Imatges de pàgina
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“I can't stop a minit; but it's as cheap warn't there; an' he looked kind o' red, settin' as stannin', I do suppose,” replied and held his head up a minit, an' then the widow, with a nervous little laugh, as he thanked me, an' said, . God bless you!' she seated herself in the proffered chair an' said he'd pay me, ef he got any more upon the clean red hearth, and com- work. menced her business by saying,

“Waal, he didn't git no more; an'af“I was wantin' to speak with you,

Mr. ter the furnitoor an' the books, his cloze Coffin, about poor Mr. Widdrinton.” begun to go.

“ Widdrinton, — who's he?” inquired Then I begun to be afeard he didn't Phineas.

have nothin' to eat, an' oncet in a while " Waal," commenced the widow, set- I'd kerry him up a mess o' vittles; but it tling herself in her chair, and assuming allers seemed drefful hard for him to take the air of one who has a story to narrate. 'em, an' fin'ly he told me not to do so “ You know I have my thirds in the no more, an' said suthin' to himself about house my poor husband left. It wa’n't devourin' widders. So I didn't darst to sold, as it had ought to ben,- for Samooel go up agin, he looked so kind o' turce an' (that's his brother) never's ben easy that sharp, till, last night, I reck’n’d the snow I should have the rooms I have; but would sift in through the old ruff, an' I they're what was set off for me, an' so went up to offer him a comf'table for his he can't help himself; on’y he's allers bed. I knocked; but he didn't make no a-thornin' when he gits a chance. answer, so I pushed the door open an’

“But that a’n't nyther here nor there. went in. It was a good while sence I'd What I was a-comin' to was this. Ruther seen the inside o' the room,- for when he better 'n a year ago, a man come to me heerd me comin' up, he'd open the door and wanted to know ef I used all my a crack an' peek out while he spoke to

I told him I hadn't no use for me; so when I got inside the room and the garrit, 'cept to dry my yarbs in (for looked about, I was all took aback an' I think yarbs are drefful good in case o' gawped round like a fool, an' no wunder sickness, Miss Coffin,—don't you?) An' nyther; for of all the good furnitoor and then he said he wanted a place to sleep things he'd brought, there wa’n't the fust in, an' his breakfast an' supper, an’ want- thing to be seen, save and ’xcept a kind o' ed to know if I would take him so. frame covered with cloth stannin' ag’inst

“Waal, I thought about it a spell, an' the wall, an' an old straw-bed on the I concluded I was too old to mind the floor, with him on it, an'a mis’able old speech o' people, and I hadn't no other comf'table kivered over him." objection, so I said he might come,- an' " And this bitter weather, too! Oh, he did, that very day.

Keziah, what did thee do ? " asked Mrs. “ Waal, at fust he had some kind o' Coffin, in a tearful voice. work to do writin', an' he seemed to git Why, I went up to the bedside, (ef along very comf'table, - at least, fur's I you may call it so,) an' said, sez I, • Why, know,- for I was out tailorin' all day Lor'sakes, Mr. Widdrinton,'- -an' then mostly, same as I be now; but last fall I hild up, for I ketched a sight of his face, the writin' seemed to gin out all to oncet, an' I thought he wuz gone for sartin. He an' he begun to kerry off bis furnitoor an' wuz as cold an'as white as that'ere snow, books to sell, an' finally he paid up all an' it warn't till I'd felt of his heart an' he was owin' of me, an' told me he didn't foun' that it beat a little that I thought want no more meals, but would find him- of sich a thing as his comin' to.

But as self.

soon as I found he'd got a breath o' life “ Waal, I told him, that, seein' things in him, I didn't waste much time till I'd wuz as they wuz with him, I shouldn't got him wropped up in a hot blanket take no rent for the garrit, an' I could with a jug o' water to his feet, an' some dry my yarbs there jest as well as ef he hot tea inside on him. Then he come to

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a little, an' said be hadn't eat nor drank “ Yes, mother,” replied a voice whose for two days an' nights.”

soft tones seemed the echo of her own. “Oh, Keziah !” sobbed Mrs. Coffin; A moment after, a slender, dark-eyed while her husband, plunging his hands girl, about twenty years of age, entered deep into his breeches-pockets, and ele- the room, and said cheerfully,vating his eyebrows till they were lost in “ What is it, mother ? ” his shaggy hair, exclaimed,

“I have somewhat to tell thee, Faith.” “Good Je-bosaphat!” which was the And the Quakeress repeated, in calm, nearest approach to an oath in which he unemphatic language, the story narrated ever indulged.

by Mrs. Janes. “An' so," pursued the widow, after en- “ The poor man will soon be here, joying for a moment the consternation of Faith,” continued she, “and I wanted her audience, -"an' so I thought I had to ask what thee thinks should be done better come an' see ef he couldn't be took with him. Thee knows there is no room in here; not that I wouldn't do for him, that can have a fire in it, except the an' be glad to, fur as I could, but he one where Polly and Susan sleep, and a’n’t in a state to be left alone, an' you they are both too sick to be moved into know my trade takes me away consid'- the cold” able from home, - an' which, if I don't " He shall have my room, mother," foller it, why, when I git a little older, I said Faith, quietly. shall have to come here myself, an' be a Thy room, child ? ” burden on your hands an' the town's." Yes, mother; and I will sleep here

“We would take good care of thee, if on the couch. I should like it very much thee did come, Keziah,” said Mrs. Coffin, indeed; for you know I never have been in whom the habitual equanimity of the able to be quite the orderly and regular “ Friend” had conquered the emotion of girl you have tried to make me.” the woman. “ Though I do not deny “ Thee is a good girl,” said the mother, that it is pleasanter and better for thee quietly. to support thyself, as thee always has “ Not half so good a girl as I ought to done."

be, with so good a mother,” replied Faith, “I don't doubt you would be good to throwing her arms about her mother's me, Miss Coffin, an' thank ye, Ma'am, neck and kissing her fondly. kindly for a-sayin' of it; but you know The elder woman returned the caress innerpendunce is sweet to all on us.” with an involuntary warmth, which, pure

Surely, surely, Keziah; and now, and natural though it might be, was yet Phineas, I suppose thee will see at once at variance with the strict rule of her sect, about this poor man, won't thee?” which had taught her to avoid everything

“ Yes, Marthy, yes. I'll go right off like compliment or caress, as savoring of and see one of the selectmen; and I the manners of the world's people.” reckon, by the time you git a bed ready She therefore, after one kiss, gently for him, we shall be along."

repelled the girl, saying, Phineas accordingly bustled out of the “Nay, Faith, but it sufficeth. Go, then, room; and Mrs. Janes, after lingering a if thee will, and make ready thy chamber few moments, took her leave and return- for this sick man, while I prepare him ed to her charge, inwardly congratulating

some broth.” herself on having so new and interest- An hour later, a pung or box-sleigh ing a piece of intelligence with which to drew up at the poor-house door, from lighten her next day's “ tailoring." which was lifted a long, gaunt figure, care

Mrs. Coffin, left alone, stood for a mo- fully enveloped in blankets and cloaks. ment considering, and then, opening a As he was taken from the sleigh, he feedoor, called gently,

bly murmured a few words, to which " Faith!”

Phineas Coflin replied kindly,-

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" Don't be scart, it's all safe, and Na- “ I will stay, mother, if he wishes it." thaniel will fetch it right in after us.” “ Very well, daughter. When thee is

“ What! this 'ere ?” queried the youth weary, come down, and I, or one of the called Nathaniel, while he lifted from the women, will take thy place." sleigh, somewhat contemptuously, a long Mrs. Coffin left the room, and Faith, flat something, carefully enveloped in a her sewing in her hand, was about seating cotton case.

herself by the fire, when the voice of the Yes. Fetch it along this way,” re- stranger summoned her to the bedside. plied Phineas; and Nathaniel followed Turning, she found his hollow and the chair, in which the sick man was car- gleaming eyes fixed sternly upon her, ried, into the pretty little maiden cham- while a long, lean finger was pointed ber which Faith had so quietly relin- alternately at her and the frame leaning quished to one who she thought needed against the wall. it more than herself.

* Girl!” Mother and daughter stood ready to "Can I do something for you ?” asked receive their new charge, and see him Faith, kindly. comfortable in the warm, soft bed which “ Don't you look at it—or let any one they had prepared for him.

- else, while I'm — asleep.” “ Thee will soon get rested now, friend, “ I certainly will not.” and go to sleep,—won't thee ? ” said Mrs. “ Promise!” Coffin, in her gentle voice, as she turned “ I do promise.” down the sheet a little more evenly.

“ Swear!” " Where is it?” panted the exhausted " Nay, friend, that would be wrong," sufferer, trying to look beyond his kind replied the girl, unconsciously adopting nurse into the room.

the phraseology of the Quakers, while ex“ What does thee mean, friend ?” pressing a sentiment learned from them;

" It is this thing, mother,” said Faith, for though Faith had been brought up bringing it forward, and leaning it against outwardly in the creed of her father, she the wall at the foot of the bed. " He had, without being aware of it, adopted brought it with him,” continued she, in a many of the tenets to which her mother low voice; “ and father says, he didn't held. seem to care half so much about his own “I will promise you very solemnly, comfort as to have that safe."

however,” continued she, “ that I will It is my-property, — all I have - neither look at yonder thing nor allow left. I won't be - parted from it. You any one else to do so; and you will be - sha'n't take it - away,” gasped the wrong to doubt my word.” sick man, in an excited tone.

" I don't. - What is your name?” “ Thee shall not be parted from it, “ Faith." friend," said Mrs. Coffin, soothingly. " A good omen. Mine is -Ichabod." “Surely we would not deprive thee of “ Ichabod Widdrinton?” what is thine own, and what thee seems

“ Ichabod. Call me so,- all of you.” to value so much. Now if thee will try Very well, if it is your name, we will. to go to sleep, I will stay with thee the Now you must go to sleep.” while, and when thee wakes give thee “ Sit there, - where I can see you." some broth to strengthen thee."

Faith complied with this request, al“Let- let her stay. — Go away,—the though uncertain whether it was not rest of you,” whispered the feeble voice, prompted by a distrust of her promise. while the weary eyes rested upon Faith's The stranger soon slept, and his young grave, sweet face.

nurse then made a more attentive survey “ Thee means my daughter? Faith, of his features than she had yet done. does thee wish to stay? or had thee rath- He seemed not over forty years of age, er I should ?"

and would, in health, have been consid

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1859.]
The First and the Last.

ered a handsome man,- although the

ceived all their attentions very ungrafine silky hair, thin beard, sensitive nos- ciously; nor was it till Faith told him, in tril, and delicate mouth could never have her kind, decided way, that she could expressed much of strength or resolu- not stay with him at night, that he contion.

sented to allow the others to do so. The traces of disease and starvation At last there came the evening when were painfully apparent; but it seemed the physician said to Mrs. Coffin, as he to the thoughtful Faith that behind these entered the room where she sat with her she could perceive in the sorrowful, down- husband, ward curve of the lips, in the lines of the “ He won't last till morning, — 'tis imhollow, throbbing temples, in the gloomy possible.” light of the dark eyes, symptoms of a long

“ Then thee had better watch beside corroding care, which, though secretly, him, Phineas. It is not fitting that Faith had done its work of devastation more should do so.” surely and more ruthlessly than the more * Certain. I'll go right up, and send apparent foes.

her down,” replied Phineas, readily. “ How he must have suffered !” mur- But when the arrangements for the mured she. It seemed as if the tone of night were made known to Ichabod, he gentle pity had penetrated the light slum- caught hold of Faith's dress, as she stood ber, and reached the heart of the sick at his bedside bidding him good-night, man, - for, opening his eyes, he smiled and gasped out, upon the girl, a wan, sad smile, which “ No, no !- you ! I must have was at once an assent and a benison. you !- I shall die — die to-night !- And

From that moment, until the welcome - and I want to tell — to tell you someend of that sad life, Ichabod would pa- thing.–Stay,-stay, Faith!- it's the last tiently endure no tendance but Faith’s; - last time, and I - I shall never trouble and she, with the calm and silent self

any one abnegation of her order, (for Florence Let me stay, mother; father, do!” Nightingale is but a type, and there are pleaded Faith, looking from one to the those all about us who lack but her op- other. “I should be very unhappy, alportunities,) devoted herseit' to him.

ways, if I was obliged to deny him this Her mother sometimes remonstrated, last request. I shall not be afraid, mothand begged her to yield her place in the er; and Betty can sleep in the chair by sick-chamber to'her or to one of the the fire, if you wish it, so as to be at pauper women; but Faith, whose grave hand, if sweetness concealed more determination Well, child, if thee feels a call to do than a stranger would have guessed, so, and it will make thee unhappy to be would simply say,

denied, I will hold my peace. But thec “ Dear mother, what is a little fatigue must certainly have Betty here, and to one as well as I am, compared with promise to send her to call me, if Ichathe pleasure of making this poor stran- bod should be worse, — won't thee ?” ger's death-bed happy and quiet?—which Faith gave the required promise, and it certainly would not be, if he was cross- in a short tiine the chamber was preed in his fancy for seeing me about him.” pared for night. The old woman (whose And the conscientious mind of the moth- skill in the last awful rites which man er was forced to yield assent to this sim

pays to man caused her always to be ple logic.

selected for such occasions) slept soundly A few weeks thus passed, and then the beside the glowing fire, the dying man sick man became a dying man.

The

dozed uneasily, and Faith, shading the pauper inmates of the house were all light from his eyes, opened the largewilling and anxious to watch beside him print Bible, which her mother, careful through the long nights, but Ichabod re- both for the well-being of her daughter's

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inmortal soul and temporal eyesight, had not ?” said Ichabod, at length. " And recommended for her night's perusal. they say his picture does not do him jus

The hours passed slowly on, unmarked tice. He was an English gentleman of by change, until Faith had counted three property and station, the heir of a good solemn strokes from the old clock in the fortune and honorable name; but he left entry, when the sick man suddenly awoke. all come here and help found this new

As Faith came to his bedside, to offer country, - this glorious land of freedom him the draught for which he always ask- and conscience,— where every man bas ed on awakening, she was struck with a perfect liberty — to starve in his own change in his face. The eyes were at fashion. once calmer and brighter, the look of un- * He came and was a great man among easy pain had disappeared, and the thin them. He built the finest house in the lips wore almost a smile.

village of Boston, and then came hither, “ Dear Faith," said he, in a gentle voice, where they made him governor and damwhich yet was stronger and more unbrok- ed a bay after him. en than any she had heard from him be- “ He went home for a visit to England, fore, * how good you have been to me! and there he had this picture painted I am dying; but do not call any one yet. by the court-painter of those days, and I want to talk to you a little, first. Put brought it back with him as a present another pillow under my head, and raise to his wife. me,—so. Now light your other candle, " He was father of many children, stir the fire to a brighter blaze, and then mostly girls: and finally died in a very uncover - it."

dignified and respectable manner, full of Faith, pale and quiet, did as she was years and honors,- as they say in storybid, stirred the fire, till its ruddy glow books. brightened every nook of the little white- * His handsome property, being dividwashed chamber, and made the old crone ed so often, made but rather small porbeside it wince and mutter in her sleep. tions for the children, and several of the Having shielded her from its fierce light, daughters died unmarried. she then, with trembling fingers, opened · Then the family began to decay, and a little penknife which lay upon the ta- each succeeding head of the family found ble, and cut the twine with which the it a harler struggle to keep up the old cover was sewed at the back. The last hospitalities and the traditional style of stitch severed, the cloth fell with a sol- living. They died out, too. The lateral emn rustle at her feet, and disclosed-a branches of the family-tree never fourpicture.

ished, and one after another came to an Faith examined it with much attention end, till about forty years ago the remand some curiosity. It was the full-length nant of the family-blood and the familyfigure of a man, dressed in rich robes of name was centred in two cousins, a young office, his powdered hair put back from man and a girl. They met at the funeral his forehead, his left hand resting on of the girl's mother, and found in a short the pommel of his sword, and his right conversation that they were the sole repclasping a roll of parchment. The ex- resentatives of the old name, alive. pression of his face was grave, majestie, - They married, gloomils helping on and noble; and ret between those hand- the fate which awaited them, by uniting some features and the attenuated face of their two threads of life in one, that thus the dying pauper Faith soon perceived she night sever it more easily. I was one of those resemblances strong, yet their only child, and ther named me indefinable, which are so apparent to I babi. -- the glory has departed." some persons, so undiscorerable by oth- * It is a sai proof of how deeply the ers

bitterness of life had entered their souls, A noble gentleman, Faith, — tas he that, even in the supreme momi nt when

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