The Old Stone House





I was riding along one autumn day through a certain wooded portion of

New York State, when I came suddenly upon an old stone house in which

the marks of age were in such startling contrast to its unfinished

condition that I involuntarily stopped my horse and took a long survey

of the lonesome structure. Embowered in a forest which had so grown in

thickness and height since the erection of this building that the

boughs of some of the tallest trees almost met across its decayed

roof, it presented even at first view an appearance of picturesque

solitude almost approaching to desolation. But when my eye had time to

note that the moss was clinging to eaves from under which the

scaffolding had never been taken, and that of the ten large windows in

the blackened front of the house only two had ever been furnished

with frames, the awe of some tragic mystery began to creep over me,

and I sat and wondered at the sight till my increasing interest

compelled me to alight and take a nearer view of the place.



The great front door which had been finished so many years ago, but

which had never been hung, leaned against the side of the house, of

which it had almost become a part, so long had they clung together

amid the drippings of innumerable rains. Close beside it yawned the

entrance, a large black gap through which nearly a century of storms

had rushed with their winds and wet till the lintels were green with

moisture and slippery with rot. Standing on this untrod threshold, I

instinctively glanced up at the scaffolding above me, and started as I

noticed that it had partially fallen away, as if time were weakening

its supports and making the precipitation of the whole a threatening

possibility. Alarmed lest it might fall while I stood there, I did not

linger long beneath it, but, with a shudder which I afterwards

remembered, stepped into the house and proceeded to inspect its

rotting, naked, and unfinished walls. I found them all in the one

condition. A fine house had once been planned and nearly completed,

but it had been abandoned before the hearths had been tiled, or the

wainscoting nailed to its place. The staircase which ran up through

the centre of the house was without banisters but otherwise finished

and in a state of fair preservation. Seeing this and not being able to

resist the temptation which it offered me of inspecting the rest of

the house, I ascended to the second story.



Here the doors were hung and the fireplaces bricked, and as I wandered

from room to room I wondered more than ever what had caused the

desertion of so promising a dwelling. If, as appeared, the first owner

had died suddenly, why could not an heir have been found, and what

could be the story of a place so abandoned and left to destruction

that its walls gave no token of ever having offered shelter to a human

being? As I could not answer this question I allowed my imagination

full play, and was just forming some weird explanation of the facts

before me when I felt my arm suddenly seized from behind, and paused

aghast. Was I then not alone in the deserted building? Was there some

solitary being who laid claim to its desolation and betrayed jealousy

at any intrusion within its mysterious precincts? Or was the dismal

place haunted by some uneasy spirit, who with long, uncanny fingers

stood ready to clutch the man who presumed to bring living hopes and

fears into a spot dedicated entirely to memories? I had scarcely the

courage to ask, but when I turned and saw what it was that had alarmed

me, I did not know whether to laugh at my fears or feel increased awe

of my surroundings. For it was the twigs of a tree which had seized

me, and for a long limb such as this to have grown into a place

intended for the abode of man, necessitated a lapse of time and a

depth of solitude oppressive to think of.



Anxious to be rid of suggestions wellnigh bordering upon the

superstitious, I took one peep from the front windows, and then

descended to the first floor. The sight of my horse quietly dozing in

the summer sunlight had reassured me, and by the time I had recrossed

the dismal threshold, and regained the cheerful highway, I was

conscious of no emotions deeper than the intense interest of a curious

mind to solve the mystery and understand the secret of this remarkable

house.



Rousing my horse from his comfortable nap, I rode on through the

forest; but scarcely had I gone a dozen rods before the road took a

turn, the trees suddenly parted, and I found myself face to face with

wide rolling meadows and a busy village. So, then, this ancient and

deserted house was not in the heart of the woods, as I had imagined,

but in the outskirts of a town, and face to face with life and

activity. This discovery was a shock to my romance, but as it gave my

curiosity an immediate hope of satisfaction, I soon became reconciled

to the situation, and taking the road which led to the village, drew

up before the inn and went in, ostensibly for refreshment. This being

speedily provided, I sat down in the cosy dining-room, and as soon as

opportunity offered, asked the attentive landlady why the old house in

the woods had remained so long deserted.



She gave me an odd look, and then glanced aside at an old man who sat

doubled up in the opposite corner. "It is a long story," said she,

"and I am busy now; but later, if you wish to hear it, I will tell you

all we know on the subject. After father is gone out," she whispered.

"It always excites him to hear any talk about that old place."



I saw that it did. I had no sooner mentioned the house than his white

head lifted itself with something like spirit, and his form, which had

seemed a moment before so bent and aged, straightened with an interest

that made him look almost hale again.



"I will tell you," he broke in; "I am not busy. I was ninety last

birthday, and I forget sometimes my grandchildren's names, but I never

forget what took place in that old house one night fifty years

ago--never, never."



"I know, I know," hastily interposed his daughter, "you remember

beautifully; but this gentleman wishes to eat his dinner now, and must

not have his appetite interfered with. You will wait, will you not,

sir, till I have a little more leisure?"



What could I answer but Yes, and what could the poor old man do but

shrink back into his corner, disappointed and abashed. Yet I was not

satisfied, nor was he, as I could see by the appealing glances he gave

me now and then from under the fallen masses of his long white hair.

But the landlady was complaisant and moved about the table and in and

out of the room with a bustling air that left us but little

opportunity for conversation. At length she was absent somewhat longer

than usual, whereupon the old man, suddenly lifting his head, cried

out:



"She cannot tell the story. She has no feeling for it; she wasn't

there."



"And you were," I ventured.



"Yes, yes, I was there, always there; and I see it all now," he

murmured. "Fifty years ago, and I see it all as if it were happening

at this moment before my eyes. But she will not let me talk about it,"

he complained, as the sound of her footsteps was heard again on the

kitchen boards. "Though it makes me young again, she always stops me

just as if I were a child. But she cannot help my showing you--"



Here her steps became audible in the hall, and his words died away on

his lips. By the time she had entered, he was seated with his head

half turned aside, and his form bent over as if he were in spirit a

thousand miles from the spot.



Amused at his cunning, and interested in spite of myself at the

childish eagerness he displayed to tell his tale, I waited with a

secret impatience almost as great as his own perhaps, for her to leave

the room again, and thus give him the opportunity of finishing his

sentence. At last there came an imperative call for her presence

without, and she hurried away. She was no sooner gone than the old man

exclaimed:



"I have it all written down. I wrote it years and years ago, at the

very time it happened. She cannot keep me from showing you that; no,

no, she cannot keep me from showing you that." And rising to his feet

with a difficulty that for the first time revealed to me the full

extent of his infirmity, he hobbled slowly across the floor to the

open door, through which he passed with many cunning winks and nods.



"It grows quite exciting," thought I, and half feared his daughter

would not allow him to return. But either she was too much engrossed

to heed him, or had been too much deceived by his seeming indifference

when she last entered the room, to suspect the errand which had taken

him out of it. For sooner than I had expected, and quite some few

minutes before she came back herself, he shuffled in again, carrying

under his coat a roll of yellow paper, which he thrust into my hand

with a gratified leer, saying:



"There it is. I was a gay young lad in those days, and could go and

come with the best. Read it, sir, read it; and if Maria says anything

against it, tell her it was written long before she was born and when

I was as pert as she is now, and a good deal more observing."



Chuckling with satisfaction, he turned away, and had barely

disappeared in the hall when she came in and saw me with the roll in

my hand.



"Well! I declare!" she exclaimed; "and has he been bringing you that?

What ever shall I do with him and his everlasting manuscript? You will

pardon him, sir; he is ninety and upwards, and thinks everybody is as

interested in the story of that old house as he is himself."



"And I, for one, am," was my hasty reply. "If the writing is at all

legible, I am anxious to read it. You won't object, will you?"



"Oh, no," was her good-humored rejoinder. "I won't object; I only hate

to have father's mind roused on this subject, because he is sure to be

sick after it. But now that you have the story, read it; whether you

will think as he did, on a certain point, is another question. I

don't; but then father always said I would never believe ill of

anybody."



Her smile certainly bore out her words, it was so good-tempered and

confiding; and pleased with her manner in spite of myself, I accepted

her invitation to make use of her own little parlor, and sat down in

the glow of a brilliant autumn afternoon to read this old-time

history.



* * * * *



Will Juliet be at home to-day? She must know that I am coming. When I

met her this morning, tripping back from the farm, I gave her a look

which, if she cares anything about me, must have told her that I would

be among the lads who would be sure to pay her their respects at early

candle-light. For I cannot resist her saucy pout and dancing dimples

any longer. Though I am barely twenty, I am a man, and one who is

quite forehanded and able to take unto himself a wife. Ralph

Urphistone has both wife and babe, and he was only twenty-one last

August. Why, then, should I not go courting, when the prettiest maid

that has graced the town for many a year holds out the guerdon of her

smiles to all who will vie for them?



To be sure, the fact that she has more than one wooer already may be

considered detrimental to my success. But love is fed by rivalry, and

if Colonel Schuyler does not pay her his addresses, I think my chances

may be considered as good as any one's. For am I not the tallest and

most straightly built man in town, and have I not a little cottage all

my own, with the neatest of gardens behind it, and an apple-tree in

front whose blossoms hang ready to shower themselves like rain upon

the head of her who will enter there as a bride? It is not yet dark,

but I will forestall the sunset by a half hour and begin my visit now.

If I am first at her gate, Lemuel Phillips may look less arrogant

when he comes to ask her company to the next singing school.



* * * * *



I was not first at her gate; two others were there before me. Ah, she

is prettier than ever I supposed, and chirper than the sparrow which

builds every year a nest in my old apple-tree. When she saw me come up

the walk, her cheeks turned pink, but I do not know if it was from

pleasure or annoyance, for she gave nothing but vexing replies to

every compliment I paid her. But then Lemuel Phillips fared no better;

and she was so bitter-sweet to Orrin Day that he left in a huff and

vowed he would never step across her threshold again. I thought she

was a trifle more serious after he had gone, but when a woman's eyes

are as bright as hers, and the frowns and smiles with which she

disports herself chase each other so rapidly over a face both

mischievous and charming, a man's judgment goes astray, and he

scarcely knows reality from seeming. But true or false, she is pretty

as a harebell and bright as glinting sunshine; and I mean to marry

her, if only Colonel Schuyler will hold himself aloof.



Colonel Schuyler may hold himself aloof, but he is a man like the rest

of us for all that. Yesterday as I was sauntering in the churchyard

waiting for the appearance of a certain white-robed figure crowned by

the demurest of little hats, I caught a glimpse of his face as he

leaned on one of the tombstones near Patience Goodyear's grave, and I

saw that he was waiting also for the same white figure and the same

demure hat. This gave me a shock; for though I had never really dared

to hope he would remain unmoved by a loveliness so rare in our

village, and indeed, as I take it, in any village, I did not think he

would show so much impatience, or await her appearance with such

burning and uncontrollable ardor.



Indeed I was so affected by his look that I forgot to watch any longer

for her coming, but kept my gaze fixed on his countenance, till I saw

by the change which rapidly took place in it that she had stepped out

of the great church door and was now standing before us, making the

sunshine more brilliant by her smiles, and the spring the sweeter for

her presence.



Then I came to myself and rushed forward with the rest of the lads.

Did he follow behind us? I do not think so, for the rosy lips which

had smiled upon us with so airy a welcome soon showed a discontented

curve not to be belied by the merry words that issued from them, and

when we would have escorted her across the fields to her father's

house, she made a mocking curtsy, and wandered away with the ugliest

old crone who mouths and mumbles in the meeting-house. Did she do this

to mock us or him? If to mock him he had best take care, for beauty

scorned is apt to grow dangerous. But perhaps it was to mock us? Well,

well, there would be nothing new in that; she is ever mocking us.



* * * * *



They say the Colonel passes her gate a dozen times a day, but never

goes in and never looks up. Is he indifferent then? I cannot think so.

Perhaps he fears her caprices and disapproves of her coquetry. If that

is so, she shall be my wife before he wakens to the knowledge that her

coquetry hides a passionate and loving heart.



Colonel Schuyler is a dark man. He has eyes which pierce you, and a

smile which, if it could be understood, might perhaps be less

fascinating than it is. If she has noticed his watching her, the

little heart that flutters in her breast must have beaten faster by

many a throb. For he is the one great man within twenty miles, and so

handsome and above us all that I do not know of a woman but Juliet

whose voice does not sink a tone lower whenever she speaks of him. But

he is a proud man, and seems to take no notice of any one. Indeed he

scarcely appears to live in our world. Will he come down from his high

estate at the beck of this village beauty? Many say not, but I say

yes; with those eyes of his he cannot help it.



* * * * *



Juliet is more capricious than ever. Lemuel Phillips for one is tired

of it, and imitating Orrin Day, bade her a good-even to-night which I

am sure he does not intend to follow with a blithe good-morrow.



I might do the same if her pleading eyes would let me. But she seems

to cling to me even when she is most provokingly saucy; and though I

cannot see any love in her manner, there is something in it very

different from hate; and this it is which holds me. Can a woman be too

pretty for her own happiness, and are many lovers a weariness to the

heart?



* * * * *



Juliet is positively unhappy. To-day when she laughed the gayest it

was to hide her tears, and no one, not even a thoroughly spoiled

beauty, could be as wayward as she if there were not some bitter arrow

rankling in her heart. She was riding down the street on a pillion

behind her father, and Colonel Schuyler, who had been leaning on the

gate in front of his house, turned his back upon her and went inside

when he saw her coming. Was this what made her so white and reckless

when she came up to where I was standing with Orrin Day, and was it

her chagrin at the great man's apparent indifference which gave that

sharp edge to the good-morning with which she rode haughtily away? If

it was I can forgive you, my lady-bird, for there is reason for your

folly if I am any judge of my fellow-men. Colonel Schuyler is not

indifferent but circumspect, and circumspection in a lover is an

insult to his lady's charms.



* * * * *



She knows now what I knew a week ago. Colonel Schuyler is in love with

her and will marry her if she does not play the coquette with him. He

has been to her house and her father already holds his head higher as

he paces up and down the street. I am left in the lurch, and if I had

not foreseen this end to my hopes, might have been a very miserable

man to-night. For I was near obtaining the object of my heart, as I

know from her own lips, though the words were not intended for my

ears. You see I was the one who surprised him talking with her in the

garden. I had been walking around the place on the outer side of the

wall as I often did from pure love for her, and not knowing she was on

the other side was very much startled when I heard her voice speaking

my name; so much startled that I stood still in my astonishment and

thus heard her say:



"Philo Adams has a little cottage all his own and I can be mistress of

it any day,--or so he tells me. I had rather go into that little

cottage where every board I trod on would be my own, than live in the

grandest room you could give me in a house of which I would not be the

mistress."



"But if I make a home for you," he pleaded, "grand as my father's, but

built entirely for you--"



"Ah!" was her soft reply, "that might make me listen to you, for I

should then think you loved me."



The wall was between us, but I could see her face as she said this as

plainly as if I had been the fortunate man at her side. And I could

see his face too, though it was only in fancy I had ever beheld it

soften as I knew it must be softening now. Silence such as followed

her words is eloquent, and I feared my own passions too much to linger

till it should be again broken by vows I had not the courage to hear.

So I crept away conscious of but one thing, which was that my dream

was ended, and that my brave apple-tree would never shower its bridal

blossoms upon the head I love, for whatever threshold she crosses as

mistress it will not now be that of the little cottage every board of

which might have been her own.



* * * * *



If I had doubted the result of the Colonel's offer to Juliet, the news

which came to me this morning would have convinced me that all was

well with them and that their marriage was simply a matter of time.

Ground has been broken in the pleasant opening on the verge of the

forest, and carts and men hired to bring stone for the fine new

dwelling Colonel Schuyler proposes to rear for himself. The whole town

is agog, but I keep the secret I surprised, and only Juliet knows that

I am no longer deceived as to her feelings, for I did not go to see

her to-night for the first time since I made up mind that I would have

her for my wife. I am glad I restrained myself, for Orrin Day, who had

kept his word valiantly up to this very day, came riding by my house

furiously a half hour ago, and seeing me, called out:



"Why didn't you tell me she had a new adorer? I went there to-night

and Colonel Schuyler sat at her side as you and I never sat yet,

and--and--" he stammered frantically, "I did not kill him."



"You--Come back!" I shouted, for he was flying by like the wind. But

he did not heed me nor stop, but vanished in the thick darkness, while

the lessening sound of his horse's hoofs rang dismally back from the

growing distance.



So this man has loved her passionately too, and the house which is

destined to rise in the woods will throw a shadow over more than one

hearthstone in this quiet village. I declare I am sorry that Orrin has

taken it so much to heart, for he has a proud and determined spirit,

and will not forget his wrongs as soon as it would be wise for him to

do. Poor, poor Juliet, are you making enemies against your bridal day?

If so, it behooves me at least to remain your friend.



* * * * *



I saw Orrin again to-day, and he looks like one haunted. He was riding

as usual, and his cloak flew out behind him as he sped down the street

and away into the woods. I wonder if she too saw him, from behind her

lattice. I thought I detected the curtain move as he thundered by her

gate, but I am so filled with thoughts of her just now that I cannot

always trust my judgment. I am, however, sure of one thing, and that

is that if Colonel Schuyler and Orrin meet, there will be trouble.



* * * * *



I never thought Orrin handsome till to-day. He is fair, and I like

dark men; and he is small, and I admire men of stature. But when I

came upon him this morning, talking and laughing among a group of lads

like ourselves, I could not but see that his blue eye shone with a

fire that made it as brilliant as any dark one could be, and that in

his manner, verging as it did upon the reckless, there was a spirit

and force which made him look both dangerous and fascinating. He was

haranguing them on a question of the day, but when he saw me he

stepped out of the crowd, and, beckoning me to follow him, led the way

to a retired spot, where, the instant we were free from watching eyes,

he turned and said: "You liked her too, Philo Adams. I should have

been willing if you--" Here he choked and paused. I had never seen a

face so full of fiery emotions. "No, no, no," he went on, after a

moment of silent struggle; "I could not have borne it to see any man

take away what was so precious to me. I--I--I did not know I cared for

her so much," he now explained, observing my look of surprise. "She

teased me and put me off, and coquetted with you and Lemuel and

whoever else happened to be at her side till I grew beside myself and

left her, as I thought, forever. But there are women you can leave and

women you cannot, and when I found she teased and fretted me more at a

distance than when she was under my very eye, I went back only to

find--Philo, do you think he will marry her?"



I choked down my own emotions and solemnly answered: "Yes, he is

building her a home. You must have seen the stones that are being

piled up yonder on the verge of the forest."



He turned, glared at me, made a peculiar sound with his lips, and then

stood silent, opening and closing his hands in a way that made my

blood run chill in spite of myself.



"A house!" he murmured, at last; "I wish I had the building of that

house!"



The tone, the look he gave, alarmed me still further.



"You would build it well!" I cried. It was his trade, the building of

houses.



"I would build it slowly," was his ominous answer.



* * * * *



Juliet certainly likes me, and trusts me, I think, more than any other

of the young men who used to go a-courting her. I have seen it for

some time in the looks she has now and then given me across the

meeting-house during the long sermon on Sunday mornings, but to-day I

am sure of it. For she has spoken to me, and asked me--But let me

tell you how it was: We were all standing under Ralph Urphistone's big

tree, looking at his little one toddling over the grass after a ball

one of the lads had thrown after her, when I felt the slightest touch

on my arm, and, glancing round, saw Juliet.



She was standing beside her father, and if ever she looked pretty it

was just then, for the day was warm and she had taken off her great

hat so that the curls flew freely around her face that was dimpled and

flushed with some feeling which did not allow her to lift her eyes.

Had she touched me? I thought so, and yet I did not dare to take it

for granted, for Colonel Schuyler was standing on the edge of the

crowd, frowning in some displeasure at the bare head of his provoking

little betrothed, and when Colonel Schuyler frowns there is no man of

us but Orrin who would dare approach the object of his preference,

much less address her, except in the coldest courtesy.



But I was sure she had something to say to me, so I lingered under the

tree till the crowd had all dispersed and Colonel Schuyler, drawn away

by her father, had left us for a moment face to face. Then I saw I was

right.



"Philo," she murmured, and oh, how her face changed! "you are my

friend, I know you are my friend, because you alone out of them all

have never given me sharp words; will you, will you do something for

me which will make me less miserable, something which may prevent

wrong and trouble, and keep Orrin--"



Orrin? did she call him Orrin?



"Oh," she cried, "you have no sympathy. You--"



"Hush!" I entreated. "You have not treated me well, but I am always

your friend. What do you want me to do?"



She trembled, glanced around her in the pleasant sunshine, and then up

into my face.



"I want you," she murmured, "to keep Orrin and Colonel Schuyler apart.

You are Orrin's friend; stay with him, keep by him, do not let him run

alone upon his enemy, for--for there is danger in their

meeting--and--and--"



She could not say more, for just then her father and the Colonel came

back, and she had barely time to call up her dimples and toss her head

in merry banter before they were at her side.



As for myself, I stood dazed and confused, feeling that my six feet

made me too conspicuous, and longing in a vague and futile way to let

her know without words that I would do what she asked.



And I think I did accomplish it, though I said nothing to her and but

little to her companions. For when we parted I took the street which

leads directly to Orrin's house; and when Colonel Schuyler queried in

his soft and gentlemanlike way why I left them so soon, I managed to

reply:



"My road lies here"; and so left them.



* * * * *



I have not told Orrin what she said, but I am rarely away from his

vicinity now, during those hours when he is free to come and go about

the village. I think he wonders at my persistent friendship,

sometimes, but he says nothing, and is not even disagreeable to--me.

So I share his pleasures, if they are pleasures, expecting every day

to see him run across the Colonel in the tavern or on the green; but

he never does, perhaps because the Colonel is always with her now, and

we are not nor are ever likely to be again.



Do I understand her, or do I understand Orrin, or do I even understand

myself? No, but I understand my duty, and that is enough, though it is

sometimes hard to do it, and I would rather be where I could forget,

instead of being where I am forced continually to remember.



* * * * *



Am I always with Orrin when he is not at work or asleep? I begin to

doubt it. There are times when there is such a change in him that I

feel sure he has been near her, or at least seen her, but where or

how, I do not know and cannot even suspect. He never speaks of her,

not now, but he watches the house slowly rising in the forest, as if

he would lay a spell upon it. Not that he visits it by daylight, or

mingles with the men who are busy laying stone upon stone; no, no, he

goes to it at night, goes when the moon and stars alone shed light

upon its growing proportions; and standing before it, seems to count

each stone which has been added through the day, as if he were

reckoning up the months yet remaining to him of life and happiness.



I never speak to him during these expeditions. I go with him because

he does not forbid me to do so, but we never exchange a word till we

have left the forest behind us and stand again within the village

streets. If I did speak I might learn something of what is going on in

his bitter and burning heart, but I never have the courage to do so,

perhaps because I had rather not know what he plans or purposes.



She is not as daintily rounded as she was once. Her cheek is thinner,

and there is a tremulous move to her lip I never saw in it in the old

coquettish days. Is she not happy in her betrothal, or are her fears

of Orrin greater than her confidence in me? It must be the latter, for

Colonel Schuyler is a lover in a thousand, and scarcely a day passes

without some new evidence of his passionate devotion. She ought to be

happy, if she is not, and I am sure there is not another woman in town

but would feel herself the most favored of her sex if she had the half

of Juliet's prospects before her. But Juliet was ever wayward; and

simply because she ought to increase in beauty and joy, she pales and

pines and gets delicate, and makes the hearts of her lovers grow mad

with fear and longing.



* * * * *



Where have I been? What have I seen, and what do the events of this

night portend? As Orrin and myself were returning from our usual visit

to the house in the woods--it is well up now, and its huge empty

square looms weirdly enough in the moonlighted forest,--we came out

upon the churchyard in front of the meeting-house, and Orrin said:



"You may come with me or not, I do not care; but I am going in amongst

these graves. I feel like holding companionship with dead people

to-night."



"Then so do I," said I, for I was not deceived by his words. It was

not to hold companionship with the dead, but with the living, that he

chose to linger there. The churchyard is in a direct line with her

house, and, sitting on the meeting-house steps one can get a very good

view of the windows of her room.



"Very well," he sighed, and disdained to say more.



As for myself, I felt too keenly the weirdness of the whole situation

to do more than lean my back against a tree and wait till his fancy

wearied of the moonlight and silence. The stones about us, glooming

darkly through the night, were not the most cheerful of companions,

and when you add to this the soughing of the willows and the

flickering shadows which rose and fell over the face of the

meeting-house as the branches moved in the wind, you can understand

why I rather regretted the hitherto gloomy enough hour we were

accustomed to spend in the forest.



But Orrin seemed to regret nothing. He had seated himself where I knew

he would, on the steps of the meeting-house, and was gazing, with chin

sunk in his two hands, down the street where Juliet dwelt. I do not

think he expected anything to happen; I think he was only reckless and

sick with a longing he had not the power to repress, and I watched him

as long as I could for my own inner sickness and longing, and when I

could watch no longer I turned to the gnomish gravestones that were no

more motionless or silent than he.



Suddenly I felt myself shiver and start, and, turning, beheld him

standing erect, a black shadow against the moonlighted wall behind

him. He was still gazing down the street but no longer in apathetic

despair, but with quivering emotion visible in every line of his

trembling form. Reaching his side, I looked where he looked, and saw

Juliet--it must have been Juliet to arouse him so,--standing with some

companion at the gate in the wall that opens upon the street. The

next moment she and the person with her stepped into the street, and,

almost before we realized it, they began to move towards us, as if

drawn by some power in Orrin or myself, straight, straight to this

abode of death and cold moonbeams.



It was not late, but the streets were otherwise deserted, and we four

seemed to be alone in the whole world. Breathing with Orrin and almost

clasping his hand in my oneness with him, I watched and watched the

gliding approach of the two lovers, and knew not whether to be

startled or satisfied when I saw them cross to the churchyard and

enter where we had entered ourselves so short a time before. For us

all to meet, and meet here, seemed suddenly strangely natural, and I

hardly knew what Orrin meant when he grasped me forcibly by the arm

and drew me aside into the darkest of the dark shadows which lay in

the churchyard's farthest corner.



Not till I perceived Juliet and the Colonel halt in the moonlight did

I realize that we were nothing to them, and that it was not our

influence but some purpose or passion of their own which had led them

to this gruesome spot.



The place where they had chosen to pause was at the grave of old

Patience Goodyear, and from the corner where we stood we could see

their faces plainly as they turned and looked at each other with the

moonbeams pouring over them. Was it fancy that made her look like a

wraith, and he like some handsome demon given to haunting churchyards?

Or was it only the sternness of his air, and the shrinking timidity of

hers, which made him look so dark and she so pallid.



Orrin, who stood so close to me that I could hear his heart beat as

loudly as my own, had evidently asked himself the same question, for

his hand closed spasmodically on mine, as the Colonel opened his lips,

and neither of us dared so much as to breathe lest we should lose what

the lovers had to say.



But the Colonel spoke clearly, if low, and neither of us could fail to

hear him as he said:



"I have brought you here, Juliet mine, because I want to hear you

swear amongst the graves that you will be no man's wife but mine."



"But have I not already promised?" she protested, with a gentle uplift

of her head inexpressibly touching in one who had once queened it over

hearts so merrily.



"Yes, you have promised, but I am not satisfied. I want you to swear.

I want to feel that you are as much mine as if we had stood at the

altar together. Otherwise how can I go away? How can I leave you,

knowing there are three men at least in this town who would marry you

at a day's notice, if you gave them full leave. I love you, and I

would marry you to-night, but you want a home of your own. Swear that

you will be my wife when that home is ready, and I will go away happy.

Otherwise I shall have to stay with you, Juliet, for you are more to

me than renown, or advancement, or anything else in all God's world."



"I do not like the graves; I do not want to stay here, it is so late,

so dark," she moaned.



"Then swear! Lay your hand on Mother Patience's tombstone, and say, 'I

will be your wife, Richard Schuyler, when the house is finished which

you are building in the woods'; and I will carry you back in my arms

as I carry you always in my heart."



But though Orrin clinched my arm in apprehension of her answer, and we

stood like two listening statues, no words issued from her lips, and

the silence grew appalling.



"Swear!" seemed to come from the tombs; but whether it was my emotion

that made it seem so, or whether it was Orrin who threw his voice

there, I did not know then and I do not know now. But that the word

did not come from the Colonel was evident from the startled look he

cast about him and from the thrill which all at once passed over her

form from her shrouded head to her hidden feet.



"Do the heavens bid me?" she murmured, and laid her hand without

hesitation on the stone before her, saying, "I swear by the dead that

surround us to be your wife, Richard Schuyler, when the house you are

building for me in the woods is completed." And so pleased was he at

the readiness with which she spoke that he seemed to forget what had

caused it, and caught her in his arms as if she had been a child, and

so bore her away from before our eyes, while the man at my side

fought and struggled with himself to keep down the wrath and jealousy

which such a sight as this might well provoke in one even less

passionate and intemperate than himself.



When the one shadow which they now made had dissolved again into two,

and only Orrin and myself were left in that ghostly churchyard, I

declared with a courage I had never before shown:



"So that is settled, Orrin. She will marry the Colonel, and you and I

are wasting time in these gloomy walks."



To which, to my astonishment, he made this simple reply, "Yes, we are

wasting time"; and straightway turned and left the churchyard with a

quick step that seemed to tell of some new and fixed resolve.



* * * * *



Colonel Schuyler has been gone a week, and to-night I summoned up

courage to call on Juliet's father. I had no longer any right to call

upon her; but who shall say I may not call on him if he chooses to

welcome me and lose his time on my account. The reason for my going

is not far to seek. Orrin has been there, and Orrin cannot be trusted

in her presence alone. Though he seems to have accepted his fate, he

is restless, and keeps his eye on the ground in a brooding way I do

not comprehend and do not altogether like. Why should he think so

much, and why should he go to her house when he knows the sight of her

is inflaming to his heart and death to his self-control?



Juliet's father is a simple, proud old man who makes no attempt to

hide his satisfaction at his daughter's brilliant prospects. He talked

mainly of the house, and if he honored Orrin with half as much of

his confidence on that subject as he did me, then Orrin must know many

particulars about its structure of which the public are generally

ignorant. Juliet was not to be seen--that is, during the first part of

the evening, but towards its close she came into the room and showed

me that same confiding courtesy which I have noticed in her ever since

I ceased to be an aspirant for her hand. She was not so pale as on

that weird night when I saw her in the churchyard, and I thought her

step had a light spring in it which spoke of hope. She wore a gown

which was coquettishly simple, and the fresh flower clinging to her

bosom breathed a fragrance that might have intoxicated a man less

determined to be her friend. Her father saw us meet without any

evident anxiety; and if he was as complacent to Orrin when he was

here, then Orrin had a chance to touch her hand.



But was he as complacent to Orrin? That I could not find out. I am

only sure that I will be made welcome there again if I confine my

visits to the father and do not seek anything more from Juliet than

that simple touch of her hand.



* * * * *



Orrin has not repeated his visit, but I have repeated mine. Why?

Because I am uneasy. Colonel Schuyler's house does not progress, and

whether there is any connection between this fact and that of Orrin's

sudden interest in the sawmills and quarries about here, I cannot

tell, but doubts of his loyalty will rise through all my friendship

for him, and I cannot keep away from Juliet any longer.



Does Juliet care for Colonel Schuyler? I have sometimes thought no,

and I have oftener thought yes. At all events she trembles when she

speaks of him, and shows emotion of no slight order when a letter of

his is suddenly put in her hand. I wish I could read her pretty,

changeful face more readily. It would be a comfort for me to know that

she saw her own way clearly, and was not disturbed by Orrin's comings

and goings. For Orrin is not a safe man, I fear, and a faith once

pledged to Colonel Schuyler should be kept.



I do not think Juliet understands just how great a man Colonel

Schuyler promises to be. When her father told me to-night that his

daughter's betrothed had been charged with some very important

business for the Government, her pretty lip pouted like a child's. Yet

she flushed, and for a minute looked pleased when I said, "That is a

road which leads to Washington. We shall hear of you yet as being

presented at the White House."



I think her father anticipates the same. For he told me a few minutes

later that he had sent for tutors to teach his daughter music and the

languages. And I noticed that at this she pouted again, and indeed

bore herself in a way which promised less for her future learning than

for that influence which breathes from gleaming eyes and witching

smiles. Ah, I fear she is a frivolous fairy, but how pretty she is,

and how dangerously captivating to a man who has once allowed himself

to study her changes of feeling and countenance. When I came away I

felt that I had gained nothing, and lost--what? Some of the

complacency of spirit which I had acquired after much struggle and

stern determination.



* * * * *



Colonel Schuyler has not yet returned, and now Orrin has gone away.

Indeed, no one knows where to find him nowadays, for he is here and

there on his great white horse, riding off one day and coming back the

next, ever busy, and, strange to say, always cheerful. He is making

money, I hear, buying up timber and then selling it to builders, but

he does not sell to one builder, whose house seems to suffer in

consequence. Where is the Colonel, and why does he not come home and

look after his own?



I have learned her secret at last, and in a strange enough way. I was

waiting for her father in his own little room, and as he did not come

as soon as I anticipated, I let my secret despondency have its way for

a moment, and sat leaning forward, with my head buried in my hands. My

face was to the fire and my back to the door, and for some reason I

did not hear it open, and was only aware of the presence of another

person in the room by the sound of a little gasp behind me, which was

choked back as soon as it was uttered. Feeling that this could come

from no one but Juliet, I for some reason hard to fathom sat still,

and the next moment became conscious of a touch soft as a rose-leaf

settle on my hair, and springing up, caught the hand which had given

it, and holding it firmly in mine, gave her one look which made her

chin fall slowly on her breast and her eyes seek the ground in the

wildest distress and confusion.



"Juliet--" I began.



But she broke in with a passion too impetuous to be restrained:



"Do not--do not think I knew or realized what I was doing. It was

because your head looked so much like his as you sat leaning forward

in the firelight that I--I allowed myself one little touch just for

the heart's ease it must bring. I--I am so lonesome, Philo,

and--and--"



I dropped her hand. I understood the whole secret now. My hair is

blonde like Orrin's, and her feelings stood confessed, never more to

be mistaken by me.



"You love Orrin!" I gasped; "you who are pledged to Colonel Schuyler!"



"I love Orrin," she whispered, "and I am pledged to Colonel Schuyler.

But you will never betray me," she said.



"I betray you?" I cried, and if some of the bitterness of my own

disappointed hopes crept into my tones, she did not seem to note it,

for she came quite close to my side and looked up into my face in a

way that almost made me forget her perfidy and her folly. "Juliet," I

went on, for I felt never more strongly than at this moment that I

should act a brother's part towards her, "I could never find it in my

heart to betray you, but are you sure that you are doing wisely to

betray the Colonel for a man no better than Orrin. I--I know you do

not want to hear me say this, for if you care for him you must think

him good and noble, but Juliet, I know him and I know the Colonel, and

he is no more to be compared with the man you are betrothed to

than--"



"Hush!" she cried, almost commandingly, and the airy, dainty, dimpled

creature whom I knew seemed to grow in stature and become a woman, in

her indignation; "you do not know Orrin and you do not know the

Colonel. You shall not draw comparisons between them. I will have you

think of Orrin only, as I do, day and night, ever and always."



"But," I exclaimed, aghast, "if you love him so and despise the

Colonel, why do you not break your troth with the latter?"



"Because," she murmured, with white cheeks and a wandering gaze, "I

have sworn to marry the Colonel, and I dare not break my oath. Sworn

to be his wife when the house he is building is complete; and the oath

was on the graves of the dead; on the graves of the dead!" she

repeated.



"But," I said, without any intimation of having heard that oath, "you

are breaking that oath in private with every thought you give to

Orrin. Either complete your perjury by disowning the Colonel

altogether, or else give up Orrin. You cannot cling to both without

dishonor; does not your father tell you so?"



"My father--oh, he does not know; no one knows but you. My father

likes the Colonel; I would never think of telling him."



"Juliet," I declared solemnly, "you are on dangerous ground. Think

what you are doing before it is too late. The Colonel is not a man to

be trifled with."



"I know it," she murmured, "I know it," and would not say another word

or let me.



And so the burden of this new apprehension is laid upon me; for

happiness cannot come out of this complication.



* * * * *



Where is Orrin, and what is he doing that he stays so much from home?

If it were not for the intent and preoccupied look which he wears when

I do see him, I should think that he was absenting himself for the

purpose of wearing out his unhappy passion. But the short glimpses I

have had of him as he has ridden busily through the town have left me

with no such hope, and I wait with feverish impatience for some fierce

action on his part, or what would be better, the Colonel's return. And

the Colonel must come back soon, for nothing goes well in a long

absence, and his house is almost at a standstill.



* * * * *



Colonel Schuyler has come and, I hear, is storming angrily over the

mishaps that have delayed the progress of his new dwelling. He says he

will not go away again till it is completed, and has been riding all

the morning in every direction, engaging new men to aid the dilatory

workmen already employed. Does Orrin know this? I will go down to his

house and see.



* * * * *



And now I know Orrin's secret. He was not at home, of course, and

being determined to get at the truth of his mysterious absences, I

mounted a horse of my own and rode off to find him.



Why I took this upon myself, or whether I had the right to do it, I

have not stopped to ask. I went in the direction he had last gone, and

after I had ridden through two villages I heard of him as having

passed still farther east some two hours before.



Not in the least deterred, I hurried on, and having threaded a thicket

and forded a stream, I came upon a beautiful open country wholly new

to me, where, on the verge of a pleasant glade and in full view of a

most picturesque line of hills, I saw shining the fresh boards of a

new cottage. Instantly the thought struck me, "It is Orrin's, and he

is building it for Juliet," and filled with a confusion of emotions, I

spurred on my horse, and soon drew up before it.



Orrin was standing, pale and defiant, in the doorway, and as I met his

eye, I noticed, with a sick feeling of contempt, that he swung the

whip he was holding smartly against his leg in what looked like a very

threatening manner.



"Good-evening, Orrin," I cried. "You have a very pleasant site

here--preferable to the Colonel's, I should say."



"What has the Colonel to do with me?" was his fierce reply, and he

turned as if about to go into the house.



"Only this," I calmly answered; "I think he will get his house done

first."



He wheeled and faced me, and his eye which had looked simply sullen

shot a fierce and dangerous gleam.



"What makes you think that?" he cried.



"He has come back, and to-day engaged twenty extra men to push on the

work."



"Indeed!" and there was contempt in his tone. "Well, I wish him joy

and a sound roof!"



And this time he did go into the house.



As he had not asked me to follow, I of course had no alternative but

to ride on. As I did so, I took another look at the house and saw with

a strange pang at the heart that the plastering was on the walls and

the windows ready for glazing. "I was wrong," said I to myself; "it is

Orrin's house which will be finished first."



* * * * *



And what if it is? Will she turn her back upon the Colonel's lofty

structure and take refuge in this cottage remote from the world? I

cannot believe it, knowing how she loves show and the smiles and

gallantries of men. And yet--and yet, she is so capricious and Orrin

so determined that I do not know what to think or what to fear, and I

ride back with a heavy heart, wishing she had never come up from the

farm to worry and inflame the souls of honest men.



* * * * *



And now the Colonel's work goes on apace, and the whole town is filled

with the noise and bustle of lumbering carts and eager workmen. The

roof which Orrin so bitterly wished might be a sound one has been

shingled; and under the Colonel's eye and the Colonel's constant

encouragement, part after part of the new building is being fitted to

its place with a precision and despatch that to many minds promise the

near dawning of Juliet's wedding-day. But I know that afar in the east

another home is nearer completion than this, and whether she knows it

too or does not know it (which is just as probable), her wilful,

sportive, and butterfly nature seems to be preparing itself for a

struggle which may rend if not destroy its airy and delicate wings.



I have prepared myself too, and being still and always her friend, I

stand ready to mediate or assist, as opportunity offers or

circumstances demand. She realizes this, and leans on me in her secret

hours of fear, or why does her face brighten when she sees me, and her

little hand thrust itself confidingly forth from under its shrouding

mantle and grasp mine with such a lingering and entreating pressure?

And the Colonel? Does he realize, too, that I am any more to her than

her other cast-off lovers and would-be friends? Sometimes I think he

does, and eyes me with suspicion. But he is ever so courteous that I

cannot be sure, and so do not trouble myself in regard to a jealousy

so illy founded and so easily dispelled.



He is always at Juliet's side and seems to surround her with a

devotion which will make it very difficult for any other man, even

Orrin, to get her ear.



* * * * *



The crisis is approaching. Orrin is again in town, and may be seen

riding up and down the streets in his holiday clothes. Have some

whispers of his secret love and evident intentions reached the ear of

the Colonel? Or is Juliet's father alone concerned? For I see that the

blinds of her lattice are tightly shut, and watch as I may, I cannot

catch a glimpse of her eager head peering between them at the

flaunting horseman as he goes careering by.



* * * * *



The hour has come and how different is the outcome from any I had

imagined. I was sitting last night in my own lonely little room, which

opens directly on the street, struggling as best I might against the

distraction of my thoughts which would lead me from the book I was

studying, when a knock on the panels of my door aroused me, and almost

before I could look up, that same door swung open and a dark form

entered and stood before me.



For a moment I was too dazed to see who it was, and rising

ceremoniously, I made my bow of welcome, starting a little as I met

the Colonel's dark eyes looking at me from the folds of the huge

mantle in which he had wrapped himself. "Your worship?" I began, and

stumbling awkwardly, offered him a chair which he refused with a

gesture of his smooth white hand.



"Thank you, no," said he, "I do not sit down in your house till I know

if it is you who have stolen the heart of my bride away from me and if

it is you with whom she is prepared to flee."



"Ah," was my involuntary exclamation, "then it has come. You know her

folly, and will forgive it because she is such a child."



"Her folly? Are you not then the man?" he cried; but in a subdued tone

which showed what a restraint he was putting upon himself even in the

moment of such accumulated emotions.



"No," said I; "if your bride meditates flight, it is not with me she

means to go. I am her friend, and the man who would take her from you

is not. I can say no more, Colonel Schuyler."



He eyed me for a moment with a deep and searching gaze which showed me

that his intellect was not asleep though his heart was on fire.



"I believe you," said he; and threw aside his cloak and sat down. "And

now," he asked, "who is the man?"



Taken by surprise, I stammered and uttered some faint disclaimer; but

seeing by his steady look and firm-set jaw that he meant to know, and

detecting as I also thought in his general manner and subdued tones

the promise of an unexpected forbearance, I added impulsively:



"Let the wayward girl tell you herself; perhaps in the telling she

will grow ashamed of her caprice."



"I have asked her," was the stern reply, "and she is dumb." Then in

softer tones he added: "How can I do anything for her if she will not

confide in me. She has treated me most ungratefully, but I mean to be

kind to her. Only I must first know if she has chosen worthily."



"Who is there of worth in town?" I asked, softened and fascinated by

his manner. "There is no man equal to yourself."



"You say so," he cried, and waved his hand impatiently. Then with a

deep and thrilling intensity which I feel yet, he repeated, "His name,

his name? Tell me his name."



The Colonel is a man of power, accustomed to control men. I could not

withstand his look or be unmoved by his tones. If he meant well to

Orrin and to her, what was I that I should withhold Orrin's name.

Falteringly I was about to speak it when a sudden sound struck my

ears, and rising impetuously I drew him to the window, blowing out the

candles as I passed them.



"Hark!" I cried, as the rush of pounding hoofs was heard on the road,

and "Look!" I added, as a sudden figure swept by on the panting white

horse so well known by all in that town.



"Is it he?" whispered the dark figure at my side as we both strained

our eyes after Orrin's fast vanishing form.



"You have seen him," I returned; and drawing him back from the window,

I closed the shutters with care, lest Orrin should be seized with a

freak to return and detect me in conference with his heart's dearest

enemy.



Silence and darkness were now about us, and the Colonel, as if anxious

to avail himself of the surrounding gloom, caught my arm as I moved to

relight the candles.



"Wait," said he; and I understood and stopped still.



And so we stood for a moment, he quiet as a carven statue and I

restless but obedient to his wishes. When he stirred I carefully lit

the candles, but I did not look at him till he had donned his cloak

and pulled his hat well over his eyes. Then I turned, and eying him

earnestly, said:



"If I have made a mistake--"



But he quickly interrupted me, averring:



"You have made no mistake. You are a good lad, Philo, and if it had

been you--" He did not say what he would have done, but left the

sentence incomplete and went on: "I know nothing of this Orrin Day,

but what a woman wills she must have. Will you bring this fellow--he

is your friend is he not?--to Juliet's house in the morning? Her

father is set on her being the mistress of the new stone house and we

three will have to reason with him, do you see?"



Astonished, I bowed with something like awe. Was he so great-hearted

as this? Did he intend to give up his betrothed to the man whom she

loved, and even to plead her cause with the father she feared? My

admiration would have its vent, and I uttered some foolish words of

sympathy, which he took with the stately, rather condescending grace

which they perhaps merited; after which, he added again: "You will

come, will you not?" and bowed kindly and retreated towards the door,

while I, abashed and worshipful, followed with protestations that

nothing should hinder me from doing his will, till he had passed

through the doorway and vanished from my sight.



And yet I do not want to do his will or take Orrin to that house. I

might have borne with sad equanimity to see her married to the

Colonel, for he is far above me, but to Orrin--ah, that is a bitter

outlook, and I must have been a fool to have promised aught that will

help to bring it about. Still, am I not her sworn friend, and if she

thinks she can be happy with him, ought I not to do my share towards

making her so?



I wonder if the Colonel knows that Orrin too has been building himself

a house?



I did not sleep last night, and I have not eaten this morning.

Thoughts robbed me of sleep, and a visit from Orrin effectually took

away from me whatever appetite I might have had. He came in almost at

daybreak. He looked dishevelled and wild, and spoke like a man who had

stopped more than once at the tavern.



"Philo," said he, "you have annoyed me by your curiosity for more than

a year; now you can do me a favor. Will you call at Juliet's house and

see if she is free to go and come as she was a week ago?"



"Why?" I asked, thinking I perceived a reason for his bloodshot eye,

and yet being for the moment too wary, perhaps too ungenerous, to

relieve him from the tension of his uncertainty.



"Why?" he repeated. "Must you know all that goes on in my mind, and

cannot I keep one secret to myself?"



"You ask me to do you a favor," I quietly returned. "In order to do it

intelligently, I must know why it is asked."



"I do not see that," objected Orrin, "and if you were not such a boy

I'd leave you on the spot and do the errand myself. But you mean no

harm, and so I will tell you that Juliet and I had planned to run away

together last night, but though I was at the place of meeting, she did

not come, nor has she made any sign to show me why she failed me."



"Orrin," I began, but he stopped me with an oath.



"No sermons," he protested. "I know what you would have done if

instead of smiling on me she had chanced to give all her poor little

heart to you."



"I should not have tempted her to betray the Colonel," I exclaimed

hotly, perhaps because the sudden picture he presented to my

imagination awoke within me such a torrent of unsuspected emotions.

"Nor should I have urged her to fly with me by night and in stealth."



"You do not know what you would do," was his rude and impatient

rejoinder. "Had she looked at you, with tears in her arch yet pathetic

blue eyes, and listened while you poured out your soul, as if heaven

were opening before her and she had no other thought in life but you,

then--"



"Hush!" I cried, "do you want me to go to her house for you, or do you

want me to stay away?"



"You know I want you to go."



"Then be still, and listen to what I have to say. I will go, but you

must go too. If you want to take Juliet away from the Colonel you must

do it openly. I will not abet you, nor will I encourage any

underhanded proceedings."



"You are a courageous lad," he said, "in other men's affairs. Will you

raise me a tomb if the Colonel runs me through with his sword?"



"I at least should not feel the contempt for you which I should if you

eloped with her behind his back."



"Now you are courageous on your own behalf," laughed he, "and that is

better and more to the point." Yet he looked as if he could easily

spit me on his own sword, which I noticed was dangling at his heels.



"Will you come?" I urged, determined not to conciliate or enlighten

him even if my forbearance cost me my life.



He hesitated, and then broke into a hoarse laugh. "I have drunk just

enough to be reckless," said he; "yes, I will go; and the devil must

answer for the result."



I had never seen him look so little the gentleman, and perhaps it was

on this very account I became suddenly quite eager to take him at his

word before time and thought should give him an opportunity to become

more like himself; for I could not but think that if she saw him in

this condition she must make comparisons between him and the Colonel

which could not but be favorable to the latter. But it was still quite

early, and I dared not run the risk of displeasing the Colonel by

anticipating his presence, so I urged Orrin into that little back

parlor of mine, where I had once hoped to see a very different person

installed, and putting wine and biscuits before him, bade him refresh

himself while I prepared myself for appearing before the ladies.



When the hour came for us to go I went to him. He was pacing the floor

and trying to school himself into patience, but he made but a sorry

figure, and I felt a twinge of conscience as he thrust on his hat

without any attempt to smooth his dishevelled locks, or rearrange his

disordered ruffles. Should I permit him to go thus disordered, or

should I detain him long enough to fit him for the eye of the dainty

Juliet? He answered the question himself. "Come," said he, "I have

chewed my sleeve long enough in suspense. Let us go and have an end of

it. If she is to be my wife she must leave the house with me to-day,

if not, I have an hour's work before me down yonder," and he pointed

in the direction of his new house. "When you see the sky red at

noonday, you will know what that is."



"Orrin!" I cried, and for the first time I seized his arm with

something like a fellow-feeling.



But he shook me off.



"Don't interfere with me," he said, and strode on, sullen and fierce,

towards the place where such a different greeting awaited him from any

that he feared.



Ought I to tell him this? Ought I to say: "Your sullenness is uncalled

for and your fierceness misplaced; Juliet is constant, and the Colonel

means you nothing but good"? Perhaps; and perhaps, too, I should be a

saint and know nothing of earthly passions and jealousies. But I am

not. I hate this Orrin, hate him more and more as every step brings

us nearer to Juliet's house and the fate awaiting him from her

weakness and the Colonel's generosity. So I hold my peace and we come

to her gate, and the recklessness that has brought him thus far

abandons him on the instant and he falls back and lets me go in

several steps before him, so that I seem to be alone when I enter the

house, and Juliet, who is standing in the parlor between the Colonel

and her father, starts when she sees me, and breaking into sobs,

cries:



"Oh, Philo, Philo, tell my father there is nothing between us but what

is friendly and honorable; that I--I--"



"Hush!" commanded that father, while I stared at the Colonel, whose

quiet, imperturbable face was for the first time such a riddle to me

that I hardly heeded what the elder man said. "You have talked enough,

Juliet, and denied enough. I will now speak to Mr. Adams and see what

he has to say. Last night my daughter, who, as all the town knows, is

betrothed to this gentleman"--and he waved his hand deferentially

towards the Colonel--"was detected by me stealing out of the garden

gate with a little packet on her arm. As my daughter never goes out

alone, I was naturally startled, and presuming upon my rights as her

father, naturally asked her where she was going. This question, simple

as it was, seemed to both terrify and unnerve her. Stumbling back, she

looked me wildly in the eye and answered, with an effrontery she had

never shown me before, that she was flying to escape a hated marriage.

That Colonel Schuyler had returned, and as she could not be his wife,

she was going to her aunt's house, where she could live in peace

without being forced upon a man she could not love. Amazed, for I had

always supposed her duly sensible of the honor





The Oblong Box The Owl's Ear facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback