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HOLDEN WITH THE CORDS.
V.-WASTE PLACES. LTE was met by a swift gust of wind, so chill and doors, Bergan finally chose to enter the main parlour, a
1 vault-like, and hurrying past him with so woeful room full of a dusky, old-time grandeur. A piano stood a sigh, that it seemed like the rush of innumerable between the windows, over the keys of which he ran his imprisoned ghosts, eagerly seizing upon the opportunity fingers, but found that its music had been imprisoned so for escape. Involuntarily letting go the door, ic closed long as to have grown hoarse and melancholy. So, behind him with a clangor that reverberated loudly, for a doubtless, had that of the harp, which showed, skeletonmoment, through the house, and then suddenly ceased, like, through its torn baize cover, and was flanked by a as if smothered in some remote corner by a lurking hand. pile of music-books, the leaves of which were yellow with The silence which followed was dreary and oppressive,– age. Odd, unwieldy chairs, covered with faded sil all the more, because Bergan, coming so suddenly from damask and a rich coat of dust, kept solemn state in the the outward sunshine, was altogether bedimmed by such dim corners; ottomans and footstools, elaborately emdensity of gloom as brooded within, most of the windows broidered by forgotten fingers with birds, flowers, and being either darkened by blinds or closed with heavy other once cheerful devices, stood under the windows, opaque shutters. For a single instant, he felt a thrill of or were scattered around the floor. On the walls, in unreasoning horror. The impenetrable gloom, the frames of tarnished magnificence, hung two or three oppressive stillness, the damp, dead air (which might pictures in worsted, the designs of which, like the hands have come straight from the open mouth of a tomb), gave that had wrought them, were now faded beyond recognihim a chill impression that he had committed sacrilege. tion. Just in proportion as these things had once helped
Quickly recovering himself, however, he again Aung to brighten the room, they helped to make it more wide open the door, and fastened it back. By the light sombre now. Like the images of vanished joys, they thus admitted, he easily found his way to a window at were all the gloomier because once so glad. Looking the other end of the hall, which he also opened. There upon them, Bergan was painfully impressed with the was an immediate inward rush, not only of the sunny latent identity of gaiety and grief. Only give them time daylight, but of the sweet, warm air of the autumn after- enough, and they merge into the same dull, neutral tint! noon, with its inevitable suggestions of tranquil sea, and Bergan next glanced into a second parlour, a dusky tender sky, and slow-waving forest; quickly penetrating, ante-room, and a dining-room; but leaving these places he felt sure, to the uppermost corner of the long-deserted undisturbed in their dim and dusty sanctity, as not of dwelling, and scattering everywhere some healthful, puri pressing interest, he made his way to the library, on the fying, enlivening influence.
other side of the hall. It was a large and lofty room, set He could now see that he stood in a wide and lofty round with ancient book-cases, above and between which entrance-hall, decorated with a profusion of carved wood. hung rows of portraits, in frames of oak and gilt. These work; panels, cornices, and casements being orn:mented represented the early forefathers and later worthies of the with garlands of oaken roses, or quaint heads of animals, Bergan lineage,-some in knightly armour, with mailed still as petrifactions, and almost ebon-black with time and hands clasping 3 gleaming sword-hilt; some in the rich rubbing. The furniture consisted of a small table, a array of the Tudor or the Stuart court, with laced and cumbrous cabinet, and ponderous, high-backed chairs, of plumed hats under their arms; some in the red coats and the Elizabethan age, or perhaps earlier, brought from top-boots of English squires, with a favourite horse or England, as heir-looms, by the first emigrant Bergan hound looking out from one corner of the picture; some There was also a tall, spectral clock, which, to Bergan's in the huge horsehair wigs and ermined robes of the intense astonishment, suddenly began to fill the hall with judge's bench; and others in the cocked hats and kneea loud, monotonous tick, as if the march of time, long breeches of the Revolution, or in the modern black coat ago arrested in the deserted mansion, was now duly and pantaloons, seated in arm-chairs, with their backs to resumed :-doubtless, the rusty wheels had been jarred a crimson curtain. There were also dames to match, with into spasmodic motion by the violent closing of the door towers of lace and curls upon their heads, ruffs, farthinBy way of decoration, there were a few dingy pictures, in gales, and all manner of obsolete finery. dark, carved frames; and in two of the oaken panels Most of the faces had the austerity of aspect common hung complete suits of armour,-helmets, cuirasses, to old portraits, as if time had delighted to bring into gorgets, greaves, and gauntlets,-memorials, not only of clearer view the hard, stern traits of character which the long-buried Bergans, but of long-vanished days.
painter had dared but faintly to delineate, and had even Hesitating, for a moment, between two half-open then done his best to cover up with pleasant colouring,
and a final coat of lustrous varnish. Nowhere was this effect more striking than in the portrait of Sir Harry Bergan, earliest emigrant of the name, and father of the American line. The younger son of a noble English house, he had early fallen under the displeasure of a stern father, by reason of careless and spendthrift habits; and had finally been banished, in disgrace, to a small continental town, upon an allowance barely sufficient to keep body and soul together. Under this severe discipline,smarting, too, with a rankling sense of injustice in the treatment that he had received,-bis character underwent a complete transformation. His carelessness and extravagance, as well as the generosity and frankness of which they had been the rank, ill-trained out-growth, fell from him like worn-out garments; he became bitter, morose, and dogged.
At this crisis, the sudden death of his mother placed him in possession of her own large fortune and family estate. Life once more opened before him; but no gentle affection called him back to the paternal neighbourhood. On the contrary, he emigrated to Georgia, just then luminous with the career and the fame of General Oglethorpe; with the ambitious design of founding a Bergan lineage in the new world, which should equal, if not surpass, that of the old one. He brought a vast tract of land, and vigorously commenced the work of bringing it under cultivation; he distinguished himself both as a soldier and a citizen in the Spanish war and the colonial trials, and was knighted for his services; finally he imported men and materials, and built Bergan Hall as nearly as was possible in the style of his early English home, and called it by the same name. The bricks, the tiles, the elaborate oak carvings, the door and window-frames, the furniture and decorations, the copies of ancestral portraits, were all brought from England, and put in their places by English artizans.
Scarcely was the work finished, ere he died, bequeathing to his descendants, not only a vast estate, a splendid home, and an illustrious name, but, by a still stronger law of heirship, certain marked traits of character hereditary in himself,-indomitable energy, dogged independence, strong family pride, and an occasional lunacy of rage, familiarly known as the “ Black Bergan temper," to which the race had been subject from time immemorial. These characteristics were to be traced, more or less distinctly, through all the portraits of his successors; but in none did they seem to be so perfectly reproduced as in his present representative. In truth, Major Bergan might be regarded as the original Sir Harry over again; his harsh features and stern expression being shown in the old, time-darkened picture with a degree of prophetical accuracy little short of actual portraiture.
Other pictured faces there were, however, which time, still faithful to its work of bringing out the essential truth, had only touched into softer beauty.
Such was the face of Eleanor, wife of Sir Harry; a woman of fair and noble presence, in the rich prime of her life, with a
wise, strong, beautiful soul, shining out through her deep,
Before this picture Bergan lingered long. Even in babyhood, his mother had resembled it strongly enough to make it seem most fitting that she should receive its name; and the likeness had so strengthened with years, that now, it might easily have passed for her portrait, painted from life.
Seeing how perfectly these twain of their ancestors were reflected in his mother and uncle, not only in features, but also in character, Bergan was suddenly seized with a nightmare of doubt and questioning. Was a man's good or evil, then, a mere matter of inheritance, an inevitable heir-loom, handed down to him from a remote ancestry, by a more effectual law of transmission than has ever been established, in respect to more tangible property? If so,-if the defects and weaknesses, the depraved tastes and ungovernable passions, which characterized the father were inevitably passed on to the son, and the son's son,if the moral disease under which this man groaned, as well as the sweet temper which made that woman a household sunbeam, were to be surely traced back to their ancestor of a hundred years ago, what became of individual worth, individual shame, and individual accountability?
Bergan shrank from the apparently inevitable conclusion. He felt, with an unutterable horror, its snaky coils tightening around him, squeezing the breath out of every noble aim and aspiration. He could only escape from it by an appeal from his reason to his conscious
“ If,” he asked himself, “ I should now take that grim picture from the wall, and thrust it into the fire, in revenge for the pain which it has given me, should I not know, despite all reasoning to the contrary, that I-I alone, and not that bearded Sir Harry, was responsible for the foolish act ? Certainly, I should ; for whatever else he may have sent down to me, he did not give me either my will or my conscience. These are my own, and never Bergan of them all had them before me!” And he drew a long breath of relief.
His attention was now directed to the portrait of a young girl, at the end of the second row, nearest the window. It had an odd, illusive resemblance to some one that he had known,-a singular likeness in unlikeness, which puzzled while it attracted him.
All at once, capturing the fleeting, familiar expression, as it were, by a swift side-glance, he recognized it as that portrait of his mother in her youth, of which Major Bergan had spoken. He stood gazing upon it long and earnestly, yet with a strange, undefinable feeling of sadness, too.
For this bright, young being, with the smooth brow, the arch, dimpled face, and the unwakened soul dreaming at the depths of the soft eyes, was, after all, a stranger to him, -a being that he had never known, and never could know, any more than if she had been laid years ago under the sod, and her sweet substance gradually transformed into violets and daisies. He went back to the picture of Lady Eleanor, and felt, with a thrill of gladness, that he had found again the mother that he seemed, for a brief space, to have lost.
He now turned from the pictures to the book.cases, and found them to contain a heterogenous collection of ancient and modern volumes, carelessly ranged upon the shelves, without reference either to age or theme. Latin and English classics stood shoulder to shoulder ; law and poetry were harmoniously cheek by jowl; divinity and science amiably helped each other to stand upright; history, philosophy, morality, and controversy, met on the same plane, and sunk their differences under one uniform coat of dust. Geography that read like fiction, geology that had no interest except to the antiquarian, and infidelity that had not a peg left to stand upon, were huddled together in one corner, and (no doubt to their atter amazement) helped, in these latter days, to point the same moral.
Growing oppressed, at last, with the sight of so much hopelessly sbelved thought, so many pages bearing the prints of a long succession of fingers now crumbled into dust, Bergan turned back to the hall, mounted the staircase, and glanced into two or three of the chambers. He found in all faded carpets, ancient bureaus, high-post bedsteads, shadow-haunted hangings, a thick coating of dust, and a heavy, breathless scent which, it seemed to him, death must needs have left there, in his oldtime visits. Indeed, he could almost have believed that the last occupant of each dusky cavern of a bed had stiffened into clay therein, and been left to choke the air, and coat the furniture, with his own mouldering substance. No lighter dust, he thought, could have made the atmosphere so thick, or caused him to draw his breath so heavily.
Opening the last door in the gallery, Bergan was startled to find a room with every appearance of recent occupancy. Not a speck of dust dimmed the carpet or the furniture ; the curtains and the bed-drapery stirred lightly with the breeze from a half-open window; the soft pillows seemed waiting for the head that had dreamed upon them last night; a chair, with a shawl thrown carelessly over the back, stood where it must needs have been left a moment ago; an open workbox showed a suggestive confusion of spools of silk and bits of ribbon and worsted; a vase of Aowers adorned the mantel ; and a little white glove lay on the toilet-table, among brushes and scent-bottles, and was reflected in a small, bright mirror. Bergan hastily drew back, feeling intuitively that he had intruded upon a maiden's bedchamber, keeping still the perfume of her sweet breath and happy thoughts.
Yet -- the bed linen, how strangely yellow !-the shawl, how dim and faded !--the flowers, how withered ! He advanced again ; he began to understand that the maiden who had dreamed on that pillow, whose hand had left its dainty mould in that glove, the sweetness of whose virgin breath still lingered in the room with the scent of the withered rosebuds, went out from it years
ago,-a bride,-to be known thenceforth as wife and mother,-his mother! His eyes grew moist; one by one he touched the little possessions left behind with her girlhood, striving thus to come a little closer to the fair, shy image, that moved him with such unutterable tenderness, yet seemed so far beyond his ken. Reverently, at last, he closed the door, as upon a still, white, smiling, corpse, at once ineffably beautiful and ineffably sad.
But who had cared for this one room so tenderly, while all the rest of the house had been left to go to ruin? The answer was plain. Old Rue, whose love for her young mistress was half a worship, had taken a sorrowful pleasure in keeping the room (with such help as she could easily command) in the exact state in which it had been left.
Bergan was in no mood for further exploration. He made his way back to the entrance-hall, and sat down in one of the antique chairs. He was not quite ready for the instant transition into the outward sunshine. His heart was too heavy. The ancestral home was only an ancestral tomb. Surrounded by memorials of the old state and splendour of Bergan Hall, he felt all the more keenly its present desolation and decay. Remembering the noble Bergan lineage, he was humiliated to the dust by the thought of its present representative.
And here, first, his uncle's offer rose before him in the dazzling garments of temptation. Was it, after all, an ignoble ambition to lift the family name out of the dust, to restore the family home, fill it again with social life and warmth, and make it the centre of purer, more refining, and more elevating influences than ever before? Was it not better than any mere personal ambition? Might it not be just the place which he was meant to fill, and which, if he declined to take it, would be left empty? From questions he went on to answers; and his thoughts shaped out a tempting vision of Bergan Hall restored, revivified. Light steps and rastling garments went up and down the broad staircase,-his mother sat smiling in her old room, --voices of children echoed through the large, sunshiny parlours,-guests came and went,-he himself sat in the library, crowned with honours as with years,and
He was recalled to the present and the actual by ar low rumble of thunder. The sunshine had faded from the sky; clouds were rolling up from the west ; he hastened back to the cottage through the first drops of the rain.
The evening passed much like its predecessor. When, at last, he went up to his room, leaving his uncle to the dear companionship of his bottle and glass, he found it half-flooded with water from a newly sprung leak in the roof. Hastily declining the Major's hesitating offer of a share in his own apartment, he begged permission to quarter himself in the old Hall.
Major Bergan set down his glass, and looked at him with a mixture of wonder and admiration. “ Certainly, Harry, if you are in earnest about it,” said he. But I
must say that you are a brave fellow to choose to sleep alone in an old ruin like that,-haunted, too, the negroes say. But are you sure that you can find a room there any less leaky than your present one?" “Quite sure.
I noticed two or three, on the south side, which seemed to be in excellent condition."
“Very well; take your choice, and make youself as comfortable as you can.
Brick is under your orders, of course ; and Maumer Rue will send you out one of the women, with what linen is needed. Good night.”
The Major remained standing at the door, till he saw, first, a wandering gleam of light through the crevices of the old house, and then the steady beam of a candle, shining from an upper window.
“A light in Eleanor's room ;-I never expected to see that again! " he murmured, and went back to his bottle, to drink all the deeper for some unwontedly sad and remorseful thoughts.
Meanwhile, Bergan had not once dreamed of appropriating that maiden sanctuary. He had merely chosen the room next to it; and the door between being transiently opened for better ventilation, Major Bergan had seen his light through the designated window.
It was not an easy task to make his dusty, mouldy room even tolerably habitable, but it was finally achieved ; and, dismissing Brick, Bergan laid his head on his pillow, with a real satisfaction in being, at last, domiciled under his ancestral roof.
cretionary powers from his uncle, in regard to choice of rooms and furniture, as well as the most unrestrained privilege of exploration, he went from room to room, ransacking and arranging, here picking up a quaintly carved chair, and there an absurdly contorted little table, and setting wide open doors and windows wherever he could find a reasonable excuse for doing so. He even mounted to the garret, a great twilight-hall, stored with the lumber of many vanished generations, and dived into nooks of dingiest obscurity, with the eager zeal of a discoverer ; coming forth covered with dust and cobwebs, and laden with spoils. File upon file of yellow papers, having a possible interest as family annals, a curiously gnarled and twisted genealogical tree, a dust-choked flute, several Spanish songs in manuscript, a discoloured sketchbook, and a quaint old secretary, from the innumerable pigeon-holes of which sprang a whole colony of alarmed mice,—these were among the treasures that he unearthed, and transferred to his own room for examination or use. Every hour, the home-feeling grew upon him. Despite the grey and dripping sky, and the disconsolate, watersoaked earth, these days had their own peculiar illumination and charm. Oldness and newness combined to produce one rich-albeit, a little heavy-atmosphere of enjoyment.
Occasionally, his uncle came to watch his progress, and favour him with half-serious, half-jocular commentary. He was both interested and amused to observe how readily the new inmate fitted himself into his surroundings, and what talent he displayed in organizing various crude and chaotic elements into one harmonious whole. By turns he adapted, invented, or altered, until his room presented an aspect of pleasantness, as well as an array of conveniences, in striking contrast with the rude accommodations of the cottage, and even with the oldtime appliances that had served former occupants. His uncle wondered and admired even while he shook his head over the unBergan-like trait, and questioned if, after all, it were not a sign of degeneracy. This doubt well nigh culminated in conviction when, on the afternoon of the second day, in a lull of the storm, he discovered his nephew calmly seated astride the high ridge-pole, with a bundle of shingles and a pocket full of nails, stopping the leaks with which the long rain and his visits to the garret had made him acquainted ; and accompanying his work with a very sweet and deftly executed whistle.
“That settles the question, Harry," he shouted to the amateur carpenter, a smile and a frown struggling for supremacy on his upturned face. “There never was a Bergan, from first to last, who could have done that!”
“Do not speak so disrespectfully of our common ancestors, uncle! As if they had not the use of their hands!"
“Humph! It's plain that you have the use of yours, and of your head, too! How in the world did you that dizzy altitude ?"
Bergan laughed. “Where there's a will there's a way.' What should you say to the chimney ?”
THE DAY OF TEMPTATION.
Two days of drizzling rain followed, and did their best to make the black roof and mouldy walls of Bergan Hall look more cheerless than ever. But a counteracting influence was busy within. An energetic young spirit was rapidly organizing a home for itself in one corner ; turning the shadows out of nooks where they had lain so long as almost to have established a pre-emption right, and making short work with dust, mould, and dead air. And, in some inexplicable way, the whole house seemed to catch the pleasant infection, and to be faintly astir with life. A passer-by of delicate instincts would have seen at once that the long lease of silence and emptiness had expired. And in truth, it would have been strange if a dwelling so old—so long familiar with human affairs and interests, the
timbers of which must have been oozy with the exhalations of a long succession of joys and sorrows--had not shown itself ready to sympathize with every passing phase of life, and especially to welcome back to its empty old bosom a fresh, young, beating heart.
That it did so, Bergan felt intuitively. In return, he did what he could to vivify with his single personality its whole wide indoor world. Having received unlimited dis
“ Nonsense! How did you get up there?”
"I really cannot answer that question as it stands. There is a mistake in the terms.”
6. You rascal! what do you mean?'
"I did not 'get up;' I came down." And Bergan glanced at a great oak-bough, swinging full ten feet above his head. The Major uttered a cry of admiration.
“ You are a Bergan, and no mistake!” he cried, emphasizing the statement with an oath. “You've got the real, old, brave Bergan stuff in you, Harry, and I'm proud of you, in spite of your tinkering. But that bough is now out of your reach; you cannot come down by that route." “A new
one will be more interesting. And the chimney has a most capacious throat ; the builders must have contemplated the passage of other things than smoke."
“Harry ! you'll break your neck! Don't you dare to come down till I send you a ladder! At the same time, I'll order the carpenter to finish up that job, if it must be done."
“ He will be too late, uncle; I am just laying the last shingle.”
“ Speak lower, you scamp! lest the old portraits under your feet should hear you and blush.”
“ Their thanks would be much more to the pointespecially Sir Harry's,” coolly replied Bergan. "Two hours ago, the water from this very leak was pouring in a stream down his long ancestral nose ; you would have said the picture had an influenza."
The Major emitted a sound between a laugh and a growl, and vanished.
Poor Brick was even more scandalized by his young master's plebian readiness with his hands. The very ease with which Bergan performed his self-imposed, and, for the most part, unaccustomed tasks, misled the dusky spectator. To be sure, Brick was a little comforted to observe that those agile hands knew the trick of the ivory piano-keys full well, and could evolve soulful melody from the flute, that they were not ignorant of the mysteries of sketching, and betrayed a scholarly familiarity with books and papers, pen and ink; yet he doubted if even these gracious accomplishments could wash from them the stain of that dreadful manual labour in which they were erewhile engaged—the only redeeming feature of which was that it was not done for bread.
Nevertheless, Brick loved his young master with all his heart. He had succumbed at once to the rare charm of Bergan's manner-so grave and thoughtful for his years, yet so richly illuminated, at times, with soft gleams of humour, and always so genuinely kind. He followed him like his shadow; he could scarcely be happy out of his presence; and notwithstanding his own inward struggles with doubt and mortification, he continually held him up to the admiration of the quarter in the strongest language of encomium that he could command,
as a “bery high-toned gemman, and jes' de bes' massa dat ebber stepped foot in de ole place."
The appearance of this “high-toned gentleman the roof, in the humble rôle of carpenter, was, therefore, a rude shock to Brick's finer sensibilities. He watched him from the ground below, groaning simultaneously over probable fractures to his limbs, and certain damage to his reputation. It gave him some consolation to find that the Major was inclined to treat the matter in a jocular rather than a serious light ; and he was profoundly impressed with his hearty admiration of the gymnastic feat with which the questionable performance had opened. That, at least, his own dusky friends of the quarter could understand and approve.
Brick was still further reassured by Maumer Rue, to whom he stood in the relation of grandson. On being consulted, she had replied, loftily,
“A Bergan can do what he pleases, child. He is not obliged to walk by rule and measure, like people whose pedigree stops with their grandfathers. If a king chooses to make a box, a barrel, or a piece of furniture, for his own use, it is not a meanness, but an eccentricity.” And the long word not only floored Brick's last remaining doubt, but furnished him with the means of silencing other critics. In view of carpentry and tinkering, dignified with the sonorous title of “exkingtricities," nothing was left to the quarter but to roll its eyes and shut its mouth in mute amazement.
On the morning of the third day, the sky pushed aside its grey veil of clouds, and smiled once more upon the wet and melancholy earth. Thereupon the latter quickly dried up some of its tears, and made what shift for joy it could with the remainder. Every pool reflected a bit of the sky's wide smile, or the pleasant stir of overhanging foliage. The grand old evergreen oaks around Bergan Hall shook from their far-reaching boughs broken sunlight and dancing shadows, fresh breeze and shining raindrops, in nearly equal measure. The whisper of the pine-woods became a song rather than a sigh ; or, if it were a sigh, it was of that pleasant kind which struggles up unconsciously from a heart a little overfull of pleasure. Even the long streamers of grey moss decked themselves with prismatic jewels, and forgot to be mournful.
“If you do not mind a little mud," said the Major, at the dinner-table, we will order our horses and ride over to Berganton this afternoon. You must be tired of being cooped up in the house, by this time, in spite of your ready knack at finding occupation and amusement where most people would gape their heads off with ennui. Besides, it is high time that you should see something of the neighbourhood, outside our own plantationas well as the village which your ancestors founded. To be sure, there is precious little to see-Berganton is not what it was once—but I shall be glad to show you that little, and also, to introduce you to some of my old acquaintances.”
As the two gentlemen were riding through the muti