I am able to cite one notable instance, at least, to disprove the saying a
part of which is written above, and I have yet to hear of a case in which a
gentleman ever hesitated a single instant on account of the first letter of a
lady's last name. I know, indeed, of an occasion when locomotives could not go
fast enough, when thirty miles an hour seemed a snail's pace to a young main who
sat by the open window of a train that crept northward on a certain hazy
September morning up the beautiful valley of a broad river which we know.
It was after three o'clock before he caught sight of the familiar crest of
Farewell Mountain, and the train ran into Harwich. How glad he was to see
everybody there, whether he knew them or not! He came near hugging the conductor
of the Truro accommodation; who, needless to say, did not ask him for a ticket,
or even a pass. And then the young man went forward and almost shook the arms
off of the engineer and the fireman, and climbed into the cab, and actually
drove the engine himself as far as Brampton, where it arrived somewhat ahead of
schedule, having taken some of the curves and bridges at a speed a little beyond
the law. The engineer was richer by five dollars, and the son of a railroad
president is a privileged character, anyway.
Yes, here was Brampton, and in spite of the haze the sun had never shone so
brightly on the terraced steeple of the meeting-house. He leaped out of the cab
almost before the engine had stopped, and beamed upon everybody on the
platform,—even upon Mr. Dodd, who chanced to be there. In a twinkling the young
man is in Mr. Sherman's hack, and Mr. Sherman galloping his horse down Brampton
Street, the young man with his head out of the window, smiling; grinning would
be a better word. Here are the iron mastiffs, and they seem to be grinning, too.
The young man flings open the carriage door and leaps out, and the door is
almost broken from its hinges by the maple tree. He rushes up the steps and
through the hall, and into the library, where the first citizen and his
seneschal are sitting.
"Hello, Father, you see I didn't waste any time," he cried; grasping his
father's hand in a grip that made Mr. Worthington wince. "Well, you are a trump,
after all. We're both a little hot-headed, I guess, and do things we're sorry
for,—but that's all over now, isn't it? I'm sorry. I might have known you'd come
round when you found out for yourself what kind of a girl Cynthia was. Did you
ever see anybody like her?"
Mr. Flint turned his back, and started to walk out of the room.
"Don't go, Flint, old boy," Bob called out, seizing Mr. Flint's hand, too. "I
can't stay but a minute, now. How are you?"
"All right, Bob," answered Mr. Flint, with a curious, kindly look in his eyes
that was not often there. "I'm glad to see you home. I have to go to the bank."
"Well, Father," said Bob, "school must be out, and I imagine you know where
I'm going. I just thought I'd stop in to—to thank you, and get a benediction."
"I am very happy to have you back, Robert," replied Mr. Worthington, and it
was true. It would have been strange indeed if some tremor of sentiment had not
been in his voice and some gleam of pride in his eye as he looked upon his son.
"So you saw her, and couldn't resist her," said Bob. "Wasn't that how it
Mr. Worthington sat down again at the desk, and his hand began to stray among
the papers. He was thinking of Mr. Flint's exit.
"I do not arrive at my decisions quite in that way, Robert," he answered.
"But you have seen her?"
"Yes, I have seen her."
There was a hesitation, an uneasiness in his father's tone for which Bob
could not account, and which he attributed to emotion. He did not guess that
this hour of supreme joy could hold for Isaac Worthington another sensation.
"Isn't she the finest girl in the world?" he demanded. "How does she seem?
How does she look?"
"She looks extremely well," said Mr. Worthington, who had now schooled his
voice. "In fact, I am quite ready to admit that Cynthia Wetherell possesses the
qualifications necessary for your wife. If she had not, I should never have
Bob walked to the window.
"Father;" he said, speaking with a little difficulty, "I can't tell you how
much I appreciate your—your coming round. I wanted to do the right thing, but I
just couldn't give up such a girl as that."
"We shall let bygones be bygones, Robert," answered Mr. Worthington, clearing
"She never would have me without your consent. By the way," he cried, turning
suddenly, "did she say she'd have me now?"
"I believe," said Mr. Worthington, clearing his throat again, "I believe she
reserved her decision."
"I must be off," said Bob, "she goes to Coniston on Fridays. I'll drive her
out. Good-by, Father."
He flew out of the room, ran into Mrs. Holden, whom he astonished by saluting
on the cheek, and astonished even more by asking her to tell Silas to drive his
black horses to Gabriel Post's house—as the cottage was still known in Brampton.
And having hastily removed some of the cinders, he flew out of the door and
reached the park-like space in the middle of Brampton Street. Then he tried to
walk decorously, but it was hard work. What if she should not be in?
The door and windows of the little house were open that balmy afternoon, and
the bees were buzzing among the flowers which Cynthia had planted on either side
of the step. Bob went up the path, and caught a glimpse of her through the entry
standing in the sitting room. She was, indeed, waiting for the Coniston stage,
and she did not see him. Shall I destroy the mental image of the reader who has
known her so long by trying to tell what she looked like? Some heroines grow
thin and worn by the troubles which they are forced to go through. Cynthia was
not this kind of a heroine. She was neither tall nor short, and the dark blue
gown which she wore set off (so Bob thought) the curves of her figure to
perfection. Her face had become a little more grave—yes, and more noble; and the
eyes and mouth had an indescribable, womanly sweetness.
He stood for a moment outside the doorway gazing at her; hesitating to
desecrate that revery, which seemed to him to have a touch of sadness in it. And
then she turned her head, slowly, and saw him, and her lips parted, and a
startled look came into her eyes, but she did not move. He came quickly into the
room and stopped again, quivering from head to foot with the passion which the
sight of her never failed to unloose within him. Still she did not speak, but
her lip trembled, and the love leaping in his eyes kindled a yearning in hers,—a
yearning she was powerless to resist. He may by that strange power have drawn
her toward him—he never knew. Neither of them could have given evidence on that
marvellous instant when the current bridged the space between them. He could not
say whether this woman whom he had seized by force before had shown alike
vitality in her surrender. He only knew that her arms were woven about his neck,
and that the kiss of which he had dreamed was again on his lips, and that he
felt once more her wonderful, supple body pressed against his, and her heart
beating, and her breast heaving. And he knew that the strength of the love in
her which he had gained was beyond estimation.
Thus for a time they swung together in ethereal space, breathless with the
motion of their flight. The duration of such moments is—in words—limitless. Now
he held her against him, and again he held her away that his eyes might feast
upon hers until she dropped her lashes and the crimson tide flooded into her
face and she hid it again in the refuge she had longed for,—murmuring his name.
But at last, startled by some sound without and so brought back to earth, she
led him gently to the window at the side and looked up at him searchingly. He
was tanned no longer.
"I was afraid you had been working too hard," she said.
"So you do love me?" was Bob's answer to this remark.
Cynthia smiled at him with her eyes: gravely, if such a thing may be said of
"Bob, how can you ask?"
"Oh, Cynthia," he cried, "if you knew what I have been through, you wouldn't
have held out, I know it. I began to think I should never have you."
"But you have me now," she said, and was silent.
"Why do you look like that?" he asked.
She smiled up at him again.
"I, too, have suffered, Bob," she said. "And I have thought of you night and
"God bless you, sweetheart," he cried, and kissed her again,—many times.
"It's all right now, isn't it? I knew my father would give his consent when he
found out what you were."
The expression of pain which had troubled him crossed her face again, and she
put her hand on his shoulder.
"Listen, dearest," she said, "I love you. I am doing this for you. You must
"Why, yes, Cynthia, I understand it—of course I do," he answered, perplexed.
"I understand it, but I don't deserve it."
"I want you to know," she continued in a low voice, "that I should have
married you anyway. I—I could not have helped it."
"If you were to go back to the locomotive works' tomorrow, I would marry
"On ninety dollars a month?" exclaimed Bob.
"If you wanted me," she said.
"Wanted you! I could live in a log cabin with you the rest of my life."
She drew down his face to hers, and kissed him.
"But I wished you to be reconciled with your father," she said; "I could not
bear to come between you. You—you are reconciled, aren't you?"
"Indeed, we are," he said.
"I am glad, Bob," she answered simply. "I should not have been happy if I had
driven you away from the place where you should be, which is your home."
"Wherever you are will be my home; sweetheart," he said, and pressed her to
him once more.
At length, looking past his shoulder into the street, she saw Lem Hallowell
pulling up the Brampton stage before the door.
"Bob," she said, "I must go to Coniston and see Uncle Jethro. I promised
Bob's answer was to walk into the entry, where he stood waving the most
joyous of greetings at the surprised stage driver.
"I guess you won't get anybody here, Lem," he called out.
"But, Bob," protested Cynthia, from within, afraid to show her face just
then, "I have to go, I promised. And—and I want to go," she added when he
"I'm running a stage to Coniston to-day myself, Lem," said he "and I'm going
to steal your best passenger."
Lemuel immediately flung down his reins and jumped out of the stage and came
up the path and into the entry, where he stood confronting Cynthia.
"Hev you took him, Cynthy?" he demanded.
"Yes, Lem," she answered, "won't you congratulate me?"
The warm-hearted stage driver did congratulate her in a most unmistakable
"I think a sight of her, Bob," he said after he had shaken both of Bob's
hands and brushed his own eyes with his coat sleeve. "I've knowed her so long—"
Whereupon utterance failed him, and he ran down the path and jumped into his
stage again and drove off.
And then Cynthia sent Bob on an errand—not a very long one, and while he was
gone, she sat down at the table and tried to realize her happiness, and failed.
In less than ten minutes Bob had come back with Cousin Ephraim, as fast as he
could hobble. He flung his arms around her, stick and all, and he was crying. It
is a fact that old soldiers sometimes cry. But his tears did not choke his
"Great Tecumseh!" said Cousin Ephraim, "so you've went and done it, Cynthy.
Siege got a little mite too hot. I callated she'd capitulate in the end, but she
held out uncommon long."
"That she did," exclaimed Bob, feelingly.
"I—I was tellin' Bob I hain't got nothin' against him," continued Ephraim.
"Oh, Cousin Eph," said Cynthia, laughing in spite of herself, and glancing at
Bob, "is that all you can say?"
"Cousin Eph's all right," said Bob, laughing too. "We understand each other."
"Callate we do," answered Ephraim. "I'll go so far as to say there hain't
nobody I'd ruther see you marry. Guess I'll hev to go back to the kit, now.
What's to become of the old pensioner, Cynthy?"
"The old pensioner needn't worry," said Cynthia.
Then drove up Silas the Silent, with Bob's buggy and his black trotters. All
of Brampton might see them now; and all of Brampton did see them. Silas got
out,—his presence not being required,—and Cynthia was helped in, and Bob got in
beside her, and away they went, leaving Ephraim waving his stick after them from
It is recorded against the black trotters that they made very poor time to
Coniston that day, though I cannot discover that either of them was lame. Lem
Hallowell, who was there nearly an hour ahead of them, declares that the off
horse had a bunch of branches in his mouth. Perhaps Bob held them in on account
of the scenery that September afternoon. Incomparable scenery! I doubt if two
lovers of the renaissance ever wandered through a more wondrous realm of
pleasance—to quote the words of the poet. Spots in it are like a park, laid out
by that peerless landscape gardener, nature: dark, symmetrical pine trees on the
sward, and maples in the fulness of their leaf, and great oaks on the hillsides,
and, coppices; and beyond, the mountain, the evergreens massed like
cloud-shadows on its slopes; and all-trees and coppice and mountain—flattened by
the haze until they seemed woven in the softest of blues and blue greens into
one exquisite picture of an ancient tapestry. I, myself, have seen these
pictures in that country, and marvelled.
So they drove on through that realm, which was to be their realm, and came
all too soon to Coniston green. Lem Hallowell had spread the well-nigh
incredible news, that Cynthia Wetherell was to marry the son of the mill-owner
and railroad president of Brampton, and it seemed to Cynthia that every man and
woman and child of the village was gathered at the store. Although she loved
them, every one, she whispered something to Bob when she caught sight of that
group on the platform, and he spoke to the trotters. Thus it happened that they
flew by, and were at the tannery house before they knew it; and Cynthia, all
unaided, sprang out of the buggy and ran in, alone. She found Jethro sitting
outside of the kitchen door with a volume on his knee, and she saw that the
print of it was large, and she knew that the book was "Robinson Crusoe."
Cynthia knelt down on the grass beside him and caught his hands in hers.
"Uncle Jethro," she said, "I am going to marry Bob Worthington."
"Yes, Cynthy," he answered. And taking the initiative for the first time in
his life, he stooped down and kissed her.
"I knew—you would be happy—in my happiness," she said, the tears brimming in
"N-never have been so happy, Cynthy,—never have."
"Uncle Jethro, I never will desert you. I shall always take care of you."
"R-read to me sometimes, Cynthy—r-read to me?"
But she could not answer him. She was sobbing on the pages of that book he
had given her—long ago.
I like to dwell on happiness, and I am reluctant to leave these people whom I
have grown to love. Jethro Bass lived to take Cynthia's children down by the
brook and to show them the pictures, at least, in that wonderful edition of
"Robinson Crusoe." He would never depart from the tannery house, but Cynthia
went to him there, many times a week. There is a spot not far from the Coniston
road, and five miles distant alike from Brampton and Coniston, where Bob
Worthington built his house, and where he and Cynthia dwelt many years; and they
go there to this day, in the summer-time. It stands in the midst of broad lands,
and the ground in front of it slopes down to Coniston Water, artificially
widened here by a stone dam into a little lake. From the balcony of the
summer-house which overhangs the lake there is a wonderful view of Coniston
Mountain, and Cynthia Worthington often sits there with her sewing or her book,
listening to the laughter of her children, and thinking, sometimes, of bygone