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It was on the evening of the arrival of the Bartletts at Massabesic, that a pale, intelligent-looking lady of fifty sat alone in the pleasant little parlor of the Malones. Evidently she had sat down burdened with heat and lassitude. She had cast off her slippers, and her feet lay apart on the qushion before her. The strings of a light purple morningdress, which she still kept on, were unfastened, and it hung loosely about her. One hand, with its long slender fingers, supported her head, while the other rolled the corner of a handkerchief, on which her eyes were vacantly fixed. This was the good, the patient, the industrious wife of Captain Malone, the daughter of Colonel Bamford, of Illinois.
We will just recapitulate how she met the young, adventurous, and romantic Malone, one day when he was en chasse for wild horses, and she for wild flowers; how he easily and at once gained a heart that bad resisted the attacks of a British officer and a Canadian buffalo hunter, of a pedagogue from New Hampshire and a pettifogger from New York, of a real live poet from Ohio, besides some six, eight, or ten bucks of her native wilds; how she trusted and married him for his open, handsome face, his manly form, his tender and sensitive heart, for his strong arm, and for his cottage in the Granite State, amongst the lakes, and hills, and mountains. of this latter, Malone himself thought nothing. It had been given him as a mere bauble when he was a boy, and as a bauble he had regarded it up to this day.
She married him. Years passed, and yet his wild spirit was seeking adventures in the far West. They went from State to Territory, and from Territory to State, as new and dazzling prospects of finding at
last a very Eutopia were held up to him by some • visionary like himself. Then he turned to his na
live bills; but not until he had dealt in acres by the thousand, so that his ten acres of stony soil, and his unfinished house, seemed only meet for a Lilliputian. As may be easily conceived, Mrs. Malone had found her lot no sinecure in all this failure of scheines, all this moving about. Many and severe had been her struggles with deferred hopes, poverty, toil, with sacrifices of long and dearly-cherished tasks and occupations; and, in this ordeal, her flesh had, indeed, often become weak; but her spirit had become strong and ready for conflict. And, in the last four years of severe self-denial and toil, she had set her oft-faltering husband a perfect example of trust and patient industry. A long time she gave up her books, the dearest solace in her other deprivations, snatching only a few minutes now and then for the perusal of their one weekly paper, her Bible, and an occasional new work in the cheap form, with whose purchase they indulged themselves. She gave up her flowers, her fancy-work, and her pencil, and let her guitar lie unstrung and covered
with dust in an unfinished room, turning her hand to the wheel, the loom, the wash-tub, and all the lowliest occupations of her lowly sphere. Every night found her weary, yet not often unhappy; for she was satisfied with herself, and she blessed God that it was for her to make sacrifices for the good ones who were dearer far to her than her own ease and comfort; and every morning, with strengthened purpose, she commenced the labors of a new day. In all this, there was gleaming afar one bright oasis-the purchase of a fifty-acre lot, which lay along the lake and across the hills. For this they had all been working early and late, at home and abroad, dressing simply and dieting frugally. When the deed was fairly in their hands, they were all to draw long breaths; Josephine was to remain at home with them, and extended improvements were to be carried on in the house and all over the fisty. acre lot. In one grove of pliant birches, a living arbor was to be formed by bending the trees and weaving their tops and their branches together. In those old woods, a labyrinth was to be cut out, beginning and ending at the lake. In the sheltered nooks, plum-trees were to be planted ; and so all around. Not a spot was to be left unimproved, and, God helping them to health, rains, and sunshine, they would make a good living and lay up something there ; and, besides, make such a beautiful spot of it, that everybody should find delight in looking on.
Meanwhile, on the beautiful and light-hearted Josephine, the mantle of poetry, which the parents had dropped, seemed to have fallen. Busy as a beo from morning till night, always bounding, yet always collected and fruitful of expedients, she managed in a thousand delightful ways to assist her parents when they were weary, to cheer them when they were sad, to beautify the garden and the home. To the last, she had been able to contribute materially in the last two years, by spending nine months of each year in the mills of Lowell. She had obtained seeds, and slips, and roots in abundance. She had seen new models of elegance in yard, garden, and house decorations. Upon these she had worked. With her father's and Napoleon's aid, and slight outlays occasionally for materials, she had brought the home to be, as the Bartletts said, a little gem. Now—when this chapter opened, that is she was in her little room adjoining the parlor, filling a small, much-worn, fur-covered trunk with her simple wardrobe. To-morrow, for the last time they all hoped, she was to go away again from them all, from the spot whose very dust she loved, to that strange city, Lowell. It was for this reason chiefly that, as she sat to rest, and as she went about preparing supper, Mrs. Malone sang, in a voice of heart-touching mournfulness
“Oh, thou, that driest the mourner's tear,
How dark this world would be,
We could not turn to thee!”
“ Here are your clothes, Josey, dear. I believe they are perfectly aired
'If, when disturbed and wounded here,
We could not turn to thee!'”
said and sang the mother, as she carried some clothes from the frame to her daughter. “Poor child, you are tired! Sit down here now, and let me pack the rest. No; I can't be put off with a shake of your head. Your cheeks look as if the blood were coming through them. I shall have time enough to rest after you are gone; while you”
Her voice failed. She left the room, saying something about supper and seven o'clock; and then, in a few moments, with a voice faltering as Josephine had not heard it for years, she sang
“How dark this world would be !" She turned again, restlessly, to Josephine's room.
“I don't know why it is, Josephine, but I have never felt half so bad about your going away as I do now; not eren when you went the first time. There, let me finish. It will be necessary to crowd the things to get all in.”
“ And so, mother, this is the very reason I shall not let you do it. You-I never saw you look so very, very tired as you do to-night. I am sorry; I ought to have taken one more day. But I am in a hurry to begin, that, as soon as possible, I may be through. And then I can come home to stay, mother!” She said no more; but the mother and the daughter wept together.
“Do you know, Josephine," said the mother, “I am sure I don't think I am at all superstitious, but a dread of something has settled here like lead, and I have no power to remove it. You are smiling at me; but you must not think your mother a poor, weak woman ; indeed, you must not.”
“No, indeed, mother ; but” —
“And yet I am weak. The truth is, I am tired of this struggle. I dread what is before me, in baving you go away for so long. Your father and Napoleon will be gone so much ; and then the cold „winter days and stormy nights! If you were here, I should never mind them. But, as it is, I lie awake and think of you, fearing that you haven't bedclothes to keep you warm in the great boardinghouse ; that you are sick, perhaps dying at that moment; and sometimes I am so foolish, so excited, as to get the horrible fancy that you may be perishing in the snow on your way to us; and I can scarcely keep myself from going and looking out for you in the darkness and storm. I dread this. And taking all the care on myself again ; and there are many other things ; and, if it were not for your poor father, Napoleon, and you, I would be glad to lay my head down on that pillow and go at once to the eternal rest. But, Josephine, my poor, dear child, you are crying. Come here."
Josephine sat down at her mother's feet, laid her
face on her lap, and, for a few moments, wept like a little child.
"I was very selfish to complain," said Mrs. Malone, in more cheerful tones. “I suppose you al, ready had as much trouble of your own account as you could well bear. There, that is right. We will sit here now and rest until they come to supper. I don't know where your father is.” And again her face was clouded. “Have you noticed of late, and especially to-day, that your father isn't at all liko himself, so quiet and serious ? I don't know; he don't seem unhappy really; but he don't talk, says nothing of his business plans, and this is so unlike him these last four years. I sometimes fear that his old habits, old troubles, and perplexities are all coming back. But it can't be; he is so industrious ! 80 systematic in everything! Yet he looks at us all in such a sad, still way, as I never saw him do before ; and, this morning, I saw his eyes fill several times."
“So did I, ma; but he looked so happy and good! I have no fears for pa—not ong fear for him."
"Only he may be sick,” persisted Mrs. Malope, who was as unlike Mrs. Malone as she could well be. “He was pale, certainly, this morning, and so changed! He seemed so very, very kind, so tender of us all !"
“Well, we shall soon see that it is all right, my mother. The clock strikes; they will soon be here. There, Rido's bark! the emperor's laugh! and pa's, too, ma !—and pa's, too! There they are, father and Napoleon, stopping to talk with grandpa ; and they point to the fifty-acre lot. And, in one year, it will be ours, ma; and then good-by to the mills ! And then sha'n't we be the happiest family in the State? Say, pa," she added, springing to the door to meet them, “sha'n't we be the happiest of all, when once this year is over, and”
Her father caught her nervously to his bosom, and kissed her forehead. She perceived, as he did this, that he trembled, and that tears were in his eyes. Mrs. Malone also saw it, and perfectly understood the look of apprehension Josephine turned to her. She felt paralyzed, sick, and faint at heart. Pecuniary embarrassments had been the prolific source whence all the troubles of her life had come. The poet's complaint
“I never loved a flower
Which was not the first to fade”variously modified, had been hers. Excepting her husband and children, she had scarcely ever set her heart upon anything,
“But, when it came to know her well,
And now, in those moments of fearful suspense, visions of accumulated bills, sheriffs, and sales of execution, of a dreary and poverty-laden old age, passed before her bewildered thought, and she could have shrieked with such horrible apprehensions, She passed her hands slowly across her forehead.
“ Peace be unto this house, I may well say now, and thanksgiving to our God !" said the old gentleman, whose slow steps had just gained the room. Tears were streaming down furrows which seemed wade purposely for their channels. He laid his band on his granddaughter's head as he spoke. The emperor stood there-has my reader ever seen a bright-eyed boy at lyceum or theatre, who felt from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet that that was coming off on the boards which ought certainly to be cheered and encored, and who yet waited the example of his elders, with huzzas buzzing upon his tongue, with his feet on tipped toes, and with open palms grasping nervously his knees? Thus stood the emperor there. His mother and Josephine saw it; still it did not much reassure them ; for, like the other Emperor Napoleon, bis sagacity often failed him in minor matters. Mr. Malone's was an expression that would have puzzled Lavater even. He laid aside his hat, and glanced at his wife ; put the hair back from his broad forehead, and glanced at his daughter; and, as he looked on the table, and said something about supper being ready, he drew out bis pocket-book and began to search for a—à bill of execution, thought Mrs. Malone; and, o Heaven, have mercy! with every breath, thought Josephine, who shivered now from head to foot with apprehension.
Meanwhile, very slowly, Mr. Malone opened a slip of paper, and read, in deliberate tones, a deed of the fifty-acre lot, for value received, duly signed and attested. Mrs. Malone gave not a look, she spake not a word; but, covering her face deep in her handkerchief, she wept in a thousand conflicting emotions : in penitence that, at last, when she had been so long and so faithfully sustained of her God, when the cup of joy which had so long been held out before her as the prize of her patience, her self-denial, and her faith, was near her, even at her lije, that then she had lost her trust; and in thanks. giving she wopt, for the ten thousand mercies she then saw in husband, children, parent, and home, seemed floating liko wbite-winged angels in the whole place, making it “pone other than the house of God, and the very gate of Heaven.” Josephine, too, wept, and she laughed in the same moment.
“Now, mother, now sis, if this isn't pretty well !" This was all the emperor said. And he attempted to laugh ; wiped a tear with his finger-point, and this was all; .when all along he bad been determined on shouting, in all his might, hurrah ! lo triumphe ! hurrah for the fifty-acre lot! upon throwing his bat in the air, clapping his hands until they were blistered, and upon making bonfires on all the elevated positions of the lot. But, instead, he went softly away to his chamber, looked out on the fifty-acre lot, where lay now the golden light of sunsetting,
burniębing lake, rock, and tree; and then wept one minute in downright joy that, at last, they had got it; that then it was fairly theirs; that they were all so happy then; and, most of all, that now his darling Josephine might stay at home, sing to bim, walk with him, breathe with him at any hour the pure air of heaven, and listen with him to the birds, the brooks, and the winds among the waves and the trees.
Josephine likewise rejoiced in this. But with her there were counteracting emotions, remembrances of pleasant and beloved faces at Lowell, which now she would see no more. There were many loving hearts there amongst her fellow-operatives, that longed now for her coming; that would mourn her loss as sister mourns for sister. For one there, who had mourned herself sick for the late loss of parents and home, her heart ached as the mother's does, when, in pursuit of ease or pleasure, she takes herself for a while from her vigils at the sick bed of the beloved and loving child, whose eye kindles only at her approach, whose head finds a perfect repose only when her band smooths the pillow, and whose spirit seems tearing its fragile body in its yearning to cling to her only, her always. And yet perhaps her friend might recover sufficiently to come to Massabesio. Happy thought! Then she would take her out to pleasant rides and pleasant walks. She would feed her with warm new milk and ripe berries. She would lead her slowly about among the romantic beauties of the fifty-acre lot; and together, as her friend became stronger, as her heart grew light, they would help work out those improvements that had been planned in the last four years. She would introduce her to the Lanes, those good people ; and Mr. Lane would strengthen her with his strength, Mrs. Lane cheer her with her happiness, her loving kindness.
Josephine set the chairs about the table. Napoleon showed his face in their midst. Mrs. Malone wiped her tears; but still her chin quivered, still her eyes filled ever and anon.
“But why did you keep it all from us so long, Mr. Malone ?" asked she, as they seated themselves at table.
“Why, we bave been so often cheated, you kno, when we thought ourselves secure, I could not run the risk of again disappointing you."
“Yes, we have been often cheated; but you have said that it was because you were led by your tastes rather than your judgment, and so planned groves, labyrinths, and parterres, when you should have been working on corn-fields and turnip-yards. Now, when we have all been so prudent, when you had succeeded so well in your vegetables, how could you fear"
“I feared nothing but sickness. This, doctor's and nurse's bills, loss of time, and other costs, would, in a little time, have put off the purchase another year.”
* Yes, true. Thank Heaven, we were preserved 80 well !”
“Yes, yes, thank Heaven, to be sure !" said their Deighbor Brown, a bustling little body, who entered just then.
He was the independent owner of an independent fortune; id est, he had a farm and a mill, a house in town, and money in the bank, and stock in bridges and railroads; only a few hundreds, to be sure, in each deposit, he was so wretchedly fearful of incendiaries, bankruptcies, floods, and earthquakes. There, at the lake, he had a great farm tolerably well tilled, a great wife tolerably well willed, a great barn very well filled, and a great house. Of tall sons and small daughters he had an abundance; and, withal, he had an abundance of pride on their behalf. He had many other things. Of the book family, he had ensconced on a little dingy shelf in one corner of his kitchen, first, a Bible. This he read much, ay, studied; and it was chiefly to ascertain, with positive correctness, whether John wrote the Book of Revelations before or after the destruction of Jerusalem; what was meant where Christ says, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” and about the seven vials and seals, and beasts and candlesticks. Secondly—I present them in the order in which they were arranged on Mr. Brown's shelf—secondly, a copy of the “New Hampshire Gazetteer,” and there was no end to the lore Mr. Brown and his whole family had gathered from that. Thirdly, “Thinks I to Myself,” and truly a nondescript affair was this, without beginning and without end; its original cover gone—and this was too bad, the Browns all said, it was such a beautiful red-and in its stead was a soiled cover of brown paper, securely fastened through the back with black thread, accurately chain-stitched and crossstitched. Its title was elaborately written out on that same cover, beset on all sides with the most extensive flourishes, on the angular principle chiefly. Said cover was the product of the combined skill of John and Patty, when the one was eighteen and the other twenty, and the cause of oft-expressed regret on the part of Mr. Brown that he "hadn't give 'em a better edication." “Thinks I to Myself” was Mr. Brown's favorite, of all others, as marginal notes, hieroglyphics, which no one but himself could comprehend, leaves turned down, marks inserted, together with incidents and passages which he was forever relating and quoting, demonstrated. Fourthly, a stray copy of "Godey's Lady's Book ;” and it would take an hour to give Mr. Brown's version of its history; how he obtained it one time when he went to Concord, before Manchester was a city, with a load of pork and poultry; how he read the story called " Mrs. Washington Potts” to Miss Lane and Miss Malone, and showed the pictures to some hunters that stopped there to get some bread and cheese; what Miss Lane and Miss Malone said of the story, and what the hunters of the pictures. There were
old almanacs, whose énigmas, laws, problems, and prognostications were perfect wonders to Mr. Jtown. He always shook his head over them, and said, “Wall, I don't know; some folks have pretty onsiderable of one thing and another in their heads, that 's a fact.” Of pictures, he had nailed up in his parlor several six by nine wood engravings~" Man Friday," •
," “ Little Pompey," &c. &c. These he had regarded as perfect prodigies up to the time of the removal of the Lanes and Malones. Then "the greater glory dimmed the less."
“Yes, thank Heaven, of course," repeated be, as he advanced to his seat, his little head nodding and waving about like a plume, and his eyes blinking in a way that he meant should be highly intelligi. ble. He shook them all heartily by the hand. “ Yes, I 'm glad for ye,” said he. “We've allers been good friends, and I expect we allers shall be, if you get to be the master o' a dozen fifty-acre lots."
En passant, be it known, that Mr. Brown acknowledged no standard of worth but wealth ; and, as he was one of the richest men in Manchester, he thought himself one of the most honorable of her sons, albeit others were more intelligent, more generous, and more just. Hence it was strange to himn that he had not yet been in the legislature; passing strange that Mr. Lane, only half so rich, was pre ferred before him!
" And our young folks 've allers been pretty thick, if I've seen right, 'specially our John and your Jos'phine here. You ha'n't forgot the ride you had in my new sleigh, I s'pose, last winter, have you, Jos’phine? He! he! ha! I remember, you called it dedicatin' the sleigh. I've laffed more 'an a little at that idea o' yourn. Wall, wall, never mind. You may ride in it as much as you 've a mind to. Captain, now if you was like Mr. and Miss Twist in my book of. Thinks I to Myself,' and if I was like Thinks I to Myself's' father, we might jine our lots—Josephine can guess how-and then we'd make all Manchester stand one side. Ha! ha! and, captain, you could do as somebody did I read about in a paper I see once, called "The Boston Post." Somebody—a man that hadn't nothin', nor that neither, hardly-was telling one day, says he, *Deacon'-Deacon somebody, I've forgot whom Deacon Somebody and I keeps twenty cows.' How many does the deacon keep?" says t'other. Nineteen.' Pooh! boo ! boo! ha! Ain't that a good hint, captain ?”
“But a hint upon which I should be the last one to act, you know," answered Mr. Malone. some supper with us, Mr. Brown ?
“No, I guess I won't; I shall find supper enough to home.”
“I presume so. You know, I sha’n't hold my head an inch higher for this acquisition. On the contrary, a greater humility and thankfulness than I ever felt before I feel now. I feel like bowing in
“Yes; well, since 'tis to bread and water we owe it that we are thus spindling, I must still throw up my hat for bread and water.” He left the table as he spoke; bowed gracefully to Mr. Brown as he took his hat; kissed Josephine in passing, and sang to her, “Come, come, come ! come to the sunset tree." In a moment his hoe was heard in its progress amongst the gravel and weeds of the garden, and Josephine was at his side helping him.
Mr. Brown sat a while as if in uneasy cogitation, with his eyes fixed on the open door where Josephine had vanished.
“I'd give a dollar to know how it is, faith! Somehow your boy and gall have got lightness of spirits as well as lightness of body. I never yet see the day when my boys could make a bow like that 'Poleon made; nor that my galls could sail out o' the room as Josephine did then.”
“To tell you the truth, neighbor Brown, I think light and simple diet the best promoter of light and cheerful spirits, an easy conscience of course excepted.”
“Wall, I don't know but 'tis, faith! come to think of it, for I never feel so much like begrudging the hogs their comfort laying in the straw, as I do just arter I've been eatin' hearty. 'Tis so confounded hard to work then !" He ended with a
the dust in thankfulness to God, who has blessed me so much when I had been such a poor steward so long. Isn't it so with you, Eliza ?"
His eyes were swimming in tears as he turned them to his wife. She could only bow in reply, and then she raised her tumbler to her lips to conceal her emotion.
“You all take it oddly enough, that's a fact,” said Mr. Brown, moving nervously in bis chair. “I suppose you'll give your folks tea and coffee to drink arter this, Miss Malone ?"
“No; we all love cold water. It is the cheapest and the healthiest drink.”
“Strange! Wall, you 'll have sumthin' else for your suppers, sha'n't you, besides bread, and butter, and plums ?"
“Not often. We are all perfectly satisfied with it; and it is economical and".
“Ah, I don't know about that;" and the little man's head nodded and waved, while his eyes and mouth performed sundry knowing contortions. “I don't know about that. We've had pretty considerable to do in the eatin' line, and I've thought a great deal about the cheapest way of doing things; and I think"- Mr. Brown always emphasized – “and I think the cheapest way is to get good vittles, and enough on 'em, and a good many kinds. It's the best way. Now, for our suppers, we shall have cold meat and taters, cake, and butter, and sarse, sweet cake and pie; besides tea, and sugar, and cream, and pickles, and cheese; yes, and pepper, and salt, and vinegar. You laff; but we shall have all on 'em, I 'll warrant ye; and, arter all, we sha'n't eat no more vally in all these things than you amongst you will in bread, and butter, and sarse."
“Allowing this," answered Mr. Malone, smiling good-humoredly, "it takes no more than fifteen minutes to get our suppers: and your wife"
“Why I suppose it takes her on an average at least an hour; and she has almost all the galls on the spring helpin' her."
“Well, you see we have one decided advantage, in economy of time, and time is our best estate."
“I s'pose yo have. But then how spindlin' ye all are! As one of them 'ere hunters said, your wife is like a pondy lily and Josephine is like a rosy; and you'd find 'twould take no more to blast 'em than 'twould such things. Now our boys, Joseph or John, could take 'em both and carry 'em to the top of that mountain away off there; but you nor ’Poleon couldn't carry one-half of our Patty up that bill."
How the emperor laughed then! “Do you remember, Mr. Brown, how I outran, outclimbed, outlifted, and outleaped your boys last Fourth of July ? how I reached that hill-top while they were panting and holding themselves together half-way down its side? Do you remember ?"
“Wall, wall! as I said before, you are so spindlin'!"
“But, Marie !-Marie ! Come here now and see me make a drawing of Mr. Brown, that queer man at Massabesic. The outline of his visage, see! 'tis round, just like a pumpkin. His eyes, they might bave been somewhat elongated primitively; but now they are as round as a half-dime. I will fix some dark rags at their corners; for, round as they are, they yet have the look of being asquint. This comes probably from his being at all times so conscious of his shrewdness. His nose, you see, is a decided pug. His mouth is the trouble. I have already drawn three outlines; one, three one-half inches in width; another circular, two inches in circumference; the other a medium. The last is probably his mouth's standard. His chin is a snub of all sorts of indentations and convulsions."
Marie. How you talk, dearest!
“How I have occasion to, dearest! There! I shall certainly be obliged to let his chin go at that. 'Twould be as easy to represent accurately his head's gyrations as his chin. His attitude-ah, 'more's the pity!' 'Tis Dickens's and Marryat's and Hall's vast picture of Yankeeism in caricature. His chair must be tipped back and lodged against the wall, thus : his legs thrown over each side of the chairbottom, thus: and while the one is left dangling, the other must be twisted round clinging to a chair. round, thus. But, Pensée, don't laugh quite so loud; the doctor will be showing his face at the door. See! isn't that capitally done ? his head and body bent forward in this manner, one hand with arın acutely-angularly-akimbo".