While Miss Lucretia was standing, unwillingly enough, listening to the
speeches that were poured into her ear by various members of the audience,
receiving the incense and myrrh to which so great a celebrity was entitled, the
old soldier hobbled away to his little house as fast as his three legs would
carry him. Only one event in his life had eclipsed this in happiness—the
interview in front of the White House. He rapped on the window with his stick,
thereby frightening Cynthia half out of her wits as she sat musing sorrowfully
by the fire.
"Cousin Ephraim," she said, taking off his corded hat, "what in the world's
the matter with you?"
"You're a schoolmarm again, Cynthy."
"Do you mean to say?"
"Miss Lucretia Penniman done it."
"Miss Lucretia Penniman!" Cynthia began to think his rheumatism was driving
him out of his mind.
"You bet. 'Long toward the openin' of the engagement there wahn't scarcely
anybody thar but me, and they was a-goin'. But they come fast enough when they
l'arned she was in town, and she blew 'em up higher'n the Petersburg crater.
Great Tecumseh, there's a woman! Next to General Grant, I'd sooner shake her
hand than anybody's livin'."
"Do you mean to say that Miss Lucretia is in Brampton and spoke at the mass
"Spoke!" exclaimed Ephraim, "callate she did—some. Tore 'em all up. They'd a
hung Isaac D. Worthington or Levi Dodd if they'd a had 'em thar."
Cynthia, striving to be calm herself, got him into a chair and took his stick
and straightened out his leg, and then Ephraim told her the story, and it lost
no dramatic effect in his telling. He would have talked all night. But at length
the sound of wheels was heard in the street, Cynthia flew to the door, and a
familiar voice came out of the darkness.
"You need not wait, Gamaliel. No, thank you, I think I will stay at the
Gamaliel was still protesting when Miss Lucretia came in and seized Cynthia
in her arms, and the door was closed behind her.
"Oh, Miss Lucretia, why did you come?" said Cynthia, "if I had known you
would do such a thing, I should never have written that letter. I have been
sorry to-day that I did write it, and now I'm sorrier than ever."
"Aren't you glad to see me?" demanded Miss Lucretia.
"What are friends for?" asked Miss Lucretia, patting her hand. "If you had
known how I wished to see you, Cynthia, and I thought a little trip would be
good for such a provincial Bostonian as I am. Dear, dear, I remember this house.
It used to belong to Gabriel Post in my time, and right across from it was the
Social Library, where I have spent so many pleasant hours with your mother. And
this is Ephraim Prescott. I thought it was, when I saw him sitting in the front
row, and I think he must have been very lonesome there at one time."
"Yes, ma'am," said Ephraim, giving her his gnarled fingers; "I was just
sayin' to Cynthy that I'd ruther shake your hand than anybody's livin' exceptin'
"And I'd rather shake yours than the General's," said Miss Lucretia, for the
Woman's Hour had taken the opposition side in a certain recent public question
"If you'd a fit with him, you wouldn't say that, Miss Lucrety."
"I haven't a word to say against his fighting qualities," she replied.
"Guess the General might say the same of you," said Ephraim. "If you'd a b'en
a man, I callate you'd a come out of the war with two stars on your shoulder.
Godfrey, Miss Lucrety, you'd ought to've b'en a man."
"A man!" cried Miss Lucretia, "and 'stars on my shoulder'! I think this kind
of talk has gone far enough, Ephraim Prescott."
"Cousin Eph," said Cynthia, laughing, "you're no match for Miss Lucretia, and
it's long past your bedtime."
"A man!" repeated Miss Lucretia, after he had retired, and after Cynthia had
tried to express her gratitude and had been silenced. They sat side by side in
front of the chimney. "I suppose he meant that as a compliment. I never yet saw
the man I couldn't back down, and I haven't any patience with a woman who gives
in to them." Miss Lucretia poked vigorously a log which had fallen down, as
though that were a man, too, and she was putting him back in his proper place.
Cynthia, strange to say, did not reply to this remark.
"Cynthia," said Miss Lucretia, abruptly, "you don't mean to say that you are
Cynthia drew a long breath, and grew as red as the embers.
"Miss Lucretia!" she exclaimed, in astonishment and dismay.
"Well," Miss Lucretia said, "I should have thought you could have gotten
along, for a while at least, without anything of that kind. My dear," she said
leaning toward Cynthia, "who is he?"
Cynthia turned away. She found it very hard to speak of her troubles, even to
Miss Lucretia, and she would have kept this secret even from Jethro, had it been
"You must let him know his place," said Miss Lucretia, "and I hope he is in
some degree worthy of you."
"I do not intend to marry him," said Cynthia, with head still turned away.
It was now Miss Lucretia who was silent.
"I came near getting married once," she said presently, with characteristic
"You!" cried Cynthia, looking around in amazement.
"You see, I am franker than you, my dear—though I never told any one else. I
believe you can keep a secret."
"Of course I can. Who—was it anyone in Brampton, Miss Lucretia?" The question
was out before Cynthia realized its import. She was turning the tables with a
"It was Ezra Graves," said Miss Lucretia.
"Ezra Graves!" And then Cynthia pressed Miss Lucretia's hand in silence,
thinking how strange it was that both of them should have been her champions
Miss Lucretia poked the fire again.
"It was shortly after that, when I went to Boston, that I wrote the 'Hymn to
Coniston.' I suppose we must all be fools once or twice, or we should not be
"And—weren't you ever—sorry?" asked Cynthia.
Again there was a silence.
"I could not have done the work I have had to do in the world if I had
married. But I have often wondered whether that work was worth the while. Such a
feeling must come over all workers, occasionally. Yes," said Miss Lucretia,
"there have been times when I have been sorry, my dear, though I have never
confessed it to another soul. I am telling you this for your own good—not mine.
If you have the love of a good man, Cynthia, be careful what you do with it."
The tears had come into Cynthia's eyes.
"I should have told you, Miss Lucretia," she faltered. "If I could have
married him, it would have been easier."
"Why can't you marry him?" demanded Miss Lucretia, sharply—to hide her own
"His name," said Cynthia, "is Bob Worthington:"
"Isaac Worthington's son?"
Another silence, Miss Lucretia being utterly unable to say anything for a
"Is he a good man?"
Cynthia was on the point of indignant-protest, but she stopped herself in
"I will tell you what he has done," she answered, "and then you shall judge
And she told Miss Lucretia, simply, all that Bob had done, and all that she
herself had done.
"He is like his mother, Sarah Hollingsworth; I knew her well," said Miss
Lucretia. "If Isaac Worthington were a man, he would be down on his knees
begging you to marry his son. He tried hard enough to marry your own mother."
"My mother!" exclaimed Cynthia, who had never believed that rumor.
"Yes," said Miss Lucretia, "and you may thank your stars he didn't succeed. I
mistrusted him when he was a young man, and now I know that he hasn't changed.
He is a coward and a hypocrite."
Cynthia could not deny this.
"And yet," she said, after a moment's silence, "I am sure you will say that I
have been right. My own conscience tells me that it is wrong to deprive Bob of
his inheritance, and to separate him from his father, whatever his father—may
"We shall see what happens in five years," said Miss Lucretia.
"Five years!" said Cynthia, in spite of herself.
"Jacob served seven for Rachel," answered Miss Lucretia; "that period is
scarcely too short to test a man, and you are both young."
"No," said Cynthia, "I cannot marry him, Miss Lucretia. The world would
accuse me of design, and I feel that I should not be happy. I am sure that he
would never reproach me, even if things went wrong, but—the day might come
when—when he would wish that it had been otherwise."
Miss Lucretia kissed her.
"You are very young, my dear," she repeated, "and none of us may say what
changes time may bring forth. And now I must go."
Cynthia insisted upon walking with her friend down the street to the hotel—an
undertaking that was without danger in Brampton. And it was only a step, after
all. A late moon floated in the sky, throwing in relief the shadow of the
Worthington mansion against the white patches of snow. A light was still burning
in the library.
The next morning after breakfast Miss Lucretia appeared at the little house,
and informed Cynthia that she would walk to school with her.
"But I have not yet been notified by the Committee," said Cynthia. There was
a knock at the door, and in walked Judge Ezra Graves. Miss Lucretia may have
blushed, but it is certain that Cynthia did. Never had she seen the judge so
spick and span, and he wore the broadcloth coat he usually reserved for Sundays.
He paused at the threshold, with his hand on his Adam's apple.
"Good morning, ladies," he said, and looked shyly at Miss Lucretia and
cleared his throat, and spoke with the elaborate decorum he used on occasions,
"Miss Penniman, I wish to thank you again for your noble action of last
"Don't 'Miss Penniman' me, Ezra Graves," retorted Miss Lucretia; "the only
noble action I know of was poor Jonathan Hill's—unless it was paying for the
This was the way in which Miss Lucretia treated her lover after thirty years!
Cynthia thought of what the lady had said to her a few hours since, by this very
fire, and began to believe she must have dreamed it. Fires look very differently
at night—and sometimes burn brighter then. The judge parted his coat tails, and
seated himself on the wooden edge of a cane-bottomed chair.
"Lucretia," he said, "you haven't changed."
"You have, Ezra," she replied, looking at the Adam's apple.
"I'm an old man," said Ezra Graves.
Cynthia could not help thinking that he was a very different man, in Miss
Lucretia's presence, than when at the head of the prudential committee.
"Ezra," said Miss Lucretia, "for a man you do very well."
The judge smiled.
"Thank you, Lucretia," said he. He seemed to appreciate the full extent of
"Judge Graves," said Cynthia, "I can tell you how good you are, at least, and
thank you for your great kindness to me, which I shall never forget."
She took his withered hands from his knees and pressed them. He returned the
pressure, and then searched his coat tails, found a handkerchief, and blew his
"I merely did my duty, Miss Wetherell," he said. "I would not wilfully submit
to a wrong."
"You called me Cynthia yesterday."
"So I did," he answered, "so I did." Then he looked at Miss Lucretia.
"Ezra," said that lady, smiling a little, "I don't believe you have changed,
What she meant by that nobody knows.
"I had thought, Cynthia," said the judge, "that it might be more comfortable
for you to have me go to the school with you. That is the reason for my early
"Judge Graves, I do appreciate your kindness," said Cynthia; "I hope you
won't think I'm rude if I say I'd rather go alone."
"On the contrary, my dear," replied the judge, "I think I can understand and
esteem your feeling in the matter, and it shall be as you wish."
"Then I think I had better be going," said Cynthia. The judge rose in alarm
at the words, but she put her hand on his shoulder. "Won't you sit down and
stay," she begged, "you haven't seen Miss Lucretia for how many years,—thirty,
Again he glanced at Miss Lucretia, uncertainly. "Sit down, Ezra," she
commanded, "and for goodness' sake don't be afraid of the cane bottom. You won't
go through it. I should like to talk to you, and most of the gossips of our day
are dead. I shall stay in Brampton to-day, Cynthia, and eat supper with you here
Cynthia, as she went out of the door, wondered what they would talk about.
Then she turned toward the school. It was not the March wind that burned her
cheeks; as she thought of the mass meeting the night before, which was all about
her, she wished she might go to school that morning through the woods and
pasture lots rather than down Brampton Street. What—what would Bob say when he
heard of the meeting? Would he come again to Brampton? If he did, she would run
away to Boston with Miss Lucretia. Every day it had been a trial to pass the
Worthington house, but she could not cross the wide street to avoid it. She
hurried a little, unconsciously, when she came to it, for there was Mr.
Worthington on the steps talking to Mr. Flint. How he must hate her now, Cynthia
reflected! He did not so much as look up when she passed.
The other citizens whom she met made up for Mr. Worthington's coldness, and
gave her a hearty greeting, and some stopped to offer their congratulations.
Cynthia did not pause to philosophize: she was learning to accept the world as
it was, and hurried swiftly on to the little schoolhouse. The children saw her
coming, and ran to meet her and escorted her triumphantly in at the door. Of
their welcome she could be sure. Thus she became again teacher of the lower
How the judge and Miss Lucretia got along that morning, Cynthia never knew.
Miss Lucretia spent the day in her old home, submitting to hero-worship, and
attended an evening party in her honor at Mr. Gamaliel Ives's house—a mansion
not so large as the first citizen's, though it had two bay-windows and was not
altogether unimposing. The first citizen, needless to say, was not there, but
the rest of the elite attended. Mr. Ives will tell you all about the
entertainment if you go to Brampton, but the real reason Miss Lucretia consented
to go was to please Lucy Baird, who was Gamaliel's wife, and to chat with
certain old friends whom she had not seen. The next morning she called at the
school to bid Cynthia good-by, and to whisper something in her ear which made
her very red before all the scholars. She shook her head when Miss Lucretia said
it, for it had to do with an incident in the 29th chapter of Genesis.
While Jonathan Hill was being made a hero of in the little two-by-four office
of the feed store the morning after the mass meeting (though nobody offered to
take over his mortgage), Mr. Dodd was complaining to his wife of shooting pains,
and "callated" he would stay at home that day.
"Shootin' fiddlesticks!" said Mrs. Dodd. "Get along down to the store and
face the music, Levi Dodd. You'd have had shootin' pains if you'd a went to the
"I might stop by at Mr. Worthington's house and explain how powerless I was—"
"For goodness' sake git out, Levi. I guess he knows how powerless you are
with your shootin' pains. If you only could forget Isaac D. Worthington for
three minutes, you wouldn't have 'em."
Mr. Dodd's two clerks saw him enter the store by the back door and he was
very much interested in the new ploughs which were piled up in crates outside of
it. Then he disappeared into his office and shut the door, and supposedly became
very much absorbed in book-keeping. If any one called, he was out—any one.
Plenty of people did call, but he was not disturbed—until ten o'clock. Mr. Dodd
had a very sensitive ear, and he could often recognize a man by his step, and
this man he recognized.
"Where's Mr. Dodd?" demanded the owner of the step, indignantly.
"He's out, Mr. Worthington. Anything I can do for you, Mr. Worthington?"
"You can tell him to come up to my house the moment he comes in."
Unfortunately Mr. Dodd in the office had got into a strained position. He
found it necessary to move a little; the day-book fell heavily to the floor, and
the perspiration popped out all over his forehead. Come out, Levi Dodd. The
Bastille is taken, but there are other fortresses still in the royal hands where
you may be confined.
"Who's in the office?"
"I don't know, sir," answered the clerk, winking at his companion, who was
In three strides the great man had his hand on the office door and had flung
it open, disclosing the culprit cowering over the day-book on the floor.
"Mr. Dodd," cried the first citizen, "what do you mean by—?"
Some natures, when terrified, are struck dumb. Mr. Dodd's was the kind which
bursts into speech.
"I couldn't help it, Mr. Worthington," he cried, "they would have it. I don't
know what got into 'em. They lost their senses, Mr. Worthington, plumb lost
their senses. If you'd a b'en there, you might have brought 'em to. I tried to
git the floor, but Ezry Graves—"
"Confound Ezra Graves, and wait till I have done, can't you," interrupted the
first citizen, angrily. "What do you mean by putting a bath-tub into my house
with the tin loose, so that I cut my leg on it?"
Mr. Dodd nearly fainted from sheer relief.
"I'll put a new one in to-day, right now," he gasped.
"See that you do," said the first citizen, "and if I lose my leg, I'll sue
you for a hundred thousand dollars."
"I was a-goin' to explain about them losin' their heads at the mass meetin'—"
"Damn their heads!" said the first citizen. "And yours, too," he may have
added under his breath as he stalked out. It was not worth a swing of the
executioner's axe in these times of war. News had arrived from the state capital
that morning of which Mr. Dodd knew nothing. Certain feudal chiefs from the
North Country, of whose allegiance Mr. Worthington had felt sure, had obeyed the
summons of their old sovereign, Jethro Bass, and had come South to hold a
conclave under him at the Pelican. Those chiefs of the North Country, with their
clans behind them as one man, what a power they were in the state! What
magnificent qualities they had, in battle or strategy, and how cunning and
shrewd was their generalship! Year after year they came down from their
mountains and fought shoulder to shoulder, and year after year they carried back
the lion's share of the spoils between them. The great South, as a whole, was
powerless to resist them, for there could be no lasting alliance between Harwich
and Brampton and Newcastle and Gosport. Now their king had come back, and the
North Country men were rallying again to his standard. No wonder that Levi
Dodd's head, poor thing that it was, was safe for a while.
"Organize what you have left, and be quick about it," said Mr. Flint, when
the news had come, and they sat in the library planning a new campaign in the
face of this evident defection. There was no time to cry over spilt milk or
reinstated school-teachers. The messages flew far and wide to the manufacturing
towns to range their guilds into line for the railroads. The seneschal wrote the
messages, and sent the summons to the sleek men of the cities, and let it be
known that the coffers were full and not too tightly sealed, that the faithful
should not lack for the sinews of war. Mr. Flint found time, too, to write some
carefully worded but nevertheless convincing articles for the Newcastle
Guardian, very damaging to certain commanders who had proved unfaithful.
"Flint," said Mr. Worthington, when they had worked far into the night, "if
Bass beats us, I'm a crippled man."
"And if you postpone the fight now that you have begun it? What then?"
The answer, Mr. Worthington knew, was the same either way. He did not repeat
it. He went to his bed, but not to sleep for many hours, and when he came down
to his breakfast in the morning, he was in no mood to read the letter from
Cambridge which Mrs. Holden had put on his plate. But he did read it, with what
anger and bitterness may be imagined. There was the ultimatum,—respectful, even
affectionate, but firm. "I know that you will, in all probability, disinherit me
as you say, and I tell you honestly that I regret the necessity of quarrelling
with you more than I do the money. I do not pretend to say that I despise money,
and I like the things that it buys, but the woman I love is more to me than all
that you have."
Mr. Worthington laid the letter down, and there came irresistibly to his mind
something that his wife had said to him before she died, shortly after they had
moved into the mansion. "Dudley, how happy we used to be together before we were
rich!" Money had not been everything to Sarah Worthington, either. But now no
tender wave of feeling swept over him as he recalled those words. He was
thinking of what weapon he had to prevent the marriage beyond that which was now
useless—disinheritance. He would disinherit Bob, and that very day. He would
punish his son to the utmost of his power for marrying the ward of Jethro Bass.
He wondered bitterly, in case a certain event occurred, whether he would have
much to alienate.
When Mr. Flint arrived, fresh as usual in spite of the work he had
accomplished and the cigars he had smoked the night before, Mr. Worthington
still had the letter in his hand, and was pacing his library floor, and broke
into a tirade against his son.
"After all I have done for him, building up for him a position and a fortune
that is only surpassed by young Duncan's, to treat me in this way, to drag down
the name of Worthington in the mire. I'll never forgive him. I'll send for Dixon
and leave the money for a hospital in Brampton. Can't you suggest any way out of
"No," said Flint, "not now. The only chance you have is to ignore the thing
from now on. He may get tired of her—I've known such things to happen."
"When she hears that I've disinherited him, she will get tired of him,"
declared Mr. Worthington.
"Try it and see, if you like," said Flint.
"Look here, Flint, if the woman has a spark of decent feeling, as you seem to
think, I'll send for her and tell her that she will ruin Robert if she marries
him." Mr. Worthington always spoke of his son as "Robert."
"You ought to have thought of that before the mass meeting. Perhaps it would
have done some good then."
"Because this Penniman woman has stirred people up—is that what you mean? I
don't care anything about that. Money counts in the long run."
"If money counted with this school-teacher, it would be a simple matter. I
think you'll find it doesn't."
"I've known you to make some serious mistakes," snapped Mr. Worthington.
"Then why do you ask for my advice?"
"I'll send for her, and appeal to her better nature," said Mr. Worthington,
with an unconscious and sublime irony.
Flint gave no sign that he heard. Mr. Worthington seated himself at his desk,
and after some thought wrote on a piece of note-paper the following lines: "My
dear Miss Wetherell, I should be greatly obliged if you would find it convenient
to call at my house at eight o'clock this evening," and signed them, "Sincerely
Yours." He sealed them up in an envelope and addressed it to Miss Wetherell, at
the schoolhouse; and handed it to Mr. Flint. That gentleman got as far as the
door, and then he hesitated and turned.
"There is just one way out of this for you, that I can see, Mr. Worthington,"
he said. "It's a desperate measure, but it's worth thinking about."
It took some courage for Mr. Flint, to make the suggestion. "The girl's a
good girl, well educated, and by no means bad looking. Bob might do a thousand
times worse. Give your consent to the marriage, and Jethro Bass will go back to
It was wisdom such as few lords get from their seneschals, but Isaac D.
Worthington did not so recognize it. His anger rose and took away his breath as
he listened to it.
"I will never give my consent to it, never—do you hear?—never. Send that
note!" he cried.
Mr. Flint walked out, sent the note, and returned and took his place silently
at his own table. He was a man of concentration, and he put his mind on the
arguments he was composing to certain political leaders. Mr. Worthington merely
pretended to work as he waited for the answer to come back. And presently, when
it did come back, he tore it open and read it with an expression not often on
his lips. He flung the paper at Mr. Flint.
"Read that," he said.
This is what Mr. Flint read: "Miss Wetherell begs to inform Mr. Isaac D.
Worthington that she can have no communication or intercourse with him
Mr. Flint handed it back without a word. His opinion of the school-teacher
had risen mightily, but he did not say so. Mr. Worthington took the note, too,
without a word. Speech was beyond him, and he crushed the paper as fiercely as
he would have liked to have crushed Cynthia, had she been in his hands.
One accomplishment which Cynthia had learned at Miss Sadler's school was to
write a letter in the third person, Miss Sadler holding that there were
occasions when it was beneath a lady's dignity to write a direct note. And
Cynthia, sitting at her little desk in the schoolhouse during her recess, had
deemed this one of the occasions. She could not bring herself to write, "My dear
Mr. Worthington." Her anger, when the note had been handed to her, was for the
moment so great that she could not go on with her classes; but she had
controlled it, and compelled Silas to stand in the entry until recess, when she
sat with her pen in her hand until that happy notion of the third person
occurred to her. And after Silas had gone she sat still; though trembling a
little at intervals, picturing with some satisfaction Mr. Worthington's
appearance when he received her answer. Her instinct told her that he had
received his son's letter, and that he had sent for her to insult her. By
sending for her, indeed, he had insulted her irrevocably, and that is why she
Poor Cynthia! her troubles came thick and fast upon her in those days. When
she reached home, there was the letter which Ephraim had left on the table
addressed in the familiar, upright handwriting, and when Cynthia saw it, she
caught her hand sharply at her breast, as if the pain there had stopped the
beating of her heart. Well it was for Bob's peace of mind that he could not see
her as she read it, and before she had come to the end there were drops on the
sheets where the purple ink had run. How precious would have been those drops to
him! He would never give her up. No mandate or decree could separate
them—nothing but death. And he was happier now so he told her—than he had been
for months: happy in the thought that he was going out into the world to win
bread for her, as became a man. Even if he had not her to strive for, he saw now
that such was the only course for him. He could not conform.
It was a manly letter,—how manly Bob himself never knew. But Cynthia knew,
and she wept over it and even pressed it to her lips—for there was no one to
see. Yes, she loved him as she would not have believed it possible to love, and
she sat through the afternoon reading his words and repeating them until it
seemed that he were there by her side, speaking them. They came, untrammelled
and undefiled, from his heart into hers.
And now that he had quarrelled with his father for her sake, and was bent
with all the determination of his character upon making his own way in the
world, what was she to do? What was her duty? Not one letter of the twoscore she
had received (so she kept their count from day to day)—not one had she answered.
His faith had indeed been great. But she must answer this: must write, too, on
that subject of her dismissal, lest it should be wrongly told him. He was rash
in his anger, and fearless; this she knew, and loved him for such qualities as
She must stay in Brampton and do her work,—so much was clearly her duty,
although she longed to flee from it. And at last she sat down and wrote to him.
Some things are too sacred to be set forth on a printed page, and this letter is
one of those things. Try as she would, she could not find it in her heart at
such a time to destroy his hope,—or her own. The hope which she would not
acknowledge, and the love which she strove to conceal from him seeped up between
the words of her letter like water through grains of sand. Words, indeed, are
but as grains of sand to conceal strong feelings, and as Cynthia read the letter
over she felt that every line betrayed her, and knew that she could compose no
lines which would not.
She said nothing of the summons which she had received that morning, or of
her answer; and her account of the matter of the dismissal and reinstatement was
brief and dignified, and contained no mention of Mr. Worthington's name or
agency. It was her duty, too, to rebuke Bob for the quarrel with his father, to
point out the folly of it, and the wrong, and to urge him as strongly as she
could to retract, though she felt that all this was useless. And then—then came
the betrayal of hope. She could not ask him never to see her again, but she did
beseech him for her sake, and for the sake of that love which he had declared,
not to attempt to see her: not for a year, she wrote, though the word looked to
her like eternity. Her reasons, aside from her own scruples, were so obvious,
while she taught in Brampton, that she felt that he would consent to
banishment—until the summer holidays in July, at least: and then she would be in
Coniston,—and would have had time to decide upon future steps. A reprieve was
all she craved,—a reprieve in which to reflect, for she was in no condition to
reflect now. Of one thing she was sure, that it would not be right at this time
to encourage him although she had a guilty feeling that the letter had given him
encouragement in spite of all the prohibitions it contained. "If, in the future
years," thought Cynthia, as she sealed the envelope, "he persists in his
determination, what then?" You, Miss Lucretia, of all people in the world, have
planted the seeds with your talk about Genesis!
The letter was signed "One who will always remain your friend, Cynthia
Wetherell." And she posted it herself.
When Ephraim came home to supper that evening, he brought the Brampton
Clarion, just out, and in it was an account of Miss Lucretia Penniman's speech
at the mass meeting, and of her visit, and of her career. It was written in Mr.
Page's best vein, and so laudatory was it that we shall have to spare Miss
Lucretia in not repeating it here: yes, and omit the encomiums, too, on the
teacher of the Brampton lower school. Mr. Worthington was not mentioned, and for
this, at least, Cynthia drew along breath of relief, though Ephraim was of the
opinion that the first citizen should have been scored as he deserved, and held
up to the contempt of his fellow-townsmen. The dismissal of the teacher, indeed,
was put down to a regrettable misconception on the part of "one of the
prudential committee," who had confessed his mistake in "a manly and altogether
praiseworthy speech." The article was as near the truth, perhaps, as the
Clarions may come on such matters—which is not very near. Cynthia would have
been better pleased if Mr. Page had spared his readers the recital of her
qualities, and she did not in the least recognize the paragon whom Miss Lucretia
had befriended and defended. She was thankful that Mr. Page did pot state that
the celebrity had come up from Boston on her account. Miss Penniman had been
"actuated by a sudden desire to see once more the beauties of her old home, to
look into the faces of the old friends who had followed her career with such
pardonable pride." The speech of the president of the literary club, you may be
sure, was printed in full, for Mr. Ives himself had taken the trouble to write
it out for the editor—by request, of course.
Cynthia turned over the sheet, and read many interesting items: one
concerning the beauty and fashion and intellect which attended the party at Mr.
Gamaliel Ives's; in the Clovelly notes she saw that Miss Judy Hatch, of
Coniston, was visiting relatives there; she learned the output of the
Worthington Mills for the past week. Cynthia was about to fold up the paper and
send it to Miss Lucretia, whom she thought it would amuse, when her eyes were
arrested by the sight of a familiar name.
"Jethro Bass come to life again.
From the State Tribune."
That was the heading. "One of the greatest political surprises in many years
was the arrival in the capital on Wednesday of Judge Bass, whom it was thought,
had permanently retired from politics. This, at least, seems to have been the
confident belief of a faction in the state who have at heart the consolidation
of certain lines of railroads. Judge Bass was found by a Tribune reporter in the
familiar Throne Room at the Pelican, but, as usual, he could not be induced to
talk for publication. He was in conference throughout the afternoon with several
well-known leaders from the North Country. The return of Jethro Bass to activity
seriously complicates the railroad situation, and many prominent politicians are
freely predicting to-night that, in spite of the town-meeting returns, the
proposed bill for consolidation will not go through. Judge Bass is a man of such
remarkable personality that he has regained at a stroke much of the influence
that he lost by the sudden and unaccountable retirement which electrified the
state some months since. His reappearance, the news of which was the one topic
in all political centres yesterday, is equally unaccountable. It is hinted that
some action on the part of Isaac D. Worthington has brought Jethro Bass to life.
They are known to be bitter enemies, and it is said that Jethro Bass has but one
object in returning to the field—to crush the president of the Truro Railroad.
Another theory is that the railroads and interests opposed to the consolidation
have induced Judge Bass to take charge of their fight for them. All indications
point to the fiercest struggle the state has ever seen in June, when the
Legislature meets. The Tribune, whose sentiments are well known to be opposed to
the iniquity of consolidation, extends a hearty welcome to the judge. No state,
we believe, can claim a party leader of a higher order of ability than Jethro
Cynthia dropped the paper in her lap, and sat very still. This, then, was
what happened when Jethro had heard of her dismissal—he had left Coniston
without writing her a word and passed through Brampton without seeing her. He
had gone back to that life which he had abandoned for her sake; the temptation
had been too strong, the desire for vengeance too great. He had not dared to see
her. And yet the love for her which had been strong enough to make him renounce
the homage of men, and even incur their ridicule, had incited him to this very
act of vengeance.
What should she do now, indeed? Had those peaceful and happy Saturdays and
Sundays in Coniston passed away forever? Should she follow him to the capital
and appeal to him? Ah no, she felt that were a useless pain to them both. She
believed, now, that he had gone away from her for all time, that the veil of
limitless space was set between, them. Silently she arose,—so silently that
Ephraim, dozing by the fire, did not awake. She went into her own room and wept,
and after many hours fell into a dreamless sleep of sheer exhaustion.
The days passed, and the weeks; the snow ran from the brown fields, and
melted at length even in the moist crotches under the hemlocks of the northern
slopes; the robin and bluebird came, the hillsides were mottled with exquisite
shades of green, and the scent of fruit blossom and balm of Gilead was in the
air. June came as a maiden and grew into womanhood. But Jethro Bass did not
return to Coniston.