Imatges de pÓgina

clustered against a hill-side, just over der. Besides, flowers grew, even in Greena wooden spire in the shallow valley, field ; there were damask roses and oldabout which were gathered a few white fashioned lilies enough in the square garhouses, giving signs of life thrice a day den to have furnished a whole century in tiny, threads of smoke rising from their of poets with similes; and in the posyprim chimneys; and over all, the pallid bed under the front windows were tulips skies of New England, where the sun of Chinese awkwardness and splendor, wheeled his shorn beams from east to beds of pinks spicy as all Arabia, blue west as coldly as if no tropic seas mir- hyacinths heavy with sweetness as well rored his more fervid glow thousands of as bells, “ pi'nies " rubicund and rank, miles away, and the chilly moon beamed hearts-ease clustered against the house, with irreproachable whiteness across the and sticky rose-acacias, pretty and imround gray hills and the straggling pond, practicable, not to mention the grenadier beloved of frogs and mud-turtles, that files of hollyhocks that contended with Greenfield held in honor under the name fennel-bushes and scarlet-flowered beans of Squam Lake.

for the precedence, and the hosts of wild Perhaps it was the scenery, perhaps flowers that bloomed by wood-edges and the air, possibly the cheapness of the pond -shores wherever corn or potatoes place as far as all the necessaries of life spared a foot of soil for the lovely weeds. went, that tempted Judge Hyde to pitch So in Judge Hyde's frequent absences, his tent there, in the house his fathers at court or conclave, hither and yon, (for had built long ago, instead of wearing his the Judge was a political man,) it was his judicial honors publicly, in the city where pretty wife's chief amusement, when her he attained them; but, whatever the mo- delicate fingers ached with embroidery, tive might be, certain it is that at the age or her head spun with efforts to learn of forty he married a delicate beauty housekeeping from old Keery, the timefrom Baltimore, and came to live on out-of-mind authority in the Hyde famGreenfield Hill, in the great white house ily, a bad-humored, good-tempered old with a gambrel roof and dormer win- maid, -it was, indeed, the little Southdows, standing behind certain huge ma- erner's only amusement,- to make the ples, where Major Hyde and Parson polish and mustiness of those dreary frontHyde and Deacon Hyde had all lived parlors gay and fragrant with flowers; before him.

and though Judge Hyde's sense of the A brief Northern summer bloomed gayly ridiculous was not remarkably keen, it enough for Adelaide Howard Hyde when was too much to expect of bim that he she made her bridal tour to her new home; should do otherwise than laugh long and and cold as she found the aspect of that loud, when, suddenly returning from house, with its formal mahogany chairs, Taunton one summer day, he tracked his high-backed, and carved in grim festoons wife by snatches of song into the “ and ovals of incessant repetition, — its pany rooms,” and found her on the floor, penitential couch of a sofa, where only her hair about her ears, tying a thick the iron spine of a Revolutionary hero- garland of red peonies, intended to decine could have found rest, -- its pinched, orate the picture of the original Hyde, a starved, and double-starched portraits of dreary old fellow, in bands, and grasping defunct Hydes, Puritanic to the very a Bible in one wooden hand, while a disends of toupet and periwig,— little Mrs. tant view of Plymouth Bay and the MayHyde was deep enough in love with her flower tried to convince the spectator tall and handsome husband to overlook that he was transported, among other anthe upholstery of a home he glorified, tediluvians, by that. Noah's ark, to the and to care little for comfort elsewhere, New World. On either hand hung the so long as she could nestle on his knee little Flora's great-grandmother-in-law, and rest her curly head against his shoul- and her great-grandfather accordingly,




Mrs. Mehitable and Parson Job IIyde, naturally grow,-shy, sensitive, timid, and peering out, one from a bushy ornament extremely grave. Her dress, thanks to of pink laurel - blossoms, and the other Aunt Keery and the minister's wife, (who from an airy and delicate garland of the looked after her for her mother's sake,) wanton sweet-pea, each stony pair of was always well provided and neat, but eyes seeming to glare with Medusan in- no way calculated to cultivate her taste or tent at this profaning of their state and to gratify the beholder. A district school dignity. “Isn't it charming, dear?” said provided her with such education as it the innocent little beauty, with a satisfac- could give; and the library, that was her tion half doubtful, as her husband's laugh resort at all hours of the day, furthered went on.

her knowledge in a singular and varied But for every butterfly there comes an way, since its lightest contents were hisend to summer. The flowers dropped tories of all kinds and sorts, unless one from the frames and died in the garden; may call the English Classics lighter a pitiless winter set in; and day after reading than Ilume or Gibbon. day the mittened and mufflered school- But at length the district-schoolma’am boy, dragging his sled through drifts of could teach Mehitable Hyde no more, heavy snow to school, eyed curiously the and the Judge suddenly discovered that wan, wistful face of Judge Hyde’s wife he had a pretty daughter of fourteen, igpressed up to the pane of the south win- norant enough to shock his sense of prodow, its great restless eyes and shadowy priety, and delicate enough to make it hair bringing to mind some captive bird useless to think of sending her away from that pines and beats against the cage.

home to be buffeted in a boarding-school. Her husband absent from home long and Nothing was left for him but to underoften, full of affairs of “ court and state," take her education himself; and having - her delicate organization, that lost its a theory that a thorough course of clasflickering vitality by every exposure to

sics, both Greek and Latin, was the founcold,- her lonely days and nights,—the dation of all knowledge, half a score of interminable sewing, that now, for her dusty grammars were brought from the own reasons, she would trust to no hands garret, and for two hours every morning but her own, - conscious incapacity to and afternoon little Miss Hitty worried be what all the women about her were, her innocent soul over conjugations and stirring, active, hardy housekeepers,-a declensions and particles, as perseveringvague sense of shame, and a great dread as any professor could have desired. of the future,- her comfortless and moth- But the dreadful part of the lessons to erless condition,-slowly, but surely, like Hitty was the recitation after tea; no frost, and wind, and rain, and snow, beat matter how well she knew every inflecon this frail blossom, and it went with the tion of a verb, every termination of a rest. June roses were laid against her noun, her father's cold, gray eye, fixed dark hair and in her fair hands, when on her for an answer, dispelled all kinds she was carried to the lonely graveyard of knowledge, and, for at least a week, of Greenfield, where mulleins and asters, every lesson ended in tears. However, golden-rod, blackberry-vines, and stunt- there are alleviations to everything in ed yellow-pines adorned the last sleep of life; and when the child was sent to the the weary wife and mother; for she left garret after her school-books, she discovbehind her a week-old baby, - a girl, – ered another set, more effectual teachers wailing prophetically in the square bed- to her than Sallust or the “Græca Minora," room where its mother died.

eren the twelve volumes of “ Sir Charles Judge Hyde did not marry again, and Grandison,” and the fewer but no less abhe named his baby Mehitable. She grew sorbing tomes of “ Clarissa Harlowe"; and up as a half-orphaned child with an el- every hour she could contrive not to be derly and undemonstrative father would missed by Keery or her father was spent in that old garret, fragrant as it was with appointed curiosity to tell how stiff that sheaves of all the herbs that grow in field Mehitable Hyde was, and how hard it or forest, poring over those old novels, was to make her speak a word to one! that were her society, her friends, her Friends were what Hitty read of in the world.

* Spectator,” and longed to have; but So two years passed by. Mehitable she knew none of the Greenfield girls grew tall and learned, but knew little since she left school, and the only commore of the outside world than ever; her panion she had was Keery, rough as the father had learned to love her, and taught east wind, but genuine and kind-hearted, her to adore bim; still shy and timid, the -better at counsel than consolation, and village offered no temptation to her, so no way adapted to fill the vacant place far as society went; and Judge Ilyde was in Hitty's heart. beginning to feel that for his child's men- So the years wore away, and Miss tal health some freer atmosphere was fast Hyde's early beauty went with them. becoming necessary, when a relentless She had been a blooming, delicate girl, writ was served upon the Judge himself, —the slight grace of a daisy in her figand one that no man could evade; pa- ure, wild-rose tints on her fair cheek, ralysis smote him, and the strong man and golden reflections in her light brown lay prostrate, — became bedridden. hair, that shone in its waves and curls

Now the question of life seemed set- like lost sunshine ; but ten years of such tled for Hitty; her father adınitted no service told their story plainly. When nursing but hers. Month after month Hitty Hyde was twenty-six, her blue eyes rolled away, and the numb grasp grad- were full of sorrow and patience, when ually loosed its hold on flesh and sense, the shy lids let their legend be read; the but still Judge Hyde was bedridden. little mouth had become pale, and the Year after year passed by, and no change corners drooped ; her cheek, too, was for better or worse ensued. Hitty's lite tintless, though yet round; nothing but was spent between the two parlors and the beautiful hair lasted; even grace was the kitchen; for the room her dead moth- gone, so long had she stooped over her er had so decorated was now furnished as father. Sometimes the unwakened heart a bedroom for her father's use; and her within her dreamed, as a girl's heart will. own possessions had been removed into Stately visions of Sir Charles Grandison the sitting-room next it, that, sleeping or bowing before her,--shuddering fascinawaking, she might be within call. All tions over the image of that dreadful the family portraits held a conclave in Lovelace, - nothing more real haunted the other front-parlor, and its north and Hitty's imagination. She knew what she east windows were shut all the year, had to do in life, – that it was not to be save on some sultry summer day when a happy wife or mother, but to waste by a Keery Aung them open to dispel damp bedridden old man, the only creature on and must, and the school-children stared earth she loved as she could love. Light in reverentially, and wondered why old and air were denied the plant, but it Madam Hyde's eyes followed them as grew in darkness, - blanched and unfar as they could see.

Visitors cane

blooming, it is true, but still a growth now and then to the kitchen-door, and upward, toward light. usurped Keery's flag-bottomed chair, Ten years more of monotonous pawhile they gossiped with her about vil- tience, and Miss Hyde was thirty-six. lage afl'airs; now and then a friendly Her hair had thinned, and was full of spinster with a budget of good advice silver threads; a wrinkle invaded either called Hitty away from her post, and, cheek, and she was angular and bony; after an hour's vain effort to get any but something painfully sweet lingered news worth retailing about the Judge in her face, and a certain childlike infrom those pale lips, retired full of dis- nocence of expression gave her the air


of a nun; the world had never touched executor of her father's will had settled nor taught her.

the estate and gone back to his home, But now Judge Hyde was dead; nine- and Miss Hyde went with him, the first teen years of petulant, helpless, hopeless journey of her life, that she might select wretchedness were at last over, and all a monument for her father's grave. It that his daughter cared to live for was was now near a year since Judge Hyde's gone ; she was an orphan, without near death, and the monument was on its way relatives, without friends, old, and tired from Boston ; the elder Dimock monopoout. Do not despise me that I say " old,” lized the cartage of freight as well as you plump and rosy ladies whose life is passengers to the next town, and to him in its prime of joy and use at thirty-six. Miss Hyde intrusted the care of the great Age is not counted by years, nor calcu- granite pillar she had purchased; and it lated froin one's birth; it is a fact of wear was for his father that Abner Dimock and work, altogether unconnected with called on the young lady for directions the calendar. I have seen a girl of six- as to the disposal of the tombstone just teen older than you are at forty. I have arrived. Hitty was in the garden; her known others disgrace themselves at six- white morning-dress shone among the ty-five by liking to play with children roses, and the morning air had flushed and eat sugar-plums!

her pale cheek; she looked fair and deliOne kind of youth still remained to cate and gracious; but her helpless ignoHitty Hyde, - the freshness of inexperi- rance of the world's ways and usages

Her soul was as guileless and as attracted the world-hardened man more ignorant as a child's; and she was strand- than her face. He had not spent a roué ed on life, with a large fortune, like a life in a great city for nothing; he had helmless ship, heavily loaded, that breaks lived enough with gentlemen, brokenfrom its anchor, and drives headlong down and lost, it is true, but well-bred,

to be able to


their manners; and the Now it happened, that, within a year

devil's instinct that such people possess after Judge Hyde's death, Abner Dim- warned him of Hitty Ilyde's weakest ock, the tavern-keeper's son, returned to points. So, too, he contrived to make Greenfield, after years of absence, a bold- that first errand lead to another, and still faced, handsome man, well-dressed and another, -- to make the solitary woman “ free-handed,” as the Greenfield vernac- depend on his help, and expect his comular hath it. Nobody knew where Ab- ing; fifty thousand dollars, with no more ner Dimock had spent the last fifteen incumbrance than such a woman, was years; neither did anybody know any- worth scheming for, and the prey was thing against him; yet he had no good easily snared. reputation in Greenfield. Everybody It is not to be expected that any looked wise and grave when his name country village of two streets, much less was spoken, and no Greenfield girl cared Greenfield, could long remain ignorant to own him for an acquaintance. His fa- of such a new and amazing phase as the ther welcomed him home with more sur- devotion of any man to any woman thereprise than pleasure; and the whole house- in; but, as nobody liked to interfere too hold of the Greenfield Hotel, as Diinock's soon in what might only be, after all, a Inn was new-nar

named, learned to get out mere business arrangement, Greenfield of Abner Dimock's way, and obey his contented itself with using its eyes, its eye, as if he were more their master ears, and its tongues, with one exception than his father,

to the latter organ's clatter, in favor of Left quite alone, without occupation or Hitty Hyde; to her no one dared as yet amusement, Miss II yde naturally grasped approach with gossip or advice. at anything that came in her way to do In the mean time Hitty went on her or to see to; the lawyer who had been way, all regardless of the seraplis at the

upon a reef.



gate. Abner Dimock was handsome, must needs grow tender toward Miss agreeable, gentlemanly to a certain lack- Hyde; a great joy is as pathetic as a sorered extent;- who had cared for Hitty, Did you never cry over a doting in all her lite, enough to aid and counsel old man ? her as he had already done ? At first But when Mrs. Smith's son John, a she was half afraid of him; then she liked youth of ten, saw, by the light of an incauhim; then he was “ so good to me!” and tious lamp that illuminated a part of the then-she pitied him! for he told her, south parlor, a good-night kiss bestowed sitting on that hard old sofa, in the June upon the departing Abner by Miss Hitty twilight, how he had no mother, how he Hyde and absolutely returned by said Abhad been cast upon the charities of a ner, and when John told his mother, and cruel and evil world from his infancy; his mother revealed it to Miss Flint, Miss reminded her of the old red school-house Flint to Miss Skinner, and so forth, and where they had been to school together, so on, till it reached the minister's wife, and the tyranny of the big boys over him, great was the uproar in Greenfield; and -a little curly, motherless boy. So he the Reverend Mrs. Perkins put on her enlarged upon his life; talked a mildly gray bonnet and went over to remonbitter misanthropy; informed Miss Hyde strate with Hitty on the spot. by gradual insinuations that she was an Whether people will ever learn the angel sent on earth to console and re- uselessness of such efforts is yet a matter form a poor sinner like him; and be- for prophecy. Miss Hyde heard all that fore the last September rose had drop- was said, and replied very quietly, “I ed, so far had Abner Dimock succeeded don't believe it." And as Mrs. Perkins in his engineering, that his angel was had no tangible proofs of Abner Dimastounded one night by the undeniably ock's unfitness to marry Judge Hyde's terrestrial visitation of an embrace and daughter, the lady in question got the a respectfully fervid kiss.

better of her adviser, so far as any arguPerhaps it would have been funny, ment was concerned, and effectually put perhaps pathetic, to analyze the mixed an end to remonstrance by declaring with consternation and delight of Mehitable extreme quiet and unblushing front, — Hyde at such bonâ-file evidence of a “ I am going to marry him next week. lover. Poor woman's heart ! — altogeth- Will you be so good as to notify Mr. Perer solitary and desolate, — starved of its kins ?” youth and its joy, — given over to the Mrs. Perkins held up both hands and chilly reign of patience and resignation, cried. Words might have hardened Hit

- afraid of life, without strength, or ty; but what woman that was not half hope, or pleasure, -- and all at once Par- tigress ever withstood another woman's adise dawns ! - her cold, innocent life tears? bursts into fiery and oclorous bloom ; Hitty's heart melted directly; she sat she has found her fate, and its face is down by Mrs. Perkins, and cried, too. keen with splendor, like a young an- “ Please, don't be vexed with me,” sobgel's. Poor, deluded, blessed, rapture- bed she. “ I love him, Mrs. Perkins, and smitten woman!

I haven't got anybody else to love, - and Blame her as you will, indignant maid- -and-I never shall bave. He's very ens of Greenfield, Miss Flint, and Miss good to love me,- I am so old and homeSharp, and Miss Skinner! You may ly.” have had ten lovers and twenty flirta- " Very good!" exclaimed Mrs. Pertions apiece, and refused half-a-dozen kins, in great wrath, “ goool! to marry good matches for the best of reasons; Judge Hyde's daughter, and -- fifty thouyou, no doubt, would have known better sand dollars," Mrs. Perkins bit off. She than to marry a man who was a villain would not put such thoughts into Hitty's from his very physiognomy; but my heart head, since her marriage was inevitable.

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