Imatges de pÓgina

Chip's rage and rancor abated after he entered that door. Not that he relaxed

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his purpose at all, or felt any essential change of his nature, but his temper was instantly turned the right side up for success. He was, of course, unconscious of the cause, for it is certainly nothing wonderful, even in the neighborhood of Boston, to see a neat Yankee lass, in her second or third best dress, putting things to rights of a morning, with a snowy handkerchief over her head, its corners drawn into a half-knot under her sweet chin, and some little ruddy outposts on her cheeks, ready, on the slightest occasion, to arouse a whole army of blushes. Laura had just given the finishing touch to her flower-culture, changed the water of her fishes, replenished the seed-bucket of the canary, and was about leaving the room. Almost any man would have been glad of an excuse to speak to her. Chip could have made an excuse, if one had not been ready-made, that was to him very important, as well as satisfactory.

"Miss Birch, I presume?"

66 Yes, Sir," said Laura, with a curtsy, not quite so large as those that grow in dancing-schools, but, nevertheless, very pretty.

"Well, Miss Birch,” said Chip, blandly advancing and taking her nice little hand, half covered with her workingmitts, whereat the aforesaid outposts promptly did their duty," or shall I call you Miss Susan Birch?"

"No, Sir, my name is Laura," said the girl, shrinking a little from a contact which rather took her by surprise.

“Oh, Laura !—that is better yet," proceeded Chip. "Now, Miss Laura, I have got myself into a terrible scrape; can you help me out of it?"

"I can't tell, indeed, Sir, till I know what it is," said Laura, with a bright twinkle of reassurance.

"Well, it is this:-I have mortally offended your brother, for so I take him to be by his looks,—and I most sincerely repent it, for he owns the only team left in Waltham. If I cannot hire that team for an hour, I lose money enough to buy

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"Oh, yes, Sir, I'm sure I'll try without that, Sir. He will be glad to oblige you, when he knows how you need it,” she said, offering to return the coin.

"No, no, Miss Laura, I want to pay him well; and if you succeed,-why, no money can pay you, Miss Laura; I don't profess to be rich enough to do it."

Here the outposts gave another alarm, and again the hosts of the ruby uniform were gathering hurriedly in their two muster-fields.

"Why, I will go and try, Sir," said Laura, so much confused by the novelty and magnitude of the circumstances that she opened the closet-door before opening the only one that led out of the room.

Fairly out of Chip's presence, she saw instantly and instinctively the worthlessness of that gold eagle, however genuine, compared with her sisterly love, in her mission to Frank. So she ran directly to her mother in the long kitchen, and, planking the American eagle upon the sloppy little table where the eels were rapidly getting dressed, said,—

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Why, mother, that gentleman wants to hire Frank to carry him to Captain Grant's, and I'm sure he ought to go without hiring. I'll go right out and see him."

"That's right, Lauly; tell him he ought to be ashamed of himself!"

"Oh, no, mother, I won't tell him any such thing," said Laura, laughingly, as she hopped and skipped towards the barn.

"Well, Frank, how's Nell Gwyn, this morning?" cheerily cried Laura to Frank, who seemed to be getting his harness into a worse snarl, in his grouty attempts to get it out of one.

"The mare's well enough, if she hadn't been insulted.”

"Why, that's abominable, Frank! But let me get that snarl out."

"You get it out! You get out yourself, Laule."

"Why, that's all I'm good for, Frank; I always pick out the snarls in the house, you know, and I should like to try it once in the barn."

"The tarnal old thing's bewitched, I believe," said Frank, allowing his sister to interfere and quietly untwist and turn right side out the various parts which he had put wrong by all sorts of torsion. "I'll teach Boston chaps to know that there are some things they can't have for money! When Nell and I have agreed to have a good time, we a'n't goin' to be ordered off nor bought off-we'll have it."

"So I say, Frank. But suppose I wanted you to give me a ride, Frank?"

"Why, Laule, you know I would go to the North Pole with you. If Mam would only let you go to Concord with me, I'd wait till noon for you."

"Well, may-be she will, Frank. She wants you to carry that man to Captain Grant's bad enough to let me go in the afternoon."

business in Waltham that morning, and thinking he might perhaps save him a journey to town. The ship-owner had just finished the news of the morning papers, for which he had sent a messenger express to the post-office, and said, after the cordial salutation which a rough sort of man always gives in his own house,

"Well, Mr. Dartmouth, I see the market is as close-reefed as ever. May-be you think I will sell at five and threefourths to-day, but I've concluded to make a floating warehouse of the Orion' for the winter, rather than do that."

"I don't blame you for that, my friend; but in the present state of advices, six at two months is the highest mill that will do. If you will close the 'Orion's' cargo at that, I am your man."

"What I've said, I'll do, Sir, of course," said the tough old salt; " and since you've taken the trouble to come out here and save my lame toes, let's nail the bargain with a bottle of my old Madeira,—some of the ripest this side of the herring-pond, .

"But I told him I wouldn't carry him, I'll be bound." -and, gol darn it, I won't!"

"Of course you won't carry him on his own account, or for the sake of his money, but for my sake perhaps you will."

"Well, Sis, perhaps I will. But, mind, before I do, Mam shall promise, sartin sure, to let you go by half-past twelve o'clock, and not a minit later."

"Well, I'll see she does; you harness Nell, and get the buggy. The man says he's sorry he spoke to you so. If he's carried to Captain Grant's and back, I'll answer for it's being the best for all of us."

She was off to the house like a bird, and the rest of her diplomacy was too simple and straightforward to need special record.

As the buggy was at the door before the table presented the savory temptation of fried eels, Chip declined breakfast at present, but decidedly promised to take it on his return. He dropped in on Captain Grant, as he was careful to tell that gentleman, having had

"Not a drop, I thank you; for, besides being a teetotaller, Captain, I'm behind time to-day, and must bid you good-morning."


Well, Sir, I'm much obliged to you; the bill of sale shall be at your countingroom directly; the clerk will receive the notes and deliver the cotton. Good-morning, Sir,-good-morning!"

In truth, Chip had not the slightest objection to wine, as wine, even had it not been the ripest on this continent; but, like any other mitigated villain, he did not quite relish taking wine with the man he was basely cheating. He would much rather partake of Ma'am Birch's fried eels and coffee, especially if Laura Birch should, peradventure, be the Hebe of such an ambrosial entertainment. She was not, however, and the disappointment considerably overclouded the commercial victory of the morning. Madam Birch herself did the honors of whatever sort, while Chip played a fantasia solo at the table d'hôte. The good lady enlarged

volubly on her destitution of help, and how, if she had any such as we get nowa-days, they were more plague than profit,-how Laura was getting ready to go with Frank to the cattle-show, and she herself was likely to be the only living mortal in the house for the rest of the day. "Such a son as you have is a fortune, Madam; and as for the daughter, she is a gem, a genuine diamond, Madam.”


"Ha! ha! do you really think so, Sir?" said the mother, evidently gratified with the superlativeness of the compliment. Well, they do say children are jewels, but I've found, Sir, they are pretty troublesome and pretty costly jew els. Mine, as you say, are very good children, though Frank is pretty wilful, and Laury is always gettin' her head above the clouds. Oh, dear! they want a great deal done for 'em,—and the more you do, the more you may do. Frank is bewitched to sell out and go to Kansas or Californy, or, if he stays here, he must go to college or be a merchant. And Laury, even she isn't contented; she wants to be some sort of artist, make statters or picters, or be a milliner, at least. So you see I haven't a minute's peace of my life with 'em."

Of course Chip saw it, and the more's the pity.

"All the better, Madam," said he. "Young America must go ahead. There's nothing to be had without venturing. If I can ever be of service to either of your children in forwarding their laudable ambition, I am sure it will give me the greatest pleasure."

"You are very kind, Sir, but I only wish you could persuade 'em to let well alone, and at least not try the world till they know more of it."

"Not touch the water till they have learned to swim, eh? That's not quite so easy, Madam. Never fear; I'll be bound, a boy that can say No like yours is perfectly safe anywhere; and as to Laura, why, Madam, I never heard of an angel getting into difficulty in the wickedest of worlds."

"Our old minister, Parson Usher that


was, used to say some of the Bible angels fell, and I am sure, Sir, the human angels have a worse chance. They are about the only ones that run any risk at all."

True, true enough, Ma'am, in one point of view. Too much care cannot be taken to select the society in which young people are to move. In the right society, such a girl as Laura would win homage on every side, and make herself happy by making everybody else so."

"I believe you are right there, Sir," said Mrs. Birch, quite charmed with such beautiful appreciation of what she felt to be Laura's excellence; "and I don't wonder sometimes that she should be discontented with the society she has here, poor girl!"

"When you see the sun begin to shine in the morning, you may be sure enough it will keep rising all the forenoon," said Chip, with the air of a great moral philosopher, conscious of having made a decided impression. And suddenly recollecting how valuable was his time in town, and that the train would be due in five minutes, he swallowed the last of his coffee, paid his bill, told the landlady how happy he was to have made her acquaintance and that of her interesting family, promised he would never stop in Waltham without calling, and strode away.

The lightning flashed from a good many eyes in the telegraph-office when the morning members of the associated press inquired why they had not been served with the latest news,-why, in fact, the only item of any significance was reserved for the evening papers of the day. Not a press of all the indignant complainants was ready to admit that it had locked up its forms and gone to bed before the wires had completed their task. Very bitter paragraphs testified, the next day, that, in the opinion of many sage and respectable editors, the wires had been tampered with by speculators. The poor little half-frozen telegraph-boy was closely catechized, first by the officers of the telegraph-company, and afterwards

by certain shrewd detectives, but no clue could be got to the fine gentleman who so generously relieved him of his responsibility, and no result followed, except his dismissal and the employment of another lad of more ability and probably less innocence. Captain Grant was the man most likely to have come to a discovery in the matter, and most heartily did he curse his luck—his "usual luck” — of giving away a fortune by selling a cargo a day too soon. But being kept at home by uncomfortable toes, no suspicious mortal, such as abound in the lounging-rooms of insurance-offices and other resorts of business-men in town, happened ingeniously to put his suspicions on a scent, and he did not come within a league of the thought that Chip Dartmouth could have had anything to do with the strange and blamable conduct of the wires. As he made no proclamation of his loss, and no other case of sale during the abeyance of the news came to the knowledge of the parties interested, the matter, greatly to Chip's comfort, fell into entire oblivion before a fortnight had passed. The understanding was, that, though great mischief might have been done, none had been, - and that somebody had simply made waste-paper of the little yellow thunderbolt-scrawls.


For the first fortnight, Chip's nervousness, not to say conscience, very much abated the pleasure of the many congratulations he received from his friends, and from hundreds of people whom he had never before known as his friends. couldn't get through the streets any day without meeting the solidest sort of men, with whom he had never exchanged a word in his life, but whose faces were as familiar as that of the Old-South clock, who took him by the hand quite warmly, and said,

"Ah, Mr. Dartmouth, permit me to congratulate you on your good-fortune. You have well deserved it. I like to see a young man like you make such a tenstrike, especially when it comes in consequence of careful study of the market."

The truth was, Chip had been playing

a pretty hazardous game in the cottonmarket, chiefly at the risk of other parties; and the slice he had so feloniously carved out of poor Captain Grant was quite small compared with the gains he had managed to secure by thus venturing a little of his own and a great deal of other people's money. The shrewd minds in the secrets of the business world were not slow to see that he must have realized at least a hundred thousand units of commercial omnipotence by the operations of the first week after the rise. Everybody was glad of an opportunity to speak to such a man. Even Mr. Hopkins, immensely retired as he was, driving into State Street about noon one genial day to receive a bank dividend or two, stepped considerably out of his way, in walking from his low-hung turnout to the door of one of the banks, in order to catch Mr. Dartmouth's notice, and say to him, "Good-morning, Mr. Dartmouth! I hope you are very well, Sir!" Chip recognized the salutation with a superb nod, but without the accompaniment of any verbal rhetoric which was audible above the buzz of the pavement; and the retired millionnaire passed on about his business.

"Ah!" thought Chip, "I am getting to be a merchant of the right sort, I see, and by the time he is ready to change that low-hung little chariot for the hard, angular ebony with raven plumes, I shall be ready to step into the other plump little vehicle, which is really so nice and cozy.”

But we must leave Chip to the easy task of ballooning upward in public estimation, with his well-inflated bank-account. He was, in fact, reformed by his great commercial success to this extent, that his vices had become of the most distinguished and unvulgar grade. He was now courted by the highest artists in iniquity, and had the means of accomplishing results that none but men who are known to be really rich can command. He, therefore, now quitted all vulgar associations, and determined not to outrage any of the virtues, except under varnish, gilding, and polish that would

keep everything perfectly respectable. Let him trust to that as long as he can.

Don't talk of the solitude of a night in the primeval forests, however far from the abodes of man;-the squirrels and the partridges may be asleep then and there, but the katydids are awake, and, with the support of contralto and barytone tree-toads, manage to keep up a concert which cannot fail to impress on you a sense of familiar and friendly company. Don't talk of the loneliness of a deserted and ruinous castle;-the crickets have not left it, and, if you don't have a merry time with their shrill jokes, it will be your own fault. But if you would have a sense of being terribly alone, come from long residence in some quiet countryhome on the border of a quiet countryvillage, into the hurry-skurry of a strange city, just after nightfall. Here is an infinite brick-and-stone forest, stern, angular, almost leafless. Here is a vast, indistinguishable wilderness of flitting human shapes, not one of which takes half so much notice of you as a wild bush would. Speak to one; it answers without the slightest emotion, and passes on. Your presence is absolutely no more to any soul of them, provided they have souls, than if you were so much perfectly familiar granite. You feel, that, with such attention as you receive, such curiosity as you excite, you must be there hundreds of years to be either recognized or missed.

Had you been a stranger in Boston, one moist and rather showery summer-evening, not a year after the events we have narrated, you might have been recovered from the sense of loneliness we have described by observing one pretty female figure hurrying along the crowded sidewalk with a very large and replete satchel, and without any of the sang-froid which characterizes city pedestrianism. You might have noticed that this one human being, like yourself, was evidently not at home. Every glare of gas-light revealed a deeply-flushed face, eyes that had been weeping and which were now flashing with a wild earnestness

and an altogether preternatural resolution. A gazelle, started by the huntsman's pack, could not have thrown more piercing glances at every avenue of escape than this excited girl did at every cross street, and indeed at everything but the human faces that passed her. All of them she shunned, with a look that seemed equally anxious to avoid the known and the unknown. She should seem to have narrowly escaped some peril, and was carrying with her a secret not to be confided to friend or stranger, certainly not to either without due consideration. Had you watched her, as the crowds of people, returning from the various evening amusements died away in the streets, you would have seen the deep color of her cheeks die away also to deadly paleness; had you been sufficiently clairvoyant, you might have seen how two charming rows of pearls bit the blanched lips till the runaway blood came back into the sad gashes, how the tears welled up again, and with them came relief and fresh strength just as she was about to faint and drop in the street. Then returned again the throb of indignant resolution, as her mind recurred to the attempted ruin of her paradise by a disguised foe; then succeeded shame and dread lest the friends she had left in her childhood's rural home should know how differently from her fond anticipations had turned out the first week of her sojourn in the great city. She was most thoroughly resolved, that, if possible, they should not know anything of the wreck of her long-cherished hopes till she had found some foothold for new ones. She felt that she was a Yankee girl in the metropolis of New England, with wit, skill, and endurance equal to any employment that ever falls to the lot of Yankee women; but having given up the only chance which had ever opened to her, how could she find another? Were she of the other sex, or only disguised in the outer integuments of it, with the trifling sum in her purse, she would get lodgings at the next hotel, and seek suitable employment without suspicion. In the wide wilderness of a city there

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