CHAPTER XII. FAOB

Complications 167

CHAPTER XIII. A Confession 193

CHAPTER XIV. Estrangement 206

CHAPTER XV. Conclusion. . 228

UNDER THE MAGNOLIAS.

CHAPTER I.

FINANCIAL RUIN.

"By my faith, you have great reason to be sad"

"And why, I pray you. Who might be your mother that you insult, exult, and all at once over the wretched."

—"As You Like It."

THE autumn leaves were slowly drifting into gay-colored heaps in the hollows and at the roots of the trees, as leaves will always do when touched by the first light frost. A sad, low wind had come up with the twilight, and a dark cloud in the northwest soon spread rapidly over the sky, so lately flushed with sun set tints of pink and gold.

"How much like the life of man," thought Mr. Melton, as he slowly walked from the barn to the pretty cottage which had been his home 1 for twenty-five happy years. The cloud in his own sky which had, at first, appeared no larger than a man's hand, now

seemed a thick curtain that excluded all the sunlight from his view.

The air was growing chill, and he must go indoors, but that which in other days was the sweetest pleasure of his life, now seemed unendurable to him. To many a man it requires more courage to go to a loved wife and unfold a reverse of fortune than to face death on the battlefield. It was thus Mr. Melton felt, and his case was but the repetition of many others. If he could only bear his troubles alone, he argued to him self, he would not care, but to involve in it those he loved so much, was hard indeed. He went slowly up the walk, thinking of the happy past; back to the day when he had proudly brought sweet Mary May-field to be the mistress of his home near the village of Glenwood. He thought what a good wife she had proved to be in all those years of toil for himself and their children. In the great trials of his life she had ever been his chief comfort. Three of their children had died in infancy, and it was this faithful wife who had whispered words of consolation to him while her own heart was breaking.

All these thoughts flashed through his mind as he traversed the short distance between the gate and the steps. Before he reached the porch, he 1 turned aside to cut off some withered roses which an early frost had blighted.

"This garden is the work of her own hands," he said in a low tone to himself, "but she'll never gather roses here again, for another year, stranger hands will tend this flower garden."

It was not only of his wife h'e thought, but also of Evelyn, his lovely daughter, now just expanded into perfect womanhood. It was his pride in her and his de light in her pleasure, that had brought him into the straits in which he now found himself. He had sent her to schools at which only rich men could afford to educate their daughters; had gratified her wishes far beyond his moderate means, and now, this very day, he had been notified that unless his notes were paid, there would be a foreclosure of the mortgage on their home.

Banishing the thoughts of the past from his mind, he compressed his lips with strong determination, and entered the sitting-room, where his wife was seated, busily engaged in knitting. Her bright, smiling face was a strong contrast to the troubled countenance of her husband.

A fire burned brightly on the hearth, adding no little to the cozy appearance of the living room of the family. Mrs. Melton looked up as her husband entered; then quickly rising, she drew his easy-chair nearer the fire, with affectionate solicitude. She instantly noted the look of deep dejection on his face, but wisely forebore' to question him, knowing that he would open his heart to her in his own way and time.

The silence between them was unbroken for some moments, but at length, with a great effort for com posure, he began:

"Mary, I have some bad news to tell you that you should have known long ago, but I kept thinking it would come out all right in the end, and I would never have to trouble you with what has given me more dis-

tress than anything that has ever happened to me be fore. Now I am forced to tell you, and—may God help you to bear it!"

He sighed deeply, but did not give his wife time for reply before he resumed, gloomily: "I always thought it a foolish and useless practice for a man to burden his wife with his troubles, but now I see my mistake. I don't know, though, that it would have been any better, Mary, if I had told you before.

"When the time drew near for Evelyn to leave home for her last term at college, I was so pressed for money that I was strongly tempted to tell her that she would have to give it up. But after watching her bright face as she told her plans of the great things she would do, my heart failed me, and I followed the example of many another weak man. I went to old Mr. Heming way, and mortgaged my farm for the money necessary to pay her expenses at college. I was not morally strong enough to face the disappointment it would give' my darling girlie to stop her from finishing her education. Now I will not have a home to shelter my family, not to speak of a competency for our old age and something to leave Evelyn when we die. I have 'sowed the wind and now I shall reap the whirlwind,'" and he groaned as he looked into the dark future.

"People hardly ever end right by beginning wrong, but I thought that by working a little harder and being a little more economical, I could soon catch up in money matters, and you and Evelyn need never know the distress I had been through in this thing. But af fairs did not turn out as I hoped they would, and one

thing and another set me back until at times I almost despaired. Those two bad crop years, with my long spell of rheumatism, with the heavy doctor's bills, and the high interest on my notes, ha-ve literally ruined me, Mary," and the farmer leaned wearily back in his chair.

"Is the farm mortgaged for all it is worth?" asked his wife.

"Yes, for all it will bring at a forced sale. I have always kept the interest paid, and hoped some day to be able to lift the mortgage, but the death of old Mr. Hemingway put an end to these hopes. His nephew, who has come into the estate, is a very different man from his uncle, people say."

"Is he the young man who has called here several times lately to see Evelyn?"

"Yes, the same man; has reddish hair and is rather good-looking, but is wofully puffed up with importance since he has come in possession of so much property. I never thought he would want our farm, though, as he has so many of them, and we paying the interest regu larly, too. But he intimated in rather a delicate way this evening, that he would be forced to do me as he has been doing all the other farmers on whose farms he held mortgages—foreclose. They say he has no mercy on those who owe him. It just cut me to the quick for him to even hint such a thing to me, Mary; I, who have always been so independent. If he thinks I am going to beg him for mercy, or offer him my daughter for a wife, he's mistaken/' Mr. Melton said, with unusual emphasis.

Mrs. Melton rose, and, going to her husband's side, laid her hand tenderly on his, as she said:

"Henry, I do not blame you in the least for what you have done. I have no doubt I would have done the same thing had I been in your place. But cheer up, dear; we can find a home somewhere else, and though it may be ever so humble we will try to be content, for where the heart is, that is home."

"Ah, my poor wife, you do not know what it is to be shelterless, and that, too, at the beginning of a hard winter," Mr. Melton responded, gloomily.

"We will put our trust in the God who 'clothes the lilies of the field' and shelters the sparrow in her nest," gently replied his wife.

It was the same old story of the weaker vessel riding bravely through the tempest that made the strong man-of-war creak and groan in every timber.

The farmer had thought so long over his difficulties that he had grown morbid on the subject. He had pictured to himself that the disclosure of his trouble would crush his wife and daughter to the earth with sorrow and dismay. He had put off from day to day, the ordeal of telling his family of his financial condi tion, in the vain hope that something would occur to delay the evil time. Now that it was over, he felt wonderfully relieved; and the hope that springs eternal in the human heart once more began to illumine his clouded horizon.

He sat for some time absorbed in deep thought, then slowly remarked: "Mary, I'll leave you to tell Evelyn. You women can do such things better than men."

Mrs. Melton drew a chair near her husband, and seating herself, held his hand in a warm, sympathetic clasp.

Evelyn was sitting in the little room that she had fitted up as a library since her last homecoming. While there reading, she had heard her father come in, the door being ajar between the two rooms. She was struck with the sadness of his tone and listened, as one in a dark dream, to the recital of his losses. She could scarcely take in the whole import of the sorrowful fctory. To think that the education and high culture, of which she was, justly, so proud, had been attained at the cost of the home in which her parents had hoped to spend their declining years, made her heart sick. That they would now have to give it up seemed impos sible. It could not be so bad as that.

She 1 could not think; she only felt as if she wanted to run away and hide out of sight of anyone. She quietly slipped out of the library, through the hall and porch, down a path leading into the orchard. She walked rapidly on to where, at the back of the en closure, stood an old apple tree.

Under that tree she had spent many happy hours in her childhood, where, in the dreamy Maytime, soft breezes wafted the pink petals over her head; or later, when merry groups of her play-fellows helped to gather apples from the heavy-laden boughs. But now the sun set glow had faded into dull gray, and life seemed equally bereft of all pleasant things. Try as she would, she could not repress the tears that came in spite of

resolution; and, seating herself, she gave way to—always the last resort of woman—a flood of tears.

Did you never see how quickly, sometimes, after a heavy shower, the clouds float away, leaving the bright sunshine to take their place? So it was with Evelyn, as, with a much lighter heart, she dried her eyes, and lifted her soul in fervent prayer to God, to give them strength to bear this trial, and wisdom to guide them in the dark future.

She walked slowly back to her room; and, after bathing her face and smiling away the marks of sor row from her countenance, she joined her parents in the' cozy sitting-room, now bright with a lighted lamp on a pretty tea-table. Her father and mother were sit ting in their usual places, evidently awaiting her.

"I am sorry, mother dear, if I have kept you and father waiting for your tea; I was down in the orchard and did not hear the bell," she said brightly, as she took her place at the table.

"No, dear, you have' not kept us waiting," answered her mother, gently.

There was little conversation during that meal, usual ly the most cheerful one of the day, for each was think ing too deeply for words. Neither father nor mother knew that Evelyn was aware of the change in their cir cumstances, and she felt too strongly to trust herself to speak of it, even to them, just now. "To-morrow will be 1 time enough to begin making plans for the future," she thought.

After tea she played and sang the songs her father and mother loved to hear. She then read the weekly

newspaper to her father. It was quite filled up with in stances of cruel and unjust treatment of the' ."poor freedmen" in the Southern States, particularly in Louisiana, where the people had arisen in their might and at the point of the bayonet, had driven out the "justly elected Governor and Legislature," as the paper styled the notorious Packard Legislature and Governor Wannoth. Mr. Melton was horrified at the reports she read to him from the strong Republican paper.

"I don't see how a Northern man can be willing to live among such people," he said, bitterly.

"Mr. Bliss seems to stand it very well. Mrs. Bliss told me a few days ago that he was getting on finely, and was well pleased with the country and the people," said Evelyn, quietly. She did not share her father's hatred of the South. In her life at school she had met many pleasant people from below "Mason and Dixon's line," and cherished no such ignorant view of them as did many of the Maine farmers and their families.

"Well," said Mrs. Melton in her quiet way, "we have given them their freedom, and it does look as if they ought to get on all right now. They can work for themselves as we do and earn a good living. I have never seen anyone suffer for food and clothing who was willing to work and earn them"—she had a horror of people who were too lazy to work for a living,

"You dear, industrious, little mother," responded Evelyn, "if all the world loved to work as you do, there would be much less of penury and suffering; but, father, I do not doubt that the ill treatment of the freedmen

is greatly exaggerated; such things always are, you know."

Evelyn now bade them good-night. Her kisses were warmer than usual, and her arms clasped each in a fond embrace before retiring to her room. But she could not sleep, for her mind went over and over again the items in her father's sad story, and always, with ceaseless recurrence, came back to the momentous ques tion, "What should they do ere they were turned out of their comfortable home ?" At last, the idea that was evolved most clearly from the mass of conflicting emo tions that filled her mind, was this; she would persuade her father to move away to some distant State where no one knew them. This, she pictured to herself, would be much more endurable than living near their old home and seeing strangers there. She could teach school, aid her father in building up a new home. These cheering thoughts brought peace to her overcharged feelings, and soon after midnight she forgot the cares of life in sweet dreamless slumber.

On the next morning "ole Mis' Bliss," as she was familiarly called in the neighborhood, came in to see "Mis' Melton, jes' fur a minit," to say that she had got another letter from her "Johnnie down in Louisiany." "He says, 'mother, I'm feared ez you'll hear some terri bly scarry news about us down here, an' think ez mebbe we'd all ben murdered in our beds, but we're all right an' doin' splendid though the worms hev' damaged my cotton some,' and the old lady laughed.

"He winds up his letter by beggin' me to cum an' liv' with him an' Liza, but lor, lor, Mis' Melton, I'm too

Financial Ruin. n

ole ter learn new tricks now. When I die I jes' want my bones ter res' Alongside er the ole man right here in Maine, an' ef I wuz ter get that fur away, I know I'd never git back here agin," added the old woman.

While she kept up an incessant flow of talk the younger women listened, interestedly. To one of them, at least, came a deep and exciting interest. A bright thought had flashed, like an electric current, through the mind rf Evelyn. She would write to John Bliss and ask for information about this far distant State, where land was so cheap that it could be had almost for the asking.

When Mrs. Bliss rose to go, Evelyn followed her into the hall, and taking down her sunbonnet, said:

"Mrs. Bliss, I will walk home with you. The' morn ing is too beautiful to spend indoors."

"Well, deary, I shull be glad of your company, an' ez you say, 'tis ez putty a morning ez one would care to see."

After leaving the gate 1 Evelyn said, in a low tone:

"Mrs. Bliss, I am going to tell you what I know mother wanted to tell you, but just could not. We will have to give up our place on the first of November to the man to whom it is mortgaged, and will have' to seek a home elsewhere. I suppose you have heard of the mortgage which is held by young Mr. Hemingway ?"

"Yes, I beared 'bout the mortgage ez a gret secret, but didn't pay much 'tention ter it, ez folks hears so much ez t'ain't true 'bout their neighbors these days. Anyways, honey, I wouldn't er thought ez they'd hev the heart ter turn you outen house an' home."

"Yes, and the quicker the better for us, I think. Mrs. Bliss, what is your son's address? What post-office do you send his letters to when you write to him ?" Evelyn asked in explanation.

"I allus directs his letters to Brierwood, Louisiany, an' he hasn't never lost one yet," answered Mrs. Bliss, as she looked inquiringly at her young friend.

"I wish to write to him immediately," Evelyn said, "and ask him to tell me all about the State, or, rather, his section of it, and what are the chances of our se curing a farm there, as you say he has done, almost for nothing. And then, too, I want to ask him about the state of society there, as father is so prejudiced against the South that it will take the testimony of Mr. Bliss added to all my powers of persuasion to convince him that his hatred is unreasonable. I must write to him at once, as the time to decide for the future is growing brief. This is the twentieth of September, and November will soon be here."

Mrs. Bliss was full of sympathy, as she said:

"Well, child, I am ez sorry for you ez I can well be, an' fur myself, too, for I don't know as how I'll git along without your father and mother, ez allus ben sech good neighbors ter me. I know John will be that proud ter hev you all fur neighbors, ez he won't know what to do, an' will sure help you all he can. Jes' you write to him right away, Evie. Your pa knows he can trust what John says ez good ez he can any body's word."

Here they reached the gate to Mrs. Bliss' yard, and declining the warm invitation to "come in, dearie,"

picture0

Evelyn hastily retraced her steps homeward, and going to her room, wrote the first business letter of her life. When it was finished she changed her dress and walked rapidly over to the post-office to stamp her important letter.

When she returned home she went in search of her mother and found her on the back porch watching some young chickens that she had just been feeding. She was looking sadly about her, as if in contemplation of the separation from all the loved domestic scenes that seemed dearer to her than ever. The placid, gentle little woman could not think of what the future held in store for her without many misgivings, although she tried to rest her faith implicitly on the promises of God. When Evelyn saw her dejected attitude it smote her heart sorely, and going to her mother, she threw her arms around her, saying, tenderly:

"Mother, dearest, don't let us grieve over the loss of our worldly goods, so long as we have each other to live for and to love. I overheard the sad news father told you last evening, and I do not wish you to be dis tressed too much over it, for I can teach school and help him get another home, which in time will be dear to us. I am sure any home with you and father will be dear to me."

Her mother returned her caresses warmly, as she drew her down to her lap, and answered cheerily:

"What you say is all true, my dear girlie, and I, like you, will try to be contented in our home, however simple it may be. Evelyn, where shall we go? I don't

feel as if I could stop in this village, or anywhere near here."

"Well, mother, I am going to tell you of a plan that was put into my head by God Himself, I think, for after asking His guidance the thought came to me un bidden. While Mrs. Bliss was here this morning it just flashed into my mind that it would be a good idea to write to Mr. Bliss and ask his advice on the subject of homesteading on a piece of land in Louisiana. I wrote to him this morning, asking for all necessary informa tion, so that we can decide at once what would be the best plan to pursue. I know he will answer my letter as soon as possible 1 . That is what took me to the village this morning, and, mother, dear, if Mr. Bliss writes encouragingly, half the battle will be won, I think."

"Why, my dear," responded Mrs. Melton, affection ately, "you mean that you will just be forming your line of battle to begin the conflict; but never fear, deary, we will fight bravely and with God's help we will win."

"Here is father. We will see what he has to say of our plan of emigration," said Evelyn, as she ran to meet her father and escort him to a chair beside her mother. A woman is always pleasing when she wishes to win a man over to her side, be it husband, father, brother, or lover ; so on this occasion Evelyn was no ex ception to the rule 1 . As soon as her father was seated, she took her station behind his chair; and putting her arms around his neck said, coaxingly:

"Father, mother and I have a plan to propose for your consideration, but we are not going to ask you to

decide on it now, only to think over it until we ask for a decision on the question."

He did not make any remark at first, but drew the brightly flushed face down to his, and imprinted a warm kiss on the dimpled cheek, then said playfully:

"Well, let's hear that great plan you and mother are conjuring up in your busy brains."

"I had nothing to do with it," protested Mrs. Melton.

"It was my own idea, father," put in Evelyn, "or, rather, I should say it was presented to my mind by Providence, as Mrs. Bliss is so fond of saying. John Bliss, you know, father, has been in the State of Louis iana ever since the close of the Civil War, and he seems very much pleased with the country; is doing finely, his mother tells us. I obtained his address from her this morning and wrote to him immediately, asking for information on the subject of homestead entry in that State." Evelyn paused as she felt her father start at the mere suggestion of emigration to Louisiana. But as he made no reply, she resumed her explanation.

"As I told you before, we do not wish you to decide this question until we receive the letter from Mr. Bliss, which, I guess, will be about two or three weeks."

After a considerable pause, her father answered with some bitterness:

"I don't know, my little girl, it will be pretty hard for me to leave my home, but after that I don't know that I care much where I go. I suppose one place will be as good as another, outside of New England." Then, as if repenting his mournful tone, he continued more cheerfully:

"I guess I'll be willing to go wherever you and the little mother want to go. As I have always tried to please you two, I shall continue to do so. But I am afraid my little adviser is choosing a very sickly coun try. I have always seen it pictured as a low, level marsh, with alligators sunning themselves on logs along the border of great lagoons."

Here Evelyn interrupted him with a merry laugh. Mr. Melton resumed slowly:

"It is, I am told, as much as a man's life is worth to venture among the people unless you think exactly as they do, politically. Evelyn, there is one thing certain, if ever I go South, I will never give up my principles to please any set of people who think they are better than the rest of the world, yet brow-beat and domineer over the poor down-trodden freedmen, as they do. I will just die first—I wish that distinctly understood, Evelyn!"

Evelyn had never seen her father so much excited, nor had ever heard him make so long a speech, but she was more than satisfied, for she had carried her point beyond her most sanguine expectations, and everything would come right in the end, she felt assured.

"I guess John knows all about the State," suggested Mrs. Melton, "at least he ought to, for he has been there long enough to learn all there is to learn of climate and people."

"When did you write to John, Evelyn, did you say ?"

"Only this morning, father. I did not know until last night of the loss of our home," she replied.

A silence fell over the group and nothing more was said on the subject that day.

Late in the afternoon Evelyn went out for a walk. Ere she had gone far she met young Hemingway sauntering leisurely along in the direction of the Mel ton cottage. She flushed hotly when she saw him, and he, with masculine vanity, entirely misunderstanding the cause of her sudden accession of color, augured a favorable omen from it for himself.

"Good evening, Miss Evelyn," he said, as he twirled his cane awkwardly and turned to join her. It was quite evident to Evelyn now that he had come out on purpose to meet with her.

Evelyn responded to his salutation with cold dignity.

"I was just on my way to call at your house," he con tinued, "and I am very much pleased to meet you and share your walk. Isn't it lovely weather ? I've been out riding over my farms to-day, and have enjoyed the crisp, fresh air so much."

"Are you sure you did not better enjoy the' knowledge that you were monarch of all you surveyed, than you did the fresh air?" asked Evelyn, sarcastically.

"It is unkind of you to say such a thing," he replied, as his red face grew redder with indignation at Evelyn's thrust, "but I will forgive you that as I have all your other cold and haughty expressions, if you will only treat me differently in the future."

Mr. Hemingway and Evelyn Melton had met often at the home of a friend who lived in the same neigh borhood where he resided before his uncle's death left him sole possessor of the broad acres about Glenwood.

Though he seemed to admire her, she had never re garded him in the light of a suitor, but had felt an in stinctive dislike to him even before she had heard of the position which he occupied toward them. Now, his patronizing manner was unbearable to her.

"Miss Evelyn," he began, after they had walked some distance in silence, "I started over to see you this evening to tell you how much I admire you, and ask you to come and preside over the beautiful home I am preparing for the woman whom I think best fitted to fill such a station. You are cultured and beautiful, and should be placed where you will shine. Will you con sent to come and help me spend the money I am lucky enough to inherit from the old man ?"

Evelyn's face was pale, but the eyes she 1 lifted to his were burning with scorn.

"Mr. Hemingway, I am truly sensible, I hope, of the honor you have conferred upon me in asking me to fill the exalted position in life which your wife will nec essarily have to fill, but strange as it may seem, I do not feel in the' least flattered by your proposal. I care nothing for you and you will please not mention the subject again in my presence."

Surprise and anger filled the young man's mind, and was clearly indicated in his face and tone as he replied, sneeringly:

"Perhaps you are yet ignorant of the fact, Miss Mel ton, that it is in my power to cause your parents a great deal of trouble. It would give me great pleasure to re lease the mortgage I hold over your home, and thus make your father»easy for life, and save you the painful

necessity of leaving your old home to strangers. I think when you know all the circumstances in which they are placed, and remember that the power is now in your hands to place them above want in their old age, that you will rescind your ^lofty refusal of an offer that not many peniless girls have an opportunity of refusing."

In his inordinate conceit he was wholly unprepared for the answer she made him, and he quailed when she turned on him with eyes ablaze, and scorn and contempt written on every feature 1 .

"I am not on the market, sir, to be purchased with the gold of a heartless parvenue! I spurn your contempt ible offer, Mr. Hemingway," and choking with anger and mortification, she walked home, leaving him stand ing dazed as though he had been struck by lightning.

CHAPTEK II.

BREAKING HOME TIES.

"Sweet are the uses of adversity;

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head."—"As You Like It.*'

AFTER two weeks of anxious expectancy, the letter from Mr. Bliss came to Evelyn. Her father had brought it in from the village just as they were about to seat themselves at the table for supper.

"Your letter bears a Louisiana postmark, so I suppose it is from John Bliss, Evelyn. Bead it aloud, please, as mother and I are anxious to hear what he has to say." Then turning to his wife, he continued: "MotheT, let the tea wait until we hear what John has to say aboutf Louisiana."

"Yes, mother," responded Evelyn, joyfully, "I could not possibly eat anything with this unopened letter in my hands." Her dark eyes shone with excitement, as, with trembling fingers, she tore open the envelope and read aloud the following:

"BRIERWOOD, LOUISIANA.

"Mr DEAR Miss EVELYN: I have just received your letter of inquiry and take great pleasure in replying as best I can. I think I can better answer all your

questions by relating my own experience as a homestead settler in Louisiana.

"I left Maine in '63, to help General Grant crush the, as I then called it, rebellion of the Southern States. I do not call it so now, for the people here do not like that term. I don't feel as if I can ever repay their kindness to me, so I always try to please them in every way; in fact, I have thrown in my lot with the South now; my interests, my home are all here. I have found that a few years' residence does more to over throw some of our ideas of Southern people 1 and their methods, than all the arguments that could be made.

"I am truly delighted at the idea of having your fam ily for neighbors at an early date, for I am thoroughly convinced, that if your father will come right on, he will be much pleased with the country. But I told you that I would give you a short sketch of my own luck at homesteading.

"After the surrender of Vicksburg my command was ordered to the Red River country. The battles in which I took part are well known to readers of history, so I will not mention any of them except the last—the bat tle of Mansfield, in which I was badly wounded. A planter, who lived near there, took me from the battle field and cared for me until I should be exchanged, but the war coming to a close I was left to do as I pleased, which was to stay with the kind old man who had been more than a friend to me.

"I do not know why he was so kind to me, unless it was the sympathy of a bereaved heart, for he had lost hie two sons in battle. He had a rich plantation, well

stocked and with about a hundred slaves, when our army came. After that nothing was left but a barren wilderness of unfenced fields. There was not an ear of corn left, and no cows, horses, nor even a rooster to crow us up in the morning.

"Both the old man's brave sons lay beneath the sod on Virginia battlefields; but, with superhuman effort, it seems now, we—for I helped him all my strength would permit—soon had a little farm in nice running order.

"I stayed with him until his death, which occurred two years later, then I went to the home of a nephew of his. He had come from an adjoining Parish, and seemed to take a fancy to me, and persuaded me to go with him and homestead on a vacant tract of land near him. I had nothing to hold me to any particular spot, except my old mother in Maine, who, as you know, is well provided for, so I decided to accept his proposition. The next day after we reached his home we rode out to look at the piece of land he had men tioned to me. I was so much pleased with the locality that I decided to homestead immediately. Mr. Melton can guess how hard I worked, and soon a clearing in the wilderness of pines rewarded me for pains. We could not depend upon the negroes, as they were hard to please. If one did not do just exactly to please them they would pull out to the county seat and report you to the Trovo/ as they called the U. S. Marshal. So I let them alone and did my own work.

"Mr. Hynson would sometimes bring his whole force over and do a big job of clearing for me. Finally I

got started in stock raising, and there is no better sec tion in the country for this business. The fine, large bayou Saline, which runs through one corner of my land, affords me the finest range for hog raising, and now, in a good year, I sell several hundred dollars' worth of meat that does not cost me a cent to raise. As for cattle, they are fit for beef in mid-winter, even when running on the range.

"Now that we are rid of the 'carpet-bagger' govern ment, Mr. Melton need not be afraid of anything, un less it be overkind treatment of us Southerners. We will give him as much land as he wants, and that for a song; help him settle on it, and then we will treat you all as if you had been born right here among us.

"I have been in the Brierwood country just seven years. I am independent and have several families of negroes on my place. I make them work—they have to be made, for lazy they are and lazy they will remain till the crack of doom. I always have meat, corn, and syrup for sale, and as the shiftless negroes never raise enough of anything on their farms to last them six months, there is always sale for such things, generally to be paid for in work, when crops are gathered in the fall.

"I proved up my homestead at the end of five years, and the total cost did not exceed twenty-five dollars. This is a beautiful country, with bold, clear creeks rising in the sand hills and emptying in the Eed Eiver. Their banks are thickly covered with magnolias and various kinds of oaks, while the hills are covered with the most magnificent growth of long leaf pine timber

in the world. The country is healthy; in fact, I would rather risk it than old Maine, even. I hope Mr. Mel ton will come right on, as I know of a good homestead claim, and I will do all I can to help him get settled before Christmas.

"Last night I had a talk with Mr. Hynson about your father's coming, and he expressed himself as greatly pleased at the idea. It is needless for me to tell you the pleasure it will give us to have you settle near us. My wife, you know, is a Maine girl. Your father and mother will remember 'Liza Murry, if you don't. Do persuade Mr. Melton to come right on, or somebody else may get ahead of him. I will be sure to meet him at our river station, some twenty miles from here, on the Red River.

"Hoping that you will let me hear from you at an early date, I remain Yours to serve,

"JOHN BLISS."

Evelyn folded the letter slowly, and then looked meditatively at her father and mother in turn.

"I had not thought of you going first and leaving mother and me," she said. "I would rather that we all go together and learn the country afterwards, if you decide to go, father. Wouldn't you, mother?"

"I don't know, my daughter, which will be best > but will leave it to your father/' Like the dutiful wife she was, she always deferred to her husband in matters of business, and that with perfect faith in his good judgment.

Mr. Melton had not volunteered any remarks as

yet, but sat apparently absorbed in deep meditation. After a while he roused himself as if by an effort, and said, slowly:

"I shall talk it all over with you both, and we will decide which will be the most sensible plan to pursue. Just now, I think as John does, that it will be the best for me to go on and prepare you a home, then you can come when I am ready for you. That strikes me as the most common sense way to do."

"But, father, that will take some time," protested Evelyn, "and in the meantime, what will mother and I do?"

"Why, my dear, your mother has been planning all summer to visit your aunt in Boston, and it will be the most convenient time she will ever have to visit her now, I guess. We can sell what we 1 have a right to dis pose of and you can both go to your aunt's until I write for you to come South," said Mr. Melton, with more energy than he had displayed since the day he had laid down his resolution regarding his conduct in the South.

Evelyn was delighted. Everything was unfolding just as she had hoped. After the pros and cons had been discussed, all decided that it would be the best plan for Mr. Melton to go first.

It was not many days after they had thus decided that Mr. Melton sold the stock and other personal prop erty that was not covered by the mortgage. After tak ing an affectionate leave of his wife and daughter, and bidding farewell to his loved State, he turned his face southward, determined to put the past behind him and

begin life anew, with the courage and energy worthy of his New England ancestry. Another week saw him an honored guest in a Southern homestead.

Mr. Melton had already made up his mind that he would settle in Louisiana, before he left Maine, so the task that fell to Mr. Bliss was not a hard one—that of persuading him to homestead on the piece of land ad joining his own. The first Sunday after his arrival he wrote his wife and daughter that he had "filed his claim, and would begin immediately to prepare a home for his loved ones/'

"This is the busy season," he wrote. "Cotton picking is in full blast, as well as harvesting peas and corn. A little later comes cane grinding and potato digging. I made my first acquaintance with cotton as I came down the Mississippi, and along the latter part of my jour ney I saw nothing but cotton. Whole fields looked as if they were covered with snow, the worms having eaten off all the leaves.

"I am as well pleased as it is possible to be in a new country, and hope that when you come you will like it as well as I do. We only get the mail once a week, so you see we are far from the busy, rushing world of steam and electricity, but I believe that is what you two said you wanted."

How gratefully happy that letter made Mrs. Melton and Evelyn. It gave them courage to go through the ordeal of packing up what they decided to take with them. Strive as they would against the weakness of tears and melancholy, at times they would break down and weep silently at the thought of parting with this

or that bit of furniture, which carried with it some fond remembrance of past joys. At last, all was fin ished. The goods, including Evelyn's piano, were boxed and at the station. Evelyn could not give up her piano, and besides, she thought, it might be the means of making money to help them along in the new home to which they were going.

She had carefully put up a root or clipping of every kind of shrub or flower that grew in the little garden, to transplant in their Southern, new-ground garden. "We will love these better, mother dear," she said, "than any others ; will we not ?"

With many tears they bade farewell to their home; the only one that Evelyn had ever known, and it seemed to them that they could, never love another half so well. With sad hearts they walked out of the little gate, and after being seated in the carriage of a kind neighbor, were soon on their way to the station where they were to take the evening train for Boston, there to visit Mrs. Melton's sister.

Here Evelyn felt that new trials awaited her, for the last two years of her school days had been passed in this city. She knew she would meet some of the friends of those days, who were very dear to her, and not being a girl who would play a false part knowingly, she wondered how they would receive her. Her best friend and particular chum, Marguerite Willingham, lived in Boston, and her parents were very wealthy, and moved in the most select society. Dearly as Evelyn loved Marguerite, she shrank from meeting her now. She had, of course, known always that she

was not rich and often longed for the wealth possessed by nearly all her classmates.

She decided resolutely, that she would make no com promise with self, but tell her friends bravely of her father's misfortunes and the cause of their removal to the South. Would they treat her coldly—would they forget the warm ties formed in the days of the happy past? Her soft, brown eyes filled with tears of wound ed pride at the thought of Marguerite, who had al ways seemed to idolize her, and whom she had helped through many difficult studies at school.

She tried to look bravely into the future, but the moisture would gather in drops that hung pathetically from the long, dark eyelashes. But when Marguerite was informed of Evelyn's arrival, she called at once and carried her back to her elegant home.

"This is such an unexpected treat to me, Evelyn, my love," said Marguerite, as she looked with old-time fondness on her friend, "that I scarcely know how to behave myself with proper dignity."

"I was afraid that your debut into the fashionable world had spoiled you by this time, and that you had forgotten school friends," Evelyn answered, a little anx iously.

"Evelyn, you don't mean that seriously, T know. As if I could ever forget you, of all people in the world. I owe you too great a debt of gratitude for the assist ance you gave me in getting through college. I can never repay you were I to live a thousand years and give you my handsome brother in the bargain."

A hot flush came to Evelyn's rather pale face as Marguerite mentioned her brother.

"You haven't forgotten your old weakness, Evelyn," she rattled on in her usual style, "that of blushing on all occasions. Arthur tells me that he thinks I ought to study that beautiful art. I believe you have met him once, Evelyn, haven't you ?"

"Yes, I met him here one evening before he went abroad," Evelyn answered.

Arthur Willingham had never forgotten the first im pression that Evelyn made on him the evening he had met her in his home, and Marguerite had told him so much of her goodness and intellect, that the impres sion had been deepened instead of effaced by time.

While Marguerite and Evelyn were exchanging con fidences in real, school-girl fashion, there was a rap on the door, followed by Arthur, who came into the room with outstretched hand, a smiling welcome on his face.

"I'm real jealous of Marguerite," he said to Evelyn, "and protest most earnestly against her keeping you all to herself. I did not learn until a few moments ago that you were here; did not know that you were in the city, even."

"Well, Arthur," answered Marguerite, "you were not at home when I received Evelyn's note announcing her arrival at her aunt's, and I have just returned with her. This is the first time I have seen you since; so withdraw your charge of selfishness, please."

Marguerite was very fond of her brother. Evelyn noticed her look of pride as she addressed him, and it brought to her mind one of her life-long grudges against

Fate—that she had no brother or sister to share her joys and sorrows.

"You are going to spend the winter with Marguer ite, are you not, Miss Melton?" asked Mr. Willingham.

"Oh, no," was the quick reply. "I will have only a very short stay with my aunt, and shall give Marguer ite a fair share of that time, if she wants it, hut in a few weeks mother and I will leave for the South, where father is at present. We are going to emigrate to Louis iana, you know."

"Indeed," said Mr. Willingham, with great surpriee. "I would not be more astonished if you had told me you were going to the antipodes. May I inquire if you are going as a missionary, as several of our New England ladies have done?"

"N~o, nothing of the kind. Just going like a dutiful daughter with my parents, and expect to engage in the business of school teaching and helping father to make a living." Then she told him of the loss of their home, how they had been led to select Louisiana, and wound up by laughingly inviting him to call and see them should he ever go South.

"I shall certainly avail myself of your kind invitation, and will, with your permission, sketch the little school-marm in her log cabin. Oh, by the way, you have not told me whether you intend to teach the 'Young idea' among the white or colored race ?"

"I am going to do strictly as Eome does, when I go 'Down South in Dixie'; that is, I will do as the people of the best class do," said Evelyn, proudly. "Were you ever in the South, Mr. Willingham?"

"Yes," he replied, "but not in Louisiana. I spent one winter in Aiken, South Carolina, and I suppose it is very much like Louisiana. I have' been planning to go to New Orleans to attend the Mardi Gras festival this coming winter, and perhaps I will visit you then."

"And I will go with him perhaps, if you will be so kind as to include me in your invitation to Arthur," put in Marguerite.

"Yes, I will reserve one whole invitation for you," responded Evelyn, warmly, "but I thought you were planning to spend the whole of next year abroad, and then, of course, after that you will return as 'My Lady Somebody Else,' and I will have my nose put complete ly out of joint;" and Evelyn laughed heartily at the confusion caused by her disclosure of her friend's girl ish scheme.

Evelyn positively refused to go into society, but spent a great deal of her time at Marguerite's home. To Mr. Willingham she was charmingly kind and gracious, and to him she was growing more interesting than he cared to admit, even to himself. To Marguerite, who watched with deep interest the progress of the play between them, it was a source of great satisfaction. Her brother's dis position to "sow his wild oats," too recklessly, had been the cause of deep anxiety to his family, and with such a lovely Christian wife as Evelyn would make him, he would be quite safe, she felt.

One morning as Evelyn was speaking of leaving them soon, Mr. Willingham asked if he might not share the contents of her letters to Marguerite.

"Of course," he said roguishly, "I shall be anxious

to hear how you are pleased with your new home and country, and something of the aborigines who inhabit it. I shall expect to hear that you have a pet alligator, a mocking-bird and a jet black pickaninny among your collection of curios."

"Well, as to the first," answered Evelyn, with an amused smile, "I will leave that entirely to Marguerite, as letters are no longer mine after they pass into her hands; and as for the last named pet, I will wait until you come South to select one for me, for I believe you take great pride in your excellent taste."

"Yes, I think I have very good taste, and some day I will give you proof of it," he answered, looking so earnestly at her that it brought the blood to her fair face.

"Here comes Marguerite," said Evelyn, with a feel ing of relief she could not fathom at the moment, "and she can answer the question of the joint letters herself."

"Sis," said Mr. Willingham, turning to Marguerite, "Miss Melton has constituted you judge of a question relating to certain letters which you are to receive at a future date, the question being, whether or not you will consent for me to have a share in them? Now, of course', you will make that arrangement?"

"Why, no," exclaimed Marguerite, "most emphati cally no, no! If I were to make such an agreement I would not receive a single confidential letter from Louisiana. They would be all p's and q's."

Evelyn was much amused as well as quite relieved at Marguerite's decision.

"I want Evelyn to know that no one but myself shall

ever read a line of the letters she writes me, so that she will tell me all her best secrets, then I shall hear if she falls in love with a charming Creole."

"Oh, I am going to be too busy to think of love, even for a moment," was Evelyn's prompt rejoinder.

"Evelyn," said Marguerite, plaintively, "there was no use in the world for your getting that Quixotic idea into your pretty little head of going to the ragged edge of nowhere, 'to start life anew/ as you are so fond of saying. It is simply ridiculous and real horrid in you. I doubt if I ever see you again." And she took her seat beside Evelyn and put an arm around her, as she had so often done in the old school-days.

"I do not know, dearie," answered Evelyn soothing ly, "but you need not forget me. I do not believe in that old stereotyped phrase that is as old as it is untrue, that 'absence conquers love/" and Evelyn fondly re turned the pressure of her friend's hand, while Mr. Willingham drew a sigh of intense satisfaction.

"I am delighted to hear you express such sentiments, Miss Melton," he said, "for now Marguerite and I may still hope to hold a place in your memory, though sep arated by many miles."

A rap was heard at the door, and a servant entered with a note for Miss Melton. Evelyn opened it and read aloud that her mother was quite ill with lung fe ver.

She turned pale. Her mother ill and her father so many miles away from them. She prepared to leave immediately, and in an hour after she had received the note she was hurrying to her aunt's.

Her mother seemed to suffer a great deal, and, al though she grew no worse, she did not improve, and for more than three weeks she was confined to her bed. In the meantime, a letter from her father had arrived, announcing his "cabin" ready for occupation. Evelyn had devoted herself to her mother with tireless patience. She had refused to see any but her most intimate friends, and then only for a few moments each day. She felt that her mother needed all her care ufitil her convalescence was fully established. One day the doc tor detained her a moment on the veranda, and speak ing gravely to her, said:

"Miss Melton, your aunt informs me that you wish to leave for the South as soon as your mother's health will permit. I feel as if I ought to tell you that I think it a fortunate circumstance that you are going to a warmer climate, as that is the only chance of restor ing her to health. HeT lungs are seriously affected, and I doubt if she would live another year in this cli mate. I would advise you to begin your journey as early as next week, as I do not think she will improve here with the weather growing colder and more irritat ing to her lungs every day/'

Evelyn's face had turned so very pale that for a mo ment he was sorry that he had told her, but the grate ful, happy look that followed quite relieved him as well as filled him with surprise, which was explained, when in glad accents she exclaimed:

"I am so thankful to God for His goodness to us in ordering our lot as He has, for perhaps otherwise, I might have to give up my precious mother. Do you

think that the climate of Louisiana will entirely restore her to health, Dr. Lambert ?"

"Yes, I think the mild climate of any of our Gutt States will effect a perfect cure of her lungs," he an swered positively.

From that time Evelyn never had a doubt of the goodness of her Heavenly Father in directing their steps to the South, and never again did she murmur at leaving friends. It meant her mother's life', and that was more to her than all else on earth.

The next day Dr. Lambert said that they could safely leave on the following Monday. Evelyn had her hands and heart both full as she packed their things, cared tenderly for her mother's slightest wish, and bade' fare well to her own and aunt's many friends.

Marguerite and Arthur Willingham were the last to come, and after the' embraces and tearful kisses of the two girls, the tender hand-clasp of Arthur and low spo ken words of "good-bye, Evelyn, until we meet again/' which meant more than she wished it to, though she pretended not to see it, they took their leave.

"Arthur," said Marguerite, as they wended their way home, "I hope some day you will bring Evelyn back."

"Indeed I will, if she will come," he answered, and his face flushed as his sister expressed what he himself was thinking.

"Of course, she will come. You don't suppose that a penniless girl with Evelyn's good sense, would refuse a fortune and a handsome fellow like you, do you ?"

"I am not so positive that good sense figures much in

such matters," was the rejoinder, "but it is rather early in the day to discuss the chances of victory, nor have I given the subject as much thought as you seem to think I have."

"From that day the subject did not again come up for discussion for many months. Marguerite spent the winter and spring in Europe as she had planned; Arthur a portion of the time in Louisiana.

The Farmer's Welcome in Louisiana. 37

CHAPTER III.

THE FARMER'S WELCOME IN LOUISIANA.

"His life was gentle, and the elements

So mixed in him that Nature might stand up,

And say to all the world, 'This was a man.' "— "Julius Caesar."

WHILE Evelyn and her mother were passing their time at the home of their relative', Mr. Melton was actively engaged on his homestead claim. There was an excellent saw-mill near his place, from which he pro cured the yellow pine lumber necessary to build his "cabin," as he called the little cottage home. He in tended to build only a small house now and would add to it afterwards as he acquired more means, and had more time to devote to building.

Mr. Bliss had circulated the news of Mr. Melton's loss of home in the North and his intention to settle among them as a neighbor. There were not many of the warm-hearted farmers in the settlement who were not willing to lend a helping hand and extend a warm wel come to their Northern neighbor, for they could sym pathize with poverty. Had they not lost their all in the great civil strife through they had so recently

passed? Did not they, too, have to begin anew m life, and under such changed circumstances, with only their land left to them?

When the lumber for Mr. Melton's house was hauled, there was no lack of willing hands to assist in the build ing. Indeed, there were so many workmen on the ground, that the space required for yards and garden was cleared off before sundown.

Mrs. Bliss had provided a bountiful dinner for the; men, which was a great attraction to the colored por tion of the workmen, for they liked nothing so well as a good dinner, washed down with a drink of whiskey. They are childishly fond of gatherings of all kinds, even funerals. They attend log-rollings and neigh borhood reunions of every kind to the entire neglect of their own crops, seldom giving a thought to the future.

Mr. Bliss spent all the time he could spare from his own farm in assisting his old friend and neighbor, for he felt that he could not do enough to show how pleased he was to have him among them. Mr. Melton worked diligently. He often pictured to himself the happi ness of the reuniting of his family in a new home of their own, even though it was an humble one. If only his wife and Evelyn were contented, he felt sure they would all be quite happy once more. He did not mind the work, for he had been accustomed to it all his life. He did not yet know of the Providential means that had been used to more thoroughly content one, at least, of the home-coming party to the change in their cir cumstances; for Evelyn, having never felt very much

The Farmer's Welcome in Louisiana. 39

alarmed on her mother's account and apprehending no immediate danger, had not informed her father of her illness.

Often in the evenings, as Mr. Bliss and Mr. Melton sat and talked over old times, they discussed the strange vicissitudes of fortune that had thus again made them neighbors. The second Sunday after Mr. Mel ton's arrival, as he was resting at the close of a hard week's work, Mrs. Bliss joined him and began telling of their church work, remarking:

"I wish you would go to church with us to-morrow and get acquainted with all the neighbors; you have met a good many of the men, but none of our nice ladies."

"I don't remember meeting any of them except Miss Montgomery," he answered.

"You will be sure to receive an invitation to dine with them on Sunday, and if I were you I would go and get acquainted with Mrs. Montgomery and the girls be fore Mrs. Melton and Evelyn come," Mrs. Bliss replied.

Mr. Melton thought a moment, then answered, "Thank you, 'Liza; I'll go with you and John if it will not put you to any inconvenience."

"It won't be a bit of trouble," protested Mrs. Bliss; "we can go in the wagon instead of the buggy; or you can ride horseback. I guess that would be the best plan, for then you can be free to go out to dinner, if you wish to. I am so glad you are all Baptists, as that is the only denomination in this settlement."

<f Yes, we are all members of that church. My wife's people were Presbyterians to start with, but she joined my church after we were married, and I was glad of it,

as I am a little set in my opinions and would hate to be long to one church and my wife to another."

"It seems right strange to think of Evelyn's being a woman, now. She was such a little girl when I saw her last, though I expect she was older then than I thought she was. She was such a pretty child, with soft brown eyes and yellow curls," mused Mrs. Bliss reminiscently.

"That's so," remarked the fond father, "Evelyn is a beautiful girl; though I say it, who shouldn't. She is well educated, too, 'Liza. I spent almost all I owned on her. She is planning for John to try to get her a school in this neighborhood, if he can. She is so anxious to help me, poor child, and I feel as if I can't let her go away from me again, it would leave me and Mary so lonely."

"I don't doubt he can get her a good school next Sum mer if not before then," replied Mrs. Bliss, "and I shall do all in my power for her."

Mrs. Bliss was an energetic woman, and a great be liever in one's being "up and doing, still achieving, still pursuing," even in this obscure corner of the world.

That night as they were sitting on the gallery, con versing on things in general, as was their custom, there was a click of the gate latch and the genial voice of young Doctor Montgomery announced himself as with a pleasant "Good evening, gentlemen," he took the chair offered him by his host.

"I have just been down to Nux's to prescribe for one of his pickaninnies," he said, "and stopped just a mo ment to deliver an invitation from father and mother to Mr. Melton, to come and dine wth us to-morrow;

The Farmer's Welcome in Louisiana. 41

and I also want to see how my little namesake is pro gressing. I may come in to see him, may I not, Mrs. Bliss?"

Mrs. Bliss was sitting by the baby's cradle trying in vain to get him off to sleep. "Certainly," said the proud mother, as she lifted the fat baby from the cradle. The little one reached out its chubby arms toward the young doctor as if quite accustomed to his company. As soon as he was near enough he commenced crowing and pull ing that individual's mustache vigorously.

"Oh, you young scamp!" exclaimed the doctor. . "You know how to hurt a fellow, don't you?" And disen gaging the chubby fingers handed him back to his mother. "Has he cut any teeth yet ?"

"No; but I think he will pretty soon," was the answer.

"The little girls are asleep, I see," said Doctor Mont gomery, looking toward where the trundle-bed stood with its rosy cheeked occupants in full view from the bright pine-knot blaze. Doctor Montgomery, or Doctor Laurie, as he was generally designated, to distinguish him from the old doctor, his father, was quite a favor ite in the parish. He was very unlike his father in some respects and yet like him in others. He could not have lived all his life with his polished, gentlemanly father without being like him in manners, at least. They had a large and extended practice, ranging from ten to fif teen miles in extent; sometimes over bayous swollen by the spring freshets, or through seemingly interminable pine forests, answering every call whether from rich or poor, white or black.

"Mr. Melton, when do you expect your family from the North ?" inquired the doctor.

"I am in hopes of heing able to send for them in two or three weeks/' was the reply. "John thinks that my nest will he ready hy that time, and you may imagine that I am very anxious for them to come."

"We shall all be pleased to welcome them to our neigh borhood, for we are in need of a great many more such settlers among us as Mr. Bliss and yourself, and it seems that it might be possible for you to persuade oth ers to follow," remarked the doctor.

"I don't know. The Northern people have a mis taken idea of the South, and unless we can show them this mistake, as I have been taught to see it, it will not be possible to turn the tide of immigration toward the South instead of the West," Mr. Melton replied.

"They would surely take the testimony of two such men as you and Mr. Bliss," protested the doctor, warmly; then added, abruptly: "Your family will arrive in good time for the cane grinding season, which I suppose will be a new experience to them, will it not ?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Melton, interestedly, "it certainly will be a new experience to all of us, and a very inter esting one, especially to me, as I wish to learn the proc ess thoroughly, for I will, of course, raise cane for my own use hereafter."

"I guess you will prefer maple to cane syrup, for a while at least, until you become accustomed to it," Mr. Bliss remarked.

After chatting a while longer, the doctor rose to take his leave. As he was bidding them good-bye, Mrs. Bliss

The Farmer's Welcome in Louisiana. 43

came out and told him that her persimmon beer would be in readiness by the following week, and not to for get to stop and test it when he was riding by thirsty and tired.

Promising that he would not forget such an import ant matter, he left them, but not without assurance from Mr. Melton that he would accept the invitation to spend the following day with the doctor's parents.

As he galloped down the road Mr. Melton turned to Mr. Bliss and remarked:

"John, that seems like a fine young man, and his father, too, is so pleasant in his manners; always has something nice to say whenever one meets him."

"Yes," assented John, warmly; "they are the very best people around here. They used to be rich for this country, owning about one hundred slaves."

"As for Doctor Laurie," put in Mrs. Bliss, "he's just the best and most pleasant fellow in the world. I know him well, for he always likes to stop with us; says that my persimmon beer, gingerbread and doughnuts are the nicest in the parish."

"Oh, well, 'Liza, Laurie has learned that the way to win over a woman's good will is to brag of her a lit tle," said her husband teasingly.

"I know that Evelyn and Mts. Melton will like him just as well as I do," she answered confidently.

The next Sunday morning dawned beautifully cloud less, with the brightness of the sunshine slightly veiled by the soft October haze; but as the sun rose higher and the soft, billowy clouds floated up from the Gulf, the blue became so deeply, so purely blue, as is seen no-

where else in the world unless it be in Italy's bright skies.

It was ten o'clock when they started for church. The long journey of four miles to the Brierwood church was always an event in the quiet life of the farmers of that section. As they never reached home earlier than three in the afternoon, it was necessary to take some luncheon for the children, and, indeed, the elders often joined the disposal of the cold chicken and biscuits.

The congregation was rapidly assembling when they reached the church—a large, substantial wooden build ing situated in a beautiful oak grove. The cemetery, with its gleaming white stones, stood on a gentle emi nence near by, where many a brave forefather of the hamlet slept, all unmindful of the storms of war, or the gentle reign of peace.

The regular hour of service was eleven o'clock, but it often happened that many of the congregation arrived before that time; and, as was their custom, they had taken out their hymn books and were passing their time profitably and pleasantly, singing the songs of Zion, in which one and another, as they arrived, joined, so that by the time set for service there was a loud, swelling volume of song going up from many hearts and voices. The whole congregation joined heartily in the singing, which rendered it very impressive. The white-haired minister discoursed to them in a quaint, old-fashioned way, dwelling chiefly on the theme of Jesus's love for sinful man.

After the services were over, Doctor Montgomery took Mr. Melton in charge, introducing him to all the

The Farmer's Welcome in Louisiana. 45

neighbors whom he had not formerly met, then invited him to join him and his family and return for dinner, which Mr. Melton very readily consented to do.

The usual time was spent in general conversation, in quiring after the sick of the neighborhood and others, who were of necessity detained at home.

Nearly every family for miles around who attended church at Brierwood, either dined out or took company home with them, and a few, who lived in close prox imity, kept open house on Sundays. It was after three in the afternoon when the Montgomerys, accompanied by Mr. Melton and Mr. Hynson, who had also been invited, reached the "Magnolias," as the Montgomery plantation was called.

The Sunday dinners were generally partly prepared on the previous Saturday so that there was very little left for "Mauma" Silvy to do on the Sabbath. As there were services at Brierwood only once a month, the remaining Sabbaths were allowed to Mauma, the faith ful colored retainer, to spend at Greengrove, and there, Sunday after Sunday, as regularly as the preaching days came around, she shouted to her heart's content as the "Sperrit 'tuk' possession of her," she explained to her home folk.

Old Mauma Silvy was one of those privileged char acters so common on all Southern plantations before the war. She had acted chiefly as nurse in the old days of plenty and luxurious abundance; had grown up with the mistress with whom she came to Brierwood as part of the latter's marriage portion, and as children were born into the family she took them in charge and

nursed them until they got beyond her leading strings. James, Laurie, Marion and the "baby," as Fannie was called, all passed through her hands. Next to their parents, they loved this old negro woman, and to her, when mother was not near, they carried all their joys and sorrows, sure of a sympathetic response. As the boys grew older they teased and played many jokes on her, but she was always patient and forgiving, know ing that they loved and respected her.

When the "annual giving" came with the Christmas time, Mauma was laden with gay bandanas, clay pipes, tobacco and gifts of similar value. When she was set free she had to enter a life of more labor than she had ever known before, for as a free woman she was ex pected to earn a living for herself. The girls, more par ticularly Mamie, helped her with the pastry making, but when baby Fannie came in the kitchen to assist her, she was always "on pins," as she expressed it, for fear "sumpthin' outlandish" would happen before she left the kitchen.

"De baby sech a splasher Fse allus 'feared she'll broke sumpthin', an* crock'ry ain't cheep dese days, like it wuz befo' de wah, an' dere ain't no bags er goP settin' roun' like dere wuz in dem good ole times," she would say, shaking her head until the feather scratchers that she always carried in her ears, would fall out, making Fannie laugh heartily as she would leave the old woman alone in her glory.

When Mr. Melton returned home that evening, he found Mrs. Bliss full of curiosity as to what he thought of the Montgomery family, "Mr. Melton, which of the

The Farmer's Welcome in Louisiana. 47

two girls is the best looking ?" she asked, with much in terest. "John thinks Fannie is the 'cutest' little girl in the world, while I think Mlarion is much the nicest looking of the two."

"Well, 'Liza," replied Mr. Melton, thoughtfully, "I can't really say; they are both so nice and pretty, that I don't know which to admire most, but I think their mother is the most beautiful old lady I have ever met; such lovely manners and gentle ways as she has, I never saw in anyone."

Mr. Melton recounted the events of the day, praising the Montgomerys enough even to please Mrs. Bliss's ex acting nature. "The doctor told me that if I'd let him know what time my folks would come, he would send two wagons down with cotton, and, as they would re turn empty, I might have the use of them to haul my freight home. I think it was kind and thoughtful of him," said Mr. Melton.

"Well, you'll find that he will be continually doing such things," Mrs. Bliss returned. "He is not a man who does things by halves as so many people do, and his wife is just as good as he is."

That night as Mr. Melton sought his pillow, it was with a deep feeling of gratitude that the lines he thought so hard at first, now seemed to be falling in pleasanter places.

CHAPTEE IV.

SOUTHWARD BOUND.

"Now go we in content, To liberty, and not to banishment."—"As You Like It."

EVELYN was delighted with the great improvement in her mother's health during their journey South. So rapidly was her strength increased by the time they reached Campte landing on the Eed Eiver, she seemed almost well again.

It was just dark when they landed at the small town with its dozen or so houses built along the river front. The "hotel," as the little boarding house was called, was kept by Mrs. Michael, a Jewess, whose husband acted as collector and purveyor for the house of his wife, by whose name it was principally called.

The small, low frame building was protected from the sun by a huge pecan tree, whose branches swept the roof. Often through the night were the strangers awakened by the crash of the falling nuts on the shingle roof, cut loose from the boughs by those rapacious rodents, the flying squirrels, or thrashed off by the strong wind that ever blows along the river.

It was late ere Evelyn and her mother could compose

their minds sufficiently to sleep well, and before it was yet light they were awakened by a loud "hello" at the front door of the hall on which their room opened. The call was answered by their host, who demanded in a rather angry voice: "Vat's you vants mit me so soon dish mornin'?" to which the voice replied good hu-moredly:

"I wants ter know ef dem Yankee ladies cum up on de 'Belle' las' night ? I was tole by de ole boss ter ax fur dem at de hotel, suh."

"Yas, two vimmins come in here las' nicht fum de boat, but I dun no vedders dey ees Yankees or no. Vere's ees you fum anyvays, neeger; an' vats your pees-ness mit dese vimmins vat cum here off de 'Belle'?" interrogated Mr. Michael.

"Now, Mr. Michael, I know you 'cognizes me, wat you's seed heah so many times wid Doctor Montgomery's wagins. Mr. Melton tole me, and my ole boss tole me, too, ter 'quire ef de ladies wuz heah, an' I wants ter ax 'em ef deyed lak' ter go wid me in de mule wagin up de country; an' I wants ter git er order fur dey freight ter sen' by Aleck in de ox wagin. Mr. Michael, please go and fin' out all 'bout it, an' let me know right away, please, sir," said the negro driver, coaxingly. Evelyn, who had heard every word distinctly, had arisen and dressed herself hurriedly, and now came into the hall. She had insisted on her mother's remaining in bed until the usual hour.

"Mr. Michael, I guess that my mother and I are the ladies to whom the driver refers, so I will speak with him myself about the journey up the country," she explained

to the host as she turned to meet the negro, who came to the door of the hall on hearing her speak. He bared his head, from which the obnoxious wool had been closely clipped, and made a most profound bow.

"Good morning, Mr. . Ah! what did you say

was your name ?" Evelyn stopped short, as she suddenly remembered that she had not heard his name called dur ing the colloquy that she had just overheard.

"My name is jest plain Jeems Munroe, ma'am, an* folks ginerly calls me Jim fur short. Nobody eber cognizates me by de name ob Mr., but a few fashionable niggers, an' we hain't got none ob dat sort in our parish, I'm glad to say," and Jeems Munroe bowed again, as he added : "Mr. Melton tole me ter ax heah fur his ladies, an' I presumes you is de ones, ma'am, ez I'm a-huntin'. I wuz tole ter ax ef you'd lak' ter go up de country wid me home, ma'am, an' Aleck he druv' de ox team, an' I says ter 'im las' night, I did, 'I bets dem ladies cum up on dat boat wat's w'istlin' now,' an' I'm sho' glad ov it, ma'am, as you has come, an' you'll jes' make up yo min's, ma'am, wedder you'll go or not. Now, wat I wants is de order fur yer freight so's I kin load up de ox team and let Aleck git off immegitly. I doan s'pose you knows, ma'am, but a ox team trables mighty slow, an' ef hit doan git off yerly dey'll not mek it home by sun down."

"Well, just wait a few moments, James, until I see my mother, and I will tell you what we shall do ; meantime I will write the order for our freight so that you may get off early with it." As she turned to leave the hall she stopped to ask Mr. Michael if there was any chance

to procure a more luxurious vehicle than a wagon for her mother to take the journey home. He said it was not at all likely that she could do so. She then hurried to her room to tell her mother of all that had passed, and to write the coveted order for Jeems Mun-roe. She found her mother not only willing, but anxious, to set out immediately.

"Has not that negro driver a pleasant, cheery voice, mother, or did you notice it ?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes, I could not but notice the difference between its cheerful ring and Mr. Michael's irritable tones," re plied Mrs. Melton, laughing.

"I will take this order for the freight to our polite driver, as he seems to be in a particular hurry to get his ox team off."

She returned to the hall to find the tall, dusky figure still standing in the doorway, patiently waiting, while the dimly burning lantern, and the faint light of dawn struggled for ascendancy.

"Well, Jim, we have decided to take your kind offer of a seat in your wagon, and will be ready whenever you call for us. Here is the order for our freight. What hour do you wish to leave Campte ?" asked Evelyn, cheerfully.

"Well, jes' so's we git off de ox team yerly. I doan cares 'bout our leavin' afore nine o'clock," Jim answered, deferentially.

"Do you think you can carry our freight in your wagons at one time? You know what you cannot put into the ox wagon you may carry in the one in which we will ride. I would like very much to take everything at

once if it will not overload your teams ?" Evelyn asked.

"Yassem, we kin cah'y evyting at one trip in bof ov de wagins, lessen you's got er heap er freight. My teams is sho' good uns. They kin pull 'bout er matter er three thousan' pound's ev'y trip, ma'am, an' dey allus does do it, too," said Jim, full of confidence in his teams.

Promptly at nine o'clock Jim was at the door with his wagon.

"They's clean, ma'am," he said, as Evelyn seemed to hesitate a moment before accepting his kind offer of the quilts, to cushion the hard seat for her mother.

"Oh, yes, I did not doubt that; they look very nice and clean, I am sure," she said quickly. She would not have wounded his feelings about his quilts for any thing.

"How long, Jim, has it been since the ox wagon left Campte?" asked Evelyn.

"'Bout two hours an' a half, ma'am," and he clucked to his mules, and they were off for the hills.

Jim seemed quite talkative, and appeared to think it his especial duty to entertain his charges, so he fell to discoursing to them of their new neighbors, and boast ing of the "quality" of his white folks was his chief topic.

"To whom did you say you used to belong?" asked Evelyn, a little timidly, fearing that she was introduc ing an unpleasant memory to the consideration of the ex-slave; but she was surprised at the burst of en thusiasm which the inquiry brought forth.

"Me, ma'am, did you say ?" he asked, as if rather dis gusted that everyone did not know that he had always

belonged to the Montgomerys and his father and mother before him.

"Yassem, I b'longed to de Montgomery s, an FS all us lived on de Montgomery plantation. I went off wen I wuz fust freed, an' I had er gran' time long ez de mon'y hilt out, wat de ole boss paid me wen I lef home, but den I tuk de typhoid, an' me wat allus bufo' had de bes' ob 'tention wen I wuz sick at home, an' de bes' doc tor in de country ter 'ten' me, fo' de Lawd, I lak ter perish fur er drink er cool water. I reck'n, ma'am, ef it hadn't er been fur Marse Laurie's cummin' down ter Campte 'bout dat time wid Aleck, in de wagin, an' hear-in' 'bout me bein' so sick, I'd er died right dere. Sho', ma'am, I would er done it; but he jes' put me in de wagin an' cah'ed me home ter my mammy, an' den he an' de ole boss nussed me tell I wuz well an' soun'. Marse Laurie is er good boy, sho' he is, ma'am. Well, I'se been dere eber sence, an' I 'lows ter stay dere ez long ez me an' dey gits erlong ez well ez we duz now. Dat wuz my fust and las' tas' er freedom," said Jeems Munroe, clucking to his mules.

"Well, aren't you as free on the plantation of Doctor Montgomery as you were on the river?" asked Evelyn. "Oh, yassem, I does jes' ez I pleases, ef it pleases Marse Laurie en' de boss," he answered, pleasantly. Evelyn was much amused and remarked: "You use mules a great deal down here, don't you?" "Yassem, dere's nuthin' suits a nigger ez well's a mule, an' yit dey's easy to spile, too. Dere's nuthin' is ez easy ter spile as a mule, less en' it's a nigger," he said, grave ly. Then he added, reflectively: "Mules is cufous

creeters, too; ole Becky heah acts sometimes jes' lak a sucklin' chile, an' den I jest has ter frail her good."

"And does that do her any good?" asked Evelyn.

"Oh, yassem, it does her a sight er good. She does fine fur sev'al days atter dat," and Jim relapsed into quietude. Sometimes he would remain quiet for sev eral miles, then he would rouse up and detail another bit of the history of his own or the Montgomery ancestry. He amused them very much, in that he seemed to think that his own glory and that of his former owners indis-solubly connected.

"Yassem, you'll lak' my people. Dere ain't no finer young man in de wull dan Marse Laurie, dat's de young doctor, ma'am. An' Miss Ma'an an' Miss Fannie is putty young ladies, jes' lak' you, ma'am," and he looked at Evelyn.

They ate the noon lunch by the side of a pretty, clear brook, that flowed across the road, while on either hand stretched interminable forests of long leaf pines. The ground was covered with a most luxuriant growth of long-stemmed grass, that swayed in the wind, reminding one forcibly of a beautiful field of growing wheat, while flowers of every hue glowed like gems amid the verdure. There seemed literally no end to the grand forests of pines. Sometimes they descended to the swamp that marked the course of a large creek or bayou, but only to ascend again to the monotony of the ever present pines. Several times Jim, whose quick eye never failed to see them, would point out two or three deer grazing in a far distant green glade. Once they drove very near a large buck with his doe and fawn. How beautiful they

looked as the "antlered monarch" lifted his stately head for a "moment, snuffed the tainted gale," and then with his family he bounded away, and sought a surer retreat in the depths of the swamp. Evelyn held her breath almost with delight and admiration. Indeed, she en joyed this singular journey in the rough wagon, over these wild hills and through these dark swamps. Every thing wore the glamor of novelty, and isn't that what the world is ever running after, ever the same ceaseless cry for something new since the days of Athens' glory?

The miles and miles of uninterrupted pine forest at last gave way, and an opening in the dense wall of tim ber was greeted by Evelyn and her mother with delight.

"How many miles farther will we have to travel, Jim, before we reached the Brierwood neighborhood?" asked Evelyn.

"Hit's er matter of erbout two miles an er half furder, ma'am. It's jes' two miles dis side our place. Wen you sees our place, you'll see a putty place an' er ole place, too," said Jim, with evident.pride; after which announcement he seemed to relapse into a kind of melancholy, from which nothing aroused him again.

The free and easy relations that existed between the master and his slave in the Southern States has found no parallel in any other state of society, and not until the present generation passes away, will the old feeling be forgotten, and become a thing of the past. To some, a happy memory; to others, a most bitter cup, flavored deeply with a desire for revenge on the part of the ex-slave.

To Jim, the memory of his care-free boyhood, with his

young masters for his playmates, held nothing but pleas ant thoughts.

The sun was sinking behind a dense wall of pines, when the wagon was driven up in front of a farmhouse, and Jim announced:

"Heah's Mr. Bliss's house, ma'am, an' heah's Mr. Mel ton/' as that gentleman came out of the house, on hear ing the vociferous barking of several hounds, who made such a baying that Evelyn was quite frightened. Jim hastened to reassure her.

"Dere's no danger in dem dogs, ma'am; they's no biten' stock; they's jes' varmint dogs, ma'am, an' deer dogs, they never bites folks, ma'am."

After the happy meeting between the farmer and his wife and daughter was over, the whole Bliss household, both black and white, were on the scene and joined most heartily in the welcome to the newcomers. Mr. Bliss, as his old mother had predicted of him, was very happy to share his hospitality with his old friends and former neighbors.

Jim stood by waiting patiently until the greetings should Be well over, before calling to mind that he had a load of trunks and boxes in his wagon, to be disposed of before he could go on home.

Aleck, too, had come into hearing by this time, crack ing his whip like pistol shots on the evening still ness.

"How did it happen, Jim, that Aleck got here almost as soon as you did, and he with an ox team?" asked Mr. Bliss.

"Well, suh, I loaded him up an' got him off by day-

light, an' leas'ways, let him git three hours de start ov me an' de ladies, suh. I knowed we had er plenty er time, so's I nuver hurried de ladies none," Jim answered, with unabated good humor.

"Well, Jim, I am sure I am very much obliged to you for your good care of them. Some of these days maybe I will have it in my power to do something to repay you for this kindness to me and them," Mr. Melton said, feelingly, and then added: "Be sure you return my thanks to your master for the use of his wagons." He felt deeply the kindness these people had lavished on him. People whom all his life he had spoken of in the harshest terms; whom he had been taught to regard as cruel and unjust.

"John, suppose we get in and drive over to the cabin in the wilderness, and unload these wagons and save ourselves the trouble of unloading them here and re loading them again on Monday. Don't you think that will be a saving of trouble ?" asked Mr. Melton.

"A capital idea, Mr. Melton," answered friend John, as he followed Mr. Melton into the wagon. Calling Aleck to follow, they were soon lost to view in the dim forest.

Mrs. Bliss now took her guests into the house where everything showed the thriftiness of this notable New England housekeeper. There were two bright looking little girls, who tried to hide in the folds of their mother's dress, but Evelyn, who dearly loved children, soon had them coaxed over to her, and by the time the men returned from the clearing, she had completely won their little hearts.

A new cornshuck mat occupied a place at the top of the steps, and at the end of the gallery stood a shelf with two shining hooped buckets for holding the using water of the family. A tin wash-basin, as bright as tin could be made, was placed beside the buckets. Nearby was a roller from which depended a spotless crash towel which was used indiscriminately by the whole family.

Evelyn noticed the wide, cool hall where the family spent most of the time from May until October. On the walls hung a thermometer, and several branching deer horns; trophies of Mr. Bliss's skill as a marks man. The latter were used as hat racks in this primi tive region. The floors of yellow pine were immaculate ly clean. Their hostess took them into a small room which opened into the hall and helped them take off their things, and herself brought them fresh water to bathe their faces and hands. When they had com pleted their preparations for supper, she invited them into her room, which served as sitting-room, now that the weather was growing a little chilly in the evenings. A bright pineknot fire burned on the wide hearth, in front of which was spread a soft sheepskin rug, and on it sat a large bald-headed baby, the pet of the Bliss household. He was crowing lustily and trying to pull in pieces a poor inoffensive little kitten, whose plaintive mews appealed to Evelyn's tender nature. She in stantly liberated the kitten and, seizing the baby, she gave him a good hug, which proceeding from an entire stranger so terrified his babyship, as to elicit a succes sion of infantile screams. Here his little black nurse,

Judy, ran up, and taking him from the young lady, shamed him for crying so, as she said:

"Laurie's so 'feared er strangers, but he laks hit namesake. He ain't 'feared er Marse Laurie, is you, Laurie ?"

"What is your baby's name, 'Liza? I did not quite catch what the child called him; and is it a boy or a girl ?" asked Mrs. Melton.

"He is named for our young doctor, Laurie Mont gomery," answered Mrs. Bliss, looking proudly at the fine baby, who seemed now quite restored to happiness, sitting astride Judy's hip, with one chubby white hand pulling affectionately at her wool. He looked very contentedly at Evelyn from his stronghold, but seemed to desire no further—or rather, nearer acquaintance with her.

"I am so fond of babies, Mrs. Bliss, I wish he would let me play with him," said Evelyn.

"Oh, well, he will get used to you in a few days, and do to you as he does Doctor Laurie. He cries after him whenever he comes over here," answered the mother.

Evelyn wondered if everyone in the Brierwood neigh borhood was going to talk of this young doctor.

Mrs. Bliss now excused herself, and went into the kitchen to look after the supper. She always broiled the tender vension steaks herself, to be sure they were just right. She was too careful a housekeeper to leave such an important matter to Chloe, the black cook. The table was bountifully supplied with light bread, egg-bread and hominy, fried sausage, cold ham, and the juicy venison steaks. A large dish of rich yellow butter be-

spoke a well supplied dairy. Cold vegetables were al ways a part of the evening repast, as Mr. Bliss declared them a necessity to him.

"Evelyn and her mother, of course, must be hungry, after their long day's travel," said Mrs. Bliss; and in deed they were, especially the former, and did full jus tice to the delightfully prepared meal. Still more did they all enjoy the genuine hospitality of the happy farmer and the proud mistress of this plentiful home.

"You don't tell me, John, that all the farmers in this section are as prosperous as you seem to be?"

"No, Mrs. Mjelton, I don't mean to brag on myself, but I can tell you that Yankee pluck and energy will go as far toward making a man prosperous in the South as it does in the North. Nearly all the farms are poorly managed and the farmers correspondingly poor, in this hill country. The people have not yet learned to get along under the changed order of things, but they are getting in practice pretty fast, and there is a bright future in store for this country, I think," said Mr. Bliss, hopefully ; and then he added: "I see that Mr. Melton has not lost any of his old energy, and I think I can predict with safety that he will soon be inde pendent again."

"I will, if 'energy and pluck' will accomplish it," he said, hopefully. "I think, John," he resumed, "if it will be convenient for you to help us, we will move over to 'The Refuge,' as Evelyn says we must call our new home, as early as next Monday. Then I will be much nearer my work and can begin my new life in real earnest."

"Yes, it will be quite convenient for me, Mr. Melton

but I don't see ho\v I'm to get along without you, now that I've had you here for company so long. We shall miss you very much, won't we, 'Liza ?"

"Yes, we certainly will, and you'll have to promise to come over to see us mighty often, or we can't let you leave us," she responded, warmly.

They then went into the sitting-room and Evelyn told them of her mother's illness, but kept to herself the doctor's statement in regard to her mother's lung trouble; that she would tell only to her father.

Mr. Melton had noticed his wife's pallor and thinness, but laid it to the trials through which she had passed; he had not thought of her being ill.

CHAPTER V.

LOOKING BACKWARD.

"At length I saw a lady within call, Stiller than chisell'd marble, standing thtre; A daughter of the gods, divinely tall, And most divinely fair."—Tennyson.

IN 1860 the family of Doctor Montgomery consisted of himself, his wife, and four children, and an orphaned niece, of whom he was legal guardian.

The eldest son, James Montgomery, was then a stu dent in a Northern university, but at the first call of the South for volunteers to defend her borders from in vasion by the North, he hastened home and joined the regiment in which his father had already enlisted as surgeon.

He was wildly enthusiastic and thrice ready to do battle for the land he loved. When his native State, in line with her sister States, withdrew from the Union, he was triumphant. Standing before his mother with flashing eyes and uplifted arm, he exclaimed in tones that thrilled her soul with dread presentiment:

"Mother, I would rather give my right arm! I would

rather give my life, than that my State shall ever go back into the Union."

Alas! he did give that strong right arm, he did give that brave young life, and his mother, waiting in her darkened home, listened for the buoyant step that she knew she would hear no more.

It was a bright morning in early spring when they left for Virginia, whither their regiment had been ordered.

The negroes on the place had all come up to "the house" to bid a last good-bye to ''Marster" and "Marse" James, and many were the parting admonitions to "tek keer on yourse'f an' doan' git in reach er dem Yankee guns, for de Lord's sake."

The children came next and then the brave mother, as she stood with pale face, striving to crush back the feelings that threatened to overcome her. There would be days enough to indulge the luxury of tears, she wisely thought, and she did not want to unman her loved ones now.

While father was giving a few last directions to mother, James went in search of his cousin, who was not with the group on the gallery. He knew why she was not there, for he had had similar experience with her before when the annual going away to college hail come. She would always hide to avoid that last fare well which some natures find so hard to endure.

She had kissed her uncle tenderly some time before, though not in the light of a farewell—but James! that was different. He had been her self-constituted pro tector, her childish hero, ever since she had come to

live at The Magnolias, as a shy orphan, only eight years old. He knew and understood the tender-hearted, sensi tive girl as no one else did, and fully sympathized with her in this sorrowful parting.

He found her in a little rose-embowered arhor at the end of the gallery. She was curled up on a little rustic seat, while the tears fell unheeded from her lovely brown eyes.

As he drew near the vine-wreathed summer house, memory brought vividly before him in swift succession, incidents and scenes long ago enacted there. 'Twas there he and Mamie had studied together their youthful lessons, and as they grew older they read their favorite poets or told in confidence their dreams and aspirations for the future.

<r Mamie, darling," he softly uttered, and his cousin sprang up with a sob that was half sorrow and half joy, and threw herself in his outstretched arms. He folded her to his breast as he realized for the first time what she really was to him. Not playmate, not cousin any longer, but a woman beloved of her lover. In that supreme moment that tries the strongest hearts, that full consciousness came to him with the still sweeter assurance that he was equally loved.

"My love, I have only a few moments to speak, as father is waiting for me, but I must tell you before I go that I love you better than anyone else on earth, and to ask you to be true to me. Remember, Mamie, that I will expect you to cheer and encourage my precious mother through these hard trials, for Laurie is too young for her to rely on as she will on you, dearest," then,

after repeatedly kissing her, he unclasped the dimpled arms from around his neck and hurried to his father, who was now at the gate.

He knew the best thing for Mamie was to feel that he had left his mother in her care; then she would have a mission to perform for his sweet sake and would sacredly fulfill it. And he was not mistaken. In the three dark years that followed, she was ever thinking for "Auntie" and for others. Always cheerful, always busy, helping the noble mistress in all the plantation business, which was an onerous burden on a large planta tion.

All the clothing for the family and also for the negroes had to be woven on the place, and only a few people in each neighborhood understood these domestic arts, so that the ladies were compelled to learn them, and in turn teach them to the less quick-witted negro women.

Mamie readily learned how to spin the warp and filling, to dye with the home-raised indigoes and native barks, and lastly the tedious operation of putting the threads in the rough loom and weaving it into cloth.

Nobly did she, like many another Southern girl, toil early and late that she might have encouraging words to send to the brave soldiers at the front.

Then, too, they kept open house on this military road, for the soldiers who were ever stopping to share their noble hospitality. Officers and men alike, were treated with a cordiality that was entered into by the black members of the Montgomery household as warmly as by the white ladies and children.

Ah! who that passed through those days of the early

sixties can ever forget them? Letters came after long intervals. Sometimes weeks passed after a battle was fought ere they knew whose names filled up the casualty list.

James's first brief furlough came to Mamie and his mother as a rift of sunshine in a dreary day. How Mamie hung upon his every word! How she treasured his smiles and glances as he petted and praised her to her heart's content, calling her his heroine. He told her that of all the beautiful women he had met since he left Louisiana none could compare with her in loveliness; and looking on the exquisite face none could doubt it.

"You are more perfect now, Mamie, than when Tauzin painted your portrait in New Orleans, beautiful as that is, and when the war is over I am coming home to claim you as my sweet wife, darling." The soft eyes fell beneath his passionate gaze and the sweet face grew red with blushes as she answered:

"Yes, if you wish it so, James," and he put his arm around her and drew her into the sitting-room to tell mother all their plans.

Mrs. Montgomery was very much opposed to the mar riage of first cousins, as was her husband, but now she felt that she could not say anything to cast a chill over the happiness of these dear children in the brief period they had to spend together, so a loving consent was given them to love each other as much as they wished for the present. Mrs. Montgomery felt assured that she could trust their future to the guidance of their Father in heaven.

The happy days passed as indeed on "angel's wings"

and the parting came, and James was gone, never to return! The autumn came, bringing with it the awful news that plunged the household at The Magnolias into the deepest grief—James was dead!

The father wrote that the brave young captain had lost his right arm in a reconnaissance of the enemy's position during a night sortie. Three weeks later he died in a hospital.

His father buried him in a far distant State, and life at home went on, apparently, just the same as if there were no breaking hearts from which the sunshine of life had fled.

A brave Christian soldier! Who shall say he died in vain? No life given in the cause of patriotism is ever uselessly sacrificed, but the cause for which he laid that life upon the altar, a willing offering, moves on, growing grander and stronger in the march of the ages, toward universal freedom.

To Mamie Montgomery the death of her lover-cousin was a cruel stroke, from which she was long in recover ing. She grew so thin and pale that she seemed but the ghost of her former self and awakened grave fears in her aunt as to the ultimate result of her despairing grief. But youth triumphed, and after several weeks of nervous fever, she began a slow convalescence. She seemed to be etherealized into a being all soul and spirit now.

One day as she walked slowly across the hall dressed in a flowing white wrapper, Ned, one of the house boys, who was standing on the back steps at the time, observed to his companion:

"Ketter, don't Miss Mamie put you in ruin' ov dat angul whut we wuz lookin' at yistiddy, in Marse Laurie's book?"

"Yas, she duz percisely, 'cepin' she hain't got no whings," replied Cato, as he watched, with admiring eyes, the slender, white clad figure of his young mistress.

"Well, Ketter, I allus feels kinder 'ligeous wen I looks atter her, she's so lubly and wite," Ned added under his breath, as Mamie disappeared through the door of her room, then he remarked reflectively, "Ketter, I wanders ef we'll be wite an putty wen we gits to heb-ben?"

What Cato thought on the subject will never be learned, for just then the cook called angrily to them from the kitchen, and they scampered away, for that worthy dame kept them in wholesome dread of her irate temper.

Time and youth overcome the greatest grief, and to Mamie's aid came a deep religious fervor. She seemed to have passed through the crucible in which the dross was consumed and the pure gold of her character left resplendent.

Laurie wished vehemently to go and take his dead brother's place, but his mother, who had so courageously given her husband and eldest son to fight for their coun try, felt that she could not let him leave her now. In this feeling Mamie shared most earnestly. She promised him, though, that if the war continued uutil he reached the age of sixteen, she would consent for him to join his father, if he still wished to do so; and she had not a doubt as to the choice he would make.

As the months passed and Doctor Montgomery real ized the utter hopelessness of the cause he loved so well, he did not urge his wife, as he would otherwise have done, to send their only son, a mere youth, to join the army.

The year following was full of brilliant victories, yet fraught with great disaster to the Confederacy. It closed in gloom and the next May Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, and the South was turned over to a fate darker and more direful than even the most pessimistic had ever dreamed.

Bereft of loved ones, of liberty, of wealth, the South was a desolate ruin. Had the victorious North but stopped here it would have been far better, but she sought by force of arms to place the master at the mercy of his former slave. To place a noble, chivalrous civili zation under the domination of the half-barbarian hordes of African descent. But God delivered them, as He always does deliver, His chosen races from the domin ion of the ignoble and the base.

Laurie Montgomery was dreadfully dissatisfied that the war was over, and he had not been allowed to strike a blow in defense of the "stars and bars." The banner that he loved with all a boy's enthusiasm, had been furled in darkest night and nothing left but despair. He declared with the impulsiveness of youth that he would never get over it.

Doctor Montgomery was more fortunate than many Southern planters, in that he had his home left unmo lested. But how changed was everything else to which he had been accustomed. The negroes were insolent to

an almost unbearable degree, and at the first opportu nity left them and went to try their fortunes on a Red River plantation.

Only a few of the more faithful remained, and they were old and so decrepit as to prove more of a burden than a help to their old master. In the nobleness of his heart he felt in honor bound to keep those who wished to stay with him as long as they behaved themselves properly.

Among those who kept their places on the plantation was the old man who had followed James Montgomery as body servant during his service in the Confederate army. He had been given many opportunities of es caping beyond the Federal lines had he chosen to do so; but he was loyal to his young master, whom he had "helped ter raise," as he often boasted to others.

When asked why he did not go to his friends, the Yankees, he invariably answered, "What Marse James guine do ef I lef him heah so f er f um home ? I promise Mistis ter tek keer on her boy, an' ef I doan do it Gawd will sholy punish me, kase I promise on de holy Bible." So he went on his way, as usual, providing something to satisfy the appetite of the young man whom he loved so well and served so faithfully. He knew just how to please his master with a bit of broiled chicken or fish that he had procured "by de hook o' my crook" as he explained to the young officer when questioned as to how he managed to get anything above rations in such destitute sections as they often found themselves.

Old Daddy Mack had justly earned the support and

protection which the parents of Captain Montgomery so willingly and faithfully gave him in his old age.

When he returned home, after the death of his young master and shook the hand of his weeping mistress, he told her all he could remember of the last days of the young hero's life. The tears streamed down the dusky face as he discoursed to the throng that crowded about him. To Old Mauma Silvy, whom James had loved in his infancy and boyhood, he had sent a message and remembrance, and the old woman had received it with loud lamentations, her apron thrown over her head in the abandonment of grief.

Daddy Mack had not done any real labor for sev eral years before he had gone to the war, and after it closed he was a privileged character and only did what he pleased to do, and that was either to work at basket making or to fish in the clear streams, where abounded the trout, bream, jack, spotted cat, and many other varieties of fish. It was a given up fact, on the plantation, that if Daddy Mack could not catch fish, it was because there were none to be caught.

He always had more baskets on hand than were needed on the place, and these he sold and put by the money, for which he had no use and never spent. At his death he gave it all to his mistress, who bought with it a slab of marble and placed it above the grave of the faithful old servant.

Many were the visits the children paid to the old man's cabin, 'and while he wove the long broom-sedge into baskets and "Fanners," as he called a wide, flat kind of basket, he would never weary of telling them

stories of their ancestors, and also of the war. He doubtless often exaggerated the part he had played in it, as servant of the dear brother, whose memory was so lovingly venerated by the Montgomery chil dren, who never tired of listening to stories of his army life. The old negro sitting there in his split bottomed chair, with the sunlight sifting through the green foliage over his grizzled head, the white children grouped about him, made a picture that had its counter part on many a Southern plantation.

The little ones, and the youths, too, both black and white, listened with reverence to the old man as he told stories and busily plied his trade with industrious fingers, while the sun, all too soon, hastened to hide himself behind the western hills.

Heading the Bible to him was a privilege which Mamie never neglected, on the quiet Sunday after noons after church services. His favorite chapters were those which related to the visit of "Niggerde-mus" to the Saviour, and the going forth of death on the pale horse. The "Pilgrim's Progress," too, was a fine favorite with him, though it is doub'tful if he ever understood it in an allegorical sense.

Mamie and her aunt took especial care to see that Daddy never lacked for clothing or food, and to be sure on the latter point he always got his meals in the kitchen.

After the war, the teaching of the children, Marion and Fannie, devolved entirely on their mother and young cousin. Mrs. Montgomery, though a fine mu sician and thoroughly accomplished woman, felt that

she had her hands full already, in managing a house hold under the new regime of untried, and often in efficient servants. She could not, therefore, devote the time she wished, to the education of her little daughters. A great deal of the time they were turned over to Mamie's care, and patiently did she perform her allotted share in their education. They were very fond of their gentle, lovely cousin, and were ever ready to please her.

Mrs. Montgomery's cook, who had had the sole man agement of the culinary department for years, left her and went to Red River, that paradise of the freed-men. Old Mauma Silvy, who had never done any hard work in her life, had to come into the kitchen in her place. With the assistance of a little girl, she and her mistress took charge of the work that had formerly heen divided among a half a dozen much more efficient workers.

Mauma spent much valuable time in bewailing the "no 'countness oh de young niggahs whut's growin' up." She often exclaimed in disgusted tones, "Whut meks 'em so no 'count is dey can't stay nowheres long enuff ter do nutten, Missus; allus gallavantin' 'roun' de country, meks me say whut I does. De wull is all gwine ter ruin quicker'n' lightnin' wid tings turned upside down disher way," and the old woman went bustling about from morning until night, grow ing slower and slower every day. The patient mis tress, noble and self-sacrificing, with the courage dis played by many Southern women, put her own slen-

der hands, that had never known toil, to the loom of domestic life, and wrought for her loved ones a home of peace and comfort from the broken and knotted threads of discord and strife.

It required all the tact, patience, and dignity of one used to command, to get along smoothly with the newly freed negroes, intoxicated, as it were, with their liberty. But Mrs. Montgomery was equal to the emergency, and well did she discharge her duty in this trying ordeal.

In teaching the children, she was fairly successful, too. With Marion, the elder of the little girls, there was no difficulty, as she was naturally studious and Tery fond of music. She would do her lessons or practice the most tiresome scales for hours each day; but with Fannie, gay, little, impulsive Fannie—it was entirely different. She disliked music—the music that required years of practice and study. She loved the music of the birds, and could rival them in sweetness of tone and clearness of utterance, as she warbled plan tation ditties and the songs that she was so quick to learn. She declared there was too much brightness and music outside for anyone to sit in a darkened parlor and thrum on a piano, or pick a guitar.

So, while Marion became a cultured musician, Fan nie grew strong and athletic; cultivating a personal acquaintance with the birds and flowers, and petting the lambs and fawns.

Laurie was sent away to college to complete his education, and Dr. Montgomery resumed his practice

in the now impoverished neighborhood. Entirely un used to the practice of economy the lesson was hard to learn, but they did learn it and thereby managed to save money enough to get Laurie through college and medical school.

CHAPTER VI.

BLIGHTED HOPES.

"Which weeps the comrade of my choice, An awful thought, a life removed, The humanrhearted man I loved, A spirit, not a breathing voice."—Tennyson.

THE passing years added the touch of spirituality to Mamie Montgomery's face, making it one of rare loveliness. She seldom went into company after James' death, but occasionally visited the little city of Natchitoches, where some of her college friends re sided, and there in a quiet way she mingled with some of the young friends of other days.

When in '67 General McLaughlin was sent by the Federal government to keep the peace in North Louisi ana, a regiment of bluecoats was sent to this populous parish to see justice meted out to the "cullud" brother of the South.

They were stationed at the city of Natchitoches and, after a short time, the officers were taken into the best society of the town, which beside its exclusiveness, boasted of being the oldest town in the State.

Among the officers who figured in society none was more popular, nor more justly so than Lieutenant Bar-

clay. He was, without being positively handsome, so bright in manner, so cultured and witty, as to render him very attractive to the majority of women.

He seemed attracted to Mamie from the first, and soon became so assiduous in his attentions to her that his brother officers accused him of being as aggressive in love as he had been beforetime in war.

And Mamie—had she forgotten the strong, deep love of her youth ? To some natures a second love is an im possibility, but to this gentle, confiding girl, her very dependency of disposition required someone to love, to look up to with admiration and respect. We are not speaking of a character between the pages of a romance, but a real womanly woman, and every such character has a heart more or less responsive to the love of a brave man.

The very oppositeness of their characters held mag netism for her, as to his strong, masterful nature she turned naturally for love.

When six weeks later they parted, they had arrived at that stage in love, which George Eliot describes as so charming—when each knows the other loves, but that love has never been chilled by expression.

In a short time after Mamie's return to her country home, Lieutenant Barclay visited her, and she proudly presented him to her uncle and aunt, knowing that they cherished no morbid sentiment in regard to her atti tude toward the Federal officer.

On his first visit to the Magnolias he won all hearts, and when he asked the consent of Dr. Montgomery to address his niece, it was cordially given.

Some time after this visit Lieutenant Barclay was sent on military business to the small village of Winona, some seventy miles from Natchitoches.

The direct route lay not far below the Brierwood neighborhood, and naturally, the young man made that his first point of destination.

The visit, being unexpected, was doubly delightful to Miss Montgomery. Lieutenant Barclay arrived in time for dinner, and as he was unusually bright and witty, the family all seemed to enjoy his visit almost as much as did Mamie.

While at the table, Laurie noticed, for the first time, that the Lieutenant wore a very peculiar ring, unlike any he had ever seen before.

When he afterward mentioned it to his cousin, she replied that he had always worn it since she first met him.

He had to leave by two o'clock, therefore the family did not linger long at the table that day; but left him and Mamie to say their farewells alone.

She went, at his request, to the gate with him. A pretty contrast they made, as they slowly passed down the broad gardenia-bordered walk.

He, with his strong soldierly bearing, in the blue uniform so lately a hated color in the South, and she in a simple white muslin. Her pure, delicate face was brightened by the soft blushes that came and went with every glance of the eyes that expressed such passionate devotion.

They passed through the gate and stood just beyond, where the golden arborvitae shrubs shut off the view

from the house. Then he took her hand in his, so strong and yet so tender, and made her tell him again how much she loved him, and promise him that when the autumn came, she would let him lead her to the marriage altar. Then he drew her to his breast and kissed the sweet lips again and again.

As he started to mount his horse, she dropped the little lace handkerchief, which had been tucked under her belt, and he instantly stepped back, and, picking it up, he crushed the fragrant little thing to his lips pas sionately, and put it in his breast pocket, as he said: "Mayn't I take it with me, darling? I will return it to-morrow night. Your last letter is in there, too." Then, mounting his horse, he galloped down the avenue.

To every maiden, whose lover wears a uniform and a sword, he looks as knightly as Sir Lancelot, or any other hero of the knightly age, and so Mamie thought, as she watched her hero ride away, for she turned to Laurie, who now joined her, and said brightly, though the gentle eyes were swimming in tears:

<r Does he not look a veritable Sir Galahad, Laurie, as he started in search of the Holy Grail?" to which appeal Laurie replied with cruel levity:

"I don't know, Mamie, as I never had the exquisite privilege of beholding that maiden knight as he rode away to seek for the holy cup; but I know for a cer tainty that your knight carries with him my little cousin's heart. I hope that he will always appreciate the value of that treasure as he does now."

"Oh! he always will, Laurie, I am very sure, for he is as truly noble as he seems to be," she replied, blush-

ing pink for a moment, but as the blood went back she became paler than usual, and an anxious look took the place of the smiles of a moment ago.

"Why look sad, Mamie? Your hero will come back to-morrow night, and that is a short while to lose sight of him, isn't it?" Laurie asked, as they walked up to the steps.

"I do not know, Laurie, but ever since James left us, never to return, I feel a nervous dread come over me after bidding good-bye to any one I love," but seeing Laurie's gloomy look, she assumed a lighter tone, and added:

"But I will get over it, directly; so don't mention, such a trifle to any one, dear boy." She and Laurie were as sister and brother, as well as confidential friends.

Early the next morning Laurie was awakened by the violent barking of his hounds, and got up and went to the window to see who it was that could arouse the dogs to such unusual barking.

He saw indistinctly, in the dim light of dawn, a horseman riding rapidly down the road. It filled the young man with surprise that a messenger, who had, judging from the sound of his horse's feet, ridden in such haste to the Doctor's, would return without mak ing known his errand.

He dressed himself hurriedly, and went down to the gate to see if he could find any reason for this mys terious ride. As he went down the walk something white on the gate-post attracted his attention, and go ing to it, he found Mamie's lace handkerchief, her name

written in the small linen centre. It was spotted with bright red blood, and beside it lay a letter, written in her girlish hand, literally soaked in blood. It was her last letter to Lieutenant Barclay, written the week before.

Laurie picked up the articles, and looked at them as one in a dream. He seemed dazed at first, but as the full realization burst upon him he exclaimed huskily:

"My God! has someone killed the poor fellow ?" and he trembled violently as he thought of his cousin. What to do he knew not, and yet something must be done, and done quickly. Gathering up his mental fac ulties, he decided that the first thing was to go and tell his father and mother of his gruesome discovery, and to get help immediately to go in search of the mur dered man, for there was little room to doubt that he had been murdered.

He went indoors, and, waking his parents, acquainted them with the dreadful suspicion that filled his mind as he laid the bloody articles before them.

The usually calm, self-poised physician was greatly agitated as he inquired excitedly:

"Are you very sure, Laurie, that these things were in Lieutenant Barclay's pocket when he left here?"

"Yes, sir, I am certain the handkerchief was, for just after he left, Mamie mentioned to me that he had begged leave to take it with him as an amulet, and it is natural to infer that he also carried with him her last letter. I cannot bear to think, father, of the effect this awful tragedy will have on our poor little Mamie/' Laurie exclaimed excitedly.

"I cannot understand it, for I do not think the young man had any enemies, nor even acquaintance in this part of the country; but we will go immediately and search for him. Perhaps we may find some clue to this mysterious affair.

"Order the horses quickly, my son, and we will get off as early as possible. Meantime be careful to put those dreadful things away, Laurie, where Mamie will not see them. I indeed tremble for her if this awful deed has been done, as I have good reason to fear it has." And Laurie took the blood-stained things, and running quickly to his room, thrust them in a bureau drawer.-He then went on to the horse lot.

They left just at sunrise, before any of the family had yet arisen.

They found no difficulty in following the iron shoe tracks of the officer's horse for fifteen miles. Here the tracks left the main road, and went out to a spring that bubbled up from the foot of a hill beside the road. Everyone who travels this dreary road stops here to drink of the cool water which ever flows from the spring. The ground is heavily turfed with beautiful green grass, on which the horse's hoof made no indentation, except where he occasionally stepped on the white sand in the run of the little brook. Here they found abun dant signs of foul play in the drops of blood left drying on the sand. They searched everj'where for other proof, but found nothing but a brass button, evidently fresh cut from a fine blue coat, for a small portion of the goods had been hastily cut off with the button.

There was not a track showing where nor in what

way the villains got away with their prey. The Doctor and Laurie rode through the scorching July sun for hours, in every direction for miles around the "Yankee Spring," as it is called to this day, but no evidence was found that could in any way explain the mysterious disappearance of this noble Christian soldier. It was as if he had been snatched from the earth by some un seen power.

That portion of Winn Parish is an unbroken forest of long-leaf pines, miles and miles in extent. You ride up one hill and down to a valley, each so much like the one over which you have just passed, that to the casual observer they might be just the same. Over this vast wilderness a great silence reigns unbroken, save by the soughing of the wind through the lofty pine tops.

The few human habitations that are scattered many miles apart are not on the road, but back nearer the numerous bayous, where the land is richer and the hog range is better.

Doctor Montgomery knew where every farmer in this section lived, but knew that there was no use in asking information from the settlers who were either connected by ties of blood or marriage with the des peradoes who infested this wild and lawless parish.

During the war of the States, there were men who, to escape conscription, lived chiefly in the woods, and they were joined by deserters and criminals of their own class. They grew in time to be a terror to their own and the neighboring parishes, and were known under the name of "Jayhawkers." They lived chiefly

on game and produce, taken from the luckless traveller, who, if he was suspected of having money or valuables of any kind, was promptly shot with a Winchester rifle, and his body hidden somewhere out of sight. There were no men left in the country, so these robbers were left to rob and murder with impunity for even several years after the close of the civil war. They were still flourishing at the time* of which I write, though re peated efforts had been made to rid the country of them.

Of what avail is the greatest bravery against a hid den foe; against the coward who stands behind a tree with his rifle and kills his victim ere he is aware of the presence of an enemy? Often women and children shared the fate of their protectors.

This state of things lasted only a short time after the murder of Lieutenant Barclay, and that was the last murder committed by them of which the public knew.

It was nearly sundown when Doctor Montgomery and his son turned their faces homeward. They were too weary and disheartened for conversation. At length the Doctor remarked, as if following out a train of thought:

"Laurie, I think that you had better go to Natchi-toches to-morrow, and report to General McLaughlin our fears regarding his first lieutenant.

"I cannot but entertain a lingering hope that he es caped those brutes and returned by a nearer route to his station; if it is true you will find him there. If we are so unfortunate as to hear nothing more of the poor fellow, we will, of course, have to tell our poor lit-

tie girl all we know of the awful story, and I am very much afraid her heart will break this time. My pool little darling!" and Doctor Montgomery groaned. He rarely expressed so much emotion, and Laurie, who had never before seen his father so much moved was deeply impressed by his grief. It added no little to his al ready overwrought feelings.

It was late when they reached home, but Mamie and her aunt were still up, waiting' anxiously for their re turn. Mamie knew nothing of the object for which her uncle and cousin had set out in the morning, but she was looking for her lover. She had expected that he would arrive about dark, and as the hours passed and he did not come, she grew nervous and uneasy. As her aunt suggested the idea to her that perhaps they might all return together, she joined in her lonely sad watch.

It was aften ten o'clock when Doctor Montgomery and Laurie reached home, and after their arrival Mamie gave up all hope of Lieutenant Barclay's return for that evening. She was full of surmises as to what could have kept him away, as he had said positively that he would return that evening, and he was, she knew, strictly punctual to his appointments. It was pitiful to see her efforts to appear unconcerned and hopeful.

The Doctor now insisted on their going to bed and to sleep.

"Laurie is going to Natchitoches to-morrow, Birdie," as Mamie came for her good-night kiss, "and I hope he will find your hero all safe and sound, having been forced, by necessity, to return by a nearer route to

camp. Duty, you know, dearie, is a stern master. In that case Laurie will bring you back a nice billet-doux to reward you for patient waiting; so go to sleep, and get the roses back into those pale cheeks before the gal lant soldier comes again," and the Doctor playfully pinched the dimpled chin.

Mamie was somewhat reassured by his cheering words, as she came by to bid Laurie adieu for the night. He kept liis face sedulously in shadow, as he felt that he could not get up a smile if his life depended on it.

"Laurie, why is it that I have not heard a single suggestion from you as to the probable cause of the non-arrival of Lieutenant Barclay?" she questioned, a little anxiously.

"Oh, sweet, don't bother a sleepy fellow with such abstruse questions." And she went upstairs for the night.

"An hour later her aunt stepped softly to her door to learn, if possible, if she were asleep; she semed sat isfied, for she returned to her husband to say that she thought Mamie was sleeping nicely.

Laurie was so tired that, notwithstanding his excite ment and anxiety, he fell asleep almost immediately on going to bed. Very early next morning he was on his way to NYtchitoches.

As soon as he arrived in the city he reported to the General, and made inquiries for the Lieutenant, but found that he had not been heard from. It was just as he had expected, he did not have a shadow of hope when he started from home.

The General was shocked and surprised when Laurie

told him what he feared regarding the missing officer. Laurie also told him of the relations existing between his cousin and Lieutenant Barclay. He told the com manding officer all he knew of the country in which the murder had been committed; the dreary forests; the im penetrable swamps, in which the banditti could secrete themselves without fear of discovery.

Laurie concluded his share in the interview by de claring to him his sworn vow to be avenged for the mur der of his cousin's lover if it took the whole of his life to accomplish it.

He was standing with pale and excited face before General McLaughlin, who now rose, and laying his hand on the young man's shoulder, exclaimed in a husky voice:

"Noble boy! I trust that God will aid you in meting out justice to the cowardly villain who would dare lay his hands on a noble man like Howard Barclay. A nobler man God Almighty never made. He was a friend whom I shall sorely miss."

In a short time a searching party went down into Winn Parish, and General McLaughlin himself was one of the party. During the unsuccessful search for the missing officer, the General met one of the gang, and in the encounter which ensued he killed the rob ber, and putting him on his horse, he carried him to the nearest house, which, fortunately, was near by, and laid him in the yard, and rejoined his men.

Not many weeks after this the Union soldiers in North Louisiana were ordered to the Texas frontier,

and the dreadful murder of Lieutenant Barclay passed out of the public mind.

When Laurie reached home it was three o'clock in the morning. He had purposely chosen to return in the. night that he might not have to meet Mamie. He knew that if he waited until the morrow for his return, that she would be waiting for him, and meeting her he now dreaded above everything else. He wished to con fer with his father and mother as to the best method of breaking the awful tidings to his poor cousin.

He rode around the back way; put up his horse, and slipping into his parents' room, told them that he had been unsuccessful in hearing anything of the lost man.

"Then we are forced to the belief that he has been foully murdered—hard as it is to believe, that an hon orable, good man has been killed in broad daylight, and for no cause!" exclaimed the Doctor, in a tone that be trayed the deepest emotion.

"General McLaughlin will do everything in his power to discover the murderers, and, if possible, bring them to justice; but we know how almost impossible that will be," said Laurie, in a low tone. It seemed to him that it must be kept from Mamie in some way. He felt afraid that she would overhear him, if he spoke aloud, though her room was upstairs and not directly above the one in which they were.

"Where did you put that handkerchief and letter, Laurie, before you left home yesterday?" his mother asked.

"I put th"em in the top drawer of my bureau, mother, "but why do you ask ?"

"I just wanted to be sure they were out of darling Mamie's reach/' she answered, wearily.

"You had best go to bed, dear boy, you seem almost exhausted," his mother gently suggested.

"If I do I fear I cannot sleep. I shall be thinking of dear Mamie, and of what the morning holds in store for her. Mother, I am afraid this will kill her. She is so sensitive, and she has spent the last forces of her heart on this love of her earnest womanhood," Laurie replied mournfully.

"Mamie is a Christian, and a very spiritual one. We can only pray that God will enable her to bear this trial as she bore the first great grief of her life. I will tell her in the morning myself. It is a hard task to per form, that of breaking such awful news to her loving heart. She is already very nervous, and, I think, sus pects something more than mere business took you to town."

"But go to bed now, and you will rest if you do not sleep, dear child." He did indeed look haggard and woe-begone as he left the room.

Doctor Montgomery sat in mournful stillness. He did not know what to do, and seemed overcome with grief and dismay.

When Mamie went to her room that night she did not immediately go to bed, but sat by the open window overlooking the flower garden below.

The heavy fragrance of the gardenias and grandduke jasmines floated up to her window, and, accustomed as she was to them, made her feel faint and sick. She knew not why, they had never done so before in her

go Under the Magnolias.

life. After sitting thus for an hour she arose and be gan, wearily, to undress herself. She wished now, in a vague sort of way, that she had Kivannah, her maid, back again, as in the olden time, to do for her what she felt unable to do for herself. It was not often that she had given a thought or regret to the luxuries of the past.

She fell into an uneasy slumber that lasted for sev eral hours, and was awakened by the sound of horse's feet in the lane near the house. She was excited in a moment, and listened nervously to ascertain where the horse and rider went. She opened her door, and pass ing through the hall and unoccupied room beyond, she looked toward the lot and stables. In the bright moon light she recognized Laurie as he rode up to the gate and dismounted. She then went slowly and softly downstairs to await his coming. She went to the door of her aunt's room, but some unaccountable power held her back until Laurie came in the back way and an nounced his failure to hear anything of her lover.

She felt powerless to move, and heard the whole con versation about herself and her unfortunate lover. After Laurie mentioned the things in his drawer she slowly dragged herself upstairs to his room, and un locking the drawer, found the bloody handkerchief and letter. She took them out, and going to her room, she seated herself on the side of her bed.

She had left her lamp burning, not thinking that she could sleep, when she had laid down at twelve o'clock. As she gazed at the bloody objects she realized that it was the lifeblood of the man she loved that gave

them that crimson hue. As she sat for hours looking at these dread evidences of her lover's fate, reason seemed to bend' and give way before the awful knowl edge.

At seven o'clock her aunt went to her room, and found her still sitting there in her nightgown, with her long hair falling over her shoulders, a mass of rip pling gold. The brown eyes, usually so soft and lus trous, were fixed with a strained look on the dreadful objects held tightly in her hand.

"Mamie, my love," her aunt addressed her, gently, but she did not answer. She then endeavored to take the handkerchief and letter from her tight clasp, but she clung to them, and resisted every effort her aunt made to induce her to lie down.

In great fright, she hurried to Laurie's room, and wakened him to go for his father, telling him of his cousin's condition and of her dreadful fears regarding her.

After her uncle had given her a soothing potion they succeeded in getting her to bed, and in disengag ing the stained handkerchief and letter from her hands.

A slow fever set in and complete nervous prostration. For weeks her life trembled in the scale—and who could pray for the restoration to health of one for whom life held only dark shadows ?

The God whom she loved, in gracious mercy, placed the weight of decision on the side of heaven and im mortal bliss beyond the scenes of time—and the end drew near.

As the lovely woman neared the hour of transition,

the light of Eeason enthroned, shone once more from the clear, beautiful eyes.

She called Laurie to her bedside, and in a vo ; ce gen tle, yet solemn in its pathos, she said earnestly, as she held his hand in hers, as cold and waxen now as lily-cups.

"Laurie, I know you so well that I feel certain that you will want to seek revenge for the murder of the noble man who was so much to me that I cannot live longer in this world without him, but you must prom ise me, ere I go, that you will renounce that plan of revenge. For my sake you will give me your word, darling boy, that you will leave vengeance to Him to whom it belongeth. Tell me. Quick, Laurie, for time is fleeting." And the sweet eyes looked eagerly into those of her cousin.

Laurie gave the required promise, while his face grew colorless with emotion.

Then with tender love she bade farewell to the loved ones who stood weeping by her bed; and as calmly as the stars go down, she sank to rest. Closing her eyes to earth, she opened them on a scene of glory which human "eye hath not seen nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive."

CHAPTEE VII.

THE MAGNOLIAS.

"What though no rule of courtly grace, To measured mood had trained her pace,— A foot more light, a step more true, Ne'er from the heath-flower dashed the dew; E'eu the slight hare-bell raised its head, Elastic from her airy tread."—''Lady of the Lake."

MARION" and Fannie Montgomery were of exactly op posite types. Marion, the elder, was tall and as slen derly graceful as the swaying willows down on the brooks of her father's plantation. The oval face was set off hy a pair of dark, velvety eyes, with delicately pencilled brows, and hair of a blue-black shade.

Fannie was short and plump, and as fair as a sea-shell. Her hair was of that peculiar shade that is neither red nor yellow, but a blending of the two. The negroes called it "molasses candy hair." Whatever the shade, it was certainly beautiful, and curled in natural rings about the low, broad forehead. Her eyes were like the skies of her own sunny State, and if her mouth was a trifle too large for beauty's perfect lines, it pos sessed a rare capacity for sweetest smiles, and gayest, musical laughter.

While the sisters were so unlike in appearance, they were equally unlike in disposition. Marion was reserved and dignified in manner to such an extent that she seemed cold and unloving to those who did not know her well.

Fannie was so full of life that she could not remain quiet for two consecutive minutes. She was a fine, graceful rider; could manage a horse to perfection, and nothing afforded her so much pleasure as to mount a spirited horse and gallop over the hills. She was fear less, and often rode alone to the post-office and the neighboring plantations, generally several miles distant from the Magnolias. There was no danger, she as serted, as Gypsy, her pet pony, could outrun any ordi nary horse, and was kept in practice taking the logs and ditches in the route.

The sisters were very fond of each other, and as for Laurie, they fairly idolized him. To them he was the ideal of all that was noble and good in young manhood. He teased them unmercifully at times, yet they were always forgiving and forgetting such trifles as that.

He had never had any experience of a real love af fair, though chivalrously fond of the fair sex, as men; generally are, who have been reared with sisters whom they have been taught to love and cherish.

After his graduation from medical college, he wished to locate in the city with his uncle, but at his father's earnest desire, he gave up that cherished scheme and entered into partnership with him in his laborious country practice. He found ample compensation for the sacrifice he had made, in the evident pleasure and

assistance which his companionship afforded his father, now beginning to bend considerably under the weight of years and accumulated trials.

Marion was engaged to be married to Captain Sin gleton, a brilliant young lawyer of Mississippi. She had met him while on a visit to her mother's relatives in that State, about a year before.

Captain Singleton was a confirmed old bachelor, and therefore it was with surprise that everyone learned of his engagement to Miss Montgomery, of Louisiana.

He entered the Confederate service, just after his graduation from Harvard University, and fought through the whole four years of that direful struggle. He rose steadily in promotion until he attained the rank of Captain, when in one of the last battles of the war he lost an arm.

After the war was over he returned home, to find their once fair home in ruins—their rich river planta tion completely devastated by marching armies. The dwelling and cabins were burned, levees destroyed, and nothing, absolutely nothing left but the land, and that groaning beneath a burden of taxation that rendered it almost worthless.

With a courage greater than that required to storm a fort, or capture a battery—for, indeed, in these things he had always led his men foremost in the fray—he went energetically to work in the practice of his pro fession amid such a wreck of former conditions as would puzzle the wisest brain.

He assisted his father in renovating his wasted es tate, and in educating the younger children. His per-

severance and energy won success, and we find him an honored judge, respected and beloved by all who knew him.

One evening, shortly after Mr. Melton's first visit to the Magnolias, as the family were sitting on the star-lighted gallery, Fannie asked her mother abruptly:

"Mamma, how do you like Mr. Melton? I have just been thinking of it, and I can't remember having heard you express an opinion of him since you met him."

"I am very much pleased with him, dear. He is a very quiet, gentlemanly kind of man, and, I think, will make an excellent neighbor," replied her mother.

"His daughter is highly cultured, Mrs. Bliss says," remarked Fannie.

"Oh, she was educated at the 'Hub,' you know," put in Marion, rather sneeringly.

"Then, Mai, you will have someone to practice duets with you, for they say she is a fine musician," Fannie added.

"And Fannie will have someone to ride with her. Won't you, Comanche?" said Laurie, teasingly, as he pulled one of Fannie's bright curls.

"And you will have a Yankee girl to fall in love with," replied the sister, who never lacked for quick repartee.

"Well, suppose we go and practice that new song again, so as to be ready to display our vocal attain ments to this feminine prodigy of New England," said Laurie, as he led the way to the parlor.

Some weeks afterward, as Marion was sitting in her room at a western window watching the sunset flush

fade into the quiet gray of twilight, she heard quick footsteps on the stairway, and soon her door was uncer emoniously pushed open and Fannie rushed in. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement, and her eyes were shining like stars.

"Oh, Marion! the Yankees have come—the Meltons, I mean. Jim has just got in from Campte, and says he brought them up in our wagons. When shall we go to see them? this week won't do, of course; but next week will, and I am going if I have to mount Gyp and go by myself," she said decidedly.

"I suppose Laurie and I will be willing to accompany you by that time," said Marion, quietly, "so don't be in such a rush, please, Baby," as closing her book she followed her impetuous sister down the stairs.

"How I do wish there was an Edward as well as an Evelyn—a graduate of Yale or Harvard. Wouldn't that make it ever so much more interesting, Mai?" Fannie ventured to say, as she lightly flung herself on the balusters and slid down to the hall.

"Fan, I declare you are the most candid girl I ever saw in my life. If I did think so much of the masculine sex, I would not admit it even to myself," replied the elder sister, with dignity.