Kate D. Wiggin
Story of Waitstill Baxter
(NY: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1913)
THE STORY OF
KATE DOUGLAS WIGGAN
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
H. M. BRETT
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
[ 1913 ]
(1913 First Edition Cover)
The Story of Waitstill Baxter
by Kate Douglas Wiggin
(Note: only chapters mentioning Jacob Cochrane are linked)
(Conway, on the Saco River by Albert Bierstadt, 1864)
Chapter I (Spring)
Far, far up, in the bosom of New Hampshire's granite hills, the Saco has its birth. As the mountain rill gathers strength it takes
Or hides in Conway's fragrant brakes,
Retreating from the glare of day."
Now it leaves the mountains and flows through "green Fryeburg's woods and farms." In the course of its frequent turns and twists and bends, it meets with many another stream, and sends it, fuller and stronger, along its rejoicing way. When it has journeyed more than a hundred miles and is nearing the ocean, it greets the Great Ossipee River and accepts its crystal tribute. Then, in its turn, the Little Ossipee joins forces, and the river, now a splendid stream, flows onward to Bonny Eagle, to Moderation and to Salmon Falls, where it dashes over the dam like a young Niagara and hurtles, in a foamy torrent, through the ragged defile cut between lofty banks of solid rock.
Widening out placidly for a moment's rest in the sunny reaches near Pleasant Point, it gathers itself for a new plunge at Union Falls, after which it speedily merges itself in the bay and is fresh water no more.
At one of the falls on the Saco, the two little hamlets of Edgewood and Riverboro nestle together at the bridge and make one village. The stream is a wonder of beauty just here; a mirror of placid loveliness above the dam, a tawny, roaring wonder at the fall, and a mad, white-flecked torrent as it dashes on its way to the ocean.
The river has seen strange sights in its time, though the history of these two tiny villages is quite unknown to the great world outside. They have been born, waxed strong, and fallen almost to decay while Saco Water has tumbled over the rocks and spent itself in its impetuous journey to the sea.
It remembers the yellow-moccasined Sokokis as they issued from the Indian Cellar and carried their birchen canoes along the wooded shore. It was in those years that the silver-skinned salmon leaped in its crystal depths; the otter and the beaver crept with sleek wet skins upon its shore; and the brown deer came down to quench his thirst at its brink while at twilight the stealthy forms of bear and panther and wolf were mirrored in its glassy surface.
Time sped; men chained the river's turbulent forces and ordered it to grind at the mill. Then houses and barns appeared along its banks, bridges were built, orchards planted, forests changed into farms, white-painted meetinghouses gleamed through the trees and distant bells rang from their steeples on quiet Sunday mornings.
All at once myriads of great hewn logs vexed its downward course, slender logs linked together in long rafts, and huge logs drifting down singly or in pairs. Men appeared, running hither and thither like ants, and going through mysterious operations the reason for which the river could never guess: but the mill-wheels turned, the great saws buzzed, the smoke from tavern chimneys rose in the air, and the rattle and clatter of stage-coaches resounded along the road.
Now children paddled with bare feet in the river's sandy coves and shallows, and lovers sat on its alder-shaded banks and exchanged their vows just where the shuffling bear was wont to come down and drink.
The Saco could remember the "cold year," when there was a black frost every month of the twelve, and though almost all the corn along its shores shrivelled on the stalk, there were two farms where the vapor from the river saved the crops, and all the seed for the next season came from the favored spot, to be known as "Egypt" from that day henceforward.
Strange, complex things now began to happen, and the river played its own part in some of these, for there were disastrous freshets, the sudden breaking-up of great jams of logs, and the drowning of men who were engulfed in the dark whirlpool below the rapids.
Caravans, with menageries of wild beasts, crossed the bridge now every year. An infuriated elephant lifted the side of the old Edgewood Tavern barn, and the wild laughter of the roistering rum-drinkers who were tantalizing the animals floated down to the river's edge. The roar of a lion, tearing and chewing the arm of one of the bystanders, and the cheers of the throng when a plucky captain of the local militia thrust a stake down the beast's throat, -- these sounds displaced the former war-whoop of the Indians and the ring of the axe in the virgin forests along the shores.
There were days, and moonlight nights, too, when strange sights and sounds of quite another nature could have been noted by the river as it flowed under the bridge that united the two little villages.
Issuing from the door of the Riverboro Town House, and winding down the hill, through the long row of teams and carriages that lined the roadside, came a procession of singing men and singing women. Convinced of sin, but entranced with promised pardon; spiritually intoxicated by the glowing eloquence of the latter-day prophet they were worshipping, the band of "Cochranites "marched down the dusty road and across the bridge, dancing, swaying, waving handkerchiefs, and shouting hosannas.
God watched, and listened, knowing that there would be other prophets, true and false, in the days to come, and other processions following them; and the river watched and listened too, as it hurried on towards the sea with its story of the present that was sometime to be the history of the past.
When Jacob Cochrane was leading his overwrought, ecstatic band across the river, Waitstill Baxter, then a child, was watching the strange, noisy company from the window of a little brick dwelling on the top of the Town-House Hill.
Her stepmother stood beside her with a young baby in her arms, but when she saw what held the gaze of the child she drew her away, saying: "We mustn't look, Waitstill; your father don't like it! "
"Who was the big man at the head, mother? "
"His name is Jacob Cochrane, but you mustn't think or talk about him; he is very wicked."
"He doesn't look any wickeder than the others," said the child. "Who was the man that fell down in the road, mother, and the woman that knelt and prayed over him? Why did he fall, and why did she pray, mother?"
"That was Master Aaron Boynton, the schoolmaster, and his wife. He only made believe to fall down, as the Cochranites do; the way they carry on is a disgrace to the village, and that's the reason your father won't let us look at them."
"I played with a nice boy over to Boynton's," mused the child.
"That was Ivory, their only child. He is a good little fellow, but his mother and father will spoil him with their crazy ways."
"I hope nothing will happen to him, for I love him," said the child gravely. "He showed me a humming-bird's nest, the first ever I saw, and the littlest!"
"Don't talk about loving him," chided the woman. "If your father should hear you, he'd send you to bed without your porridge."
"Father couldn't hear me, for I never speak when he's at home," said grave little Waitstill. "And I'm used to going to bed without my porridge."
(The Old Congregational Church at Saco Maine)
The river was still running under the bridge, but the current of time had swept Jacob Cochrane out of sight, though not out of mind, for he had left here and there a disciple to preach his strange and uncertain doctrine. Waitstill, the child who never spoke in her father's presence, was a young woman now, the mistress of the house; the stepmother was dead, and the baby a girl of seventeen.
The brick cottage on the hilltop had grown only a little shabbier. Deacon Foxwell Baxter still slammed its door behind him every morning at seven o'clock and, without any such cheerful conventions as good-byes to his girls, walked down to the bridge to open his store.
The day, properly speaking, had opened when Waitstill and Patience had left their beds at dawn, built the fire, fed the hens and turkeys, and prepared the breakfast, while the Deacon was graining the horse and milking the cows. Such minor "chores" as carrying water from the well, splitting kindling, chopping pine, or bringing wood into the kitchen, were left to Waitstill, who had a strong back, or, if she had not, had never been unwise enough to mention the fact in her father's presence. The almanac day, however, which opened with sunrise, had nothing to do with the real human day, which always began when Mr. Baxter slammed the door behind him, and reached its high noon of delight when he disappeared from view.
"He's opening the store shutters!" chanted Patience from the heights of a kitchen chair by the window. "Now he's taken his cane and beaten off the Boynton puppy that was sitting on the steps as usual,--I don't mean Ivory's dog" (here the girl gave a quick glance at her sister)," but Rodman's little yellow cur. Rodman must have come down to the bridge on some errand for Ivory. Isn't it odd, when that dog has all the other store steps to sit upon, he should choose father's, when every bone in his body must tell him how father hates him and the whole Boynton family."
"Father has no real cause that I ever heard of; but some dogs never know when they've had enough beating, nor some people either." said Waitstill, speaking from the pantry.
"Don't be gloomy when it's my birthday, Sis!--Now he's opened the door and kicked the cat! All is ready for business at the Baxter store."
"I wish you weren't quite so free with your tongue, Patty."
"Somebody must talk," retorted the girl, jumping down from the chair and shaking back her mop of red-gold curls. "I'll put this hateful, childish, round comb in and out just once more, then it will disappear forever. This very after-noon up goes my hair!"
"You know it will be of no use unless you braid it very plainly and neatly. Father will take notice and make you smooth it down."
"Father hasn't looked me square in the face for years; besides, my hair won't braid, and nothing can make it quite plain and neat, thank goodness! Let us be thankful for small mercies, as Jed Morrill said when the lightning struck his mother-in-law and skipped his wife."
"Patty, I will not permit you to repeat those tavern stories; they are not seemly on the lips of a girl!" And Waitstill came out of the pantry with a shadow of disapproval in her eyes and in her voice.
Patty flung her arms round her sister tempestuously, and pulled out the waves of her hair so that it softened her face. -- "I'll be good," she said, "and oh, Waity! let's invent some sort of cheap happiness for to-day! I shall never be seventeen again and we have so many troubles!
Let's put one of the cows in the horse's stall and see what will happen! Or let's spread up our beds with the head at the foot and put the chest of drawers on the other side of the room, or let's make candy! Do you think father would miss the molasses if we only use a cupful? Couldn't we strain the milk, but leave the churning and the dishes for an hour or two, just once? If you say 'yes' I can think of something wonderful to do!"
"What is it?" asked Waitstill, relenting at the sight of the girl's eager, roguish face.
"PIERCE MY EARS!" cried Patty. "Say you will!"
"Oh! Patty, Patty, I am afraid you are given over to vanity! I daren't let you wear eardrops without father's permission."
"Why not? Lots of church members wear them, so it can't be a mortal sin. Father is against all adornments, but that's because he doesn't want to buy them. You've always said I should have your mother's coral pendants when I was old enough. Here I am, seventeen today, and Dr. Perry says I am already a well-favored young woman. I can pull my hair over my ears for a few days and when the holes are all made and healed, even father cannot make me fill them up again. Besides, I'll never wear the earrings at home!"
"Oh! my dear, my dear!" sighed Waitstill, with a half-sob in her voice. "If only I was wise enough to know how we could keep from these little deceits, yet have any liberty or comfort in life!"
"We can't! The Lord couldn't expect us to bear all that we bear," exclaimed Patty, "without our trying once in a while to have a good time in our own way. We never do a thing that we are ashamed of, or that other girls don't do every day in the week; only our pleasures always have to be taken behind father's back. It's only me that's ever wrong, anyway, for you are always an angel. It's a burning shame and you only twenty-one yourself. I'll pierce your ears if you say so, and let you wear your own coral drops!"
"No, Patty; I've outgrown those longings years ago. When your mother died and left father and you and the house to me, my girlhood died, too, though I was only thirteen."
"It was only your inside girlhood that died," insisted Patty stoutly, "The outside is as fresh as the paint on Uncle Barty's new ell. You've got the loveliest eyes and hair in Riverboro, and you know it; besides, Ivory Boynton would tell you so if you didn't. Come and bore my ears, there's a darling!"
"Ivory Boynton never speaks a word of my looks, nor a word that father and all the world mightn't hear." And Waitstill flushed.
"Then it's because he's shy and silent and has so many troubles of his own that he doesn't dare say anything. When my hair is once up and the coral pendants are swinging in my ears, I shall expect to hear something about MY looks, I can tell you. Waity, after all, though we never have what we want to eat, and never a decent dress to our backs, nor a young man to cross the threshold, I wouldn't change places with Ivory Boynton, would you?" Here Patty swept the hearth vigorously with a turkey wing and added a few corncobs to the fire.
Waitstill paused a moment in her task of bread-kneading. "Well," she answered critically, "at least we know where our father is."
"We do, indeed! We also know that he is thoroughly alive!" "And though people do talk about him, they can't say the things they say of Master Aaron Boynton. I don't believe father would ever run away and desert us."
"I fear not," said Patty. "I wish the angels would put the idea into his head, though, of course, it wouldn't be the angels; they'd be above it. It would have to be the 'Old Driver,' as Jed Morrill calls the Evil One; but whoever did it, the result would be the same: we should be deserted, and live happily ever after. Oh! to be deserted, and left with you alone on this hilltop, what joy it would be!"
Waitstill frowned, but did not interfere further with Patty's intemperate speech. She knew that she was simply serving as an escape-valve, and that after the steam was "let off" she would be more rational.
"Of course, we are motherless," continued Patty wistfully, "but poor Ivory is worse than motherless."
"No, not worse, Patty," said Waitstill, taking the bread-board and moving towards the closet. "Ivory loves his mother and she loves him, with all the mind she has left! She has the best blood of New England flowing in her veins, and I suppose it was a great come down for her to marry Aaron Boynton, clever and gifted though he was. Now Ivory has to protect her, poor, daft, innocent creature, and hide her away from the gossip of the village. He is surely the best of sons, Ivory Boynton!"
"She is a terrible care for him, and like to spoil his life," said Patty.
"There are cares that swell the heart and make it bigger and warmer, Patty, just as there are cares that shrivel it and leave it tired and cold.
Love lightens Ivory's afflictions but that is something you and I have to do without, so it seems."
"I suppose little Rodman is some comfort to the Boyntons, even if he is only ten." Patty suggested.
"No doubt. He's a good little fellow, and though it's rather hard for Ivory to be burdened for these last five years with the support of a child who's no nearer kin than a cousin, still he's of use, minding Mrs. Boynton and the house when Ivory's away. The school-teacher says he is wonderful at his books and likely to be a great credit to the Boyntons some day or other."
"You've forgot to name our one great blessing, Waity, and I believe, anyway, you're talking to keep my mind off the earrings!"
"You mean we've each other? No, Patty, I never forget that, day or night. 'Tis that makes me willing to bear any burden father chooses to put upon us.--Now the bread is set, but I don't believe I have the courage to put a needle into your tender flesh, Patty; I really don't."
"Nonsense! I've got the waxed silk all ready and chosen the right-sized needle and I'll promise not to jump or screech more than I can help. We'll make a tiny lead-pencil dot right in the middle of the lobe, then you place the needle on it, shut your eyes, and JAB HARD! I expect to faint, but when I 'come to,' we can decide which of us will pull the needle through to the other side. Probably it will be you, I'm such a coward. If it hurts dreadfully, I'll have only one pierced to-day and take the other to-morrow; and if it hurts very dreadfully, perhaps I'll go through life with one ear-ring. Aunt Abby Cole will say it's just odd enough to suit me!"
"You'll never go through life with one tongue at the rate you use it now," chided Waitstill, "for it will never last you. Come, we'll take the work-basket and go out in the barn where no one will see or hear us."
"Goody, goody! Come along!" and Patty clapped her hands in triumph. "Have you got the pencil and the needle and the waxed silk? Then bring the camphor bottle to revive me, and the coral pendants, too, just to give me courage. Hurry up! It's ten o'clock. I was born at sun-rise, so I'm 'going on' eighteen and can't waste any time!"
(The Old Shaker Church at Enfield, New Hampshire)
Something of a Hero
Ivory Boynton lifted the bars that divided his land from the highroad and walked slowly toward the house. It was April, but there were still patches of snow here and there, fast melting under a drizzling rain. It was a gray world, a bleak, black-and-brown world, above and below. The sky was leaden; the road and the footpath were deep in a muddy ooze flecked with white. The tree-trunks, black, with bare branches, were lined against the gray sky; nevertheless, spring had been on the way for a week, and a few sunny days would bring the yearly miracle for which all hearts were longing.
Ivory was season-wise and his quick eye had caught many a sign as he walked through the woods from his schoolhouse. A new and different color haunted the tree-tops, and one had only to look closely at the elm buds to see that they were beginning to swell. Some fat robins had been sunning about in the school-yard at noon, and sparrows had been chirping and twittering on the fence-rails. Yes, the winter was over, and Ivory was glad, for it had meant no coasting and -skating and sleighing for him, but long walks in deep snow or slush; long evenings, good for study, but short days, and greater loneliness for his mother. He could see her now as he neared the house, standing in the open doorway, her hand shading her eyes, watching, always watching, for some one who never came.
"Spring is on the way, mother, but it isn't here yet, so don't stand there in the rain," he called. "Look at the nosegay I gathered for you as I came through the woods. Here are pussy willows and red maple blossoms and Mayflowers, would you believe it?"
Lois Boynton took the handful of budding things and sniffed their fragrance.
"You're late to-night, Ivory," she said. "Rod wanted his supper early so that he could go off to singing-school, but I kept something warm for you, and I'll make you a fresh cup of tea."
Ivory went into the little shed room off the kitchen, changed his muddy boots for slippers, and made himself generally tidy; then he came back to the living-room bringing a pine knot which he flung on the fire, waking it to a brilliant flame.
"We can be as lavish as we like with the stumps now, mother, for spring is coming," he said, as he sat down to his meal.
"I've been looking out more than usual this afternoon," she replied. "There's hardly any snow left, and though the walking is so bad I've been rather expecting your father before night. You remember he said, when he went away in January, that he should be back before the Mayflowers bloomed?"
It did not do any good to say: "Yes, mother, but the Mayflowers have bloomed ten times since father went away." He had tried that, gently and persistently when first her mind began to be confused from long grief and hurt love, stricken pride and sick suspense.
Instead of that, Ivory turned the subject cheerily, saying, "Well, we're sure of a good season, I think. There's been a grand snow-fall, and that, they say, is the poor man's manure. Rod and I will put in more corn and potatoes this year. I shan't have to work single-handed very long, for he is growing to be quite a farmer."
"Your father was very fond of green corn, but he never cared for potatoes," Mrs. Boynton said, vaguely, taking up her knitting. "I always had great pride in my cooking, but I could never get your father to relish my potatoes."
"Well, his son does, anyway," Ivory replied, helping himself plentifully from a dish that held one of his mother's best concoctions, potatoes minced fine and put together into the spider with thin bits of pork and all browned together.
"I saw the Baxter girls to-day, mother," he continued, not because he hoped she would give any heed to what he said, but from the sheer longing for companionship. "The Deacon drove off with Lawyer Wilson, who wanted him to give testimony in some case or other down in Milltown. The minute Patty saw him going up Saco Hill, she harnessed the old starved Baxter mare and the girls started over to the Lower Corner to see some friends. It seems it's Patty's birthday and they were celebrating. I met them just as they were coming back and helped them lift the rickety wagon out of the mud; they were stuck in it up to the hubs of the wheels. I advised them to walk up the Town-House Hill if they ever expected to get the horse home."
Town-House Hill!" said Ivory's mother, dropping her knitting. "That was where we had such wonderful meetings! Truly the Lord was present in our midst, and oh, Ivory! the visions we saw in that place when Jacob Cochrane first unfolded his gospel to us. Was ever such a man!"
"Probably not, mother," remarked Ivory dryly.
"You were speaking of the Baxters. I remember their home, and the little girl who used to stand in the gateway and watch when we came out of meeting. There was a baby, too; isn't there a Baxter baby, Ivory?"
"She didn't stay a baby; she is seventeen years old to-day, mother."
"You surprise me, but children do grow very fast. She had a strange name, but I cannot recall it."
"Her name is Patience, but nobody but her father calls her anything but Patty, which suits her much better."
"No, the name wasn't Patience, not the one I mean."
"The older sister is Waitstill, perhaps you mean her?"-and Ivory sat down by the fire with his book and his pipe.
"Waitstill! Waitstill! that is it! Such a beautiful name!"
"She's a beautiful girl."
"Waitstill! 'They also serve who only stand and wait.' 'Wait, I say, on the Lord and He will give thee the desires of thy heart.'--Those were wonderful days, when we were caught up out of the body and mingled freely in the spirit world." Mrs. Boynton was now fully started on the topic that absorbed her mind and Ivory could do nothing but let her tell the story that she had told him a hundred times.
"I remember when first we heard Jacob Cochrane speak." (This was her usual way of beginning.) "Your father was a preacher, as you know, Ivory, but you will never know what a wonderful preacher he was. My grandfather, being a fine gentleman, and a governor, would not give his consent to my marriage, but I never regretted it, never! Your father saw Elder Cochrane at a revival meeting of the Free Will Baptists in Scarboro', and was much impressed with him. A few days later we went to the funeral of a child in the same neighborhood. No one who was there could ever forget it. The minister had made his long prayer when a man suddenly entered the room, came towards the coffin, and placed his hand on the child's forehead. The room, in an instant, was as still as the death that had called us together. The stranger was tall and of commanding presence; his eyes pierced our very hearts, and his marvellous voice penetrated to depths in our souls that had never been reached before."
"Was he a better speaker than my father?" asked Ivory, who dreaded his mother's hours of complete silence even more than her periods of reminiscence.
"He spoke as if the Lord of Hosts had given him inspiration; as if the angels were pouring words into his mouth just for him to utter," replied Mrs. Boynton. "Your father was spell-bound, and I only less so. When he ceased speaking, the child's mother crossed the room, and swaying to and fro, fell at his feet, sobbing and wailing and imploring God to forgive her sins.
They carried her upstairs, and when we looked about after the confusion and excitement the stranger had vanished. But we found him again! As Elder Cochrane said: 'The prophet of the Lord can never be hid; no darkness is thick enough to cover him!' There was a six weeks' revival meeting in North Saco where three hundred souls were converted, and your father and I were among them. We had fancied ourselves true believers for years, but Jacob Cochrane unstopped our ears so that we could hear the truths revealed to him by the Almighty!-It was all so simple and easy at the beginning, but it grew hard and grievous afterward; hard to keep the path, I mean. I never quite knew whether God was angry with me for backsliding at the end, but I could not always accept the revelations that Elder Cochrane and your father had!"
Lois Boynton's hands were now quietly folded over the knitting that lay forgotten in her lap, but her low, thrilling voice had a note in it that did not belong wholly to earth.
There was a long silence; one of many long silences at the Boynton fireside, broken only by the ticking of the clock, the purring of the cat, and the clicking of Mrs. Boynton's needles, as, her paroxysm of reminiscence over, she knitted ceaselessly, with her eyes on the window or the door.
"It's about time for Rod to be coming back, isn't it? " asked Ivory.
"He ought to be here soon, but perhaps he is gone for good; it may be that he thinks he has made us a long enough visit. I don't know whether your father will like the boy when he comes home. He never did fancy company in the house."
Ivory looked up in astonishment from his Greek grammar. This was an entirely new turn of his mother's mind. Often when she was more than usually confused he would try to clear the cobwebs from her brain by gently questioning her until she brought herself back to a clearer understanding of her own thought. Thus far her vagaries had never made her unjust to any human creature; she was uniformly sweet and gentle in speech and demeanor.
"Why do you talk of Rod's visiting us when he is one of the family?" Ivory asked quietly.
"Is he one of the family? I didn't know it," replied his mother absently.
"Look at me, mother, straight in the eye; that's right: now listen, dear, to what I say."
Mrs. Boynton's hair that had been in her youth like an aureole of corn-silk was now a strange yellow-white, and her blue eyes looked out from her pale face with a helpless appeal.
"You and I were living alone here after father went away," Ivory began. "I was a little boy, you know. You and father had saved something, there was the farm, you worked like a slave, I helped, and we lived, somehow, do you remember?"
"I do, indeed! It was cold and the neighbors were cruel. Jacob Cochrane had gone away and his disciples were not always true to him. When the magnetism of his presence was withdrawn, they could not follow all his revelations, and they forgot how he had awakened their spiritual life at the first of his preaching. Your father was always a stanch believer, but when he started on his mission and went to Parsonsfield to help Elder Cochrane in his meetings, the neighbors began to criticize him. They doubted him. You were too young to realize it, but I did, and it almost broke my heart."
"I was nearly twelve years old; do you think I escaped all the gossip, mother?"
"You never spoke of it to me, Ivory."
"No, there is much that I never spoke of to you, mother, but sometime when you grow stronger and your memory is better we will talk together. -- Do you remember the winter, long after father went away, that Parson Lane sent me to Fairfield Academy to get enough Greek and Latin to make me a schoolmaster?"
"Yes," she answered uncertainly.
"Don't you remember I got a free ride down-river one Friday and came home for Sunday, just to surprise you? And when I got here I found you ill in bed, with Mrs. Mason and Dr. Perry taking care of you. You could not speak, you were so ill, but they told me you had been up in New Hampshire to see your sister, that she had died, and that you had brought back her boy, who was only four years old. That was Rod. I took him into bed with me that night, poor, homesick little fellow, and, as you know, mother, he's never left us since."
"I didn't remember I had a sister. Is she dead, Ivory? " asked Mrs. Boynton vaguely.
"If she were not dead, do you suppose you would have kept Rodman with us when we hadn't bread enough for our own two mouths, mother?" questioned Ivory patiently.
"No, of course not. I can't think how I can be so forgetful. It's worse sometimes than others. It 's worse to-day because I knew the Mayflowers were blooming and that reminded me it was time for your father to come home; you must forgive me, dear, and will you excuse me if I sit in the kitchen awhile? The window by the side door looks out towards the road, and if I put a candle on the sill it shines quite a distance. The lane is such a long one, and your father was always a sad stumbler in the dark! I shouldn't like him to think I wasn't looking for him when he's been gone since January."
Ivory's pipe went out, and his book slipped from his knee unnoticed.
His mother was more confused than usual, but she always was when spring came to remind her of her husband's promise. Somehow, well used as he was to her mental wanderings, they made him uneasy to-night. His father had left home on a fancied mission, a duty he believed to be a revelation given by God through Jacob Cochrane. The farm did not miss him much at first, Ivory reflected bitterly, for since his fanatical espousal of Cochranism his father's interest in such mundane matters as household expenses had diminished month by month until they had no meaning for him at all. Letters to wife and boy had come at first, but after six months -- during which he had written from many places, continually deferring the date of his return -- they had ceased altogether. The rest was silence. Rumors of his presence here or there came from time to time, but though Parson Lane and Dr. Perry did their best, none of them were ever substantiated.
Where had those years of wandering been passed, and had they all been given even to an imaginary and fantastic service of God? Was his father dead? If he were alive, what could keep him from writing? Nothing but a very strong reason, or a very wrong one, so his son thought, at times.
Since Ivory had grown to man's estate, he understood that in the later days of Cochrane's preaching, his "visions," "inspirations," and "revelations" concerning the marriage bond were a trifle startling from the old-fashioned, orthodox point of view. His most advanced disciples were to hold themselves in readiness to renounce their former vows and seek "spiritual consorts," sometimes according to his advice, sometimes as their inclinations prompted.
Had Aaron Boynton forsaken, willingly, the wife of his youth, the mother of his boy? If so, he must have realized to what straits he was subjecting them. Ivory had not forgotten those first few years of grinding poverty, anxiety, and suspense. His mother's mind had stood the strain bravely, but it gave way at last; not, however, until that fatal winter journey to New Hampshire, when cold, exposure, and fatigue did their worst for her weak body. Religious enthusiast, exalted and impressionable, a natural mystic, she had probably always been, far more so in temperament, indeed, than her husband; but although she left home on that journey a frail and heartsick woman, she returned a different creature altogether, blurred and confused in mind, with clouded memory and irrational fancies.
She must have given up hope, just then, Ivory thought, and her love was so deep that when it was uprooted the soil came with it. Now hope had returned because the cruel memory had faded altogether. She sat by the kitchen window in gentle expectation, watching, always watching.
And this is the way many of Ivory Boynton's evenings were spent, while the heart of him, the five-and-twenty-year-old heart of him, was longing to feel the beat of another heart, a girl's heart only a mile or more away. The ice in Saco Water had broken up and the white blocks sailed majestically down towards the sea; sap was mounting and the elm trees were budding; the trailing arbutus was blossoming in the woods; the robins had come; -- everything was announcing the spring, yet Ivory saw no changing seasons in his future; nothing but winter, eternal winter there!
(The Danish Village at Scarboro, Maine)
On Tory Hill
It had been a heavenly picnic the little trio all agreed as to that; and when Ivory saw the Baxter girls coming up the shady path that led along the river from the Indian Cellar to the bridge, it was a merry group and a transfigured Rodman that caught his eye. The boy, trailing on behind with the baskets and laden with tin dippers and wildflowers, seemed another creature from the big-eyed, quiet little lad he saw every day. He had chattered like a magpie, eaten like a bear, is torn his jacket getting wild columbines for Patty, been nicely darned by Waitstill, and was in a state of hilarity that rendered him quite unrecognizable.
"We've had a lovely picnic!" called Patty; "I wish you had been with us!"
"You didn't ask me!" smiled Ivory, picking up Waitstill's mending-basket from the nook in the trees where she had hidden it for safe-keeping.
"We've played games, Ivory," cried the boy. 'Patty made them up herself. First we had the 'Landing of the Pilgrims,' and Waitstill made believe be the figurehead of the Mayflower. She stood on a great boulder and sang: --
On a stern and rock-bound coast'--
and, oh! she was splendid! Then Patty was Pocahontas and I was Cap'n John Smith, and look, we are all dressed up for the Indian wedding!"
Waitstill had on a crown of white birch bark and her braid of hair, twined with running ever-green, fell to her waist. Patty was wreathed with columbines and decked with some turkey feathers that she had put in her basket as too pretty to throw away. Waitstill looked rather conscious in her unusual finery, but Patty sported it with the reckless ease and innocent vanity that characterized her.
"I shall have to run into father's store to put myself tidy," Waitstill said, "so good-bye, Rodman, we'll have another picnic some day. Patty, you must do the chores this afternoon, you know, so that I can go to choir rehearsal,"
Rodman and Patty started up the hill gayly with their burdens, and Ivory walked by Waitstill's side as she pulled off her birch-bark crown and twisted her braid around her head with a heightened color at being watched.
"I'll say good-bye now, Ivory, but I'11 see you at the meeting-house," she said, as she neared the store. "I'll go in here and brush the pine needles off, wash my hands, and rest a little before rehearsal. That's a puzzling anthem we have for to-morrow."
"I have my horse here; let me drive you up to the church."
"I can't, Ivory, thank you. Father's orders are against my driving out with any one, you know."
"Very well, the road is free, at any rate. I'll hitch my horse down here in the woods somewhere and when you start to walk I shall follow and catch up with you. There's luckily only one way to reach the church from here, and your father can't blame us if we both take it!"
And so it fell out that Ivory and Waitstill walked together in the cool of the afternoon to the meeting-house on Tory Hill. Waitstill kept the beaten path on one side and Ivory that on the other, so that the width of the country road, deep in dust, was between them, yet their nearness seemed so tangible a thing that each could feel the heart beating in the other's side. Their talk was only that of tried friends, a talk interrupted by long beautiful silences; silences that come only to a man and woman whose understanding of each other is beyond question and answer. Not a sound broke the stillness, yet the very air, it seemed to them, was shedding meanings: the flowers were exhaling a love secret with their fragrances, the birds were singing it boldly from the tree-tops, yet no word passed the man's lips or the girl's. Patty would have hung out all sorts of signals and lures to draw the truth from Ivory and break through the walls of his self-control, but Waitstill, never; and Ivory Boynton was made of stuff so strong that he would not speak a syllable of love to a woman unless he could say all. He was only five-and-twenty, but he had been reared in a rigorous school, and had learned in its poverty, loneliness, and anxiety lessons of self-denial and self-control that bore daily fruit now. He knew that Deacon Baxter would never allow any engagement to exist between Waitstill and himself; he also knew that Waitstill would never defy and disobey her father if it meant leaving her younger sister to fight alone a dreary battle for which she was not fitted. If there was little hope on her side there seemed even less on his. His mother's mental illness made her peculiarly dependent upon him, and at the same time held him in such strict bondage that it was almost impossible for him to get on in the world or even to give her the comforts she needed. In villages like Riverboro in those early days there was no putting away, even of men or women so demented as to be something of a menace to the peace of the household; but Lois Boynton was so gentle, so fragile, so exquisite a spirit, that she seemed in her sad aloofness simply a thing to be sheltered and shielded somehow in her difficult life journey. Ivory often thought how sorely she needed a daughter in her affliction. If the baby sister had only lived, the home might have been different; but alas! there was only a son, -- a son who tried to be tender and sympathetic, but after all was nothing but a big, clumsy, uncomprehending man-creature, who ought to be felling trees, ploughing, sowing, reaping, or at least studying law, making his own fortune and that of some future wife. Old Mrs. Mason, a garrulous, good-hearted grandame, was their only near neighbor, and her visits always left his mother worse rather than better. How such a girl as Waitstill would pour comfort and beauty and joy into a lonely house like his, if only he were weak enough to call upon her strength and put it to so cruel a test. God help him, he would never do that, especially as he could not earn enough to keep a larger family, bound down as he was by inexorable responsibilities. Waitstill, thus far in life, had suffered many sorrows and enjoyed few pleasures; marriage ought to bring her freedom and plenty, not carking care and poverty. He stole long looks at the girl across the separating space that was so helpless to separate,--feeding his starved heart upon her womanly graces. Her quick, springing step was in harmony with the fire and courage of her mien. There was a line or two in her face, -- small wonder; but an "unconquerable soul" shone in her eyes; shone, too, in no uncertain way, but brightly and steadily, expressing an unshaken joy in living. Valiant, splendid, indomitable Waitstill! He could never tell her, alas! but how he gloried in her!
It is needless to say that no woman could be the possessor of such a love as Ivory Boynton's and not know of its existence. Waitstill never heard a breath of it from Ivory's lips; even his eyes were under control and confessed nothing; nor did his hand ever clasp hers, to show by a tell-tale touch the truth he dared not utter; nevertheless she felt that she was beloved. She hid the knowledge deep in her heart and covered it softly from every eye but her own; taking it out in the safe darkness sometimes to wonder over and adore in secret. Did her love for Ivory rest partly on a sense of vocation?--a profound, inarticulate divining of his vast need of her? He was so strong, yet so weak because of the yoke he bore, so bitterly alone in his desperate struggle with life, that her heart melted like wax whenever she thought of him. When she contemplated the hidden mutiny in her own heart, she was awestruck sometimes at the almost divine patience of Ivory's conduct as a son.
"How is your mother this summer, Ivory?" she asked as they sat down on the meeting-house steps waiting for Jed Morrill to open the door. "There is little change in her from year to year, Waitstill.--By the way, why don't we get out of this afternoon sun and sit in the old graveyard under the trees? We are early and the choir won't get here for half an hour.--Dr. Perry says that he does not understand mother's case in the least, and that no one but some great Boston physician could give a proper opinion on it; of course, that is impossible at present."
They sat down on the grass underneath one of the elms and Waitstill took off her hat and leaned back against the tree-trunk.
"Tell me more," she said; "it is so long since we talked together quietly and we have never really spoken of your mother."
"Of course," Ivory continued, "the people of the village all think and speak of mother's illness as religious insanity, but to me it seems nothing of the sort. I was only a child when father first fell ill with Jacob Cochrane, but I was twelve when father went away from home on his 'mission,' and if there was any one suffering from delusions in our family it was he, not mother. She had altogether given up going to the Cochrane meetings, and I well remember the scene when my father told her of the revelation he had received about going through the state and into New Hampshire in order to convert others and extend the movement. She had no sympathy with his self-imposed mission, you may be sure, though now she goes back in her memory to the earlier days of her married life, when she tried hard, poor soul, to tread the same path that father was treading, so as to be by his side at every turn of the road.
"I am sure" (here Ivory's tone was somewhat dry and satirical) "that father's road had many turns, Waitstill! He was a schoolmaster in Saco, you know, when I was born but he soon turned from teaching to preaching, and here my mother followed with entire sympathy, for she was intensely, devoutly religious. I said there was little change in her, but there is one new symptom. She has ceased to refer to her conversion to Cochranism as a blessed experience. Her memory of those first days seems to have faded, As to her sister's death and all the circumstances of her bringing Rodman home, her mind is a blank. Her expectation of father's return, on the other hand, is much more intense than ever."
"She must have loved your father dearly, Ivory, and to lose him in this terrible way is much worse than death. Uncle Bart says he had a great gift of language!"
"Yes, and it was that, in my mind, that led him astray. I fear that the Spirit of God was never so strong in father as the desire to influence people by his oratory. That was what drew him to preaching in the first place, and when he found in ,Jacob Cochrane a man who could move an audience to frenzy, lift them out of the body, and do with their spirits as he willed, he acknowledged him as master. Whether his gospel was a pure and undefiled religion I doubt, but he certainly was a master of mesmeric control. My mother was beguiled, entranced, even bewitched at first, I doubt not, for she translated all that Cochrane said into her own speech, and regarded him as the prophet of a new era. But Cochrane's last 'revelations' differed from the first, and were of the earth, earthy. My mother's pure soul must have revolted, but she was not strong enough to drag father from his allegiance. Mother was of better family than father, but they were both well educated and had the best schooling to be had in their day. So far as I can judge, mother always had more 'balance' than father, and much better judgment, -- yet look at her now!"
"Then you think it was your father's disappearance that really caused her mind to waver? " asked Waitstill.
"I do, indeed. I don't know what happened between them in the way of religious differences, nor how much unhappiness these may have caused. I remember she had an illness when we first came here to live and I was a little chap of three or four, but that was caused by the loss of a child, a girl, who lived only a few weeks. She recovered perfectly, and her head was as clear as mine for a year or two after father went away. As his letters grew less frequent, as news of him gradually ceased to come, she became more and more silent, and retired more completely into herself. She never went anywhere, nor entertained visitors, because she did not wish to hear the gossip and speculation that were going on in the village. Some of it was very hard for a wife to bear, and she resented it indignantly; yet never received a word from father with which to refute it. At this time, as nearly as I can judge, she was a recluse, and subject to periods of profound melancholy, but nothing worse. Then she took that winter journey to her sister's deathbed, brought home the boy, and, hastened by exposure and chill and grief, I suppose, her mind gave way, -- that's all!" And Ivory sighed drearily as he stretched himself on the greensward, and looked off towards the snow-clad New Hampshire hills." I've meant to write the story of the 'Cochrane craze' sometime, or such part of it as has to do with my family history, and you shall read it if you like. I should set down my child-hood and my boyhood memories, together with such scraps of village hearsay as seem reliable. You were not so much younger than I, but I was in the thick of the excitement, and naturally I heard more than you, having so bitter a reason for being interested. Jacob Cochrane has altogether disappeared from public view, but there's many a family in Maine and New Hampshire, yes, and in the far West, that will feel his influence for years to come."
"I should like very much to read your account. Aunt Abby's version, for instance, is so different from Uncle Bart's that one can scarcely find the truth between the two; and father's bears no relation to that of any of the others."
"Some of us see facts and others see visions, replied Ivory, "and these differences of opinion crop up in the village every day when anything noteworthy is discussed. I came upon a quotation in my reading last evening that described it:
'One said it thundered... another that an angel spake'"
"Do you feel as if your father was dead, Ivory?"
"I can only hope so! That thought brings sadness with it, as one remembers his disappointment and failure, but if he is alive he is a traitor."
There was a long pause and they could see in the distance Humphrey Barker with his clarionet and Pliny Waterhouse with his bass viol driving up to the churchyard fence to hitch their horses. The sun was dipping low and red behind the Town-House Hill on the other side of the river.
"What makes my father dislike the very mention of yours?" asked Waitstill. "I know what they say: that it is because the two men had high words once in a Cochrane meeting, when father tried to interfere with some of the exercises and was put out of doors. It doesn't seem as if that grievance, seventeen or eighteen years ago, would influence his opinion of your mother, or of you."
"It isn't likely that a man of your father's sort would forget or forgive what he considered an injury; and in refusing to have anything to do with the son of a disgraced man and a deranged woman, he is well within his rights."
Ivory's cheeks burned red under the tan, and his hand trembled a little as he plucked bits of clover from the grass and pulled them to pieces absent-mindedly. "How are you getting on at home these days, Waitstill?" he asked, as if to turn his own mind and hers from a too painful subject.
"You have troubles enough of your own without hearing mine, Ivory, and anyway they are not big afflictions, heavy sorrows, like those you have to bear. Mine are just petty, nagging, sordid, cheap little miseries, like gnat-bites; -- so petty and so sordid that I can hardly talk to God about them, much less to a human friend. Patty is my only outlet and I need others, yet I find it almost impossible to escape from the narrowness of my life and be of use to any one else." The girl's voice quivered and a single tear-drop on her cheek showed that she was speaking from a full heart. "This afternoon's talk has determined me in one thing," she went on. "I am going to see your mother now and then. I shall have to do it secretly, for your sake, for hers, and for my own, but if I am found out, then I will go openly. There must be times when one can break the lower law, and yet keep the higher. Father's law, in this case, is the lower, and I propose to break it."
"I can't have you getting into trouble, Waitstill," Ivory objected. "You're the one woman I can think of who might help my mother; all the same, I would not make your life harder; not for worlds!"
"It will not be harder, and even if it was I should 'count it all joy' to help a woman bear such sorrow as your mother endures patiently day after day"; and Waitstill rose to her feet and tied on her hat as one who had made up her mind.
It was almost impossible for Ivory to hold his peace then, so full of gratitude was his soul and so great his longing to pour out the feeling that flooded it. He pulled himself together and led the way out of the churchyard. To look at Waitstill again would be to lose his head, but to his troubled heart there came a flood of light, a glory from that lamp that a woman may hold up for a man; a glory that none can take from him, and none can darken; a light by which he may walk and live and die.
(One of the earliest news reports on J. Cochran - 1819)
Chapter XVII (Autumn)
A Brace of Lovers
Haying was over, and the close, sticky dog-days, too, and August was slipping into September. There had been plenty of rain all the season and the countryside was looking as fresh and green as an emerald. The hillsides were already clothed with a verdant growth of new grass and
Hung motionless upon their upright staves."
How they gleamed in the meadow grasses and along the brooksides like brilliant flecks of flame, giving a new beauty to the nosegays that Waitstill carried or sent to Mrs. Boynton every week.
To the eye of the casual observer, life in the two little villages by the river's brink went on as peacefully as ever, but there were subtle changes taking place nevertheless. Cephas Cole had "asked" the second time and again had been refused by Patty, so that even a very idiot for hopefulness could not urge his father to put another story on the ell.
"If it turns out to be Phoebe Day," thought Cephas dolefully, "two rooms is plenty good enough, an' I shan't block up the door that leads from the main part, neither, as I thought likely I should. If so be it's got to be Phoebe, not Patty, I shan't care whether mother troops out 'n' in or not." And Cephas dealt out rice and tea and coffee with so languid an air, and made such frequent mistakes in weighing the sugar, that he drew upon himself many a sharp rebuke from the Deacon.
"Of course I'd club him over the head with a salt fish twice a day under ord'nary circumstances," Cephas confided to his father with a valiant air that he never wore in Deacon Baxter's presence; "but I've got a reason, known to nobody but myself, for wantin' to stan' well with the old man for a spell longer. If ever I quit wantin' to stan' well with him, he'll get his comeuppance, short an sudden!"
"Speakin' o' standin' well with folks, Phil Perry's kind o' makin' up to Patience Baxter, ain't he, Cephas?" asked Uncle Bart guardedly. "Mebbe you wouldn't notice it, hevin' no partic'lar int'rest, but your mother's kind o got the idee into her head lately, an' she's turrible far-sighted."
"I guess it's so!" Cephas responded gloomily. "It's nip an' tuck 'tween him an' Mark Wilson.
That girl draws 'em as molasses does flies! She does it 'thout liftin' a finger, too, no more 'n the molasses does. She just sets still an' IS! An' all the time she's nothin' but a flighty little red-headed spitfire that don't know a good husband when she sees one. The feller that gits her will live to regret it, that's my opinion! "And Cephas thought to himself: "Good Lord, don't I wish I was regrettin' it this very minute!"
"I s'pose a girl like Phoebe Day'd be consid'able less trouble to live with?" ventured Uncle Bart.
"I never could take any fancy to that tow hair o' hern! I like the color well enough when I'm peeling it off a corn cob, but I don't like it on a girl's head," objected Cephas hypercritically. "An' her eyes hain't got enough blue in 'em to be blue: they're jest like skim-milk. An' she keeps her mouth open a little mite all the time, jest as if there wa'n't no good draught through, an' she was a-tryin' to git air. An' 't was me that begun callin' her 'Feeble Phoebe in school, an' the scholars'll never forgit it; they'd throw it up to me the whole 'durin' time if I should go to work an' keep company with her!"
"Mebbe they've forgot by this time," Uncle Bart responded hopefully; "though 't is an awful resk when you think o' Companion Pike! Samuel he was baptized and Samuel he continued to be, "till he married the Widder Bixby from Waterboro. Bein' as how there wa'n't nothin' partic'ly attractive 'bout him,--though he was as nice a feller as ever lived, -- somebody asked her why she married him, an' she said her cat hed jest died an' she wanted a companion. The boys never let go o' that story! Samuel Pike he ceased to be thirty year ago, an' Companion Pike he's remained up to this instant minute!"
"He ain't lived up to his name much," remarked Cephas. "He's to home for his meals, but I guess his wife never sees him between times."
"If the cat hed lived mebbe she'd 'a' been better comp'ny on the whole," chuckled Uncle Bart. "Companion was allers kind o' dreamy an' absent-minded from a boy. I remember askin' him what his wife's Christian name was (she bein' a stranger to Riverboro) an' he said he didn't know! Said he called her Mis' Bixby afore he married her an' Mis' Pike afterwards!"
"Well, there 's something turrible queer 'bout this marryin' business," and Cephas drew a sigh from the heels of his boots. "It seems's if a man hedn't no natcheral drawin' towards a girl with a good farm 'n' stock that was willin' to have him! Seems jest as if it set him ag'in' her somehow! And yet, if you've got to sing out o' the same book with a girl your whole lifetime, it does seem's if you'd ought to have a kind of a fancy for her at the start, anyhow!"
"You may feel dif'rent as time goes on, Cephas, an' come to see Feeble -- I would say Phoebe -- as your mother does. 'The best fire don't flare up the soonest,' you know." But old Uncle Bart saw that his son's heart was heavy and forbore to press the subject.
Annabel Franklin had returned to Boston after a month's visit and to her surprise had returned as disengaged as she came. Mark Wilson, thoroughly bored by her vacuities of mind, longed now for more intercourse with Patty Baxter, Patty, so gay and unexpected; so lively to talk with, so piquing to the fancy, so skittish and difficult to manage, so temptingly pretty, with a beauty all her own, and never two days alike.
There were many lions in the way and these only added to the zest of pursuit. With all the other girls of the village opportunities multiplied, but he could scarcely get ten minutes alone with Patty. The Deacon's orders were absolute in regard to young men. His daughters were never to drive or walk alone with them, never go to dances or "routs" of any sort, and never receive them at the house; this last mandate being quite unnecessary, as no youth in his right mind would have gone a-courtin' under the Deacon's forbidding gaze. And still there were sudden, delicious chances to be seized now and then if one had his eyes open and his wits about him. There was the walk to or from the singing-school, when a sentimental couple could drop a few feet, at least, behind the rest and exchange a word or two in comparative privacy; there were the church "circles" and prayer-meetings, and the intervals between Sunday services when Mark could detach Patty a moment from the group on the meeting-house steps. More valuable than all these, a complete schedule of Patty's various movements here and there, together with a profound study of Deacon Baxter's habits, which were ordinarily as punctual as they were disagreeable, permitted Mark many stolen interviews, as sweet as they were brief. There was never a second kiss, however, in these casual meetings and partings. The first, in springtime, had found Patty a child, surprised, unprepared. She was a woman now; for it does not take years to achieve that miracle; months will do it, or days, or even hours. Her summer's experience with Cephas Cole had wonderfully broadened her powers, giving her an assurance sadly lacking before, as well as a knowledge of detail, a certain finished skill in the management of a lover, which she could ably use on any one who happened to come along. And, at the moment, any one who happened to come along served the purpose admirably, Philip Perry as well as Marquis Wilson.
Young Perry's interest in Patty, as we have seen, began with his alienation from Ellen Wilson, the first object of his affections, and it was not at the outset at all of a sentimental nature. Philip was a pillar of the church, and Ellen had proved so entirely lacking in the religious sense, so self-satisfied as to her standing with the heavenly powers, that Philip dared not expose himself longer to her society, lest he find himself "unequally yoked together with an unbeliever," thus defying the scriptural admonition as to marriage.
Patty, though somewhat lacking in the qualities that go to the making of trustworthy saints, was not, like Ellen, wholly given over to the fleshpots and would prove a valuable convert, Philip thought; one who would reflect great credit upon him if he succeeded in inducing her to subscribe to the stern creed of the day.
Philip was a very strenuous and slightly gloomy believer, dwelling considerably on the wrath of God and the doctrine of eternal punishment. There was an old "pennyroyal" hymn much in use which describes the general tenor of his meditation:--
Damnation and the dead.
What horrors seize the guilty soul
Upon a dying bed."
(No wonder that Jacob Cochrane's lively songs, cheerful, hopeful, militant, and bracing, fell with a pleasing sound upon the ear of the believer of that epoch.) The love of God had, indeed, entered Philip's soul, but in some mysterious way had been ossified after it got there. He had intensely black hair, dark skin, and a liver that disposed him constitutionally to an ardent belief in the necessity of hell for most of his neighbors, and the hope of spending his own glorious immortality in a small, properly restricted, and prudently managed heaven. He was eloquent at prayer-meeting and Patty's only objection to him there was in his disposition to allude to himself as a "rebel worm," with frequent references to his "vile body." Otherwise, and when not engaged in theological discussion, Patty liked Philip very much. His own father, although an orthodox member of the fold in good and regular standing, had "doctored" Phil conscientiously for his liver from his youth up, hoping in time to incite in him a sunnier view of life, for the doctor was somewhat skilled in adapting his remedies to spiritual maladies. Jed Morrill had always said that when old Mrs. Buxton, the champion convert of Jacob Cochrane, was at her worst, -- keeping her whole family awake nights by her hysterical fears for their future, -- Dr. Perry had given her a twelfth of a grain of tartar emetic, five times a day until she had entire mental relief and her anxiety concerning the salvation of her husband and children was set completely at rest.
The good doctor noted with secret pleasure his son's growing fondness for the society of his prime favorite, Miss Patience Baxter. "He'll begin by trying to save her soul," he thought; "Phil always begins that way, but when Patty gets him in hand he'll remember the existence of his heart, an organ he has never taken into consideration. A love affair with a pretty girl, good but not too pious, will help Phil considerable, however it turns out."
There is no doubt but that Phil was taking his chances and that under Patty's tutelage he was growing mellower. As for Patty, she was only amusing herself, and frisking, like a young lamb, in pastures where she had never strayed before. Her fancy flew from Mark to Phil and from Phil back to Mark again, for at the moment she was just a vessel of emotion, ready to empty herself on she knew not what. Temperamentally, she would take advantage of currents rather than steer at any time, and it would be the strongest current that would finally bear her away. Her idea had always been that she could play with fire without burning her own fingers, and that the flames she kindled were so innocent and mild that no one could be harmed by them. She had fancied, up to now, that she could control, urge on, or cool down a man's feeling forever and a day, if she chose, and remain mistress of the situation. Now, after some weeks of weighing and balancing her two swains, she found herself confronting a choice, once and for all. Each of them seemed to be approaching the state of mind where he was likely to say, somewhat violently: "Take me or leave me, one or the other!" But she did not wish to take them, and still less did she wish to leave them, with no other lover in sight but Cephas Cole, who was almost, though not quite, worse than none.
If matters, by lack of masculine patience and self-control, did come to a crisis, what should she say definitely to either of her suitors? Her father despised Mark Wilson a trifle more than any young man on the river, and while he could have no objection to Phil Perry's character or position in the world, his hatred of old Dr. Perry amounted to a disease. When the doctor had closed the eyes of the third Mrs. Baxter, he had made some plain and unwelcome statements that would rankle in the Deacon's breast as long as he lived. Patty knew, therefore, that the chance of her father's blessing falling upon her union with either of her present lovers was more than uncertain, and of what use was an engagement, if there could not be a marriage?
If Patty's mind inclined to a somewhat speedy departure from her father's household, she can hardly be blamed, but she felt that she could not carry any of her indecisions and fears to her sister for settlement. Who could look in Waitstill's clear, steadfast eyes and say: "I can't make up my mind which to marry"? Not Patty. She felt, instinctively, that Waitstill's heart, if it moved at all, would rush out like a great river to lose itself in the ocean, and losing itself forget the narrow banks through which it had flowed before. Patty knew that her own love was at the moment nothing more than the note of a child's penny flute, and that Waitstill was perhaps vibrating secretly with a deeper, richer music than could ever come to her. Still, music of some sort she meant to feel. "Even if they make me decide one way or another before I am ready," she said to herself, "I'll never say 'yes' till I'm more in love than I am now!"
There were other reasons why she did not want to ask Waitstill's advice. Not only did she shrink from the loving scrutiny of her sister's eyes, and the gentle probing of her questions, which would fix her own motives on a pin-point and hold them up unbecomingly to the light; but she had a foolish, generous loyalty that urged her to keep Waitstill quite aloof from her own little private perplexities.
"She will only worry herself sick," thought Patty. "She won't let me marry without asking father's permission, and she'd think she ought not to aid me in deceiving him, and the tempest would be twice as dreadful if it fell upon us both! Now, if anything happens, I can tell father that I did it all myself and that Waitstill knew nothing about it whatever. Then, oh, joy! if father is too terrible, I shall be a married woman and I can always say: 'I will not permit such cruelty! Waitstill is dependent upon you no longer, she shall come at once to my husband and me!
This latter phrase almost intoxicated Patty, so that there were moments when she could have run up to Milliken's Mills and purchased herself a husband at any cost, had her slender savinges permitted the best in the market; and the more impersonal the husband the more delightedly Patty rolled the phrase under her tongue.
"I can never be 'published' in church," she thought, "and perhaps nobody will ever care enough about me to brave father's displeasure and insist on running away with me. I do wish somebody would care 'frightfully' about me, enough for that; enough to help me make up my mind; so that I could just drive up to father's store some day and say: 'Good afternoon, father! I knew you'd never let me marry --'" (there was always a dash here, in Patty's imaginary discourses, a dash that could be filled in with any Christian name according to her mood of the moment)"'so I just married him anyway; and you needn't be angry with my sister, for she knew nothing about it. My husband and I are sorry if you are displeased, but there's no help for it; and my husband's home will always be open to Waitstill, whatever happens.'"
Patty, with all her latent love of finery and ease, did not weigh the worldly circumstances of the two men, though the reflection that she would have more amusement with Mark than with Philip may have crossed her mind. She trusted Philip, and respected his steady-going, serious view of life; it pleased her vanity, too, to feel how her nonsense and fun lightened his temperamental gravity, playing in and out and over it like a butterfly in a smoke bush. She would be safe with Philip always, but safety had no special charm for one of her age, who had never been in peril. Mark's superior knowledge of the world, moreover, his careless, buoyant manner of carrying himself, his gay, boyish audacity, all had a very distinct charm for her; -- and yet --
But there would be no "and yet" a little later. Patty's heart would blaze quickly enough when sufficient heat was applied to it, and Mark was falling more and more deeply in love every day. As Patty vacillated, his purpose strengthened; the more she weighed, the more he ceased to weigh, the difficulties of the situation; the more she unfolded herself to him, the more he loved and the more he respected her. She began by delighting his senses; she ended by winning all that there was in him, and creating continually the qualities he lacked, after the manner of true women even when they are very young and foolish.
(Orson HYyde - 1832 LDS missionary to the Saco Valley)
A State O' Maine Prophet
Summer was dying hard, for although it had passed, by the calendar, Mother Nature was still keeping up her customary attitude.
There had been a soft rain in the night and every spear of grass was brilliantly green and tipped with crystal. The smoke bushes in the garden plot, and the asparagus bed beyond them, looked misty as the sun rose higher, drying the soaked earth and dripping branches. Spiders' webs, marvels of lace, dotted the short grass under the apple trees. Every flower that had a fragrance was pouring it gratefully into the air; every bird with a joyous note in its voice gave it more joyously from a bursting throat; and the river laughed and rippled in the distance at the foot of Town House Hill. Then dawn grew into full morning and streams of blue smoke rose here and there from the Edgewood chimneys. The world was alive, and so beautiful that Waitstill felt like going down on her knees in gratitude for having been born into it and given a chance of serving it in any humble way whatsoever.
Wherever there was a barn, in Riverboro or Edgewood, one could have heard the three-legged stools being lifted from the pegs, and then would begin the music of the milk-pails; first the resonant sound of the stream on the bottom of the tin pail, then the soft delicious purring of the cascade into the full bucket, while the cows serenely chewed their cuds and whisked away the flies with swinging tails. Deacon Baxter was taking his cows to a pasture far over the hill, the feed having grown too short in his own fields. Patty was washing dishes in the kitchen and Waitstill was in the dairy-house at the butter-making, one of her chief delights. She worked with speed and with beautiful sureness, patting, squeezing, rolling the golden mass, like the true artist she was, then turning the sweet-scented waxen balls out of the mould on to the big stone-china platter that stood waiting. She had been up early and for the last hour she had toiled with devouring eagerness that she might have a little time to herself. It was hers now, for Patty would be busy with the beds after she finished the dishes, so she drew a folded paper from her pocket, the first communication she had ever received in Ivory's handwriting, and sat down to read it.
MY DEAR WAITSTILL:--
Rodman will take this packet and leave it with you when he finds opportunity. It is not in any real sense a letter, so I am in no danger of incurring your father's displeasure. You will probably have heard new rumors concerning my father during the past few days, for Peter Morrill has been to Enfield, New Hampshire, where he says letters have been received stating that my father died in Cortland, Ohio, more than five years ago. I shall do what I can to substantiate this fresh report as I have always done with all the previous ones, but I have little hope of securing reliable information at this distance, and after this length of time. I do not know when I can ever start on a personal quest myself, for even had I the money I could not leave home until Rodman is much older, and fitted for greater responsibility. Oh! Waitstill, how you have helped my poor, dear mother! Would that I were free to tell you how I value your friendship! It is something more than mere friendship! What you are doing is like throwing a life-line to a sinking human being. Two or three times, of late, mother has forgotten to set out the supper things for my father. Her ten years' incessant waiting for him seems to have subsided a little, and in its place she watches for you. (Ivory had written "watches for her daughter" but carefully erased the last two words.) You come but seldom, but her heart feeds on the sight of you. What she needed, it seems, was the magical touch of youth and health and strength and sympathy, the qualities you possess in such great measure.
If I had proof of my father's death I think now, perhaps, that I might try to break it gently to my mother, as if it were fresh news, and see if possibly I might thus remove her principal hallucination. You see now, do you not, how sane she is in many, indeed in most ways, -- how sweet and lovable, even how sensible?
To help you better to understand the influence that has robbed me of both father and mother and made me and mine the subject of town and tavern gossip for years past, I have written for you just a sketch of the "Cochrane craze;" the romantic story of a man who swayed the wills of his fellow-creatures in a truly marvellous manner. Some local historian of his time will doubtless give him more space; my wish is to have you know something more of the circumstances that have made me a prisoner in life instead of a free man; but prisoner as I am at the moment, I am sustained just now by a new courage. I read in my copy of Ovid last night: "The best of weapons is the undaunted heart." This will help you, too, in your hard life, for yours is the most undaunted heart in all the world.
The chronicle of Jacob Cochrane's career in the little villages near the Saco River has no such interest for the general reader as it had for Waitstill Baxter. She hung upon every word that Ivory had written and realized more clearly than ever before the shadow that had followed him since early boyhood; the same shadow that had fallen across his mother's mind and left, continual twilight there.
No one really knew, it seemed, why or from whence Jacob Cochrane had come to Edgewood. He simply appeared at the old tavern, a stranger, with satchel in hand, to seek entertainment. Uncle Bart had often described this scene to Waitstill, for he was one of those sitting about the great open fire at the time. The man easily slipped into the group and soon took the lead in conversation, delighting all with his agreeable personality, his nimble tongue and graceful speech. At supper-time the hostess and the rest of the family took their places at the long table, as was the custom, and he astonished them by his knowledge not only of town history, but of village matters they had supposed unknown to any one.
When the stranger had finished his supper and returned to the bar-room, he had to pass through a long entry, and the landlady, whispering to her daughter, said: --
"Betsy, you go up to the chamber closet and get the silver and bring it down. This man is going to sleep there and I am afraid of him. He must be a fortune-teller, and the Lord only knows what else!"
In going to the chamber the daughter had to pass through the bar-room. As she was moving quietly through, hoping to escape the notice of the newcomer, he turned in his chair, and looking her full in the face, suddenly said: --
"Madam, you needn't touch your silver. I don't want it. I am a gentleman."
Whereupon the bewildered Betsy scuttled back to her mother and told her the strange guest was indeed a fortune-teller.
Of Cochrane's initial appearance as a preacher Ivory had told Waitstill in their talk in the churchyard early in the summer. It was at a child's funeral that the new prophet created his first sensation and there, too, that Aaron and Lois Boynton first came under his spell. The whole countryside had been just then wrought up to a state of religious excitement by revival meetings and Cochrane gained the benefit of this definite preparation for his work. He claimed that all his sayings were from divine inspiration and that those who embraced his doctrine received direct communication from the Almighty. He disdained formal creeds and all manner of church organizations, declaring sectarian names to be marks of the beast and all church members to be in Babylon. He introduced re-baptism as a symbolic cleansing from sectarian stains, and after some months advanced a proposition that his flock hold all things in common. He put a sudden end to the solemn "deaconing-out" and droning of psalm tunes and grafted on to his form of worship lively singing and marching accompanied by clapping of hands and whirling in circles; during the progress of which the most hysterical converts, or the most fully Cochranized," would swoon upon the floor; or, in obeying their leader's instructions to "become as little children," would sometimes go through the most extraordinary and unmeaning antics.
It was not until he had converted hundreds to the new faith that he added more startling revelations to his gospel. He was in turn bold, mystical, eloquent, audacious, persuasive, autocratic; and even when his self-styled communications from the Almighty" controverted all that his hearers had formerly held to be right, he still magnetized or hypnotized them into an unwilling assent to his beliefs. There was finally a proclamation to the effect that marriage vows were to be annulled when advisable and that complete spiritual liberty was to follow; a liberty in which a new affinity might be sought, and a spiritual union begun upon earth, a union as nearly approximate to God's standards as faulty human beings could manage to attain.
Some of the faithful fell away at this time, being unable to accept the full doctrine, but retained their faith in Cochrane's original power to convert sinners and save them from the wrath of God. Storm-clouds began to gather in the sky however, as the delusion spread, month by month and local ministers everywhere sought to minimize the influence of the dangerous orator, who rose superior to every attack and carried himself like some magnificent martyr-at-will among the crowds that now criticized him here or there in private and in public.
"What a picture of splendid audacity he must have been," wrote Ivory, "when he entered the orthodox meeting-house at a huge gathering where he knew that the speakers were to denounce his teachings. Old Parson Buzzell gave out his text from the high pulpit: Mark XIII, 37, 'AND WHAT I SAY UNTO YOU I SAY UNTO ALL, WATCH!' Just here Cochrane stepped in at the open door of the church and heard the warning, meant, he knew, for himself, and seizing the moment of silence following the reading of the text, he cried in his splendid sonorous voice, without so much as stirring from his place within the door-frame: "'Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice I will come in to him and will sup with him, -- I come to preach the everlasting gospel to every one that heareth, and all that I want here is my bigness on the floor.'"
"I cannot find," continued Ivory on another page, "that my father or mother ever engaged in any of the foolish and childish practices which disgraced the meetings of some of Cochrane's most fanatical followers and converts. By my mother's conversations (some of which I have repeated to you, but which may be full of errors, because of her confusion of mind), I believe she must have had a difference of opinion with my father on some of these views, but I have no means of knowing this to a certainty; nor do I know that the question of choosing spiritual consorts' ever came between or divided them. This part of the delusion always fills me with such unspeakable disgust that I have never liked to seek additional light from any of the older men and women who might revel in giving it. That my mother did not sympathize with my father's going out to preach Cochrane's gospel through the country, this I know, and she was so truly religious, so burning with zeal, that had she fully believed in my father's mission she would have spurred him on, instead of endeavoring to detain him."
"You know the retribution that overtook Cochrane at last," wrote Ivory again, when he had shown the man's early victories and his enormous influence. "There began to be indignant protests against his doctrines by lawyers and doctors, as well as by ministers; not from all sides however; for remember, in extenuation of my father's and my mother's espousal of this strange belief, that many of the strongest and wisest men, as well as the purest and finest women in York county came under this man's spell for a time and believed in him implicitly, some of them even unto the end.
"Finally there was Cochrane's arrest and examination, the order for him to appear at the Supreme Court, his failure to do so, his recapture and trial, and his sentence of four years imprisonment on several counts, in all of which he was proved guilty. Cochrane had all along said that the Anointed of the Lord would never be allowed to remain in jail, but he was mistaken, for he stayed in the State's Prison at Charlestown, Massachusetts, for the full duration of his sentence. Here (I am again trying to plead the cause of my father and mother), here he received much sympathy and some few visitors, one of whom walked all the way from Edgewood to Boston, a hundred and fifteen miles, with a petition for pardon, a petition which was delivered, and refused, at the Boston State House. Cochrane issued from prison a broken and humiliated man, but if report says true, is still living, far out of sight and knowledge, somewhere in New Hampshire. He once sent my father an epitaph of his own selection, asking him to have it carved upon his gravestone should he die suddenly when away from his friends. My mother often repeats it, not realizing how far from the point it sounds to us who never knew him in his glory, but only in his downfall.
His works are ever before his God,
His name on earth shall long remain,
Through envious sinners fret in vain.'"
"We are certain," concluded Ivory, "that my father preached with Cochrane in Limington, Limerick, and Parsonsfield; he also wrote from Enfield and Effingham in New Hampshire; after that, all is silence. Various reports place him in Boston, in New York, even as far west as Ohio, whether as Cochranite evangelist or what not, alas! we can never know. I despair of ever tracing his steps. I only hope that he died before he wandered too widely, either from his belief in God or his fidelity to my mother's long-suffering love."
Waitstill read the letter twice through and replaced it in her dress to read again at night. It seemed the only tangible evidence of Ivory's love that she had ever received and she warmed her heart with what she felt that he had put between the lines.
"Would that I were free to tell you how I value your friendship!" "My mother's heart feeds on the sight of you!" "I want you to know something of the circumstances that have made me a prisoner in life, instead of a free man." "Yours is the most undaunted heart in all the world!" These sentences Waitstill rehearsed again and again and they rang in her ears like music, converting all the tasks of her long day into a deep and silent joy.
(1913 Grosset & Dunlap reprint with b&w plates)
At the Brick Store
There were two grand places for gossip in the community; the old tavern on the Edgewood side of the bridge and the brick store in Riverboro. The company at the Edgewood Tavern would be a trifle different in character, more picturesque, imposing, and eclectic because of the transient guests that gave it change and variety. Here might be found a judge or lawyer on his way to court; a sheriff with a handcuffed prisoner; a farmer or two, stopping on the road to market with a cartful of produce; and an occasional teamster, peddler, and stage-driver. On winter nights champion story-tellers like Jed Morrill and Rish Bixby would drop in there and hang their woollen neck-comforters on the pegs along the wall-side, where there were already hats, topcoats, and fur mufflers, as well as stacks of whips, canes, and ox-goads standing in the corners. They would then enter the room, rubbing their hands genially, and, nodding to Companion Pike, Cephas Cole, Phil Perry and others, ensconce themselves snugly in the group by the great open fireplace. The landlord was always glad to see them enter, for their stories, though old to him, were new to many of the assembled company and had a remarkable greet on the consumption of liquid refreshment.
On summer evenings gossip was languid in the village, and if any occurred at all it would be on the loafer's bench at one or the other side of the bridge. When cooler weather came the group of local wits gathered in Riverboro, either at Uncle Bart's joiner's shop or at the brick store, according to fancy. The latter place was perhaps the favorite for Riverboro talkers. It was a large, two-story, square, brick building with a big-mouthed chimney and an open fire. When every house in the two villages had six feet of snow around it, roads would always be broken to the brick store, and a crowd of ten or fifteen men would be gathered there talking, listening, betting, smoking, chewing, bragging, playing checkers, singing, and "swapping stories."
Some of the men had been through the War of 1812 and could display wounds received on the field of valor; others were still prouder of scars won in encounters with the Indians, and there was one old codger, a Revolutionary veteran, Bill Dunham by name, who would add bloody tales of his encounters with the "Husshons." His courage had been so extraordinary and his slaughter so colossal that his hearers marvelled that there was a Hessian left to tell his side of the story, and Bill himself doubted if such were the case.
"'T is an awful sin to have on your soul," Bill would say from his place in a dark corner, where he would sit with his hat pulled down over his eyes till the psychological moment came for the "Husshons" to be trotted out. "'T is an awful sin to have on your soul,--the extummination of a race o' men; even if they wa'n't nothin' more 'n so many ignorant cockroaches. Them was the great days for fightin'! The Husshons was the biggest men I ever seen on the field, most of 'em standin' six feet eight in their stockin's,--but Lord! how we walloped 'em! Once we had a cannon mounted an' loaded for 'em that was so large we had to draw the ball into it with a yoke of oxen!"
Bill paused from force of habit, just as he had paused for the last twenty years. There had been times when roars of incredulous laughter had greeted this boast, but most of this particular group had heard the yarn more than once and let it pass with a smile and a wink, remembering the night that Abel Day had asked old Bill how they got the oxen out of the cannon on that most memorable occasion.
"Oh!" said Bill, "that was easy enough; we jest unyoked 'em an' turned 'em out o' the primin'-hole!"
It was only early October, but there had been a killing frost, and Ezra Simms, who kept the brick store, flung some shavings and small wood on the hearth and lighted a blaze, just to induce a little trade and start conversation on what threatened to be a dull evening. Peter Morrill, Jed's eldest brother, had lately returned from a long trip through the state and into New Hampshire, and his adventures by field and flood were always worth listening to. He went about the country mending clocks, and many an old time-piece still bears his name, with the date of repairing, written in pencil on the inside of its door.
There was never any lack of subjects at the brick store, the idiosyncrasies of the neighbors being the most prolific source of anecdote and comment. Of scandal about women there was little, though there would be occasional harmless pleasantries concerning village love affairs; prophecies of what couple would be next "published" in the black-walnut frame up at the meeting-house; a genial comment on the number and chances of Patience Baxter's various beaux; and whenever all else failed, the latest story of Deacon Baxter's parsimony, in which the village traced the influence of heredity.
"He can't hardly help it, inheritin' it on both sides," was Abel Day's opinion. "The Baxters was allers snug, from time 'memorial, and Foxy's the snuggest of 'em. When I look at his ugly mug an' hear his snarlin' voice, I thinks to myself, he's goin' the same way his father did. When old Levi Baxter was left a widder-man in that house o' his'n up river, he grew wuss an' wuss, if you remember, till he wa'n't hardly human at the last; and I don't believe Foxy even went up to his own father's funeral."
"'T would 'a' served old Levi right if nobody else had gone," said Rish Bixby. "When his wife died he refused to come into the house till the last minute. He stayed to work in the barn until all the folks had assembled, and even the men were all settin' down on benches in the kitchen. The parson sent me out for him, and I'm blest if the old skunk didn't come in through the crowd with his sleeves rolled up,--went to the sink and washed, and then set down in the room where the coffin was, as cool as a cowcumber."
"I remember that funeral well," corroborated Abel Day. "An' Mis' Day heerd Levi say to his daughter, as soon as they'd put poor old Mrs. Baxter int' the grave: 'Come on, Marthy; there 's no use cryin' over spilt milk; we'd better go home an' husk out the rest o' that corn.' Old Foxy could have inherited plenty o' meanness from his father, that's certain, an' he's added to his inheritance right along, like the thrifty man he is. I hate to think o' them two fine girls wearin' their fingers to the bone for his benefit."
"Oh, well! 't won't last forever," said Rish Bixby. "They're the handsomest couple o' girls on the river an' they'll get husbands afore many years. Patience'll have one pretty soon, by the looks. She never budges an inch but Mark Wilson or Phil Perry are follerin' behind, with Cephas Cole watchin' his chance right along, too. Waitstill don't seem to have no beaux; what with flyin' around to keep up with the Deacon, an' bein' a mother to Patience, her hands is full, I guess."
"If things was a little mite dif'rent all round, I could prognosticate who Waitstill could keep house for," was Peter Morrill's opinion.
"You mean Ivory Boynton? Well, if the Deacon was asked he'd never give his consent, that's certain; an' Ivory ain't in no position to keep a wife anyways. What was it you heerd 'bout Aaron Boynton up to New Hampshire, Peter?" asked Abel Day.
"Consid'able, one way an' another; an' none of it would 'a' been any comfort to Ivory. I guess Aaron 'n' Jake Cochrane was both of 'em more interested in savin' the sisters' souls than the brothers'! Aaron was a fine-appearin' man, and so was Jake for that matter, 'n' they both had the gift o' gab. There's nothin' like a limber tongue if you want to please the women-folks! If report says true, Aaron died of a fever out in Ohio somewheres; Cortland's the place, I b'lieve. Seems's if he hid his trail all the way from New Hampshire somehow, for as a usual thing, a man o' book-larnin' like him would be remembered wherever he went. Wouldn't you call Aaron Boynton a turrible larned man, Timothy?"
Timothy Grant, the parish clerk, had just entered the store on an errand, but being directly addressed, and judging that the subject under discussion was a discreet one, and that it was too early in the evening for drinking to begin, he joined the group by the fireside. He had preached in Vermont for several years as an itinerant Methodist minister before settling down to farming in Edgewood, only giving up his profession because his quiver was so full of little Grants that a wandering life was difficult and undesirable. When Uncle Bart Cole had remarked that Mis' Grant had a little of everything in the way of baby-stock now, -- black, red, an' yaller-haired, dark and light complected, fat an' lean, tall an' short, twins an' singles,--Jed Morrill had observed dryly: "Yes, Mis' Grant kind o' reminds me of charity."
"How's that?" inquired Uncle Bart.
"She beareth all things," chuckled Jed.
"Aaron Boynton was, indeed, a man of most adhesive larnin'," agreed Timothy, who had the reputation of the largest and most unusual vocabulary in Edgewood. "Next to Jacob Cochrane I should say Aaron had more grandeloquence as an orator than any man we've ever had in these parts. It don't seem's if Ivory was goin' to take after his father that way. The little feller, now, is smart's a whip, an' could talk the tail off a brass monkey."
"Yes, but Rodman ain't no kin to the Boyntons," Abel reminded him. "He inhails from the other side o' the house."
"That's so; well, Ivory does, for certain, an' takes after his mother, right enough, for she hain't spoken a dozen words in as many years, I guess. Ivory's got a sight o' book-knowledge, though, an' they do say he could talk Greek an' Latin both, if we had any of 'em in the community to converse with. I've never paid no intention to the dead languages, bein' so ocker-pied with other studies."
"Why do they call 'em the dead languages, Tim?" asked Rish Bixby.
"Because all them that ever spoke 'em has perished off the face o' the land," Timothy answered oracularly. "Dead an' gone they be, lock, stock, an' barrel; yet there was a time when Latins an' Crustaceans an' Hebrews an' Prooshians an' Australians an' Simesians was chatterin' away in their own tongues, an' so pow'ful that they was wallopin' the whole earth, you might say."
"I bet yer they never tried to wallop these here United States," interpolated Bill Dunham from the dark corner by the molasses hogs-head.
"Is Ivory in here?" The door opened and Rodman Boynton appeared on the threshold.
"No, sonny, Ivory ain't been in this evening replied Ezra Simms. "I hope there ain't nothin' the matter over to your house?"
"No, nothing particular," the boy answered hesitatingly; "only Aunt Boynton don't seem so well as common and I can't find Ivory anywhere."
"Come along with me; I'll help you look for him an' then I'll go as fur as the lane with yer if we don't find him." And kindly Rish Bixby took the boy's hand and left the store.
"Mis' Boynton had a spell, I guess!" suggested the storekeeper, peering through the door into the darkness. "'T ain't like Ivory to be out nights and leave her to Rod."
"She don't have no spells," said Abel Day. "Uncle Bart sees consid'able of Ivory an' he says his mother is as quiet as a lamb. -- Couldn't you git no kind of a certif'cate of Aaron's death out o' that Enfield feller, Peter? Seems's if that poor woman'd oughter be stopped watchin' for a dead man; tuckerin' herself all out, an' keepin' Ivory an' the boy all nerved up."
"I've told Ivory everything I could gether up in the way of information, and give him the names of the folks in Ohio that had writ back to New Hampshire. I didn't dialate on Aaron's goin's-on in Effingham an' Portsmouth, cause I dassay 't was nothin' but scandal. Them as hates the Cochranites'll never allow there's any good in 'em, whereas I've met some as is servin' the Lord good an' constant, an' indulgin' in no kind of foolishness an' deviltry whatsoever."
"Speakin' o' Husshons," said Bill Dunham from his corner, "I remember --"
"We wa'n't alludin' to no Husshons," retorted Timothy Grant. "We was dealin' with the misfortunes of Aaron Boynton, who never fit valoriously on the field o' battle, but perished out in Ohio of scarlit fever, if what they say in Enfield is true."
"Tis an easy death," remarked Bill argumentatively. "Scarlit fever don't seem like nothin' to me! Many's the time I've been close enough to fire at the eyeball of a Husshon, an' run the resk o' bein' blown to smithereens! -- calm and cool I alters was, too! Scarlit fever is an easy death from a warrior's p'int o' view!"
"Speakin' of easy death," continued Timothy, "you know I'm a great one for words, bein' something of a scholard in my small way. Mebbe you noticed that Elder Boone used a strange word in his sermon last Sunday? Now an' then, when there's too many yawnin' to once in the congregation, Parson'll out with a reg'lar jaw-breaker to wake 'em up. The word as near as I could ketch it was 'youthinasia.' I kep' holt of it till noontime an' then I run home an' looked through all the y's in the dictionary without findin' it. Mebbe it's Hebrew, I thinks, for Hebrew's like his mother's tongue to Parson, so I went right up to him at afternoon meetin' an' says to him: 'What's the exact meanin' of "youthinasia"? There ain't no sech word in the Y's in my Webster,' says I. 'Look in the E's, Timothy; "euthanasia"' says he, 'means easy death'; an' now, don't it beat all that Bill Dunham should have brought that expression of 'easy death' into this evenin's talk?"
"I know youth an' I know Ashy," said Abel Day, "but blessed if I know why they should mean easy death when they yoke 'em together." "That's because you ain't never paid no 'tention to entomology," said Timothy. "Aaron Boynton was master o' more 'ologies than you could shake a stick at, but he used to say I beat him on entomology. Words air cur'ous things sometimes, as I know, hevin' had consid'able leisure time to read when I was joggin' 'bout the country an' bein' brought into contack with men o' learnin'. The way I worked it out, not wishin' to ask Parson any more questions, bein' something of a scholard myself, is this: The youth in Ashy is a peculiar kind o' youth, 'n' their religion disposes 'em to lay no kind o' stress on huming life. When anything goes wrong with 'em an' they get a set-back in war, or business, or affairs with women-folks, they want to die right off; so they take a sword an' stan' it straight up wherever they happen to be, in the shed or the barn, or the henhouse, an' they p'int the sharp end right to their waist-line, where the bowels an' other vital organisms is lowcated; an' then they fall on to it. It runs 'em right through to the back an' kills 'em like a shot, and that's the way I cal'late the youth in Ashy dies, if my entomology is correct, as it gen'ally is."
"Don't seem an easy death to me," argued Okra, "but I ain't no scholard. What college did thou attend to, Tim?"
"I don't hold no diaploma," responded Timothy, "though I attended to Wareham Academy quite a spell, the same time as your sister was goin' to Wareham Seminary where eddication is still bein' disseminated though of an awful poor kind, compared to the old times."
"It's live an' larn," said the storekeeper respectfully. "I never thought of a Seminary bein' a place of dissemination before, but you can see the two words is near kin."
"You can't alters tell by the sound," said Timothy instructively. "Sometimes two words'll start from the same root, an' branch out diff'rent, like 'critter' an' 'hypocritter.' A 'hypocritter' must natcherally start by bein' a 'critter,' but a critter ain't obliged to be a 'hypocritter' 'thout he wants to."
"I should hope not," interpolated Abel Day, piously. "Entomology must be an awful interest-in' study, though I never thought of observin' words myself, kept to avoid vulgar language an' profanity."
"Husshon's a cur'ous word for a man," inter-jected Bill Dunham with a last despairing effort. "I remember seein' a Husshon once that--"
"Perhaps you ain't one to observe closely, Abel," said Timothy, not taking note of any interruption, simply using the time to direct a stream of tobacco juice to an incredible distance, but landing it neatly in the exact spot he had intended. "It's a trade by itself, you might say, observin' is, an' there's another sing'lar corraption! The Whigs in foreign parts, so they say, build stone towers to observe the evil machinations of the Tories, an' so the word 'observatory' come into general use! All entomology; nothin' but entomology."
"I don't see where in thunder you picked up so much larnin', Timothy!" It was Abel Day's exclamation, but every one agreed with him.
(Color Plate for Chapter XXVIII of the 1st Edition)
At the very moment that Deacon Baxter was I starting out on his quest for a housekeeper, Patty and Mark drove into the Mason dooryard and the sisters flew into each other's arms. The dress that Mark had bought for Patty was the usual charting and unsuitable offering of a man's spontaneous affection, being of dark violet cloth with a wadded cape lined with satin. A little brimmed hat of violet velvet tied under her chin with silk ribbons completed the costume, and before the youthful bride and groom had left the ancestral door Mrs. Wilson had hung her own ermine victorine (the envy of all Edgewood) around Patty's neck and put her ermine willow muff into her new daughter's hands; thus she was as dazzling a personage, and as improperly dressed for the journey, as she could well be.
Waitstill, in her plain linsey-woolsey, was entranced with Patty's beauty and elegance, and the two girls had a few minutes of sisterly talk, of interchange of radiant hopes and confidences before Mark tore them apart, their cheeks wet with happy tears.
As the Mason house faded from view, Patty having waved her muff until the last moment, turned in her seat and said: --
"Mark, dear, do you think your father would care if I spent the twenty-dollar gold-piece he gave me, for Waitstill? She will be married in a fortnight, and if my father does not give her the few things she owns she will go to her husband more ill-provided even than I was. I have so much, dear Mark, and she so little."
"It's your own wedding-present to use as you wish," Mark answered, "and it's exactly like you to give it away. Go ahead and spend it if you want to; I can always earn enough to keep you, without anybody's help!" and Mark, after cracking the whip vaingloriously, kissed his wife just over the violet ribbons, and with sleigh-bells jingling they sped over the snow towards what seemed Paradise to them, the New Hampshire village where they had been married and where [line missing]...
So a few days later, Waitstill received a great parcel which relieved her of many feminine anxieties and she began to shape and cut and stitch during all the hours she had to herself. They were not many, for every day she trudged to the Boynton farm and began with youthful enthusiasm the household tasks that were so soon to be hers by right.
"Don't waste too much time and strength here, my dearest," said Ivory. "Do you suppose for a moment I shall keep you long on this lonely farm? I am ready for admission to the Bar or I am fitted to teach in the best school in New England. Nothing has held me here but my mother, and in her present condition of mind we can safely take her anywhere. We will never live where there are so many memories and associations to sadden and hamper us, but go where the best opportunity offers, and as soon as may be. My wife will be a pearl of great price," he added fondly, and I intend to provide a right setting for her!"
This was all said in a glow of love and joy, pride and ambition, as Ivory paced up and down before the living-room fireplace while Waitstill was hanging the freshly laundered curtains.
Ivory was right; Waitstill Baxter was, indeed, a jewel of a woman. She had little knowledge, but much wisdom, and after all, knowledge stands for the leaves on a tree and wisdom for the fruit. There was infinite richness in the girl, a richness that had been growing and ripening through the years that she thought so gray and wasted. The few books she owned and loved had generally lain unopened, it is true, upon her bedroom table, and she held herself as having far too little learning to be a worthy companion for Ivory Boynton; but all the beauty and cheer a comfort that could ever be pressed into the arid life of the Baxter household had come from Waitstill's heart, and that heart had grown in warmth and plenty year by year.
Those lonely tasks, too hard for a girl's hands, those unrewarded drudgeries, those days of faithful labor in and out of doors, those evenings of self-sacrifice over the mending-basket; the quiet avoidance of all that might vex her father's crusty temper, her patience with his miserly exactions; the hourly holding back of the hasty word, -- all these had played their part; all these had been somehow welded into a strong, sunny, steady, life-wisdom, there is no better name for it; and so she had unconsciously the best of all harvests to bring as dower to a husband who was worthy of her. Ivory's strength called to hers and answered it, just as his great need awoke such a power of helpfulness in her as she did not know she possessed. She loved the man, but she loved the task that beckoned her, too. The vision of it was like the breath of wind from a hill-top, putting salt and savor into the new life that opened before her.
These were quietly happy days at the farm, for Mrs. Boynton took a new, if transient, hold upon life that deceived even the doctor. Rodman was nearly as ardent a lover as Ivory, hovering about Waits ill and exclaiming, "You never stay to supper and it's so lonesome evenings without you! Will it never be time for you to come and Eve with us, Waity dear? The days crawl so slowly!" At which Ivory would laugh, push him away and draw Waitstill nearer to his own side, saying: "If you are in a hurry, you young cormorant, what do you think of me?" And Waitstill would look from one to the other and blush at the heaven of love that surrounded her on every side.
"I believe you are longing to begin on my cooking, you two big greedy boys!" she said teasingly. "What shall we have for New Year's dinner, Rod? Do you like a turkey, roasted brown and crispy, with giblet gravy and cranberry jelly? Do you fancy an apple dumpling afterwards,--an apple dumpling with potato crust,--or will you have a suet pudding with foamy sauce?"
"Stop, Waitstill!" cried Ivory. "Don't put hope into us until you are ready to satisfy it; we can't bear it!"
"And I have a box of goodies from my own garden safely stowed away in Uncle Bart's shop," Waitstill went on mischievously. "They were to be sold in Portland, but I think they'll have to be my wedding-present to my husband, though a very strange one, indeed! There are peaches floating in sweet syrup; there are tumblers of quince jelly; there are jars of tomato and citron preserves, and for supper you shall eat them with biscuits as light as feathers and white as snowdrifts."
"We can never wait two more days, Rod; let us kidnap her! Let us take the old bob-sled and run over to New Hampshire where one can be married the minute one feels like it. We could do it between sunrise and moonrise and be at home for a late supper. Would she be too tired to bake the biscuits for us, do you think? What do you say, Rod, will you be best man?" And there would be youthful, unaccustomed laughter floating out from the kitchen or living-room, bringing a smile of content to Lois Boynton's face as she lay propped up in bed with her open Bible beside her. "He binds up the broken-hearted," she whispered to herself. "He gives unto them a garland for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
The quiet wedding was over. There had been neither feasting, nor finery, nor presents, nor bridal journey; only a home-coming that meant deep and sacred a joy, as fervent gratitude as any four hearts ever contained in all the world. But the laughter ceased, though the happiness flowed silently underneath, almost forgotten in the sudden sorrow that overcame them, for it fell out that Lois Boynton had only waited, as it were, for the marriage, and could stay no longer.
Both made of love, -- one, inconceivable
Ev'n by the other, so divine it is;
The other, far on this side of the stars,
By men called home."
And these two heavens met, over at Boyntons', during these cold, white, glistening December days.
Lois Boynton found hers first. After a windy moonlit night a morning dawned in which a hush seemed to be on the earth. The cattle huddled together in the farmyards and the fowls shrank into their feathers. The sky was gray, and suddenly the first white heralds came floating down like scouts seeking for paths and camping-places.
Waitstill turned Mrs. Boynton's bed so that she could look out of the window. Slope after slope, dazzling in white crust, rose one upon another and vanished as they slipped away into the dark green of the pine forests. Then,
A feathery whiteness over all the land;
A strange, soft, spotless something, pure as light."
It could not be called a storm, for there had been no wind since sunrise, no whirling fury, no drifting; only a still, steady, solemn fall of crystal flakes, hour after hour, hour after hour.
Mrs. Boynton's Book of books was open on the bed and her finger marked a passage in her favorite Bible-poet.
"Here it is, daughter," she whispered. "I have found it, in the same chapter where the morning stars sing together and the sons of God shout for joy. The Lord speaks to Job out of the whirlwind and says: 'HAST THOU ENTERED INTO THE TREASURES OF THE SNOW? OR HAST THOU SEEN THE TREASURES OF THE HAIL?' Sit near me, Waitstill, and look out on the hills. 'HAST THOU ENTERED INTO THE TREASURES OF THE SNOW?' No, not yet, but please God, I shall, and into many other treasures, soon"; and she closed her eyes.
All day long the air-ways were filled with the glittering army of the snowflakes; all day long the snow grew deeper and deeper on the ground; and on the breath of some white-winged wonder that passed Lois Boynton's window her white soul forsook its "earth-lot" and took flight at last.
They watched beside her, but never knew the moment of her going; it was just a silent flitting, a ceasing to be, without a tremor, or a flutter that could be seen by mortal eye. Her face was so like an angel's in its shining serenity that the few who loved her best could not look upon her with anything but reverent joy. On earth she had known nothing but the "broken arcs," but in heaven she would find the "perfect round"; there at last, on the other side of the stars, she could remember right, poor Lois Boynton!
For weeks afterwards the village was shrouded in snow as it had never been before within memory, but in every happy household the home-life deepened day by day. The books came out in the long evenings; the grandsires told old tales under the inspiration of the hearth-fire: the children gathered on their wooden stools to roast apples and pop corn; and hearts came closer together than when summer called the housemates to wander here and there in fields and woods and beside the river.
Over at Boyntons', when the snow was whirling and the wind howling round the chimneys of the high-gabled old farmhouse; when every window had its frame of ermine and fringe of icicles, and the sleet rattled furiously against the glass, then Ivory would throw a great back log on the bank of coals between the fire-dogs, the kettle would begin to sing, and the eat come from some snug corner to curl and purr on the braided hearth-rug.
School was in session, and Ivory and Rod had their textbooks of an evening, but oh! what a new and strange joy to study when there was a sweet woman sitting near with her workbasket; a woman wearing a shining braid of hair as if it were a coronet; a woman of clear eyes and tender lips, one who could feel as well as think, one who could be a man's comrade as well as his dear love.
Truly the second heaven, the one on "this side of the stars, by men called home," was very present over at Boyntons'.
Sometimes the broad-seated old haircloth sofa would be drawn in front of the fire, and Ivory, laying his pipe and his Greek grammar on the table, would take some lighter book and open it on his knee. Waitstill would lift her eyes from her sewing to meet her husband's glance that spoke longing for her closer companionship, and gladly leaving her work, and slipping into the place by his side, she would put her elbow on his shoulder and read with him.
Once, Rod, from his place at a table on the other side of the room, looked and looked at them with a kind of instinct beyond his years, and finally crept up to Waitstill, and putting an arm through hers, nestled his curly head on her shoulder with the quaint charm and grace that belonged to him.
It was a young and beautiful shoulder, Waitstill's, and there had always been, and would always be, a gracious curve in it where a child's head might lie in comfort. Presently with a shy pressure, Rod whispered: "Shall I sit in the other room, Waitstill and Ivory? -- Am I in the way?"
Ivory looked up from his book quietly shaking his head, while Waitstill put her arm around the boy and drew him closer.
"Our little brother is never in the way," she said, as she bent and kissed him.
Men may come and men may go; Saco Water still tumbles tumultuously over the dam and rushes under the Edgewood bridge on its way to the sea; and still it listens to the story of to-day that will sometime be the history of yesterday.
On midsummer evenings the windows of the old farmhouse over at Boyntons' gleam with unaccustomed lights and voices break the stillness, lessening the gloom of the long grass-grown lane of Lois Boynton's watching in days gone by. On sunny mornings there is a merry babel of children's chatter, mingled with gentle maternal warnings, for this is a new brood of young things and the river is calling them as it has called all the others who ever came within the circle of its magic. The fragile harebells hanging their blue heads from the crevices of the rocks; the brilliant columbines swaying to and fro on their tall stalks; the patches of gleaming sand in shallow places beckoning little bare feet to come and tread them; the glint of silver minnows darting hither and thither in some still pool; the tempestuous journey of some weather-beaten log, fighting its way downstream;--here is life in abundance, luring the child to share its risks and its joys.
When Waitstill's boys and Patty's girls come back to the farm, they play by Saco Water as their mothers and their fathers did before them. The paths through the pine woods along the river's brink are trodden smooth by their restless, wandering feet; their eager, curious eyes search the waysides for adventure, but their babble and laughter are oftenest heard from the ruins of an old house hidden by great trees. The stones of the cellar, all overgrown with blackberry vines, are still there; and a fragment of the brick chimney, where swallows build their nests from year to year. A wilderness of weeds, tall and luxuriant, springs up to hide the stone over which Jacob Cochrane stepped daily when he issued from his door; and the polished stick with which three-year-old Patty beats a tattoo may be a round from the very chair in which he sat, expounding the Bible according to his own vision. The thickets of sweet clover and red-tipped grasses, of waving ferns and young alder bushes hide all of ugliness that belongs to the deserted spot and serve as a miniature forest in whose shade the younglings foreshadow the future at their play of home-building and housekeeping. In a far corner, altogether concealed from the passer-by, there is a secret treasure, a wonderful rosebush, its green leaves shining with health and vigor. When the July sun is turning the hay-fields yellow, the children part the bushes in the leafy corner and little Waitstill Boynton steps cautiously in, to gather one splendid rose, "for father and mother."
Jacob Cochrane's heart, with all its faults and frailties has long been at peace. On a chill, dreary night in November, all that was mortal of him was raised from its unhonored resting-place not far from the ruins of his old abode, and borne by three of his disciples far away to another state. The gravestones were replaced, face downward, deep, deep in the earth, and the sod laid back upon them, so that no man thence forward could mark the place of the prophet's transient burial amid the scenes of his first and only triumphant ministry.
"It is a sad story, Jacob Cochrane's," Waitstill said to her husband when she first discovered that her children had chosen the deserted spot for their play; "and yet, Ivory, the red rose blooms and blooms in the ruins of the man's house, and perhaps, somewhere in the world, he has left a message that matches the rose."
Kate D. Wiggin's "Waitstill Baxter" Story
The following account, from pp. 614-616 of Gideon T. Ridlon's 1895 book Saco Valley Settlements, appears to have served as an inspiration for the wandering Cochranite missionary in Mrs. Wiggin's story:
Joseph [Decker], b. in Gorham, Me., as early as 1776; m. Dec. 5, 1799, Anne, daughter of Daniel and Rachel (Ridlon) Field, of Phillipsburgh, now Hollis. He built a house on the road leading from Moderation mills to Bonnie Eagle, a little way above the creek, and back of the wellknown hackmatack tree. This was on the Field farm. He afterward lived in the old Field house, on the knoll near the brick house owned by "Uncle David Martin." He had a family consisting of two sons and three daughters. Mr. Decker was an industrious farmer and provided well for his family till the notorious Jacob COCHRAN came to the Saco valley to promulgate his delusive doctrines and introduce his questionable practices. Among the many who listened, believed, and were swept into partial insanity under the influence of the impostor was the subject of this notice. He became a diligent student of the sacred volume and was so much absorbed in religious meditation and exercises that he lost all interest in secular affairs. His family and farm were neglected, and the time that should have been devoted to a livelihood was devoted to reading and the promulgation of the theories he had embraced. He was undoubtedly sincere in believing -- as many are today -- that Christ would soon return to earth for the upbuilding of David's throne and the establishment of his kingdom among men. His daily life and habits were conformed as nearly as possible to apostolic customs; would receive no money save to meet pressing necessities?? would have but one coat; wore his hair and enormous beard untrimmed: carried everywhere a long staff, and asked for the benediction of peace upon every house he entered. He became a pilgrim preacher. Being possessed of a retentive memory, fluency of communication, a clear, ringing voice, and argumentative ability, he proved an attractive public speaker. Believing that Jerusalem was to become the headquarters of the coming king, he advocated the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the Holy City to a degree of magnificence as nearly commensurate as possible with the dignity and divinity of his anticipated Lord. Upon these themes he dwelt in public and private, by day and at night, until his weary brain gave way and his mind became unbalanced; then he determined to forsake all that had been dear -- wife, children, relatives, home -- and journey to Palestine to be one who, with his own hands, should prepare an earthly habitation for the looked-for Christ.
Previous to his final departure from home, he spent several months in traveling through the eastern section of Maine to visit his aged parents and brothers, then living there, and employed all his arguments to induce them to embrace his religious views. He bade each and all an affectionate farewell "till the day dawn and the shadows flee away," and returned to spend a few days with his own family. Having made known his determination to leave for the Holy Land, his relatives exhausted every influence to persuade him to change his plans, but all in vain. On the morning of his final departure he rose before daybreak, went to the house where his sister lived, entered the room where she and her husband were reposing, knelt by their bedside, and offered a most tender and solemn prayer. He then commended them to the care of God, gave them the parting hand in tears, and went his way. After a few days spent with families in Buxton "of like precious faith," he moved forward and left the community. There were few mediums for conveying intelligence at that time, and no information respecting his fate reached his family for many long years. His wife endured her trial patiently, and without a murmur tried to keep her small children together until his expected return. But at length, after many years, a newspaper came from Boston to his sister in which was a copied account of his wanderings and vicissitudes, death and burial. He had become well known as the "Massachusetts prophet" long before leaving his native land, and under this designation he was described. Going on shipboard without money, when making his mission known he was allowed to proceed from one country to another, and as a preacher of the gospel -- a class then held in reverence -- he found comfortable entertainment as his needs required. Continuing to address the crowds that were attracted by the novelty of his appearance and detained by his eloquence on street corners and public squares, in cities and towns visited by him while on his way toward the Orient, he was several times imprisoned for a short space by the authorities. He was always nonresistant, allowing those who laid hands on him to do as they pleased; but his appeal to American consuls soon restored him to liberty, when he would proceed Zionward. While tarrying at a small town somewhere in Spain he was seized with small-pox and shortly died; thus ending, among strangers upon a foreign shore, a singularly eccentric and eventful career. His weary feet were not destined to tread the narrow streets of the earthly Jerusalem, nor his willing hands to rebuild her walls, yet his pilgrimage ended not till, freed from the limitations of the mortal, his triumphant spirit had reached that city "whose builder and maker is God."
In the absence of any allusion, in the paper forwarded to his relatives, to the initial letters of his name that had been imprinted upon his fore-arm, the members of his family were slow to believe the report of his death; but the nature of the disease with which he died would hasten his burial, without the exposure to view of such characters. Besides, the description of a man under a name by which he was well known in his native state, left no room for doubt in the minds of the more disinterested that it was the identical "Massachusetts prophet," the real Joseph Decker of the district of Maine. There was something exceedingly pathetic and impressive in the tender solicitude, the unchanging love and conjugal faithfulness of "Aunt Anne," his deserted wife, during the long, weary years that intervened between his going away and the harvesting of her spirit at the ripe age of ninety-three. She nursed her grief within the silent chambers of her own breast, and seldom, if ever, mentioned her husband's name; but those who knew her best were aware of the burden that lay on her heart, while her habitual sadness and oft-repeated sigh indicated that a deep shadow had fallen over her life. From day to day, year after year, so long as she was able to move about, she would stand in the open door of her son's house, and with hand-shaded eyes look eagerly down the hill, watching and waiting for the return of him she loved. Alas! he did not come and her hope of a reunion was not realized till these twain joined hands on the celestial shore and together became resident inhabitants of the New Jerusalem....