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The Bell-Ringer of Angel's and Other Stories

"She has found a careful helpmeet in her husband," said Madison sternly, "and it's neither
seemly nor Christian in you, Arthur, to repeat the idle, profane gossip of the Bar. I knew
her before her marriage, and if she was not a professing Christian, she was, and is, a pure,
good woman! Let us have no more of this."
Whether impressed by the tone of his brother's voice, or only affected by his own
mercurial nature, Arthur changed the subject to further voluble reminiscences of his trip
to Angel's. Yet he did not seem embarrassed nor disconcerted when his brother, in the
midst of his speech, placed the candle and the Bible on the table, with two chairs before
it. He listened to Madison's monotonous reading of the evening exercise with equally
monotonous respect. Then they both arose, without looking at each other, but with
equally set and stolid faces, and knelt down before their respective chairs, clasping the
back with both hands, and occasionally drawing the hard, wooden frames against their
breasts convulsively, as if it were a penitential act. It was the elder brother who that night
prayed aloud. It was his voice that rose higher by degrees above the low roof and
encompassing walls, the level river camp lights that trembled through the window, the
dark belt of riverside trees, and the light on the promontory's crest—up to the tranquil,
passionless stars themselves.
With those confidences to his Maker this chronicle does not lie—obtrusive and
ostentatious though they were in tone and attitude. Enough that they were a general
arraignment of humanity, the Bar, himself, and his brother, and indeed much that the
same Maker had created and permitted. That through this hopeless denunciation still
lingered some human feeling and tenderness might have been shown by the fact that at its
close his hands trembled and his face was bedewed by tears. And his brother was so
deeply affected that he resolved hereafter to avoid all evening prayers.
CHAPTER III.
It was a week later that Madison Wayne and Mr. McGee were seen, to the astonishment
of the Bar, leisurely walking together in the direction of the promontory. Here they
disappeared, entering a damp fringe of willows and laurels that seemed to mark its limits,
and gradually ascending some thickly-wooded trail, until they reached its crest, which, to
Madison's surprise, was cleared and open, and showed an acre or two of rude cultivation.
Here, too, stood the McGees' conjugal home—a small, four-roomed house, but so
peculiar and foreign in aspect that it at once challenged even Madison's abstracted
attention. It was a tiny Swiss chalet, built in sections, and originally packed in cases, one
of the early importations from Europe to California after the gold discovery, when the
country was supposed to be a woodless wilderness. Mr. McGee explained, with his usual
laborious care, how he had bought it at Marysville, not only for its picturesqueness, but
because in its unsuggestive packing-cases it offered no indication to the curious miners,
and could be put up by himself and a single uncommunicative Chinaman, without any
 
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