Puslapio vaizdai

a dozen, which she declared to be " im- ity was crowing over her; or that permense,” though they were but eight haps she was deeper than anybody susor ten inches in diameter ; and impor- pected. tuned the old man to teach her how to “Now, dear, let us be perfectly frank make them. He saw no way of refus- with each other,” she said ;

“there is ing, and finally agreed to give her les- nothing that I admire more than persons, at fifty cents an hour.

fect sincerity. If there is one virtue “And how is your sweet grand- I possess, it is that. You know, of daughter ?” asked Miss Herkomer with course, it is of no consequence to me, nervous vivacity; "I do hope she is one way or another, whether you have well.”

talked with Mr. Brooks.” “She is underground these nine years,

She felt she had struck a false note mum,” answered the literal Captain ; “I there, before the words were fairly utreckon she be comfortable.”

tered; but her lips went mechanically “You don't mean to say so. Why no, and blundered on. There seemed to be that isn't possible ; for I saw her only a demon in her tongue, who delighted the other day, and she looked perfectly in this kind of transparent mendacity lovely."

which deceived no one. She felt she “She was a likely child, mum, but was getting into deeper waters the she turned up her toes, nine years ago, longer she talked; and yet she could in August, jest as the mackerel come, not stop without, somehow, appearing to and the Spanish brigantine was wrecked herself awkward and foolish. The fact on the south shore.'

was, she was new to the rôle, having never Miss Herkomer, feeling unequal to the cared enough for men to compromise further pursuit of the subject, trans- her conscience on their account. But ferred her interest to the wreck, and sat this miserable Brooks, in whom she had down on an empty soap-box, while the interested herself, at first, as a joke, had Captain consented to part with some revenged himself by taking possession fragments of information concerning of her mind in a wholly unprecedented the memorable event. He was endeav

She was now perfectly aware oring, with the utmost difficulty, to ex that she had lodged in Charity's heart plain the uses of the life-saving appa- the very suspicion she had intended ratus, when the door to the kitchen was to avert. She was looking anxiously opened, and Charity entered. Miss Her- toward the door, expecting, every mokomer jumped up, put her arms about ment, to see Brooks enter. Charity was her waist, and kissed her with much sitting, with a kind of chilly wonder, effusion. She did not allow the girl's watching her face, and dodging her look of surprise in the least to dampen direct questions with a childlike ingeher ardor.

nuity which was admirable, because it “I have missed you so much since looked like candor. As killing time was you left, dear,” she said ; "and I re- the object, Miss Anastasia again adgretted so much that lamentable affair dressed herself to the Captain, who had with Mr. Brooks. I think he was hor- been braiding his osiers automatically, rid to subject you to such a humilia- and deplored the frequency of wrecks tion; and I have never been able to for- upon the Poltucket coast. give him for it. I assure you, I have not “It ain't no use whimperin', mum," spoken to him once since you left. I the old man replied ; "ef wrecks wasn't don't suppose you have seen him, either, good fer somethin', the Lord wouldn't have you?"

send 'em." “Yes," said Charity simply ; “I have." “Good for something !” exclaimed

“Yes, of course, you couldn't help Miss Herkomer; "you don't mean to seeing him ; but what I mean is, you say that you like to see people perish!" haven't talked with him.”

“I didn't say nuthin' of the sort, “Yes ; I have talked with him too." mum ; but our folks has got ter live;

Anastasia was a trifle taken aback. and there ain't nuthin' else fer them to She was not prepared for such sincerity. live on now, sence the guvernment killed The thought occurred to her that Char- the shippin'.”


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“Then you are, on the whole, glad presented him with high-flavored imwhen you hear of a wreck.”

ported cigars, which the mariner ruth“I didn't say that, mum ; I don't pray lessly bit in two, putting one half into the Lord fer ships ter be wrecked ; but his mouth and chewing it, and the other I do pray the Lord that ef ships has ter into his vest-pocket. After having be wrecked, they be wrecked on Pol- chewed them, he dried the leaves and tucket."

smoked them in a pipe. Brooks invariThe Captain showed a vigor of in- ably, on these occasions, met Miss Hertellect on this one topic which was the komer (for she watched his movements more impressive, because of his decrepi- through her telescope with great exacttude.

ness) and was drawn into conversation “I tell you, mum,” he went on, after with her about all sorts of nightmarish having moved his jaws, for some min- literary topics, which gave her a chance utes, in silent indignation, “I voted the to parade her intelligence. It was obRepublican ticket every blessed year, vious that the Fates were against him. but now I don't no more. Sence they There never was a courtship attended put up the two life-savin' stations on the with more hopeless difficulties. The island and six light-houses, I am a Dem- wrath of a father with a shot-gun, or of ocrat. And many more with me, mum; a deceived rival, thirsting for gore, as they'll find out by and by, mum, would have been trifles compared with when they put up their next man fer the dire vigilance of Miss Herkomer and President.”

a hundred other morbid moralists who

sat in windows, on piazzas, and on the VI.

house-tops, taking social observations,

all on the qui vive for scandalous develBROOKS was laboring under a diffi- opments. culty which in all lands makes greatness It would never have occurred to more or less inconvenient. He was so Brooks that his chief persecutor should conspicuous a figure in Poltucket that be the very one to extricate him from everything he did or said made some- this sad dilemma. Miss Anastasia was thing of a sensation. It seemed un- inclined to believe that she had now adchivalrous to him to expose the young vanced far enough in the young man's girl who filled his thoughts to the cruel favor to risk a change of programme. village gossip, unless he was irrevocably She knew that the moon had the repudetermined to ask her the fatal ques. tation of stimulating the hidden springs tion. He despised himself for enter- of sentiment in the masculine heart, and taining such pusillanimous considera- determined to arrange a moonlight sail, tions;

for his ideal of a lover was a daring in which Brooks and herself should be and unscrupulous Don Giovanni, whose the principal participators. She broachjoyous march of conquest was strewn ed her plan cautiously to the Rev. Mr. with wrecked hearts. He saw himself Nichols, who, without suspecting ulteconstantly in spirit doing all sorts of rior motives, went headlong into the trap. audacious things which in the body he He pleaded, with clerical innocence, for never could hope to attain. That little, half an hour, to be allowed to invite timorous girl with the sweet, demure Brooks, as the young man had, he face, who looked up at him with those thought, now been sufficiently punished large, trustful blue eyes, how could he for his faux pas, which had, after all

, afford to experiment with her fragile not been anything more than a youthful heart, and throw it away, in case it indiscretion. It is superfluous to add should not prove to be worth keeping ? that Anastasia was convinced by this He knew that, in case he made such a argument, and gave Mr. Nichols the dediscovery, his pusillanimous conscience sired permission. But when Brooks would get the better of his heroic as- had accepted, she was not at all anxious piration, and he would end by keeping to extend her hospitality further. She her heart, regardless of its value. He wanted a small, congenial party, she went occasionally to visit the Captain, said, and Mr. Nichols was finally per. and for want of anything better to do, suaded to coincide in her view. By

some clever mancuvring, several were nocence, Miss Herkomer,” he exclaimed invited who, it was known, would be un- with mock entreaty; "what have I done able to go, and in the end the select and to thee, that thou should'st thus maltreat congenial party, when it met at three me?" o'clock in the afternoon on the wharf, “I fear, Mr. Brooks, you are one of was found to consist of but four per. those who disapprove of intellect in sons, the fourth of whom was Charity women,” Miss Herkomer rejoined, with Howland. Brooks, who had done & a primness which was in itself a rebuke little plotting of his own, had persuaded to his levity. Nichols to hire Captain Jewell's catboat, “Not at all. I only hold that there (on charitable grounds as he urged) and are some things which are more valuable as the young girl was amply competent than intellect.” to sail it, the guileless parson had con “ More valuable than intellect! What cluded to engage her, and dispense with are they, pray?” a sailing-master. That seemed, in view “Health, first of all ; innocence and of what had occurred between him and simplicity of soul, sweet and unspoiled Brooks (in whose good graces he was emotions.” anxious to re-establish himself), a sort of He looked directly at the unconscious amende honorablea vote of confidence, girl at the rudder, as if he read out of as it were, the delicacy of which no one her face all the things which he found could fail to appreciate.

most admirable. I shall not attempt to describe Anas "You mean to say," demanded Miss tasia's feelings, when she found herself Herkomer, with a note of exasperation outplotted in this shameful manner. She which she found it hard to suppress

, had to display a cheerful mask, of course, “that the mere crude health which any butit cost her a considerable effort. The peasant or fisher-girl possesses is more plan was, to spend the afternoon fishing, valuable to the world than the noble intake supper on board and sail home by tellect of a George Sand or a George moonlight, returning about 10 or 11 Eliot ? ” o'clock in the evening. The wind was “ If it is a question of universal apfair, and the boat shot ahead at a good plication, I should say yes,” answered speed. Charity sat bare-headed at the Brooks fearlessly ; “if you mean only in rudder, holding the tiller with a firm rare individual cases, I should say no. grasp, and with a cool professional In my opinion, the world could better glance (which Brooks found ravishing) afford to spare in its womankind the inwatching the sail, the water, and the tellect of George Eliot than the health horizon. She commanded “heads which such intellectual attainments down” when she jibed, with a sang would be apt to undermine. George froid in which there was no trace of her Eliot, as you know, died childless; if all customary timidity. The low sand- womankind died childless, but with towdunes that inclosed the harbor floated ering intellects, civilization would exlike enchanted isles upon the bosom of pire with us, and we should all have the sea, the vast vault of the sky was lived in vain.” steeped in sunshine, and the gulls who Mr. Nichols, who had been trolling a rejoiced in its freedom seemed embodi- bluefish line, here gave a shout, which ments of bliss. If it had been Nichols happily interrupted the discussion. He and not Miss Herkomer who, in the rose in the boat with visible excitement, midst of his glorious absorption in the and began to haul with all his might. elements, had asked Brooks what his “Keep your line taut," cried Charity, opinion was of George Eliot's “ Theo- her eyes suddenly afire with interest ; phrastus Such,” he would have felt -“no, no! not that way, or you'll untempted to do him bodily harm. In hook him!” fact, the question jarred so violently on “But he cuts my hands cruelly," him that he had to exercise all his self- whimpered Nichols. “I don't think I restraint, in order to give a polite an can stand it much longer."

“ Take the tiller quick ; and I'll haul “Oh, have pity on my youth and in- him," said the girl, with quiet decision;


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and no sooner had the clergyman handed during the afternoon, except that sevher the line, than, with five or six strong eral dozen scups were caught and a few and steady pulls, she landed a splendid sea-bass. At about seven o'clock they bluefish, weighing some six or seven anchored near the island of Puckerpounds. Brooks, who could not get his tuck, a mere reef or sand-dune, which is eyes off her, was enchanted at the swift cut up into several islets at high tide, one security and skill with which she han- of them supporting a light-house with dled the big fish, keeping at the same a revolving light of three colors, and time a vigilant watch on the parson, the summer cottage of a Bostonian, who whose manipulation of the tiller she evi- thus advertises his love of solitude. The dently distrusted. Hers was no crude wind had stiffened somewhat, after sunpeasant face in which the primitive bo- set, and the tide was coming in, flowing vine virtues were legibly written. In with considerable violence over the shalher eye the fire of thought had been kin- low sand-flats. On the outer side of the dled, generations ago, and in the chisel- reef they could hear the surf booming, ing of her face nature had traced many and the wind flung, every now and then, a delicate intention. And yet, coupled a shower of spray toward them. The with this, there were an admirable alert- wicks were trimmed in the kerosene ness of sense and practical skill which, stove, and in an amazingly short time to the young man who had spent his the big bluefish found himself split down life among books and in the over-refine- the back and flung into the frying-pan. ment of a foreign civilization, seemed Hand me a match, please,” said wholly adorable. He had all his life Charity, who was stooping over the seen helpless women who took a pride stove, attending to the preliminaries of in their uselessness and ignorance of the banquet. practical concerns; and by contrast, an "A match? Why, certainly,"answered efficient woman who, without the sacri- Brooks and Nichols in chorus, and fumfice of her womanly character and bled in their pockets. charm, could sail a boat, braid a basket, “I confess I am almost hungry,” said and cook a beefsteak, struck him as a Anastasia, a little anxiously. fascinating novelty. He contrasted her “I confess I am ravenous,” remarked deep and wholesome content with the Nichols ; “this sea-air has aroused in intellectual contortions of Miss Herko- me a very unclerical appetite.” mer, who skimmed with feverish rest “Or say, rather, a very


appelessness over all the sciences, and was tite,” suggested Brooks. "I do hope always uneasy lest she should not se- you have brought matches, for I have cure proper recognition for her attain- none." ments.

“Nor have I,” the clergyman rejoined, It is not improbable that Anastasia with a dismayed look; “I could have had a suspicion of what was going on sworn I had some, but I must have left in Brooks's mind; at all events, she the box in my room.” was aware that she had displeased him An excited consultation ensued, durby her question about “Theophrastus ing which Nichols suffered all the horSuch.” She always felt an irrepressible rors of slow starvation, while Anastasia irritation in the presence of men who drew lots in fancy as to who was to be undervalued the intellect of women ; and eaten, and found that her rival was desneglected no opportunity to champion ignated for the sacrifice. the cause of her oppressed sex. And “ We shall have to land at Puckeryet, in the case of Brooks, it somehow tuck,” said Charity. “I'll go up to heightened her respect for him, to know Mr. Bateman's cottage and get some that he did not take her intellectual matches." claims seriously. It did not occur to “But it is getting dark and foggy," her“ to give in,” of course ; but in her Brooks objected. “You might be blown heart of hearts she rather liked his con off to sea, and nobody know what had temptuous tone, provoking though it become of you.”

“ The moon is just rising; and anyNothing of any consequence occurred way I am not afraid.”


She sprang forward and pulled up the He walked about the house, knocking anchor, while Brooks hoisted the sail at doors and window-shutters, but reand Nichols got his feet entangled in ceived no response. the rope and came near falling over- “ The house is inhabited by the seven board. In another instant she was at sleepers," he cried, as he rejoined Charthe tiller, ran the boat neatly up along ity on the porch. the sandy shore, let the sail "lay to," “I fear it is not inhabited at all," reflung the anchor up on the beach, and plied the girl ; the people must have herself jumped after it.

left yesterday. There were lights in the “Hold on a minute,” cried Brooks ; windows, night before last.” “I am going with you."

"I suppose, then, we had better try He saw her form vanishing in the fog, the light-house.” but managed to catch up with her. “I'm afraid the tide is too high; we

“Why do you want to run away from can't get across.” me ?” he asked ; but the thunder of the “What do you propose to do, then ?” surf on the outer reef nearly drowned “Get back to town as fast as we can. his voice and made it impossible to hear The chances are that we shall hail some what she answered.

boat, as soon as the fog lifts; and then Take my arm,” he went on, “or I we can borrow matches.” shall lose you altogether.”

They groped about in the twilight for But she only hastened tremblingly a quarter of an hour, he keeping close on, and almost ran, as if to escape him. in her track. The tide rose higher and There was to him something sweet and higher, making the strip of sand upon primitive in this mute flight, which was which they walked narrower and narno sham manœuvre, but prompted by a rower, and the surf roared along the real fear. He fancied he could almost outer reef with a deep and mighty voice. hear her heart beat in the twilight. All When they reached the point of land the great emotions lie close to each other where they had put up the catboat, they in an unspoiled nature. It was not in an- began to halloo, but received no answer. cient times only that women stood with Presently, they found the anchor and fear and trembling in the presence of the rope attached to it. They stood nature's great mysteries. To this shy long staring at it in speechless amazeand virginal soul the repellant quality ment. of manhood was yet stronger than the “What does it mean?” exclaimed attractive.

Brooks, at last; "is it a bad joke, or " It is no good trying to run away have they lost their senses ? ” from me," said the young man, laughing; “I think I see it," Charity replied ; “I can beat you racing any day.” “the clergyman was afraid to have the

The fog was closing about them, and sail up, and so, to let it down, he untied they seemed alone in an empty world. by mistake the anchor line, and they The moon looked like a dimly luminous drifted off.” spot in the mist, but emerged now and They will be sure to capsize,” cried then with a pallid, frightened face, as Brooks; "they will be blown to sea or the wind tore rifts in the vapors. The perish in the breakers.” world seemed more than ever a world of “No; the tide is running in. It'll shadows, unsubstantial, like the phan- take them back to town ; if they manage tasms of a dream. He and she—the to get the sail down, nothing can hapman and the woman, who loved each pen to them.” other-seemed to loom out of the fog as She seated herself, without visible agi. the only realities.

tation, on the beach, and he flung him“Here is the Bateman cottage,” said self down at her feet. They were silent Charity, as an outline of denser obscur- for a long while, listening to the heavy ity became visible against the brighter cannonading of the surf, which broke mist which the moon pervaded.

with its hoarse thunder against the nar“I fear they have all gone to bed,” row strip of sand upon which they were said Brooks ; "there is not a light to be sitting. There

tremendous seen anywhere."

rhythm in it—a pause, filled with a dull


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