Since the thread of our humble hero's life has now become
interwoven with that of higher ones, it is necessary to give some brief
introduction to them.
Augustine St. Clare was the son of a
wealthy planter of Louisiana. The
family had its origin in Canada. Of
two brothers, very similar in temperament and character, one had settled on a
flourishing farm in Vermont, and the other became an opulent planter in
Louisiana. The mother of Augustine
was a Huguenot French lady, whose family had emigrated to Louisiana during the
days of its early settlement. Augustine
and another brother were the only children of their parents.
Having inherited from his mother an exceeding delicacy of constitution,
he was, at the instance of physicians, during many years of his boyhood, sent to
the care of his uncle in Vermont, in order that his constitution might, be
strengthened by the cold of a more bracing climate.
In childhood, he was remarkable for an
extreme and marked sensitiveness of character, more akin to the softness of
woman than the ordinary hardness of his own sex. Time, however, overgrew this softness with the rough bark of
manhood, and but few knew how living and fresh it still lay at the core.
His talents were of the very first order, although his mind showed a
preference always for the ideal and the aesthetic, and there was about him that
repugnance to the actual business of life which is the common result of this
balance of the faculties. Soon after the completion of his college course, his whole
nature was kindled into one intense and passionate effervescence of romantic
passion. His hour came,--the hour
that comes only once; his star rose in the horizon,--that star that rises so
often in vain, to be remembered only as a thing of dreams; and it rose for him
in vain. To drop the figure,--he
saw and won the love of a high-minded and beautiful woman, in one of the
northern states, and they were affianced. He
returned south to make arrangements for their marriage, when, most unexpectedly,
his letters were returned to him by mail, with a short note from her guardian,
stating to him that ere this reached him the lady would be the wife of another.
Stung to madness, he vainly hoped, as many another has done, to fling the
whole thing from his heart by one desperate effort.
Too proud to supplicate or seek explanation, he threw himself at once
into a whirl of fashionable society, and in a fortnight from the time of the
fatal letter was the accepted lover of the reigning belle of the season; and as
soon as arrangements could be made, he became the husband of a fine figure, a
pair of bright dark eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars; and, of course,
everybody thought him a happy fellow.
The married couple were enjoying their
honeymoon, and entertaining a brilliant circle of friends in their splendid
villa, near Lake Pontchartrain, when, one day, a letter was brought to him in
_that_ well-remembered writing. It
was handed to him while he was in full tide of gay and successful conversation,
in a whole room-full of company. He
turned deadly pale when he saw the writing, but still preserved his composure,
and finished the playful warfare of badinage which he was at the moment carrying
on with a lady opposite; and, a short time after, was missed from the circle.
In his room, alone, he opened and read the letter, now worse than idle
and useless to be read. It was from her, giving a long account of a persecution to
which she had been exposed by her guardian's family, to lead her to unite
herself with their son: and she related how, for a long time, his letters had
ceased to arrive; how she had written time and again, till she became weary and
doubtful; how her health had failed under her anxieties, and how, at last, she
had discovered the whole fraud which had been practised on them both.
The letter ended with expressions of hope and thankfulness, and
professions of undying affection, which were more bitter than death to the
unhappy young man. He wrote to her
"I have received yours,--but too
late. I believed all I heard.
I was desperate. _I am married_, and all is over.
Only forget,--it is all that remains for either of us."
And thus ended the whole romance and
ideal of life for Augustine St. Clare. But
the _real_ remained,--the _real_, like the flat, bare, oozy tide-mud, when the
blue sparkling wave, with all its company of gliding boats and white-winged
ships, its music of oars and chiming waters, has gone down, and there it lies,
flat, slimy, bare,--exceedingly real.
Of course, in a novel, people's hearts
break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very
convenient. But in real life we do
not die when all that makes life bright dies to us. There is a most busy and important round of eating, drinking,
dressing, walking, visiting, buying, selling, talking, reading, and all that
makes up what is commonly called _living_, yet to be gone through; and this yet
remained to Augustine. Had his wife
been a whole woman, she might yet have done something--as woman can--to mend the
broken threads of life, and weave again into a tissue of brightness.
But Marie St. Clare could not even see that they had been broken.
As before stated, she consisted of a fine figure, a pair of splendid
eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars; and none of these items were precisely the
ones to minister to a mind diseased.
When Augustine, pale as death, was found
lying on the sofa, and pleaded sudden sick-headache as the cause of his
distress, she recommended to him to smell of hartshorn; and when the paleness
and headache came on week after week, she only said that she never thought Mr.
St. Clare was sickly; but it seems he was very liable to sick-headaches, and
that it was a very unfortunate thing for her, because he didn't enjoy going into
company with her, and it seemed odd to go so much alone, when they were just
married. Augustine was glad in his
heart that he had married so undiscerning a woman; but as the glosses and
civilities of the honeymoon wore away, he discovered that a beautiful young
woman, who has lived all her life to be caressed and waited on, might prove
quite a hard mistress in domestic life. Marie
never had possessed much capability of affection, or much sensibility, and the
little that she had, had been merged into a most intense and unconscious
selfishness; a selfishness the more hopeless, from its quiet obtuseness, its
utter ignorance of any claims but her own.
From her infancy, she had been surrounded with servants, who lived only
to study her caprices; the idea that they had either feelings or rights had
never dawned upon her, even in distant perspective.
Her father, whose only child she had been, had never denied her anything
that lay within the compass of human possibility; and when she entered life,
beautiful, accomplished, and an heiress, she had, of course, all the eligibles
and non-eligibles of the other sex sighing at her feet, and she had no doubt
that Augustine was a most fortunate man in having obtained her.
It is a great mistake to suppose that a woman with no heart will be an
easy creditor in the exchange of affection.
There is not on earth a more merciless exactor of love from others than a
thoroughly selfish woman; and the more unlovely she grows, the more jealously
and scrupulously she exacts love, to the uttermost farthing.
When, therefore, St. Clare began to drop off those gallantries and small
attentions which flowed at first through the habitude of courtship, he found his
sultana no way ready to resign her slave; there were abundance of tears,
poutings, and small tempests, there were discontents, pinings, upbraidings.
St. Clare was good-natured and self-indulgent, and sought to buy off with
presents and flatteries; and when Marie became mother to a beautiful daughter,
he really felt awakened, for a time, to something like tenderness.
St. Clare's mother had been a woman of
uncommon elevation and purity of character, and he gave to his child his
mother's name, fondly fancying that she would prove a reproduction of her image.
The thing had been remarked with petulant jealousy by his wife, and she
regarded her husband's absorbing devotion to the child with suspicion and
dislike; all that was given to her seemed so much taken from herself.
From the time of the birth of this child, her health gradually sunk. A life of constant inaction, bodily and mental,--the friction
of ceaseless ennui and discontent, united to the ordinary weakness which
attended the period of maternity,--in course of a few years changed the blooming
young belle into a yellow faded, sickly woman, whose time was divided among a
variety of fanciful diseases, and who considered herself, in every sense, the
most ill-used and suffering person in existence.
There was no end of her various
complaints; but her principal forte appeared to lie in sick-headache, which
sometimes would confine her to her room three days out of six.
As, of course, all family arrangements fell into the hands of servants,
St. Clare found his menage anything but comfortable. His only daughter was exceedingly delicate, and he feared
that, with no one to look after her and attend to her, her health and life might
yet fall a sacrifice to her mother's inefficiency.
He had taken her with him on a tour to Vermont, and had persuaded his
cousin, Miss Ophelia St. Clare, to return with him to his southern residence;
and they are now returning on this boat, where we have introduced them to our
And now, while the distant domes and
spires of New Orleans rise to our view, there is yet time for an introduction to
Whoever has travelled in the New England
States will remember, in some cool village, the large farmhouse, with its
clean-swept grassy yard, shaded by the dense and massive foliage of the sugar
maple; and remember the air of order and stillness, of perpetuity and unchanging
repose, that seemed to breathe over the whole place.
Nothing lost, or out of order; not a picket loose in the fence, not a
particle of litter in the turfy yard, with its clumps of lilac bushes growing up
under the windows. Within, he will
remember wide, clean rooms, where nothing ever seems to be doing or going to be
done, where everything is once and forever rigidly in place, and where all
household arrangements move with the punctual exactness of the old clock in the
corner. In the family
"keeping-room," as it is termed, he will remember the staid,
respectable old book-case, with its glass doors, where Rollin's History,
Milton's Paradise Lost, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and Scott's Family
Bible, stand side by side in decorous order, with multitudes of other books,
equally solemn and respectable. There
are no servants in the house, but the lady in the snowy cap, with the
spectacles, who sits sewing every afternoon among her daughters, as if nothing
ever had been done, or were to be done,--she and her girls, in some
long-forgotten fore part of the day, "_did up the work_," and for the
rest of the time, probably, at all hours when you would see them, it is
"_done up_." The old
kitchen floor never seems stained or spotted; the tables, the chairs, and the
various cooking utensils, never seem deranged or disordered; though three and
sometimes four meals a day are got there, though the family washing and ironing
is there performed, and though pounds of butter and cheese are in some silent
and mysterious manner there brought into existence.
 _The Ancient
History_, ten volumes (1730-1738), by the French historian Charles Rollin
_Scott's Family Bible_ (1788-1792), edited with notes by the English
Biblical commentator, Thomas Scott (1747-1821).
such a farm, in such a house and family, Miss Ophelia had spent a quiet
existence of some forty-five years, when her cousin invited her to visit his
southern mansion. The eldest of a
large family, she was still considered by her father and mother as one of
"the children," and the proposal that she should go to _Orleans_ was a
most momentous one to the family circle. The
old gray-headed father took down Morse's Atlas out of the book-case, and
looked out the exact latitude and longitude; and read Flint's Travels in the
South and West, to make up his own mind as to the nature of the country.
Cerographic Atlas of the United States_ (1842-1845), by Sidney Edwards Morse
(1794-1871), son of the geographer, Jedidiah Morse, and brother of the
painter-inventor, Samuel F. B. Morse.
_Recollections of the Last Ten Years_ (1826) by Timothy Flint
(1780-1840), missionary of Presbyterianism to the trans-Allegheny West.
good mother inquired, anxiously, "if Orleans wasn't an awful wicked
place," saying, "that it seemed to her most equal to going to the
Sandwich Islands, or anywhere among the heathen."
It was known at the minister's and at
the doctor's, and at Miss Peabody's milliner shop, that Ophelia St. Clare was
"talking about" going away down to Orleans with her cousin; and of
course the whole village could do no less than help this very important process
of _taking about_ the matter. The
minister, who inclined strongly to abolitionist views, was quite doubtful
whether such a step might not tend somewhat to encourage the southerners in
holding on to their slaves; while the doctor, who was a stanch colonizationist,
inclined to the opinion that Miss Ophelia ought to go, to show the Orleans
people that we don't think hardly of them, after all. He was of opinion, in fact, that southern people needed
encouraging. When however, the fact
that she had resolved to go was fully before the public mind, she was solemnly
invited out to tea by all her friends and neighbors for the space of a
fortnight, and her prospects and plans duly canvassed and inquired into.
Miss Moseley, who came into the house to help to do the dress-making,
acquired daily accessions of importance from the developments with regard to
Miss Ophelia's wardrobe which she had been enabled to make.
It was credibly ascertained that Squire Sinclare, as his name was
commonly contracted in the neighborhood, had counted out fifty dollars, and
given them to Miss Ophelia, and told her to buy any clothes she thought best;
and that two new silk dresses, and a bonnet, had been sent for from Boston.
As to the propriety of this extraordinary outlay, the public mind was
divided,--some affirming that it was well enough, all things considered, for
once in one's life, and others stoutly affirming that the money had better have
been sent to the missionaries; but all parties agreed that there had been no
such parasol seen in those parts as had been sent on from New York, and that she
had one silk dress that might fairly be trusted to stand alone, whatever might
be said of its mistress. There were
credible rumors, also, of a hemstitched pocket-handkerchief; and report even
went so far as to state that Miss Ophelia had one pocket-handkerchief with lace
all around it,--it was even added that it was worked in the corners; but this
latter point was never satisfactorily ascertained, and remains, in fact,
unsettled to this day.
Miss Ophelia, as you now behold her,
stands before you, in a very shining brown linen travelling-dress, tall,
square-formed, and angular. Her
face was thin, and rather sharp in its outlines; the lips compressed, like those
of a person who is in the habit of making up her mind definitely on all
subjects; while the keen, dark eyes had a peculiarly searching, advised
movement, and travelled over everything, as if they were looking for something
to take care of.
All her movements were sharp, decided,
and energetic; and, though she was never much of a talker, her words were
remarkably direct, and to the purpose, when she did speak.
In her habits, she was a living
impersonation of order, method, and exactness.
In punctuality, she was as inevitable as a clock, and as inexorable as a
railroad engine; and she held in most decided contempt and abomination anything
of a contrary character.
The great sin of sins, in her eyes,--the
sum of all evils,--was expressed by one very common and important word in her
finale and ultimatum of contempt consisted in a very emphatic pronunciation of
the word "shiftless;" and by this she characterized all modes of
procedure which had not a direct and inevitable relation to accomplishment of
some purpose then definitely had in mind. People
who did nothing, or who did not know exactly what they were going to do, or who
did not take the most direct way to accomplish what they set their hands to,
were objects of her entire contempt,--a contempt shown less frequently by
anything she said, than by a kind of stony grimness, as if she scorned to say
anything about the matter.
As to mental cultivation,--she had a
clear, strong, active mind, was well and thoroughly read in history and the
older English classics, and thought with great strength within certain narrow
limits. Her theological tenets were
all made up, labelled in most positive and distinct forms, and put by, like the
bundles in her patch trunk; there were just so many of them, and there were
never to be any more. So, also,
were her ideas with regard to most matters of practical life,--such as
housekeeping in all its branches, and the various political relations of her
native village. And, underlying
all, deeper than anything else, higher and broader, lay the strongest principle
of her being--conscientiousness. Nowhere
is conscience so dominant and all-absorbing as with New England women.
It is the granite formation, which lies deepest, and rises out, even to
the tops of the highest mountains.
Miss Ophelia was the absolute bond-slave
of the "_ought_." Once make her certain that the "path of
duty," as she commonly phrased it, lay in any given direction, and fire and
water could not keep her from it. She
would walk straight down into a well, or up to a loaded cannon's mouth, if she
were only quite sure that there the path lay.
Her standard of right was so high, so all-embracing, so minute, and
making so few concessions to human frailty, that, though she strove with heroic
ardor to reach it, she never actually did so, and of course was burdened with a
constant and often harassing sense of deficiency;--this gave a severe and
somewhat gloomy cast to her religious character.
But, how in the world can Miss Ophelia
get along with Augustine St. Clare,--gay, easy, unpunctual, unpractical,
sceptical,--in short,--walking with impudent and nonchalant freedom over every
one of her most cherished habits and opinions?
To tell the truth, then, Miss Ophelia
loved him. When a boy, it had been
hers to teach him his catechism, mend his clothes, comb his hair, and bring him
up generally in the way he should go; and her heart having a warm side to it,
Augustine had, as he usually did with most people, monopolized a large share of
it for himself, and therefore it was that he succeeded very easily in persuading
her that the "path of duty" lay in the direction of New Orleans, and
that she must go with him to take care of Eva, and keep everything from going to
wreck and ruin during the frequent illnesses of his wife.
The idea of a house without anybody to take care of it went to her heart;
then she loved the lovely little girl, as few could help doing; and though she
regarded Augustine as very much of a heathen, yet she loved him, laughed at his
jokes, and forbore with his failings, to an extent which those who knew him
thought perfectly incredible. But
what more or other is to be known of Miss Ophelia our reader must discover by a
There she is, sitting now in her
state-room, surrounded by a mixed multitude of little and big carpet-bags,
boxes, baskets, each containing some separate responsibility which she is tying,
binding up, packing, or fastening, with a face of great earnestness.
"Now, Eva, have you kept count of
your things? Of course you
haven't,--children never do: there's the spotted carpet-bag and the little blue
band-box with your best bonnet,--that's two; then the India rubber satchel is
three; and my tape and needle box is four; and my band-box, five; and my
collar-box; and that little hair trunk, seven.
What have you done with your sunshade?
Give it to me, and let me put a paper round it, and tie it to my umbrella
with my shade;--there, now."
"Why, aunty, we are only going up
home;--what is the use?"
"To keep it nice, child; people
must take care of their things, if they ever mean to have anything; and now,
Eva, is your thimble put up?"
"Really, aunty, I don't know."
"Well, never mind; I'll look your
box over,--thimble, wax, two spools, scissors, knife, tape-needle; all
right,--put it in here. What did
you ever do, child, when you were coming on with only your papa. I should have thought you'd a lost everything you had."
"Well, aunty, I did lose a great many; and then, when we stopped
anywhere, papa would buy some more of whatever it was."
"Mercy on us, child,--what a
"It was a very easy way,
aunty," said Eva.
"It's a dreadful shiftless
one," said aunty.
"Why, aunty, what'll you do
now?" said Eva; "that trunk is too full to be shut down."
"It _must_ shut down," said
aunty, with the air of a general, as she squeezed the things in, and sprung upon
the lid;--still a little gap remained about the mouth of the trunk.
"Get up here, Eva!" said Miss
Ophelia, courageously; "what has been done can be done again.
This trunk has _got to be_ shut and locked--there are no two ways about
And the trunk, intimidated, doubtless,
by this resolute statement, gave in. The
hasp snapped sharply in its hole, and Miss Ophelia turned the key, and pocketed
it in triumph.
"Now we're ready.
Where's your papa? I think it time this baggage was set out.
Do look out, Eva, and see if you see your papa."
"O, yes, he's down the other end of
the gentlemen's cabin, eating an orange."
"He can't know how near we are
coming," said aunty; "hadn't you better run and speak to him?"
"Papa never is in a hurry about
anything," said Eva, "and we haven't come to the landing. Do step on the guards, aunty.
Look! there's our house, up that street!"
The boat now began, with heavy groans,
like some vast, tired monster, to prepare to push up among the multiplied
steamers at the levee. Eva joyously
pointed out the various spires, domes, and way-marks, by which she recognized
her native city.
"Yes, yes, dear; very fine,"
said Miss Ophelia. "But mercy
on us! the boat has stopped! where is your father?"
And now ensued the usual turmoil of
landing--waiters running twenty ways at once--men tugging trunks, carpet-bags,
boxes--women anxiously calling to their children, and everybody crowding in a
dense mass to the plank towards the landing.
Miss Ophelia seated herself resolutely
on the lately vanquished trunk, and marshalling all her goods and chattels in
fine military order, seemed resolved to defend them to the last.
"Shall I take your trunk,
ma'am?" "Shall I take your baggage?"
"Let me 'tend to your baggage, Missis?" "Shan't I carry
out these yer, Missis?" rained down upon her unheeded.
She sat with grim determination, upright as a darning-needle stuck in a
board, holding on her bundle of umbrella and parasols, and replying with a
determination that was enough to strike dismay even into a hackman, wondering to
Eva, in each interval, "what upon earth her papa could be thinking of; he
couldn't have fallen over, now,--but something must have happened;"--and
just as she had begun to work herself into a real distress, he came up, with his
usually careless motion, and giving Eva a quarter of the orange he was eating,
"Well, Cousin Vermont, I suppose
you are all ready."
"I've been ready, waiting, nearly
an hour," said Miss Ophelia; "I began to be really concerned about
"That's a clever fellow, now,"
said he. "Well, the carriage
is waiting, and the crowd are now off, so that one can walk out in a decent and
Christian manner, and not be pushed and shoved. Here," he added to a driver who stood behind him,
"take these things."
"I'll go and see to his putting
them in," said Miss Ophelia.
"O, pshaw, cousin, what's the
use?" said St. Clare.
"Well, at any rate, I'll carry
this, and this, and this," said Miss Ophelia, singling out three boxes and
a small carpet-bag.
"My dear Miss Vermont, positively
you mustn't come the Green Mountains over us that way. You must adopt at least a piece of a southern principle, and
not walk out under all that load. They'll
take you for a waiting-maid; give them to this fellow; he'll put them down as if
they were eggs, now."
Miss Ophelia looked despairingly as her
cousin took all her treasures from her, and rejoiced to find herself once more
in the carriage with them, in a state of preservation.
"Where's Tom?" said Eva.
"O, he's on the outside, Pussy.
I'm going to take Tom up to mother for a peace-offering, to make up for
that drunken fellow that upset the carriage."
"O, Tom will make a splendid
driver, I know," said Eva; "he'll never get drunk."
The carriage stopped in front of an
ancient mansion, built in that odd mixture of Spanish and French style, of which
there are specimens in some parts of New Orleans.
It was built in the Moorish fashion,--a square building enclosing a
court-yard, into which the carriage drove through an arched gateway.
The court, in the inside, had evidently been arranged to gratify a
picturesque and voluptuous ideality. Wide
galleries ran all around the four sides, whose Moorish arches, slender pillars,
and arabesque ornaments, carried the mind back, as in a dream, to the reign of
oriental romance in Spain. In the
middle of the court, a fountain threw high its silvery water, falling in a
never-ceasing spray into a marble basin, fringed with a deep border of fragrant
violets. The water in the fountain, pellucid as crystal, was alive
with myriads of gold and silver fishes, twinkling and darting through it like so
many living jewels. Around the
fountain ran a walk, paved with a mosaic of pebbles, laid in various fanciful
patterns; and this, again, was surrounded by turf, smooth as green velvet, while
a carriage-drive enclosed the whole. Two
large orange-trees, now fragrant with blossoms, threw a delicious shade; and,
ranged in a circle round upon the turf, were marble vases of arabesque
sculpture, containing the choicest flowering plants of the tropics.
Huge pomegranate trees, with their glossy leaves and flame-colored
flowers, dark-leaved Arabian jessamines, with their silvery stars, geraniums,
luxuriant roses bending beneath their heavy abundance of flowers, golden
jessamines, lemon-scented verbenum, all united their bloom and fragrance, while
here and there a mystic old aloe, with its strange, massive leaves, sat looking
like some old enchanter, sitting in weird grandeur among the more perishable
bloom and fragrance around it.
The galleries that surrounded the court
were festooned with a curtain of some kind of Moorish stuff, and could be drawn
down at pleasure, to exclude the beams of the sun. On the whole, the appearance of the place was luxurious and
As the carriage drove in, Eva seemed
like a bird ready to burst from a cage, with the wild eagerness of her delight.
"O, isn't it beautiful, lovely! my
own dear, darling home!" she said to Miss Ophelia. "Isn't it beautiful?"
"'T is a pretty place," said
Miss Ophelia, as she alighted; "though it looks rather old and heathenish
Tom got down from the carriage, and
looked about with an air of calm, still enjoyment.
The negro, it must be remembered, is an exotic of the most gorgeous and
superb countries of the world, and he has, deep in his heart, a passion for all
that is splendid, rich, and fanciful; a passion which, rudely indulged by an
untrained taste, draws on them the ridicule of the colder and more correct white
St. Clare, who was in heart a poetical
voluptuary, smiled as Miss Ophelia made her remark on his premises, and, turning
to Tom, who was standing looking round, his beaming black face perfectly radiant
with admiration, he said,
"Tom, my boy, this seems to suit
"Yes, Mas'r, it looks about the
right thing," said Tom.
All this passed in a moment, while
trunks were being hustled off, hackman paid, and while a crowd, of all ages and
sizes,--men, women, and children,--came running through the galleries, both
above and below to see Mas'r come in. Foremost
among them was a highly-dressed young mulatto man, evidently a very _distingue_
personage, attired in the ultra extreme of the mode, and gracefully waving a
scented cambric handkerchief in his hand.
This personage had been exerting
himself, with great alacrity, in driving all the flock of domestics to the other
end of the verandah.
"Back! all of you.
I am ashamed of you," he said, in a tone of authority.
"Would you intrude on Master's domestic relations, in the first hour
of his return?"
All looked abashed at this elegant
speech, delivered with quite an air, and stood huddled together at a respectful
distance, except two stout porters, who came up and began conveying away the
Owing to Mr. Adolph's systematic
arrangements, when St. Clare turned round from paying the hackman, there was
nobody in view but Mr. Adolph himself, conspicuous in satin vest, gold
guard-chain, and white pants, and bowing with inexpressible grace and suavity.
"Ah, Adolph, is it you?" said
his master, offering his hand to him; "how are you, boy?" while Adolph
poured forth, with great fluency, an extemporary speech, which he had been
preparing, with great care, for a fortnight before.
"Well, well," said St. Clare,
passing on, with his usual air of negligent drollery, "that's very well got
up, Adolph. See that the baggage is
well bestowed. I'll come to the
people in a minute;" and, so saying, he led Miss Ophelia to a large parlor
that opened on the verandah.
While this had been passing, Eva had
flown like a bird, through the porch and parlor, to a little boudoir opening
likewise on the verandah.
A tall, dark-eyed, sallow woman, half
rose from a couch on which she was reclining.
"Mamma!" said Eva, in a sort
of a rapture, throwing herself on her neck, and embracing her over and over
"That'll do,--take care,
child,--don't, you make my head ache," said the mother, after she had
languidly kissed her.
St. Clare came in, embraced his wife in
true, orthodox, husbandly fashion, and then presented to her his cousin.
Marie lifted her large eyes on her cousin with an air of some curiosity,
and received her with languid politeness. A
crowd of servants now pressed to the entry door, and among them a middle-aged
mulatto woman, of very respectable appearance, stood foremost, in a tremor of
expectation and joy, at the door.
"O, there's Mammy!" said Eva,
as she flew across the room; and, throwing herself into her arms, she kissed her
This woman did not tell her that she
made her head ache, but, on the contrary, she hugged her, and laughed, and
cried, till her sanity was a thing to be doubted of; and when released from her,
Eva flew from one to another, shaking hands and kissing, in a way that Miss
Ophelia afterwards declared fairly turned her stomach.
"Well!" said Miss Ophelia,
"you southern children can do something that _I_ couldn't."
"What, now, pray?" said St.
"Well, I want to be kind to
everybody, and I wouldn't have anything hurt; but as to kissing--"
"Niggers," said St. Clare,
"that you're not up to,--hey?"
"Yes, that's it.
How can she?"
St. Clare laughed, as he went into the
passage. "Halloa, here, what's
to pay out here? Here, you
all--Mammy, Jimmy, Polly, Sukey--glad to see Mas'r?" he said, as he went
shaking hands from one to another. "Look
out for the babies!" he added, as he stumbled over a sooty little urchin,
who was crawling upon all fours. "If
I step upon anybody, let 'em mention it."
There was an abundance of laughing and
blessing Mas'r, as St. Clare distributed small pieces of change among them.
"Come, now, take yourselves off,
like good boys and girls," he said; and the whole assemblage, dark and
light, disappeared through a door into a large verandah, followed by Eva, who
carried a large satchel, which she had been filling with apples, nuts, candy,
ribbons, laces, and toys of every description, during her whole homeward
As St. Clare turned to go back his eye
fell upon Tom, who was standing uneasily, shifting from one foot to the other,
while Adolph stood negligently leaning against the banisters, examining Tom
through an opera-glass, with an air that would have done credit to any dandy
"Puh! you puppy," said his
master, striking down the opera glass; "is that the way you treat your
company? Seems to me, Dolph,"
he added, laying his finger on the elegant figured satin vest that Adolph was
sporting, "seems to me that's _my_ vest."
"O! Master, this vest all stained
with wine; of course, a gentleman in Master's standing never wears a vest like
this. I understood I was to take
it. It does for a poor
nigger-fellow, like me."
And Adolph tossed his head, and passed
his fingers through his scented hair, with a grace.
"So, that's it, is it?" said
St. Clare, carelessly. "Well,
here, I'm going to show this Tom to his mistress, and then you take him to the
kitchen; and mind you don't put on any of your airs to him.
He's worth two such puppies as you."
"Master always will have his
joke," said Adolph, laughing. "I'm
delighted to see Master in such spirits."
"Here, Tom," said St. Clare,
Tom entered the room.
He looked wistfully on the velvet carpets, and the before unimagined
splendors of mirrors, pictures, statues, and curtains, and, like the Queen of
Sheba before Solomon, there was no more spirit in him.
He looked afraid even to set his feet down.
"See here, Marie," said St.
Clare to his wife, "I've bought you a coachman, at last, to order.
I tell you, he's a regular hearse for blackness and sobriety, and will
drive you like a funeral, if you want. Open
your eyes, now, and look at him. Now,
don't say I never think about you when I'm gone."
Marie opened her eyes, and fixed them on
Tom, without rising.
"I know he'll get drunk," she
"No, he's warranted a pious and
"Well, I hope he may turn out
well," said the lady; "it's more than I expect, though."
"Dolph," said St. Clare,
"show Tom down stairs; and, mind yourself," he added; "remember
what I told you."
Adolph tripped gracefully forward, and
Tom, with lumbering tread, went after.
"He's a perfect behemoth!"
"Come, now, Marie," said St.
Clare, seating himself on a stool beside her sofa, "be gracious, and say
something pretty to a fellow."
"You've been gone a fortnight
beyond the time," said the lady, pouting.
"Well, you know I wrote you the
"Such a short, cold letter!"
said the lady.
"Dear me! the mail was just going,
and it had to be that or nothing."
"That's just the way, always,"
said the lady; "always something to make your journeys long, and letters
"See here, now," he added,
drawing an elegant velvet case out of his pocket, and opening it, "here's a
present I got for you in New York."
It was a daguerreotype, clear and soft
as an engraving, representing Eva and her father sitting hand in hand.
Marie looked at it with a dissatisfied
"What made you sit in such an
awkward position?" she said.
"Well, the position may be a matter
of opinion; but what do you think of the likeness?"
"If you don't think anything of my
opinion in one case, I suppose you wouldn't in another," said the lady,
shutting the daguerreotype.
"Hang the woman!" said St.
Clare, mentally; but aloud he added, "Come, now, Marie, what do you think
of the likeness? Don't be
"It's very inconsiderate of you,
St. Clare," said the lady, "to insist on my talking and looking at
things. You know I've been lying
all day with the sick-headache; and there's been such a tumult made ever since
you came, I'm half dead."
"You're subject to the
sick-headache, ma'am!" said Miss Ophelia, suddenly rising from the depths
of the large arm-chair, where she had sat quietly, taking an inventory of the
furniture, and calculating its expense.
"Yes, I'm a perfect martyr to
it," said the lady.
"Juniper-berry tea is good for
sick-headache," said Miss Ophelia; "at least, Auguste, Deacon Abraham
Perry's wife, used to say so; and she was a great nurse."
"I'll have the first
juniper-berries that get ripe in our garden by the lake brought in for that
special purpose," said St. Clare,
gravely pulling the bell as he did so; "meanwhile, cousin, you must be
wanting to retire to your apartment, and refresh yourself a little, after your
journey. Dolph," he added,
"tell Mammy to come here." The
decent mulatto woman whom Eva had caressed so rapturously soon entered; she was
dressed neatly, with a high red and yellow turban on her head, the recent gift
of Eva, and which the child had been arranging on her head. "Mammy," said St. Clare, "I put this lady under your care;
she is tired, and wants rest; take her to her chamber, and be sure she is made
comfortable," and Miss Ophelia disappeared in the rear of Mammy.