good-bye."
And with the dark story of her life untold, and that
disjointed prayer for forgiveness the only atonement for
the blight she had put upon his life, Nancy's spirit went
to its Maker.
A ghastly film gathered over her eyes, and the wax-
en pallor of death spread over her face, but the features
were quiet and peaceful, and in the flickering moon-
beams that came in through the half-open door the lips
seemed to smile. Despite its pallor, the face was more
life-like than the ashen gray one that bent over it. He
knew she was dead, but he drew her head closer and
whispered close to her ear :
"Nancy ! Nancy, speak once more, only once to Jim."
He looked eagerly into her face, as if he thought the
pale lips would answer the appeal ; and then the voice of
nature's agony burst forth in a cry, half shriek, half
groan. He laid the body on the ground, and throwing
himself beside it, he dug his nails into the hard clay, and
great, choking fearful sobs broke from him. Ah, Jim!
could those who jeer at you see you now, they would
stand with bowed heads before the unveiled majesty of
a heart their puny natures could not fathom.
Poor Jim ! Poor old Jim !
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 31
Hours passed and stillJira lay on the ground. His
obs ceased, but his fingers still dug the clay. His nails
were torn and his blood mingled with the earth, but he
did not feel it. The fire died out, and only the moon-
light fell over the groveling man and the dead woman.
Presently Jim arose. At first he staggered and grasped
at the empty air. He stood still a moment, and then,
keeping his back to the white, dead face, he went to the
place where he kept his tools. He took down his spade
and went out of the hut. The moon was sinking low
and the tall trees were casting ghostly shadows. Jim
went to the tree beneath which he used to eat his dinners
in those long past days when he was building the hut.
Here he dug Nancy's grave. The black hole frowned
blacker in the deepening gloom. Jim laid his spade on
the mound and returned to the dwelling. He stood by
Nancy and gazed long on her face. This time no moan or
sigh escaped him. An owl hooted above his head. The
sound aroused him. He knelt beside the corpse. His face
trembled, and he laid his cheek beside hers and moaned
as a mother might over her child. He kissed her cheek,
brow and lips, and then he rolled the blanket about her,
and lifting her in his arms carried her out to the waiting
grave. He laid her in, threw down the earth, and
heaped up the mound, and then with a quick motion cast
the spade far from him in the darkness. The moon had
sunk behind the treetops and black darkness was fast
settling over all.
Jim went back to the hut. Old Roan heard his
32 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
step and whinnied. Jiro went into his stall. Roan
rubbed his nose against him, but he got no answering
caress. Jim put the little corn there was in his manger,
took off his halter, and went out leaving the door open.
He stopped a moment before the hut door, and then
walked slowly back to Nancy's grave. He threw him-
self down upon it, and buried his face in his hands.
Saturday came round, and Jim was missed at the
tavern. The men said:
The next Saturday, and still no Jim, and curiosity,
if not anxiety, prompted a party to go to the hut to
learn the cause of his absence. They found the hut de-
serted, and poor Old Roan wandering about with a very
disconsolate expression of countenance. They searched
the hut and shed, but found no trace of Jim. They
were cracking many jokes over his probable fate, when
a cry from one of the party, who had been exploring the
woods, stopped them. They hastened to him, and
found him at the grave. They stood around it with
pale faces and hushed breath. Prone upon the grave
with arms out-stretched above it, as if in protection,
lay Jim. We have said the place was not a cheerful one.
Now it seemed a very charnel house to these men, and,
after hurriedly scooping out a shallow grave beside
Nancy's, they laid all that was mortal of great-hearted
Jim, within it, and then very silently and quickly re-
tired from the spot, and Nancy and Jim, slept on un-
The Old MQQ'S Story.
MEN talk about looking backward and for-
ward over life, but it must be lonesome
business, especially when the forwards
don't throw much light on the backwards.
"Well, I'm an old man a very old man, come to
think on it but bless you, I shall be a young one again
before I've half got that lesson by heart.
Somehow the years don't run away from me. The
very youngest of them keep me company down hill most
sociable. I see myself quite plain, a great hulking lad,
seventeen years old, sitting in the old place at the vil-
There's a new teacher coming "a young woman to
make you toe the equator," says the trustees; and I've
got a pocketful of dried pease to fire at the stove-pipe,
and Jim Hart, who sets next to me, has got the Falls of
Niagara to construct out of stones and half a bottle of
ink before she comes.
When she does, and walks across the room and faces
us from behind her table, I've got one pea left, but some-
how I don't fire it, and Jim, he mops up the Horseshoe
Fall with the sleeve of his jacket.
34 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
Nellie Lawton we know her name don't look a
day older than sixteen, and the color is a-coming and
a-going in her face, and the spring air from the open
window is a-blowing her soft hair. She tries to steady
herself by one hand resting on the table, but the trem-
ble all gets into her voice when she speaks.
"I hope we may have a pleasant school together;
if you wish it half as much as I, we may, indeed."
She has more to say, but it don't come out, on ac-
count of the tremble. Jim winks at me.
"Easy time ahead small cat, afraid of mice."
They don't turn out easy times for the poor little
teacher. Every morning she comes to her desk with an
eager look in her eyes, and every night she goes away,
sorry and tired.
The old apple tree that got pretty much thinned out
under the last master, sprouts out surprising this sum-
mer, and wickedness sprouts out of us boys just as fast.
When things are at their worst she says she must
speak to Squire Hart, but she bears and bears beyond be-
Well, one day I've cut Algebra and up stream fish-
ing. Afterwards I hear how one of the worst lads
climbed into a tree near Miss Nellie's window, and threw
a kitten clean through it, crash on her table, and how
she took up the scared thing, and stood up and blazed
out words that stuck like needles into every boy in the
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 35
Well, I'm on one side of the log bridge fishing. On
a sudden I hear a sobbing, and peeking under, I see our
teacher's pretty head dropped into her hands. The
worst boy couldn't stand such a sight as that, and though
there's a big cat-fish tugging at my line, I don't haul
him in, but just cut it and slip back to school, only
stopping to pick a bunch of apple blossoms. She is
fond of them, and I lay it on her table.
It's recess, but I manage to get the boys around me,
and tell them how the little schoolma'am looked, sob-
bing at the bridge. We are sitting quiet at our desks
when she comes in, pale and sad. She sees the flowers;
she gives a quick glance around the room, and comes
right down into the middle of us boys, a happy light
shining in her eyes, a bright color trembling on her
face like no flowers you ever saw. Then she speaks the
words our ugliness has kept back so long.
"Boys, I want you to be my good helpful brothers.
A sister can teach many things, not in books, to her
brothers. I do want to make order right to you. I
want to make goodness and pureness of heart seem so
beautiful to you that you will strive for them with all
Ah, it's a great thing for a gentle woman to put her
hand on a boy's arm and call him brother. There was
not a boy of us that didn't feel as if virtue came to him
It would be hard to make you understand the many
36 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
kinds of learning we got from Nellie Lawton. But for
her, I'd never seen anything but griddle cakes in a buck-
wheat field a-blossom, and there wasn't a boy in Hunts-
ville who used to see more than cider and apple
dumplings in an apple orchard in June.
And Nellie, well, some folks call it flighty to set
such store by common things, but I take it as special
kind in the Lord, seeing she had no home folks, to
make His outdoors more a home to her than their chim-
ney corner is to most folks. I'd like to know what to
make of that queer sense that begins where the other
five leave off. After all, it may be just the extra lov-
ing heart she had. You can't be friends with a butter-
cup, and on comfortable terms with the Hrds without
having a tender feeling for them.
She took walks with us out of school, and we got
to have a fellow feeling for all creeping and flying things.
She put hearts into our eyes and eyes into our fingers.
But, I could go on heaping up words, when one touch of
her hand would tell it all.
So two years pass by, and school is out, never to
keep any more in the old way. Nellie and I have been
up to the pond for w r ater lilies. The sun is up quite a
piece when we get to them, and when we leave off pick-
ing, there's the moon like a round ball of silver, laying
on the water, and the dark pads are rocking the half
shut lilies like a tender mother.
We take our own time coming home. I take it
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 37
there's no better sight in the world than walking
through sloping meadows, with the moon at your back,
and the first star in the west nearer on a line with your
feet than the little village down below. The sky so red
under the star, and such a pale yellow over it, and sweet
elderblow scents stealing after you from corners of
fences. Ah, do you wonder that we take our time for
it? Besides, it was Nellie and her scholar lad who
scrambled up this path, but I come down a full grown
man, because there's a kind little hand in mine, and
somewhere in the world there's a home for me to make
for a good woman.
You wouldn't have guessed it, but up there on that
big rock in the upper meadow,where we stopped to braid
the stems of the lilies, Nellie promised to be my wife.
That general home feeling in Nellie makes it easy to
start for the West, and our pockets being low and our
hearts high, we don't stop until we get where land's
about nothing and muscle everything.
There's a long summer before us to build our house
in and get settled. I get Nellie comfortably fixed at an
old settler's and one fine morning I take her to see the
first log of our new house laid.
''Five miles away from the nearest neighbor, dear,"
I say, a bit down-hearted for her, but she laughs merri-
N > chance for you to run away from school here,
38 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
It's a different thing, taking your bride into a
ready made house so fine and big that you get acquainted
with your own children before you do with some of its
crannies, from what it is to lay the foundation yourself,
your wife drawing you down, hammer in hand, to kiss
the corner beam in your little home.
It goes up steady and cheery, and by the time the
first smoke puffe> out of the chimney Nellie's garden looks
like a prairie full of flowers squeezed into a back yard.
With woman's work indoors and man's out, and love
to make light of both, we never stopped to think of be-
ing lonely till our first child comes to show us that the
world was nothing like full. Another in good time tells
the same story, but we planned for them when we built
the five good rooms, and Nellie her arms never seemed
Work opens the way to more work. There's new
ground to be broken for crops, draining to be done, tim-
ber cut, outbuildings built, beginnings in the way of
stock looked to.
I suppose a city man, coming home from work, don't
have to look at his own door-plate, though there are a
dozen more houses beside his after the same pattern; but
when a man comes out of the woods on a winter's night,
and under all heaven sees just one roof and a light from
one window making a track to him across the snow,
what does home mean then?
Our first boy and third child was six weeks old that
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 39
night. (No longer the sweet confusion of times and ten-
ses in the old man's story. What year was this that it
should be dropped from the companionship of its fel-
Nellie would meet me here, she said, at the garden
gate, at sundown, to show me how strong and well she
I brought the cows in from pasture earlier than
usual, not to keep her waiting at the gate.
But she wasn't there, and that kind of pleased me
to think of Nellie's not being where she said she would.
I leaned on the gate a minute.
The air was warm and still, but there wasn't a win-
dow open, which didn't look like Nellie. Her patch of
flowers looked wilted, and I picked one to show her
but I didn't trouble her with it.
Our time for such joys as flowers stand for in life
was gone by. I didn't turn to stone when I opened the
door , yet there was my wife my wife crouched in the
corner like a wild thing, and the baby at her breast was
"Nellie! ' I said. She was moaning and rocking
herself, and then I saw the baby was not dead, but that
she was pressing out its life in the arms God gives a
mother to cradle her babes.
I laid hold of her wrists. If the boy's life had de-
pended on it I couldn't have hurt her. I held her and
looked into her eyes. That was as long as most men
40 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
would care to live the length of that look. She shud-
dered more and more ; her arms fell, and the child slip-
ped into mine. Then I remembered that I was a father.
Sometime in heaven or on earth my Nellie would ask
me about our child.
So I left her and worked over him till I saw his
little fingers fumbling in a feeble way, and the purple
dying out of his face. Then I was free to go to her. I
got hold of her wild hands, and held her to my heart,
thinking the old place would seem homelike,but it mad-
dened her into strength to fling me aside.
I can't tell it not that part my true Nellie was
the gentlest woman that ever lived, and the demon of
insanity is not strong enough to put anything more than
terror and wildness into a pure, sweet soul like hers.
It's queer when a man's mind gets hold of bad news
how it passes along inch by inch to his heart. My wife
crazed, a six week's old baby, and two little women, the
oldest just turned five. I believed the whole of it with
my head, and less than half of it with my heart. That
was an awful night,though after I'd given the little things
bread and milk and heard their little prayers, and put
such comforts as my poor girl might need in her reach,
and got settled, with baby wrapped up in my arms at
her door, and when along toward morning her breath
came steady to my ears like music, it wasn't so bad.
There was no one in those parts who'd work for
Jove or hire under the same roof with a "mad woman."
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 41
When it got noised about folks fought shy of us. They
didn't find it convenient to pass by often, but that I didn't
mind as long as we could keep together. I doubt if you
understand what the keeping together meant the wo-
man's work to be learned and the man's work to be for-
gotten, or the most of it, all but looking after the cattle
and fodder, and enough vegetables to make us sure of a
Sometimes I took my boy out on one arm while I
hoed the garden. It's surprising how I slipped into wo-
man's ways. Sometimes I've thought I tried to do too
much, but it's curious the feeling I had.
You know when a friend dies there's a deal of com-
fort in doing what he figured to do with us; and there
was Nellie's awful eyes full of questions that her tongue
could not speak in the natural way.
"Myramust learn to cipher soon, and Olive ought
to know her letters, " she had said before her mind went
on its dark journey. So I set rayself of nights to mak-
ing copies and figures, with a little woman on each
knee. Poor work I made of it to, with my heart in the
room where she sat days and nights sometimes, with her
hands clasped, and her mind a journeying in foreign coun-
tries that I'd have given worlds to have had a guide-book
But I kept braced up to the work by thinking to
myself how proud I'd be when she came back, to show
our little scholars, and how the old smile that used to
42 HEARTHS1DE SKETCHES
follow me like a streak of sunshine would bless me
For I never altogether gave up hope, not at her
worst not even when I turned eick binding up her poor
hands that she had bruised against the wall when the
terrors came on.
Between her room, that I had to keep locked mostly,
and the general living room where, after the trouble
came, I got into the way of working and eating and
sleeping, there was a thin boarding, papered as neat as
we could do it at building time.
You see I fixed her bed close to it on one side, and
my cot as close on mine nothing between us, looking at
it one way, but a board, but there's other longitudes
and latitudes than the school books tell of, and I used to
lie awake trying to draw some line that would touch us
two. Yes, I've laid there with baby's soft breath a com-
ing and going in one ear, and his mother's voice singing
low and talking wild in the other, till I've gone almost
mad, and crawled away from boy's side, and out un-
der the stars, fighting for the next breath.
Our little house always had room for our joy, but
it choked me in my grief, and I used to rush out for a
great breath of air, and find somehow, the sky too low,
and the stars too thick, and the prairies too cramped.
Walking up and down the fields so, fighting my trouble,
I used to conjure up ways of calling her back.
The old flute that she liked and the boys made fun
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 43
of I remembered that one night, and I said: "Oh! if
I could make it speak in the old way in Nellie's ear. Who
knows ." I found it wrapped up in an old lace kerchief
of hers. If you'll believe it, I laid down with it in my
hand and slept like a baby. Somehow I could sleep
with a hope in my hand.
The day after I was in a fever to try it. I took it
out to the potato patch, and between hoeing and tooting
nigh forgot boy's dinner. There wasn't a human being
right or left to call me a fool for sitting down right in
the melons and potatoes, puffing and blowing at "Annie
Laurie" and "Sweet Home" and "Land o' the Leal."
Bit by bit they came back to me, or I went back to them,
for I Deemed to grow down to a boy again, and which
was her voice and which the flute's, I couldn't have told.
I made sure the sounds shouldn't reach her until the
The day worried by. I wasn't as patient as I should
have been, tucking up the children that night, and hear-
ing their prattle, on account of such a hope and fear
tugging at my heart.
At last I was free. I had the flute in my hand. I
crept round the house, through the grass, to her open win-
dow, that faced toward the moon. It spread over the floor
like a silver matting, and at the other end she was sit-
ting, her white hands folded in her lap a-journeying.
The wind wouldn't come at first, not a breath, not
a sound. Then ] grew strong ; that flute played "Home,
44 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
Sweet Home," as if it was calling. us both back to each
other again. I hadn't touched it for years, but I played
as happier lovers never play to their sweethearts.
She turned her head toward the sound. She got up
and walked slow down the room on the road home, I
thought. At last one hand resting against the wall, her
lips parted. I seemed to hear the song on them. Where
the flute got breath from to play on and on, I don't know,
for I was getting ready to meet her at the journey's end.
Not that there was much getting ready to be done;
her place had been kept empty and clean swept against
her coming, always. She came quite close the flute
went on, faint, but on till quicker than a thought, she
struck it from my mouth, with that moaning sound that
hurt me so, and that beating motion of the arms as if
to put the world between us.
From that hour I lost heart. The whole night went
by while 1 crouched under her window in the wet grass,
with just one dull wish to see her asleep, so I
could cover her up like the children, and give her, unbe-
known, one pitying kiss.
Nothing new happened that winter, except that the
boy took sick, and I had hard work to bring him out.
The little girls were comforts only a man who has
tried his poor best to be a mother knows the sadness of
such comfort. Besides their little studies, I took up a
new one for myself. I sent for big medical books about
madness. I pored over them nights. I got the ideas of
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 45
the wisest men in the world on all forms of madness. I
weighed and considered them, and changed Nellie's food
and treatment according.
Yon see I'd settled long before never to send her to
an asylum. What love couldn't do love ready to take
lessons of science, and square its ways according love
such as mine couldn't do, nothing could.
When spring came, whether owing to my book-
knowledge or not, she changed. The spells of terror
came on seldom : a wishful look grew in her eyes that
was harder yet to see. She walked about gentle and
melancholy, as if she was stepping on graves. As soon
as the days got warm enough I spent much of the time
keeping watch on her while she crept through the woods
by herself, picking her dress full of leaves and flowers,
then throwing them all out and beginning over
again. At other times she was so bent on something,
she would walk over a bed of violets without seeing
them, and lead me a tramp of miles, sometimes calling
in her sweet voice: "Henry! Henry!"
The first time I heard it I sprang from behind the
stump where I was watching her, but it wasn't me
she wanted, that was clear. And I thought the name
was just a memory come back to her, and was thankful
only for the sound of it again.
Well the year ended at last. Just such warm,
long days, just such sundowns, with the light slanting
across the fields as when Nellie left me a year ago. The
46 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
time set me thinking. Was there one thing I hadn't
tried! That look into a woman's heart, got in caring
for the boy, put me on the track of the one thing I'd
neglected. You see, with little Myra's help I had man-
aged to keep him mostly out of her sight. Now what
if she should come upon her baby suddenly? I wrapped
him in a blanket he was weakly for a fourteen months
baby and carried him a short ways into the woods, and
laid him on the moss between the forked roots of an old
stump. He was a patient boy always, with her eyes,
and they looked up to me grave and wise as if they
knew. Then I brought my dear out quickly from the
house, as though for her afternoon walk, and left her
not far from the stump, while I hid, as usu.il near by.
It was her flower day. She caught up her skirt,
and threw in ever fern and leaf and bit of mossy bark
in her way. I thought the boy was asleep, but pretty
soon he gave a little cry. Nellie stopped and turned her
head that way, but the thought of the flute lay like a
stone on my heart. At the next little cry she dropped
her skirtful of flowers and her wishful eyes devoured
every leaf and shadow till they fell upon her baby.
Her face at that minute is a memory for an old man
to take to heaven with him the hunger all gone out of
it, her eyes a feasting on that bit of ground. She
went on tiptoe toward it, flushing like a girl, the moth-
erhood deepening in her eyes, her mouth getting ready
for kisses and lullabies, her arms yearning out to him.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 47
She stooped for him. I had no fear when I saw how
lightly and tenderly she handled him ; how she bared her
breast and laid his little face against it, and how their
eyes seemed to feed each on each.
The Lord forgive me, but a wicked pain smote my
heart in seeing how the mother-love was stronger than
the wife-love. Just as I had planned to bring her home
to my breast, she had taken the boy to hers. But it
couldn't last alongside of such joy, and when I saw her
moving softly toward the house, the blessed sun splinter-
ing on her through the tree?, I turned my face to the
sweet leaf-mould and thanked Heaven.
Sweet little messenger of love,
Thou, pure, pale blossom from above.
To earth worn hearts and vision lent,
Bearing a promise, Heaven sent.
Within thy gentle, tender eyes,
Earth saw the light of Paradise,
Celestial flowers, incense rare,
Still clings unto thy petals fair.
Among us this fair flow'ret dwells,
And through her childish grace dispels
Each cloud that shadows face or mood,
With winning arts of babyhood.
IS small body was crooked, but his large soul
was straight an arrangement much to be pre-
ferred to a crooked soul in a straight body.
His poor warped body made your heart ache
with sympathy, but the pure soul shining out of his pale
face and pain-dimmed eyes, made you long to be like
him. His was a beautiful face, with peace written all
over it. The soul never uttered a word of complaint ;
but you could not help feeling it was greatly cramped
It made the best of the crooked house in which it liv-
ed, but that it sometimes longed to move out you could
discover when you saw that peculiar look of longing in
little Joe's eyes deepen and his face glow as he read :
"For we know that if our earthly house of this taber-
nacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house
not made with hands eternal in the heavens."
From his mother he inherited his beautiful face and
gentle spirit. His crooked back was caused by his
father, though little Joe would never admit it. Crazed
by drink the father came home one night, and when lit-
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 49
tie Joe ran to meet him ; a cruel kick lay the little fellow
limp and moaning at his mother's feet.
The wife never forgave him, but after the first few
weeks of suffering, whatever of pain little Joe felt he
kept to himself, and his gentlest look and brightest smile,
he kept for his father. He seemed to realize that his
father's mental suffering was almost greater than the
thoroughly repentent man could bear.
Little Joe's body never grew after that, but his soul
developed fast. His love for flowers, sunshine and mus-
ic \vas intense.
It was wonderful how the little fellow's soul expand-
ed in the next few years; and to those who watched him
closely, it became evident that he must soon move out of
that distorted body. As his limbs grew weaker, and he
came nearer to eternity, his face grew brighter.
But one thing troubled him, and that was, who was to
blame for his crooked back. For awhile this worried him
until he remembered that eternity would reveal all the
mysteries of this life; then he contentedly dismissed the
It was a bright June day when little Joe moved out of
his crooked house into one of the Father's many man-
sions. The cheeks of the watchers were wet with tears,
but little Joe's face was radiant with the "light of
(\ Dutiful Daughter.
IF the little stream which babbled and wound its shin-
ing way under the crazy planks of the little foot-
bridge at the bottom of the Kenreath meadow had
been endowed with speech, it might have whispered
some very pretty secrets to the green rushes that bent
over its margin and to the bright pebbles lying at its
bottom during the sunny month of June 18 .
For every day somehow, pretty Darrie Morrison
and John Kenreath met down by the little foot-bridge,
with only the stream and the clouds, the grass and the
flowers to hear and see.
That blissful time, when prudence goes to sleep
when the eyes are blind to all but one face, and ears
deaf to all but one voice, had come to the pretty daugh-
ter of the Morrisons' and to the penniless young
proprietor of the barren acres of Kenreath.
Kind Aunt Mary Morrison, living her simple life as
usual, and dozing gently over her embroidery or lace-
work, never for one instant suspected the truth.
She was glad to see Darrie so gay and happy glad
she did not tire of life with her at the quiet priory cot-
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 51
tage, but she never suspected why Darrie's eyes were so
bright or why her sweet voice was so merry. She would
remonstrate gently sometimes when the girl came flying
in from one of the lonely rambles she was so fond of
taking, with her curls flying and her hat left behind her
very likely, and remind her that she was grown up now,
and must not run about as she had done during her va-
cation visits from school. To Aunt Mary the foot-bridge
was just so many old boards, mossgrown and worm-
eaten, and not at all the glorified medium of commun-
ion which it was to this heedless couple.
True, both stream and bridge were within sight of
the cottage windows, but the trees of the grounds were
tall and thick, and had she looked ever so earnestly in
that magic direction she would never have seen the meet-
ing between her pretty niece and the handsome young
owner of the surrounding meadow.
So the weeks went on until one day a letter came
from Squire Morrison, Aant Mary's brother, and Darrie's
father. Aunt Mary read it with a cloud upon her usu-
ally placid face a cloud that was still upon it when
presently Darrie came into the room, singing softly and
swinging her straw hat by its band from her arm as she
fastened a bunch of red rosebuds in the bosom of her white
gown. But she stopped at the grave look that met her
from her aunt's soft brown eyes, and the blitheness
died from her face.
"Why Auntie, what are you looking so solemn
abou t ? Is anything wrong ? ' '
52 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"Yes, my dear that is, no." Aunt Mary hastily
thrust the squire's imwelcbme epistle into her pocket
and blushed faintly. "It is nothing, love ; but I want
to talk to you, Darrie."
"What is it, Auntie? I want to go out."
"Are you going to walk this morning?" Aunt
"Not now presently. It is not time yet."
"Time? "echoed her aunt. "Time for what, dear?"
"Nothing that is, I mean I usually go later."
The brightest, prettiest of blushes spread over the face
of the girl while she made this innocent explanation ;
but Aunt Mary, fond and anxious, did not notice it.
"What do you want to talk to me about Aunt Mary
anything very special."
"I have a letter from your father, Darrie. He is
"Oh!" and a blank look of discomfiture and dis-
may succeeded the blush. "How horrid ! What is he
going to do that for?"
"My dear," her aunt remonstrated with shocked
gentleness "your- own father!" Darrie tossed her
childish golden head defiantty.
"Well, I sometimes wish he were somebody else's,
although, of course it sounds very awful to say so. And
is he really coming here?"
"So he says. He tells me to expect him sometime
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 53
"Oh, my goodness!" Squire Morrison's daughter
cried ruefully, "and what is he coming for, Auntie?"
"To to^sce you of course, my dear," Aunt Mary
replied hesitatingly. "You will be glad to see him,
"Oh, yes, of course," Darrie conceded promptly
"if he is in a more Christian temper than when I saw
him last. He was dreadfully cross when I said goodbye
to him, and wouldn't kiss me. But I suppose he feels
"Yes, yes, love," her aunt replied hastily. "What
made him so cross, dear?" she asked, saying of all
others the very thing she did not want to say.
"Oh, you know!" and wilful Dnrrie tossed her
saucy head, and stamped her small shoe very hard upon
the floor. "That that horrid wretch !"
"My darling child ! "remonstrated her aunt, looking
"Well, but he is, Aunt Mary," said Darrie obstin-
ately. "He's ugly, and bald, and fat, and red and vulgar,
and I hate him !" viciously. "He is rich, and he made
friends with papa, and he came to Morrison."
"Yes?" Aunt Mary looked down at the golden
head, which had sunk down upon her knees and stroked
it tenderly. "And then, Darrie?"
"Then he asked me to marry him," was the stilled
"After knowing you so short a time!" cried the
54 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"He had seen me but twice."
"And he had the impertinence what was your
father thinking of, child?"
"My father!" Darrie laughed, sprang to her feet,
and drew up her little figure.
"He did not think it impertinent, Aunt Mary. He
was angry because I said 'no' more angry than I have
ever seen him. He told me I should marry Mr. Joseph
Parkinson, and, when I said I would not marry a man
almost as old as himself, and who was so coarse and vul-
gar, he laughed, and said Parkinson was a great deal too
good for me, and that I should marry him whether I
liked or not. But I won't" suddenly bursting into a
tempest of tears. "I'd sooner die than marry that
dreadful man, and if he dares to come here after me,
I shall tell him so. "
A silence followed this emphatic declaration, and
Aunt Mary's soft hand stroked her child's tumbled gol-
den hair gently, while her eyes were bent with a troubled
look upon the squire's letter.
Her brother's account of Mr. Joseph Parkinson was
quite different, and in her perplexity she wondered
which description was the true one. In Aunt Mary's
proud eyes the man did not exist who could be quite
good enough for her Darrie. She asked presently,
with her hand still upon the girl's head :
"Did you say he was so ugly, dear?"
"Ugly?" echoed Darrie, turning around witn an as-
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 55
tonished stare; "Oh no, Auntie? He is very handsome,
I think. He has such beautiful eyes."
"Mr. Parkinson?" queried her aunt with dubious
"Mr. Parkinson!" The little lady sprang to her
feet with crimson cheeks.
"Oh, I I didn't know you meant Mr. Parkinson;
Oh yes, he is awful, Aunty dreadful !"
"Well, darling, you must forget all about it now,"
her aunt said consolingly. "I must go and see about
getting your father's rooms ready."
Wilful Darrie, making her way along the paths of
the cottage grounds towards the point where the little
foot-bridge spanned the stream, was very angry and very
The squire's letter was an ugly break into the se-
cret world in which she had been dreaming for some
weeks past, and it had brought an ugly shadow stalking
grimly behind a shadow with the red face, loud voice
and the obtrusive money bags of Joseph Parkinson.
"I declare, I have a great mind to tell him," said
She said it just as she reached the foot-bridge, and
might possibly have carried out her threat but for the alto-
gether unexpected absence of "him." Darrie's blue eyes
scanned the broad green meadow keenly, and peered
across it to where the solid chimneys of old Kenreath
House rose against the sky beyond it; but no, there was
56 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
no sign anywhere of the tall figure in the shabby coat.
He had absolutely failed to come. What next? The
very craziest plank on the foot-bridge creaked and groaned
as a small shoe was brought down upon it with great ve-
hemence in a decidedly exasperated stamp.
"There, on this, of all mornings, he hasn't come!"
she cried, aggrieved, and feeling intensely ill-used. "It
is too bad, and I know he expected me to come because
he made me promise. I declare, I've a good mind to go
right back and never come any more!"
Here Dairie took another indignantly wrathful sur-
vey of the meadow with exactly the same result as before,
and soliloquized again :
"Well, I don't believe he would stay away on pur-
pose, after all. I'm sure he wouldn't. Perhaps he is
bothered, poor fellow ; he looked troubled yesterday. Some
tiresome person wants to be paid or something, I sup-
pose. I shan't be able to come to-morrow and papa
might see him, and then he would make such a scene
I know he would ! ' '
This last consideration was conclusive.
The dainty little figure in the white gown, with the
red roses glowing on its breast, crossed the foot-bridge
and tripped through the great meadow towards the gate
which led out into the lane. "I'll just walk a little way,
.and perhaps I shall meet him coming," Darrie said to
herself. But she walked more than a little way, reached
the gate in fact, without doing anything of the kind,
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 57
and at that point she stopped, hesitating, peering half-
curiously, half-shyly through the wooden bars. There
came a little stretch of lane, and then, on the opposite
side, the white gates of Kenreath, open as they mostly
were, and beyond them the old house itself, a very pic-
turesque, irregular erection of soft grays and dull reds,
strong and sturdy, looking quite capable of sheltering a
long line of Kenreaths yet.
''What a dear old place it looks," Darrie murmured
softly, a faint little sigh heaving her red roses "ever so
much nicer than Morrison! Oh, my!" as two great
raindrops falling upon the little hand grasping the bar
of the gate, caused the little lady to look up with a sud-
denly scared face. A great sullen-looking black cloud
hid the blue; the sun had gone in, the large raindrops
fell thicker and faster, accompanied by a loud clap of
This was awful. Darrie had plenty of courage, but
she had also a mortal dread of thunder and lightning.
She gave one frightened glance over the great meadow,
another at the sky, and still another through the bars of
the gate. There was but one thing to do, that was cer-
tain the cottage was so far away and Kenreath so near.
In another moment Darrie had opened the gate, sped
across the lane, and was running up the path as fast as
her feet would carry her.
Now it chanced that John Kenreath was more
weatherwise than Darrie, and having anticipated the
58 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
coming thunder storm, had made up his mind that it
would be useless to betake himself to the bridge, think-
ing there would certainly be no chance of seeing his gol-
den-haired divinity that day.
Having nothing in particular to do he did not go
out, but was standing by the wide window in the great
hall, looking dolorously out upon the drenched landscape
when a rapid patter of flying footsteps sounded up the
path, and he turned his head toward the open hall door
as the little white figure, panting and breathless dashed
John made two strides forward and took two little
wet hands tightly in his own.
"Miss Darrie!" he ejaculated.
"Yes," Darrie panted, clinging to his hands, and
shivering as another clap of thunder rolled over the
roof. "I didn't notice the storm coming up, and I had
walked down to the gate in the meadow when it began
to rain. And it was so far home, and so near here, I
thought you wouldn't mind if I came in here, perhaps.
Lightning frightens me, and I am so wet."
John cast a rueful look at her clinging white gown.
"You will take cold," he said hastily. "You must come
to the fire there's one in the kitchen, I suppose. And
he hurried her down the crooked passage into the great
farm kitchen where a huge fire flared from the wide
Mrs. Jenners, with her sleeves rolled up above her
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 59
round elbows as she moulded cakes at a spotless deal
table, dropped her rolling pin and stared in astonish-
ment at the little figure in the wet white gown, with
raindrops glittering upon its golden hair. John, eager
and excited, pulled a great arni-chair before the blazing
fire, and placed Darrie in it. Then turning quickly to
the amazed housekeeper, he said :
"This lady has been caught in the storm, Mrs. Jen-
ners. See to her, will you? Don't let her take cold,
and make her comfortable, mind." And then, stooping
to whisper in Darrie's ear that he would come back soon,
he went out, to pace up and down the hall in a pleasant
maze of bewildered excitement, and wonder if he were
Mrs. Jenners came out and called him before he
had time to make up his mind on this point, and he
went back to the kitchen to find Darrie, with a scarlet
wrap folded over her white dress, and her little stock-
inged feet stretched out upon the fender, where a pair
of absurdly small shoes were placed to dry. She looked
very comfortable and perfectly at home, and she gave
him the shyest, sweetest smile as he came up to her
"Don't I look very comfortable?" she asked him.
"I'm afraid you don't feel so," John said.
Only he himself knew how often, in sweet, vague,
impossible presumptions dreams, he had had visions of
her sitting thus at hie fireside. Now she was there in re-
60 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
ality, her blue eyes smiling up into his, and he felt more
hopelessly put asunder from her than ever before.
For John Kenreath had never breathed a word of
love to Squire Morrison's daughter. Of course she
knew he adored her, he thought, and if, knowing it, it
still pleased her to be gracious to him during these
cloudless summer days, why, it was very well. No one
would suffer but himself, when all was over. For John
was afraid to read or believe in the story which her
voice and eyes had told him, almost as plainly as his
had told her.
Both were embarrassed by this novel condition of
affairs, though both found it vaguely delightful, and
perhaps this was the reason why their talk took a very
It lasted until Mrs. Jenners after taking the last
batch of cake from the oven, left the room, and then
Darrie leaning back cosily in the great chair, said :
"What a dear old place! I don't wonder you are
fond of it."
"Do you like it?" John asked surprised. "I thought
you would find it dreadfully shabby and old."
"Shabby!" Darrie echoed. "I'm afraid you don't
know my tastes very well, do you? Why I think it such
a dear comfortable old place."
"After t'ae cottage?" John echoed.
"Yes, even after the cottage," Darrie laughed, "but
I was thinking of it as compared with Morrison.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 61
"But Morrison is nothing like my poor old place, I
should think," John said; "is it?"
'Indeed, it is not" and the slim shoulders undor
the scarlet wrap gave a very decided shrug. "Morrison
is very gloomy and dark and lonely. Oh, I mean it
really ! Morrison is dreadful. It frightens me with its
great gloomy corridors, and darkened mouldy rooms."
'You don't like Morrison then?"
"I hate it!" said Darrie vigorously.
"And you would not like to live there, I suppose?"
"Live there!" cried this degenerate daughter of the
Morrisons. "Why, I wouldn't live there for the whole
world ! I told papa so."
"You would say the same of Kenreath before long,
I'm afraid," the master of Kenreath said, bending for-
ward eagerly for her reply.
"I don't know. I might not perhaps," said Dar-
It was decidedly a dangerous moment, and perhaps
it was quite as well that the excellent Mrs. Jenners came
in just then. Darrie sank back among her cushions,
and John rose and walked over to the window.
Mrs. Jenners had stirred the fire and bustled out
again fully five minutes before John turned from the
window and came back to the little figure in the great
chair by the fire.
"The storm is over now, Miss Darrie," he said
quietly. "You will be glad to get home as soon as you
62 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
can, I know. I will send Mrs. Jenners to you," and
with that he walked out.
He was standing by the road wagon with his
hand upon Black Prince's inane, when Darrie came out
with Mrs. Jenners in attendance, the scarlet wrap still
over her shoulders, and from beneath the wide brim of
her hat, showing a rather pale face Without a word,
John lifted her into the wagon, took his own place and
drove off. And not one syllable, as they clattered
smartly along between the dripping hedgerows, did these
The gates of the cottage were reached, and John
pulled Black Prince up, and getting out himself, gently
lifted Darrie down. Then she held out to him a hand
that trembled just a little; but instead of taking it, he
pointed to a bunch of roses in the bosom of her dress.
They were faded now drooping, as if the storm had
beaten down upon them.
"Will you give me those?" he asked her.
Without a word she held them out to him.
John took them and her hand with them, and for
the first time bent and kissed it. He had never dared
do as much as that before. Then he got into the wagon
again, and Black Prince, startled by a sharper cut from
the wip than he had ever received before, went clatter-
ing down the lane back to Kenreath ; while Darrie with
the hand he had kissed held softly against her cheek,
was flying up the soaked gravel walk to the house.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 63
The door was open, and she ran into the hall, paus-
ing there for an instant. She wanted to get away and
be quiet by herself somewhere, but she must see Aunt
Mary and explain to her first, and, not giving herself
time to think, she hurried across to the room door and
pushed it open. Inside, she stood motionless and mute,
the color dying from her cheeks a fair little statue of
amazement and dismay.
Aunt Mary was there, but she did not make her heart
beat violently and guiltily with such suffocating force.
No; there, looming large beside her aunt's black gown,
was her father's tall figure, with its handsome lined
face; and behind him oh, a thousand times worse
than all; was the red, common face, with its ugly leer-
ing smile, of Mr. Joseph Parkinson!
"I call the whole thing abominable, David shame-
ful ! I knew you never cared for that poor child I
knew that when I took her off your hands but I did not
think you would ever etoop to sacrifice her in such a
manner. How you can call yourself a father at all, I
don't know!" Aunt Mary cried, winding up with ex-
treme emphasis and indignation.
Miss Morrison was very angry, but then the squire
was very provoking,and gentle Aunt Mary was doing bat-
tle for her darling Darrie, in defence of whom she would
have faced without a qualm a dozen loud-voiced, reckless
squires of Morrison. So, although she trembled a lit-
64 HEA.RTHSIDE SKETCHES
tie, she stood her ground bravely and flashed at her
graceless brother as fierce and implacable a look as she
could send from her kind brown eyes.
But the squire, although taken aback at the timid
lady's defiance was still not one whit abashed. Indeed,
he smiled upon her in a bland and patronizing way.
"My dear sister, if only you would be kind enough
"I don't wish to listen!"
"You would then understand "
''That for your own selfish ends you wish to sacrifice
your daughter !" struck in his sister, utterly declining
to let the squire finish. "I understand that perfectly
"What do you mean by 'sacrifice'?" the squire said
"Trying to make her marry that man that vulgar,
ill-bred, pompous creature, who is unfit to be in her
company. There, it is of no use talking to me about it !
I have heard quite enough, and I understand perfectly
that you wish to sell your daughter to the highest bid-
der," Aunt Mary retorted angrily.
"Not so, not so, my dear sister," answered the
squire. "You think I wish this marriage for my own
sake? But my chief object is Darrie. You know my
position. She owes too much to you already a
great deal too much," repeated the squire virtu-
ously, "not a doubt of it. Well, what then? Surely
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 65
it's only natural that I should wish to see her well mar-
ried. It would be a weight off my mind," added the
squire, heaving a sigh.
"A man -like that!'' said his sister.
"A man with a half million, Mary, a cool half
"And old enough to be her father," pursued his
sister, with gathering wrath, "and more vulgar than a
"Well y-e-s." And the squire flushed and winced
under her steady gaze. "Of course I don't pretend that
Parkinson is in all ways what might have been wished,"
he said. "He is not a Morrison, of course; he is not
exactly an Adonis; and, as I have heard you remark,
his manners are well are rather coarse ! And, after
all, gentlemen are rare nowadays very rare!" The
squire heaved a retrospective sigh, thinking possibly of
the days when gentlemen were not so* painfully rare.
A pause ensued. During the past week the squire and
his sister had held more than one conversation upon the
same subject, and always in pretty much the same
terms. Mr. Parkinson was not in favor at the cottage,
although he came there every day, obstinately prosecut-
ing his suit of the squire's daughter.
His coarse voice and ways, and his insulting admir-
ation had not aroused one whit more indignation and
repulsion in the breast of gentle, refined Aunt Mary than
in that of poor, little, shamed, wrathful, helpless, Darrie.
66 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
He was a horrid man and she wouldn't, couldn't,
shouldn't marry him! This was all she said, trembling
before the fierce look in her father's eyes, and at the
harsh, dictatorial sound of his voice.
"Look here, Mary," the squire said growlingly
to his sister, "what ails the girl? Most girls in her
position wouldn't make such an everlasting struggle
about taking a half million, you know. There must be
some reason for it."
"She hates the man," said Aunt Mary, adding con-
clusively, "and I don't wonder!"
"She's welcome to hate him to her heart's content,
so long as she marries him," Darrie's affectionate pa-
rent retorted. "The question is, has she picked up any
love-rubbish down here?"
"Certainly not!" said his sister promptly, in bliss-
ful unconsciousness of the foot-bridge.
"And a very good thing, too, for marry Joseph
Parkinson she shall, and the sooner she makes up her
mind to it the better ! He can't spend much more of his
time fooling about here!"
"Darrie will never marry that man, do and say
what you will!" cried his sister indignantly.
"She will do it, and pretty quickly too, or I'll know
the reason why !" said the squire very fiercely indeed,
and growling out a strong word or two with great em-
And Aunt Mary, much shocked and offended, swept
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 67
out of the room without vouchsafing any replj'. She
waited in the hall for a moment or two, lingering out-
side Darrie's door, unwilling yet to meet her child's
eyes ; but Darrie's ears were sharp, and they heard
the soft sweep of her aunt's silken train. She
came out hastily, raising her blue eyes eagerly to the
gentle face. Very pale she looked and very pretty, in
her white gown, and with her lovely, golden hair rip-
pling over her shoulders. She clasped her two cold
hands round Aunt Mary's arm.
"My darling!" and she drew the forlorn little fig-
ure to her heart, fondly caressing the golden bead.
"It is always the same, Darrie. Your father will listen
to nothing I can say. You must not mind it, dear; it
will all come right," urged Aunt Mary tenderly, striv-
ing to believe it herself.
"He says I must marry Mr. Parkinson?" queried
"My dearest, you must not mind what he says,"
said her aunt helplessly.
"I don't," drawing herself away and raising her
"Listen to me, Auntie. You are afraid that I shall
give in. You need not be. I would never marry him.
I hate, detest, and abominate him!" cried Darrie, sud-
denly losing all her dignity in a shower of angry tears.
Then Darrie raised her wet face and began to laugh
68 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"What geese we are, Auntie, don't look so miserable,
darling! I can't very well be married against my will,
can I? And I can't and won't marry that man Parkin-
son. And now I shall go out before that horrible man
comes!" And with that Darrie'gave Aunt Mary a lov-
ing embrace, and putting on her hat ran out into the
sunshine of the garden.
Perhaps it was by accident, perhaps because she
wanted to be quite out of her unwelcome suitor's way,
that her feet strayed in the direction of the foot-bridge.
They had not done so since the day of the thunder storm,
when John had failed to keep tryst. She had not seen
him since poor John ! not once.
Her feet were almost on the bridge before she re-
membered where she was; and she started and blushed,
and looked round tremulously, afraid just then to see
the handsome face and eager dark eyes. But she need
not have feared; no one was in sight in all the broad ex-
panse of green meadow. She was glad of that, so glad
in fact, that she sank down on the thick grass that bor-
dered the stream and began to cry.
How long she lay there, with her flushed face bur-
ied in the cool green, she did not know; but after her
burst of tears was over she heard a step beside her,
some one lifted her to her feet, and she sprang back with
a wrathful little cry of repugnance. It was not John,
as she had fancied, but Joseph Parkinson.
Whatever kind of a look it was she flashed upon him
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 69
from indignant blue eyes, it had no effect upon him.
He leaned his head back and chuckled as he looked at
"Thought I should find you, Miss Darrie told the
squire I'd do it. You've led me a fine dance, though."
'What did you follow me for?" Darrie demanded,
eyeing him disgustedly.
"T wanted to find you, of course. You don't think
I came to this dead alive hole to talk to the old lady, do
"I wish you would speak of aunt respectfully, if
you must speak at all," she retorted.
'Well then, we'll call her dear aunt anything to
please you, I'm sure. You looked like a what do you
call it? Water-nymph down there among the grass
by Jove, you did ! Could hardly make up my mind
to disturb you."
"And how dare you follow me about, Mr. Parkin-
"Dare!" Parkinson chuckled, and advanced a little
nearer to the small, scornful figure, with angry blue
eyes and erect golden head. "Come now, Miss Darrie,
don't you think we've had enough of airs and graces
for the present? What good does it do, you know?
If I had meant to take your 'No' I shouldn't have come
here after you. But I don't mean to take it. Now don't
you think you may as well say 'Yes' without any more
70 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
His burly figure was close at her shoulder, but Darrie
was silent, too intensely angry to utter a syllable ; the
beating of her heart seemed to suffocate her. Mr. Park-
inson misconstrued her quietness it appeared. He bent
his head closer to hers :
"Come now, Miss Darrie, you'll have to say it in the
end, you know, and you may as well do it first as last.
Or don't say it if } T ou'd rather not; give me a kiss in-
stead, just to mean it's all right, and I'll drive you over
to Greyburn to-morrow and buy you the best diamond
ring to be bought there for money 1 will, by Jove!"
Growing bolder as she still stood mute, he put his
arm around her waist and would have kissed her in an-
other moment, despite her scream and sudden struggle,
but for something unexpected which occurred just then.
There was a rapid rush across the stream which
made the little foot-bridge rock; Darrie gave a louder
scream than before, and Joseph Parkinson sprawled help-
lessly upon the ground.
It was a very tragic scene indeed ; Darrie, as white
as her dress, clung hold of John Kenreath's arm with
both hands, rightly judging from his pale, fierce face
and clinched fist that he might commit another assault if
he saw auy reason. And yet she felt inclined to laugh,
for the prostrate foe, struggling and floundering among
the bushes, did look ridiculous.
But as he got up on his feet he looked meeker than
might have been expected. He glared at John over
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 71
Darrie's golden head not half so savagly as John glared
"Who are you?" he said with a growl, wincing as
he rubbed his bumped forehead. "How dare you knock
a gentleman down, sir?"
"I never knocked a gentleman down yet, but you're
about the worst cad I ever tried my hand on!" John
said, his face reddening. "Dare! How dare you insult
a woman, you coward?"
"It's no insult for a man to kiss his promised wife,"
the man said, chuckling, as he backed away. "I'd ad-
vise you to keep your fists in your pocket, you bluster-
ing young fool, unless you want to be run in for assault.
All right, Miss Darrie, I shall tell the equire you said
'yes'." And with that he moved off among the trees;
he was not sorry to get out of the reach of that brawny
young fellow with the white face and fierce dark eyes,
to whom Darrie was still clinging in desperate fright.
But the little hands dropped as Mr. Parkinson disap-
peared, and she drew back, holding the hand rail of the
foot-bridge and trembling violently; but her face was
not so pale as poor John's. That parting Parthian shaft
had literally stricken him dumb, and he could only look
down in speechless misery at the little trembling white
"I'm sure you hurt him dreadfully," said Darrie,
with a nervous laugh.
"I wish I had broken his neck!" John retorted, vi-
72 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
ciously. "To see you insulted by such a man as that! I
but " breaking off and drawing a deep breath "I
was forgetting. I ought to beg your pardon for my in-
"Why?" asked Darrie innocently.
"I did not know he had the right."
"Oh !" breathed Darrie softly, looking down and
plaiting a fold of her white skirt industriously. "You
see, he is very rich, and and "
"And your father means to sell you to him, I sup-
pose?" John said in a choked voice.
"Yes," came the faltered out answer "that is, my
father says I must marry him. You see, I am so poor."
"And so must have a rich husband, even though he
is older than your father !" John said bitterly. "But
I beg your pardon, Miss Morrison, I have no right to
speak so. Only well, I would rather see you lying at
the bottom of the stream there dead, and myself beside
you, that's all."
A silence ensued, a silence broken only by the rustle
of the trees and the purling of the stream; then Darrie
started and shivered a little, moving one step forward.
"Good-bye, Mr. Kenreath," she faltered, looking
shyly up into his dark moody face.
"Good-bye!" said John coldly.
He would not look at her and would not touch the
trembling fingers that she held out to him. She was so
near him that he might with one movement have drawn
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 73
her into his arms and held her to his heart. But he
did not. He had nothing more to do, except watch
Squire Morrison's daughter go, he thought. But, being
a woman, Darrie did not go.
"I shall often think, when I am gone away, of the
stream, and the foot-bridge, and the forget-me-nots,"
she faltered wistfully. "The forget-me-nots will soon
grow again now, won't they? I must have picked them
"Good-bye," again faltered Darrie faintly. She
held out her little shaking hand to him for the second
time, and now John couldn't pretend that he didn't see
it, and in common politeness he couldn't refuse to touch
it. So he took it, and it lay quivering in his strong
"Good-bye, Miss Morrison."
"Good-bye," whispered Darrie, more faintly still,
and glanced up, half wonderingly, as he let her finger
So far so good. The couple might have got over
this highly decorous parting with all desirable dignity
and coolness, but for that unlucky glance. But the blue
eyes brimmed up as they met the dark ones, and poor
little Darrie burst into tears, stretching out two little
shaking hands imploringly; and John, forgetting all
about the Mr. Parkinson, and caring nothing for the
squire, caught the slender figure in his arms, and hid
the sweet face against his broad breast.
74 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"There there, don't cry, my darling anything
but that! We had better be dead than parted, hadn't
we? It doesn't matter what anyone says. Never mind
the squire or that fellow either. He shall never touch
you again. He shall never take you away from me now.
.I'll break his blessed neck if he so much as looks at
you! Don't sob so, sweetheart, it only means that you
and I are never going to say good-bye to one another,
you know, that's all."
However, John said a good deal more, and Darrie
let her sunny head rest against his broad breast with
no great display of reluctance, and managed to answer
very satisfactorily without saying anything at all. Per-
haps it was an hour, perhaps only five minutes after,
when John lifted the blushing little face toward his
own, and looked down at it.
"My darling," he said, lingering fondly over every
syllable "my darling Darrie, what are we going to do
"I don't know," murmured Darrie contentedly, ruf-
fling her golden head against the shabby coat. "What?"
"Ah, that's what I wish I knew ! What shall I do,
Darrie? I wish I knew what I had best do, for your
"Perhaps you wish that we had said good-bye, af-
ter all," she suggested demurely, glancing up from un-
der her long lashes shyly into her lover's dark, adoring
eyes, "do you?"
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 75
John laughed, and answered her satisfactorily, if
not verbally, but, despite his intense happiness, he was
feeling very much perplexed. Beyond the blissful pres-
ent, there loomed up the threatening figure of Squire
Morrison. Not that John minded for himself anything
the squire might do or leave undone, but he did mind
"lam so poor, you see, dear," he explained, ten-
derly drawing a curl of her golden hair through his fin-
gers, "that even if there were no man with a half million
in the way confound him, I could hardly expect your
father to give you to me. Could I?"
"Oh, no!" Darrie shook her head decisively. There
was no doubt at all about that.
"And so if I go to the squire and tell him," John
was beginning, when she checked him by a little scream.
"Oh, no that would never do you mustn't do
that! He would just swear at you awfully, and take me
away to-morrow to Morrison. Oh no, John; you
mustn't say a word to him about me not a single
"Then what can I do, darling?" John asked, watch-
ing the sweet, earnest, frightened face. "Shall we tell
Aunt Mary?" But no Darrie shook her head at that
*'I I don't think that would be best, John dear,"
she said. "I think something else would be better per-
76 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"But what!" John queried anxiously.
"Well," Darrie faltered, blushing rose red all over
her pretty face ; "you you might run away with me,
"My dearest!" John cried in eager excitement,
and clasping her hands tightly. "Do you really mean
you will do that, Darrie? It's the only thing for us ! I
have felt that all this time; but I did not dare ask you
to do it. Oh, sweetheart, you shall never repent trust-
ing me so, never! And now, what shall we do?"
What they were to do did not transpire, audibly at
any rate, but there was a good deal of whispering by the
old foot-bridge, a little laughter, and a large amount of
nonsense which was to this pair the finest wisdom in
the world no doubt ; and there might have been more
but for Aunt Mary's voice, calling out, to know where
the truant was.
Time had flown, for it was sundown and growing
cool under the tall trees. Darrie sprang out of her
lover's arms and turned pale as her aunt's silk train
gleamed through the shrubbery.
"It is auntie!" she said hurriedly. "She mustn't
see you. Yes, yes I'll remember every word, and I'll
come I promise I will. Good-bye, John, and I'll do
everything you tell me. Oh ! here she is ! Do make
And indeed there was hardly time for the hasty kiss
with which they parted, for John had hardly disap-
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 77
peared in the shadow of a convenient hedge, before
Aunt Mary appeared in sight.
"Oh, there you are, Darrie!" she cried in a relieved
voice. "I really thought I should not find you. We
were anxious about you. Where have you been?"
"Here, dear Aunt," said Darrie meekly. "What
do you want me for?"
"Your father wants to see you," said her aunt,
"Oh?" Darrie stopped and gave a little gasp.
"Where is Mr. Parkinson, Auntie?"
"He has gone. Your father is dreadfully cross
about something, Darrie."
doubt of that," and Darrie, with more desper-
ation than courage, ran into the house, across the hall,
and pushed open her father's door.
Only the squire was in the room ; and very fierce
and terrible he looked, as the little white figure with
bright eyes and flushed cheeks came forward and stood
beside his chair.
"Do you want me, papa?" she said meekly.
' Y3sl do, Miss! What's this you've been up to, eh?"
"Up to?" It was really no wonder she flushed
painfully. "What do you mean, papa?" she faltered.
"Mean?" shouted the squire. "How dare you let
some scoundrel of a ploughboy knock down my friend,
Mr. Joseph Parkinson? Do you know he's got a black
eye, Miss, and won't be able to show for a week?"
78 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"How dare he insult me, papa?" cried Darrie, rais-
ing her head proudly.
Her father stared and laughed.
"Insult, indeed! What shall we hear next, I won-
der! Some fine notions you've picked up, young
lady! If the man who's to be your husband in a
month isn't to kiss you if he chooses, who is, I'd like to
know? Who's the young scoundrel that knocked him
"And who is Mr. Kenreath?"
"A gentleman!" Raid Darrie loftily.
"Gentleman, indeed! Fine gentleman to make a
man look as though he had been in a prize-fight, by
Jove ! But. I know who he is. I asked your aunt, and
the sooner he minds his own business the better for him !
Pretty insolence, upon my word, to go knocking down a
man worth half a million and blackening his eye. What
next?" Darrie was stealing away in the direction of the
door when he suddenly called her back.
"Come now, where are you off too? Didn't I say I
wanted to speak to you?"
"I thought you had finished, papa."
"I haven't begun. Come back here and listen to
what I say, will you?"
The squire stretched out his hand, grasped her lit-
tle wrist in his grim fingers, and looked at her narrowly.
But the blue eyes of his daughter looked steadily and
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 79
clearly back to him. She guessed what he was going to
say, and knew what she would say in answer.
"Look here, Darrie," said he. "When I say a
thing I mean it. You know that, don't you?"
"Yes, papa," with charming deference.
'Very well. And you know what I came down here
for, don't you?'
"And what Mr. Parkinson came for?"
"Very well, then. Now listen to me. I don't want
any more nonsense over it, and he don't want any more
nonsense over it. Consequently, you'll be married in
lees than a month !"
"Very well, papa," said Darrie meekly; so meekly
indeed that the squire stared in astonishment.
"Oh, you have made up your mind to it, have
"I I think so, papa."
"And a very good thing too. About the most sen-
sible thing you ever did in your life!" her father said
approvingly. You'll have all you wish for, and what
more can you want?"
"Nothing," Darrie said softly.
"Just so of course not," assented the squire.
"And a very good husband into the bargain, mind
"Oh, yes, papa."
80 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"H'm ! I'm glad you think so." Despite his en-
deavors to carry affairs off [coolly, the squire was much
taken aback by his daughter's entire change of front,
and for a moment he looked at her suspiciously. "I'm
glad you think so, " he repeated. "You've more sense
than your Aunt Mary, and know which side your bread
is buttered. And you'll be a good wife to him mind
"Oh, yes, papa, always! I promise you I will."
"And you won't show any temper and tantrums
when you see him again, eh?."
'Oh, no, papa!"
"Well, there's a good girl," said her mollified
father, releasing her wrist and patting her cheek. "You
see how well we get on the moment you begin to be
sensible. And, although of course he isn't a Morrison,
still you'll never be sorry for changing your name,
you'll find. And you'll be happy enough, no fear of
"No, papa," Darrie assented softly. "I'm not
afraid of that."
"Of course you're not. You're a sensible girl, and
a very good girl, too. There, give me a kiss, Darrie,
and then run away. I want to get off to bed. Good
night, my dear."
* * * * # #
The next day was very quiet at the cottage. Joseph
Parkinson did not appear there ; presumably he was nurs-
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 81
ing his injured eye in seclusion, and Dame had such a
bad headache she was unable to come down stairs. It
was not much, she said, in answer to kind Aunt Mary's
anxious inquiries it \vould soon be better. No she
must not think of sending for a doctor certainly not.
She would be quite well to-morrow. And with that
gentle Aunt Mary was fain to be contented. Indeed,
Aunt Mary was more anxious and puzzled than ever she
had been in her gentle life before, for the squire had not
failed to recount to her his wilful daughter's submis-
"Wanted a little managing, my dear Mary," the
squire said patronizingly "that is all ! All women are
alike in that way. I knew the wilful chit would give
in pretty quickly when she found that I wouldn't stand
any nonsense. Miss Darrie will give me no more trouble,
you'll find. She shall be Mrs. Joseph Parkinson before
the month's out."
But the squire proved wrong.
The next day was not so tranquil at the cottage
quite the reverse, in point of fact.
Darrie did not come down to breakfast; and when
Aunt Mary went up stairs to investigate the reason
thereof, she found the pretty maiden bower of pink and
white empty, and only the orthodox note pinned upon
the pillow where her pretty golden head had lain.
Her aunt had no need to read the few faltering lines
which danced and swam before her startled eyes, and
82 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
she dared not be bearer of Darrie's penitent missive her-
self, but entrusted it to Rogers, and it was upon being
made acquainted with its contents that the squire ut-
tered such dreadful imprecations and flung his boot at
the head of that faithful servitor.
"Oh, dear how dreadful! I never was so shocked
in my life!" Aunt Mary sobbed.
"I'll horsewhip that scoundrel within an inch of
his life, and put that young hussy in a straight jacket!"
shouted the squire.
"What for?" cried Aunt Mary, wheeling round
sharply upon her wrathful brother. "You have only
yourself to blame for it. How dared you attempt to
make that poor child marry that abominable Parkinson?
John Kenreath is at least a gentleman. And I would
have done it myself!" cried the indignant lady, forget-
ting she was very angry with both delinquents. "And,
if you are going to try to bring that poor child back, be
pleased to understand, sir, you'll do it with no sort of
assistance from me!" and with that the good lady swept
out of the room, very pale and trembling with anger, to
burst into sobs as soon as the door was closed, and her
dear child's letter pressed to her quivering lips.
Half an hour later the squire, breathing vows of
vengeance, took his seat in the carriage at the Agates of
the cottage, and red with fury and groaning, and curs-
ing in a breath, was jolting over the stony roads in pur-
suit of his runaway daughter.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 83
Now had the squire been a little wiser he might
have saved himself that uncomfortable journey over the
jolting road to Greyburn.
He was too late to do anything but exasperate him-
self and vent his wrath upon the coachman both of
which he did plentifully.
Just about the time the squire started on his hasty
journey, at a certain church in a quiet street in Grey-
burn, a young couple took their stand before the altar
rails a golden haired slip of a girl, who trembled a great
deal, and a dark-eyed tall young fellow, who trembled
not at all.
It was all over in a few minutes and the young
husband and wife walked out into the sunshine again.
John Kenreath and Darrie had run away in the least
romantic fashion in the world. There had been no rope
ladders, no jumping out of windows at midnight, in
this particular elopement.
John had arranged all on the previous day, and
Darrie had stolen down stairs just before the servants
were up, joining her lover a little way down the lane,
and they had driven quietly away behind the flying
heels of Black Prince. And now it was all over, and
the squire might just as well have stopped at home.
The young pair stood very quietly side by side in
the sunny street fora moment, hardly realizing it all as
yet. It was a very tremulous face Darrie raissd to
meet John's, clinging tightly to his arm as she spoke.
84 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"Are we quite safe, John? Are you sure?" she
"Safe? Of course we are. Why do you forget
this already?" He touched the band of gold on the
little white hand. "Doesn't that say you belong to
"I belonged to you without that," she said simply.
"But I mean, John dear,if papa came, you know."
"He can't take you from me, darling. You're mine
now." John said quietly.
"You are sure?" Darrie queried wistfulty. "Quite
They were silent again ; both hearts were beating
in quick time, and words did not come easily.
John drew the little hand within his arm closer.
"Let us go now, dearest," he said gently.
"Where are we going now, John?"
"Back to the hotel, dear. We will drive home to
Kenreath then if you wish, dear."
"I hope papa won't get here before we start, said
Darrie," glancing nervously about.
John laughed. "No fear of that, darling. He may
not know it yet, and if he does he will know it is too
late to stop us. Darrie, I wonder if. in the future, you
will ever be sorry for this?"
"Sorry?" Darrie echoed, with wide-open eyes.
"For running away with me."
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 85
"Why, it was I who asked you!" she cried inno-
cently. "You know I did!"
"Yes, yes ; but it was my fault. You have married
a very poor man, my dear?"
"I ought to know it," Darrie responded, with a
quaint little air of resignation. "You have told me often
enough that you are poor."
"And you are not frightened at the prospect of
living at poor old Kenreath, are you?"
"Of course I'm not! Oh, John " and, blissfully
regardless of passers-by, Darrie clasped both hands
around her husband's arm, stopping to look up in his
face "don't you know that I was afraid of nothing in
the world but their taking me away from you?"
They walked on slowly and gravely, too strange in
their new position to talk in a commonplace fashion
They were turning into the main street of Grey-
burn, when an gy carriage came dashing along, the
horseScovered with flecks of foam. Darrie recognized it
by a startled scream. The maddened beasts, utterly
beyond the frightened coachman's control, swerved
aside, the carriage gave a lunge sideways and threw the
limp form of the luckless squire within a dozen paces of
his daughter's feet.
"Does he seem any better, dear?" Darrie asked
wistfully of her husband.
86 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"Much the same, I think, darling. But he's get-
ting on all right."
The place was the wide ball at Kenreath. The
speakers, the young roaster and mistress of that abode,
and the subject of their conversation was Squire Morri-
son. Darrie looked a little anxious, and John looked a
good deal amused. He had just come down stairs, and
things in the vicinity of the testy squire were lively
enough to be laughable.
It was two weeks since the runaway wedding, and
ever since then the squire had lain, bruised and sorely
shaken, in the big front room at Kenreath. So short-
tempered and restless a patient surely was never seen,
or heard, for the squire, when awake, was audible from
garret to cellar.
The squire had not the least notion of where he
was. Had he known the truth, he might possibly have
killed himself in the endeavor to express his feelings
properly. He had been brought to Kenreath a couple
of hours after the accident, and still insensible.
Mrs. Jenners was the best of nurses, and into her
hands he had been confided ; for penitent Darrie began
to cry at the mere mention of leaving him in the hands
of strangers. So the squire lay upstairs, utterly uncon-
scious that outside his door Darrie would stand, cling-
ing to her husband's hand, and listen gladly, and yet
half afraid, to the sound of his loud rasping voice.
Gentle Aunt Mary had come to Darrie as soon as
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 87
the news reached her, and she had kissed and forgiven
her child. And she did not pity her hapless brother so
much as she might have done, and utterly refused to
see him until he should know the state of the case.
What he would probably say and do when he did know
made Aunt Mary tremble.
But as the second week drew to a close the squire
grew better, and now John had just announced that "he
was getting on all right."
"You're quite sure, dear?" Darrie asked.
"Quite sure, darling," John returned cheerfully,
looking down upon the dainty little figure very proudly
"It's all my fault, you see, dear," Darrie said
heaving a little sigh. "But for me he'd never have
done it, poor dear."
"It wouldn't have happened if he had kept bis hair
on," said John irreverently. "Why, darling, you're
not sorry already that you belong to me, are you?"
"Oh, John dear, how can you think so' I was only
afraid he'd die, you know."
"Die!" John laughed. "Not he ! If you had seen
him fling his medicine at the doctor just now, as I did,
you wouldn't think there was much chance of his
"Have you seen him?"
"Oh, yes! We had quite a conversation.
"Oh," cried Darrie; "what did he say?"
88 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
"Nothing what should he? He doesn't know me
from Adam. He has been asking me all sorts of ques-
tions, and I don't think I ever told quite so many fibs
in my life. I don't think he entertains a very bad
opinion of me," said John, his eyes twinkling. "He
expressed himself much indebted for my hospitality.
I'm going up to have another chat with him presently.
He asked me. Don't look so doleful, darling. He'll
give us his blessing yet."
And John proved right, for, in his headstrong, im-
pulsive way, the hot tempered squire took a great liking
to his handsome, dark-eyed young host. No one could
lift and turn him as John's strong arms did, and nobody
cared so little when he lost his temper. He got quite
confidential, and one day started on the very subject
John wanted him to talk about.
"A confoundedly stiff bout I've had of it," said the
squire, "and all for that little chit of a girl!"
"I beg your pardon, sir?" said John politely.
"My daughter, sir," said the squire. "The little
disobedient, runaway hussy! Eloped under my nose, sir
ran off with some confounded young clodhopper of a
fellow. And she the last of the Morrisons too! I sup-
pose you've heard about it, and know it was trying to
<satch them I came to grief, don't you?"
Oh, yes ! John had heard about it. And he sug-
gested, with due modesty, that John Kenreath was not
exactly a clodhopper.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 89
'Don't tell me, sir," said the squire, frowning.
"Poor as Job, isn't he?"
"Poor enough," John admitted.
"Of course he is, the scamp. And he ran away
with my daughter. If ever I meet that young scoundrel,
sir, I'll knock him down!"
"Just so, sir I would," said John.
"I will," declared the squire.
"If you can, I suppose, sir," John suggested coolly.
"Can? We'll see about that. And I'll box my
daughter's ears, I promise you."
"Wasn't there another side to the question, sir?"
John said quietly. "Your daughter didn't run off with
her lover for nothing, did she? They did about the only
thing they could do, in my opinion. And after all, sir,
you can't be sorry your daughter is happy with the man
she chose rather than miserable with the man you chose
"Parkinson was a queer customer for a girl, I ad-
mit. Poor little Darrie ! Perhaps I was rather too
rough with her. Only a little blue-eyed slip of a girl
after all. As pretty a girl as one would wish to see.
Never saw her, I suppose, did you? '
Yes, John had seen her.
"Oh, what did you think of her? Deucedly pretty
girl, isn't she?" said the squire, almost gently.
"Very. You'd better forgive her, sir," said John,
coming a little nearer, and looking down at the hand-
90 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
some lined face. "I know that is, I daresay she is
miserable over it."
"Serve her right!" said the squire. "So you
thought her pretty, did you? You and she wouldn't
have made a bad pair," looking up approvingly at the
young roan's broad shoulders and handsome face. "You
remind me of what I was once. Now, if it had been you
that she had taken a fancy to, I won't say I wouldn't
have forgiven her."
"Although I had run away with her, sir?"
"Well, sir, let me tell you, a man isn't worth much
who won't, in some instances, run away with his sweet-
heart," said the squire, veering round with startling
abruptness. "By Jove, in my young days, I should have
liked to see the father that would have stood in my way ! ' '
"Then you'd really forgive her, sir, if that were the
state of the case, would you?" said John.
"Yes, I would, sir," said the squire decisively, and
closed his eyes as if for a nap.
John opened the door and slipped out quietly. Out-
side Darrie was standing. John put his arm around
her and drew her to the door. "Come in here, darling ! "
"Oh, no!" She shrank back. "Not yet, John
dear, please. I don't know what he would say to me."
"Ask him if he really means he will forgive you,"
John said, and pushing open the door, he drew her in.
The squire lay with his eyes closed, and the lines
and wrinkles showing very plainly upon his worn face.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 91
"Oh, John, how dreadfully he looks!" Darrie
"Yes, of course. He's been too ill to look very
flourishing, you know. Don't cry. You'll make him
think you're sorry for what you have done."
Darrie would doubtless have repudiated thischarge,
but just then the squire opened his eyes. Her face was
not far from his own and he gazed as if petrified.
John quietly put his arm around his wife's waist, and
drew her to his side.
"What's this?" gasped the squire. "Darrie?"
"Yes, papa," eaid Darrie meekly.
"And who's that? Who may you be by this time,
sir?" cried he frowning fiercely.
"John Kenreath, sir," answered John promptly.
"You said you would forgive us, } T OU know."
"And you will, won't you, father dear?" Darrie be-
sought eagerly. "I couldn't help it, I I loved him so
much, you see."
"Well, I'll be blessed!" Paid the squire.
Somewhere in his rough breast the squire had a
heart, and it was softened now as his daughter's arms
were clasped round his neck, while she rained down
tears and kisses upon his pale face.
So he kissed her too, and, as she drew back to her
husband's side, he did not survey them so implacably
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, young man !" he de-
92 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
' 'Not I, sir. 'A man isn't worth much who won't in
some instances run off with his sweetheart,' you know.
All I can say is that I'm uncommonly glad I ran off
''And you, young lady?" said the squire, his eyes
"Not a bit ashamed, papa," said Darrie stoutly,
laying her golden head softly against her husband's
sleeve. "I'd do it again to-morrow if John asked me. r '
"And expect me to forgive you. eh? Just as you
"But you have forgiven us, you know, father dear,"
said Darrie smilingly.
There's a beautiful spirit breathing now
Its mellow richness on the clustered leaves,
As Autumn with her sparsely silvered brow
Gathers the rich profusion of her sheaves.
Waves of bright color flood the earth around,
Pouring new glory on the autumn fields.
The waning year's full fruitage strews the ground.
And "Old Jack Frost," his chilling scepter wields.
They who with grateful hearts go forth to look
On duties well performed, and days well spent,
Shall find and read, as in an open book,
The language of a new and sweet content.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 93
Don't send my boy where your girl can't go,
For boy or girl, sin is sin you know,
And my baby-boy's hands are as soft and white,
And his soul is as pure as your girl's to-night.
Don't open the way to haunts of sin,
Gilded without, but most foul within,
Like towering monuments of shame,
Reproaching their owner's lust for gain.
Don't teach him that men are licensed free,
To reject their claim to chivalry.
Teach him to be manly, gentle, kind,
With a heart of gold,
And a courage bold,
That is born of a clean and pure mind.
LITTLE BL UE EYES.
Litte maid with golden hair,
Eyes so blue and face so fair, '
What will all thy future bring?
What of joy, and grief, and pain.
May life's cares rest light on thee,
May God's love encompass thee,
May He keep thee pure as now,
Innocent thy heart and brow.
Bless thee, bless thee little one,
The joy, the light within my home.
94 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
'Tis a small brown cottage neatly trellis 'd
Stands out in my memory sweetly clear,
With a wealth of vine and bloom embellish'd,
And its lattic'd windows in front and rear.
As seen in fancy the quaint old roof-tree,
Still ring-s with the shouts of our merry band,
Our hearts attuned to its rustic beauty,
Our lives touched to glory by nature's wand.
Little man with willing feet,
Truthful eyes and red lips sweet,
Eager, helpful, wee, brown hands,
Cheerfully meeting all demands.
Waiting, wishing, time so slow,
Would make haste, and faster go;
So anxious is he to grow
Big like papa dear, you know.
I will work, mama, for you,
Earn such lots of money, too,
I will help you all I can,
I'll be always mama's man.
Heaven bless thee,mother's man,
Mould thy life on Christlike plan,
Pure and steadfast as you go,
God's own image here below.
THE NATION'S DEAD.
The Nation's Dead. On every hand the sacred mounds arise
Silently speaking to passers-by of leal hearts' sacrifice ;
We do them honor each May-day with flowers and music
And quiet churchyard walks resound with the tread of
Our country called and loyal sons responded to her need,
Men staunch and true, valiant ones, able and willing to
Onward to death marched our "Boys in Blue" amid shot and
Knightly in deed and true in heart, facing the foe they fell.
Many a well-loved son went forth, only a boy in years,
O mother-hearts that bade God-speed amid thy falling
And daily watched with anxious thought for news from far
Pray ing and waiting, a woman's part, this silent struggle
Some lie asleep in unknown graves, in a fair Southern land,
But angel forms keep watch and ward o'er every soldier
And "God's Recording Angel" keeps the record pure and
How fell the brave in that dread time of battle for the
96 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
Honor our "Boys in Blue," and remember the "Boys in
Who just as freely gave their lives in every sad affray;
Forget their loyalty to those who threatened freedom's laws,
The soldier paid the ransom for the leaders of the cause.
A grateful country claims them now the "Gray" hath don-
ned the "Blue,"
The call, "To Arms!" won quick response from Southern
hearts and true,
America need fear no foe, while we united stand
No North, no South, no East, no West, One God, one
Flag, one Land.
Soon may the white-winged "Dove of Peace" rest upon
And from the ashes of the Past, new light and impulse
Until/the "Dark Phantom of War" in every land shall cease,
And man's emancipation come through Earth's united
Bright gleams beneath the setting sun
A burnished sheet of molten gold,
As Lake Killarney rippling on
Its magic beauties doth unfold.
Above Killarney's silent bed,
Fair Innisfallen rears her crest;
While o'er all, Fiman's Abbey dread,
Bares to the blast its rugged breast.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 97
Standing with grim undaunted face,
Its crumbling ruins guarding well
The mystic lore of ancient race
Here old historic legends dwell.
Fast sentineled by moss-grown rock,
Withstanding nature's mighty sway,
Bearing her changing mood and shock,
As none but grand old ruins may.
Fair Innisf alien, sacred Isle,
St. Fiman's Abbey, gray and hoary;
Thy stately oaks stand guard the while
The sun-god bows his head before thee.
Innisfallen is the most historic and beautiful of the Kil-
larney Islands. At St. Fiman's Abbey, founded more than
three hundred years ago, were compiled the famous "An-
nals of Innisfallen," begun in the eleventh century and
chronicling the world's history from the beginning, and that
of Ireland from 430 A. D., down to the thirteenth century.
To the lover of the beautiful, it offers an exquisite com-
bination of pebbly beach, grassy slope, and shady groves of
majestic oaks, through which the sunlight filters upon the
velvet sward, while the smooth waters of the lake in which
it seems to float, mirror and multiply its charms.
98 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
My mother, how long must the silence keep
Your pure soul from mine in the last long sleep?
The way is so long, and the journey, dear,
Hath taken full many a weary year.
Yet, perchance the meeting may sweeter be,
For the long, long silence 'twixt thee and me.
I dream thou art near me. My glad eyes trace
The lineaments fair of thy well lov'd face ;
Thou dost clasp me close in my dreams of thee,
How I long for the arms that enfolded me.
For the tender touch of lips that smile above,
For thy sweet whispered words of mother-love.
Prayer, the sweet unspoken longings of the soul,
Beyond all mortal ken to fathom or control.
Prayer, the awful cry of anguish and despair,
From sin-soiled lips so long unused to prayer;
But ever heard and registered above,
By Him whose every attribute is love.
Prayer, the soft lisp of innocence at night,
From pure child lips and souls so white-
God keep them safe from sin and stain,
Keep each and all who name thy name.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 99
Three pairs of blue eyes, brighter I ween,
Than cloudless blue of summer skies;
Soft, sunny hair of a golden sheen,
Sweet faces so charming and wise.
Bird-like voices in silvery notes,
Caroling happy childish glee,
Sweetly pealing from baby throats,
Recalling life's spring-time to me.
I, silent, listen, and softly sigh,
As recollections, ever dear,
Now pass in succession swiftly by,
And old memories bring a tear.
Morn on the mountain like a summer bird.
Lifts her bright wing toward the rising sun.
Still life awakes, the noise of day is heard,
Time chronicles another day begun.
'Round lofty pinnacles with shifting glance,
To share the brunt and battle of the day,
The "Sun God," now marshalls his trusty lance,
Massing with martial tread their bright array,
They gather midway round the rugged height,
Like battle hosts swift gathered through the night.
100 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
God created me a woman,
With a nature just as true
As the blue eternal ocean
As the sky that is over you.
Love came and it seemed too mighty
For my troubled heart to hold;
It seemed in its sacred glory,
Like a glimpse through the Gate of Gold.
Like life in the perennial Eden ,
Created, formed anew
This dream of flawless manhood
That is realized in you.
And you are mine until your Maker calls you
Your soul and your body, Sweet!
Your breath and the whole of your being,
From your kingly head to your feet
Your eyes and the light that is in them
Your lips with their maddening wine
Your arms with their passionate clasp, my king-
Your body and soul are mine.
No power, whatsoever,
No will but God's alone,
Can take you from my keeping:
You are His and mine alone.
I know not where, if ever
I know not when or how
Death's hands may try the fetters
That bind us here and now;
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 101
But some day when God beckons,
Where rise his fronded palms,
My soul shall cross the river
And lay you in his arms.
Forever and forever, beyond the Silent Sea,
You will rest in the Arms Eternal,
And still belong to me.
Rock-a-bye, my baby dear,
Tender blue eyes, shining clear,
White lids droop, we'll rock-a-bye
Into Sleep-land, you and I.
Hush my baby, darling rest,
Cuddled in your white, wee nest.
Hush my baby, hush ! and sleep,
Mother's eyes will safe watch keep,
Mother's love, the moments through,
Shall be bending over you
Bylow baby, sleep and rest,
Sheltered in your tiny nest.
Sleep, my baby, have no fear,
Never harm shall reach you, dear,
Never touch or breath so small
On your little faoe shall fall.
Sleep my baby sweet, and rest,
Safe within the dear home nest.
102 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
No modern poet's lilting lays
Picture to us those "bonnie braes",
Where "Afton Water's" limpid flow
Steals through the heather soft and slow.
Fair mother earth's bright jewels rare,
Were garnered in his tender care.
To nature's heart he closely clung,
Frae simple themes his lyrics sung.
No later songsters' happy strain
Stirs hidden chords of tender pain,
For he who knew the hearts of men
Hath passed beyond our mortal ken.
Yearning for days of "Auld Lang Syne",
That shadowy, long vanished time ;
Old Scotia's loyal heart still mourns
Her bonnie bard, puir Robbie Burns.
And so she slept while the neighbors came
To the saddened house that day,
In softened tones they named her name,
In a kind and tender way,
And not even one but through her tears,
Spoke gently some loving word,
She'd thoughtlessly kept within for years
But the dead she never heard.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 103
Then they brought her flowers, rich and rare
Breathing their sweetest perfume,
And wreaths of roses everywhere
Made bright the darkened room.
I thought of her life its sorrow spent,
And the great, glad joy, if she
Could see the tokens of love they sent
But the dead she could not see.
A WINTER SCENE.
Circling dizzily to and fro,
Merrily gliding and glancing:
O'er old earth falls the gleaming snow,
Each winsome flake madly dancing.
Covering o'er with mantle white,
All the dark, unsightly places,
Robing nature in vesture bright,
Brightening sad hearts and faces.
Each withered stock and leafless tree,
Outlines a vision of delight
Each tiny knoll, the shrubbery,
Lies sparkling 'neath God's clear sunlight.
The rarest gems cannot exceed,
The wealth of splendor we behold,
When from their cloudy pinions freed.
Fall crystal beauties manifold.
104 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
THE SILENT ACRE.
Within God's Silent Acre,
Our quiet lov'd ones sleep,
While o'er each holy grassy mound
The Angles watch doth keep.
To and fro as the ages go,
As a shepherd guardeth his sheep,
Softly singing to tireless ears
The beautiful song of sleep.
For old and young this slumber song,
Tenderly, lovingly sweet,
Beguiles the hours, as leaves and flowers,
Its soft, soothing notes repeat.
And God who loveth his own the best,
Folds them unto his loving breast.
Sleep God's children and take your rest,
Sleep, oh weary ones, sleep.
Beside the warm hearth's cheerful glow,
I sit sad and alone When lo !
I dream that faith and hope are mine,
I live again the old, glad time,
When life was sweet, and love sublime.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 105
The dream grows brighter. Again I see
Her dazzling face upturned to me,
Breathing fond vows of fealty,
Soft, clinging arms enfolding me,
Only a dream it cannot be !
One lingering glance from lovelit eyes,
The fairy picture fades and dies,
And life's realities loom through,
While hazy mists obscure the view
That my dream fancy mirrored true.
Let us corner up the sunbeams,
Lying all around our path ;
Get a trust on wheat and roses,
Give the poor the thorns and chaff.
Let us find our chief est pleasure
Hoarding bounties of the day,
So the poor will have scant measure
And two prices have to pay.
Yes, we'll reservoir the rivers,
And we'll levy on the lakes,
And we'll lay a trifling poll-tax
On each poor man that partakes ;
We'll brand his number on him,
That he'll carry all through life,
We'll apprentice all his children,
Get a mortgage on his wife.
106 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
We will capture e'en the wind-god,
And confine him in a cave,
Then through our patent process,
We the atmosphere will save.
Thus we'll squeeze our poorer brother
When he tries his lungs to fill,
Put a meter on his wind-pipe,
And present our little bill.
We will syndicate the starlight
And monopolize the moon,
Claim royalty on rest days,
A proprietary noon,
For right of way through ocean's spray
We'll charge just what it's worth,
We'll drive our stakes around the lakes;
In short, \ve'll own the earth.
As Shepherds watched their flocks by night,
An angel host with garment bright,
Proclaimed a Saviour unto men,
The Holy Babe of Bethlehem.
A multitude of angels sang,
Glad praises o'er the hillside rang.
The Christ, our Lord, is born this night,
Behold through him celestial light
Shines out upon the rugged way
Trod by earth's weary day by day.
Glad tidings of great joy we bring,
The great redemption song we sing.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 107
Peace and good will on earth shall reign.
Ring out ye hills the glad refrain,
Ring doom to selfishness and greed,
Sweet sympathy to others' need.
Ring ye God's proffered Fatherhood,
Enjoins to all men brotherhood.
Adown the vanished years of time,
Has come the echo of that chime;
And Christ, our Lord, anew is born
To loving hearts each Christmas morn.
MET A VAUGHAN.
The meeting of the waters, the Shannon broad and fair
Have each their melody of love, of sorrow and of care.
They fill my heart with rapture, with memory and song,
For love will ever call me to the valley of the Laun.
The valley of the Laun, the valley fresh and green,
The valley of 'he Laun where first the flowers are seen,
The valley and the river gliding swiftly on,
The valley and my darling, sweet Meta Vaughan.
'Twas as a boy I loved her, she was all in all to me,
Yes, Meta was my star of hope, my little bride to be.
For her I'll toil for wealth and fame, the world I'll wander
And when the storms have crossed my path, will claim
her as mv own.
108 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
Misfortunes come and go like clouds that float above,
But what have I to fear if I've the light of love ;
With Meta, darling, waiting, my troubles all are gone,
Life is but a dream of hope, for thee, Meta Vaughan.
The pride of the valley, the flower of the Latin,
My own little Colleen, sweet Meta Vaughan,
A bright light of glory ever beyond,
The love of the Shamroch, and sweet Meta Vaughan.
THE TOMB BESIDE THE HUDSON.
I must tell you of a river,
Winding downward on its way,
From the hills that rise in grandeur,
Stretching northward far away.
Tree crowned hills like giant soldiers,
Guarding well the fertile fields ;
Laden with the choicest fruitage,
Nature in profusion yields.
Far above the grand old river,
With its treasures all their own,
Eocky palisades, and highlands,
Walls of grim, unyielding stone.
Standing guard throughout the ages,
Sentineled above our dead,
Resting now across the river,
In his massive marble bed.
HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 109
While below as if in homage,
Wave and river's solemn chant
Breathes a requiem thanksgiving
For the soldier hero, Grant.
Crowning the craggy, rugged height,
Old Sterling Castle greets the sight.
Its stately battlements rear high
Their grim, gray turrents toward the sky.
Below it lies the battle plain,
Here Scottish blood in a crimson flood,
Bathed the dead heroes slain.
Here Bruce led Scotia's bravest on,
At Bannockburn his cause was won.
Here vVallace led his gallant van,
In fiercest conflicts known to man.
Both James the II first saw the light,
And James the V from this fortress site;
And years agone its dungeon dread,
Echoed the sound of Rob Roy's tread.
'Twas here Black Douglass felt the dart
Of the cruel dagger in his heart.
Here knight of joust and tournament,
On daring deeds or valor bent,
Wended their way with laughing jest
To stirring scenes of wild contest.
To-day its moss-grown walls of stone,
With shrub and creeper overgrown,
110 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES
Ee-echo to the martial tread
Of Highland sentries overhead.
The battle-plain its war-like scenes,
Seem but a fancy known in dreams;
Valley and river winding down,
Lie smiling 'neath old Sterling's frown.
Sterling Castle is connected with the most important
historical events of Scotland prior to her union with Eng-
land. It stands upon a rocky height 220 feet above the
plain, overlooking twelve battle fields. Here, at Bannock-
burn, Bruce gained the independence of Scotland; it was
the scene of Wallace's fierce contests, and a favorite spot
for the joust and tournament. In this Castle James II and
James V were born. Rob Roy was confined in its dungeons
and here James II stabbed the Earl of Douglass. These
grand historical associations add greatly to the charm of
the place, yet it would be interesting without them, so
charmingly picturesque is the landscape, with its rivers and
A Highland regiment is now quartered within its walls.
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