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shudder. Poor Sophie, who had found a haven at last in the deep calm life of Captain King!
u Be patient, though thyne Uert should breke,
She had no more a right to the love which fear had defined to her this night with fatal precision. Ah, no danger did she apprehend of swimming against her soul in this love's renunciation! Could it be renounced? But she
could remove all its dross; she could destroy her self from out this love Thus, oh Polycrates, passed that night away.
No suspicion of the phantoms with which the soul of Deft had struggled, in the manuer that the strong fight always with the beasts, could have crossed the mind either of Earl Hunter or of Sophie the next morning. Yes; Sophie was a child, and must be comforted with every human comfort. How kindly did the voice of Deft address her! what noble grace was in the dignity with which she moved about performing her duties preparatory to accompanying Sophie and her father part way to town! Yes; Sophie was a child, and had borne sorrow enough, and she deserved her joy, because she stood so ready with her smiling gratitude to hail the rising sun. Deft was a woman, and was magnanimous, and could endure!
As they walked together toward the town, keeping to the beach, or in the narrow path that ran between the shore-rock, as pleased Sophie best, their talk was the pleasant talk of friends. The morning was lovely; many a bird answered the caroling of the child, and Deft gathered wild flowers as they went their way. Few were those blossoms—and they gave ample evidence to the sterility from whence they sprung; but the child received them as if they were red roses like those that are the glory of Damascus.
As they approached the town Deft left her companions to go on together. The child kissed her when they parted, and took Deft's promise that she would soon come down to visit her, with grateful confidence.
Deft Hunter went home. She returned to her labors there, making the house tidy, cleaning the light-house lamp, preparing to return to the pin-cushion making, broken off yesterday, as if she were the same person who went from work pleasuring at the call of Captain King. Hard labor would have suited her, but when she sat down to sew her will was not equal to that, and so she went to walk nlong the light-house path.
Just before she left the house two boatmen, her father's friends, had landed from their skiff, and now came strolling toward the house. They came by a path that left them unobserved, until they had approached too near to allow her retreat, if she had desired it.
One of these men was a gossip, whom nothing possible for him to know ever escaped. He
came to Light-house Corner to-day with a special burden; came against the wish of his companion, for he found his craft too heavy for his boat.
He seemed disappointed when he had accosted Deft, to learn, in answer to his inquiry after the old man, that Hunter had gone to town. He had learned a bit of news last night while tippling in one of the wharf grog-shops, which he desired to discuss with old Earl, and he was a little put out to find that it must be with his daughter, for the occasion was not to be lost.
Knowing what her father's first question would be when she told him of the guests who came during his absence, Deft invited them to the house to try a glass of beer; they did not wait for her to repeat the invitation.
'' Here's bad luck to the sneak that gets Earl Hunter's place," said the gossip; and he drank off his tnmbler without pausing once for breath.
"What place is that?" asked Deft, without suspicion of the answer that would follow.
"You hnven't heard they talk of rotating the light-house?"
"No. What do you mean?"
"Pooh!" said the boatman's companion; but what he meant by that the gossip could not precisely tell, and so he flashed out a little.
"Pooh yourself! Didn't they say he had held it long enough, this snug berth? It's an I older man than Earl that's going to get it, and I one that's poorer; and he's served his country j longer. No offense to Hunter—he didn't cut off j his right arm himself. There's more than one that's disabled and poor. That's what they said. You've got it cheap as I. It's seventeen years, isn't it, Deft, since your father came down here?"
"Has any body complained of him?" asked Daft, in sad bewilderment. "Yes, it's seventeen years and more."
"Complaint!" said the gossip's companion; "I'd like to see the chap complaining of Earl Hunter! Salt or fresh, I'd skin him as I would an eel!"
"Complaint!" echoed the other; for his heart was warmed by the beer, and the expression of Deft's face—he should have a pretty picture of that face to paint when ho described this scene, and he felt accordingly grateful to Deft, and had really no ill-will toward her father, being merely one of those persons who like to see things continually moving. "Complaiat!" said he; "don't we always say, there goes Deft up to hang out our beacon, when we see the light struck? And I swear I've seen you up in that ere baleony, Deft, many a night when I couldn't get another man to even say ho saw the light."
"Have yon?" said Deft. "Do you suppose that he will hear of it in town?"
"About leaving the light-house. How very strange it seems!"
"I don't suppose you ever thonght—"
"No, never. He is getting old."
"But he's got you!" suggested the younger man of the two, and this was not the gossip. He was thinking now of quite another matter.
"Yes, so he has, "replied Deft, looking at the speaker, manifestly thankful for this timely suggestion. Yet all the consolations that belonged to this great fact did not speedily make themselves evident to her.
"See, Captain King's a good deal about here, off and on, ain't he? Did he ever tell you about that girl that danced to the theatre two nights?" said the gossip, who was now through with Earl's business.
"Three," put in his companion.
"Two. I saw her both—"
"I saw her three."
"No matter. She was n stunner. Where does the Captain keep her? They say he bought her of the theatre man, and won't let her dance any more. I've kep a sharp look-out, for one. I'd know her in Indy. Did you ever sec her, Deft? King turns every thing to gold he touches. / think he's sent her off to dance in the big houses, where she'd bring more pay. That is my opinion."
"Did you ever see her dance, though?" inquired the younger man of Deft.
"No, I never heard of her."
"Why, I thought Captain King—he raved, they said—"
"I never heard him," answered Deft. But she asked no questions of the men. And now, having finished the jug of beer, they said thay must be off. She walked with them to the beach, and told them, as they shoved the boat from the hospitable shore, that even if her father lost the place they must not forget to come again, in remembrance of these seventeen years. So they rowed away to praise the stout heart that was breaking—to repeat what she had said— that long as she lived her father should have his light-house.
When the sun went down Daft lighted the lamp in the tower, that mariners and boatmen might hail the shore in safety. But if failure in that duty had promised the shipwreck of tho world, I wonder if she would have lighted the lamp for your sake, happy reader? She stood in the door-way and watched the twilight as it advanced with steady pace toward night, who should absorb it. Her thoughts were rigid. She could do nothing with them. Was nothing to be done? Nothing. She knew of no ono to whom she could apply in her father's behalf but Captain King. If what these men said was true he could do nothing.
But if he conld do any thing shonld he have the privilege? Better wander with her old father over tho wide earth, seeking for their graves, than look now to him for help. For Captain King was suddenly disgraced, degraded, in her eyes. She had no tender thoughts to bestow upon her sorrow. The charm of the home was rudely torn away. Her faith in him gone, there was nothing else that she could mourn.
But when Deft Hunter saw her father return
ing home in the twilight, the rigid, dreadful thoughts relaxed—wrath and defiance went clean out of her mind. Old and maimed, bound to this nook by tho love of many years, that he should be sent forth houseless, and she liable to death or disaster! She went creeping down the narrow tower stairs to meet him—trembling, fearful, but tearless.
She looked at him as she had never looked before, her eyes searehing his face to discover if he knew his evil fortune. When she saw that he was happy she herself took heart, and spoke in a tongue just now unknown to her.
Earl Hunter, for his part, was so intent on the pleasant surprise intended for his daughter, that he did not observe the paleness of her face, nor that all the accustomed elasticity of her step was gone. By his side she walked more heavily, more wearily than he.
"You are late, father," she said, as they went home.
"Yes,"he answered; "I—I've been visiting. Up four pair of stairs—a nice little spot too." This speech was eager as a child's.
"What's that?" asked Deft, softly.
"Sophie, you know," replied the old man, looking at his daughter sideways, with a knowing smile.
"What of Sophie?" asked Deft, and she tried not to speak, tried not to look, her inmost thought.
"Yes, I met her in the street, and she carried me off with a beck; for she said she had something for you, and here it is."
He gave his basket to Deft. A little white paper pareel lay in the corner, but Deft was in no haste to open it. Her father looked much more impatience and interest—his face, indeed, was a curious representation of delight.
"Open it, Deft," said he. So she took out tho package and opened it—beautiful flowers again.
"Captain King sent 'em to her, and she was up to dividing. You must go and see her room. She wants you to come."
"Yes," Deft commented, kindly. But she had laid the flowers back in the basket. She did not care to hold them in her hand. She hardly looked at them. Their purity, their sweetness, was not dear to her.
Old Hunter could talk of nothing else but of Sophie, and her singing, and her little room, until he fell asleep. She had played for him, and sung for him, and when he set wit to come home she walked with him through the street till he came to the road from which he struck into the path that led to the light-house.
As he had talked Deft's hard thoughts became pitiful. Tho flowers seemed to plead for that poor girl of whom her father spoke so softly. She must visit her. She must—a vague plan for the girl's salvation, or deliverance, or justification, moved her to much thinking. Very grave and calm she became, trying to shape her thought.
For a time, while she sat in silence by the fire and her father slept his evening sleep, she quite forgot about the light-house business. But a glance at his wrinkled forehead, at his white hair, at the smile shining as a ray of sunlight over him—this glance conquered her to the overthrow of her composure. Peaceful slumber! she almost wished that he might never wake from it.
She promised her father that she would go with him to town next day. For he would have her make her vague promise that she would some day visit Sophie definite and immediate as to time. It was his pleasure that was to be cousulted; besides, Deft had determined to see Captain King, even for Sophie's sake. The next moming, therefore, saw Earl Hunter and his daughter and Messmate on their way to town.
Earl went at once to market that he might secure the finest fruit. Deft left him at Sophie's door. But she only waited there upon the second landing until her father should have time to pass on beyond sight, when she descended the stairs again, hurried to the wharf, and sought for Captain King. She went straight to his warehouse on this seareh, but the Captain was not to be found that day; he had left town yesterday, one of his men told her, but when he would return was quite uncertain. In a week perhaps. ,
Deft Hunter may have felt some slight relief in hearing this. There was no other man to whom she could apply in her father's behalf; and when she left the wharf it was with a recognition of the fact that during the conversation she proposed she might have told him all. There was now no danger—no opportunity of resort to him—no blame for neglecting to seek his interference. She returned to the street and the high brick building in whose fourth story attic was Sophie's abode. She ascended the flights of stairs without pause at either landing: she looked neither to left nor right—she was thinking of but one door, one face. At that door she knocked, but neither face nor voice replied. Again, again. Then she tried the door; it opened, and she stood in the chamber her father had described. It had a cheerless look to the eyes of Deft Hunter, in spite of carpet on the floor, books on the table, and a glass of flowers. Sophie was not there.
Deft crossed the room; she looked again around her, looked from the tiny window which the sunlight never entered. She sat down as if to wait. She rose up again. She recognized those books. The name of Captain King was written in each. She had held them in her hands before now. Each one was a favorite with him. Well, why should she wait here?
So Deft went away.
Nearly a week passed on, and nothing more was seen or heard of Sophie or the Captain; and the dreadful secret of the light-house business was with Deft a secret still, and a torment and a terror, or she had not kept the secret.
Was the girl's heart frozen that its surging was so noiseless?
One day, as once before, Earl Hunter, preceded by Messmate, went to call Deft out to an afternoon's sail. The Captain and Sophie were waiting in the sail-boat, the old man said, and having delivered King's message he went back to the beach as fast as his feet could carry him. Deft offered no opposition to her father or herself. She must make one of this party of pleasure; if there existed no necessity except in her own mind, it there existed. And so she followed her father once more to the boat. Sophie had brought no basket of flowers with her today; no guitar lay wrapped in shawl or dress in the bottom of the boat; no wreath of myrtle was wound around the crown of her straw-hat; no gay scarf on her shoulders; she wore a shawl that would protect her, and a dress that any where, under ordinary circumstances, would have escaped observation. But her spirits had not undergone like modification; they were greatly gayer than before, and she welcomed Deft's appearing with a smile of perfect joyfulness, both hands stretched out toward her as Deft stepped into the boat, and it was for her father's sake, and for woman's sake, that Deft bent down and kissed Sophie, while the Captain rowed them from the shore. Ah, Polycrates, what didst thou know of sacrifice?
Deft might control her heart and tongue, but she could not at will rebuke the paleness of her face, that it should leave her when Sophie or the Captain questioned her, would know what had happened—if she had been ill? Neither could she, because it was her pleasure, persuade those anxious questioners that nothing had happened—that she never was stronger in her life. Neither did her offer to prove said strength by taking the oars and managing the boat prove any thing to cither mind.
They did not go to the fort this afternoon, nor stop at any point until about suuset, when the Captain brought the boat down to a remote pier of the town and announced to Deft that he should not take her home till evening. They would return by moonlight, he had told her father; there was something going on in town which he wished her to witness; but, in the first place, they must get rid of Sophie. Deft let him have his way. Still the Captain seemed in no great haste to rid himself or Deft of Sophie; he took the girls to sec a famous picture then on exhibition, after that they went into a restaurant and he ordered supper, to which he alone did any justice, for since they came to shore the girls were very quiet; and one of them, the strongest and the bravest, was, moment by moment, giving way to the sad fear that oppressed her, and the conviction of the hard task she must perform ere that evening should come to an end.
Leaving the restaurant the Captain, with Deft on his left arm, and Sophie on his right, led the way down the street, and halted at the door of the house where Sophie lodged. There he seemed to hesitate as to the further conduct of his plans, and having hesitated one moment other moments of doubt followed till Sophie, who guessed what was passing in his mind, whispered something in his ear, whereat he rallied, and said, aloud,
"So, so, Deft, you and I will go to the theatre and let this madeap look after herself. She says she will join us in time. But that's her look-out, if she won't go now."
Sophie ran up the stairs before the words were fairly out of his mouth; and Captain King wheeled about in an instant with Deft on his arm, and so they walked together in silence to the theatre.
It was not till they had taken their scats in the pit, already full of people, that the Captain spoke to Deft. But when she had recovered from the agitation of finding herself in the midst of such a glare of light, and such a buzz of talking, and Captain King had twice called her by name, endeavoring to obtain her attention, she hearing him each time, and pretending that she did not, all to gain possession of herself, which it seemed to her in this age of five minutes in which they had been alone together in the street and in the theatre, as if she never should do again, she turned her face toward him, and asked did he speak to her?
He had a folded piece of parehment in his hand when she looked, his face was full of emotion.
"Deft," said he, "you don't know how near you were to a precipice; your father came within one of losing his place. I swear I thought it was all over. But read that."
Deft Hunter took the document, but she did not open it.
"He will not lose it," she said. When she knew all, and was so cool about it, the Captain was amazed, and a little provoked.
"Here's a treat," said he. "I thought I had a surprise for you; but, by George, it's the other way!"
"I heard that an old man was trying for the sitnation," said Deft.
"What did you do about it?"
'' Did your father ?—of course he knew it too." "No."
"What! you alone? Who told yon, Deft?"
She answered him. "You kept it to yourself, then. Would not even tell me!" he exclaimed. The Captain then thought over that fact in silence. She let him make the most of it unhelped.
"I heard what some folks were up to," said he, quietly, at length; "there was only one thing to do. I did it. I went to the office of the man who managed the business; I made short work of it. I would have walked a hundred miles, and begged harder than I had to beg, but Earl Hunter should have kept his post. He will keep it till the day of his death; there it is, signed and sealed."
All this was spoken in an undertone for her
ear only. It seemed to Deft as if every car in the theatre heard—as if every eye were upon her —as if every creature saw her sorrow and her shame: she would have burst into crying had her heart been free to its own way of expression at that moment. She would have fled from the house. No, she must sit still, just there, and thank him as he did deserve. But how shall she ever say to him what duty and womanhood demand that she shall say? even to him who has saved her old father from going down in sorrow to the grave?
The stage-bell rang, the curtain was rolled up, the play began. What was it to her? She held the document which Captain King assured her secured her father's office to him while he lived; she thought of poor Sophie. She will be brave, she will be just, her duty shall be done. Yes, yes, she dares not name her name, but she will be just, trust her heart; for herself—no matter. If Sophie belongs to this man, he shall never wait till he is rich before he lets the world know that she is at least honorably his.
All at once it is to Deft as if the Captain whispered Sophie's name. Deft looked at him; he is not speaking, and manifestly has not spoken to her—is not thinking of her; his face has an expression new to her, inexplicable. Her eyes follow his as if controlled by them; there, on the stage, stands Sophie. It is she whom the audience applaud.
Deft Hunter rose up in her seat with a low cry. A voice behind her said, instantly, "Sit down!" She stood in his sight; he did not hear the cry. Obediently she sat down ; and then, of all those gestures and movements which were weaving a romance for the imaginations of the people—a romance strange as beautiful—she lost not one. But her face thus gazing was not like the face of Captain King, which was now bright as if it were illuminated.
A hundred times he glanced at Deft during this performance of ten or fifteen minutes. Once she looked at him, but their eyes did not meet.
When the excitement of this scene's representation was over, and the play went quietly on, Captain King turned to Deft Hunter. "Her fortune is made," said he.
And Deft looked at him. "For her owner, do you mean?" was on her lips, but she did not say it.
The Captain observed that look; and it was in his heart to answer, for he was angry that applause was wanting from the very lips that could have spoken the best, to his thinking. "Jealous of her!" But neither did he speak the hateful reproach.
But now came to utterance words Deft could not restrain.
"Captain King, what are you going to do with Sophie?"
"I don't know," he answered slowly, looking at the questioner amazed, and yet a smile lurked close behind the amazement.
'' Then I know," she answered. "You must marry her. They say you have bought her. You own her! Good Heavens! The rest was true—is this? Then you shall marry her, I say." In tho midst of the crowded, narrow seats, in the theatre's full glare, she spoke these words; standing on tho beach with sea before and shore around, she could not have spoken less conscious of any presence save that of Captain King. His eyes flashed while she spoke: she was braver than a lion; for an instant his face was full of passion. He trusted himself to speak, however, and his voice trembled.
"The devil you do!" he exclaimed. "Hum —she is a pretty creature. I own her, do I? Well, she don't give mo any trouble, why should I marry her? Deft, haven't I said a hundred times I wouldn't marry till I had an independence, and was able to support my wife well?"
"Yes," replied Deft, quietly; "but now you haven't a right to put it off a moment. You have no right to wait for independence. You have no right to be independent."
The Captain did not laugh, nor smile. He said, quietly, with dignity, but his anger was all gone,
"Since you say that, Deft, I won't put it off. I'll be married to-night. I thank you for your advice. Here, give me the document. It is mine. My wife shall carry it home to your father."
"Very well," said Deft, "she has a right. Thank you, Captain King. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Sir!"
There she sat beside him, tranquil, still as a statue—she had said all, and all was over. Duty, womanhood! she had flung love overboard; no danger of the fate of Polyerates. Self never would inform her human love again.
Just after she had thus answered the Captain the curtain was rolled up again, and Sophie appeared once more before the audience. Oh how they cheered her, because she came to show them beauty as she had found it! How they thanked her for that loyal service she was rendering, by all that was within and of her, to the truth as she pereeived it! There was in this scene another person on the stage with her—a young man—and they danced together.
"Deft," said the Captain, "I may as well own up. It's all over."
"What?" she asked, as one might speak who is aroused from the unconsciousness into which he has been thrown by torture.
"I can't marry that girl. I can't marry Sophie."
"You can not, Captain King?" How gravely she spoke; there was at least no evidence of torture.
"She's married already."
'' You are married to her. God—" But no, Deft did not speak that blessing, if it was blessing she had tried to pronounce.
"Not II" said the Captain. "Don't yon see, you blind girl, she's married to the stage, and nothing but death will them part, or I lose my , guess. I mean thatl"
"Ask her first," said Deft. "You must ask her, Captain King."
"Do you see that fellow dancing with her, Deft Hunter?"
"Of course I see him, Captain King."
"Deft, I'm getting angry. I don't understand you; by thunder you're an eclipse. That boy is her brother, or just as good and better! You don't understand relationships. I found him at last. They had lost each other, somehow. It was port of my business to find him when I went to look after the old man's lighthouse. Don't speak to me. Oh, you begin to see! . They are going to play here, those two, for a month yet, maybe six months. I should think so, to look at this audience. Don't you see that if I marry that girl I must go on to the stage. I'd make a pretty dancer! wouldn't they applaud me! But for all that, I'm ready to be married to-night, and you're the woman to hold me to my word, if that's your game, Deft. And my wife shall carry the old man his commission. Oh, you girl! You are Deft Hunter, are you! Doubting me! But if you doubted me you did stand your ground for Sophie. Deft! I'm rich to my mind if you'll say it. Rich enough this minute. Don't girl; bear up, bear up 1 Hang your fine houses! where's a better than the old stone hut? See! overboard goes the ring! Tho fish don't swim that can catch it and be caught."
As one helpless, powerless, is borne through the ficree water that shines so bright, and looks so pure, by the strong arm of the swimmer, whom ocean can not master, to the calm, bright shore, so Deft Hunter, silent, voiceless, helpless, when there was only herself to help, let the Captain save her.
THE BAKERTOWN MILITIA.
THE townships of New England are mostly divided into parishes or ecclesiastical societies, which are subdivided into school-districts, not numbered according to age, like the Congregational Churehes, but named from cireumstances conuected with the history of each particular section. Any native of this region will readily recall to mind some ludicrous names familiar from childhood, and if questioned, would doubtless be able to tell their histories. We had in our small parish a Bakertown district, a Palmertown district, a Brunswick, Puddinghill, and Pinch-gut—which last always obtained a small sharo of the "means of grace" from the manifest aversion of ministers to making the appointments.
The origin of all these names I knew well when a child, and, harsh and vulgar as they may seem, should object much to their losing character by being exchanged for a nomenclature more euphonious and elegant. These districts are all picturesquely rugged, like the character of the English Puritan Carvers and Fullers and Rob; insons, or of the French Huguenot Waldos, DeI votions, and Luces, whose pilgrim feet found i their way, some time toward the close of the scr