Press enter after choosing selection

The Breton Mills

The Breton Mills image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

■Jopyrighted by the Author, and published by arrangement with him. CHAPTER XXIV. WOMAN'S SYMPATHT. Bertha has returned, never to leave her lover again, in safety, and still faithfiü to him; his fears were unfounded, his suspiclons rebuked. It was only last evening that he had looked iato her beautiful eyea once more, and it was to-day she had told him he might come again. It was a great day for Philip for another reason. Ho was to break ground this morning for a new mili, whoe walls and foundations would be laid in lure and justice. In the mili yard a hundred laborers waited with their spades over their shoulders, and with them the young mili owner, grasping a spade like the rest. At the contractor's word the iron glistened in the sunlight, and in an instant more a hundred and ono spades struck earth. Ten thousand eager workmen all over the land were waiting on the undortaking. Each night 10,000 anxious tongues will ask how many feet the new walls have risen that day ; will reproach the masons if they are slow, will bless them if they work mightily. Tho looms in the Breton milis are still today, the great water wheel is unharnessed from the myriad belts, while the men and women and ohüdren gathered around the great parallelogram marked out by tho engineers for the foundation of the new mili. It was to be their mili, too, and the face of the poorest creature of them all reflected a little of the blessed hope which was making life over for them. Not a voice was heard. For the moment all eyes were fixed on the bending iorms. Philip Breton's slight form was bent, too, as he drove his spade deep into the stubborn sod. Every laborer stayed his hand until tho young master threw up the flrst earth. Then a cheer broke from each brawny throat, and every spade at once lifted its burden of green turf. The hundred laborers bent again to their task, and tho frightened daisies trembled on their green sterns, but Philip, spade in band, had mounted the steps oL the nearest mili, and now looked down kindly on the operatives who gathered expectantly about him. "I mean that not ono injustice shaU ever desecrate these new walls. I mean that tho mili shall be a temple of co-operation. I believo tho world is just entering on a new epoch, more glorious than any before, because blessings that have been conflned to the few, comforts that have comforted only the few, leisure and amusement, even, that has Cheered only the few, shall be universal; that each hand that tills the earth shall share in its bountif ui horveste, whieh now pack the store housgs of a lew in useless profusión; that each hand that weaves our eloth shall sharo in its proflts according to his worth. It isn't because the world Í3 so poor that you have been poor so long ; but because its wealth is wasted. Yet be patieut. Violence only destroys, it does not build up, and every article of wealth destroyed leaves so much less of your heritage. We will not work any more today ; it shall be a holiday to be kept sacred in our memories, as an inspiration to more faithful labor and more honest, contented lives. But for a moment no one moved, till ho lcaned his spade against the wall, and started to come down. Then a murmur ran through the crowd till it swellad to a cheer, and as he made his way out, he had to clasp a thousand dingy hands, reached out to the young master in token of the love and trust of a thousand brightened lives. His destiny that had frowned so loug stadso teri-ibly, smiled at last. As if by a Mjntcle his life. tliat had seemed so drearv and ren, was boecme a path oL flowers. All dangers were averted, all evils turned into blessings, anti it was so short a timo ago tliat ho sjw m spark of joy in life. It had been liko ■ day whert the clouds had shut away the si n, and settled gloomily over the earth for a storm. A sha do w creeps iuto every human face, darkness oowcrs in every home, the birds flutter in terror froni tree to tree, or ïwsüe fearfully in their retreats. The very brooks moan instead of babbling. Then suddenly the summer sun burns through the clouds, which scatter to their caves beneath the hills; the rippling rivera glistenand sparkle like rarest jewels, and the birds break forth in song as they mount in ecstasy toward the sunlight. Not a human thing bnt brightens into suddeu gladness. So short a time ago he thought life only a dull, cheerless struggle. that he rose in the raorning hciivy and disheartened, that he lay down at iii-,'ht, careles if he slept íorever. But Buddenly the world looked like an enchanted palac-e to Philip Breton, and his life seemed as perfect as a day in paradise. It was at 3 o'clook that he was to go to Bertha, and it was only 2 when he was ready and raiting in his study for this last slow hour between liim and happiness to slip away. lie looked up the strect and down ogain, but tho streets were quite deserted; he might havo fancied the world all gone to sleep had he not heard the roar of the waters going over the dam. Then ho glanced at the clock. If he had not heard its loud ticking he would have been willing to Bwear tho hands raust have stopped. He picked up a newspaper and tried to interest himself in it. What a child he was, to be sure, not to know how to wait. Did he imagine there would be nothing more for him to wait for after today ? His eyes glanced impatiently down the pages. There seemed to be absolutely nothing in the paper at all ; he must stop his subscription; he might as well write tothe publishers now; it would take up a little of his surplus time. But what was this odd looking advertisement in sueh very black type: Divorces obtained without troublo or publicity for any cause desired. Address, in strictest confidence, John T. Giddings, No 4 Errick square, Lockout. "Well, well," soliloquized Philip, after reading the card a second time, "our corporation counsel is come down pretty low, getting bogus divorces for a livelihood." Then he glanced at his watch ; he was out of temper with the protty little clock. Perhaps allowing fif teen minutes for the distance to Bertha's house he might not be very niuch too early. Philip found Bertha standing. She generally preferred to sit. And sho wore aa itnxious look be had never seen on her face bef ore. He thought to make her laugh. "I suppose JIrs. Ellingsworth will not miss her chance tospoil our tete-a-tete." "She is nót in town," and Bertha turned to the window agaiu. "Sho went yesterday. Do you know whether she has any relatives in - in Vineboroi" "Why that is where you"- Philip bit his lip; "no, I didn't know that she had." Ho came up to where stho stood, and, when she did not speak again, he tried to take her band. But she drew away f rom his touch with a gesture of impatience. "I am Ín no mood for foolishness." It seemed foolishnes3 to her. thenl Thero was a pang of pain about his beart, and then a thought struek him. "You are not afraid of her, are you?" She drew herselí up to her íull height in her oíd suporb arrogance, and her lips curled in scorn. "I will be afraid of noone. If I owe no one a duty I need not be afraid." She seemed to be gathering forcé for an instant, while her cold eyes rested on the face of the man wno loved her so nobly. "I must take back my promise; I cannot marry you." "Do you owe me nothing now, then?" he pleaded in a startled voice. "Perhaps so - yes, I think I ought not to make you miserable." "Then do not leave me; do not kill me, Bertha, after letting me hope." He had seized her hand again, but she would not let him draw her to him. "But I should make you miserable." She dropped her eyes bef ore his. "You would not like- like" "I will take all the blams, then." Ho put his arm about her, and this time she did not repel him. "I cali God to witness you will not beresponsible; I will forgive you everything, my darling." She was in his arms, uut still she held back her face from him. "And you won't blame me, whatever happens?" "No, oh, never." The color carne back into his face ; his triuraphant heart sent the hot blood through every vein and arfcery. "And you will remember I warned you?' "Yes," he whispered, "and will remind you oí it vrben you have made me the happiest man in the world. But we won't wait till Jane comes back; we will be married tomorrow." "Oh, no." Her smile was very beautiful and sweet, but as cold as the river of death. "The day af ter, then. Say the day af ter to-morrow, bef ore anything has timo to happen." He saw her lips were forming for a "no," but he kissed it away; and another and another, till she broke away from hini with a laugh. "Well, yes, then; but you will be sorry for it to the end of your life." He made her put on her nat after tea and they went across the fields to the village cemetery. He had stirred her by his enthusiasm to an unwonted pitch, but now she had become colder than ever, and very silent. It seeraed as if she were sorry f or what she had proniised, and Philip was afraid each moment that she would open her lips and take it all back. He talked very eagerly to her all the way to take up her mind, telling her all the plans he had made and how gloriously they seemed to be succeedmg. She did not make much response to what he said, but he was only too glad that she did not repeat the words she had met him with in the afternoon. At last they stood by a massive pillar of granite ; not broken to signify an incomplete life work, but perfect in symmetry and fimslied in outline. Bertha could roake out in the deepeniug twilight ttie name of "Ezekiel Breton" cut deep into tiie everlasting stone. "I wish my father had seen tlüngs a little differently, and could have laid the foundations of all the milis in justice and cuarity. He could not see that we are all men together, and the wants that he had the workmen suffered too. He did what he thought was right, as do so many thousand men to-day, whose every breath meacs a harder burden for the poor." "What is the use of considering the poor; They have no sratitude. And then thev are made differently trom us; they have their place; let them be content with it. Your father was right." How cold and hard her voice was, and he had seen her so enthusiastic over the wrongs of the poor. "But they ought to have a chanco to enjoy a little more of what they earn, there are so many of them." But she made no answer, and Philip's heart sank with the conviction that he must caVry out his great work as he had begun it, alone. He had counted on her syrnpathy; ho had feit sure of it, and hs was so lonely among the grand ideas he had summoned into his soul, but perhaps it was not best f or him ; a man never knows. It was quite dark whën he bade Bertha good night at her gate. He had kept her hand for a moment after she would have gone, in the thrilling indulgence of the sense of possession. His heart was very full, his hope was almost blossoming into reality; at last when it had seemed blighted once into despair. Only two more days, and all the storms that might rage could never separate them, but must only make her dear white arms ding the eloser to him. Why had she not said to-morrow? it was almost too much too hope that God would hold back all his thunderbolts, and all the myriad messengers of evil for two days. The wonderful fate that had brought hër back as f rom death to him, that had saved her so straugely from another meeting with the man whose voice would melt her will, and madden her brain a second time, made him the more afraid now. The tide might turn, perhaps to-morrow, perhaps to-night, and carry his darling out to soa, away from harm onco more and forever. But how cold and firm hor hand was. Ah, how glad he would have been for one little tremor in it, "Bertha?" he said almost piteously, "have you nothing else for me to-night?" "I think it is all you should ask if I don't take back my promisc. " Then she seemed to be musing ior an instant. '-I am sorry you like me so much. What is there about me" "How are the mighty fallen." It was Mr. EUingsworth's voice, as that gentleman sauntered toward the two young people. "There is something in this newspaper I have marked for you. One of our old friends bas fouud his level at last - must you go this minute 'I Well, good night." It was a long time before Philip could get to sleep that night in his great quiet house. There ivere so many tender thoughts and memories, nv coming out in clear relief in his brain, now grouped with others, and again lost in a vague sense of delight. He remembered Bertha's attitudes and her movements; he imaginad how much more kindly she might have meant than she had saíd, and he blessed her that she had yielded to his prayers when he so nearly had lost her f orever. But what could she have been afraid of, how could Jane Ellingsworth harm her? What was there in her history worse than he knew? Poor little girl, could there be anything more terrible than what he had forgiven? How far she was from knowing how wonderful a thing love can be? Well, he might as well look at Ellingsworth's newspaper now as any time, he was not able to sleep apparently. Who could it be that had found his level at last? Philip struck a match and lit the gas. Then he fumbled in his pockets and flnding the newspaper at last, unfolded it, looking for the marked paragapu. It was not in the editorials, nor in the locáis. Philip turned the inner pages out, nor in the politica! news. It couldn't be an advertisement; yes - it was this: Divorces obtained without trouble or publicity for any cause desired. Address, in strictest confldence, John T. Giddings, No. 4 Errick square, Lockout. "The idea," laughed Philip to himself , "of my getting up to read his card in another paper. I hope I shall never hear of him again now." CHAPTER XXV. WHAT ARE WE WA1TING FOR? The bay span were tossing their heads impatiently at the gate, and still the young bridegroom delayed ia his house. It was the evening he was to be marrled, and when he entered the arched doorway again Bertha would be with him. So he must make one final tour of his home to see if there was any last finishing stroke of work necessary to make it worthy of his beautiful bride. He f ound all his servants, the new graceful maid to wait upon the door, the portly butler towaitupon the table, andall; andinstructed them earef ully in their duties. The intricate domestic mechanism must work with not one jar or rattle to disturb the new mistress. He went into the drawing room and looked about him. The grand piano that had been closed and locked so long was open, and the music placed on the raok as if it were but yesterday that Bertha had sat before it. He remembered how her round, white arm had outdazzled the ivory keyboard the last time he had seen her here. The chintz covers had been removed from the furniture, whose blue damask upholstery seemed fairiy ing -ïrith delight to have escaped from its mask. In the embrasure of the window looking out to the street, where the three laborera had stood the evening our story commences, lay a little volume of exquisito engravings, as if some admirer had just put it down. Philip glanced at the page where it was open. Itwas a Magdalene; and a shadow passed over his face at the suggestion. He turned a few leaves and spread the volume open again. This time it was Marguerita, Impatiently he closed the book, which seemed to have no beautiful picture but it would insult his bride. He had not made the slightest change in the study - his father's room - where he had learned too to fight out hi's spiritual battles. It would bo a profanation to alter one feature of the room; it should be always asit was the day Ezekiel Breton died. Philip opened the door and looked in for a moment, then with a full heart he made his way up the oaken stairs. The room he next entered was fumished in the Bhade of blue that Bertha loved best, the silk upholstercd lounge that made one drowsy to look at it, the sleepy hollow easy chair, the dressing table and toilet set. Over the windows hung lambrequins of a darker tint, softened again, however, in the flowing curtains below. Even the droo lamo had a bino nornfilain shade so that no such thmg as white light should ever enter Bertha's boudoir. Pkilip imagined her sitting in the easy chair lifting her eyes wonderingly to him, her husband, who never grew tired of telling her she was beautifiil; or he pictured her asleep on the lounge one white hand by her side, the other beneath her cheek. How much of bis thoughts were vague dreaming? Could it be she was at last to be his; lighting the gleomy old house with tho radiance of her presencei All his other life faded in. lüs memory ax the brightness of bis joy in her. It seemed a Bma.ll tliing to him that he had lifted 1,000 lives into a ncw plane of existenee- that ho had given hope to 1,000 desperate hearts - compared with the hope of making this one woman happy and of living in hei smiles. But he suddenly started from his fond revery, and passed into another room, all as white as somo cave in a mountain of snow. The mantel was of marble, the curtains cloud like masses of snowy lace : and even the upholstery of the chairs, and the earpet was white damask. His heart beat fast as he stood f or a moment in the chamber, then he went softly out and locked the door behind him, so that no foot should cross its sacred throshold till its mistress came. It was to be a very quiet wedding - no guests, no cards, no banquet. The shortest and simplest form that could make a man and woman one was enough. But the hour was past, and yet there was no wedding; the bride, all dressed, waited to be called from her room; the young bridegroom paced to and fro across the parior floor. There was no minister. The clock struck the half hour. It was 'half past eight. Mr. Ellingsworth sat in the parior reading the evening paper in uubroken tranquility. Philip was wondering where Jane could be; whether she was indeed preparing a terrible blow for the white bosoin of his bride. What could she do? "Ah! I think I hear the carriage," remarked Mr. Ellingsworth, laying asido his paper with a little yawn. "From which direction," asked Philip, listening eagerly, while the fcverish blood rushed into his face. Mr. Ellingsworth went to the window. "Why, from both directions. It sounds to me like tno carriages. I will go out and see. Philip hurried to the window and raked it, but it was pitch dark; he could see nothing. "Who could be in that second carriage? He wanted to be called, but no one camo f or him. He heard the doors open and shut, and indistinguishable voices, but no one called him. Then he made his way out into the hall ia vague terror. He thought oí his bride fraiting up stairs, and set his teeth for the worst. No earthly power, no vileness of calumny, no ahameful diselosures should move him. His bride waited fpr him, ready to be his wlion he callod for her. Ah! he would not shame her, though all heil hissed at her. But how fanciful he was. He could hear tho mild mannered minister talking in his polite tones. He caught his complacent laugh. Thank God for it. Nothing could hne happened. He walked along the hall. The voices carne from the dining room. There was the minister's laugh again. He pushed open tho door and went in. The minister rose, with tho especial deference for weaJth that marks many of the 9 of God, and gave the young man's hand an affectionate squeeze. "No doubt Mr. Breton is ready. It is the bridegrooms who should always be impatient. I believe I am right, am X not, Hrs. Ellingsworth ?" Mrs. Ellingsworth- Philip started violently and the color left his faca She had returned in time chen.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News