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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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The ear inclined to every voice of grief,
The hand that oped spontaneous to relief,
The heart, whose impulse stay'd not for the mind
To freeze to doubt what charity enjoin'd,
But sprang to man's warm instinct for mankind.
New Timon.

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Have you seen her, Uncle Bayard? tell me, have you?”
eagerly exclaimed the animated sixteen-year-old girl, who was
seated in the carriage of the member of Congress on the day
when Mrs. Ridgway proclaimed the expected arrival of her
guests. This earnest remark was addressed to a tall young
man, with a broad forehead, and singularly frank and noble
countenance, whom the little fairy had joined, on the evening
of the party at Mrs. Bloodgood's house, and playfully caught
by the arm while she put the important question.

“Seen who?” asked the gentleman, with a smile which betrayed
that he knew very well whom she meant. “Seen
who?” repeated the girl with a mocking air. “Oh, now, Uncle
Bayard, you needn't pretend; I saw you watching her for as
much as five minutes; so tell me, what do you think of her?”

What ought I to think of her? come, teach me my lesson
again, puss,” said the young man, evading a direct reply.

“Ah! you needn't ask me, said the pretty little miss, looking
archly up into his face. “You have been studying at the
fountain head; I saw you in the looking-glass, and you never
took your eyes off her for five,—yes, for ten minutes.”

“And what was the result? Did you see my thoughts reflected
in the mirror too?”

“Yes,—pretty clearly; you thought her the most beautiful,
elegant, magnificent creature that ever you beheld in your

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life;—if you didn't, I'll never forgive you. Now tell me,”
continued she coaxingly. “isn't she splendid?”

“Yes, Bessie, and so is an iceberg.”

“Oh, what a cruel, wicked, unjust comparison!” exclaimed
the enthusiastic Bessie, resentfully flinging away the hand
which in her earnestness she had a moment before affectionately
clasped. “You would not say so if you knew her. She
is as pleasant and charming as she is beautiful.”

“I wouldn't know her on any account,” persisted the provoking

“Now why not?” challenged Bessie, throwing back her
head with a defiant air.

“I should be afraid of a chill,” and he feigned a slight shudder,
as if he suddenly felt a current of cold air.

“It is enough to give one a chill to hear you talk,” retorted
beauty's champion, with spirit. “You don't deserve to get acquainted
with her, and I almost hope you won't have a chance.
I won't introduce you.”

“A charitable resolution,” responded her youthful uncle.
I cannot conceive of a greater danger than being brought into
collision with that brilliant”—

“Stop! stop! don't you speak that word again,” cried Bessie,
trying to reach his lips with her little hand.

The tall young man threw back his head, to escape this check
upon his freedom of speech, and laughingly continued—“I am
ready to admire her to your heart's content, Bessie,—only at a
distance, mind.”

“Fie, uncle, what a coward!”

“True enough, little Bess, I plead guilty to the charge,”
said Bayard, assuming a more serious tone than that in which
the dialogue had hitherto been conducted. “A man living as
I do, where life is plain, simple, and robbed of all conventionalities,
learns to love, esteem, and reverence, to the last degree,
a warm-hearted, true, devoted woman, one who can quite forget
herself in the glow of her zeal for another, as a little friend of
mine has done to-night;—but, Bessie, if I read her face

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aright, this Miss Vaughan of yours is cold, proud, and self-confident.
I confess I am afraid of such a woman.”

“O uncle! her smile is bewitching and her manners are full
of warmth,” exclaimed Bessie.

“But the smile seems to come by rule, and her manners are
too studied to be attractive. All the graces in the world will
not compensate for the want of natural cheerfulness and simple”—
He here checked himself abruptly, as Bessie put up
her finger in a warning manner. This time she was evidently
in earnest, and a slight rustling movement in the immediate
vicinity of the speaker likewise recommended a caution, which
had, however, come too late to save the embarrassment which

The conversation had taken place in Mrs. Bloodgood's library,
which chanced to be vacated at the moment by the crowd
of visitors which thronged the hall and parlors, and the parties
engaged in it had been quite oblivious of the fact, that, standing
as they did close to the open folding-doors which led thence
into one of the drawing-rooms, every word of their animated
dispute could be distinctly heard by any person standing on the
other side of the partition. Weary with the unsuccessful effort
to rally her wounded and agitated spirits, Mabel had a moment
before sought refuge in a recess formed by a projecting mantel
piece and the partition wall of the library, and, while ostensibly
endeavoring to make the acquaintance of a child permitted to
sit up beyond its usual bed-time, she was striving to collect
and refresh her scattered senses, and already exhausted powers.
It may well be believed that she was but little aided in the
effort by the above dialogue, every word of which reached her
ears, though until her name was spoken at its close, she had no
suspicion to whom it referred. Like a hunted deer, which in
seeking a place of rest only finds itself the subject of new and
painful embarassments, she started, and without looking in the
direction of the voices, crossed with a quick step to the other
extremity of the well-filled room, thus putting a little throng
of people between herself and the unwary speakers. She had
recognized Bessie's lively tones, but those of her uncle were

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unfamiliar; and having gained the shelter of the crowd, the
impulse was irresistible to look back and discover who it might
be who had judged her with so much severity. She had crossed
the room in such a direction that she would have been enabled
to do this, had Bayard retained his former position, but a like
impulse had led him to step within the archway of the folding-doors;
and as she timidly lifted her face, suffused as it was with
a deep and burning blush, she met the clear, blue, honest eye
of the young man fixed full upon her, and her own dropped
again instinctively, while her agitation visibly increased as she
thus encountered his gaze and felt that her quick movement
was understood and appreciated.

Had his good heart experienced anything but pain and regret
at his censorious words having been thus overheard, the
latter emotions would have been at once excited by the patient,
deprecating, reproachful glance of the misjudged and sensitive
girl. There was no proud contempt, no haughty defiance in
the gentle drooping of the head, the painful blush which overspread
her cheeks and brow on thus hearing herself condemned
for emotions the very reverse of those by which she was in
reality actuated; there was no shade of anger in the countenance
which expressed hurt and wounded, but not bitter or
resentful, feelings.

“O Uncle Bayard,” exclaimed Bessie, as soon as she could
recover from her consternation, “she has heard every word!”

“She must have,” said Bayard, in a tone which indicated his

The good-natured Bessie forbore to reproach him, though
feeling scarcely less grieved than Mabel herself. She experienced
a partial triumph, however, when the young man, after
following with his eyes the object of his remarks, and watching
the quick blood mount to her temples, turned to his little niece
and said, “Bessie, she has convinced me, where you have failed.
I yield the point, and stand convicted; she is not an iceberg.”

It was the concession of a candid, truth-loving mind, but
Mabel, unfortunately, could not have the benefit of it, and
was left, as many have been under like circumstances, to the

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stinging consciousness that a burdened, humiliated, anxious
heart, while seeking to hide its oppressive secrets from the unsympathizing
eye of the world, too frequently lays itself open
to misconstruction and undeserved reproach. But it was some
consolation to believe, that, except in one unguarded moment,
she had successfully feigned a composure which she did not
feel, and this thought once more restoring her to apparent calmness,
she continued to measure out her words and smiles, which
Bayard, with no little discrimination, had discovered to be
artificial and forced. It was a relief, however, when music
was proposed, and all save the performers were permitted to
relapse into silence.

There were several fine voices among the company, and
some popular glees being called for, Mabel readily consented
to preside at the piano, and furnish the accompaniment, a difficult
accomplishment for one who does not take part in the singing;
but, although diffident in respect to her vocal powers, she
had an exquisite ear for music, and this had always at school
been her disinterested province.

Satisfied with an office which, to one so familiar with it,
involved little more than a mechanical effort, and soothed and
cheered by the sound of Harry's fine bass voice, which she
rejoiced to hear, lending depth to the song, she played a long
time without consciousness of fatigue, and finally received, with
much of her natural sweetness and grace, the thanks of the
group who were assembled around the piano. She still occupied
the music-stool, and was engaged in conversation with the
senior Mr. Bloodgood, who stood beside her, when she suddenly
became conscious that some one was waiting to take her
place at the instrument, and looking quickly up, she recognized
the individual, who, a little while ago, had made her the subject
of his criticism.

Perhaps, as she promptly vacated the place and withdrew
outside the circle, he was reminded of the dread he had expressed
of her vicinity. If so, however, it must have been his
conscience rather than her manner which so reminded him, for
she returned his gentlemanly acknowledgement of her rising

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with a graceful courtesy, and there was nothing marked or rude
in her quietly retreating to a distance.

As the instrument was so situated that the performer faced
the company, and she dreaded the embarrassment of again
meeting his eye, she purposely strolled through the back parlor
into the library, leaning on the arm of her obliging host, who
was soon after summoned away by a servant. Thus left alone
among strangers, she could not resist listening with pleasure to
the slow, impressive, and beautiful symphony which proceeded
from the piano, and was inwardly commenting on the taste and
skill of the performer, when he suddenly commenced singing;
and, as a lull among the company immediately succeeded, the
rich, mellow notes of his voice fell upon her ear, the effect
seemingly unmarred by distance.

Never before had Mabel heard such music. It was true her
enjoyment of the art had been limited, but a far wider experience
might well have failed to awaken such impressions as
those which were inspired by the strains of this gifted singer.
His voice, of great natural breadth and sweetness, possessed,
also, the advantage of the highest cultivation, and these qualities
were enhanced and their effect heightened in no slight
degree by the purity of his enunciation and the expressive
power and pathos which he imparted to the words. It was
eloquence married unto harmony. He now sang, by request,
a glorious air from Rossini's “Stabat Mater,” and the effect of
the sublime music was evident in the hush which prevailed
throughout the rooms, and the strained and eager attention of
those even who were not ordinarily susceptible to emotion from
a similar source. Though the clear, full notes penetrated
through all the lower apartments of the house, Mabel found
herself instinctively drawn in the direction whence they proceeded,
as if to make sure that they did not have their source
in some illusion of the senses, and, half forgetting, wholly disregarding
her previous desire to avoid the presence of the young
stranger, she noiselessly but unhesitatingly glided through the
hall and stationed herself among a little throng of listeners, in
the doorway opposite the piano. She had not dared to scan

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his face attentively before; now she could not resist doing so,
nor could she fail to acknowledge that it was a countenance
worthy of the inspired song,—a countenance in which gentleness
and force were most harmoniously blended. He might
have been five and twenty years of age, though the freshness
and fairness of his complexion gave him a more youthful appearance.
He wore no beard, and his light, wavy hair was
tossed back in some careless fashion, revealing a finely developed
and intellectual brow; his full, blue eye was calm, clear,
and truthful, and all his features were indicative of resolution
and energy. His unusual heighth and breadth of figure, his
well expanded chest, and firm, erect position, were all significant,
moreover, of physical power and endurance; in short, his
whole appearance might be pronounced typical of those ancient
northern races, noted both for beauty and hardihood. In proof
of this, Mabel was forcibly reminded by his striking exterior,
of a picture she had once seen representing some youthful
Norsemen of the times of Hengist and Horsa, to one figure in
which group she detected in him a marked resemblance.

It added not a little to the effect produced by his music that
he sang with no apparent effort, and seemed quite unconscious
of the impression produced upon his audience, while the half
smile upon his face indicated the joyousness with which he thus
gave vent, as it were, to the natural emotions of his soul; and
when he at length finished and rose from his seat amid the
breathless silence of the assembly, there was not the slightest
evidence of triumph in his manner; but receiving without affectation
the plaudits of those in his neighborhood, and declining
to reseat himself at the instrument, he entered, with respectful
earnestness, into conversation with Mrs. Bloodgood's father.
The latter, an extremely elderly gentleman, appeared to be
questioning him with interest, and listening with attention to
his animated replies; while the youngest child of the household,
who had leaned against him, looking up in his face while he
sang, continued in the same trusting attitude, and suffered him
to toss her silken curls with his hand; his relation to both being
significant of his rare and beautiful character; for noble

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firmness of heart and will was in him so united with gentle and
cheerful benignity, that he was one whom old men might reverence,
and little children love.

Though Mabel might be excused for terming the neighborhood
of L. a country district, in comparison with New York,
Mrs. Ridgway was right in asserting that no one could entertain
company more elegantly than their Member of Congress;
and she might also have added, with truth, that no city could
furnish a choicer collection of guests than would be sure to
assemble at his house. All the most cultivated families for
ten miles around were represented, men of political note were
present from a still greater distance, and pretty girls and gay
young collegians made the time pass merrily; while no pains
were spared on the part of the host to render the occasion a
memorable one. The beautifully decorated supper-room had
been thrown open from the commencement of the evening;
and from the moment supper was announced until the company
left the house, it was more or less frequented. During the latter
portion of the time, however, it was almost exclusively
occupied by gentlemen, who, after devoting themselves assiduously
to the ladies in the first instance, returned thither to partake
of the second course of hot oysters, and drink each other's
health with more freedom than they had ventured upon in the
presence of their mothers, daughters, and wives. It was with
trembling heart that, towards the close of the evening, Mabel
lingered near the door of this room, vainly hoping to attract
Harry's attention and, under the plea of a long drive, persuade
him to return home. He stood directly opposite to her, but the
supper-table was between them, and in the increasing hilarity
which prevailed she found it impossible to catch his eye, while
every moment of delay rendered it more doubtful whether he
would regard a sister's summons. Several of her acquaintances
passed and re-passed, and more than one invited her to
return to the drawing-room; but she persisted in declining,
remarking that she found it cooler in the hall. Now and then
a loud peal of laughter rang through her ears like a sudden
pain, while the rapid uncorking of fresh bottles of wine caused

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a nervous shudder to agitate her whole frame. In the midst
of a circle of thoughtless young men stood Harry,—no, not
Harry,—but the strange, unnatural being that Harry became,
when no longer master of himself. The light joke was passing
from lip to lip, and each had his foaming glass raised awaiting
the coming toast, when Bayard, approaching with a quick step
from the drawing-room, passed Mabel without observing her,
and stepping to the table took from it a tumbler and a pitcher,
which proved to be empty.

“Ah, Lewis!” exclaimed he, to a man-servant who stood
near, and whom he evidently knew, “there is no water here;
I want a glass of water for Miss Bessie.”

The servant took the pitcher to replenish it, and, during the
instant of delay which ensued, the young man stood gazing at
the convivial group opposite to him, with a serious, contemplative
face, which had in it, however, less of contempt than
anxiety and commiseration. As the servant presently handed
him the glass of water and he started to leave the room, he
was followed by two or three of the noisiest of the youths, who,
passing through the door-way at the same moment as himself,
were heard to say to one another, “Fred has bet with that young
New York chap, as to which will drink the most champagne,
and Bloodgood is to stand umpire. Fred has beat already;
New York is making a fool of himself. I am going to hand
my mother into her carriage and then come back and see the
sport.” At the same moment the voice of Harry within the
room boisterously exclaimed,—“Look here, waiter! bring on
some more wine.”

In the hurry and excitement of their movements, one of the
reckless youths who passed through the door at the same moment
with Bayard, roughly jostled the arm of the latter, causing
a large proportion of the water which he carried to be suddenly
spilled on the dress and arm of Mabel, who stood, as we have
said, just within the hall. He turned quickly to apologize for
the accident; but the words died on his lips as he recognized
her and observed the expression of her countenance, realizing
as he did, at the same moment, the painfulness of her situation.

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Her face was deathly pale, her colorless lips were tightly compressed,
and her hand nervously clasped the railing of a hattree
which was within her reach; while the intense suffering
which was written on her features, the earnest, pleading, and
half-bewildered look with which she met the eye, now fixed
upon her, were such as to excite the tenderest compassion in
her behalf.

Unconscious as was this silent appeal on the part of the unhappy
girl, Bayard was not the man to be insensible to it, and
though she could not have explained the reason, she took
encouragement from his answering glance, although he passed
on without a word, without even an apology for spattering her
hand and arm with cold water; a circumstance for which she
could almost have thanked him, since she felt as if it had saved
her from fainting.

A moment after, and the brave youth, who feared neither
censure nor ridicule in the cause of truth and humanity, had
passed through the parlor, disposed of his glass of water, and
returning through a side entrance, stood beside his friend
Bloodgood, in the spacious china closet, adjoining the supper-room,
where the latter had been superintending the unpacking
of a new supply of wine, and now held a bottle which he was
preparing to uncork.

“Charlie!” exclaimed he, laying his hand on the shoulder
of his friend.

Young Bloodgood turned, colored, and became confused, as
he met the calm, reproachful eye of Bayard, and answered
with some embarrassment.

“Ah! Bayard,—you here? You'll find a glass”—

“No, no, Charlie,” continued Bayard, “you know that is not
what I am here for.” “Come, added he, coaxingly, “you have
proved your hospitality enough to-night; let Lewis keep this out
of sight; it is the greatest kindness you can do those fellows.”

“Poh, nonsense! Bayard,” replied the other; “we are
bound to entertain our guests”—

“But not to shame and ruin them. This plot to disgrace a
stranger here to-night is scandalous and ought not to go on.”

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“It's a plot of his own contriving,” answered Bloodgood,
laughing. “If a man will make a buffoon of himself, he is the
best judge of his own conduct and the only sufferer by it.”

“Oh, no, Charlie, you are mistaken,” responded Bayard,
earnestly. “The greatest sufferer is that noble looking, beautiful,
unhappy girl, who stands in the doorway with a heart
bleeding for her poor brother. I will not see her proud head
brought low by his glaring folly and misconduct; I will not
look on and not lend a word and a hand to save her from mortification
and him from scorn.”

A shout of merriment from the next room, and an impatient
cry of “What has become of Bloodgood,” now caused the
well-intentioned, but somewhat irresolute youth to endeavor to
parry his friend's arguments, and break away from him altogether,
with the lightly-uttered words, “Ah, ha, Bayard! the
girl has made a conquest of you, I see, and expects you to run
a tilt on her light-headed brother's account; but you cannot
expect to make such a Don Quixote of me—a man is not
responsible for his guests.”

“Bloodgood,” exclaimed Bayard, in a tone which had
changed from simple earnestness to that of a just and
righteous indignation,—“I think a man is, to a great degree,
responsible for his guests, and to them. It is folly for
you to talk of any personal interest I can feel in either Miss
Vaughan or her brother; I, who have never spoken a word
to either, and to-morrow leave this part of the country for as
many years, perhaps, as have passed since I was last an
inmate of your father's house. But one is a woman, and as
such has a claim on your tenderness, and the other is a fellow-man,
and is thus entitled to your sympathy. Charlie,” added
he, in a tone at once affectionate and firm, “we have known
each other from boys, have passed our college life and vacations
in each other's company, and I have hoped most earnestly
to welcome you one day to my distant home; but you
and I cannot clasp hands in friendship to-night, or meet as
friends in years to come, if you compel me to believe that

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you can be indifferent to a fellow being's reputation and his
sister's peace.”

The young man thus addressed hung down his head for a
moment, fumbled with the cork-screw, which he held in his
hand, then threw it on the closet shelf, and, with a candor
which did him infinite credit, caught the hand of Bayard and
shook it with hearty warmth, exclaiming, “Bayard, I cannot
afford to lose your friendship; it has been the greatest blessing
of my life; this is not the first time you have saved me
from folly, if from nothing worse,” and energetically kicking
the champagne basket underneath the shelf, he locked his arm
in that of his friend, and they entered the supper-room together,
when Charlie, following Bayard's example, employed
himself with ready tact in dispersing the group awaiting him
around the supper-table.

“No, no, Fred,” said he, shaking his head emphatically,
“Vaughan has drank enough,—it is too bad. Boone, I believe
your sisters are wishing to say good-night to my mother.
Lander, will you come into the library and see the picture I
have had taken of my dog?”

Bayard, in the meantime, after intimating to such as would
be likely to heed the suggestion, that the young ladies in the
drawing-room were wondering what had become of the gentlemen,
obtained through Bloodgood an introduction to Harry,
and gradually contriving to withdraw him from his now scattering
circle of associates, led the way to a little room where
coffee was served. As the maniac, or the wild beast, may
frequently be calmed and subdued by the power of a fixed eye
and a resolute will, so the unfortunate young man, dispossessed
at once of reason and self-government, yielded himself, without
resistance, to the guidance and control of one who, by a
union of persuasion, tact, and unyielding purpose, contrived to
gain an immediate and complete mastery over his bewildered
and excited mind. With wandering eye and unsteady hand
he lifted to his lips the cup of coffee, which Bayard hoped
might in some degree serve as a restorative; and then, with a
strange mingling of submission and free-will, suffered the latter

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to lock his arm within his, and conduct him through a low,
open casement, leading to the piazza which ran around the
house. Once only, as they left the lighted room behind them,
and stepped out into the cool night-air, Harry manifested some
slight uneasiness, and a disposition to break away from his new
acquaintance; but either the animated conversation, the firm
grasp, or the determined eye of Bayard, restrained him from
this purpose; for it was abandoned as suddenly as formed, and
he made no further opposition to the effectual ascendancy of
superior physical and mental force.

From the moment when Bayard thus came to the rescue,
until that when he left the house with his self-assumed charge,
he was followed by the anxious gaze of the agitated and
trembling Mabel. She watched his face, his motions, understood
his generous intentions at a glance, read the secret of
his power, witnessed his success, and at length, with a heart
relieved from an inexpressible weight, comforted herself with
the assurance, that come what might, both she and her brother
were under safe and certain guardianship.

It was comparatively easy now to rally her self-possession,
to converse with the friends, who almost at the same moment
claimed her attention, to accompany them to the drawing-room,
and once more resume her part in that social scene,
which to all but her seemed replete with gaiety and pleasure.
From the window near which she stood she could distinguish
two tall figures walking slowly up and down at a distance
beneath the trees. As if they had been the sentinels stationed
without some post of danger, she felt herself animated with
new confidence and hope, as at regular intervals they passed
and repassed within her sight. So long as they continued
thus to pace the grounds, Harry was saved from further exposure,
and herself from embarrassment and shame. This
knowledge afforded security for the present moment, and
beyond that she dared not think.

It was growing late, however. Some persons who lived at
a distance had left already, and there was a murmur among the
company, such as usually precedes departure. The figures of

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the young men were no longer discernible in the dim moon-light,
and Mabel began once more to experience a painful
uncertainty and dread, which reached its height, when, on
looking up, she saw Bayard standing just within the room,
unaccompanied by Harry, and apparently looking about him
in search of some one. Suddenly he caught her eye, and
instantly crossing the room, approached, and spoke in a voice
inaudible to any one but herself.

“Miss Vaughan,” said he, as if certain of being understood,
“your brother is engaged in giving some orders about his
horse; if you will allow me the honor, I shall be happy to
accompany you to our hostess, and afterwards see you to your

Unhesitatingly, and without a word, she took his offered
arm; in some mechanical manner, she scarcely knew how, said
farewell to Mrs. Bloodgood, and with a hurried step ran up
stairs for her cloak. He awaited her in the hall on her return,
but so hasty had been her preparations for the drive,
that when they reached the door-step the carriage was not
brought up. By this time she shook and trembled violently;
the night air was damp and chilly, and Bayard, perceiving
her agitation to be such that she could scarcely stand, proposed
her re-entering the house for a few moments.

She shook her head to express her unwillingness to return,
but did not speak; and he, seeing that she trembled more and
more, unfolded a heavy shawl which she had brought down
stairs over her arm, and wrapped it around her. As he did
so, one or two hot tears fell upon his hand, while a shiver ran
through her whole frame, which was not the effect of cold.
Unwilling to leave her, and yet anxious concerning Harry,
fearful, too, that others of the company would pour out upon
the door-steps, he begged her to take his arm again, and proposed
that they should walk a short distance in the direction
of the stable, to learn the cause of the delay.

With the simple confidence of a child she did as he requested,
and just at the rear of the house they encountered Harry, who,
engaged in an idle dispute with a groom on the subject of his

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mare's harness, seemed quite unconscious that his sister was
awaiting his movements. Mad Sallie, meanwhile, irritated and
unmanageable beyond her wont, was starting from side to side
and now and then plunging furiously forward.

Bayard's presence and prompt interference soon restored
harmony, however. Both Harry and the groom were ready
to submit their difference to him, and even Mad Sallie was
soothed into quietness by his voice and hand, as he spoke
gently to her and stroked her mane while he critically examined
every point of the harness. “Do not be afraid,” said he in a
low voice as he handed Mabel into the light vehicle; “I am
confident you will reach town in safety.” He drew back as he
ceased speaking, for Harry, who was already seated in the
carriage, had taken up the reins and now incautiously snapped
his whip. Mad Sallie started, reared, plunged forward, then
backed for a pace or two, and finally dashed off at full speed.
The groom held up his lantern once more to see that all was
right, and as the carriage swept rapidly round the corner of
the house, the glare fell full on the face of Mabel, who had
lifted her hitherto bowed head, and turned to bestow a parting
glance on her own and her brother's benefactor.

How much of grief and how much of gratitude may be
revealed in a single look! Had Bayard's humane and generous
deed involved a tenfold effort, and demanded a tenfold
sacrifice, his noble heart would have asked no higher reward
than the glow of deep, fervent, and grateful feeling which
flashed out from that pale, tearful, sorrow-struck face, turned
towards him for an instant, and then borne away into the

“Only by bearing each other's burdens can we read the
secrets of each other's hearts,” thought he, as he stood listening
until the carriage had passed in safety through the gateway at
the end of the avenue. “How strangely did I misjudge and
wrong that suffering girl.”

His mental recantation was interrupted by the blunt voice of
the Irish groom. “Go it, yer young rascal;” exclaimed the man,
“and the blessed angel beside ye be the savin' o' yer bones”.

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“Bring up my horse as quick as you can, Patrick,” said
Bayard, turning abruptly to the fellow, who was starting in the
direction of the stable.

“Sure, Misther Bayard, ye'll not be afther goin'to L—

“Yes, I have concluded to sleep at the hotel there; and,
Patrick, I shall be much obliged to you if you will bring my
luggage over in the morning in season for the early train. I
will speak to Mr. Charles about it,” and so saying he hastened
into the house.

Mabel's first sensations as she drove down the avenue and
gained the open road, were those only of indescribable relief
and deliverance from dreaded danger. But though her brother
was rescued from further disgrace, no trifling peril of a far
different nature awaited them both. She could not disguise
from herself the fact that Harry was incapable of managing
his spirited steed or of distinguishing the road, the intricacy of
which she well remembered. The night was dark; there was
more than one bridge to be crossed, while, at a certain point,
their way wound along the verge of a precipitous bank, and
was protected only by a slender railing. Fortunately, for the
first mile or two the road was wide and unencumbered, so that
the rapid pace at which they started was maintained for awhile
without disaster of any kind. Then Harry, who had been
boisterous and talkative, relapsed into silence, slackened his
reins, and suffered the mare to fall into a walk. They proceeded
at this rate for some little distance, and were just
approaching a point where the road branched, when Harry's
head sank upon Mabel's shoulder, and she perceived that he
had fallen asleep. Tremblingly she caught the reins as they
dropped from his powerless hands, and suffering him to retain
his recumbent posture, assumed for the first time and under
the most painful circumstances, the responsible office that had
thus devolved upon her.

At this crisis, she heard the welcome sound of horses' hoofs,
and although in the darkness she could distinguish nothing
with certainty, she soon became convinced that for her all

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danger was past. A horseman soon overtook them, and then
slackening the pace at which he rode, silently performed for
the remainder of the drive the combined duties of protector,
guide, and friend. At every fork in the road he led the way,
and Mad Sallie instinctively followed. At every point of danger
he kept perseveringly at the animal's side, and more than
once Mabel was conscious that he led her by the rein. Now
in advance and now in the rear, sometimes quite obscured in
the darkness, and again dimly discerned as he loitered on the
brow of a hill, but always near enough for the sound of his
horse's feet to be distinctly audible, he might have been deemed
an accidental traveller on the road, but for the watchful and
efficient care which he exercised over his voluntarily assumed
charge. It was a strange situation for a young and delicatelyreared
girl;—supporting with one arm the sleeping form of
him who should have been her natural protector, grasping with
her white-gloved and trembling hand the reins which ordinarily
she would not have dared to touch, and dependent in the darkness
of midnight and the solitude of the lonely road, upon the
guardianship of a stranger. Such was the confidence, however,
with which Bayard had inspired her, that from the moment
when she instinctively realized the presence of one whom in
the obscurity she could not otherwise recognize, she experienced
an undoubted sense of security, and felt the force of his prophetic
assurance, that there was no cause for fear. Not until
they gained the partially lit streets of the town did he fail to
keep within her hearing. As they rattled over the pavements
of the principal thoroughfare, however, the sound of his horse's
feet in the rear gradually became more and more indistinct;
and Mabel, as she now realized her position more fully by the
light of the street lamps, and attempted to rouse her sleeping
brother, was almost tempted to believe that she herself had
been under the influence of a strange, wild dream, and that
their fancied outrider was merely an hallucination of the senses.
It was no easy task to arouse Harry's slumbering faculties, and
even after they had reached their aunt's door in safety, Mabel
hesitated and feared to alight, lest he should prove incapable

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of guiding Mad Sallie to her stable at some distance down the

Trusting partly to the creature's instinct, and encouraged by
some signs of renewed vivacity and intelligence in Harry, who
stretched himself energetically, declared it was a deused bore to
ride so far at night, and pettishly shook the reins which he had
snatched from her hand, she stepped, unassisted and at some
risk upon the sidewalk, and stood watching him as he continued
on his way. At this moment her doubts, if such actually existed,
concerning the reality of their midnight escort were at
once dispersed, for as she lingered anxiously in the gate-way,
looking down the street, he rode suddenly past her, and disappeared
in the direction Harry had taken. Nor was his identity
with Bayard any less evident, when, a half-hour later, she
cautiously opened the door of her aunt's house to admit her
recreant brother, and, as he staggered in, the light shone full on
the retreating figure of one who, from first to last, had proved
himself a friend.

It mattered not to Mabel that he had misunderstood and
falsely interpreted her character. On the contrary, it but added
to the heroism of his conduct, that it admitted of no selfish
construction, that it was as disinterested as it was manly and
humane. He had freely expressed, in her hearing, his unflattering
opinion of herself, and of Harry he might almost believe
the worst, and yet to both he had acted a Christian part.
Mabel was not ungrateful for his kindness to the beauty and
the belle, the general admiration of whom he did not profess
to share, but it was not for this that she most fervently thanked
and blessed him. It was for the benefit conferred on Harry,
and through him, on her. It was because he alone of all the
world had lent a willing and a helping hand to her sinking,
sunken brother.

We rejoice and triumph when the world bestows its homage
and its smiles upon our great, our noble, and our virtuous beloved;
but the deeper fountains of the heart are stirred when
a hand is stretched out in sympathy and in aid to our poor, our
fallen, and our sinful ones. We feel that the honor paid to

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worth is a sentiment which ennobles humanity; but the voice
that whispers of hope to the fallen is more than half divine.
Thus, the emotion which Bayard had awakened in Mabel was
that of reverent gratitude, and was treasured in after years as
a sacred memory. They had met, as it were, on one of the
cross roads of life; she dimly comprehended that on the morrow
he was to depart into some unknown but distant exile; she
had parted from him without a word of acknowledgement or of
thanks. Still she felt that for his service to virtue and humanity
he would never go unrewarded, and on bended knee,
in the silence of the night, she prayed that the God of Heaven
might be with him in his wanderings, and that He might minister
to him in his hour of need, who has said of the simplest
deed of charity, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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