Imatges de pÓgina


room, where the old man had seated him- husband; all her wrongs were forgotten, self in the rocking-chair, and was taking all her sorrows obliterated by this one a mental inventory of the goods and fear! Well did St. Augustine say, “God chattels with a momentary keenness in is patient because He is eterval"; but his look that no way reassured Hitty's better and truer would the saying have apprehensive heart.

been, had it run, “God is patient because “ So, Abner a’n't to home?"

He is love”: a gospel that He publishes “No, Sir."

in the lives of saints on earth, in their " Don't know where he's gone, do daily and hourly " anguish of patience,"

preaching to the fearful souls that dare “ No, Sir."

not trust His long-suffering by the tena“ Don't never know where he goes, I cious love of those who bear His image, expect ?"

saying, in resistless human tones, “Shall “ No, Sir."

one creature endure and love and con“ Well, when he comes home, — know tinually forgive another, and shall I, who when he's a-comin' home ?”

am not loving, but Love, be weary of thy “No, Sir."

transgressions, O sinner ?” And so does “Well, when he doos, you tell him 't the silent and despairing life of many a some folks come to the tavern last night, woman weave unconsciously its golden 'n' talked pretty loud, 'n' I heerd garland of reward in the heavens above, Guess 'ta’n’t best, though, to tell what I and do the Lord's work in a strange land heerd. Only you tell Abner 't I come where it cannot sing His songs. here, and I said he'd better be a-joggin'. The day crept toward sunset, and HitHe'll know, he'll know,- h’m, yes,” said ty sat with her wan face pressed to the the old man, passing his hand across his window-pane, hushing her child in his thin blue lips, as if to drive away other cradle with one of those low, monotonwords better left unsaid, — and then ris- ed murmurs that mothers know ; but still ing from his seat, by the aid of either arm, her husband did not come. The level gained his balance, and went on, while sun-rays pierced the woods into more he fumbled for his stick:

vivid splendor, burnished gold fringed “ I'd ha' writ, but black and white's a the heavy purple clouds in the west, and hangin' matter sometimes, 'n' words a’n’t; warm crimson lights turned the purple 'n' I hadn't nobody to send, so I crawled into more triumphant glory; the sun set, along. Don't ye forget now! don't ye! unstained with mist or tempest, behind It's a pretty consider'ble piece o' busi- those blue and lonely hills that guard old ness; 'n' you'll be dreffully on't, ef you Berkshire with their rolling summits, and do forget. Now don't ye forget!” night came fast, steel-blue and thick with

“ No, I won't,” said IIitty, trembling as stars; but yet he did not come, the unshe spoke; for the old man's words had touched meal on the table was untouched showed her a depth of dreadful possibility, still. Hour after hour of starry darkness and an old acquaintance with crime and crept by, and she sat watching at the its maneuvres, that chilled the blood in window-pane ; overhead, constellations her veins. She watched him out of the marched across the heavens in relentless gate with a sickening sense of terror at her splendor, careless of man or sorrow; Oriheart, and turned slowly into the house, on glittered in the east, and climbed torevolving all kinds of plans in her head ward the zenith; the Pleiades clustered for her husband's escape, should her fears and sparkled as if they missed their lost prove true. Of herself she did not think ; sister no more; the Hyades marked the no law could harm her child; but, even af- celestial pastures of Taurus, and Lyra ter years of brutality and neglect, her faith- strung her chords with fire. Hitty rested ful affection turned with all its provident her weary head against the window-frame thoughtfulness and care at once to her and sent her wearier thoughts upward to



the stars; there were the points of light litting her feet against stones and logs in that the Chaldeans watched upon their the darkness, stumbling often, but never plains by night, and named with mystic falling, till the shadow of the trees was syllables of their weird Oriental tongue, past, and the starlight showed her that – names that in her girlhood she had de- they were traversing the open fields, now lighted to learn, charmed by that name- crisp with frost, but even to the tread, less spell that language holds, where with over two or three of these, through a it plants itself ineradicably in the human pine wood that was a landmark to Hitty, mind, and binds it with fetters of vague for she well knew that it lay between association that time and chance are the turnpike-road and another, less freall-powerless to break,— Zubeneschamali quented, that by various windings went and Zubenelgunebi, Bellatrix and Betel- toward the Connecticut line, - then over guese, sonorous of Rome and Asia both,

a tiny brook on its unsteady bridge of full of old echoes and the dry resonant logs, and out into a lane, where a roughair of Eastern plains, names wherein spoken man was waiting for them, at the sounded the clash of Bellona's armor, head of a strong horse harnessed to one and the harsh stir of palm-boughs rustled of those wagons without springs that Newby a hot wind of the desert, and vibrant Englanders like to make themselves unwith the dying clangor of gongs, and comfortable in. Her husband turned to shouts of worshipping crowds reverber

her abruptly. ating through horrid temples of grin- “ Get in,” said he; “ get in behind; ning and ghastly idols, wet with chil- there's hay enough; and don't breathe dren's blood.

loud, or I'll murder you !” Far, far away, the heavenly procession She clambered into the wagon and and their well-remembered names had seated herself on the hay, hushing her led poor Hitty's thoughts ; worn out with child, who nestled and moaned in her anxiety, and faint for want of the food arms, though she had carried him with she had forgotten to take, sleep crept all possible care. A sharp cut of the upon her, and her first consciousness of whip sent the powerful horse off at full its presence was the awakening grasp of speed, and soon this ill-matched party a rough hand and the hoarse whisper were fast traversing the narrow road that of her husband.

wound about the country for the use of “Get up!” said he. “Pick up your every farm within a mile of its necessary brat, get your shawl, and come !” course, a course tending toward the Con

Hitty rose quickly to her feet. One necticut. faculty wretchedness gives, the power of Hour after hour crept by. Worn out sudden self-possession, - and Hitty was with fatigue, poor Ilitty dozed and fell broad awake in the very instant she back on the sott hay; her child slept, too, was called. Her husband stood beside and all her troubles faded away in heavy her, holding a lantern; her boy slept in unconsciousness, till she was again awathe cradle at her feet.

kened by her husband's grasp, to find “ Have you seen your father ? ” said that dawn was gathering its light roseate she, with quick instinct.

fleeces in the east, and that their flight “Yes, d-n you, be quick! do you 'was for the present stayed at the door of want to hang me?”

a tavern, lovely and rude enough, but Quick as a spirit Hitty snatched her welcome to Hitty as a place of rest, if child, and wrapped him in the blanket only for a moment. The sullen mistress where he lay; her shawl was on the chair of the house ösked no questions and ofshe had slept in, her hood upon a nail by fered no courtesy, but, after her guests the door, and flinging both on, with the had caten their breakfast, rapidly prechild in her arms, she followed her hus- pared, she led the way to a bedroom in band down-stairs, across the back-yard, the loft, where Abner Dimo k sung him


self down upon the straw bed and fell “ Hold on a minute, Ben !” said he sound asleep, leaving Iitty to the undis. to his companion ; " this yelp must be turbed care of her child. And occupa- stopped"; and stepping over to the back tion enough that proved; for the little of the wagon, he grasped his wife tightly fellow was fretful and excited, so that no with one arm, and with the other dropped hour for thought was left to his anxious his child into the street. * Now drive, and timid mother till the dinner-bell Ben," said he, in the same hoarse whisawoke her husband and took him down


" drive like the Devil!” – for, as stairs. She could not eat, but, begging her child fell, Hitty shrieked with such a some milk for her boy, tended, and fed, cry as only the heart of a mother could and sung to him, till he slept; and then send out over a newly-murdered infant. all the horrors of the present and future Shriek on shriek, fast and loud and long, thronged upon her, till her heart seemed broke the slumbers of the village; nothto die in her breast, and her limbs failed ing Abner could do, neither threat nor to support her when she would have force, short of absolute murder, would dragged herself out of doors for one avail,- and there was too much real esbreath of fresh air, one refreshing look tate remaining of the Hyde property for at a world untroubled and serene.

Abner Dimock to spare his wife yet. So the afternoon crept away, and as Ben drove fiend-fashion ; but before they soon as night drew on the journey was passed the last house in the village, lights resumed. But this night was chill with were glancing and windows grating as the breath of a sobbing east wind, and they were opened. Years after, I heard the dim stars foreboded rain. Hitty shiv- the story of such a midnight cry borne ered with bitter cold, and the boy began past sleeping houses with the quick rattle to cry. With a fierce curse Abner bade of wheels; but no one who heard it could her stop his disturbance, and again the give the right clue to its explanation, and poor mother had hands and heart full to it dried into a legend. silence the still recurring sobs of the Now Hitty Dimock became careless of child. At last, after the midnight cocks good or evil, except one absorbing desire had ceased to send their challenges from to get away from her husband, -to search farm to farın, after some remote church- for her child, to know if it had lived or clocks had clanged one stroke on the died. For four nights more that journey damp wind, they began to pass through was pursued at the height of their horse's a large village; no lights burned in speed; every day they stopped to rest, the windows, but white fences gleamed and every day Iitty's half-delirious brain through the darkness, and sharp gable laid plans of escape, only to be balked by ends loomed up against the dull sky, Abner Dimo«k’s vigilance; for if he slept, one after another, and the horse's hoofs it was with both arins round her, and the flashed sparks from the paved street be- slightest stir awoke him,- and while he fore the church, that showed its white woke, not one propitious moment freed spire, spectre-like, directly in their path. her from his watch. Her brain began to Here, by some evil chance, the child reel with disappointment and anguish; awoke, and, between cold and hunger and she began to hate her husband; a band fear, began one of those long and loud of iron seemed strained about her foreshrieks that no power can stop this side head, and a ringing sound filled her ears; of strangulation. In vain Hitty kissed, her lips grew parched, and her eye glitand coaxed, and half-choked her boy, in tered; the last night of their journey Abhope to stop the uproar; still he screamed ner Dimock lifted her into the wagon, more and more loudly. Abner turned and she fainted on the hay. round on his seat with an oath, snatched “ What in bell did you bring her the child from its mother's arms, and for, Dimock?" growled his companion; rolled it closely in the blanket.

“ women are d-d plagues always.”


"She 'll get up in a minute,” coolly re- deaths year after year, when soul and turned the husband; “can't afford to body cry out for the grave's repose, and leave a goose that lays golden eggs be- beat themselves against the inscrutable hind; hold on till I lift her up. Here, will of God only to fall down before it Hitty! drink, I tell you ! drink!” in bruised and bleeding acquiescence.

A swallow of raw spirit certainly drove So she lived to find herself immured in away the faintness, but it brought fresh this damp and crumbling house, with no fire to the fever that burned in her veins, society but a drinking and crime-haunted and she was muttering in delirium before husband, and the ignorant negroes who the end of that night's journey brought served him,- society varied now and then them to a small village just above the by one or two men revolting enough in old house on the river that figured in the speech and aspect to drive Hitty to her beginning of this history, and which we own room, where, in a creaking chair, trust the patient reader has not forgotten. she rocked monotonously back and forth, Abner Dimock left his wife in charge of watching the snapping fire, and dreamthe old woman who kept the hovel of a ing dreams of a past that seemed now tavern where they stopped, and, giving but a visionary paradise. Ben the horse to dispose of to some safe For now it was winter, and the heavy purchaser, after he had driven him down drifts of snow that lay on Dimock's meadto the old house, returned at night in the ow forbade any explorations which the boat that belonged to his negro tenant, one idea of finding her child might have and, taking his unconscious wife from her driven her to make; and the frozen surbed, rowed down the river and landed face of the river no white-sailed ship her safely, to be carried from the skiff could traverse now, nor the hissing padinto an upper chamber of the old house, dle-wheels of a steamer break the silence where Jake's wife, Aunt Ju

with intimations of life, active and salient, Dimock styled her, nursed the wretch- far beyond the lonely precinct of Abner ed woman through three weeks of fe- Dimock's home. ver, and “doctored” her with herbs and So the winter passed by. The noises roots.

and lights that had awoke Hitty at midThe tenacious Hyde constitution, that night in the house at Greenfield had bewas a proverb in Greenfield, conquered come so far an institution in this lonely at last, and Hitty became conscious, to dwelling that now they disturbed her find herself in a chamber whose plastered sleep no more ; for it was a received cuswalls were crumbling away with damp- tom, that, whenever Abner Dimock's two ness and festooned with cubwebs, while visitors should appear, the cellar should the uncarpeted floor was checkered with resound all night with heavy blows and green stains of mildew, and the


old clinking of metal, and red light as from four-post bedstead on which she lay was a forge streamed up through the doorfringed around the rickety tester with way; but it disturbed Hitty no more ; rags of green moreen, mould-rotted. apathy settled down in black mist on her

Hitty sank back on her pillow with a soul, and she seemed to think, to care, sigh; she did not even question the old ne- for nothing. gress who sat crooning over the fire, as to But spring awoke the dead earth, and where she was, or what had befallen her; sleeping roots aroused with fresh forces but accepted this new place as only an- from their torpor, and sent up green other misty delirium, and in her secret signals to the birds above. A spark of heart prayed, for the hundredth time, to light awoke in Hitty's eye; she planned die.

to get away, to steal the boat from its Slowly she recovered; for prayers to hidden cove in the bushes and push off die are the last prayers ever answered ; down the friendly current of the river, we live against our will, and tempt living anywhere away from him! anywhere !

as Mr.


though it should be to wreck on the great And lifting her like a child in his arms, ocean, but still away from him! Night be carried her across the meadow, back after night she rose from her bed to haz- to the house, and down a flight of crazy ard the attempt, but her heart failed, and steps into the cellar, where a little forge her trembling limbs refused their aid. At was all ablaze with white-hot coal, and length moonlight came to her aid, and the two ill-visaged men she well knew when all the house slept she stole down by sight were busy with sets of odd tools stairs with bare, noiseless feet, and sped and fragments of metal, while on a bench like a ghost across the meadow to the near by, and in the seat of an old chair, river-bank. Poor weak hands ! vainly lay piles of fresh coin. They were a gang they fumbled with the knotted rope that of counterfeiters. bound the skiff to a crooked elm over- Abner Dimock thrust his wife into the hanging the water, — all in vain for many chair, sweeping the gilt eagles to the lingering minutes; but presently the ob- floor as one of the men angrily started durate knot gave way, and, turning to up, demanding, with an oath, what he gather up her shawl, there, close behind brought that woman there for to hang her, so close that his hot breath seemed them all. to sear her cheek, stood her husband, “ Be quiet, Bill, can't you ?” interposclear in the moonlight, with a sneer on ed the other man. “ Don't you see he's his face, and the lurid glow of drunken- drunk? you'll have the Devil to pay, if ness, that made a savage brute of a bad you cross a drunk Dimock !” man, gleaming in his deep-set eyes. Hitty But Abner had not heard the first neither shrieked nor ran; despair nerved speaker; he was too much occupied with her, — despair turned her rigid before his tying his wife's arms to the chair, - a proface.

ceeding she could nowise interfere with, “ Well,” said he, “ where are you since his heavy foot was set upon her going?”

dress so as to hold her own feet in help** I am going away,— away from you,

less fixedness. He proceeded to take - anywhere in the world away from the ring from her finger, and, searching you!” answered she, with the boldness of through a box of various contents that desperation.

stood in one corner, extracted from it a “ Ha, ha! going away from me!- that's delicate steel chain, finely wrought, but a d-d good joke, a’n't it? Away from strong as steel can be; then, at the forge, your husbaud! You fool ! you can't get with sundry tools, carefully chosen and away from me! you're mine, soul and skilfully used, he soldered one end of the body,— this world and the next! Don't chain to the ring, and, returning to his you know that? Where's your promise, wife, placed it again upon her finger. eh? - for better, for worse !'- and a'n't " Here, Bill,” growled he, “where's I worse, you cursed fool, you? You didn't that padlock off the tool-chest, eh? give put on the bandcuffs for nothing; heaven it here! This woman's a fool, — ha, ha, and hell can't get you away from me as ha!—she wanted to get away from me, long as you've got on that little shiny fet- and she's my

wife!” ter on your finger, — don't you know Another peal of dissonant laughter inthat?"

terrupted the words. The maddened woman made a quick “ What a d-d good joke! I swear I wrench to pull away from him her left haven't laughed before, this dog's age ! hand, which he held in his, taunting her And then she was goin' to rid herself of with the ring that symbolized their eter- the ring! as if that would help it! Why, nal bonds ; but he was too quick for her. there's the promise in black and white,

* Hollo!” laughed he; " want to get love, honor, and obey,'— I take thee, rid of it, don't you ? No, no! that won't Abner, — ha, ha! that's good! But fast do,- that won't do! I'll make it safe !” bind, fast find; she a’n’t going to get rid




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