She grew pale, thin, and nervous. So one morning while they were at work as usual, and Nora's hand was pausing on her spindle, and her eyes were fixed upon the narrow path leading through the Forest Valley, Hannah spoke:. These words were surprised from the poor girl; for the very next instant her waxen cheeks, brow, neck, and very ears kindled up into fiery blushes, and hiding her face in her hands she sank down in her chair overwhelmed.
Hannah felt that this order must be obeyed, and so she went back to her loom and worked on in silence. After a few minutes Nora arose and resumed her spinning, and for some time the wheel whirled briskly and merrily around. But towards the middle of the day it began to turn slowly and still more slowly. Perhaps Hannah had made a fatal mistake in saying to her sister, "He will never come again," and so depriving her of the last frail plank of hope, and letting her sink in the waves of despair.
Perhaps, after all, suspense is not the worst of all things to bear; for in suspense there is hope, and in hope, life! Certain it is that a prop seemed withdrawn from Nora, and from this day she rapidly sunk. She would not take to her bed. Every morning she would insist upon rising and dressing, though daily the effort was more difficult.
Every day she would go to her wheel and spin slowly and feebly, until by fatigue she was obliged to stop and throw herself upon the bed. To all Hannah's anxious questions she answered:. One day about this time Reuben Gray called to see Hannah. Reuben was one of the most discreet of lovers, never venturing to visit his beloved more than once in each month. But distances from house to house in that sparsely settled neighborhood were great, and doctors were few and could not be had the moment they were called for. So it was not until the next day that Doctor Potts, the round-bodied little medical attendant of the neighborhood, made his appearance at the hut.
Nora received his visit with a great deal of nervous irritability, declaring that nothing at all ailed her, only that she was tired. Her malady is more on the mind than the body! You must try to rouse her, take her into company, keep her amused. If you were able to travel, I should recommend change of scene; but of course that is out of the question. However, give her this, according to the directions. I will call in again to see her in a few days. That day the doctor had to make a professional visit of inspection to the negro quarters at Brudenell Hall; so he mounted his fat little white cob and trotted down the hill in the direction of the valley.
Potts, I wish before you leave, you would see my son. I am seriously anxious about his health. He objected to my sending for you; but now that you are here on a visit to the quarters, perhaps his objections may give way. If it were not that I know better, I would say that something lay heavily upon his mind. Well, madam, I will join you at two o'clock," said the doctor, as he trotted off towards the negro quarters. Punctually at the hour the doctor presented himself at the luncheon table of Mrs. There were present Mrs. Brudenell, her two daughters, her son, and a tall, dark, distinguished looking man, whom the lady named as Colonel Mervin.
The conversation, enlivened by a bottle of fine champagne, flowed briskly and cheerfully around the table. But through all the doctor watched Herman Brudenell. He was indeed changed. He looked ill, yet he ate, drank, laughed, and talked with the best there. But when his eye met that of the doctor fixed upon him, it flashed with a threatening glance that seemed to repel scrutiny.
One of those poor girls, the youngest, Nora, I think they call her, is in a bad way. She seems to me to be sinking into a decline. That gentleman's eyes were fixed upon his with a gaze of wild alarm, but they sank as soon as noticed. I will send a bag of flour up to the hut to-morrow," said Mrs. Brudenell complacently. The little doctor offered his arm to Mrs. Brudenell, and as they walked to the drawing-room he found an opportunity of saying to her:.
There is something on his mind. Try to find out what it is. That is my advice. It is of no use to tease him with medical attendance. When they reached the drawing room they found the boy with the mail bag waiting for his mistress. She quickly unlocked and distributed its contents. But here is a late copy of the 'London Times' with which I can amuse myself while you look over your epistles, ladies and gentlemen," said Mrs.
Brudenell, as she settled herself to the perusal of her paper. She skipped the leader, read the court circular, and was deep in the column of casualties, when she suddenly cried out:. A few days after this Nora Worth sat propped up in an easy-chair by the open window that commanded the view of the Forest Valley and of the opposite hill crowned with the splendid mansion of Brudenell Hall.
But Nora was not looking upon this view; at least except upon a very small part of it—namely, the little narrow footpath that led down her own hill and was lost in the shade of the valley. The doctor's prescriptions had done Nora no good; how should they? Could he, more than others, "minister to a mind diseased"?
In a word, she had now grown so weak that the spinning was entirely set aside, and she passed her days propped up in the easy-chair beside the window, through which she could watch that little path, which was now indeed so disused, so neglected and grass grown, as to be almost obliterated. Suddenly, while Nora's eyes were fixed abstractedly upon this path, she uttered a great cry and started to her feet.
I see no one! He is coming fast! He will be in sight presently! There he is! And truly at that moment Herman Brudenell advanced from the thicket and walked rapidly up the path towards the hut. Nora, my beloved! But the moment this confession had been surprised from her she blushed fiery red to the very tips of her ears and hid her face in the pillows of her chair. My own blessed girl! See, I am here at your side, telling you how deep my own sorrow had been at the separation from you, and how much deeper at the thought that you also have suffered!
Look at me! Smile on me! Speak to me, beloved! I am your own! These and many other wild, tender, pleading words of love he breathed in the ear of the listening, blushing, happy girl; both quite heedless of the presence of Hannah, who stood petrified with consternation. At length, however, by the time Herman had seated himself beside Nora, Hannah recovered her presence of mind and power of motion; and she went to him and said:. Yes, it is well, Hannah!
The burden I spoke of is unexpectedly lifted from my life! I am a restored man. And I have come here to-day to ask Nora, in your presence, and with your consent, to be my wife! And look at me, I have not been in such robust health myself since you drove me away!
As he said this, Nora's hand, which he held, closed convulsively on his, and she murmured under her breath:. Hannah was dreadfully disturbed. She was delighted to see life, and light, and color flowing back to her sister's face; but she was dismayed at the very cause of this—the presence of Herman Brudenell. The instincts of her affections and the sense of her duties were at war in her bosom. The latter as yet was in the ascendency. It was under its influence she spoke again. You are too young to play duenna yet!
Brudenell, but I know what is due to your mother," replied the elder sister gravely. You shall not make us miserable. We intend to be happy, now, Nora and myself. Do we not, dearest? Decidedly that word is infectious, like yawning! Well, my dears, since you will bring it on the tapis, let us discuss and dismiss it.
My mother is a very fine woman, Hannah; but she is unreasonable, Nora. She is attached to what she calls her 'order,' my dears, and never would consent to my marriage with any other than a lady of rank and wealth. I should be frightened to death," gasped Nora, trembling between weakness and fear. Do you mean then to deceive her, Mr. This is just the whole matter, in brief.
I am twenty-one, master of myself and my estate. I could marry Nora at any time, openly, without my mother's consent. But that would give her great pain. It would not kill her, nor make her ill, but it would wound her in her tenderest points—her love of her son, and her love of rank; it would produce an open rupture between us.
She would never forgive me, nor acknowledge my wife. Herman turned and looked at Nora. That mute look was his only answer, and it was eloquent; it said plainly what his lips forbore to speak: "I have won her love, and I ought to marry her; for if I do not, she will die. I will not wrong Nora, and I will not grieve my mother. The only way to avoid doing either will be for me to marry my darling privately, and keep the affair a secret until a fitting opportunity offers to publish it.
You cannot call that a secret which will be known to four persons—the parson, you, Nora, and myself. I shall not even bind you or Nora to keep the secret longer than you think it her interest to declare it.
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She shall have the marriage certificate in her own keeping, and every legal protection and defense; so that even if I should die suddenly—". Hannah, you must see that I mean to act honestly and honorably," said the young man, in an earnest tone. Brudenell, it appears to me that the fatal weakness of which you have already spoken to me—the 'propensity to please'—is again leading you into error.
You wish to save Nora, and you wish to spare your mother; and to do both these things, you are sacrificing—". Am I not fair, plain, open, straight-forward, upright, and all the rest of it in my dealing with you? It is true that she has no right to oppose my marriage with Nora; but yet she would oppose it, even to death! Therefore, to save trouble and secure peace, I would marry my dear Nora quietly. Mystery, Hannah, is not necessarily guilt; it is often wisdom and mercy.
Do not object to a little harmless mystery, that is besides to secure peace! Come, Hannah, what say you? Still, I should beg your forbearance as long as possible. Come, Hannah, your answer! I fear I should be doing very wrong to consent to this marriage, and yet—and yet—. But I must take a night to think of it! To-morrow, Mr. Brudenell, I will give you an answer! With this reply the young man was obliged to be contented.
Soon after he arose and took his leave. When he was quite out of hearing Nora arose and threw herself into her sister's arms, crying:. The elder sister caressed the younger tenderly; told her of all the dangers of a secret marriage; of all the miseries of an ill-sorted one; and implored her to dismiss her wealthy lover, and struggle with her misplaced love. Alas, for weakness, willfulness, and passion! They, and not wise counsels, gained the day. Nora would not give up her lover; would not struggle with her love; but would have her own way. And I think for your sake it had better take place with my sanction, and in my presence, than otherwise.
So do not look so grave because we are going to be happy. Had Herman felt sure of his answer the next day? It really seemed so; for when he made his appearance at the cottage in the morning he brought the marriage license in his pocket and a peripatetic minister in his company. And before the astonished sisters had time to recover their self-possession Herman Brudenell's will had carried his purpose, and the marriage ceremony was performed.
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The minister then wrote out the certificate, which was signed by himself, and witnessed by Hannah, and handed it to the bride. It was in the month of June they were married; when the sun shone with his brightest splendor; when the sky was of the clearest blue, when the grass was of the freshest green, the woods in their rudest foliage, the flowers in their richest bloom, and all nature in her most luxuriant life! Yes, June was their honeymoon; the forest shades their bridal halls, and birds and flowers and leaves and rills their train of attendants.
For weeks they lived a kind of fairy life, wandering together through the depths of the valley forest, discovering through the illumination of their love new beauties and glories in the earth and sky; new sympathies with every form of life. Were ever suns so bright, skies so clear, and woods so green as theirs in this month of beauty, love, and joy! Ah, Nora, it seems to me that it is you who have stooped to me! There are kings on this earth, my beloved, who might be proud to place such regal beauty on their thrones beside them!
For, oh! I am so glad for your sake! I wish I were ten times as beautiful! Herman, I would be willing to pass through a fiery furnace if by doing so I could come out like refined gold, for your sake! And, oh! You are beautiful; you are good; you are lovely and beloved, and you ought to be happy! For whatever I do or say, right or wrong, is good in your eyes, and pleases you because you love me so much.
God bless you! God love you! God save you, whatever becomes of your poor Nora! At this moment a soft summer cloud floated between them and the blazing meridian sun, veiling its glory. What has come over you? Oh, it is like the Arcadia of which you read to me in your books, Herman! Ah, if it would only last! Winter will come with its wind and snow and ice. The woods will be bare, the grass dry, the flowers all withered, the streams frozen, and the birds gone away, and we—" Here her voice sank into silence, but Herman took up the word:. We are not partridges or squirrels to live in the woods and fields all winter!
We shall go to our own luxurious home! You will be my loved and honored and happy wife; the mistress of an elegant house, a fine estate, and many negroes. You will have superb furniture, beautiful dresses, splendid jewels, servants to attend you, carriages, horses, pleasure boats, and everything else that heart could wish, or money buy, or love find to make you happy!
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Oh, think of all the joys that are in store for you! Oh, not for me those splendors and luxuries and joys that you speak of! They are too good for me; I shall never possess them; I know it, Herman; and I knew it even in that hour of heavenly bliss when you first told me you loved me! I knew it even when we stood before the minister to be married, and I know it still! This short summer of love will be all the joy I shall ever have. Is it possible that you can imagine I shall ever be false to you?
I never imagine anything unworthy of your gentle and noble nature," said Nora, with fervent emphasis as she pressed closer to his side. I only know that I never shall! Bear with me, dear Herman, while I say this; After I had learned to love you; after I had grieved myself almost to death for your absence; when you returned and asked me to be your wife, I seemed suddenly to have passed from darkness into radiant light!
But in the midst of it all I seemed to hear a voice in my heart, saying: 'Poor Moth!
It was only to avoid a rupture with my mother that I married you privately at all. Have I not surrounded you with every legal security? Have I not armed you even against myself? Do you not know that even if it were possible for me to turn rascal, and become so mean, and miserable, and dishonored as to desert you, you could still demand your rights as a wife, and compel me to yield them! Oh, Herman, as if I would depend upon anything but your dear love to give me all I need!
Armed against you, am I? I do not choose to be so! It is enough for me to know that I am your wife. I do not care to be able to prove it; for, Herman, were it possible for you to forsake me, I should not insist upon my 'rights'—I should die. Therefore, why should I be armed with legal proofs against you, my Herman, my life, my soul, my self?
I will not continue so! I had kept it as a love token, close to my heart, little knowing it was a cold-blooded, cautious, legal proof, else it should have gone before, where it has gone now, to the winds! There now, Herman, I am your own wife, your own Nora, quite unarmed and defenseless before you; trusting only to your faith for my happiness; knowing that you will never willingly forsake me; but feeling that if you do, I should not pursue you, but die!
But, my Nora, did you suppose when I took you to my bosom that I had intrusted your peace and safety and honor only to a scrap of perishable paper? No, Nora, no! Infidelity to you is forever impossible to me; but death is always possible to all persons; and so, though I could never forsake you, I might die and leave you; and to guard against the consequences of such a contingency I surrounded you with every legal security.
The minister that married us resides in this county; the witness that attended us lives with you. So that if to-morrow I should die, you could claim, as my widow, your half of my personal property and your life-interest in my estate. And if to-morrow you should become impatient of your condition as a secreted wife, and wish to enter upon all the honors of Bradenell Hall, you have the power to do so!
And I know it was not for that you loved me! I have perfect confidence in your disinterestedness. And I hope you have as much in mine. Oh, Herman, I know you will never willingly forsake me; but I feel you will never acknowledge me! But why do you persist in asserting that you will never be owned?
And I feel I shall never live in Brudenell Hall! She thinks the two young ladies, my sisters, should have more society; so she has purchased a fine house in a fashionable quarter of Washington City. The workmen are now busy decorating and furnishing it. She takes possession of it early in December.
Then, my Nora, when my mother and sisters are clear of Brudenell Hall, and settled in their town-house, I will bring you home and write and announce our marriage. Thus there can be no noise. People cannot quarrel very long or fiercely through the post. And finally time and reflection will reconcile my mother to the inevitable, and we shall be all once more united and happy.
And, at any rate, whether she will or not, I cannot help loving and honoring her, because she is your mother and loves you. And, oh, Herman, if she could look into my heart and see how truly I love you, her son, how gladly I would suffer to make you happy, and how willing I should be to live in utter poverty and obscurity, if it would be for your good, I do think she would love me a little for your sake!
No matter how she may think it good to treat me, I can never be angry with her. I must always love her and seek her favor, for she is your mother. Thus in pleasant wandering through the wood and sweet repose beneath the trees the happy lovers passed the blooming months of summer and the glowing months of autumn. But when the seasons changed again, and with the last days of November came the bleak northwestern winds that stripped the last leaves from the bare trees, and covered the ground with snow and bound up the streams with ice, and drove the birds to the South, the lovers withdrew within doors, and spent many hours beside the humble cottage fireside.
Here for the first time Herman had ample opportunity of finding out how very poor the sisters really were, and how very hard one of them at least worked. And from the abundance of his own resources he would have supplied their wants and relieved them from this excess of toil, but that there was a reserve of honest pride in these poor girls that forbade them to accept his pressing offers. No, dear Herman! Dear Herman, do not think me cold or ungrateful, when I say to you that it would give me pain and mortification to receive anything from you, until I do so as your acknowledged wife," said Nora.
I take your hand, your heart, and yourself in return for mine. That is fair; but I will take no more until as your wife I take the head of your establishment," said Nora proudly. She is my wife; she promised to obey me, and she defies me—I ask you is this right? When she is your acknowledged wife, in your house, then she will obey and never 'defy' you, as you call it; but now it is quite different; she has not the shield of your name, and she must take care of her own self-respect until you relieve her of the charge," said the elder sister gravely.
You would be an acquisition to some crabbed old Spaniard who had a beautiful young wife to look after! Now I want you to tell me how on earth my burning up that old loom and wheel, and putting a little comfortable furniture in this room, and paying you sufficient to support you both, can possibly hurt her self-respect? Brudenell; and that should be as dear to you as to herself. But how should what I propose to do hurt either her self-respect or her character? You have not told me that yet! If we were to accept your offers, our neighbors would talk of us.
In all the months that I have been coming here, I have not chanced to meet a single soul! And if you had, once in a way, met anyone here, they would have taken you to be a mere passer-by resting yourself in our hut; but if you were to make us as comfortable as you wish, why the very first chance visitor to the hut who would see that the loom and the spinning-wheel and old furniture were gone, and were replaced by the fine carpet, curtains, chairs, and sofa that you wish to give us, would go away and tell the wonder.
And people would say: 'Where did Hannah Worth get these things? Now, Mr. Brudenell, those are questions I will not have asked about myself and my sister, and that you ought not to wish to have asked about your wife! You always are! And yet it distresses me to see you living and working as you do. Very soon my mother and sisters go to take possession of their new house in Washington.
When they have left Brudenell I will announce our marriage and bring you and your sister home. I have said before that in marrying Nora you did not marry all her poor relatives. I have told you that I will not share the splendors of Nora's destiny. No one shall have reason to say of me, as they would say if I went home with you, that I had connived at the young heir's secret marriage with my sister for the sake of securing a luxurious home for myself. No, Mr. Brudenell, Nora is beautiful, and it is not unnatural that she should have made a high match; and the world will soon forgive her for it and forget her humble origin.
But I am a plain, rude, hard-working woman; am engaged to a man as poor, as rugged, and toil-worn as myself. We would be strangely out of place in your mansion, subjected to the comments of your friends. We will never intrude there. I shall remain here at my weaving until the time comes, if it ever should come, when Reuben and myself may marry, and then, if possible, we will go to the West, to better ourselves in a better country.
I can advance such a sum to Reuben Gray as will enable him to marry, and take you and all his own brothers and sisters to the rich lands of the West, where, instead of being encumbrances, they will be great helps to him; for there is to be found much work for every pair of hands, young or old, male or female," said the young man, not displeased, perhaps, to provide for his wife's poor relations at a distance from which they would not be likely ever to enter his sphere.
It was the wisest and kindest, both for yourself and us, that you could have made. And I think that if we could see our way through repaying the advance, we would gratefully accept it. Talk to Gray, and then, when my mother has gone, send him up to talk to me," said Herman. To all this Nora said nothing. She sat silently, with her head resting upon her hand, and a heavy weight at her heart, such as she always felt when their future was spoken of. To her inner vision a heavy cloud that would not disperse always rested on that future. Herman continued his daily visits to the sisters, and longed impatiently for the time when he should feel free to acknowledge his beautiful young peasant-wife and place her at the head of his princely establishment.
These daily visits of the young heir to the poor sisters attracted no general attention. The hut on the hill was so remote from any road or any dwelling-house that few persons passed near it, and fewer still entered its door. It was near the middle of December, when Mrs.
Brudenell was busy with her last preparations for her removal, that the first rumor of Herman's visits to the hut reached her. She was in the housekeeper's room, superintending in person the selection of certain choice pots of domestic sweetmeats from the family stores to be taken to the town-house, when Mrs. Spicer, who was attending her, said:. What does he want? A job, I suppose. Well, tell him to come in here," said the lady carelessly, as she scrutinized the label upon a jar of red currant jelly. The housekeeper left the room to obey, and returned ushering in an individual who, as he performs an important part in this history, deserves some special notice.
He was a mulatto, between forty-five and fifty years of age, of medium size, and regular features, with a quantity of woolly hair and beard that hung down upon his breast. He was neatly dressed in the gray homespun cloth of the country, and entered with a smiling countenance and respectful manner. Upon the whole he was rather a good-looking and pleasing darky.
He was a character, too, in his way. He possessed a fair amount of intellect, and a considerable fund of general information. He had contrived, somehow or other, to read and write; and he would read everything he could lay his hands on, from the Bible to the almanac. He had formed his own opinions upon most of the subjects that interest society, and he expressed them freely. He kept himself well posted up in the politics of the day, and was ready to discuss them with anyone who would enter into the debate. He had a high appreciation of himself, and also a deep veneration for his superiors.
And thus it happened that, when in the presence of his betters, he maintained a certain sort of droll dignity in himself while treating them with the utmost deference. He was faithful in his dealings with his numerous employers, all of whom he looked upon as so many helpless dependents under his protection, for whose well-being in certain respects he was strictly responsible. So much for his character. In circumstances he was a free man, living with his wife and children, who were also free, in a small house on Mr. Brudenell's estate, and supporting his family by such a very great variety of labor as had earned for him the title of "Professor of Odd Jobs.
He could do all these things, and many others besides too numerous to mention, and he did do them for the population of the whole neighborhood, who, having no regular mechanics, gave this "Jack of all Trades" a plenty of work. This universal usefulness won for him, as I said, the title of "Professor of Odd Jobs.
Finally, there was another little peculiarity about the manner of the professor. In his excessive agreeability he would always preface his answer to any observation whatever with some sort of assent, such as "yes, sir," or "yes, madam," right or wrong. This morning the professor entered the presence of Mrs. Brudenell, hat in hand, smiling and respectful. I been thinkin' about you, and should a-been here 'fore this to see after your affairs, on'y I had to go over to Colonel Mervin's to give one of his horses a draught, and then to stop at the colored, people's meetin' house to lead the exercises, and afterwards to call at the Miss Worthses to mend Miss Hannah's loom and put a few new spokes in Miss Nora's wheel.
And so many people's been after me to do jobs that I'm fairly torn to pieces among um. And it's 'Professor' here, and 'Professor' there, and 'Professor' everywhere, till I think my senses will leave me, ma'am. Brudenell, who was far too dignified to give him his title. Why, you see, ma'am, I came, as in duty bound, to look after your affairs and see as they were all right, which they are not, ma'am.
There's the rain pipes along the roof of the house leaking so the cistern never gets full of water, and I must come and solder them right away, and the lightning reds wants fastenin' more securely, and—". I think overseers ought to be called overlookers, because they oversee so little and overlook so much. Now, there's the hinges nearly rusted off the big barn door, and I dessay he never saw it.
It wasn't on'y the rain pipes and hinges as wanted attention that brought me here, however, ma'am,". It was something I heard and felt it my duty to tell you; because, you see, ma'am, I think it is the duty of every honest—". In two words, what had you to tell me? Tell me at once, then, what you meant to insinuate by that strange speech," interrupted the lady.
When you said Mr. Brudenell was a hunting of foxes, I saw at once the correctness of your suspicions, madam; for they is foxes. My son hunting the Miss Worths! What do you mean, sir? Take care what you say of Mr. Brudenell, Morris. And the "fool" stopped and turned, hat in hand, waiting further orders. Brudenell goes after those girls? You see, madam, young gentlemen will be young gentlemen, for all their mas can say or do; and when the blood is warm and the spirits is high, and the wine is in and the wit is out—".
Pray, are you a clergyman or a barrister? Tell me at once what reason you have for saying that my son goes to Worths' cottage? And I have seen him go home with her.
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And at last I said, 'It is my bounden duty to go and tell the madam. I had supposed Mr. Brudenell to have had better principles. Of course, when a young gentleman of his position goes to see a girl of hers, it can be but with one object. I had thought Herman had better morals, and Hannah at least more sense! This is very annoying! After a few moments spent in silent thought, she said:. I thank you for your zeal in my service, Morris, and will find a way to reward you.
And now you may do my errand. My duty to you, madam," said the professor, with a low bow, as he left the room and hurried away to deliver his message to Nora Worth. The poor sisters had just finished their afternoon meal, cleaned their room, and settled themselves to their evening's work. Nora was spinning gayly, Hannah weaving diligently—the whir of Nora's wheel keeping time to the clatter of Hannah's loom, when the latch was lifted and Herman Brudenell, bringing a brace of hares in his hand, entered the hut. I just dropped in to leave them, and to say that it is certain my mother leaves for Washington on Saturday.
On Sunday morning I shall bring my wife home; and you, too, Hannah; for if you will not consent to live with us, you must still stop with us until you and Gray are married and ready to go to the West," he said, throwing the game upon the table, and shaking hands with the sisters.
His face was glowing from exercise, and his eyes sparkling with joy. You see I promised my mother to be home in time to meet some friends at dinner, and I am late now! Good-by, sister; good-by, sweet wife! Sunday morning, Mrs. Herman Brudenell, you will take the head of your own table at Brudenell Hall!
And giving Hannah a cordial shake of the hand, and Nora a warm kiss, he hurried from the hut. This is Thursday, and he says that he will take us home on Sunday—in three days! Hannah, do you know I never before believed that this would be! I always thought that to be acknowledged as the wife of Herman Brudenell—placed at the head of his establishment, settled in that magnificent house, with superb furniture and splendid dresses, and costly jewels, and carriages, and horses, and servants to attend me, and to be called Mrs. Brudenell of Brudenell Hall, and visited by the old country families—was a great deal too much happiness, and prosperity, and glory for poor me!
There is not much that can happen between this and Sunday to prevent it. I said it was only three days—but in fact it is only two, for this is Thursday evening, and he will take us home on Sunday morning; so you see there is only two whole days—Friday and Saturday—between this and that! Are you still frightened, though no longer unbelieving? I should disgust others. And mind this, too: I pleased Herman in my homespun gown, and when I meet his friends at Brudenell Hall, I shall have all the advantages of splendid dress.
No, Hannah, I am no longer incredulous or frightened. And if ever, when sitting at the head of his table when there is a dinner party, my heart should begin to fail me, I will say to myself: 'I pleased Herman—the noblest of you all,' and then I know my courage will return.
But, Hannah, won't people be astonished when they find out that I, poor Nora Worth, am really and truly Mrs. Herman Brudenell! What will they say? What will old Mrs. Jones say? And oh! I should like to see their faces when they hear it! Poor young ladies! I wonder how long it will take them to get over the mortification, and also whether they will call to see me.
Do you think they will, Hannah? The Mervins hold their heads very high," replied the sober elder sister. Well, I fancy they have not much right to hold their heads much higher than the Brudenells of Brudenell Hall hold theirs. Hannah, do you happen to know who our first ancestor was? I am talking of our family—the Brudenells!
I believe from all that I have heard, that to have been the origin of most of the noble English families and old Maryland ones. Herman says our family is much older than the Conquest. They were a noble race of Saxon chiefs that held large sway in England from the time of the first invasion of the Saxons to that of the Norman Conquest; at which period a certain Wolfbold waged such successful war against the invader and held out so long and fought so furiously as to have received the surname of 'Bred-in-hell!
Well, anyway, that was the origin of our family name. From Bred-in-hell it became Bredi-nell, then Bredenell, and finally, as it still sounded rough for the name of a respectable family, they have in these latter generations softened it down into Brudenell. So you see! I should like to detect the Mervins looking down upon us!
My husband is, and Herman says a wife takes rank from her husband! As Nora Worth, or as Mrs. Herman Brudenell, of course I am the very same person; but then, ignorant as I may be, I know enough of the world to feel sure that those who despised Nora Worth will not dare to slight Mrs. Take care, Nora, dear! But I will not let it grow on me. I will remember my humble origin and that I am undeserving of anything better.
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At this moment the latch of the door was raised and Jem Morris presented himself, taking off his hat and bowing low, as he said:. You have just come in time. Hannah wants you to put a new bottom in her tin saucepan and a new cover on her umbrella, and to mend her coffee-mill; it won't grind at all! See, I've got a well to dig at Colonel Mervin's, and a chimney to build at Major Blackistone's, and a hearth to lay at Commodore Burgh's, and a roof to put over old Mrs.
Jones'; and see, that will take me all the rest of the week," objected Jem. To-night I've got to go and sit up long of old Jem Brown's corpse, and to-morrow night to play the fiddle at Miss Polly Hodges' wedding, and the next night I promised to be a waiter at the college ball, and even Sunday night aint free, 'cause our preacher is sick and I've been invited to take his place and read a sermon and lead the prayer!
So you see I couldn't possibly mend the coffee-mill and the rest till some time next week, nohow! I wish to goodness we could induce some other professor of odd jobs to come and settle among us," said Nora archly. I wish to have a talk with her? She didn't say any further. And now, ladies, as I have declared my message, I must bid you good evening; as they expects me round to old uncle Jem Brown's to watch to-night.
I will go, Hannah, though I had rather plunge into ice water this freezing weather than meet that proud lady! You are not bound! You owe no duty to Mrs. Brudenell, until Mr. Brudenell has acknowledged you as his wife and Mrs. Brudenell as her daughter. Therefore I must not begin by disregarding her requests. I will go! But oh, Hannah! Do you think it possible that she has heard anything?
Oh, suppose she were to say anything to me about Herman? What should I do! I am not afraid of the night! I am afraid of her! But if you do not think it well for me to go alone, you can go with me, you know. There will be no harm in that, I suppose? When she was ready she asked:. The weather was intensely cold, and in going to Brudenell the sisters had to face a fierce northwest wind. In walking through the valley they were sheltered by the wood; but in climbing the hill upon the opposite side they could scarcely keep their feet against the furious blast.
Loramity sake come in and lemme shet the door. Dere, go to de fire, chillern! Name o' de law what fetch you out dis bitter night? Wind sharp nuff to peel de skin right offen your faces! Will you please to let her know that we are here? Anything to obligate the ladies," said Jovial, as he left the kitchen to do his errand. Jovial led her along a spacious, well-lighted passage, through an open door, on the left side of which she saw the dining-room and the dinner-table, at which Mr.
Brudenell and his gentlemen guests still sat lingering over their wine. His back was towards the door, so that he could not see her, or know who was at that time passing. But as her eyes fell upon him, a glow of love and pride warmed and strengthened her heart, and she said:. Why should I be afraid to meet the lady mother? And with a firm, elastic step Nora entered the drawing-room. At first she was dazzled and bewildered by its splendor and luxury.
It was fitted up with almost Oriental magnificence. Her feet seemed to sink among blooming flowers in the soft rich texture of the carpet. Her eyes fell upon crimson velvet curtains that swept in massive folds from ceiling to floor; upon rare full-length pictures that filled up the recesses between the gorgeously draped windows; broad crystal mirrors above the marble mantel-shelves; marble statuettes wherever there was a corner to hold one; soft crimson velvet sofas, chairs, ottomans and stools; inlaid tables; papier-mache stands; and all the thousand miscellaneous vanities of a modern drawing-room.
Nora advanced timidly until she had reached to within a yard of the lady, when she stopped, courtesied, and stood with folded hands waiting, pretty much as a child would stand when called up before its betters for examination. Herman Brudenell, is in the habit of daily visiting your house; is it not so? Now, my girl, as by your silence you have admitted all my suppositions, I must speak to you very seriously. And in the first place I would ask you, if you do not know, that when a gentleman of Mr. Brudenell's high position takes notice of a girl of your low rank, he does so with but one purpose?
Answer me! Are you not aware, I would say, that when Herman Brudenell visits Nora Worth daily for months he means her no good? Herman Brudenell could mean anything but good to any creature, however humble, whom he deigned to notice! Brudenell has been visiting you daily for months; and yet you imply that in doing so he means you no harm! I should think he meant your utter ruin! You surely forget the presence in which you stand! Baseness, crime, can never be connected with the name of Brudenell.
But young gentlemen will be young gentlemen, and amuse themselves with just such credulous fools as you! Do you not call that a crime? Twice you have ventured to call me Mrs. To you I am madam. Twice you have asked me questions. You are here to answer, not to ask! Brudenell has never attempted to amuse himself at the expense of Nora Worth; nor is she one to permit herself to become the subject of any man's amusement, whether he be gentle or simple!
And this has gone on for months! You cannot deny it—you do not attempt to deny it! The lady looked fixedly at her for a few seconds; something in the girl's appearance startled her; rising, she advanced and pulled the heavy shawl from Nora's shoulders, and regarded her with an expression of mingled hauteur, anger, and scorn. Brudenell hoarsely and white with suppressed rage, as she pointed to the shrinking girl before her.
As with downcast eyes and shrinking form Nora followed her conductor through the central passage and past the dining-room door, she once more saw Herman Brudenell still sitting with his friends at the table. When she re-entered the kitchen she drew the shawl closer around her shivering figure, pulled the bonnet farther over her blushing face, and silently took the arm of Hannah to return home.
The elder sister asked no question. And when they had left the house their walk was as silent as their departure had been. It required all their attention to hold their course through the darkness of the night, the intensity of the cold and the fury of the wind. It was not until they had reached the shelter of their poor hut, drawn the fire-brands together and sat down before the cheerful blaze, that Nora threw herself sobbing into the arms of her sister.
Hannah gathered her child closer to her heart and caressed her in silence until her fit of sobbing had exhausted itself, and then she inquired:. She questioned and cross-questioned me. I would not admit anything, but then I could not deny anything either. I could give her no satisfaction, because you know my tongue was tied by my promise. Then, she suspected me of being a bad girl.
Ishmael a Study of the Symbolic Mode in Primitivism by James Baird
And she cross-questioned me more severely than ever. Still I could give her no satisfaction. And her suspicions seemed to be confirmed. And she looked at me—oh! I know, not only my poor face, but the very tips of my ears seemed on fire. And suddenly she snatched my shawl off me, and oh!
Hannah, I seemed to shrivel all up in the glare of that look, like some poor worm in the flame! We'll see that! I shall tell Herman Brudenell all about it to-morrow as soon as he comes! He must not wait until his another goes to Washington! He must acknowledge you as his wife immediately. To-morrow morning he must take you up and introduce you as such to his mother. If there is to be an explosion, let it come!
The lady must be taught to know who it is that she has branded with ill names, driven from the house and threatened with a constable! She must learn that it is an honorable wife whom she has called a vile creature; the mistress of the house whom she turned out of doors, and finally that it is Mrs. Herman Brudenell whom she has threatened with a constable! She could not, to use a common phrase, "get in a word edgeways. Tell Herman Brudenell about his own mother's treatment of me, indeed! I will never forgive you if you do, Hannah! Do you think it will be such a pleasant thing for him to hear?
Consider how much it would hurt him, and perhaps estrange him from his mother too! And what! Never, Hannah! I would rather remain forever in my present obscurity. Besides, consider, she was not so much to blame for her treatment of me! You know she never imagined such a thing as that her son had actually married me, and—". I should have soon let her know who and what I was! I should have taken possession of my rightful place then and there! I should have rung a bell and sent for Mr.
Herman Brudenell and had it out with the old lady once for all! You should have told her! No, indeed, Hannah! Burned and shriveled up as I was with shame in the glare of that lady's scornful look, I would not save myself at such a cost to him and—to her. For though you mayn't believe me, Hannah, I love that lady! I do in spite of her scorn!
She is my husband's mother; I love her as I should have loved my own. And, oh, while she was scorching me up with her scornful looks and words, how I did long to show her that I was not the unworthy creature she deemed me, but a poor, honest, loving girl, who adored both her and her son, and who would, for the love I bore them—". That is just about what foolish lovers promise to do for each other," said the elder sister, impatiently.
For, Hannah, even when I stood shriveling in the blaze of that lady's presence, the feeling of innocence, deep in my heart, kept me from death! Dear sister, I am very sorry I told you anything about it. Only I have never kept anything from you, and so the force of habit and my own swelling heart that overflowed with trouble made me do it.
Be patient now, Hannah! Say nothing to my dear husband of this. In two days the lady and her daughters will be in Washington. Herman will take us home, acknowledge me and write to his mother. There will then be no outbreak; both will command their tempers better when they are apart! And there will be nothing said or done that need make an irreparable breach between the mother and son, or between her and myself.
Promise me, Hannah, that you will say nothing to Herman about it to-morrow! We both thought that best. I do not wish to go to Brudenell, Nora. Nothing can ever polish me into a fine lady; so I should be out of place there even for a day. Besides it would be awkward on account of the house-servants, who have always looked upon me as a sort of companion, because I have been their fellow-laborer in busy times. And they would not know how to treat me if they found me in the drawing-room or at the dinner-table!
With you it is different; you are naturally refined! You have never worked out of our own house; you are their master's wife, and they will respect you as such. But as for me, I am sure I should embarrass everybody if I should go to Brudenell. And, on the other hand, I cannot remain here by myself. As has been established repeatedly before, the whale is an animal of particular excellence and this fact has been bolstered by royal decree and intellectual inquiry. The Pequod comes upon a French ship, the "Bouton-de-Rose.
The crew of the Rose-Bud has two whales that appear to have oil, but Stubb notices that one of the whales may have ambergris. Stubb concocts a plan in which he tells the captain of the Rose-Bud that his whales are useless and should be left behind lest they damage their ship.
The captain of the Rose-Bud takes Stubb's advice ,and after the Rose-Bud departs from the Pequod, Stubb secures the whale carcass with the ambergris for the Pequod. The journey along the Pequod continues in this chapter, as the ship meets another boat in its search for Moby Dick. The trick that the crew of the Pequod plays on the Rose-Bud serves primarily to elucidate the character of Stubb, who reveals himself to be crafty and even a bit deceptive through this ruse.
However, Melville approaches the trick on the Rose-Bud playfully. The incident does not necessarily darken Stubb's character; he remains at worst a prankster and not a man whose intentions seem overtly wicked. Ambergris is a curious substance, "gray amber," a fine delicacy that the Turks use for cooking and in the same manner as frankincense. Stubb finds certain hard, round plates in the ambergris.
Ishmael rebuts the charge that all whales always smell bad, which is traceable to the first arrival of Greenland whaling ships in London. In truth, whales are by no means creature of ill odor. This chapter of Moby Dick is merely explanatory, giving the rationale behind Stubb's behavior in the previous chapter while detailing the properties and explaining the value behind the ambergris.
Several days after encountering the French boat, a lamentable event occurs on the Pequod. In a whale ship, not everyone goes in the boats, and a few hands remain on the ship while the boats pursue a whale. A young black man named Pippin , Pip by abbreviation, is one of these ship-keepers.
Pip is a jovial fellow who loves life, tender-hearted and bright. In the aftermath of the ambergris affair one of Stubb's oarsmen sprains his hand, and Stubb places Pip in his place. When on a lowering after a whale, Pip becomes so frightened that he jumps from the boat and becomes entangled in the whale line, which wraps around his chest and neck. The line is cut, and Pip is saved but chastised severely for his cowardice and told that he will be left at sea if he jumps again. Pip, however, does jump again and Stubb remains true to his word.
However, a nearby boat saves Pip. The event "drowned the infinite of his soul. The fate of Pip in this chapter is one worse than mere death, as the poor and pathetic character is essentially condemned to death but by mere chance escapes this fate. The psychological weight of the event is so great that it pushes Pip into insanity, for he cannot effectively grasp the fact that the crew members of the Pequod would have let him die. Melville will return to the repercussions of this event later in the novel when Pip comes into contact with Captain Ahab , yet until then the significance of this chapter is that it demonstrates that the crew members of the Pequod are perfectly able to sacrifice others in order to perform their whaling tasks.
The main tragedy of this chapter is that Pip learns that his life is not worth the success of the Pequod's whaling ventures, and that Stubb will sacrifice him for it. Along this same vein, this chapter provides an interesting comparison between Stubb, and by extension the other ship's mates, and Ahab. To some degree Ahab is merely an extreme extension of his mates; while Stubb would sacrifice a single man if necessary, Ahab is willing to sacrifice himself and the entirety of his crew for a solitary objective. The crew of the Pequod squeezes the sperm from the whale caught by Stubb.
Ishmael feels an "abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling" at this avocation, and wishes that he could "keep squeezing that sperm forever. Chapter Ninety-Four provides an interesting mix of dry facts concerning the whaling industry preparing the whale sperm and jarringly unsubtle symbolism. This chapter is certainly the culmination of any homoeroticism found in Moby Dick, in which the crew of the Pequod feels its greatest sense of community when they squeeze sperm from the whale and Ishmael displays his most acute sense of satisfaction.
Although Melville develops little more than a strong and blatant subtext from this chapter, for the remainder of the story allows little room for developing the character of Ishmael, the obvious implications of this chapter certainly recall the nearly marital relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg. To develop any definitive conclusion about Ishmael's sexuality from this chapter is nearly impossible and amounts to severe revisionism, yet Melville builds a strong foundation for innuendo and conjecture without building it into anything concrete.
If one had stepped on board the Pequod during the "post-mortemizing" of the whale, one would see a strange, enigmatic object: an unaccountable cone, the ebony idol of Queequeg. The mincer has as his duty the mincing of horse-pieces of blubber for the pots, an operation which is conducted at a curious wooden horse planted against the bulwarks. The mincer occupies "a conspicuous pulpit" and cries out "Bible leaves" in order to keep his work diligent.
In this chapter, Melville juxtaposes the pagan religious iconography of Queequeg with the Christian religious symbolism exemplified by the mincer. The ebony idol is jarringly out of place among the dominant Christian iconography of the ship, much like Queequeg himself. Melville describes the mincer in terms of a preacher at a pulpit, and even keeps at his work through Biblical references. The comparison between Christianity and the workings of the whaling industry is a prominent theme in the book and one that Melville consistently develops; the author equates the mincer, as well as the carpenter of the novel, with particularly Christian religious practices and imbues them with strong Christian symbolism.
The try-works of the boat are a distinguishing feature of an American whale ship. While manning the try-works, Ishmael becomes aware that he had lost consciousness and was turned around. He realizes this just in time to prevent the boat from capsizing.
This chapter, like many in the middle section of Moby Dick, is simply a mix of mundane details of the Pequod's journey and more general details about the whaling industry in general. The primary effect of this chapter is to reinforce the idea that the crew of the Pequod is under constant danger and even Ishmael himself faces possibly fatal moments at every point. In merchantmen, oil for the sailor is more scarce than the milk of queens, but for a whaleman, light illuminates the ship.
The whaleman can take freedom with lamps, burning the purest of oil from the whale. This chapter exists simply to give further distinction between the whaling ships and other merchant ships in an additional attempt to display the superiority of the whaling profession. While still warm, the oil from the whale is stored in six-barrel casks. When the oil is cool, the oil goes to the bowels of the ship and the casks are tossed in the sea. The sperm oil has a cleansing quality that removes all traces of the blood and mess that occurs before the oil is finally released.
Three watchmen continue to spy out more whales that may be in the distance. Melville continues to describe the various workings of the entire whaling process. While such chapters certainly interrupt the momentum of the plot, in this case driving it into a nearly complete stop, they do serve two important purposes. First, Melville creates for the reader the full and detailed world of the whaling industry that lends the novel a sense of verisimilitude. The story, which in its barest outline is an adventure story, becomes more real and concrete.
Second, Melville not only creates the world of whaling but recreates the momentum of the whaling journey. The search for Moby Dick is thus not a simple and short quest, but a long journey with several digressions and even periods of stasis. Ahab often paces about the quarter-deck and during this walk will often eye a particular object before him, a gold doubloon with strange figures and inscriptions stamped on it. One morning, Ahab looks at these inscriptions, judging the doubloon to be from the Republic of Ecuador.
Starbuck notices how there's "something ever egotistical" about Ahab, "the volcano," "the courageous. Melville abandons the strict perspective of the narrator Ishmael to frame chapter ninety-nine from the point of view of Ishmael. From Starbuck's perspective, Melville portrays the captain partially in the conventional terms which have prevailed throughout the novel: Starbuck is consistent in framing Ahab as an egotistical and unstable man.
However, from the perspective of Starbuck, Melville endows Ahab with a tragic, if outdated grandeur. The metaphors for Ahab are telling: whenever Melville describes him in respectful terms, he employs anachronistic terms relating to fallen societies. This cements Ahab's place as a tragic figure; he is a man surrounded by legend but still destined for an inevitable fall. This ship is an English ship, and a member of the crew claims to have seen the White Whale on the Line last season. Moby Dick had taken the arm off of the Englishman. The Englishman tells about his encounter with Moby Dick, telling how the whale snapped at the ship's fast line, and got caught.
The crew of the ship attacked the whale, but Moby Dick bit the Englishman's arm off. The Englishman turns the story over to Dr. Bunger , the ship's surgeon, who tells about this severe injury and how the wound kept getting worse. Bunger and the Englishman argue over the lost arm, until Ahab becomes annoyed and demands to know about Moby Dick. Bunger tells Ahab that "what you take for the White Whale's malice is only his awkwardness.
For he never means to swallow a single limb; he only thinks to terrify by feints. The English captain wonders whether Ahab is crazy. Continuing a pattern of interaction between the Pequod and other ships that it passes during its journey, Melville introduces the Samuel Enderby, a British ship that bears news of Moby Dick. Among the various ships that the Pequod meets, the great whale assumes a legendary, nearly mythic quality. Bunger even gives Ahab the stern warning that he should leave Moby Dick alone.
Nevertheless, Melville approaches the as-yet unseen whale from a different perspective during this chapter; Dr. Bunger does not frame Moby Dick as a formidable and entirely malicious opponent, but instead places the whale in a more animalistic framework. For perhaps the first time in the novel, a character treats Moby Dick as an animal without forethought and premeditation instead of an actual character or symbol for an abstract concept. Despite Dr. Bunger's lack of metaphor for Moby Dick, however, his conclusion concerning the whale is the same: Ahab faces a certain death if he persists in his quest against Moby Dick.
This chapter effectively demonstrates the particular greatness of Moby Dick. Melville allows the titular whale to assume a number of vastly conflicting interpretations, yet he remains consistent with regard to the concrete characterizations of Moby Dick. Melville allows a number of symbolic possibilities for the whale, ranging from the religious to the political or social, yet the formidability of the whale is never in question. What do you think about Captain personality?