« AnkstesnisTęsti »
times in my own mind in what way or ways she still worse one of wearing myself out in fashioncould best be and do that, or, if there was but one able frivolity. I don't know that I have any speway, what was it, what is it? I am young and cial talent for special work. I do know that I strong; I have had advantages to prepare me am in the world, that I am selfish enough to wish for work as men have; I remember too much to make the very most of my life, and that I of Uncle Dick's theorizing concerning women have a right to the honest counsel and advice of not to be, in a sense, his disciple; to feel an im- my two best friends in the matter. I am open pulse pushing me toward his goal. I realize, too, to conviction from Europe and America," she that to be a woman like Professor Mitchell is to archly concluded. write one's name in the stars; and to be a do- “You see, Dick,” smiled James, after a pause, mestic deity like my five hundred good sisters is “the fruit of your heresies. Here we have a to write it in the heart of a man, which, accord- young lady on our hands who, having been fed ing to sacred authority—"
on the progressive ideas of the nineteenth cen“Is deceitful above all things,” concluded tury, now asks what shall be done with her.” Dick, with gravity, which elicited a merry round “While you were in college,” spoke Dick, of laughter.
looking dreamingly in the distance, “and this “And desperately wicked,” added Ricarda, question of what your duty might be came into with mock solemnity.
your mind, how did you dispose of it?” “ Has that been your experience in finding it "I didn't dispose of it at all. I simply said So, my child ?" asked her father.
to myself, . This is a matter I can not decide. I "Oh, no; no, papa,” she quickly replied. “I will let time and circumstances determine it for find men—everybody very good and kind, judg- me.'" ing from what St. Paul gives as a standard.” “Very well, let them still be the arbiters of
“Are you an admirer of St. Paul ? ” asked your destiny. You can afford to wait for a signal Lane, secretly wishing to lead the conversation of some sort, or, as a theological student would into a different channel.
say, for a call from the Lord.' “Yes and no. He uttered many strong and “ Is that the way young men do after leaving true thoughts, and was aflame with zeal for what college, Uncle Dick ? Sit down and wait, like he held to be the truth. But he seems never to Micawber, for something to turn up? Expecthave risen above bigotry and narrowness in regarding some fine evening to see written in great letto women, which might readily enough be excus- ters in the sky their name and destined occupaable on various grounds, save that he was so tion?" much indebted to them. Indeed, from some “Yes, some do about that. But what a young source, it has been made to appear that he was man does need be no guide for you. If a wofinancially kept afloat for a long time by the mer- man have finer instincts, she should wait with chant Lydia, who was in a small way a sort of firmer faith for intuitive guidance, and depend Kadijah to this Mohammed of Christianity. You less upon the bias of ambition and preference.” see, Uncle Dick,” she continued, half mirthfully, “ That's a pretty fallacy,” she laughed in re“it is but another illustration of your old time ply. “I wish you and papa decided as arbiassertion, that, if a woman exerts herself in any- trarily about my future as you did in the past body's behalf, it is for a man.”
about what I should eat, what I should read, and "To help man seems to be her destiny,” ob- wherewithal I should be clothed. It would save served her father.
me a great deal of trouble. After all,” and her “And by no means an objectionable destiny, voice had a shade of sadness in it—“ after all, I papa. He needs the help badly enough,” she ex- begin to learn that in the deep and vital things claimed, laughingly. “The only criticism I have of life every human soul must decide for itto offer in regard to it is that he wants her to self.” give it to him in his way, instead of being pleased “True, my child,” chimed in her father, risto have her give it to him in her own way. And ing; "but, for the nonce, let us all be as butterthis brings me again to the question of my des- Aies for the rest of the day, and take no thought tiny—of what my future is to be. Don't both for the morrow. There is a wood a half mile speak at once,” she gayly concluded, as a pause away, and I propose that we go and investigate intervened.
it. Ask Margredel to put us up a luncheon, and " Are you really in earnest, Ricarda," asked we will camp out, as in years gone by, when Riher father, “about having a career ?”
carda was in short dresses." “I am in earnest as to what I shall do with The daughter hastened to execute her father's my head, my heart, my hands, and my time. If wish, and then sped to her own room to array I were a man instead of a woman, I could be no herself for the expedition. At the end of a quarmore so. I've a horror of rusting out, and a ter of an hour she reappeared in the garden in a
short walking-dress, a wide-brimmed straw hat, During these weeks of their reunion, the feelings thick boots, and gloves.
that had been born in the mind of Lane upon Here's the short dress still,” she exclaimed. his first meeting with Ricarda had grown and “Let us play that all these years have been an strengthened with each succeeding day, until he illusory bugbear, that I am little Sister Ricarda, now felt himself wound up in them as in a web. that Uncle Dick is teaching me botany, and papa No other woman had ever affected him as did stuffing my brains with chalk formations and the she, and when he endeavored to analyze his feelchemistry of nature. But who's to be the Atlas ings, and in turn tried to convince himself that of the lunch-basket ? ”
the reason why she was such a source of exquiAs Margredel approached with the luncheon, site and tender delight to him was because she Dick speedily appropriated it, and the trio sal- had been like his child, his little sister, from her lied forth, Ricarda and her father walking hand babyhood — like a plant that one has lovingly in hand, small schoolboy and schoolgirl fash- cared for, watching with interest its every budion.
ding shoot, enjoying the rain and the sun doubly The day in the woods was but one out of for its sake, feeling with pleasure all the soft and many passed in like recreation-walking, riding, balmy influences that conduce to its growth, and sitting in the garden, and on rainy ones the father then, at the last, enjoying all the past again a and Lane making business visits to the city, while hundred-fold over in the beauty of its blossoming. Ricarda busied herself with reading, correspond- Was it not in a like way that he enjoyed Ricarence, and household affairs.
da? Was she not simply the completed picture Upon returning from one of these rainy-day that had been but an outlined sketch when he excursions, and the three friends being convened went away ?-the full splendor of the aurora, about the dinner-table, Lane announced with whose radiance had but just begun to shimmer unusual vivacity that he had an idea.
about her head in those seasons agone, when “ And what is it? ” asked Ricarda. “An idea he had bid her good-by? Was it not for such in the heat of August is an anomaly.”
reasons as these, he argued, that he had come to “You remember, Ricarda,” he went on, hur- ask himself a score of times a day, “What was friedly, “ asking me, the morning we were dis- life, his future, to be to him henceforth without cussing your future, if young men did so and so her?” But, despising shame in himself as thorafter leaving college? Well, I was in Wall oughly as he did in others, he had the courage to Street to-day, when a quartet of young fellows say no. His feelings were not the outgrowth of just out of college came to the bank for letters such conditions. Had he met this girl for the of credit. They were going abroad for a year's first time in his life, he felt sure that she would travel before beginning the study of a profession. have enthralled and delighted him in the same * That's just the thing for Ricarda to do,' I way. And if he only had met her for the first thought, and I've come home a powerful com- time! Ah! then had he been free to translate mittee of ways and means, whereby you shall his thoughts into their true language, and to go both return with me, the last of next month, to to her in all reverence and noble faith, saying, England.”
“I love thee, and have need of thee "; for, with And you would have Ricarda do as young Plato, he believed that “we love by necessary men do, after all ?” smiled her father.
law” that which has a natural affinity to us; so “ Yes, in this respect. It is the only thing that the real and genuine lover may be certain with all my thinking that I see clearly she should of a return of affection from the beloved? But do. I feel as decided about it as I did that she now, with the history and associations of the should go to college. And I feel equally sure past before him, blocking his way like a sacred that at the end of a year she will see her path of shield, what could he do but keep silence, and duty and work marked out as clearly as we see let all the violence of the situation turn back like the milky way on a clear night.” And Dick went a flood upon his own heart? Then, too, like an rapturously on enumerating the various reasons array of merry, mocking imps, arose one by one why a trip of that kind would be the very best his thousand and one talks with James, and could thing for both father and daughter. Ricarda lis- he in the face of these ask his friend to give him tened silently until well on toward the close of his child, the only help, joy, consolation, love, the dinner, when Lane asked her what she that life held for him; to be himself, after all, the thought of the idea.
man in ambush to appropriate this perfect wo“I like it,” she replied, emphatically. “But man, if such appropriation were possible ? While papa may not find it practicable.”
he could not bring himself to say yes to these However, after the lapse of some days, it was questions, he was equally powerless to say no. found to be a feasible plan, and thenceforward He would wait, and meantime, above all other their occupations were shaped in reference to it. hopes, the one to have his friend and Ricarda
return with him to England dominated all else. interest and sympathy which her life-long friend He felt that his salvation lay in it.
aroused in her was love itself, or the mysterious One day, as he was thinking of what was power that was preparing her heart for its asnow at all moments uppermost, the thought arose sumption. With this concession or recognition in his mind, defining itself with statuesque clear- once yielded to, she fully believed that she had ness : “Would what you can give Ricarda com- only herself to think of, entertaining for no mopensate her for what you would demand of her? 'ment the possible thought that a feeling akin to Would not the answer to your wishes on her part her own had or could take lodgment in the heart involve self-sacrifice on hers?” Even with his of Richard Lane. keen sense of justice, this phase of the matter “At the very best,” she argued, “ he would had not before presented itself to him, and that be disappointed and ashamed of me, if he knew it had not now seemed to him to denote some or even suspected that I loved him otherwise obliquity or obscuration of his moral sense. than as Uncle Dick. He would think, if he did "Oh, conceited, selfish mortal that I am!" he not say it, “I hoped better things from you,
Rimentally ejaculated. “To follow the impulse of carda.' So she quickly and firmly resolved that my feelings would be to act as if I were worthy his expectation of better things should not fail of of immediate translation to heaven, or, what realization because of lack of effort and will on would be better, to have heaven in human form her part. Anchored to this resolve, she turned divine inclosing all heaven's sweetness and grace for support to the thought of her life-work, keepfor my earthly portion." Then, again, and foring its purpose constantly in her mind, and, to the most part he felt that even for Ricarda her- strengthen and aid it, resolved to secure the help seif no shelter could be so secure, no haven so of her father and friend in its undertaking and free from storms and billows, as the encompass- achievement. ing precinct of his love. “And why do I think The arrangement to go abroad was full of that?” he would ask. * Have not men from all satisfaction to her. time thought and felt the same thing, and from “So long as I can be with Uncle Dick, I all time, and through all time, made the reality shall feel my wings plumed for any height. He oftentimes so bitterly different ? Am I better, stimulates me to my best, and if I am ever to stronger, and juster, than my fellows? Would touch the bottom of my life at any one point, my love possess the generosity to be content in and rise to its extreme zenith at the other, he is having Ricarda give me help as she says in her the one to help me to do it.” way, whatever that way might be, instead of de- The difference of a score and more of years siring to circumscribe it, to bend it to suit my between the ages of Lane and Ricarda seemed way? In other words, will I think more of con- in no wise to affect the equality of their comtributing to her happiness, her aims in life, her panionship. Lane's habits of life, removed from ambitions and desires, than in having her as all tendency to dissipation, had robbed him of some devoted reflection consecrate all herself to none of the elasticity and vigor of youth. No me and mine?”
great sorrow had come upon him, as upon MyHe distinctly remembered what James had gatt James, leaving him discrowned and bereft. often said, “ Wait until you have learned the les- But, most of all, his affections had not been disson of love, when all things will look differently sipated in unholy or frivolous channels, nor his to you." This experience had now come to him, heart withered by selfishness, leaving him as so was coming to him more and more every hour. many unwedded men are left at two and forty, He recognized the difference without being able but as sign-boards for the label, “God failed on to explain to his own satisfaction why, with the this animal.” incoming of love, which should endow every “So long as I live,” he had once said to emotion and impulse with increased magnanim- James, “I shall never be able to get away from ity, there should be awakened a corresponding myself, and this is reason enough why I should jealousy and selfishness, a desire for close and keep myself as righteous and decent as possible.” unique possession.
In doing this he had consciously, and maybe With Ricarda, the delight of having Uncle necessarily, incased himself in an armor of reDick at home again knew no abatement, ale serve that led him to appear unsocial and disthough what she at first termed delight gradu- tant to most persons, even brusque and opinionally changed to another feeling, which she knew ated; but with his friends, and especially with not so well how to define. But, as women arrive James, he poured out his feelings with the fullest at conclusions more quickly than men, because freedom, and which had led him at one time to hampered with less innate stubborn self-righ- compare himself to a champagne-bottle, and his teousness, currently known as logic, she very soon chum to a tire bouchon. * You uncork me, Jim," acknowledged to herself that this strange, new he laughed, “and I bubble over until there is
nothing left in my mind but dregs of humiliation plied the father, his eyes resting admiringly upon at my loquacity.”
her. “If she had been a man—" He felt the same disposition to “talk himself “She would then have been nothing extraorout” to Ricarda that he did to her father; and dinary,” she laughingly interrupted; "for men now for the first time in his life he had touched with pistol cocked and saber girt' roam the upon an experience about which he could talk world around, and nobody minds it; but, if a with neither.
woman is not frightened at a mouse, she is a This effort on the part of both to conceal prodigy of heroism, and a savante if she knows mutual feelings, each from the other, and at the how to spell. But you and Mr. Richard Lane" same time to conduct themselves toward each (making a courtesy to the latter) "spoiled me for other with their accustomed freedom and confi- the typical girl years ago, when you taught me dence, would have required more tact than either to climb rocks and hills like a chamois, and to possessed, if each had not felt that the other love wild storms like an Alpine hunter. Come, was entirely unaffected by unusual feelings. If papa, and Uncle Dick.” Lane thought he detected a constraint in Ricar- But papa begged to be excused, and Lane da's manner, he attributed it to but a reflection and Ricarda set off without him. of his own conduct, and, if she felt a change in * You are the only woman in the world who him, she as readily attributed it to her own fan- knows how to walk,” remarked Lane, as they cies. Of the three, the father alone perceived were rapidly approaching the hill. the possible result of the relations between Ri- “ You have walked with them all ?" she carda and his friend; and he felt, upon the whole, asked in mock astonishment. that, if his child could love him, her happiness “No, not quite,” laughed Lane; “but those could find no better security in human keeping I have walked with kept me at a mincing, higthan in the heart and hand of Richard Lane. gity-piggity pace, that made me feel like stretchBut he also kept his thoughts to himself; and so ing out my arms, inflating my lungs, as if to free the weeks passed away without special event, myself from some invisible fetter. I don't think until the middle of September had come. it looks well to see a man a pace or two ahead of
the woman with whom he is walking, who is VI.
generally his wife; yet I confess to a fellow feelThe day dawned cloudy and sultry, and, after ing with him, for I could name no more insufferthe mid-day luncheon, Lane proposed that they able impatience than to be compelled to keep go for “a breath of air” to the top of one of the step for a lifetime with the majority of American hills that formed a range of miniature mountains, and French women. The English walk much nearly an hour's walk distant to the northwest better, have more of the spring, equipoise, and from the cottage. This hill was the highest of lightness that belong to natural healthful mothe peaks, but, from the ease of its ascent and tion. And I tell you, Ricarda, nothing more inthe wide view it afforded of the country for miles spires a man with the helpfulness of the woman around, had at one time been a favorite resort at his side, and with a sense of her uplifting for a party of tourists who had spent a summer equality—if I may so express it—than a firm, in the locality, and had erected on its summit a light, well-reaching step, that accompanies his rude pavilion, which, having at the time been own like a higher octave in music. It seems thatched like the cottage of a French peasant, like an index to her whole character; so when was now thickly overgrown with vines, furnishing I walk with other women I feel restricted and at once a picturesque monument in the midst of hampered. When I walk with you, I feel a a few sturdy old trees, as well as shelter from sense of freedom and a lightness of motion even rain.
greater than when I walk alone." “I think, Dick,” replied James, “that your • Thank you! That is the first compliment proposition is a remedy worse than the ill. I you ever paid me, Uncle Dick. I think someshould lose what breath I have in climbing to thing must be going to happen,” and she glanced that atmospheric Pisgah. Moreover, I think it archly around. will rain; the air is surcharged with electricity." “Something is going to happen!” he ex
"Oh, then, let's go!” cried Ricarda. “There's claimed, seizing her arm, and turning her about. no equal place within our reach for watching an “Look, how rapidly the storm is coming upon electrical storm. If the rain descends, we'll hie us! That is an unusual phenomenon to see to the pavilion. We have only to go armed cap such a phosphoric-like light haloing the hilltops, à pie, in a ‘Boston uniform.' Then, too, the with darkness rising from the valleys.” As they mountain pinks must be making their final dis- hastened up to the pavilion, the low rumbling of play for the season."
thunder, that for some time they had heard in “ Ricarda is always ripe for adventure," re- the distance, came nearer and nearer, while an
occasional gleam of lightning lit up the low-lying Then followed a lull in the thunder, and the horizon like a fitful smile of Nature at the mani- rain, which had been falling in large and labored festation of her own power.
drops, suddenly came down in torrents, followed “There ! nous nous sommes sauvés !” ex- by a blinding flash, and a crash of splitting timclaimed Ricarda, as they finally reached shelter, ber that was quickly overpowered by terrifying Taking off her hat, she hung it on a projecting bursts of thunder, and a blocking up of the doorstick in the pavilion; then with a quick motion way of the pavilion by a riven limb of oak. pushed her waving hair back from her forehead, Unconsciously to himself, in unquestioning and turning to the wide doorway, stood with obedience to an all-powerful instinct of his naflushed cheeks and clasped hands, rapturously ture, which ruled his action, as the hand is moved gazing at the awe-inspiring scene around her. by the will, Lane had put his arm about Ricarda, “This was worth coming for, Uncle Dick," she holding her close to his side, as if to shield her said at length. “I do not know-I may be all from the lightning-strokes, or some indefinable mistaken-but I never see a manifestation of harm of the storm. Both had been too greatly electricity in nature without thinking that, in the affected by its intensity and terrific grandeur to realm of this strange and wonderful force, the realize the quick, strong, and passionated infoldgreatest and most important discoveries are with- ing of the one by the other. The moment had in the coming half century to be made. Even come to Lane when love had won the mastery with the modicum of this power that men already over intention, and, borne out to the extreme control, how superhuman are their achievements! . limit of his being by the overwhelming emotions If the gods are ever again jealous of the power of the past moments, had leaped into sudden of mortals, it will be because of their ability to freedom of expression, and now seemed to conseize and utilize this sublime, mysterious presence front him with a victorious sense of acquired that lurks all about us like a spark of heavenly liberty. fire. I can never think of Franklin, and Fara- The pallor in Ricarda's face was still unaday, and Morse, and their discoveries, without bated, and, although she had borne the terror of fairly holding my breath. If I go into the labora- the tempest bravely and unflinchingly, without tory with papa, I feel sure that my attention will uttering a cry, or making a movement of alarm, all be absorbed in electricity. At Vassar, my she was now unable to suppress a tremor that mania for making electrical experiments was such made weakness of her strength, and which at as to win me the sobriquet of 'Electrical Eel'; the same time revealed to her the support she and I have been so fascinated with the science was receiving from Lane. As a recognition of as sometimes to regard it as an augury of my this passed through her mind, she said, as if in fitness in its pursuance as a study. Only to apology for herself: think, Uncle Dick, if I should succeed in solving “You never thought I was so weak, Uncle as yet unsolved electrical problems, as in mathe- Dick?” while a faint smile gleamed on her colormatics did Marie-Gaétane-Agnesi!"
less lips. “That would be electrifying, to say the least," " What I have thought, Ricarda—" and his smiled Lane, when a sudden and startling clap voice had a strange, new sound in it, which caused of thunder seemed to shake the ground under her to turn her head, and look into his facetheir feet, driving the color from Ricarda's cheeks “what I have thought is of the past, Ricarda. and further talk out of her mind.
I am weak, too; weaker than you think, and “That was very near us,” said Lane, as he since these awful moments that I have just exobserved the pallor of her face, which was most perienced my heart refuses longer the violence of unusual in Ricarda. He feared the hurried as- silence. I can not let you pass from my arms cent had been too great a tax upon her. “The without telling you that I love you—not as your lightning must have struck not far away, and 'Uncle Dick,' your life-long comrade and friend, you know," he added, with excessive exactness, but more, a thousand times more, as a man loves as if to reassure her, “ that it never strikes twice the one woman in all the world whom he would in the same place."
call wife." But a moment later, and it seemed to be Lane's face was now paler than Ricarda's, striking all about the hilltop; while the increas- for a quick blush overspread hers, and she made ing darkness, forming a background like night, an attempt to free herself from his arm. gave an awful intensity to the fiery swiftness of "You are too weak yet to stand alone, Ricarthe forks of lightning that flashed with zigzag da,” he said, “and there are no seats here.” outlines in the gloom, like old Semitic characters But, from an innate sense of delicacy that -the yet unread hieroglyphics of the skies—the had ever been one of the peculiar charms of his language of electricity. “This is too grand and manliness, he quickly broke into short lengths awful for mortal endurance,” whispered Ricarda. the boughs of the fallen limb before the door,