"Yes, I would."
"And so would I!"
"And I!" And then an equal chorus of "What a shame! Just like Whigs!"
Maria missed these encounters. She saw that her grandmother usually deprecated political conversation, and that her uncle and grandfather did not include her in the discussion of any public event. On the fourth day she began to feel herself of less importance than she approved; and then there followed naturally the demoralizing luxury of self-pity:
"Because I am a girl, and a very young girl, no one appears to think I have common sense. I am as loyal to the King as any one. I wish grandmother would speak out. I believe she is a Whig. Uncle Neil said he would take me to some entertainments; he has not done so. I am not tired--that is just an excuse--I want to go out and I want to see Agnes. I will not give up Agnes--no one, no one shall make me--she is part of my heart! No, I will not give up Agnes; her father may be a saddler--and a Methodist--I am above noticing such things. I will love CHAPTER II.
who I like--about my friends I will not yield an inch--I will not!"
She was busy tatting to this quite unnecessary tirade of protestations and her grandmother noticed the passionate jerk of the shuttle emphasizing her thoughts. "What is vexing you, dearie?" she asked.
"Oh, I am wretched about Agnes," she answered. "I am afraid grandfather has been rude in some way."
"You needna be afraid on that ground, Maria; your grandfather is never rude where women are concerned."
"But he is unkind. If he was not, there could be no objections to my calling on Agnes."
"Is it not her place to call on you? She is at home--born and bred in New York--you are a stranger here. She is older than you are; she seems to have assumed some kind of care or oversight----."
"She has been my guardian angel."
"Then I think she ought to be looking after a desolate bairn like you; one would think you had neither kith nor kin near you, Maria." Madame spoke with an air of offense or injury, and as the words were uttered, the door was softly moved inward, and Agnes Bradley entered.
She courtesied to Madame, and then stretched out her hands to Maria. The girl rose with a cry of joy, and all her discontent was gone in a moment. Madame could not forget so easily; in fact, her sense of unkindness was intensified by the unlooked-for entrance of its cause. But there was no escaping the influence of Agnes. She brought the very atmosphere of peace into the room with her. In ten minutes she was sitting between Madame and Maria, and both appeared to be alike happy in her society. She did not speak of the war, or the soldiers, or the frightful price of food and fuel, or the wicked extravagance of the Tory ladies in dress and entertainments, or even of the unendurable impudence of the negro slaves. She talked of Maria, and of the studies she ought to continue, and of Madame's flowers and needlework, and a sweet feeling of rest from all the fretful life around was insensibly diffused. In a short time Madame felt herself to be under the same spell as her granddaughter, and she looked at the charmer with curious interest; she wondered what kind of personality this daughter of tranquility possessed.
A short scrutiny showed her a girl about nineteen years old, tall, but not very slender, with a great deal of pale brown hair above a broad forehead; with eyebrows thick and finely arched, and eyelids so transparent from constant contact with the soul that they seemed to have already become spiritual. Her eyes were dark grey, star-like, mystical, revealing--when they slowly dilated--one hardly knew what of the unseen and heavenly.
Her face was oval and well shaped, but a little heavy except when the warm pallor of its complexion was suddenly transfigured from within; then showing a faint rose color quickly passing away. Her movements were all slow, but not ungraceful, and her soft voice had almost a caress in it. Yet it was not these things, one, or all of them, that made her so charmful; it was the invisible beauty in the visible, that delighted.
Without question here was a woman who valued everything at its eternal worth; who in the midst of war, sheltered life in the peace of God; and in the presence of sorrow was glad with the gladness of the angels. An hour with Agnes Bradley made Madame think more highly of her granddaughter; for surely it was a kind of virtue in Maria to love the goodness she herself could not attain unto.
Nearly two hours passed quickly away. They walked in the garden and talked of seeds, and of the green things springing from them; and down at the lily bed by the river, Madame had a sudden memory of a young girl, who had one Spring afternoon gone down there to meet her fate; and she said to Agnes--with a note of resentment still in her voice:
"A lassie I once loved dearly, came here to gather lilies, and to listen to a lover she had nae business to listen CHAPTER II.
to. She would sit doubtless on the vera step you are now sitting on, Maria; and she made sorrow and suffering enough for more than one good heart; forbye putting auld friends asunder, and breeding anger where there had always been love. I hope you'll never do the like, either o' you."
"Who was she, grandmother?"
"Her name was Katherine Van Heemskirk. You'll hae heard tell o' her, Miss Bradley?"
"I saw her several times when she was here four years ago. She is very beautiful."
Madame did not answer, and Maria stepped lower and gathered a few lilies that were yet in bloom, though the time of lilies was nearly over. But Agnes turned away with Madame, and both of them were silent; Madame because she could not trust herself to begin speech on this subject, and Agnes because she divined, that for some reason, silence was in this case better than the fittest words that could be spoken.
After a short pause, Agnes said, "My home is but a quarter of a mile from here, and it is already orderly and pleasant. Will you, Madame, kindly permit Maria to come often to see me! I will help her with her studies, and she might take the little boat at the end of your garden, and row herself along the water edge until she touches the pier in our garden."
"She had better walk."
In this way the permission was granted without reserves or conditions. Madame had not thought of making any, and as soon as she realized her implied approval, she was resolved to stand by it. "The lassie requires young people to consort wi'," she thought, "and better a young lass than a young lad; and if her grandfather says contrary, I must make him wiser."
With this concession the visit ended, but the girls went out of the parlor together, and stood talking for some time in the entrance hall. The parting moment, however, had to come, and Maria lifted her lips to her friend, and they were kissing each other good-bye, when Neil Semple and a young officer in the uniform of the Eighty-fourth Royal Highlanders opened the door. The picture of the two girls in their loving embrace was a momentary one, but it was flooded with the colored sunshine pouring on them from the long window of stained glass, and the men saw and acknowledged its beauty, with an involuntary exclamation of delight.
Maria sheltered herself in a peal of laughter, and over the face of Agnes there came and went a quick transfiguring flush; but she instantly regained her mental poise, and with the composure of a goddess was walking toward the door, when Neil advanced, and assuming the duty of a host, walked with her down the flagged path to the garden gate. Maria and the young soldier stood in the doorway watching them; and Madame at the parlor window did the same thing, with an indescribable amazement on her face.
"It isna believable!" she exclaimed. "Neil Semple, the vera proudest o' mortals walking wi' auld Bradley's daughter! his hat in his hand too! and bowing to her! bowing to his vera knee buckles! After this, the Stuarts may come hame again, or any other impossible thing happen. The world is turning tapsalterie, and I wonder whether I am Janet Sample, or some ither body."
But the world was all right in a few minutes; for then Neil entered the room with Maria and Captain Macpherson, and the mere sight of the young Highlandman brought oblivion of all annoyances. Madame's heart flew to her head whenever she saw the kilt and the plaid; she hastened to greet its wearer; she took his plumed bonnet from his hand, and said it was "just out o' calculation that he should go without breaking bread with them."
Captain Macpherson had no desire to go. He had seen and spoken with Maria, and she was worth staying for; besides which, a Scot in a strange land feels at home in a countryman's house. Macpherson quickly made CHAPTER II.
himself so. He went with Neil to his room, and anon to the garden, and finally loosed the boat and rowed up the river, resting on the oars at the Bradley place, hoping for a glance at Agnes. But nothing was to be seen save the white house among the green trees, and the white shades gently stirring in the wind. The place was as still as a resting wheel, and the stillness infected the rowers; yet when Macpherson was in Semple's garden, the merry ring of his boyish laughter reached Madame and Maria in the house, and set their hearts beating with pleasure as they arranged the tea-table, and brought out little dishes of hoarded luxuries. And though Madame's chickens were worth three dollars each, she unhesitatingly sacrificed one to a national hero.
When the Elder came home he was equally pleased. He loved young people, and the boyish captain with his restless, brimming life, was an element that the whole house responded to. His heart had a little quake at the abundance of the meal, but it was only a momentary reserve, and he smiled as his eyes fell on the motto carved around the wooden bread-plate-- "Spare Not! Waste Not! Want Not!"
Madame looked very happy and handsome sitting before her tray of pretty china, and the blended aromas of fine tea and hot bread, of broiled chicken, and Indian preserves and pickles were made still more appetizing by the soft wind blowing through the open window, the perfume of the lilacs and the southernwood. Madame had kept the place at her right hand for Macpherson; and Maria sat next to him with her grandfather on her right hand, so that Neil was at his mother's left hand. Between the two young men the old lady was radiantly happy; for Macpherson was such a guest as it is a delight to honor. He ate of all Madame had prepared for him, thoroughly enjoyed it, and frankly said so. And his chatter about the social entertainments given by Generals Clinton and Tryon, Robertson and Ludlow was very pleasant to the ladies. Neil never had anything to say about these affairs, except that they were "all alike, and all stupid, and all wickedly extravagant;" and such criticism was too general to be interesting.
Very different was Macpherson's description of the last ball at General Tryon's; he could tell all its details--the reception of the company with kettle drums and trumpets--the splendid furniture of his residence, its tapestries, carpets, and silk hangings--the music, the dancing, the feasting--the fine dressing of both men and women--all these things he described with delightful enthusiasm and a little pleasant mimicry. And when Madame asked after her acquaintances, Macpherson could tell her what poplins and lutestrings, and lace and jewels they wore. Moreover, he knew what grand dames crowded William Street in the mornings and afternoons, and what merchants had the largest display of the fashions and luxuries of Europe.
"John Ambler," he said, "is now showing a most extraordinary cargo of English silks and laces, and fine broadcloths, taken by one of Dirk Vandercliff's privateers. Really, Madame, the goods are worth looking at. I assure you our beauties lack nothing that Europe can produce."
"Yes, there is one thing the privateers canna furnish you, and that is fuel. You shivered all last winter in your splendid rooms," said the Elder.
"True," replied Macpherson. "The cold was frightful, and though General Clinton issued one proclamation after another to the farmers of Long Island to send in their wood, they did not do it."
"Why should they?" asked Madame.
"On the King's service, Madame," answered the young man with a final air.
"Vera good," retorted Madame; "but if the King wanted my forest trees for naething, I should say, 'your Majesty has plenty o' soldiers wi' little to do; let them go and cut what they want.' They wouldna waste it if they had it to cut. But the wastrie in everything is simply sinful, and I canna think where the Blacks and Vanderlanes, and all the other 'Vans' you name--and whom I never heard tell of in our kirk--get the money."
"Privateering!" said Macpherson with a gay laugh. "Who would not be a roving privateer? I have myself CHAPTER II.
longings for the life. I have thoughts of joining Vandercliff's fleet."
"You are just leeing, young man," interrupted Madame. "It would be a thing impossible. The Macphersons have nae salt water in their blood. Could you fling awa' your tartans for a sailor's tarry coat and breeches?
How would you look if you did? And you would feel worse than you looked."
Macpherson glanced at his garb with a smile of satisfaction. "I am a Macpherson," he answered, proudly, "and I would not change the colors of my regiment for a royal mantle; but privateering is no small temptation. On the deck of a privateer you may pick up gold and silver."
"That is not very far from the truth," said Neil. "In the first year of the war the rebel privateers took two hundred and fifty West Indiamen, valued at nearly two millions of pounds, and Mr. Morris complained that the Eastern states cared for nothing but privateering."
"Weel, Morris caught the fever himself," said the Elder. "I have been told he made nearly four hundred thousand dollars in the worst year the rebel army ever had."
"Do the rebels call that patriotism?" asked Macpherson.
"Yes," answered the Elder, "from a Whig point of view it is vera patriotic; what do you think, Neil?"
"If I was a Whig," answered Neil, "I should certainly own privateers. Without considering the personal advantage, privateering brings great riches into the country; it impoverishes the enemy, and it adds enormously to the popularity of the war. The men who have hitherto gone to the Arctic seas for whales, find more wealthy and congenial work in capturing English ships."
"And when men get money by wholesale high-seas robbery----"
"Privateering, Madame," corrected Macpherson.
"Weel, weel, give it any name you like--what I want to say is, that money got easy goes easy."
"In that, Madame, you are correct. While we were in Philadelphia that city was the scene of the maddest luxury. While the rebels were begging money from France to feed their starving army at Valley Forge, every kind of luxury and extravagance ran riot in Philadelphia. At one entertainment there was eight hundred pounds spent in pastry alone."
"Stop, Macpherson!" cried Madame, "I will not hear tell o' such wickedness," and she rose with the words, and the gentlemen went into the parlor to continue their conversation.
Madame had been pleased with her granddaughter's behavior. She had not tittered, nor been vulgarly shy or affected, nor had she intruded her opinions or feelings among those of her elders; and yet her self-possession, and her expressive face had been full of that charm which showed her to be an interested and a comprehending listener. Now, however, Madame wished her to talk, and she was annoyed when she did not do so. It was only natural that she should express some interest in the bright young soldier, and her silence concerning him Madame regarded as assumed indifference. At last she condescended to the leading question:
"What do you think o' Captain Macpherson, Maria?"
"I do not know, grandmother."
"He is a very handsome lad. It did my heart good to see his bright face."
"His face is covered with freckles."
"Freckles! Why not? He has been brought up in the wind and the sunshine, and not in a boarding-school, or a lady's parlor."
"Freckles are not handsome, however, grandmother."
Madame would not dally with half-admissions, and she retorted sharply:
"Freckles are the handsomest thing about a man; they are only the human sunshine tint; the vera same sunshine that colored the roses and ripened the wheat gave the lad the golden-brown freckles o' rich young life. Freckles! I consider them an improvement to any one. If you had a few yoursel' you would be the handsomer for them."
"Yes, and your friend likewise. She has scarce a mite o' color o' any kind; a little o' the human sunshine tint--the red and gold on her cheeks--and she might be better looking."
"Better looking! Why, grandmother, Agnes was the beauty of the school."
"Schoolgirls are poor judges o' beauty. She has a wonderfu' pleasant way with her, but that isn't beauty."
"I thought you liked her, I am so sorry and disappointed."
"She is weel enough--in her way. There are plenty o' girls not as pleasant; but she is neither Venus, nor Helen o' Troy. I was speaking o' Captain Macpherson; when he stood in the garden with your uncle Neil, his hand on his sword and the wind blowing his golden hair----"
"Grandmother! His hair is red."
"It is naething o' the kind, Maria. It is a bonnie golden-brown. It may, perhaps, have a cast o' red, but only enough to give it color. And he has a kindly handsome face, sweet-eyed and fearless."
"I did not notice his eyes. He seems fearless, and he is certainly good-tempered. Have you known him a long time, grandmother?"
"I never saw him before this afternoon," the old lady answered wearily. She had become suddenly tired.
Maria's want of enthusiasm chilled her. She could not tell whether the girl was sincere or not. Women generally have two estimates of the men they meet; one which they acknowledge, one which they keep to themselves.
When the gentlemen returned to the sitting-room a young negro was lighting the fire, and Macpherson looked at him with attention. "A finely built fellow," he said, when the slave had left the room; "such men ought to make good fighters." Then turning to Madame he added, "Captain de Lancey lost four men, and Mr. Bayard five men last week. They were sent across the river to cut wood and they managed to reach the rebel camp.
We have knowledge that there is a full regiment of them there now."
"They are fighting for their personal freedom," said the Elder, "and who wouldna fight for that? Washington has promised it, if they fight to the end o' the war."
"They have a good record already," said Macpherson.
"I have nae doubt o' it," answered the Elder. "Fighting would come easier than wood cutting, no to speak o'
the question o' freedom. I heard a sough o' rumor about them and the Hessians; true, or not, I can't say."
"It is true. They beat back the Hessians three times in one engagement."
"I'm glad o' it," said Madame, "slaves are good enough to fight hired human butchers."
"O, you know, Madame, the Hessians are mercenaries; they make arms a profession." He spoke with a languid air of defense; the Hessians were not of high consideration in his opinion, but Madame answered with unusual warmth:
"A profession! Well, it isn't a respectable one in their hands--men selling themselves to fight they care not whom, or for what cause. If a man fights for his country he is her soldier and her protector; if he sells himself to all and sundry, he is worth just what he sells himself for, and the black slave fighting for his freedom is a gentleman beside him." Then, before any one could answer her tart disparagement, she opened a little Indian box, and threw on the table a pack of cards.
"There's some paper kings for you to play wi'," she said, "and neither George nor Louis has a title to compare wi' them--kings and knaves! Ancient tyrants, and like ithers o' their kind, they would trick the warld awa' at every game but for some brave ace," and the ace of hearts happening to be in her hand she flung it defiantly down on the top of the pack; and that with an air of confidence and triumph that was very remarkable.
With the help of these royalties and some desultory conversation on the recent alliance of France with the rebels, the evening passed away. Madame sat quiet in the glow of the fire, and Maria, as Neil's partner, enlivened the game with many bewitching airs and graces she had not known she possessed, until this opportunity called them forth. And whatever Macpherson gained at cards he lost in another direction; for the little schoolgirl, he had at first believed himself to be patronizing, reversed the situation. He became embarrassed by a realization of her beauty and cleverness; and the sweet old story began to tell itself in his heart--the story that comes no one knows whence, and commences no one knows how. In that hour of winning and losing he first understood how charming Maria Semple was.
The new feeling troubled him; he wished to be alone with it, and the ardent pleasure of his arrival had cooled.
The Elder and his wife were tired, and Neil seemed preoccupied and did not exert himself to restore the tone of the earlier hours; so the young officer felt it best to make his adieu. Then, the farewell in a measure renewed the joy of meeting; he was asked to come again, "to come whenever he wanted to come," said Madame, with a smile of motherly kindness. And when Maria, with a downward and upward glance laid her little hand in his, that incident made the moment wonderful, and he felt that not to come again would be a great misfortune.
Maria was going to her room soon afterward but Neil detained her. "Can you sit with me a little while, Maria?" he asked; "or are you also sleepy?"
"I am not the least weary, uncle; and I never was wider awake in my life. I will read to you or copy for you----"
"Come and talk to me. The fire still burns. It is a pity to leave its warmth. Sit down here. I have never had a conversation with you. I do not know my niece yet, and I want to know her."
Maria was much flattered. Neil's voice had a tone in it that she had never before heard. He brought her a shawl to throw around her shoulders, a footstool for her feet, and drawing a small sofa before the fire, seated himself by her side. Then he talked with her about her early life; about her father and mother, and Mrs. Charlton, and without asking one question about Agnes Bradley led her so naturally to the subject, and so completely round CHAPTER II.
and through it, that he had learned in an hour all Maria could tell concerning the girl whose presence and appearance had that day so powerfully attracted him. He was annoyed when he heard her name, and annoyed at her pronounced Methodism, which was evidently of that early type, holding it a sin not to glory in the scorn of those who derided it. Yet he could not help being touched by Maria's enthusiastic description of the girl's sweet godliness.
"You know, uncle," she said, "Agnes's religion is not put on; it is part of Agnes; it is Agnes. Girls find one another out, but all the girls loved Agnes. We were ashamed to be ill-natured, or tell untruths, or do mean things when she was there. And if you heard her sing, uncle, you would feel as if the heavens had opened, and you could see angels."
Now there is no man living who does not at some time dream of a good woman--a woman much better than himself--upon his hearthstone. Neil felt in that hour this divine longing; and he knew also, that the thing had befallen him which he had vowed never would befall him again. Without resistance, without the desire to resist, he had let the vision of Agnes Bradley fill his imagination; he had welcomed it, and he knew that it would subjugate his heart--that it had already virtually done so. For Maria's descriptions of the pretty trivialities of their school life was music and wine to his soul. He was captivated by her innocent revelations, and the tall girl with her saintly pallor and star-like eyes was invisibly present to him. He had the visionary sense, the glory and the dream of love, and he longed to realize this vision. Therefore he was delighted when he heard that Maria had permission to continue her studies under the direction of her friend. It was an open door to him.
It was at this point that Maria made her final admission: "I am obliged to tell you, uncle, that I am sure Agnes is a Whig." This damaging item in her idol's character Maria brought out with deprecating apologies and likelihood of change, "not a bad Whig, uncle; she is so gentle, and she hates war, and so she feels so sorry for the poor Americans who are suffering so much, because, you know, they think they are right. Then her father is a Tory, and she is very fond of her father, and very proud of him, and she will now be under his influence, and of course do what he tells her--only--only----"
"Only what, Maria? You think there is a difficulty; what is it?"
"Her lover. I am almost certain he is a rebel."
"Has she a lover? She is very young--you must be mistaken?" He spoke so sharply Maria hardly knew his voice, and she considered it best to hesitate a little, so she answered in a dubious manner:
"I suppose he is her lover. The girls all thought so. He sent her letters, and he sometimes came to see her; and then she seemed so happy."
"A young man?"
"Yes, a very young man."
"I think, more likely, he was a sailor. I never asked Agnes. You could not ask Agnes things, as you did other girls."
"I understand that."
"He wore plain clothes, but all of us were sure he was a sailor; and once we saw Agnes watching some ships as far as she could see them, and he had called on her that day."
Neil did not answer her conjecture. He rose and stood silently on the hearth, his dark eyes directed outward, as if he was calling up the vision of the sea, and the ships and the girl watching them. For the first time Maria realized the personal attractiveness of her uncle. "He is not old," she thought, "and he is handsomer than any one I ever saw. Why has he not got married before this?" And as she speculated on this question, Neil let his eyes fall upon the dead fire and in a melancholy voice said:
"Maria, my dear, it is very late, I did not remember--you have given me two pleasant hours. Good-night, child."
He spoke with restraint, coldly and wearily. He was not aware of it, for his mind was full of thoughts well-nigh unspeakable, and Maria felt their influence, though they had not been named. She went away depressed and silent, like one who has suddenly discovered they were no longer desired.
Neil speedily put out the lights, and went to the solitude his heart craved. He was not happy; but doubt and fear are love's first food. For another hour he sat motionless, wondering how this woman, whom he had not in any way summoned, had taken such possession of him. For not yet had it been revealed to him, that "love is always a great invisible presence," and that in his case, Agnes Bradley was but its material revelation.
LIFE IN THE CAPTIVE CITY.
At this time in New York, John Bradley was a man of considerable importance. He was not only a native of the city, but many generations of Bradleys had been born, and lived, and died in the wide, low house close to the river bank, not far north of old Trinity. They were originally a Yorkshire family who had followed the great Oliver Cromwell from Marston Moor to Worcester, and who, having helped to build the Commonwealth of England, refused to accept the return of royalty. Even before Charles the Second assumed the crown, Ezra Bradley and his six sons had landed in New York. They were not rich, but they had gold sufficient to build a home, and to open near the fort a shop for the making and repairing of saddlery.
Ever since that time this trade had been the distinctive occupation of the family, and the John Bradley who represented it in the year 1779, had both an inherited and a trained capability in the craft. No one in all America could make a saddle comparable with Bradley's; the trees were of his own designing, and the leather work unequalled in strength and beauty. In addition to this important faculty, he was a veterinary surgeon of great skill, and possessed some occult way of managing ungovernable horses, which commended itself peculiarly to officers whose mounts were to be renewed frequently from any available source. And never had his business been so lucrative as at the present date, for New York was full of mounted military during the whole period of the war, and enormous prices were willingly paid for the fine saddlery turned out of the workshop of John Bradley.
Contrary to all the traditions of his family, he had positively taken the part of the King, and at the very commencement of the national quarrel had shown the red ribbon of loyalty to England. His wife dying at this time, he sent his daughter to a famous boarding-school in Boston, and his son to the great dissenting academy in Gloucester, England; then he closed his house and lived solitarily in very humble fashion above his workroom and shop. In this way, he believed himself to have provided for the absolute safety of his two children; the boy was out of the war circle; the thundering drum and screaming fife could not reach him in the cloistered rooms of the Doddridge School; and as for Agnes, Mrs. Charlton's house was as secure as a convent; he had no fear that either English or American soldiers would molest a dwelling full of schoolgirls.
And John Bradley could keep the door of his mouth; and he believed that a man who could do that might pursue a trade so necessary as his, with an almost certain degree of safety.
In appearance he was a short, powerful-looking man with tranquil, meditating eyes and a great talent for silence; an armed soul dwelling in a strong body. Some minds reflect, shift, argue, and are like the surface of a lake; but John Bradley's mind was like stubborn clay; when once impressed it was sure to harden and preserve the imprint through his life, and perhaps the other one. His Methodism was of this character, and he never shirked conversation on this subject; he was as ready to tell his experience to General Howe or General Clinton as to the members of his own class meeting; for his heart was saturated with the energy of his faith; he had the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
On politics he would not talk; he said, "public affairs were in wiser hands than his, and that to serve God and be diligent in business, was the length and breadth of his commission." His shop was a place where many men and many minds met, and angry words were frequently thrown backward and forward there; yet his needle never paused an instant for them. Only once had he been known to interfere; it was on a day when one of De Lancey's troop drew his sword against a boyish English ensign almost at his side. He stopped them with his thread half drawn out, and said sternly:
"If you two fools are in a hurry for death, and the judgment after death, there are more likely places to kill each other than my shop," and the words were cold as ice and sharp as steel, and the men went out rebuked and checked, and washed away their hot temper in wine instead of blood. For the vision of death, and the judgment after death, which Bradley's words and manner had evoked, was not to be faced at that hour. Yet, CHAPTER III.
withal, Bradley was rather a common-looking man, ill-mannered and rough as hemp to the generality; but not so where childhood or calamity appealed to his strength or forbearance. In other respects, General Howe had, not inaptly, described him as "very unlike other men when at chapel, but not much so, when among horses in the stable, or selling saddles in the shop."
This was the man who came up from the waterside early one morning in the beginning of July, singing Dr.
Watts' lyrical dream of heaven:
"There is a land of pure delight, Where saints immortal reign."
His voice was strong and melodious, and it was evident that Agnes had inherited her charming vocal power from him. He did not cease as he entered the house, but continued his hymn until he was in the little sitting-room, and Agnes finished the verse with him:
"And see the Canaan that we love, With unbeclouded eyes."
He sat down to breakfast with the heavenly vision in his heart, and reluctantly let it pass away. But his spiritual nature had hands as well as wings, and he felt also the stress of the daily labor waiting him.
"The expedition leaves for the Connecticut coast to-day," he said. "General Clinton is determined to strike a blow at the people in New Haven, and Fairfield, and New London."
"Well, father? What do you say to that?"
"I say it is better they should be struck down than that they should lie down."
"Matthews has but just returned from ravaging the river counties of Virginia, and Clinton from Stony Point.
Have they not made misery enough for a little while? Who is going with the Connecticut expedition?"
"Tryon, and he goes to do mischief with the joy of an ape."
"I heard trumpets sounding and men mustering, as I was dressing myself."
"Trumpets may sound, and not to victory, Agnes. Fire and pillage are cowardly arms; but I heard Tryon say, any stick was good enough to beat a dog with, and all who differ from Tryon are dogs. Vile work! Vile work!
And yet all this does not keep New York from dancing and drinking, and racing, and gambling, and trading; nor yet New York women from painting and dressing themselves as if there were no such persons as King George and George Washington."
"Yes, father, a great many of our best families are very poor."
"Those not employed by the government, or those who are not contractors or privateers, are whipped and driven to the last pinch by poverty. Ah, Agnes, remember New York before this war began, its sunny streets shaded with trees, and its busy, happy citizens talking, laughing, smoking, trading, loving and living through every sense they had at the same time. Now there is nothing but covert ill-will and suspicion. Our violent passions have not cured our mean ones; to the common list of rogueries, we have only added those of contractors and commissioners."
"I think war is the most terrible calamity that can befall a people, father."
"The despair of subjugated souls would be worse."
"Do they never doubt you, father?"
"Howe never did. That amiable, indolent officer might have liked me all the more if he had doubted me.
Clinton is a different man; and I think he may have thought my loyalty to royalty lukewarm, for he sent for me on the King's birthday, and after some talk about a horse and saddle, he said, 'Mr. Bradley, it is the King's birthday; shall we drink his Majesty's health?' And I answered him, 'if it please you, General.' So he filled a glass with Portugal wine for me, and then filling one for himself raised it, and waited for me to speak. There were several officers present, and I lifted my glass and said, 'To King George the Third! God bless him, and make him and all his officers good John Wesley Methodists!'"
"Clinton put down his glass with a ringing guffaw, and the rest followed him. Only one bit of a beardless boy spoke, and he said: 'you think, Bradley, Methodism might make his Majesty a better king?' And I answered, 'I am not here to judge his Majesty's kingship. I think it would make him and all present, better and happier men.' I did not try to go away or shirk questions; I looked squarely in their faces until General Clinton said,
'Very good, Bradley. You will remember Saladin and the new saddle for him'; and I answered, 'I will see to it at once, General.' So I went out then, and I think they were not all sure of me; but they cannot do without me, and they know it is better to put their doubts out of inquiry. Wise men obey necessity, and that is true for them as well as for me. Agnes, I want to know something about that little girl of Semple's? I don't like her coming here day after day. She will be seeing or hearing something she ought not to see or hear. Women are dangerous in politics, for, as a rule, politics either find or leave them vixens."
"Maria is to be trusted."
"You can not be sure. She is passionate, and though a woman in a temper may not intend to burn any one, she pokes the fire and makes a blaze and sets others looking and wondering. I can tell you of many such women in New York; they think ill of their neighbor, and the thoughts get to their tongues, and before they know the mischief is done. Then, like the wolf in the fable, they thank God they are not ferocious. Oh, no! They have only loosed the dogs of war and left others to set them worrying."
"How you do run on, father! And not one word you have said fits the little Maria, no, nor any one of the Semples. Indeed, I am sure Madame is as true a patriot as you could find anywhere."
"The old man is as bitter a royalist as I could find anywhere."
"He is, however, a good old man. Last Monday night, when you had to go to the leaders' meeting, I walked home with Maria and stayed to tea there. And after tea Madame asked me to sing a hymn, and I sang the one you were singing this morning, and when I had finished, the Elder said, 'Now, then, we will supplement Isaac Watts with the Apostle John'; and he opened the Bible and read aloud John's vision of 'the land of pure delight'
from the twenty-first of Revelation; then standing up, he asked us all to join in the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we stood up with him and said to 'Our Father which is in heaven,' the words he taught us. I felt it to be a very precious few minutes."
"I have nothing to say against such experiences, Agnes. If people would stick to what Christ says, there might be only one creed and one church; it is Peter and Paul that make disputing. But if you go to Semple's house do not stop after sunset. There are bad men about."
"Mr. Neil Semple walked home with me."
"Oh! Mr. Neil Semple! And what had he to say?"
"Very little. He praised my singing, he said it went to his heart; and he spoke about the moon, and the perfume of the locust flowers. I think that was all."
"The moon and the locust flowers! What does Mr. Neil Semple know about the moon and the locust flowers?
And he spoke very little! He can talk fast enough when he is in court, and well paid for it. He is a proud man--ill-tempered, too, I should think."
"I am sure he is not ill-tempered. He is as sweet as a child to his father and mother; and Maria says many pleasant things about him."
"Let him pass for what he is worth; but remember always this thing, Agnes, I am trusting my life in your hands. If you inadvertently repeated even what I have said this morning, I should be hard put to answer it."
"You know well that I would die rather than reveal anything you said to me. My life for yours, father!"
"I trust you as my own soul. You are an inexpressible comfort to me. I can speak to you. I can open my heart to you. I can get relief and sympathy from you. Your coming home makes me a hundred-fold safer. If your brother with his hot temper and young imprudences had been here, no one knows what would have happened before this. I thank God continually that he is so far out of the way. Has he left school yet?"
"School does not close until June."
"Then he will go directly to Doctor Brudenel in London?"
"That was your instruction to him."
"When did you have a letter from him?"
"It is nearly a month since."
"When will you write to him next?"
"I write to him every opportunity I have."
"Does he need money? Young men are often extravagant."
"He has never named money to me. He is well and happy."
"Tell him he must not come home, not think of coming home till I give him permission. Tell him that his being away from home is my great comfort. Make that plain to him, Agnes, my great comfort. Tell him he must stay in London till a man can speak his mind safely in New York, whatever his mind may be."
"I will tell him all, father."
Then Bradley went to his shop and his daughter sat down to consider with herself. Many persons stimulate or regulate thought in movement and find a positive assistance to their mental powers in action of some kind, but Agnes had the reverse of this temperament. She needed quiet, so closing the door of her room she sat still, recalling, reviewing, and doing her best to anticipate events. There were certain things which must be revealed to Maria, wholly, or in part, if she continued to visit the house, and Agnes saw not how to prevent those visits.
Nor did she wish to prevent them; she loved Maria and delighted in her companionship. They had many acquaintances and events in common to talk about, and she was also interested in Maria's life, which was very different to her own. She felt, too, that her influence was necessary and valuable to the young girl, suddenly CHAPTER III.
thrown into the midst of what Agnes regarded as sinful and dangerous society. And then into this process of self-examination there drifted another form--the stately, rather sombre, but altogether kindly personality of Neil Semple. It was linked with Maria, she could not separate the two; and as intrusion involved some heart-searching she was not inclined to, she rather promptly decided the question without any further prudential considerations, and as she did so Maria called her.
She answered the call gladly. It was to her one of those leadings on which she spiritually relied, and her face was beaming with love and pleasure as she went down stairs to her friend. Maria was standing in the middle of the small parlor, most beautifully arrayed in an Indian muslin, white as snow and lustrously fine, as only Dacca looms could weave it. Her shoulders were covered with a little cape of the same material, ruffled and laced and fastened with pink ribbons, and on her head was a bewitching gypsy hat tied under her chin with bows of the same color. Her uncle stood at her side, smiling with grave tolerance at her girlish pride in her dress, and the pretty airs with which she exhibited it to Agnes.
"Am I not handsome?" she cried. "Am I not dressed in the most perfect taste? Why do you not say as Miss Robinson is sure to say--'La, child, you are adorable!'"
Agnes fell quite naturally into her friend's excited mood, and in the happiest tone of admiring mimicry, repeated the words dictated. She made the most perfect contrast to Maria; her pale blue gown of simple material and simple fashion was without ornament of any kind, except its large falling collar of white muslin embroidery, but the long, unbroken line of the skirt seemed to Neil Semple the most fitting, the only fitting, garment he had ever seen on any woman.
"Its modesty and simplicity is an instinct," he thought; "and I have this morning seen a woman clothed by her raiment. Now I understand the difference between being dressed and clothed. Maria is dressed, Agnes is clothed; her garments interpret her."
He was lifted up by his love for her; and her calico gown became a royal robe in his imagination. Every time he saw her she appeared to have been adorned for that time only. It was a delightful thing for him to watch her tenderness and pride in Maria. It was motherly and sisterly, and without a thought of envy, and he trembled with delight when she turned her sweet, affectionate face to his for sympathy in it. And really this morning Agnes might reasonably have given some of her admiring interest to Maria's escort. He was undeniably handsome. His suit of fine, dark cloth, his spotless lawn ruffles, his long, light sword, his black beaver in his hand, were but fitting adjuncts to a noble face, graven with many experiences and alight with the tender glow of love and the steady fire of intellectual power and purpose.
He did not stay at this time many minutes, but the girls watched him to the garden gate and shared the courtly salute of his adieu there. "Is he not the most graceful and beautiful of men?" asked Maria.
"Indeed he is very handsome," replied Agnes.
"There is not an officer in New York fit to latch his shoe buckles."
"Then why do you dress so splendidly, only to show yourself to them?"
"Well, Agnes, see how they dress. As we were coming here we met men in all the colors of the rainbow; they were rattling swords and spurs, and tossing their heads like war horses scenting the battle afar off."
"You are quoting the Bible, Maria."
"Uncle did it first. You don't suppose I thought of that. We passed a regiment of Hessians with their towering brass-fronted helmets, their yellow breeches, and black gaiters; really, Agnes, they were grand-looking men."
"Very," answered Agnes, scornfully. "I have seen them standing like automatons, taking both the commands and the canes of their officers. Very grand-looking indeed!"
"You need not be angry at the poor fellows. It must be very disagreeable for them to be caned in public and not dare to move an eyelash or utter a word of protest."
"Men that will suffer such things are no better than the beasts of the field; not as good, for the beasts do speak in their way with hoofs, or horns, or teeth, or claws, and that to some purpose, when their sense of justice is outraged."
"It is all military discipline, you know, Agnes. And you must allow, the regiments make fine appearances. I dare say these Hessians have to be caned--most men have, in one way or another. Uncle is coming back for me this afternoon. We are going to see the troops leaving; it will be a fine sight. I told uncle you might like to go with us, and he said he would ask you, but he did not."
"He had more grace granted him, Maria."
"I think he is a little afraid of you, Agnes."
"Nothing of the kind. He had sense enough to understand I would not go." Then, without further thought or preliminary she said: "Sit down here beside me, Maria, I have something very important to say to you. I know that I can perfectly trust you, but I want to hear you tell me so. Can you keep a secret inviolate and sure, Maria?"
"If the secret is yours, Agnes, neither in life nor in the hour of death would I tell it."
"If you were questioned----"
"I should be stupid and dumb; if it was your secret, fire could not burn it out of me."
"I believe you. Many times in Boston you must have known that a young man called on me. You may have seen his face."
"None of the girls saw his face but Sally Laws; we all knew that he called on you. I should recognize his figure and his walk anywhere, but his face I never saw. Sally said he was as handsome as Apollo."
"Such nonsense! He has an open, bright, strong countenance, but there is nothing Greek about him, nothing at all. He is an American, and he loves his native land, and would give his life for her freedom."
"And he will come here to see you now?"
"Yes, but my father must not know it."
"I thought you were always so against anything being done unknown to our parents. When I wanted to write good-bye to Teddy Bowen you would not let me."
"I expected you to remind me of this, and at present I can give you no explanation. But I tell you positively that I am doing right. Can you take my word for it?"
"I believe in you, Agnes, as if you were the Bible. I know you will only do right."
"All that you see or hear or are told about this person must be to you as if you had dreamed a dream, and you CHAPTER III.
must forget that you ever had it."
"I have said that I would be faithful. Darling Agnes, you know that you may trust me."
"Just suppose that my friend should be seen, and that my father should be told," she was silent a moment in consideration of such an event, and Maria impulsively continued:
"In that case I would say it was my friend."
"That would not be the truth."
"But he might be my friend, we might have become friends, not as he is your friend, nothing like that, just a friend. Are you very fond of him, Agnes?"
"I love him as my own life."
"And he loves you in that way?"
"He loves me! Oh, yes, Maria, he loves me! even as I love him."
"Sweetest Agnes, thank you for telling me. I will see what you tell me to see, and hear what you tell me to hear; that, and that only. I will be as true to you as your own heart."
"I am sure you will. Some day you shall know all. Now, we will say no more until there is a reason; everything is so uncertain. Tell me about the rout last night."
"It was at Governor Robertson's. His daughter called and asked me to honor them with my company; and grandmother said I ought to go, and uncle Neil said I ought to go--so I went. There was a great time dressing me, but I made a fine appearance when it was done. I wore my silver-tissue gown, and grandmother loaned me her pearl necklace. She told me how many generations of Gordon ladies had worn it, and I felt uncanny as she clasped it round my throat. I wondered if they knew----"
"You should not wonder about such things. Did you dance much?"
"I had the honor to dance with many great people. Every gentleman danced one minuet with his partner, and then began cotillon and allemand dances; and there were some songs sung by Major Andre, and a fine supper at midnight. It was two o'clock when I got home."
"Tell me who you talked with."
"Oh, everybody, Agnes; but I liked most of all, the lady who stays with the Robertsons--Mrs. Gordon; her husband was with Burgoyne and is a prisoner yet. She was very pleasant to me; indeed, she told Uncle Neil 'I was the perfectest creature she had ever seen,' and that she was 'passionately taken with me.' She insisted that I should be brought to her, and talked to me about my dress and my lovers, and also about grandfather and grandmother."
"She lived with them once, and helped to make great sorrow in their house."
"I know. Grandmother does not forgive her."
"And your uncle?"
"He is very civil to her, for she is vastly the fashion. She played cards all the evening, and called me to her side more often than I liked. She said I brought her luck. I don't think she approved of my dancing so often with Captain Macpherson. She asked questions about him, and smiled in a way that was not pleasant, and that made me praise the Highlander far more than I meant to, and she barely heard me to the end of my talk ere she turned back to her cards, and as she did so, said: 'What a paragon in tartan! Before this holy war there may have been such men, but if you are a good child pray that a husband may drop down from heaven for you; there are no good ones bred here now.' Then every one near began to protest, and she spread out her cards and cried, 'Who leads? Diamonds are trump.' When she called me next, she was sweeping the sovereigns into her reticule; and Governor Ludlow said she was Fortune's favorite, and uncle Neil said, 'I see, Madame, that you now play for gold,' and I think uncle meant something that she understood, for she looked queerly at him for a moment, and then answered, 'Yes I play for money now. I confess it. Why not? If you take away that excuse, the rest is sinning without temptation.' She is so well bred, Agnes, and she speaks with such an air, you are forced to notice and remember what she says."
Agnes was troubled to think of the innocent child in such society, and without obtruding counsel, yet never restraining it when needful, she did her best to keep Maria's conscience quick and her heart right. It was evident that she regarded the whole as a kind of show, whose color and sound and movement attracted her; yet even so, this show was full of temptation to a girl who had no heart care and no lack of anything necessary for the pride of life.
This afternoon the half-camp and half-garrison condition of New York was very conspicuous. All was military bustle and excitement; trumpets were calling, drums beating, and regiments parading the streets once devoted to peaceful commerce and domestic happiness. Royalist merchants stood in the doors of their shops exchanging snuff-box compliments and flattering prophecies concerning the expedition about to leave--prophecies which did not hide the brooding fear in their eyes or the desponding shake of the head when sure of a passer's sympathy. And a sensitive observer would have felt the gloom, the shame and sorrow that no one dared to express; for, just because no one dared to express it, the very stones of the streets found a voice that spoke to every heart. The bitterest royalist remembered. All the riot of military music could not drown the memory of sounds once far more familiar--the cheerful greeting of men in the market place, and all the busy, happy tumult of prosperous trade; the laughter and chatter of joyful women and children, and the music of the church bells above the pleasant streets.
Neil was silent and unhappy; Maria full of the excitement of the passing moment. They sat in the open window of Neil's office and watched company after company march to the warships in which they were to embark: Grenadiers of Auspach with their towering black caps and sombre military air; brass-fronted Hessians; gaudy Waldeckers; English corps glittering in scarlet pomp; and Highlanders loaded with weapons, but free and graceful in their flowing contour. On these latter especially, both Neil and Maria fixed their interest. Who can say how long national feeling, expatriated, may live? Neil leaped to his feet as the plaided men came in sight. Their bagpipes made him drunk with emotion; they played on his heartstrings and called up centuries of passionate feelings. He clasped his sword unconsciously; his hand trembled with that magnetic attraction for iron that soldiers know. At that moment he said proudly to his soul, "Thou also art of Scottish birth!" and a vision of hills and straths and of a tossing ocean filled his spiritual sight.
Maria's interest was of the present and was centered on the young captain walking at the head of his company; for Quentin Macpherson was a born soldier, and whatever he might lack in a ball-room, he lacked nothing at the head of his men. His red hair flowing from under his plaided bonnet was the martial color; it seemed proper to his stern face and to the musket and bayonet, the broadsword, dirk and pistols which he wore or carried with the ease and grace of long usage. He stepped so proudly to the strains of "Lochaber;" he looked so brave and so naturally full of authority that Maria was, for the moment, quite subjugated. She had told him on the previous night, at what place she was to view the embarkment; and she detected the first movement which showed him to be on the watch for her.
This fleeting pleasure of exhibiting himself at his best to the girl he loves, is a soldier's joy; and the girl is heartless who refuses him the small triumph. Maria was kind, and she shared the triumph with him; she knew that her white-robed figure was entrancing to the young captain, and she stood ready to rain down all of Beauty's influence upon his lifted face. Only a moment was granted them, but in that one moment of meeting eyes, Maria's handkerchief drifted out of her hand and Macpherson caught it on his lifted bayonet, kissed, and put it in his bosom. The incident was accomplished as rapidly and perfectly as events unpremeditated usually are; for they are managed by that Self that sometimes takes our affairs out of all other control and does perfectly, in an instant, what all our desiring and planning would have failed to do in any space of time.
Neil was much annoyed, and made a movement to stop the fluttering lawn.
"What have you done, Maria?" he asked angrily. "The Van der Donck's and half a dozen other women are watching you."
"I could not help it, Uncle Neil. I do not know how it happened. I never intended to let it fall. Honor bright! I did not."
And perhaps Neil understood, for he said no more on the subject as they walked silently home through the disenchanted city. All the bareness of its brutal usage was now poignantly evident, and the very atmosphere was heavy with an unconquerable melancholy. Some half-tipsy members of the De Lancey militia singing about "King George the Third" only added to the sense of some incongruous disaster. Everyone has felt the intolerable ennui which follows a noisy merry-making--the deserted disorder, the spilled wine, the disdained food, the withered flowers, the silenced jest, the giving over of all left to desecration and destruction--all this, and far more was concentrated in that wretched ennui of unhappy souls which filled the streets of New York that hot summer afternoon. For an intense dejection lay heavy on every heart. Like people with the same disease, men avoided and yet sought each other. They dared not say, they hardly dared to think, that their love for the King was dying of a disease that had no pity--that their idol had himself torn away the roots of their loyalty. But they closed their shops early, and retreated to the citadel of their homes. Melancholy, hopelessness, silence, infected the atmosphere and became epidemic, and men and women, sensitive to spiritual maladies, went into their chambers and shut their doors, but could not shut out the unseen contagion.
It rained down on them in their sleep, and they dreamed of the calamities they feared.
It was on this afternoon that John Bradley received a new "call" and answered it. Affected deeply by the events of the day, he left his shop in the middle of the hot afternoon and went about some business which took him near the King's College Building, then crowded with American prisoners. As he came under the windows, he heard a thin, quavering voice singing lines very dear and familiar to him: Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take! The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace: Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.
Then there was a pause and Bradley called aloud: "Brother, who are you?"
"William Watson," was the answer.
"I thought so. How are you?"
"Dying," then a pause, and a stronger voice added, "and in need of all things."
"Brother Watson, what do you want that I can get now?"
"Cold water to drink, and some fresh fruit," and then, as if further instructed the voice added, "when you can, a clean shirt to be buried in."
"Tell William he shall have them." His whole manner had changed. There was something he could do, and he went at once for the fruit and water. Fortunately, he knew the provost of this prison and had done him some favors, so he had no hesitation in asking him to see that the small comforts were given to William Watson.
"He was a member of my class meeting, Provost," said Bradley; "a Methodist leader must love his brother in Christ." Here Bradley's voice failed him and the Provost added, "I knew him too--he used to live in good style in Queen Street. I will see that he gets the fruit and water."
"And if you need anything for yourself in the way of saddlery, Provost, I will be glad to serve you."
"I was thinking of a new riding whip."
"I will bring you the best I have. One good turn deserves another."
Then, after a little further conversation he turned homeward, and men who met him on the way wondered what was the matter with John Bradley. For, without cessation, as he walked, he went over and over the same three words, "Christ forgive me!" And no one could smile at the monotonous iteration; the man was in too dead earnest; his face was too remorseful, his voice too tragic.
The next morning he was very early in Superintendent Ludlow's office. The great man of the Court of Police had not arrived, but Bradley waited until he came.
"You are an early visitor, Mr. Bradley," he said pleasantly.
"I have a favor to ask, Judge."
"Come in here then. What is it? You are no place or plunder hunter."
"Judge, a month ago you asked me to make you a saddle."
"And you would not do it. I remember."
"I could not--at least I thought I could not; now, if you will let me, I will make you the fittest saddle possible--it shall be my own work, every stitch of it."
"How much money do you want for such a saddle, Bradley?"
"I want no money at all. I want a very small favor from you."
"Nothing for the rebels, I hope. I cannot grant any favor in that direction."
"I want nothing for the rebels; I want one hour every Sunday afternoon in the College prison with my class members."
"Oh, I don't know, Bradley----"
"Yes, you know, Judge. You know, if I give you my promise, I will keep every letter of it."
"What is your promise?"
"I want only to pray with my brothers or to walk awhile with them as they go through the Valley of the Shadow. I promise you that no word of war, or defeat or victory; that no breath of any political opinion shall pass my lips. Nor will I listen to any such."
"Bradley, I don't think I can grant you this request. It would not be right."
"Judge, this is a thing within your power, and you must grant it. We shall stand together at the Judgment, and when the Lord Christ says, 'I was hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not:' don't let me be obliged to plead, 'Lord Christ, I would have fed, and clothed, and visited the sick and in prison, but this man barred my way.' Open the door, Judge, and it shall be well with you for it."
Then, without a word, Ludlow turned to his desk and wrote an order permitting John Bradley to visit his friends for one hour every Sunday afternoon; and as he did so, his face cleared, and when he signed his name he had the glow of a good deed in his heart, and he said:
"Never mind the saddle, Bradley. I don't want to be paid for this thing. You say William Watson is dying--poor Willie! We have fished together many a long summer day"; and he took a few gold pieces from his pocket and added, "they are for the old friend, not for the rebel. You understand. Good morning, sir."
"Good morning, Judge. I won't overstep your grant in any way. I know better."
From this interview he went direct to the prison and sent the gold to the dying man. And as he stood talking to the provost the dead cart came, and five nearly naked bodies were thrown into it, their faces being left uncovered for the provost's inspection. Bradley gazed on them with a hot heart; emaciated to the last point with fever and want, there was yet on every countenance the peace that to the living, passeth understanding.
They had died in the night-watches, in the dark, without human help or sympathy, but doubtless sustained by Him whose name is Wonderful!
"All of them quite common men!" said the provost carelessly--"country rustics--plebeians!"
But when Bradley told his daughter of this visit, he added, passionately, "Plebeians! Well, then, Agnes, Plebeians who found out the secret of a noble death!"
Sweeter than Joy, tho' Joy might abide; Dearer than Love, tho' Love might endure, Is this thing, for a man to have died For the wronged and the poor!
Let none be glad until all are free; The song be still and the banner furled, Till all have seen what the poets see And foretell to the world!
A SONG OF A SINGLE NOTE.
The next morning, very soon after breakfast, Maria came down stairs ready to visit her friend. She was dressed like a schoolgirl in a little frock of India chintz, her black hair combed backward and plaited in two long, loose braids. One morning she had tied these braids with red ribbon, and been scornfully criticised by her grandmother for "makin' a show of herself." The next morning she had tied them with blue, and been heart-pained by her grandfather's sigh and look of reproach; so this morning they were tied with ribbons as black as her hair, and as she turned herself before the long mirror she was pleased with the change.
"They make my braids look ever so much longer," she said with a pretty toss of her head; "and grandmother can not say I am making a show of myself. One must have ribbons of some color, and black is really distinguished. I suppose that is the reason Uncle Neil wears so much black cloth and velvet."
To these thoughts she ran gaily down stairs. The Elder was reading Rivington's Royal Gazette; Madame had a hank of wool over two chairs, and was slowly winding it. She looked at Maria with a little disappointment.
Her hat was on her head, her books in her hand, and she understood where the girl was going; yet she asked:
"Is it Agnes Bradley again, Maria?"