« ForrigeFortsæt »
from contact with the greasy trucks of railroad cars. His black hair-he wore no hat—was short and bristling ; his face was dark with a week's growth of beard, and there were berry stains upon his lips. He carried a leather handbag under his arm.
Two hundred miles away a young man was writing to the station agent at Paleytown for a handbag left by mistake on the platform of the station the night before.
In Alexandria a poor old woman was sitting in her doorstep sobbing over a copy of the Washington Evening Star, which said that the authorities had abandoned all search for Dennis O'Hara, the notorious escaped convict, believing that he had been among the unidentified victims of the fire in the Troy freight-yards.
When Mr. Dennis O'Hara walked into the principal street of Paleytown, an hour later, the shadow of the opposite mountain was climbing up the hillside from the river, and a wood-thrush with ringing liquid notes was sounding the cursew of the pine-woods. Mr. O'Hara was now clothed after the manner of the young man who loiters about a summer hotel; he wore a yachting cap; the beard had disappeared, as also had the berry stains about his lips; but his face still had the waxen pallor that comes from long confinement; it was still haggard with hunger and exhaustion.
The first house in the village was the parsonage; it was a small white cottage overgrown with honeysuckles, and alınost covered by the overhanging branches of a great elm in the tiny yard. As Mr. O'Hara approached the minister was leaning on the gate watching a child at play in the road. The minister was a very old man; his hand trembled as it lay on the fence.
The convict approached him, hat in hand; “ Are you the head of the family,” he asked ; “ if you are I should like to talk with you a minute."
Mr. O'Hara's voice was of such a quality that one more experienced than the minister would have expected it to say "youse instead of "you" and "wid" instead of “ with."
The old man started out of his abstraction, and seeing the speaker, removed his broad brimmed black hat. “This is my home-my wife's and mine," he said gently, at the same time opening the gate, “and I make you very welcome to it.” He bowed courteously as he motioned his visitor to enter.
There had been a very unpleasant brutal look in the convict's eye as he observed the minister's feebleness ; but it gave way to puzzled embarrassment before this quaintly gracious invitation. He preceded the old gentleman up the narrow gravel walk between the trim geranium beds. At the door they were met by the minister's wife. Her aspect was not as tranquilly trustful as her husband's. She looked on Mr. Dennis O'Hara with anxiety and suspicion. He felt it, and was more at ease.
• Mrs. Goodhart,” said the old gentleman, coming forward, “this is a friend who has been kind enough to visit us; he has not yet made known his name, but,”
My name is Harrison Duncan, of Chicago," interrupted Mr. O'Hara.
The minister bowed; “I hope,” he continued, “that if he has leisure, Mr. Duncan will do us the honor to break bread with us." Then, as he noticed that his visitor's head was still bared, he added, “Be covered, I beg of
“Wha-wh- which ?" stammered Mr. O'Hara.
The minister quietly removed his own hat again. The convict shifted his weight from one foot to the other diffidently. Catching at Mrs. Goodhart's inquiring look, “yes, thanks,” he said, hurriedly, “ I will.”
Seated at the supper table between the pastor and his wife, Mr. O'Hara's discomfort abated. He observed with complacency that the silver was solid. His appetite and manner of satisfying it rather tended to increase his hostess's anxiety. He was reminded by her expression he had not explained his errand.
“I am," he said, "an agent of the Ex-Convicts' Aid Association. I have papers of interest in my bag, but I have lost the key. Our present object is to get the churches interested in our work through the preachers ; we want to get public sentiment on the side of the man who is in hard luck, and even to find individual opportunities for their employment."
These words came very easily to Mr. Dennis O'Hara's lips; he had heard them before quite often. He explained that he had once been in prison-a long, long time ago for a technical offense; he went on to tell them long stories of prison life; of the temptations of released convicts and their struggles for respectability. He grew so interested in his subject that he inadvertently made long slashes in the table cloth, in the outlining of explanatory diagrams. Misunderstanding Mrs. Goodhart's expression of horror, he addressed himself particularly to her. In the midst of the conversation he happened to turn to his host. He stopped short. The old man had sunk down in his chair with his hand over his eyes; tears were stealing between the trembling fingers.
There was an embarrassed pause.
“ Mr. Duncan,” said the minister, touching his eyes with his handkerchief, “pardon my agitation; there is more reason for it than a-," Mrs. Goodhart stirred in her chair ; “there is sufficiently great reason for it. Kindly accompany me into the adjoining room."
• Your holy work must require funds, Mr. Duncan,” said the minister, drawing an iron box from beneath the threadbare sofa and opening it. “I am very thankful that through the blessings of providence I have more than usual in my little store; I wish I could assist you more—" Mrs. Goodhart tapped him on the shoulder. He acknowledged her touch by an inclination of the head but continued firmly. “I do most sincerely wish it. You need not hesitate to accept, I am well provided for; my home is ample, my garden fruitful. My life is not so busyperhaps I should more properly say not so hurried as it once was.”
Mr. Dennis O'Hara accepted the proffered bank-note. Perhaps when he had first seen the simple treasure box the brutal fire had flashed in his eyes again, but they were wet with tears now.
“Where is my hat ?” he asked.
“Do you feel that you cannot abide with us through the night,” said the minister ; "it would be a sacred honor—"
" Where is my hat?" repeated the convict hoarsely.
The minister's wife held it at his elbow; he departed, hardly hearing Mr. Goodhart's apologies for not accompanying him to the gate.
He found himself a little later sitting in the Paleytown station staring at a ticket to Boston and some loose change lying in his hand. He rubbed his eyes.
“Dennis O'Hara," he soliloquized, “I wouldn't have thought it of you. ....
The train is an hour late; there is time to go back yet. No! by God !” he shouted so loud that the station agent in the doorway dropped his lantern. “No you don't ! and what is more you are going to earn ten dollars honest, and pay him back; honest every cent of it if it takes two months.” He rammed the money into his pocket and stood up. His head was higher and his glance more direct than since, when a little boy, he had returned from his first afternoon at Sunday school.
“I did not understand your question awhile ago," said the station agent.
" Your train is on time; it is coming now."
O Bard, who taught thee how to sing ?
W. A. Moore.
THE POETRY OF EMILY DICKINSON.
nor beauty of execution, can outweigh one grain or fragment of thought." And the alleged artificiality of modern life offers unconscious witness to this truth in the interest awakened during the past three or four years in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. It is a poetry that offers little or no opportunity for a false devotion ; that affords no chance for worship such as has been paid the so-called impressionist school of art or the harmony of Wagnerian music,—which, at best, can be fully appreciated but by a chosen few. The poems to some, indeed, may be wanting in much that is suggestive of true poetry as that word is vulgarly understood, but the careful and sympathetic reader soon discovers the pearls of the writer's thought, though they be strung on pack thread between common beads.
Emily Dickinson, whom Hamilton Aidè says “narrowly missed being the most distinguished poetess her country has yet produced," was born in Amherst on the twelfth of December, 1830, and died there in May, 1886. Her life was spent partially in study, largely among her only trusted friends-the sunsets and breezes, the birds and flowers,--and entirely in seclusion. By habit and temperament she was a recluse, spending years of her life without setting foot beyond her father's doorstep, and many more during which the limits of her walks were the garden hedge and walls.
But though this mode of life led, as well it might, to a peculiar expression of her thought, we yet listen in vain for a note of complaint. Life and love was all very fair to her. Nature was her all, and if she “ Looked through nature up to nature's God," with what our critic calls an “Emersonian self-possession,” it was only because she looked upon everything with a clear-eyed frankness and candor as unprejudiced as it is rare. And this trait in her character stands out boldly in her writings. Every line