Imágenes de páginas



“Marry that old man! Never! I'll house that's more comfortable. I've starve first. He may foreclose the mort- wished a good many times, I had her gage and turn us out doors as soon as faculty; but I hain't, though I'm reckhe pleases to, but I will never be his wife, oned tolable for plannin'. "Where's never !"


At work for Mr. Beman." “Heavens and airth, child, who you

“He's a smart boy." talking about? You don't say Peter “Yes, he is, and a good boy, too. If Greenleaf wants you for a wife, do you?” he was older we could do better."

"I don't say any thing about it, Aunt “Yes, but he'll grow old fast enough. Jane. Where in the world did you come He's twelve and you're eighteen, and from? I am glad to see you, but I didn't you two are left without a blood relation know there was any body to hear me. in the world nigher than a second cousin. Don't tell, Aunt Jane."

That's what your grandma'am, told me “I won't” replied the unexpected visi- the last time I see her 'fore she died so tor. “Don't you be afraid. I've kept a sudden. I can't make the way clear, all good many secrets in my day, and I'll through, but don't you marry a man you keep yours. I come over this morning a don't want to. That's the worst thing a purpose to talk with you and see if I woman can do, and there's always a couldn't help you. If I only had the curse follows it. I married a poor man, money, I'd pay up that mortgage and and I ain't goin' to say he wa’nt shifdone with it. Then, the old man mightless, for he was, and everybody knew it; whistle. Spose your grandma'am could but I loved him and he loved me, and so not help doin as she did, but 'twas a I could put up with his ways, though master pity.”

they wan't just what they ought to be. “She would have paid part of it before When John and I was together, we never now, if Regis hadn't been sick and the felt as though we wished somebody else cow died. She talked about it only a was in either of our places. I wouldn't few days before she died, and told me advise you nor anybody else to marry a if she left us suddenly, I must do the shifless man; but I did, and I never was best I could. She said there was a letter sorry.

Peter Greenleaf's wife didn't in the little bureau that would explain have a poor man nor a shifless man, but all about the mortgage, but I haven't she had a harder time than I did; and I wanted to read it yet. I can pay part of hope if he marries again, he'll get somethe interest by winter, but Mr. Green- body that'll stand up for her rights. leaf says he must have the whole, and I There he is, sure's you're alive, comin' can't pay the whole.”

over the hill.

Want me to git out of “Well, child, don't give up. It's been sight?”. awful discouragin' weather, dark days don't leave the house.".

"Perhaps it would be best, but please and heavy fogs, and every thing all

“I won't, and don't you be afraid. damped through; but ’taint always goin Manage to make him say if the interest's to be so. We've got to have Indian Sum-paid, he'll wait for the rest. He thinks mer, yit. Your grandma'am was a you'd make a purty piece of household curous manager; else she'd never made furnitur, and some way he got a grudge so much out of five acres of pasture land against your gran'ma'am. I misdoubted and an old sheep barn. That was all how t’would turn out, when I knew she there was here when she bought it, and got the money of him; but the Lord now, there ain't no land in town that reigns, and there can't nobody hinder his gives better crops; and there ain't nol plans.”

People wondered why Mrs. Bradshaw she had received from Aunt Jane. "I mortgaged her place, while she alone am not sure I understand fully about the knew that to save her grand-children mortgage. Please tell me the exact from their father she had sent him a stip- amount of your claim upon my estate, and ulated sum of money, which might have the terms by which I can retain it." purchased but temporary safety had not “It is a waste of words, my dear, but death claimed him and so relieved her of I wish to please you;" and he proceeded further anxiety.

to give her the desired information, even In her thankfulness for this mercy she yielding to her request to make the statethought comparatively little of the obli- ment in writing. gation she had incurred, although her She read it, thanked him, and placed family arrangements were made with the paper in her pocket, saying: “I reference to the liquidation of the debt. think I can pay the interest before the She lived even more frugally than be- first of December; and if I do, I can still fore; but sickness and other untoward remain here." events had made it impossible for her to “If the taxes are paid. In order to sedo this. For three years not even the cure myself and save you all annoyance, interest had been paid, and now the I have paid them. You see I have reamount saved for this purpose was hard- gard for your interests. You will give ly sufficient to pay the funeral expenses. me the promise I desire, Elsie ?” and he

Elsie Dunlap found herself sole heir rose from the chair in which he was sitof an encumbered estate which, if sold ting, as though he would go nearer to under the hammer, would leave her pen- her. niless. She was energetic and capable. “What promise?" she asked, springing She possessed a strong will and much to her feet. force of character; but, for the time she “The promise that you will be my was nearly paralyzed by the sudden blow wife. You shall have everything that which had fallen upon her. Now, Aunt heart can wish. I will surround you Jane's presence and homely counsel had with luxury and make your life a long done so much to reassure her, that she holiday. As my wife, you will not need met Mr. Greenleaf with becoming dig- to work, or calculate how money is to be nity.

made." “My dear Elsie, how charmingly you “But your wife did work,” responded are looking,” he said blandly, "I could Elsie with provoking coolness. “I have not deny myself the pleasure of coming always heard that she worked hard and early. I am to be out of town for a few never had a cent of money to spend withdays, and I thought it would be pleasant out being called to account for it. I am for us both to have everything definitely too independent for that." arranged between us. You will have no What Peter Greenleaf thought my further trouble about the mortgage, and readers may imagine. What he said 1-I shall bave a fair and happy bride." was:

“What do you mean," now asked the "When my wife was living, I was a young girl, recovering from her surprise poorer man than I am now.

She was a at his audacity.

worthy woman, but we were not alto“You know what I mean, my ear," ether conge In a second marriage he replied with a smirk, which was in- I should hope to realize what was denied tended to be a smile. “I did not expect me in the first." you to accept my proposal at once. There was an expression of scorn upon Perhaps I should have thought you the rosy lips of Elsie Dunlap, and a flashwanting in maidenly modesty, if you ing of the dark eyes which boded_ill to had; but now you have had time for con her suitor. sideration, and I am impatient for your “Have a care, my dear,” he said in final answer."

well modulated tones. “You have other "I am too young to marry,” she said debts and other debtors. I must be your hesitatingly, remembering the charge husband or your enemy. You can choose

which it shall be, but I shall not take “Now, if you'll pray for light, and your answer now. I never yield when I ways and means, 'twill be your share, bave reached a decision. Think of Regis. and I'll see what I can do. If you had Can you bear to be separated from him ?” money, I know you'd give it, but there

He was gone, but before she had time ain't nothing required of folks more'n to think of Regis, Aunt Jane appeared, and they've got. Pray hard, for it's a rough watching him as he rode away, expressed place to pull over when Peter Greenleaf's her satisfaction with what had trans- hitched on his oxen to pull tother way.” pired.

“Stay to dinner and perhaps some light "You done well,” she said heartily. will shine upon the darkness,” said the "He didn't know you had a witness hid minister, pleasantly, as his companion away, but when he began to talk, I give turned to leave him. the bed room door a hitch, so I could see "No, thank you, that an't the way him, and hear all he said, too. I've faith light's comin', and I've got my dinner the interest'll be paid somehow, and he's waitin' to home.” promised to wait for the rest. But about That day Elsie Dunlap read the letter them taxes and debts. I'll find out. of which her grandmother had told her, He'd scare some girls into marryin' him. and from it learned much she had not He's got most everybody in town under before known; much, too, which grieved his thumb, except Aunt Jane and the and saddened her. minister and Cam Bassett. He come “If I leave you with the mortgage unpretty near getting a hitch on my house, paid you must do the best you can. I but he just missed it. I'll see, I'll see. can not advise you, only don't trust Mr. Don't give up. He won't be back to-day Greenleaf, and don't let Regis go away nor to-morrer."

from you. If the worst comes, perhaps “I hope not. Don't go now, Aunt Aunt Jane will take you in, and you can Jane."

manage to feed and clothe yourselves. “I must, child. I've got a message for But don't trust Peter Greenleaf.

I was the minister, though I must look round obliged to go to him for money, but you 'fore I see him. Good bye.”

will be under no such necessity.” Then was Elsie's hour of weak These were the closing paragraphs of ness, and she wept despairingly. She a letter which had for her the authority seemed hedged in on every side. She of a voice from the dead, and she rewas in the power of a merciless man, peated the declaration made in the openand yet he professed to love her; prom- ing of my story. Early in the evening, ised to provide for her brother and re- Regis came, tired, but so glad to be at lieve her of all care. Others had sacri- home that he soon forgot his fatigue. ficed themselves and still lived on. Driv "How much money have we got?” he en from their home, where could they asked looking up into his sister's face.” go? She could earn a little by knitting "Not a dollar,” she replied. and sewing; Regis could earn a little “I shall have a dollar to-morrow night, more; but there was the mortgage. so there'll be one in the house, and we

"What's goin' to be done for them must keep it till we get a mate to it. Dunlap children ?” asked Aunt Jane ab- We've got lots of potatoes and corn, and ruptly, when she found the minister hay enough to keep the cow, so standing by the parsonage gate.

shan't starve if we don't buy any thing "I heard they were provided for by at the store; and you can mend up my Mr. Greenleaf."

clothes so they'll last. Then we can sell "There ain't no truth in that, Mr. Eld- the pig and some chickens, and a tub of ridge. I know all about it, and I'll tell butter, and that'll bring some money. you. I had it first hand, too, so there We must pay up the mortgage. Mrs. won't be no mistake.”

Beman says Mr. Greenleaf wants you to The minister listened patiently, utter- marry him, and I told her you just wouldn't ing now and then an ejaculation of sur- do it, will you ?” prise or indignation.

“No, I will not."


“There, I knew you wouldn't, for all question asked by Mr. Eldridge. "I folshe said there wan't many poor girls that lowed the river, and when I got opposite had such a chance. We don't care if we Mrs. Bradshaw's, I was so hungry, I are poor, do we?"

went up to the house and asked her to “We will try not to care. Now tell

give me something to eat and let me me what you have been doing to-day, work and pay for it. She did, and talked and what company you have had." to me besides, and the talk was better

“I didn't have anybody but Cam Bas than the bread and milk. She told me sett to work with me, and he didn't talk what I could do if I tried, and I've tried much, though he worked like a house-a ever since. I couldn't go to school and fire. He's growing handsome and I like meeting like other boys, but I've done him. He said grandmother was his best the best I knew how. I've saved some friend. I didn't know that before, did money, and I want you to take it and pay you?"

Mr. Greenleaf on that mortgage as far as “No, indeed, but she was a friend to 'twill go, until I can earn some more to every one.

I am glad he remembers her finish up. Will you do it, sir?”! kindly.”

“I am not sure that I ought to. You “So am I. After dinner, he asked me need this money for yourself. You saved if I thought you'd ever marry Mr. Green- it for a special purpose.” leaf,and I told him I knew you wouldn't, “Yes, sir, I saved it to buy a piece of any sooner than you'd marry him, and I land, but I can wait for that, I ain't too guessed not half so soon.”

old to start again." “Why, Regis;" and a blush suffused “But Elsie might object to your doing the sister's cheek, which he did not see. this."

Mr. Eldridge had fulfilled his promise “I'm afraid she would, but you see, she to pray for his young parishioners, and ain't to know it. That's why I come to waited for some token that his prayers you, because I thought you wouldn't tell. had been heard, when Cameron Bassett They've all done me more than that was shown into his study.

worth good. I don't think I'd ever had "I don't see you very often,” he said, the money but for what Mrs. Bradshaw in a tone which expressed the surprise said to me; so in a way, it belongs to he felt at receiving so unexpected a her, and that mortgage must be paid. visit."

It must, Mr. Eldridge." “No, sir, but I thought 'twas right for “It shall be paid, every dollar of it. I me to come, because I could trust you will try to raise what is lacking of the not to tell."

full amount and consider you my debtor “Not to tell what, my young friend ?” for the balance.”' After looking a moment into the clergy “Yes, sir, do, and I will bring you the man's face, as if to assure himself that money as fast as I earn it. You can trust his confidence was not misplaced, the I always do as I say." visitor proceeded to make known his “I believe you, and shall be glad to see business with a straight-forward earnest- you, even if you have no money to nestness one could hardly have believed bring.” possible to him.

“Thank you,” and as the young man Five years before he had drifted into thus acknowledged the courtesy of his the quiet country town, a poor, ignorant host, his eyes wandered to a plain book boy. Since then, he had done the hard case filled to overflowing. est, coarsest work uncomplainingly, yet “Do you care for books?" was asked. always stipulating for wages which were "Yes,sir, more than I care for anything so faithfully earned, that they could not else. When I came here, I only knew be refused. He was kind and obliging, the letters, but I've learned since.” but few thought of him except when “What have you learned ?”. present, and then only as of a servant. "All I could. I bought an old arith“I don't know why I came here, only metic and I've been through it.

It was I happened to,” he said in reply to a hard work; but I kept at it, till I fin


ished up every sum. I bought a gram

counted also the cost at which he could mar, too, and a geography.”

supply the amount required to balance "Have you studied alone ?"

the mortgage. He must wear a thread“Yes, sir, there wan't any other way bare coat still longer, and deny himself for me."

the purchase of some much coveted “Do you read books?"

books; yet he did not regret his decision. “Yes, sir, all I can get; and Cameron

The next day Aunt Jane appeared Bassett forgot his usual reserve, as he was led to speak of the hopes and desires bringing her small hoard which, howev

er, was not needed. which had made him what he was. “You

" Then I'll lend it to Elsie to pay up on see, sir, I had it all to do myself, except the taxes, and she can make out the what Mrs. Bradshaw helped me. She didn't know how much I owed her. I money to pay me back fore winter's

through," said the good woman, joyousnever told her. I meant to, but I didn't.

ly. " It's all come round just right. When she died I was sorry I hadn't. I

But you hain't told me how you got the wish she knew."

"Perhaps she does know. God knows, money to pay up the mortgage, nor how and he is the one most interested.

Do you calkerlate it's goin' to be paid back.”

“I have made no calculations in regard you read the Bible?" “Yes, sir, the first book I ever read

to that, and you must excuse me if I dewas a Testament Mrs. Bradshaw gave

cline telling you anything further about

it." me. She said 'twas best of all." “But you have never come to hear the

“I will; and on the whole I don't preaching and praying and singing Sun- want you to. I'll just think the Lord

done it, and thank him for my ignorance. days."

No, sir, perhaps I don't rightly un- There's good things happenin' all round. derstand about it. Sunday was my rest- I'm goin' to have somebody to be in the ing and studying day, and there didn't house with me nights this winter, so anybody ask me to go to meeting."

'twill seem more like livin', and then "May God forgive us," ejaculated the there'll be somebody to do for. I guess clergyman fervently. “Let me help you my neighbors’ll come in for a share of

You are welcome to the use of help. There's helpful and on-helpful any of my books, and I shall be glad to times, Mr. Eldridge, and it's likely to me give you any assistance in my power.

we've had on-helpful ones long enough What books have you read?”

for just now. Peter Greenleaf's gone, so “I've read about Hugh Miller, and I you'll have to wait for him to come back; thought I had as good a chance for learn- but there won't be no harm done while ing as he had.”

he's gone. He's missed his calculations * You have, and I hope you will be as

once." grand and famous as he was."

Possibly he feared this; for he remain“ I don't expect that. He had more ed away but two days, and on his return that belonged to him;" and the young went directly to the cottage of Elsie Dunman tapped his forehead with his finger. lap, fully resolved not to leave it until he “But I'll do what I can. If you'll allow had obtained her promise to marry him me to take a book, I will, sir."

the following week. He was not to be A book was selected, a few parting thwarted by a young girl's caprice, and, words exchanged; and Mr, Eldridge sat moreover, he fancied that he really lovdown to reflect upon the strange occur- ed his fair debtor. He carried with him rences of the day. He was both depress- a gift, which it is but justice to say would ed and encouraged; while he felt con- have propitiated many disposed to be undemned for his neglect of one whom an- relenting; yet he experienced some emother had remembered. He counted barrassment when he found himself in again the money left in his keeping; her presence.



« AnteriorContinuar »