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Will O' The Mill

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"Very well,"' replied the wooer. Two or three days passed away with great dolight to Will, although a byetander might scarcc have iound it out. He oontimied to take his meala opposite Marjory, am! to talk with her and gaze upon her in her father's présense ; bat he made 110 attempt to see her alone, nor in any other way cbanged his conduet towards her from what it had been sinee the beginning. Perhaps thg girl was a little disappointed, and perhaps not unjustly; and yet if it had been enough to be r.lways in the thoughts of another person, and so pervade and alter bis wliole life, she might have been thoroughly contented. For she waa never out of W'ill's mind for an instant. He sat over tbs Btream, and watehed the dust oL the eddy, and the poised flsh and straining weeds; he wandered out alono into the purple even, with all the blaekbirds piping round him in the wood; he rose early in the morning, and saw the sky turn froni'gray to gold, and the light leap upon the hilltops; and all the while he kept wondering if he had never seen such things before, or how it was that they should look so different now. The sound of his own mili wheel, or of the wind among the trees, confounded and eharmed his heart. The most enehantin;? thoughts presented themselves unbidden in his mind. He was so happy that he could not sleep at night, and so restless that he could hardly sit still out of her company. And yet it seemed as if he avoided her rather than sought her out. One day, as he vas coming home from a ramble, Will found Marjory in the garden picking flowers, and as he carne up with her, slackened his pace and continued walking by her sido. "You like flowers?" ho said. "Indeed I love them dearly," she replied. "Do youi" "Why, no," said he, "not so much. They are a very small affair, when all is done. I can fancy people caring for them greatly, but not doing as you are just novv." "How?" she asked, pausing and looking up at hi i n. "Plucking them," said he. "They are a deal better ofï where they are, and look a deal prettier, if you go to that." "I wish to have them for my own," she answered, "to carry them near my heart, and keep them in my room. Thev temDt me when they grow hero; they seem to say, 'Cüme and do something with us;' but once I have eut them and put them by, the eharm is laid, and I can look at them with quite aa easy heart." "You wish to possess them," replied Will, "in order to think no more about them. It's a bit like killing the goose with the golden eggs. It's a bit like what I wished to do when I was a boy. Because I had a fancy for looking out over the plain I wished to go down there, where I couldn't look out over it any longer. Was not that fine reasoning? Dear, dear, if they only thought of it, all the world would do lika me, and you would let your flowers alone, just as I stay np here in the mountains." Suddenly ho broke off sharp. "By the Lord!" hecried. And when she asked him what was wrong he turned the question off and walked away into the house with rather a humorous expression of face. He was silent at table, and after the night had fallen and the stars had come out overhead he 0alked up and down f or hours in the courtyard and garden with an uneven pace. Thcre was still a light in the window of Marjory's room - one little oblong patch of orango in a world of dark blue hills and silver starlight. XVïlVs mind ran a great deal on the window, but his thoughts were not very lover like. "There she is in her room," he thought, "and there were the stars overhead-a blessing upon both!" Both were good influences in his life; both soothed and braced him in his prof ound conten tment with the world. And what more should he desire with either? The fat young man and his councils were so present to his mind that he threw back lus head, and, putting his hands before his mouth, shouted aloud to the populous heavens. AVhether from the position of his head or the sudden strain of his exertion, he seemed to see a momentary shock among the stars, and a diffusion of frosty light pass from one to another along the sky. At the same instant a corner of the blind was lifted up and lowered again at once. Ho laughed aloudho-ho! "One and another!" thought WüL "The stars tremble and the blind goes up. Why, before Heaven, what a great magician I must be! Now, if I were only a fooi, should not I be in a pretty way?" And he went off to bed, chuckling to himself : "If I were only a fooi !" The next morning, pretty early, he saw her once more in the garden, and sought her out. "I have been thinking about getting married," he bogan abruptly; "and after having turned it all over, I have made up my mind it's not worth while." She turned upon hün for a single moment; but his radiant, kindly appearance would, under the eircumstances, have disconeerted an angel, and she looked down again upon the grouud in silence. He could see her tremble. "I hope you don't mind," he went on, a little taken aback. "You ought not. I havo turned it all over, and upon my soul there's nothing in it. We should never be one whit nearsr than we are just now, and if I am a ■wise man, nothing like so happy." "It is unnecessary to go round about with me," she said. "I very well remember that you ref used to commit yourself ; and now that I see you were mistaken, and in reality never cared for me, I can only feel sad that I have been so f ar misled." "I ask your pardon," said Will stoutly; "you do not understand my meaning. As to whetber I have ever loved you or not, I must leave that to others. But for one thing, my feeling is not changed; and for another, you may make it your boast that you have made my whole life and oharacter something different f rom what they were. I mean what I say ; no Iess. I do not think getting married is worth while. I would rather you went on living with your father, so that I eould walk over and see you once, or maybo twico a tveek, as people go to chureh, and then wo should both be all the happier between whiles. That's my notion. But I'll marry you if you will," he added. "Do you know that you are insulting me?' she broke out. "Not I, Marjory," said ho; "f there is anything in a olear conseience, not I. I offer all my heart's best affections; you can take it or wiiui iü, Liiuuyu i suspect 11 s ucyonti citüer your power or mino to chango what has onco been done, and set me fancy free. I'Jl marry you, if you liko; but I teil you again and again, it's not worth while, and vo had best stay frionds. Though I am a quiot man, I havo notáced a heap of things in my lifo. Trust in me, and take things i ;o; or if you do that, say tl ld I'U marr; f hand." There i Iderable ; Vill, ■who ! i. ■ . . ;! to grow angry : i co "It seems you aru too proud to say your mind," he said. "Believe me, that's a pity. A clean shrift makes simple living. Can a man be muro downright or honorable to a vvoman than I havo been? I have said my say, and giren you your choice. Do you want me to marry you 1 or will j-ou tako my lj-iendahii). as I thiuk best! or have you had enough of me for goodj Speak out for the dear Uod's salie! You know your father toid you a girl should speak her mlnd in these alisara." Sha fwmrvi to recover herseit at that, tnrned without a word, walked rapidly through the garden and disappeared into the house, leaving U'ill in some confusión as to the result. Hé wafced up and down the garden, whistling softly to himself. Sometimes he stopped aad oontemplated the sky and hilltops; sometimes he went down to the tail of the weir and satthere, looking f oolishly in tho water. All this dubiety and perturbation was so foreign to his nature and the life whioh he had resolutely chosen for himself that ho began tü regret Marjory's arrival. "After all," ho thought, "I was as happy as a man Deed be. I could come down here and wateh my lislies all day long if I wanted; I was as Eettled and oontented as my oíd mili." Marjory oaino down to dinntr looking very trim and quiet; and no sooner were all threo at Uiblo thau she made her father a speech, with her eyes fixed upon her plato, but showing no other sign of emban-assmeut or distress. "Father," she began, "Mr. Wil] and I have been talking things over. We seo that we havo each made a mistake about our f eelings, and he has agreed, at my request, to give up all idea of mai riage, and be no more than my very goorl friend, as in the past. You see there is no shadow of a quarrel, and indeed I hope wo shall seo a great deal of him in the future, for liis visits wil] always be welcome in our house. Of coui-se, father, you will know be-st, bilt perhaps we ahould do better to leave Mr. Will's house for the present. I believe, after what has passed, we should hardly be agreeable inmates for some days." Wil], who had commanded himself with difliculty from the first, broke out upon this into an inarticulate noise, and raised one hand with an appearauce of real dismay, as if he vvere about to interfere and contradict. But she checked him at once, looking up at him with a swift glanee and an angry flush mxin her cheek. "You will perhaps have the good gi'ace," she said, "to let me explain these matten for myself." Will was put entirely out of countenanee by her expression and the ring of her voice. He held his peaee, concluding that there were some things about this girl bej'ond his comprehension, in which he was exactly right. The ioor parson was quite crestfalleu. He tried to prove that this was no more than a true lovers' tiff, which would juiss off before night; nml wben he was dislodired from that position, he went on to argue that where thero was no quarrel there could be no cali for a separation; for the good man liked both his entertainment and his host. It was eurious to soe how the glrl managed them, saying little all the time, and that very quietly, and yet twisting them i-ound her fmger and iiLsensibly leading thom wherever she would by feminine tact and generalship. It scareely seemed to have been her doing- it seemed as if things had merely so fallen out- that she and her father took their departure that same afternoon in a farm cart, and went farther down the valley, to wait, until their own house was ready for them, in another hamlet. But "VVill had been observing closely, and was well aware of her dexterity and resolution. When he found himself alone he had a great many eurious matters to turn over in his mind. He was very sad and solitary, to begin with. All the interest had gone out of his life, and he might look up at the stars as long as he pleased, he somehow failed to find support or consolation. And then he was in such a turmoil of spirit about Marjory. He had been puzzled and irritated at her behavior, and yet he could not keephimself from admiring it. Ho thought he reeognized a fine, perverse angel in that still soul which he had never hitherto suspected, and though he saw it was an influence that woultl fit but ill with his own life of artificial calm, he etmld not keep himself from ardeutly desiring to possess it. Like a man who has li ved ainong shadows and novv meets the sun, he was both pained and deliglited. As the days went forward he passed from one extreme to another ; now pluining himself on the strength of his deterniination, now despising his tiinid and silly caution. The fonner was, perhaps, the true thought of liis heart, and represented the regular tenor of the niau's refloctions; but the latter burst forth from time to time with an unruly violenec, and then he would forget all consideration and go up and down hi.s house and garde or walk aniong the fir woods like one who is beside himself with remoi-se. To equable. gteady minded Will this state of matten was intolerable ; and he determined, at whatcvcr cost, to bring it to an end. So one warm sumtner afternoon he put on his best clothes, took a thorn switch m his hand and set out down the valley by the river. As Boon as he had taken his deterniination he had regained at a bound his customary peaee of heart, and he enjoyed the bright weather and the variety of the seene without any It was uearly tho same to him how the matter turned out. If she accepted him he would have to marry her this time, which perhaps was all for tho best. If she refused him he ivould have dono his utmost, and might follow his own way in the futuro wlth an untroubled conscience. He hoped, on tho whole, she would ref use him ; and then, again, as he saw the brown roof which sheltered her, peeping through souie willows at an angle of the stream, he was half inclined to reverse the wish and more than half ashamed of himfielf for this intirmity of purpose. Marjory seemed glad to see him and gave him her hand without affectation or delay. "I have been thinking about this marriage," ho began. "So have I," she answered. "And I respect you more and more for a very wise man. You understood mo better than I understood myself, and I am now quite certain that things are all for tho best as they are." "At the same time" ventured Will. "You must be tired," she interrupted. "Take a seat and let me feteh you a glass of wine. Tho afternoon is so warm, and I wish you not to be displeased with your visit. You must come quite of ten; oncea week if you caiiispare tho time; I am ahvays so glad to see my friends." "O, very well," thought Will to himself. "It appeai-s I was right after all." And ho paid a very ngreeable visit, walked homo again in capital spirits and gave himself no f urther concern about the matter. For neaily three years Will and Marjory continued on these terms, soeing cach other onco or twica a week without nny word of love betweon them; and for all that time I believe IVill was nearlyas happy as a man can bc. He rather stinted himself the pleasuroof seciiig her; and he would of ten walk half way over to the parsonage, and theu back ngain, as if to whet his appetite. Indeed there was ono corner of tlie road, whence he could seo the church spire wedged into a ; the valley between sloping flrww triangular plain liy v.. -round, wi reatly aiïeci' ■ to sit and nv r lize in beforori omeward; and tlie jieasants gotso much intothe habit of Onding hini thero in the twiliglit that they gave it the name of "Will o' the Mill's corner." At tho end of the thrce years Marjory playcd him a aad trlck by luddenly marrying Bomebody else. Will kept lus countenonos bravely, and nierely remai-ked that, ior as little os be knsw of women, he had icted very prudently ia not marrying her himself three years u-...,. . . ..j plaiuly knew very little oL owu mind. and, in sjjito of a dcceptive msnnor, ma as fieklo and fllghty as the rest of them. He liail to congratúlate hhnself on an escape, he said, and would take a higher opinión of his own wisdom in consequence. Bilt at heart, he was reasonably displeased, moped a good deal for a month or two, and feil away in flesh, to the astoniahment of his serving lads. It was perhaps a year aftèV this marriage that Vv'ill as awakened late one night by the sound of a horse galloping on the road, followed by precipítate knoeking at t'ao inn door. He opened liis and eaw a farm servant, mounted and holding a led horse by the. bridle, who tokl him to mala' uhat liaste he could and go along withhim; for Marjory was dying, and had sent urgeutly to feteh hün to her bedside. WU1 was no horseman, and made so little speed upon the way that the poor young wife was very near her end before he arrived. But they had some minutes' talk in private, and he was present and wept very bitterly while shebreathed her DEATH. Year after year went away into nothing, with gi-eat explosiona and outeries in the cities on the plain ; red revolt springing up and being suppressed in blood ; battle swaying hither and thither; patiënt astronomers in obsei-v-atory towers picking out and ehristening new stars; plays being performed in lighted [heatres; pcople being carried into liospitals on stretchers, and all the usual turïnoil and agitation of men's lives in crowded centers. Up in Will's valley only the winds and seasons made an epoch; the fish hung in the swift stream; the birds circled overhead; thepinetops rustled underneath the stars; the tall hills stood over all; and Will went to and fio, minding his wayside inn, until the snow bogan to thicken on his head. His heart was young and vigorous, and if his pulses kept a sober time they still beat strong and steady in his wrists. He carried a ruddy stain on either cheek, like a ripe apple; he stooped a linie, but his step was still flrm, and his alnewy hands wero reached out to all men with a friendly pressure. His face was covered with those wrinkles which are got in open air. and which, rightly looked at, are no moro tlmn a sort of permanent sunburning; gnch wrinkics heighten the stupidity of stupid faces, but to a person liko Will, with his clear eyes and smiling mouth, only give another charm by testifying to a simple and easy life. His talk was full of wtue sayings. He had a taste for other neonle. and other people had a taste for him. When the valley was f uil of tourists in the season, there were merry mghts in Will's arbor; and hia views, which seemed whimsioal to his neighbors, were often admira! by learned people out of towu and colleges. Indeed, he had a very noble oíd age, and grew daily better known so that his fanie was heard of in the cities of the plain; and young men who had been summer travelers spoko together in cafes of Will o' the Mili and his rough philosophy. Many and many an invitation, you may be sure, he had, but nothing could tempt him trom his upland valley. He would shake his head and smile over his tobáceo pipe with a deal of meaning. "You co:ni too late," he would answer. "I am a dead man now; I have lived and died already. Fifty years ago you would have brought my heart into mymouth; and now you do not even tempt me. But that is the object of long living, that man should cease to oare about life." And again: "There is only one difference between a long life and a gtxxl dinner: that, iu the dinner, the sweets come last." Or once more: "When I was a boy. I was a bit puzzled, and hardly knew whetber it was myself or the world that was curions and worth looking into. Now, I kuow it :s myself, and stick to that." He never showed any symptoms of frailty, Dut Kept stalwart and firm to the last; but they say he grew less talkative toward the end, and would listen to other people by the hour in nn aniused and sympathetic silenes. Only, when he did speak it was more to tlie point, and more charged with old experience He drank a bottle of wine gladly; above all, at sunset on the hilltop or quite late at night under the stars in the arbor. The sight of something attractive and unattainable seasoned his enjoyment, he would say; and ho professed he had lived long enough to admire a candle all the more wheu he could compare it with a Vianet. One night, in his 72d year, be awoke in bed in such uneasiness of body and mind that he arose and dressed himself and went out to medítate in the arbor. It was pitch dark, without a star; the river was swollen, und the wet woods and meadows loaded the air with perfume. It had thundered durmg the day, and it promised more thunder for the morrow. A murky, stifling m'gbt for a mau of 72. Whether it was the weather or the wakefulness, or some little touch of fever in his old limb-i, Will's mind was besieged by tumultuous an] crying memories. His boyhood, the night with the fat youns man. the death of his adopted parents, the summer days with Marjory, and many of those small cireumstanee, whioh s?em nsthing to another, aud are jet the very gist f a man's own life to himself - things seen, words heard, looks misconstrued - arose from their forgotten corners and usurped his attention. The dead themselve.were with him, not merely taking part lï this thin show of memory that deflled befoiv his brain, but revisiting his bodily senses as they do in profound and vivid dreams. The fat young man leaned his elbows on the table opposite; Marjory came and went with an apronful of flowers between the garden and the arbor; he could hear tho old parson knocking out his pipe or blowing his resonant noso. The tide of his eonseiousness ebbed and flowcd; he was sometimos half asleep and drowned in his recolleotions of the past, and sometimes he was broad awake wondering at himself. But about the middle of the niglit he was startled by the voice of tho dead miller calling to him out of the houso as ho used to do on tho arrival of custom. Tho hallucination was so perfect that AVill sprang from liis seat and stood listening f or tho summons to be rcpeated ; and as he listenod he became conscious of another noise besides tho brawling of the river and the ringing in his feverish ears. It was liko tho stir of the home and tho creakingof harness, as though a carriage with an impatient team had been brought up upon the road beforo the courtyard gato. At sueh an hour, upon this rough and dangcrous pass, tho supposition was no better than absurd; and "Will dismissed it from his mimi, and reBumed his seat upon tho arbor chair; and sleep elosod over him again like running waier. no was oneo agam awakened by the dead miller's cali, thinuer and more s]octral tliau bof ore; and once again lio heard the noiso of nu oquipage upon the n ad. And so thrico and Cour timos, tho game dl ■ ■ :. or the samo batey, presentad Itoeb -uses; until at length, smiling tn ' .-.ïion one humors a nervou;. fco#ards the gote totv .■ a rest. From tiic r.rbor to tlie f vut distance, and yet it took :o;it seemed as if tLo dead thirkuic il around liim in tho court, and crossod his jjath ;it every step. For, fii-st, he was suddonly .surprised by an overpowering swcetness of lulioiropes; it ivas as if his garden had been plantod with this floiver i'rom end to end, and tho hot, damp nlght luid drawa forth all their perfumes in a breath, Non" tho beliotrope had boen Marjoi-y's fav 31'ite flovver, and since her 'leath net onc of them had ever been planter] in Will's ground. "I must be goingcrazy," he thought. "Poor Marjory and her heliotropes !" And with that ho raisêd his e}-es towards the wlndow that had once been hers. IL he lad been bowildered before, he was now almost tenifled; for there was a light in the room; the windovv was an orange oblong as of yorc, and the corner of the blind was lifted and let fall as on the night when he stood and shouted to the stars in his perplexity. The iljusion only endured an instant, bat it left Km somewhat unmanned, rubbing his eyes and staring at the outline of the house and the black night behind it. White he thus stood, and it seemed as if he must have stood there quite a long time, there carne a renewal of the noises on the road, and he turned in time to meet a stranger, who was advancing to meet him across the court. There was something like the outline of a great carriage discernible on the road behind the stranger, and, above that, a few black pine tops, liko so many plumos. "Master "VVill?' asked the new corner, in brief military fashion. "That same, sir," answered Will. "Can I do anything to serve you F "I have heard you much spoken of, Master Will," retumed the other, "much spoken of and woll. And though I have both hands full of business I wish to drink a bottle of wine with you in your arbor. Before I go Í shall introduce mvself." Wül led the way to the trellis and got a lamp lighted and a bottle uncorked. He was not altogether unused to sueh complimentary Interviews, and hoped little enough from this or.e, being schooled by many dis appointments. A sort of cloud had settled on his wits and prevented him from remembering the strangeness of the house. He moved like a person in his sleep, and it seemed as if the lamp caught fire and the bottle came uncorked with the facility of thought. Stil], he had some curiosity about the appearance of his visitor and tried in vain to turn the light into his face; eitlu-r Le handled the lamp clumsily or there was a dimness over his eyes, but he could make out little more than a shadow at table witb him. Hestared and stared at this shadow as he wiped out the glnwee and began to feel coldand strange about the tieart. The silence weighed upon him, for he could hear nothing non-, not even the river, but the drumming oL his own arteries in his ears. "Here's to you,"said tlie stranger. roughly. "Here is my service, sir," replied Will, sipping his wine, which somehow tasied' oddly. "I understand you are a very positivo fellow," pursued the strenger. Will made answer with r smile of some satisfaction and a littlo nod. "So ara I," continued the other: "and it is the delight of my heart to tramp on people's corns. I will havo nobody positivo but myself; notone. I have crossed the whims, in mytime. of kings and generáis and great artists. And what would you say," he went on, "if I had come up here on purpose to cross yours?" V'ill had it on hls tongue to make a sharp rejoinder, but the politeness of an old inn keeper prevailed; and he held his peace and made answer with a civil gesture of the hand. "I have," said the stranger. "And if I did not hold you in a particular esteem, I should make no words about the matter. It appears you pride yourself on staying where you are. You mean to stick by your inn. Now I mean you shall come for a turn with me in my barouche; and bef ore this bottlu's empty, so you shall." "That would be an odd thing, to be sure," replied Will, with a chuckle. "Why, sir, I havo grown here like an oak tree; the devil himself eould hardly root me up; and for all Iperceiveyou are a very entertaiuing old gentleman, I would wager you another bottle you lose your pains with me. " The dimness of Will's eyesight bad been increasingall the while; but ho was somehow conscious of a sharp and chilling scrutiuy which irritated and yet oTormostered him. "You need not think," he broke out suddenly, in an explosivo, febrüe manner that startled and alarmed himself, "that I am a stay at borne, because I fear anything uuder God. God k i imvs I am tired enough of it all ; aud when the time comes for a longer jouruey than ever you di-eam of, I reckou I shalJ flnd myself pi-epared." Tho stranger ernptied his glass and pushed it away from him. H-) looked down for a little, and then, leaning over the table, tappéd Will three times upon the forèarm with a single flnger. "The time has come!" he said solemnly. An ugly thrill spread from the spot he touched. The tones of his voice were dull and startling, and echoed strangely in Will's heart. 'I beg your pardon," he said, vrith some discomposure. ''What do you mean;" "Look at me, and you will find your eyosight svvim. Raise your hand; it is dead heavy. This is your last bottleof wine, ter W ill, and your last night upon the eiirth." " You are a doctor?" quavered Will. "The best that ever was," replied the other; "Lor I euro both mind and body with the same prescription. I take away all pain and I forgivo all sins ; and where my patients have gone wrong in Ufe, I smooth out all complications and set them free again upon their feet." "I have no need of you," said Wil]. "A time comes for all men, Master Will," replied tho doctor, "when the helm is taken out of their hands. For you, becauseyou were prudent and quiet, it has been long of coming, and you have had long to disciplino yourself for its reception. You have seen whatitistobe seen about your mili; you have sat claso all your days like a hare in its form, but now that is at an end, and," added the doctor, getting on his feet, "you must arise and come with me." "You are a strange physician," said Will, looking steadfastJy upon his guest. "I am a natural law," he replied, "and people cali me Death." "Why did you not teil me so at first?1 cried WiH. "I havo been waiting for you these many years. Give me your hand, and weicoma" "Lean upon my arm," said the stranger "for already your strengith abates. Lean oí mo hoavily as you need, for though I am olt I am very strong. It is but three steps to my carriage, and there all your trouble ends. Why, Will," he added, "I have been 5-earning for you as if you wero my own son ; and of all the men that ever I camo for in my long days I havo come for you most gladly. I am caustic, and sometimes offend people at first sight; but I am a good friend ut ueart to such as you." "Since Alarjory was taken," returnod WiU, "I declare bcfore God you wwa lbo only friend I had to look for." So tho pair unt arru in arm ncross the oonrtyard. OpB "! the serrante awolce about this time and 1. lae út' liursos panin beforii he dn p agaln; all down tlio vaJlcy that in;rbt there was a rushiug as of a smootb and Bteady wind descendin touurds the plain; and whon tho uorld roso ncxt morning, su i-o cnough Will o' tho Mili had gone at last upon hiï tra veis. A Philadclphia lady nowtbirty-threeyears of ug? ih u n idovv for the second time, and is ttlso a graiidmother.


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