THE PRIVATE THEATRICALS
By Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney
Saturday was a day of hammering, basting, draping, dressing,
rehearsing, running from room to room. Upstairs, in Mrs. Green's
garret, Leslie Goldthwaite and Dakie Thayne, with a third party never
before introduced upon the stage, had a private practising; and at
tea-time, when the great hall was cleared, they got up there with Sin
Saxon and Frank Scherman, locked the doors, and in costume, with
regular accompaniment of bell and curtain, the performance was
Dakie Thayne was stage-manager and curtain-puller; Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman represented audience, with clapping and stamping, and
laughter that suspended both,—making as nearly the noise of two
hundred as two could,—this being an essential part of the rehearsal
in respect to the untried nerves of the debutant, which might easily
be a little uncertain.
"He stands fire like a Yankee veteran."
"It's inimitable," said Sin Saxon, wiping the moist merriment from her
eyes. "And your cap, Leslie! And that bonnet! And this unutterable old
oddity of a gown! Who did contrive it all? and where did they come
from? You'll carry off the glory of the evening. It ought to be the
"No, indeed," said Leslie. "Barbara Frietchie must be last, of course.
But I'm so glad you think it will do. I hope they'll be amused."
"Amused! If you could only see your own face!"
"I see Sir Charles's, and that makes mine."
The new performer, you perceive, was an actor with a title.
That night's coach, driving up while the dress-rehearsal of the other
tableaux was going on at the hall, brought Cousin Delight to the Green
Cottage, and Leslie met her at the door.
Sunday morning was a pause and rest and hush of beauty and joy. They
sat—Delight and Leslie—by their open window, where the smell of the
lately harvested hay came over from the wide, sunshiny entrance of the
great barn, and away beyond stretched the pine woods, and the hills
swelled near in dusky evergreen, and indigo shadows, and lessened far
down toward Winnipiseogee, to where, faint and tender and blue, the
outline of little Ossipee peeped in between great shoulders so
modestly,—seen only through the clearest air on days like this.
Leslie's little table, with fresh white cover, held a vase of ferns
and white convolvulus and beside this Cousin Delight's two books that
came out always from the top of her trunk,—her Bible and her little
"Daily Food." To-day the verses from Old and New Testaments were
these:—"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he
delighteth in his way." "Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as
wise, redeeming the time."
They had a talk about the first,—"The steps,"—the little
details,—not merely the general trend and final issue; if, indeed,
these could be directed without the other.
"You always make me see things, Cousin Delight," Leslie said.
"It is very plain," Delight answered; "if people only would read the
Bible as they read even a careless letter from a friend, counting each
word of value, and searching for more meaning and fresh inference to
draw out the most. One word often answers great doubts and askings
that have troubled the world."
Afterward, they walked round by a still wood-path under the Ledge to
the North Village, where there was a service. It was a plain little
church, with unpainted pews; but the windows looked forth upon a green
mountain-side, and whispers of oaks and pines and river-music crept
in, and the breath of sweet water-lilies, heaped in a great bowl upon
the communion-table of common stained cherry-wood, floated up and
filled the place. The minister, a quiet, gray-haired man, stayed his
foot an instant at that simple altar, before he went up the few steps
to the desk. He had a sermon in his pocket from the text, "The hairs
of your heads are all numbered." He changed it at the moment in his
mind, and, when presently he rose to preach, gave forth, in a tone
touched, through the fresh presence of that reminding beauty, with the
very spontaneousness of the Master's own saying,—"Consider the
lilies." And then he told them of God's momently thought and care.
There were scattered strangers, from various houses, among the simple
rural congregation. Walking home through the pines again, Delight and
Leslie and Dakie Thayne found themselves preceded and followed along
the narrow way. Sin Saxon and Frank Scherman came up and joined them
when the wider openings permitted.
Two persons just in front were commenting upon the sermon.
"Very fair for a country parson," said a tall, elegant-looking man,
whose broad, intellectual brow was touched by dark hair slightly
frosted, and whose lip had the curve that betokens self-reliance and
strong decision,—"very fair. All the better for not flying too high.
Narrow, of course. He seems to think the Almighty has nothing grander
to do than to finger every little cog of the tremendous machinery of
the universe,—that he measures out the ocean of his purposes as we
drop a liquid from a phial. To me it seems belittling the Infinite."
"I don't know whether it is littleness or greatness, Robert, that must
escape minutiae," said his companion, apparently his wife. "If we
could reach to the particles, perhaps we might move the mountains."
"We never agree upon this, Margie. We won't begin again. To my mind,
the grand plan of things was settled ages ago,—the impulses generated
that must needs work on. Foreknowledge and intention, doubtless: in
that sense the hairs were numbered. But that there is a special
direction and interference to-day for you and me—well, we won't
argue, as I said; but I never can conceive it so; and I think a wider
look at the world brings a question to all such primitive faith."
The speakers turned down a side-way with this, leaving the ledge path
and their subject to our friends. Only to their thoughts at first; but
presently Cousin Delight said, in a quiet tone, to Leslie, "That
doesn't account for the steps, does it?"
"I am glad it can't," said Leslie.
Dakie Thayne turned a look toward Leslie, as if he would gladly know
of what she spoke,—a look in which a kind of gentle reverence was
strangely mingled with the open friendliness. I cannot easily indicate
to you the sort of feeling with which the boy had come to regard this
young girl, just above him in years and thought and in the attitude
which true womanhood, young or old, takes toward man. He had no
sisters; he had been intimately associated with no girl-companions; he
had lived with his brother and an uncle and a young aunt, Rose. Leslie
Goldthwaite's kindness had drawn him into the sphere of a new and
powerful influence,—something different in thought and purpose from
the apparent unthought about her; and this lifted her up in his regard
and enshrined her with a sort of pure sanctity. He was sometimes
really timid before her, in the midst of his frank chivalry.
"I wish you'd tell me," he said suddenly, falling back with her as the
path narrowed again. "What are the 'steps?'"
"It was a verse we found this morning,—Cousin Delight and I," Leslie
answered; and as she spoke the color came up full in her cheeks, and
her voice was a little shy and tremulous. "'The steps of a good man
are ordered by the Lord.' That one word seemed to make one certain.
'Steps,'—not path, nor the end of it; but all the way." Somehow she
was quite out of breath as she finished.
Meantime Sin Saxon and Frank had got with Miss Goldthwaite, and were
"Set spinning," they heard Sin Saxon say, "and then let go. That was
his idea. Well! Only it seems to me there's been especial pains taken
to show us it can't be done. Or else, why don't they find out
perpetual motion? Everything stops after a while, unless—I can't talk
theologically, but I mean all right—you hit it again."
"You've a way of your own of putting things, Asenath," said Frank
Scherman—with a glance that beamed kindly and admiringly upon her and
"her way,"—"but you've put that clear to me as nobody else ever did.
A proof set in the very laws themselves,—momentum that must lessen
and lose itself with the square of the distance. The machinery cavil
"Wheels; but a living spirit within the wheels," said Cousin Delight.
"Every instant a fresh impulse; to think of it so makes it real, Miss
Goldthwaite,—and grand and awful." The young man spoke with a
strength in the clear voice that could be so light and gay.
"And tender, too. 'Thou layest Thine hand upon me,'" said Delight
Sin Saxon was quiet; her own thought coming back upon her with a
reflective force, and a thrill at her heart at Frank Scherman's words.
Had these two only planned tableaux and danced Germans together
Dakie Thayne walked on by Leslie Goldthwaite's side, in his happy
content touched with something higher and brighter through that
instant's approach and confidence. If I were to write down his thought
as he walked, it would be with phrase and distinction peculiar to
himself and to the boy-mind,—"It's the real thing with her; it don't
make a fellow squirm like a pin put out at a caterpillar. She's
good; but she isn't pious!"
This was the Sunday that lay between the busy Saturday and Monday. "It
is always so wherever Cousin Delight is," Leslie Goldthwaite said to
herself, comparing it with other Sundays that had gone. Yet she too,
for weeks before, by the truth that had come into her own life and
gone out from it, had been helping to make these moments possible. She
had been shone upon, and had put forth; henceforth she should scarcely
know when the fruit was ripening or sowing itself anew, or the good
and gladness of it were at human lips.
She was in Mrs. Linceford's room on Monday morning, putting high
velvet-covered corks to the heels of her slippers, when Sin Saxon came
over hurriedly, and tapped at the door.
"Could you be two old women?" she asked, the instant Leslie
opened. "Ginevra Thoresby has given out. She says it's her cold,—that
she doesn't feel equal to it; but the amount of it is, she got her
chill with the Shannons going away so suddenly, and the Amy Robsart
and Queen Elizabeth picture being dropped. There was nothing else to
put her in, and so she won't be Barbara."
"Won't be Barbara Frietchie!" cried Leslie, with an astonishment as if
it had been angelhood refused.
"No. Barbara Frietchie is only an old woman in a cap and kerchief, and
she just puts her head out of a window: the flag is the whole of it,
Ginevra Thoresby says."
"May I do it? Do you think I can be different enough in the
two? Will there be time?" Leslie questioned eagerly.
"We'll change the programme, and put 'Taking the Oath' between. The
caps can be different, and you can powder your hair for one,
and—would it do to ask Miss Craydocke for a front for the other?"
Sin Saxon had grown delicate in her feeling for the dear old friend
whose hair had once been golden.
"I'll tell her about it, and ask her to help me contrive. She'll be
sure to think of anything that can be thought of."
"Only there's the dance afterward, and you had so much more costume
for the other," Sin Saxon said, demurringly.
"Never mind. I shall be Barbara; and Barbara wouldn't dance, I
"Mother Hubbard would, marvellously."
"Never mind," Leslie answered again, laying down the little slipper,
"She don't care what she is, so that she helps along," Sin
Saxon said of her, rejoining the others in the hall. "I'm ashamed of
myself and all the rest of you, beside her. Now make yourselves as
fine as you please."
We must pass over the hours as only stories and dreams do, and put
ourselves, at ten of the clock that night, behind the green curtain
and the footlights, in the blaze of the three rows of bright lamps,
that, one above another, poured their illumination from the left upon
the stage, behind the wide picture-frame.
Susan Josselyn and Frank Scherman were just "posed" for "Consolation."
They had given Susan this part, after all, because they wanted Martha
for "Taking the Oath," afterward. Leslie Goldthwaite was giving a
hasty touch to the tent drapery and the gray blanket; Leonard
Brookhouse and Dakie Thayne manned the halyards for raising the
curtain; there was the usual scuttling about the stage for hasty
clearance; and Sin Saxon's hand was on the bell, when Grahame Lowe
sprang hastily in through the dressing-room upon the scene.
"Hold on a minute," he said to Brookhouse. "Miss Saxon, General
Ingleside and party are over at Green's,—been there since nine
o'clock. Oughtn't we to send compliments or something, before we
Then there was a pressing forward and an excitement. The wounded
soldier sprang from his couch; the nun came nearer, with a quick light
in her eye; Leslie Goldthwaite, in her mob cap, quilted petticoat,
big-flowered calico train, and high-heeled shoes; two or three
supernumeraries, in Rebel gray, with bayonets, coming on in "Barbara
Frietchie"; and Sir Charles, bouncing out from somewhere behind, to
the great hazard of the frame of lights,—huddled together upon the
stage and consulted. Dakie Thayne had dropped his cord and almost made
a rush off at the first announcement; but he stood now, with a
repressed eagerness that trembled through every fibre, and waited.
"Would he come?" "Isn't it too late?" "Would it be any compliment?"
"Won't it be rude not to?" "All the patriotic pieces are just coming!"
"Will the audience like to wait?" "Make a speech and tell 'em. You,
Brookhouse." "O, he must come! Barbara Frietchie and the flag! Just
think!" "Isn't it grand?" "O, I'm so frightened!" These were the
hurried sentences that made the buzz behind the scenes; while in front
"all the world wondered." Meanwhile, lamps trembled, the curtain
vibrated, the very framework swayed.
"What is it? Fire?" queried a nervous voice from near the footlights.
"This won't do," said Frank Scherman. "Speak to them, Brookhouse.
Dakie Thayne, run over to Green's, and say,—The ladies' compliments
to General Ingleside and friends, and beg the honor of their presence
at the concluding tableaux."
Dakie was off with a glowing face, something like an odd, knowing
smile twinkling out from the glow also, as he looked up at Scherman
and took his orders. All this while he had said nothing.
Leonard Brookhouse made his little speech, received with applause and
a cheer. Then they quieted down behind the scenes, and a rustle and
buzz began in front,—kept up for five minutes or so, in gentle
fashion, till two gentlemen, in plain clothes, walked quietly in at
the open door; at sight of whom, with instinctive certainty, the whole
assembly rose. Leslie Goldthwaite, peeping through the folds of the
curtain, saw a tall, grand-looking man, in what may be called the
youth of middle age, every inch a soldier, bowing as he was ushered
forward to a seat vacated for him, and followed by one younger, who
modestly ignored the notice intended for his chief. Dakie Thayne was
making his way, with eyes alight and excited, down a side passage to
Then the two actors hurried once more into position; the stage was
cleared by a whispered peremptory order; the bell rung once, the tent
trembling with some one whisking further out of sight behind
it,—twice, and the curtain rose upon "Consolation."
Lovely as the picture is, it was lovelier in the living tableau. There
was something deep and intense in the pale calm of Susan Josselyn's
face, which they had not counted on even when they discovered that
hers was the very face for the "Sister." Something made you thrill at
the thought of what those eyes would show, if the downcast, quiet lids
were raised. The earnest gaze of the dying soldier met more, perhaps,
in its uplifting; for Frank Scherman had a look, in this instant of
enacting, that he had never got before in all his practisings. The
picture was too real for applause,—almost, it suddenly seemed, for
"Don't I know that face, Noll?" General Ingleside asked, in a low
tone, of his companion.
Instead of answering at once, the younger man bent further forward
toward the stage, and his own very plain, broad, honest face, full
over against the downcast one of the Sister of Mercy, took upon itself
that force of magnetic expression which makes a look felt even across
a crowd of other glances, as if there were but one straight line of
vision, and that between such two. The curtain was going slowly down;
the veiling lids trembled, and the paleness replaced itself with a
slow-mounting flush of color over the features, still held motionless.
They let the cords run more quickly then. She was getting tired, they
said; the curtain had been up too long. Be that as it might, nothing
could persuade Susan Josselyn to sit again, and "Consolation" could
not be repeated.
So then came "Mother Hubbard and her dog,"—the slow old lady and the
knowing beast that was always getting one step ahead of her. The
possibility had occurred to Leslie Goldthwaite as she and Dakie Thayne
amused themselves one day with Captain Green's sagacious Sir Charles
Grandison, a handsome black spaniel, whose trained accomplishment was
to hold himself patiently in any posture in which he might be placed,
until the word of release was given. You might stand him on his hind
legs, with paws folded on his breast; you might extend him on his
back, with helpless legs in air; you might put him in any attitude
possible to be maintained, and maintain it he would, faithfully, until
the signal was made. From this prompting came the Illustration of
Mother Hubbard. Also, Leslie Goldthwaite had seized the hidden
suggestion of application, and hinted it in certain touches of costume
and order of performance. Nobody would think, perhaps, at first, that
the striped scarlet and white petticoat under the tucked-up train, or
the common print apron of dark blue, figured with innumerable little
white stars, meant anything beyond the ordinary adjuncts of a
traditional old woman's dress; but when, in the second scene, the
bonnet went on,—an ancient marvel of exasperated front and crown,
pitched over the forehead like an enormous helmet, and decorated, upon
the side next the audience, with black and white eagle plumes
springing straight up from the fastening of an American shield,—above
all, when the dog himself appeared, "dressed in his clothes" (a cane,
an all-round white collar and a natty little tie, a pair of
three-dollar tasselled kid-gloves dangling from his left paw, and a
small monitor hat with a big spread-eagle stuck above the brim,—the
remaining details of costume being of no consequence),—when he stood
"reading the news" from a huge bulletin,—"LATEST BY CABLE FROM
EUROPE,"—nobody could mistake the personification of Old and Young
It had cost much pains and many dainty morsels, to drill Sir Charles,
with all the aid of his excellent fundamental education; and the great
fear had been that he might fail them at the last. But the scenes were
rapid, in consideration of canine infirmity. If the cupboard was
empty, Mother Hubbard's basket behind was not; he got his morsels
duly; and the audience was "requested to refrain from applause until
the end." Refrain from laughter they could not, as the idea dawned
upon them and developed; but Sir Charles was used to that in the
execution of his ordinary tricks; he could hardly have done without it
better than any other old actor. A dog knows when he is having his
day, to say nothing of doing his duty; and these things are as
sustaining to him as to anybody. This state of his mind, manifest in
his air, helped also to complete the Young America expression. Mother
Hubbard's mingled consternation and pride at each successive
achievement of her astonishing puppy were inimitable. Each separate
illustration made its point. Patriotism, especially, came in when the
undertaker, bearing the pall with red-lettered border,—Rebellion,—finds
the dog, with upturned, knowing eye, and parted jaws, suggestive as
much of a good grip as of laughter, half risen upon fore-paws, as far
from "dead" as ever, mounting guard over the old bone "Constitution."
The curtain fell at last, amid peals of applause and calls for the
Dakie Thayne had accompanied with the reading of the ballad, slightly
transposed and adapted. As Leslie led Sir Charles before the curtain,
in response to the continued demand, he added the concluding stanza,—
"The dame made a courtesy,
The dog made a bow;
The dame said, 'Your servant,'
The dog said, 'Bow-wow.'"
Which, with a suppressed "Speak, sir!" from Frank Scherman, was
brought properly to pass. Done with cleverness and quickness from
beginning to end, and taking the audience utterly by surprise,
Leslie's little combination of wit and sagacity had been throughout a
signal success. The actors crowded round her. "We'd no idea of it!"
"Capital!" "A great hit!" they exclaimed. "Mother Hubbard is the star
of the evening," said Leonard Brookhouse. "No, indeed," returned
Leslie, patting Sir Charles's head,—"this is the dog-star." "Rather
a Sirius reflection upon the rest of us," rejoined Brookhouse,
shrugging his shoulders, as he walked off to take his place in the
"Oath," and Leslie disappeared to make ready for "Barbara Frietchie."
Several persons, before and behind the curtain, were making up their
minds, just now, to a fresh opinion. There was nothing so very slow or
tame, after all, about Leslie Goldthwaite. Several others had known
that long ago.
"Taking the Oath" was piquant and spirited. The touch of restive scorn
that could come out on Martha Josselyn's face just suited her part;
and Leonard Brookhouse was very cool and courteous, and handsome and
gentlemanly-triumphant as the Union officer.
"Barbara Frietchie" was grand. Grahame Lowe played Stonewall Jackson.
They had improvised a pretty bit of scenery at the back, with a few
sticks, some paint, brown carpet-paper, and a couple of mosquito-bars;—a
Dutch gable with a lattice window, vines trained up over it, and
bushes below. It was a moving tableau, enacted to the reading of
Whittier's glorious ballad. "Only an old woman in a cap and kerchief,
putting her head out at a garret window,"—that was all; but the fire
was in the young eyes under the painted wrinkles and the snowy hair;
the arm stretched itself out quick and bravely at the very instant of
the pistol-shot that startled timid ears; one skilful movement
detached and seized the staff in its apparent fall, and the
liberty-colors flashed full in Rebel faces, as the broken lower
fragment went clattering to the stage. All depended on the one instant
action and expression. These were perfect. The very spirit of Barbara
stirred her representative. The curtain began to descend slowly, and
the applause broke forth before the reading ended. But a hand, held
up, hushed it till the concluding lines were given in thrilling tones,
as the tableau was covered from sight.
"Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
"Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
"Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
"Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
"And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!"
Then one great cheer broke forth, and was prolonged to three.
"Not be Barbara Frietchie!" Leslie would not have missed that thrill
for the finest beauty-part of all. For the applause—that was for the
flag, of course, as Ginevra Thoresby said.
The benches were slid out at a window upon a lower roof, the curtain
was looped up, and the footlights carried away; the "music" came up,
and took possession of the stage; and the audience hall resolved
itself into a ballroom. Under the chandelier, in the middle, a tableau
not set forth in the programme was rehearsed and added a few minutes
Mrs. Thoresby, of course, had been introduced to the general; Mrs.
Thoresby, with her bright, full, gray curls and her handsome figure,
stood holding him in conversation between introductions, graciously
waiving her privilege as new-comers claimed their modest word. Mrs.
Thoresby took possession; had praised the tableaux, as "quite
creditable, really, considering the resources we had," and was
following a slight lead into a long talk, of information and advice on
her part, about Dixville Notch. The general thought he should go
there, after a day or two at Outledge.
Just here came up Dakie Thayne. The actors, in costume, were gradually
mingling among the audience, and Barbara Frietchie, in white hair,
from which there was not time to remove the powder, plain cap and
kerchief, and brown woolen gown, with her silken flag yet in her hand,
came with him. This boy, who "was always everywhere," made no
hesitation, but walked straight up to the central group, taking Leslie
by the hand. Close to the general, he waited courteously for a long
sentence of Mrs. Thoresby's to be ended, and then said, simply,—"Uncle
James, this is my friend Miss Leslie Goldthwaite. My brother, Dr.
Ingleside—why, where is Noll?"
Dr. Oliver Ingleside had stepped out of the circle in the last half of
the long sentence. The Sister of Mercy—no longer in costume, however—had
come down the little flight of steps that led from the stage to the
floor. At their foot the young army surgeon was shaking hands with
Susan Josselyn. These two had had the chess-practice together—and
other practice—down there among the Southern hospitals.
Mrs. Thoresby's face was very like some fabric subjected to chemical
experiment, from which one color and aspect has been suddenly and
utterly discharged to make room for something different and new.
Between the first and last there waits a blank. With this blank full
upon her, she stood there for one brief, unprecedented instant in her
life, a figure without presence or effect. I have seen a daguerreotype
in which were cap, hair, and collar, quite correct,—what should have
been a face rubbed out. Mrs. Thoresby rubbed herself out, and so
performed her involuntary tableau.
"Of course I might have guessed. I wonder it never occurred to me,"
Mrs. Linceford was replying, presently, to her vacuous inquiry. "The
name seemed familiar, too; only he called himself 'Dakie.' I remember
perfectly now. Old Jacob Thayne, the Chicago millionaire. He married
pretty little Mrs. Ingleside, the Illinois Representative's widow,
that first winter I was in Washington. Why, Dakie must be a dollar
He was just Dakie Thayne, though, for all that. He and Leslie and
Cousin Delight,—the Josselyns and the Inglesides,—dear Miss
Craydocke, hurrying up to congratulate,—Marmaduke Wharne looking on
without a shade of cynicism in the gladness of his face, and Sin Saxon
and Frank Scherman flitting up in the pauses of dance and promenade,—well,
after all, these were the central group that night. The pivot of the
little solar system was changed; but the chief planets made but slight
account of that; they just felt that it had grown very warm and
"O Chicken Little!" Mrs. Linceford cried to Leslie Goldthwaite, giving
her a small shake with her good-night kiss at her door. "How did you
know the sky was going to fall? And how have you led us all this chase
to cheat Fox Lox at last?"
But that wasn't the way Chicken Little looked at it. She didn't care
much for the bit of dramatic dénouement that had come about by
accident,—like a story, Elinor said,—or the touch of poetic justice
that tickled Mrs. Linceford's world-instructed sense of fun. Dakie
Thayne wasn't a sum that needed proving. It was very nice that this
famous general should be his uncle,—but not at all strange: they were
just the sort of people he must belong to. And it was nicest of all
that Dr. Ingleside and Susan Josselyn should have known each other,—"in
the glory of their lives," she phrased it to herself, with a little
flash of girl-enthusiasm and a vague suggestion of romance.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Mrs. Linceford said to Dakie Thayne next
morning. "Everybody would have—" She stopped. She could not tell this
boy to his frank face that everybody would have thought more and made
more of him because his uncle had got brave stars on his shoulders,
and his father had died leaving two millions or so of dollars.
"I know they would have," said Dakie Thayne. "That was just it. What
is the use of telling things? I'll wait till I've done something that
There was a pretty general break-up at Outledge during the week
following. The tableaux were the finale of the season's gayety,—of
this particular little episode, at least, which grew out of the
association together of these personages of our story. There might
come a later set, and later doings; but this last week of August sent
the mere summer-birds fluttering. Madam Routh must be back in New
York, to prepare for the reopening of her school; Mrs. Linceford had
letters from her husband, proposing to meet her by the first, in
N——, and so the Haddens would be off; the Thoresbys had stayed as
long as they cared to in any one place where there seemed no special
inducement; General Ingleside was going through the mountains to
Dixville Notch. Rose Ingleside,—bright and charming as her name,—just
a fit flower to put beside our Ladies' Delight,—finding out, at once,
as all girls and women did, her sweetness, and leaning more and more
to the rare and delicate sphere of her quiet attraction,—Oliver and
Dakie Thayne,—these were his family party; but there came to be
question about Leslie and Delight. Would not they make six? And since
Mrs. Linceford and her sisters must go, it seemed so exactly the thing
for them to fall into; otherwise Miss Goldthwaite's journey hither
would hardly seem to have been worth while. Early September was so
lovely among the hills; opportunities for a party to Dixville Notch
would not come every day; in short, Dakie had set his heart upon it,
Rose begged, the general was as pressing as true politeness would
allow, and it was settled.
"Only" Sin Saxon said, suddenly, on being told, "I should like if you
would tell me, General Ingleside, the precise military expression
synonymous with 'taking the wind out of one's sails.' Because that's
just what you've done for me."
"My dear Miss Saxon! In what way?"
"Invited my party,—some of them,—and taken my road. That's all. I
spoke first, though I didn't speak out loud. See here!" And she
produced a letter from her mother, received that morning. "Observe the
date, if you please,—August 24. 'Your letter reached me yesterday'
And it had travelled round, as usual, two days in papa's pocket,
beside. I always allow for that. 'I quite approve your plan; provided,
as you say, the party be properly matronized, I—h'm—h'm!—That
refers to little explanations of my own. Well, all is, I was going to
do this very thing,—with enlargements. And now Miss Craydocke and I
"Why? when with you and your enlargements we might make the most
admirable combination? At least, the Dixville road is open to all."
"Very kind of you to say so,—the first part, I mean,—if you could
possibly have helped it. But there are insurmountable obstacles on that
Dixville road—to us. There's a lion in the way. Don't you see we should
be like the little ragged boys running after the soldier-company? We
couldn't think of putting ourselves in that 'bony light,' especially
before the eyes of Mrs.—Grundy." This last, as Mrs. Thoresby swept
impressively along the piazza in full dinner costume.
"Unless you go first, and we run after you," suggested the general.
"All the same. You talked Dixville to her the very first evening, you
know. No, nobody can have an original Dixville idea any more. And I've
been asking them,—the Josselyns, and Mr. Wharne and all, and was just
coming to the Goldthwaites; and now I've got them on my hands, and I
don't know where in the world to take them. That comes of keeping an
inspiration to ripen. Well, it's a lesson of wisdom! Only, as Effie
says about her housekeeping, the two dearest things in living are
butter and experience!"
Amidst laughter and banter and repartee, they came to it, of course;
the most delightful combination and joint arrangement. Two wagons, the
general's and Dr. Ingleside's two saddle-horses, Frank Scherman's
little mountain mare, that climbed like a cat, and was sure-footed as
a chamois,—these with a side-saddle for the use of a lady sometimes
upon the last, make up the general equipment of the expedition.
All Mrs. Grundy knew was that they were wonderfully merry and excited
together, until this plan came out as the upshot.
The Josselyns had not quite consented at once, though their faces were
bright with a most thankful appreciation of the kindness that offered
them such a pleasure; nay, that entreated their companionship as a
thing so genuinely coveted to make its own pleasure complete. Somehow,
when the whole plan developed, there was a little sudden shrinking on
Sue's part, perhaps on similar grounds to Sin Saxon's perception of
insurmountable obstacles; but she was shyer than Sin of putting forth
her objections, and the general zeal and delight, and Martha's longing
look, unconscious of cause why not, carried the day.
There had never been a blither setting off from the Giant's Cairn. All
the remaining guests were gathered to see them go. There was not a
mote in the blue air between Outledge and the crest of Washington. All
the subtile strength of the hills—ores and sweet waters and resinous
perfumes and breath of healing leaf and root distilled to absolute
purity in the clear ether that only sweeps from such bare, thunder-scoured
summits—made up the exhilarant draught in which they drank the
mountain-joy and received afar off its baptism of delight.
It was beautiful to see the Josselyns so girlish and gay; it was
lovely to look at old Miss Craydocke, with her little tremors of
pleasure, and the sudden glistenings in her eyes; Sin Saxon's pretty
face was clear and noble, with its pure impulse of kindliness, and her
fun was like a sparkle upon deep waters. Dakie Thayne rushed about in
a sort of general satisfaction which would not let him be quiet
anywhere. Outsiders looked with a kind of new, half-jealous respect on
these privileged few who had so suddenly become the "General's party."
Sin Saxon whispered to Leslie Goldthwaite,—"It's neither his nor
mine, honeysuckle; it's yours,—Henny-penny and all the rest of it, as
Mrs. Linceford said." Leslie was glad with the crowning gladness of
her bright summer.
"That girl has played her cards well," Mrs. Thoresby said of her, a
little below her voice, as she saw the general himself making her
especially comfortable with Cousin Delight in a back seat.
"Particularly, my dear madam," said Marmaduke Wharne, coming close and
speaking with clear emphasis, "as she could not possibly have known
that she had a trump in her hand!"
* * * * *
To tell of all that week's journeying, and of Dixville Notch,—the
adventure, the brightness, the beauty, and the glory,—the sympathy of
abounding enjoyment, the waking of new life that it was to some of
them,—the interchange of thought, the cementing of friendships,—would
be to begin another story, possibly a yet longer one. Leslie's summer,
according to the calendar, is already ended. Much in this world must
pause unfinished, or come to abrupt conclusion. People "die suddenly
at last," after the most tedious illnesses. "Married and lived happy
ever after," is the inclusive summary that winds up many an old tale
whose time of action only runs through hours. If in this summer-time
with Leslie Goldthwaite your thoughts have broadened somewhat with
hers, some questions for you have been partly answered; if it has
appeared to you how a life enriches itself by drawing toward and going
forth into the life of others through seeing how this began with her,
it is no unfinished tale that I leave with you.
A little picture I will give you farther on, a hint of something
farther yet, and say good by.
Some of them came back to Outledge, and stayed far into the still rich
September. Delight and Leslie sat before the Green Cottage one
morning, in the heart of a golden haze and a gorgeous bloom. All
around the feet of the great hills lay the garlands of early-ripened
autumn. You see nothing like it in the lowlands;—nothing like the
fire of the maples, the carbuncle-splendor of the oaks, the flash of
scarlet sumachs and creepers, the illumination of every kind of little
leaf, in its own way, upon which the frost-touch comes down from those
tremendous heights that stand rimy in each morning's sun, trying on
white caps that by and by they shall pull down heavily over their
brows, till they cloak all their shoulders also in the like sculptured
folds, to stand and wait, blind, awful chrysalides, through the long
winter of their death and silence.
Delight and Leslie had got letters from the Josselyns and Dakie Thayne.
There was news in them such as thrills always the half-comprehending
sympathies of girlhood. Leslie's vague suggestion of romance had
become fulfilment. Dakie Thayne was wild with rejoicing that dear old
Noll was to marry Sue. "She had always made him think of Noll, and his
ways and likings, ever since that day of the game of chess that by his
means came to grief. It was awful slang, but he could not help it: it
was just the very jolliest go!"
Susan Josselyn's quiet letter said,—"That kindness which kept us on
and made it beautiful for us, strangers, at Outledge, has brought to
me, by God's providence, this great happiness of my life."
After a long pause of trying to take it in, Leslie looked up. "What a
summer this has been! So full,—so much has happened! I feel as if I
had been living such a great deal!"
"You have been living in others' lives. You have had a great deal to
do with what has happened."
"O Cousin Delight! I have only been among it! I could not do
—except such a very little."
"There is a working from us beyond our own. But if our working runs
with that—? You have done more than you will ever know, little one."
Delight Goldthwaite spoke very tenderly. Her own life, somehow, had
been closely touched, through that which had grown and gathered about
Leslie. "It depends on that abiding. 'In me, and I in you; so shall ye
bear much fruit.'"
She stopped. She would not say more. Leslie thought her talking rather
wide of the first suggestion; but this child would never know, as
Delight had said, what a centre, in her simple, loving way, she had
been for the working of a purpose beyond her thought.
Sin Saxon came across the lawn, crowned with gold and scarlet,
trailing creepers twined about her shoulders, and flames of beauty in
her full hands. "Miss Craydocke says she praised God with every leaf
she took. I'm afraid I forgot to—for the little ones. But I was so
greedy and so busy, getting them all for her. Come, Miss Craydocke;
we've got no end of pressing to do, to save half of them!"
"She can't do enough for her. O Cousin Delight, the leaves are
glorified, after all! Asenath never was so charming; and she is more
beautiful than ever!"
Delight's glance took in also another face than Asenath's, grown into
something in these months that no training or taking thought could
have done for it. "Yes," she said, in the same still way in which she
had spoken before, "that comes, too,—as God wills. All things shall
* * * * *
My hint is of a Western home, just outside the leaping growth and
ceaseless stir of a great Western city; a large, low, cosy mansion,
with a certain Old-World mellowness and rest in its aspect,—looking
forth, even, as it does on one side, upon the illimitable sunset-ward
sweep of the magnificent promise of the New; on the other, it catches
a glimpse, beyond and beside the town, of the calm blue of a
The place is "Ingleside"; the general will call it by no other than
the family name,—the sweet Scottish synonym for Home-corner. And
here, while I have been writing and you reading these pages, he has
had them all with him; Oliver and Susan, on their bridal journey,
which waited for summertime to come again, though they have been six
months married; Rose, of course, and Dakie Thayne, home in vacation
from a great school where he is studying hard, hoping for West Point
by and by; Leslie Goldthwaite, who is Dakie's inspiration still; and
our Flower, our Pansie, our Delight,—golden-eyed Lady of innumerable
The sweetest and truest of all, says the brave soldier and high-souled
gentleman, is that which he has persuaded her to wear for life,—Delight