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Robert E. Lee Portrait
THE full chords, the flying, sparkling notes, the
inwoven harmonies, were all one splendid mutiny; for Esther Trevellian,
after three weeks of depression and doubt of Raymond Leighton, was roused at
last to revolt, and with head erect and sparkling eyes, rung out musical
defiance in the name of Liszt, as bold and plain as words could have set it
forth. And so Raymond Leighton understood it, as the throbbing notes, escaping
through the opened windows, came on him tranquilly sitting on the piazza.
"Good!" he said to himself. "She is ready now to fling her glove in my face. We
shall have a scene, and then I think we shall come to terms;"
and throwing away his cigar he sauntered into the parlor.
She was alone, and his steps were lost in the thunder of the chromatic storm;
but a Cenci hung over the piano, and in the glass of the picture she caught a
blurred hint of his coming; saw a brown mustache, a dark outline, something
masculine, guessed out the rest by the tingle of her blood, and the fast
throbbing of her heart; so had time to
quell the secret insurrection, and was ready for him, with steady eye and
lip, and a cold little hand that lay passive in the grasp into which he took it.
"I thought you were yet in town."
"I have only been here an hour or so."
The sharp pang with which she thought how a month back "the hour or so" would
have read five minutes, she could not keep from sounding in her voice.
"Well, have you nothing to tell me?"
"Nothing but my indecision, and that you shall end. The Eighth goes next week.
Shall I go or stay?"
"I should hardly think there could
be a doubt unless the Leighton blood runs pale."
"It has flowed redly enough on more than one field," returned the young man,
"Like the old Burgundians? "Il coule fort et bon?"
"Then you wish me to go?"
"I—I have no wish about it; what is it to me?"
"True, it is nothing to you, of course," answers this maladroit Raymond, who
might have seen that she had not withdrawn her hand, that she could not meet his
look, that her very coldness was in itself a confession and a fear; and might
have—but did not—instead pulled his mustaches wrathfully, and dubbed himself of
the order of Fools.
She, disappointed in not being contradicted, flushed suddenly and drew away her
"There is Darwin Ashe," site said, pettishly "I want to go and ask about my
letters." And with that she vanished.
Raymond stood looking after her.
He had thought himself so sure of her, and after all she had but used him. He
had kept a little aloof, with a half-defined idea of making his loving more
precious to her when he should at last confess it; but he had wholly loved and
trusted her, and she— He burst out into a bitter laugh.
"Why, she is only a coquette after all; a little higher in thought, keen enough
to see what truth and whiteness of soul might be, but like the rest at heart.
And to think that I believed she loved me!"
Meanwhile Darwin Ashe, sitting in the cool outer hall, had kept his eyes on his
paper, but his senses on the alert. He had heard and interpreted rightly
Raymond's move, the sudden hush of the music, the low talking. When Esther came
and sat down by him, with white cheeks and eyes aflame, he said to himself, "One
of the two extremes." When Raymond passed them to join a group of girls, with an
ostentatious avoidance of their point of the compass, he guessed which extreme
it was. And so thinking, he listened to whatever nonsense she was pleased to
utter with a quiet that was in itself a power. He would give her nothing but a
curve of the lips or a half-uttered word for her poorly-forged smiles and
counterfeit talk, till, urged silently by his will, she put off at last her
false self, gave a little shiver, and on a sudden was pale and silent.
"You are not well," said Darwin. "You have shut
all this week, and the
consequences are those dark circles about your eyes and that look of
languor. You need exercise. Go and get your burnous, or tell me where to find
it. I am going to take you to ride."
A sort of blunt authority that, a week ago, three hours back even, would have
been resisted. As it was, she turned toward him with something of the old
spirit, but the flash and sparkle died out before the soft, steady look, The
main de fer held her
will already in its clasp, though felt unconsciously as yet, accounted for by
that facile mountebank we call our Reason; thus—
"It was pleasant to be the object of even such authoritative care" (fatherly, of
course, Darwin being five years her senior). "Why should she not go? There was
no one else to care. No one had even seen that she suffered."
And so Raymond, cantering along the beach that afternoon, came on them suddenly,
Esther seated on a rock cushioned with Darwin's cloak, he stretched lazily near
her, the sea only neighboring them, utter solitude all about them. It was quite
natural. It had all happened in a truly unavoidable way. She had not cared to
talk, and Darwin was always content to wait for Fate; to they had ridden quite
in silence till, out from a quiet, shaded lane, they came suddenly on the sea,
rolling in on the rock-strewn beach a hundred feet below. Darwin had
helped her down the breakneck path, and found a seat for her, but troubled her
with no talking, and she, half forgetting that she was not alone, sat there,
hushed by the rest and quiet of all about her, till Raymond passed them with a
bow and a stern smile. Then she started, flushing scarlet, even called after him
in her first hurry and confusion.
"It is too late," said Darwin.
"He will not hear you."
"I mean, can not; he is gone."
"How strangely you look! I don't comprehend you."
"Nor I you."
Startled, half alarmed, Esther turned and looked into his eyes, but saw there
only depths of blackness; he permitted not a gleam of his meaning to shine out
"It is time to go back," she said, half uneasily.
"As you like—only we are losing the sunset."
"You will have an hour or so in which to dress."
"I shall not dress."
"Why to-night Mrs. Marly gives her reception."
"I shall not come down."
"I tell you no—I have my reasons."
"Not so closely masked that I can't
guess them; yet, believe me, you
"Why do you think so?"
"If for no better reason, because I
"Now you have given me an additional motive to stay away."
"Still you will come."
"We shall see."
"Promise me the first waltz."
"I have not waltzed since—since—" She hesitated (but Darwin knew well enough how
to fill the gap); and the doing so almost stung him out of his self-control.
"Well," he asked, sharply.
"If I come, I will waltz with you."
"So be it;" and with that they went home.
That night the drawing-rooms were silently expectant, the upper halls all
enchanted, with the indiscretions of half opened doors through which came out
perfumes and whisperings, glimpses of little slippers, of black hair being
massed in heavy coils, of bright
hair brushed over cushions, fans and gloves sown among gilded bottles,
and a general visitation of cloud-like things, fallen on snowy beds and across
bright-flowered chairs; but by all these passed the fairy to the sullen door
that shut in Esther in peignoir and toilet-slippers, making believe to herself
that she was reading; and with an Undine-like tapping, these vanished as fairies
ought when Esther came to open. Up and down the hall she looked in perplexity,
saw at last at her feet a basket, only of moss, but in its centre broad green
leaves, and the satin-smooth whorl of a cala lily; a fairy dropped it there, but
the flower was guilty of no magic, unless it was that Raymond
loved and preferred it; yet, when flowers were drooping wearily in
loosened braids over the flushed cheeks of the dancers, came, or rather dawned,
It was plain that she had never dressed herself after the brushing, powdering,
and hooking-up style of ordinary mortals; but some sweet thought
had compelled cloud and mist into her service, and
she had floated down, not from the toilet-table, but some quiet, unknown
land, all its calm and mystery yet in her eyes, and bringing with her its
enchantment, hidden, perhaps, in the lily rising and falling with every beat of
The first eyes that met hers were those of Raymond Leighton, standing a little
apart, and scanning her coldly,
beating back the smile with which site had looked up at him with a look
of bitterest anger, merciless scorn. Pale and stunned, she looked
wildly about as if for help, and saw Darwin Ashe.
"You acknowledge yourself conquered," he said,
softly; "remember the first waltz is mine."
She knew nothing about it, but as probably she
had smiled some time in the past, perhaps then she had talked of
waltzing; so she went with him passively. The first warning and solemn sounding
of chords was done; the wave of waltz harmony
was full upon them, and like foam on its crest, they floated with it from
under the jealous eyes of Raymond; and as the passion of the music grew upon
them he clasped her closer, and judging rightly that it was his hour,
allowed at last the long-repressed fire to break through the outer crust of
calmness, and made her—weak,
helpless, despairing—feel in his look all the power of his will; and at
last she saw how he had loved her, and with what quiet
confidence he had waited, and with what relentless purpose he was using
circumstances against her, and how he had sent the lily, not Raymond, and
explanation was impossible, and— She was fainting, breathless, but his strong
arm upheld her as if it had been Wings, till they had crossed the hall and were
in the dimly lighted reading-room alone, and she had sunk like mist from his
grasp to the sofa; dreading him more in his changed aspect than when his eyes
were burning in his meaning oil her brain; for touch and tone had now the
tenderness of a woman; and he was not asking, but calling her his, and she found
in herself neither power nor courage to contradict him.
There are tidings that are not told but felt, and Esther's betrothal was of this
nature. The knowledge of it was common property before half an
hour was over; perhaps because Darwin chose thus to bind Esther a little
more securely. Soon enough it reached Raymond's ears, and having heard it with
such grief and anger as may be guessed, his evil genius sent him to the
reading-room, where Esther had at last persuaded Darwin to leave her for a while
She was sitting with her head bowed in her hands, and either did not hear him or
mistook his step for Darwin.
He laid his hand lightly on the hair that he once had ventured to caress.
"Is it so bitter?"
She started, looked up, and eagerly held out her hands, but drew back instantly,
turning red, as she had been deadly pale.
"You need not tell me," he said, seeing her pale lips move. "I know it already."
"But not—you do not know—"
"All the excuses that you could devise I have found for you. You see it is hard
to condemn utterly what we have loved so
Twice as terrible as reproaches was this bitter
anger that disdained all help from outward passion in demonstrating
itself! Worse than all, this stern lamenting of love over dead faith and
She shrank away front him, putting out her hands as if in deprecation.
"Raymond, you are killing me! You will never
believe me now, but I loved you."
"Then I must think yet more meanly of you; for in that case your treachery is
three-fold. You could at least have been true to yourself. You would have been,
if your love had been worthy of the name."
"Spare yourself. I did not come to reproach. The only blame is mine. If I
mistook wax for pearl mine is the fault; and mine alone, I trust, the
"Hypocritical as well as cruel!" exclaimed Esther, passionately. "You can not,
looking in my face, think that you suffer alone; and if you call me false, have
you been true? Which came from your heart—the looks and words of these last
weeks, or those of the first of this wretched summer? Surely if I am found
guilty in your thought, you, of all men, have least right to cast the first
stone at me!"
This was the farewell that he took with him; and, the first anger over, bitter
thinking enough he found it. She, too, was haunted; night and day rang in her
ears, "You could at least have been true to yourself; and you would have been,
had your love been worthy of the name!" Daily her self-loathing grew more
intolerable, Darwin's gifts and
caresses more hateful; and at last she spoke out:
"I can not commit this sin! I will not marry you, Darwin Ashe!"
But he, long expecting some such outburst, did not think it worth his while to
be discomposed; only drew her a little closer, saying quietly,
"I shall not release you. Do you think, when I have never once faltered in all
the past, that I am going to waver now?"
"But I do not love you. I am growing to hate you."
"You will love me. Once mine, you will see the
folly of further struggling, and I find such a wealth of tenderness for
you in my heart that I have no fear. You might resist force, you can not love."
"I will appeal to my aunt."
"And she will be properly shocked. She is fully alive to the importance of being
well rid of her grave and somewhat troublesome responsibility. Expect no help
from her, or from any other. I have made sure of you."
A sudden light shone in her eyes.
"Have you bribed Heaven?" she asked.
Darwin was puzzled, and from henceforth kept her under quiet surveillance;
breathing in an atmosphere of his
waiting and watching, she seemed to have returned to her former state of
passive resignation, till suddenly, three days before her marriage,
she disappeared, leaving scarce so much trace behind her as vanishing
On the New England coast is to be found a Sir Charles Coldstream of a village,
that is always running after sensations to make sure that it is yet alive, and
there befell it during this past year, when October was at its meridian glory,
such fortune in the way of gossip as is not in the memory of the oldest
It happened that Mrs. Stapleton, leader of village ton in virtue of being its
doctor's wife, celebrated mysteries technically known as a sociable, principally
in honor of a Captain Leighton, an old
friend of ours, on
furlough in consequence of a serious wound, and
visiting her son Bob, an old college classmate.
Now this past year had by no means been a softening one for Captain Leighton;
one hard bitter thought had been his company keeper night and day. He had seen
active service, plenty of it; wore a scar across his cheek more honorable than
lovely, and altogether was a grimmer and more formidable personage than the
Raymond we once knew, specially disliking women and their petting, and not a
little wrathful against Fate, who had pursued him even to this obscure railway
station with a "sociable;" a thing in this case consisting
principally in a setting forth of elderly people, with a faint dotting of
the next generation, to all of whom, if truth must be told, he bore himself
somewhat surlily, till by the centre table he chanced to spy a slender figure in
mourning, having a something familiar in the poise and arching of head and neck,
and looking a little more earnestly, met a pair of startled eyes, and—
Captain Leighton sprang forward, crying, "Esther!" and the young person, a
schoolmistress, a Miss Trevellian, fell fainting to the floor.
This was the next day's gossip, but there the story ended. Miss Trevellian
preserved a discreet silence on
recovering, and was taken home at once. Captain Leighton vouchsafed no
explanation, perhaps he thought none necessary. I believe, however, that he took
Bob into his confidence, and it was
that gentleman who directed him to the Widow Bridgemain's house, where
Esther lived; at any rate the next morning (fortunately it was Saturday) he was
knocking at the little door at the head of the first narrow flight of stairs,
his heart beating as it had never done when marching up to a battery.
Esther came herself to answer; possibly she was expecting him, for she neither
started nor exclaimed, only gave him her hand with a rising flush and a slight
trembling of the red lips; but this over, they did but poorly. Conversation
dragged as heavily as Pharaoh's chariot-wheels, though it is evident to any
sensible and unromantic person that they might have talked of the weather, the
war, Raymond's wound, the sociable, any thing instead of pretending to sew, as
Esther did, with eyes brimmed and blinded with tears, or looking pitifully about
at the meagre little room, and the pale face with its look of sorrowful
self-reliance like Raymond, till— "Esther, my poor
child, what can have been your life?" he cried suddenly. "Oh, how much
sharper must have been my self-reproach, could I have known how my stray lamb
was solitary and homeless among strangers?"
"I have been very well here."
"Is it well to be utterly desolate?"
"My desolation is of my own making."
"Why that is the very echo of my brutality at our parting. Can you ever forgive
me for that? Think, too, not twelve weeks ago, I still thought you wholly wrong,
myself altogether injured. It was on the field, among the dead and dying, where
I lay a day and night before they found me, that I first saw myself; guilty of
falsehood, and cowardice, criminal, when you had been only weak; won back all
the old sweetness of the thought of you, swore to myself to win you also, for in
the light of my new revelation I felt sure that you had not married Darwin;
fairly struggled out of the hands of Death, I do believe, because
I was so determined to live and unsay what I once so cruelly and basely
said. Yet I had almost commenced to despair, my darling!
Your aunt had no traces of you, and hinted at suicide. I never dreamed my
treasure was hidden here: only came
because I half hated the world, which
perhaps had you no longer in it."
From all this talk, at once so sweet and so hard to answer, Esther shrank at
first, and, for the question half whispered at the end, found no other answer
than to hide her crimson face on Captain Leighton's shoulder; but presently
taking heart of grace, timid fingers began to stroke his hair, and a hesitating
voice said, softly,
"Are you quite sure that you love me, Raymond, after all?"
"Surer than that I hold you to my heart. I
am half afraid it is all a vision."
"It has been such a weary time!" says Esther, with a little sigh.
"I thought you had been very well here."
"Oh! that signified as well as I deserved." "Ah!"
"What is that 'ah!' Translate, if you please."
"A sigh for our prodigality with our little patrimony of happiness. These
moments are so sweet that I feel a miserly regret for those we have lost."
"Yes; but then—"
"I should never have known how very much—"
"I loved you."
With which reasoning, as Raymond was content, so will we be.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 3, 1863.
THE CABINET IMBROGLIO.
battle of Fredericksburg produced its natural fruit in the shape of a
Cabinet imbroglio. On 16th December a Senatorial caucus, headed, apparently, by
Senators Sumner and Grimes, adopted a resolution of want of confidence in
Secretary Seward, and requested the President to remove him. On the following
day the resolution was amended so as merely to recommend "a partial
reconstruction" of the Cabinet, without reference by name to Mr. Seward. The
fact having been communicated to the Secretary, on Thursday, 18th, he placed his
resignation in the President's hands. On the following day a Committee appointed
at the caucus was received by the President and Cabinet, and a sharp discussion
ensued, which terminated in the resignation of
Secretary Chase. Some of the
members of the Cabinet would appear to have been so careless of dignity as to
defend themselves with warmth before the Committee, and this extraordinary
meeting broke up in some confusion. Saturday and Sunday would seem to have been
spent in negotiations between the ex-Secretaries, the President, and the
malcontent Senators: and on Monday, 22d,
the President notified Messrs. Chase and Seward that the public interest would
not suffer him to accept their
resignations. They accordingly repaired to their respective bureaus and resumed
their labors. Thus ended an imbroglio which at one time threatened the unity of
the North, and caused a decline of 5 per
cent. in Government securities.
Looking at the matter as
a whole, we confess that we are astonished at the impudence of
the Senate. The Constitution confers upon them no more right to demand
the resignation of an obnoxious secretary than to appoint
a mayor for New York city. When they have confirmed an appointment, their
function is complete. For the Senate to attempt to dictate to the executive, is
at least as intolerable as
it would be for the President to assume legislative power. Such
an assumption on the part of the chief magistrate would expose him to
impeachment. Are not Senators Sumner and
Grimes equally culpable? Some one
suggests that the action of the caucus was an attempt to engraft upon our
pressure by which,
ministries are overthrown.
for the overthrow of
the maintenance of a faction which has
been overwhelmingly beaten at all the State elections.
The verdict of the historian on this transaction
will be—not that it was proposed to
new and useful political method into our system—but that by an ingenious
was intended to satisfy the
popular outcry for
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