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“I have been nearly thirty years learning to behave, Miss Edith, and till now thought I had made some progress.” 66 You would not tell us your age
did not think so." “ You have scarcely more than half that number of years, and
“ Think myself wise, you would say. We learn very fast in America. It is of no use, Captain Manners. I shall not tell you how old I am, or anything more about myself than you may have the wit to find out this afternoon."
6 Colonel Woodhouse has told me
“ I pray your pardon, sir. Has he? Well, he tells what is true, so far as he knows, but he don't happen to know much about me. I am his ward for to-day only."
“And previously, Miss Edith ?"
“What a question, Captain Manners, when I had just turned the key on the family Bible and the parish register! However, I honour your daring. I am Edith Arden, of human birth, and very human temper. I am not over wise, I know, and doubtless I sometimes fight wind-mills. But today I am travelling, shut up against my will in a close carriage, with a strange person facing me, who is politely impertinent and provokingly importunate.
He makes great protestations, and proposes catholicity, makes profound bows, and looks at me through an eye-glass and calls me a school
“ Your goodness in this new compact overwhelms me, Miss Edith. I prostrate my spirit at your feet. Circumstances prevent my doing it personally. I faint in the sunshine of your presence. I cannot offer even the resistance the Spanish Don found in the wind-mill. Annihilate me very soon, if you please, as suspense is terrible.”
I was weary of nonsense, and looked out of the window. We were passing through a glorious country. Such rocks and mountains, falling waters and clear lakes, were spread out before us, as have given to the northern part of New Hampshire the name of Swiss America.
“ This is magnificent,” said my companion, reading my thoughts; "why have you not poets to sing it? Such a land should call them into being, as the mountains and lakes of Northern England have done."
“Before the poets are born, these streams and rills will turn mill-wheels, and their music will be lost in the roar of machinery. Our Wordsworth will find no nature leftwe only give bread in our country to those who labour with their hands—brains are of no use except to invent machines.”
Captain Manners looked surprised at my bitter tone, but he answered earnestly
“Do not wrong your noble country, Miss Edith. There must needs be Fultons and Arkwrights, for if we do not take care of the body first, how can the soul expand ? This great land is to be the home of the exile and the starveling from the old world, and they must be fed and clothed—and when they come over by hundreds and thousands, unaided hands could not feed and clothe them. So God has sent wise men first to take care of the body, that the spirit teachers should be able to work without restraint. Has not England her Manchester as well as Rydal Mount, and Sheffields and Birminghams as well as Westmoreland lakes and cloudcapped Helvellyn?"
"You, a British officer, pleading for the utilitarianism of the age !"
“ Be it a reproach or even sneer, I cannot resent it, Miss Edith. I am a very drone in a period of the world when every man should be a thinker or a worker. I use neither head nor hands for the good of mankind, but I honour, reverence every humanitarian monument that large hearts conceive, and strong spirits push into the world's routine.”
I was silent, condemned. Here was a man whom I had doubted, even ridiculed; a man by birth, position, profession, raised high in the social scale, despising the advantages and amenities of rank, sympathizing with every work which indicated progress-suffering with the people, aspiring with the people. He was no fop, scarcely a man of fashion, in spite of dress and of a superb physique-or was I changing my opinion too fast ? Perhaps he was mocking me—wearing a false character-simply antagonizing me. So I went on to learn more, and to detect the cheat.
“I weary of the noise and jar—the struggle of life. I have had a month-a long time for me, a school-girl-a month of life in the world. All worked, not for bread—they had great riches; not to do good, they were all too selfish. I can hardly tell what the laboạr effected. My Cousin Gertrude was married, and her bridal was not so much a spirit union—a holy compact between herself and Horace Mayas it was a feast of good things, a show of fine garments, a carnival for the senses, a whirl of all pleasures. Do you call such workers ?”
“No, I mean not such precisely; the excitement, the whirl, was only the result of depriving the soul of lofty aims, and impelling it to action. So it rushed on through pleasures and amidst luxuries, till it reeled and slumbered only to
awake with fresh vitality for another round of delights. All indulgences of dress, of living, of gayety in every form, were invented to stimulate this poor soul to greater activity, and so the struggle goes on from day to day—and that is pleasure in the
world." “Now, I weary too of those who cry continually “Cui bono?” Is nothing good unless it feeds or clothes, or puts gold into the pocket? Is bread all our natures demand ? When the world is perfect, must every mountain stream turn a mill, and every acre of land produce corn and potatoes, and every man and woman work with their hands ???
“ Miss Edith, I see just where you are. But you have reached the point which comes, in every earnest life, very early. You have not learned these things in your schools, nor in
your Boston life, nor from the lips of your associates." And he looked around to the quiet Mary and the gay Clara who sat beside him—“Why do you vex yourself with these things ?"
“I shall not be a child always. I am not yet a woman in years; perhaps when I am, some of these questions will be answered. But I must know what we work for. Why do I study? Why is every one busy? Who accomplishes most? What is my peculiar rôle ?”?
“ You will not call me obtrusive, I think, now that we understand each other a little better, if I tell you why I am what I am ?"
“Tell me why you, who honour workers, are the veriest of idlers—at least such are most military men in times of peace—and this world's peace bids fair to last your lifetime ?!
“ You would not have it otherwise ?"
“No; I would not have war, truly; but were I a soldier, I would stifle my conscience and drug my sensibilities, and long to fight; that's all soldiers can do !”
“ Yes, Miss Edith; you are right, and how I chafe under the bondage, you can, I think, understand now. Our family have great wealth, but all its members are not Dukes of Rutland. There are younger sons and distant branches, and yet none must labour—for are we not all Manners—all noble ?—and labour is very degrading-better starve. So Walter Manners grew up to an honourable name, but an almost empty purse, because Henry must keep up the dignity of the house, as he inherits its title, and Philip could have a rich living in the gift of the family—and he, Walter, had nothing left him, but the commission which his small patrimony would afford him in a regiment of Hussars! I would a thousand times rather have been a Manchester machinist, a Liverpool merchant, or even a London attorney ; all have
r the advantage of me in opportunities to serve their fellow
“ Is your destiny inevitable? Does the family honour prove a very Moloch, always, to honourable impulses such as you express ?”
“ There you sound me, Miss Edith. You have struck home. I, who honour Arkwrights and Wilberforces, have grown up to ideas which I despise too much to name to you. I see what you think-you will not care for this further confirmation of your laughing theory in regard to me. But I am not careless. I am breaking my boniis. I cannot tell you—for it would not become me to do so-every expedient by which I satisfy my conscience and stifle the re