« AnkstesnisTęsti »
who may be there ; she is too good a noticed that he had fine eyes, and that girl for that. But she cannot help re- he wore his black clothes with an air of membering that she will know when distinction. Of what use was it to go to church is out. And now she rises to church at all, if such sinfulness was insing in the hymn, and she must have grained in her ? been wondering, in spite of herself, or why is there such a guilty start and The disturbed dust was settling down thrill under the white neckerchief when on the pulpit cushion once more. The she hears the strong baritone voice rise Dominie and the Squire stood in front resonant behind her? The little brown of the church. The Dominie was powhymn-book trembles in her hands; she dering himself with snuff, as he always knows she is a wicked girl, and yet, did after a hard sermon, and waiting for perhaps it is part of her wickedness that his regular invitation to dinner. The she cannot feel properly unhappy. Nay, Squire, however, was not as prompt as she knows there is a jubilant lilt in her usual to-day. His eyes followed a broadvoice as it joins the strange voice and shouldered figure in black clothes of sings:
foreign cut, that strolled idly through “ Happy the heart where graces reign, “Dr. Kuypers," he finally demanded, Where love inspires the breast;
“who is that young man?
“That,” said the Dominie, as he put
his snuff-box in his pocket, “is Rick Her father turned half around where Onderdonck, or, I might better say, he stood, as a pillar of the church turn- Master Richard Onderdonck, the son of ing on its base, and gazed at the our old friend Jan Onderdonck, now at stranger. Prudence could not turn ; rest. He has been these four years in she could only glance shyly at her father. Germany, where he has learnt a pretty He had his Sunday face on, and she deal of Latin, I must say for him. knew that he would not relax a muscle The Squire shook his head. of it until he had shaken hands with the “A godless country for a boy,” he Dominie in the porch.
said. “I hope he got no worse than I do not know what else Prudence Latin there.' sang that day out of the brown hymn "Nay, nay," said the Dominie, indulbook. Perhaps it was “ The Shortness gently; “I find him a good youth, and and Misery of Life,” or “ The World's uncorrupted. He ame home but yesThre: Chief Temptations,” or “ Corrupt terday, and stays with me till his father's Nature from Adam,” or “ The Song of house shall be aired. He will work the Zacharias, and the Message of John the old farm, he says, and I trust his Latin Baptist ; ” but I do know_that, as she may do him no harm.” was going out of church, Prudence did Ďr. Kuypers and the Squire bowed something she had never done since, ten with solemn courtesy. “I shall be honyears before, her father put her dead ored with your company at dinner, and mother's hymn-book into her small hand with that of Mr. Onderdonk.” Then and told her it was hers. She left it he dropped to a simple week-day tone: lying on the seat behind her. It did not “Four years, Dominie, four years, is it, lie there long ; she was not two steps since you and I and Jan Onderdonk down the aisle before the tall, broad- sat at dinner together? Yes, bring the shouldered young man in the pew be- lad.” hind had presented it to her with a low And Prudence, during this conversabow. She took it with a frightened tion, stood at her father's elbow and said courtesy, and went down the aisle, her nothing at all, as was decorous in a heart beating hard. Indeed, now, there young girl. was no doubt about it. She was sinful, Dr. Kuypers was a terrible man in perverse, and wholly unregenerate to the pulpit, and a kind-hearted and merry the last degree. She wondered if in- man out of it. The Sunday dinners in iquity so possessed other girls. And just the great brick house were always the in that moment when he bowed she had brighter for his coming; and if this
dinner seemed to Prudence the bright when the neighborhood remarked that est she had ever known, the credit must Rick Onderdonck had taken to going to have been due to Dr. Kuypers, for young the Squire's house more than his father Mr. Onderdonck was certainly most ever did. quiet and modest, and contented him I don't think the hymn-book saw self for the most part with giving fitting much of their courtship, although, to and well-considered answers to the ques- be sure, Mr. Onderdonk probably went tions of the elder gentlemen as to his to church quite regularly during that studies and the state of Europe. period of probation. But she sang in
The dinner came to an end long be- the pew in front and he in the pew before Prudence wished it. And yet, at hind her, and the most that the hymnthe end, there was a new and delightful book could know of what either of them experience for her, which she fled to her felt was that her fingers tightened on room to dream over.
its smooth cover whenever she heard She was only nineteen; she sat at the his voice. head of the table, but it was only as she But she probably confided had sat since she was a little girl, just thought of her heart to the little book learning to pour her father's coffee, that had been her mother's when she and she had always been a little girl to came to pack up her “ things” a day or the Squire and the Dominie. But to- two before the wedding-I mean her day, when she rose from her seat, Mr. personal belongings-the trifles dear to Onderdonck rose too, and hurried to her heart. open the door for her, and bowed low For days the ox-carts had creaked as she went out-and, O, wondrous day! and groaned up the rough hill roads to -as if this were not joy enough, she the Onderdonck farm-house, leaving saw over her shoulder that her father great loads of tables, and chairs, and and the Dominie rose too, and stood wardrobes, and chests of drawers, and until the door had closed behind her. corded boxes that held hundreds of
Mr. Rick Onderdonck was modest yards of sweet-clover scented linen, and even after Mistress Prudence had left dresses made by modish seamstresses the room.
I think that the deference of in New York, and even liberal gifts from young men toward their elders will not the Squire's store of family silver. But die out in this world while old men have besides such things as these, there is fair daughters. Mr. Onderdonck took always the pitiful little kit that a girl his portion of post-prandial schnapps, makes up when she leaves the old homeand patiently let the Squire and the roof and takes ship on the great sea of Dominie whet their rusty Latin on his wifehood. brand-new learning.
This was truly a kit, done up in the
red bandanna handkerchief that old SuOf course, Prudence married Rick san, her nurse (Cæsar's wife, in her lifeOnderdonck. That was written from time), had given her long ago. For that the beginning. Why should it not be matter, all the poor treasures had been 80? What had the Squire to say against given to her. There was this little the pretensions of young Rick Onder- hymn-book, first of all, and the gold donck, heriter of all the square miles of chain and locket with her mother's mingreen upland that had once belonged iature. Prudence sometimes looked at to old Jan, owner of seventy slaves, a her mother's portrait and wondered if virtuous and a comely man, with very those gentle blue eyes had not looked pretty manners in the presence of his frightened when the Squire proposed to elders? Why, nothing. He might, in- marry them. Then there were the emdeed, have said that the house would be ery-bag and scissors she had got at lonelier than he had thought without school, for working the neatest sampler, Prudence silently flitting here and there ; and there was the sampler to speak for but it was not the Squire's way to give itself. There was the ivory ship that such reasons as that; and so the young Ezra Saunders had carved for her-Ezra, people were betrothed early in the the dry, shrivelled old cobbler, from some spring that followed that first winter strange, far place in New England, who
had followed the sea in his younger days, I think that was of a Saturday morning and whose dark back room in the cabin in May, and I am sure that on the Sunby the river-side was hung with sharks' day she sent Rick to church to receive teeth and sword-fish spears, and ingen- the congratulations of the neighboriously-carved stay-bones, with a smell of hood, and lay in her bed the while, and sandal-wood about them all, wrapping perhaps turned over a page or two of north and south and east and west in the hymn-book, finding a comfort in its one atmosphere of spicy oriental mys- terror-fraught pages which our generatery. There, too, was her collection of tion might seek in vain. Then old trinkets—an enamelled brooch, a tall Mother Sturt, who brought all the town's tortoise-shell comb, a garnet ring or babies into the world, took the book two, and such modest odds and ends as away from her, for fear it might hurt served her for jewelry. And all of these her dear eyes; and she lay there and she did up in the red bandanna hand- hummed the familiar airs under her kerchief, with a guilty feeling, as though breath, and if the tune was sweet to her she were deserting her girlish life after memory it mattered little though the an ungrateful fashion, and may be the words ran : brown book was sensible of some poor unformulated prayers for the strange
* Should'st thou condemn my soul to hell, future.
And crush my flesh to dust,
Heav'n would approve thy vengeance well, And so it came about—for the con
And earth must own it just.' tents of the handkerchief went up to her new home the day before the wedding The time went slowly, lying there in
- that the hymn-book was not in church the white waste of the four-poster bed; when she was married. If it had been, but it came to an end in time, and there I think it would have lain open at page was a day when she went up the church 271, as old Cæsar's bow slid softly over aisle on her husband's arm, just after the strings, and the congregation sang : the sermon, and Dominie Kuypers sprin
kled water on the head of the infant, Thy wife shall be a fruitful vine, conceived in sin and born in iniquity,
Thy children round thy board,
and totally unconscious of it, while the And learn to fear the Lord."
“Thus Lydia sanctified her house, So now we have the brown hymn-book
When she received the word ;
Thus the believing jailer gave at home in the Onderdonck homestead,
His household to the Lord.” a long, low building, the lower story of red stone, the upper of wood. It stood There were other children after that high up on the hills, and looked down boy, and Prudence found her days well over grassy slopes of meadow land across filled up with the little duties of a womthe tops of the trees in the town, to the an's life—those little duties which would clear, shining line of the river, that ran distress women less could they but see in pleasant curves as far as the eye could the grand total and estimate the value follow it.
of it. Prudence must have had some It is here that Prudence begins and blessed comprehension of the worth of ends her life. For the best of life be- a woman's work who does her duty as gins where she began in the old farm- wife and mother, for I can see her going house, and what end the world saw she about her daily tasks with a sweet and made there.
placid face, and lifting tender welcoming There life's new joys and life's new eyes to her husband as he comes home troubles began : the new joy of two liv- at sunset from some far corner of the ing one life together; and then the farm—those sweet gray eyes that were great and awful trouble of child-birth- content, only a little while ago, with the the worst, forgotten, however, as she light of the sun on the trees and the lay in Grandmother Onderdonck's four- gay face of the summer-clad world. posted bed and heard the sharp, small, It was a serious face, sometimes, that querulous wailing from the next room. met her look, for Rick was a man who
choir sang :
took on his broad shoulders some share close ; the shutters will not let the scent of the world's burdens beyond his neces- of the rose-bushes enter. His calm face
They had a troublous time looks up to the cracked, whitewashed when they made up their minds to let ceiling of the plain old house that was their slaves work out their freedom. It his home a few hours ago. How calm was some years before Rick regained his it is! How calm, to leave behind such popularity among the neighbors ; he had a void, so much and so unconquerable practically manumitted his entire hold- grief ! Yet, would we have the shadow ing of slaves, and although such an act and impress of our sorrow on his face? might have been forgiven to mere Good man, good husband, good father, benevolence, it was a crime against the he is gone. And this poor face that lies community when it was dictated by prin- here to tell us of him, let us be thankful ciple. Rick had a sad scene with the that it smiles calmly as our poor bewilold Squire, who all but cursed him for dered eyes look at it for the last time. his foreign atheistical notions; and even The darkest room in all the dim, good Dominie Kuypers looked gravely closed house is where Prudence sits, on disappointed. They did not, in fact, the floor above. There is a child at each fully restore Rick to favor until it became side of her, and when her hands are not clear beyond a doubt that the farm was clasped trembling in her lap, they move paying better under a system of free to touch the soft, tear-wet faces. And labor than it had ever paid while it sup- now the eldest son comes softly into the ported a horde of irresponsible slaves. room and slips his arm about her, and a When that fact was proved beyond a quick tremor shakes her, and she hears doubt, the most notoriously mean man the voice of the old minister, standing in the county ordered his slaves to work upon the stairs, midway between the out their freedom at the highest market dead and the living half of one existence, price; and, after that, the curse was speaking the words that part husband taken off Rick and Prudence.
and wife upon this earth. There is a si
lence, and then the voices of the singers The shutters of the old farm-house come with a far-away sound from the are closed. The broad spread of fields rooms below. One of the children, with is empty of all but waving grain and a child's poor, helpless effort to serve, nodding corn. The farm-hands stand slips the book into her hands.
She canabout the kitchen door, looking strange not open it; she could not see the page ; in their Sunday clothes of black. At she does not need it. She knows the the front door stands young Jan Onder- words ; only two lines come new to her donck, a shapely boy of eighteen, look- ears—"Nor should we wish the hours ing out on the world with that white, more slow, to keep us from our love." blank face which the first sight of death among his own puts on a boy. He It has been dropping light showers meets the neighbors as they drive up to all the afternoon; showers that have the gate in swaying carryalls or lumber- caught the first swaths of the cut grass. ing wagons, and goes silently before Then there has been the brief glow of a them to the door. They go in, out of high-hung rainbow, and the warm sun the clear, summer sunshine, leaving the has come to rest a few minutes on the slope of long, unmown grass, the beds long heaps of grass, and to distil from of bright flowers, the tremulous green them an exquisite attar of new-mown beeches behind them, into the dim, cool hay. The sun is behind the hills now ; front sitting-room, and range themselves the front of the old farm-house where along the wall. Friend bows to friend, Prudence is sitting in shade. She looks in a constrained fashion, and here and across her flower-beds, down the long there are hushed interchanges of speech. slope to where, beyond town and trees, “She is taking it hard, poor soul,” they there is still a warm light on the windsay; "but so quiet and still, the doctor ing Passaic, that goes, presently, creepwas frightened for her.”
ing up the further hills, and last of all Across the hall he lies, in the room resting on the white houses of a little opened only for company. The air is settlement that perched on those hills
how many years ago ? Prudence for- with her then, and the hay smelt as it gets : many years ago, yet long since smells to-day; the twilight air grew tenthe one date from which she reckons der and misty about them, the murmur all her days. Rick never saw it. The of woodland life made the cool darkness woods were there when he died.
shrill, and the young stars came out in For thirty years Prudence has seen the vague blue of the sky. the sun rise and set since he died. What has grown old? What is Thirty summers she has tendered the changed in her heart that it should not garden he dug for her in their honey- cry out for love and joy? Why may moon. The house he left empty is still she not feel his strong arm about her home to her, to his children, and to his shoulders, hear his voice in her ears? children's children. The fires have long Why may she not look up now and see gone out in the house where she was his face bent over hers, love speaking to born; she looks now over the smokeless love in their eyes. chimney; but his home is still as he A small brown book slips from her would wish to find it were he coming hand and falls upon the ground; but home this evening across the swe
she does not need the printed page. fields.
She knows the hymn by heart. The Prudence, sitting there, sees his grand- bassoon and the fiddle play softly in the son coming homeward now. She knows choir of the old church; she hears them the broad shoulders and the springy faintly, for her heart is futtering; her gait. She has always called the boy hands are cold, there is a mist of tears Richard, though everyone else calls him in her eyes as she looks up into her husRick. She knows, too, the girlish figure band's face, standing before the altar. by his side ; she knows that he will go It must have been on some evening past the gate and through the woods to such as this that the little book dropped the Van Vorst farm. Yes, on he goes, from Prudence's hands for the last time. bending his tall head to talk with Mary For unless it fell there, and lay among Van Vorst.
the flowers, and the flowers were unPrudence's face is sweet and her eyes tended after her death, so that some are patient; but who shall blame her if stranger picked it up and took it away the longing of her heart springs up and as a thing of no account, I cannot tell knows not day or years? What days or why her children let their mother's book years shall touch that immortal youth? find its way to a second-hand bookHas the summer grown old ? Has the shop. I am glad that in the end it did green of the world grown dull, and the not fall into the hands of some one who gold of the sun grown dim? He walked might not have known her story.
By F. J. Stimson.
ARTHUR HAS A LITTLE DINNER.
purposed going ; but this deuce of a list took much more time than one would
suppose possible. He threw impatientRTHUR was thinking ly into the waste-paper basket the third of getting up a little tentative sketch which had proved imdinner for some of his possible, and looked at his watch. The most worthy friends cards said half-past three-"to meet and most valuable ac- Miss Holyoke”-it was indeed the first
monoquaintances, and he was time Gracie was to appear out of her
sitting in room of his favorite club, trying to make Arthur looked at his watch. It was up his list. There was a reception at after three already. He had thought of the Livingstones that afternoon, and he going early, before the people came;