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I bowed in acknowledgement. It was the very opportunity I had wished for. An entrance to the house was as good as the plunder in my hands. I could blow a kiss to my gentlemen of the road and outwit them in the bargain.
The house was ancient and vast, but I made use of a good pair of eyes and felt a confidence in my own ability. The whole thing seemed so easy that I laughed at the idea of bungling it all with a pair of clumsy-limbed roadmates, and set about planning each detail with a quickness and precision that would give it all into my hands and a good start, besides, at sunrise.
I drowsed by the fire in the servants' quarter until an ancient looking man in green and black livery led me to my room.
A few preparations were made for my night's work, and then I waited. Within two hours it was as silent as a church. I could see but one light, a hostler's candle that flickered and presently disappeared. I dropped my shoes into the grass plot underneath the window and stole out to reconnoitre. As I judged it, I ought to have the job done before my friends came and leave a pretty trap, with the jaws wide open, for them to step into. Outside the night was as black as ink and too good to waste.
I was stealing breathlessly along the quiet halls and had nearly reached the great stairway when, turning through a passage, I came plump into a light streaming into the hall. I stopped just in time, my heart beating furiously. It was a chance, at the best, and I took it; leaning forward, I peered into the lighted room.
It was the sick chamber and in the bed lay a young man breathing heavily; near him sat the elder of the two girls, anxiously watching at his side; her eyes, for she sat so I could see them, swollen with tears. Of a sudden she looked up, too quick for me to dodge back into the darkness and I was caught. The girl rose in silence and looked at me steadily and fearlessly.
"Well ?" she said at length.
"You will forgive me, madam," I said, for this intrusion. I find you are the only one awake in the house"
"I know of a plan to rob this house tonight. I am come to warn you.”
The girl looked at me scornfully.
“ 'Tis not a lapse of memory, madam," I replied. “I have just now overheard the plan of it. They will return in an hour. (I was figuring swiftly on the time.) If you wish to go I will remain here.”
She looked at me for a moment, questioningly. "You may stay,” she said, and left me.
I glanced about the room hurriedly and then looked at the sick man. He had turned in a fit of pain and his face was toward me. My heart leaped to my mouth. It was the man I myself had robbed and stabbed at Holingshead. Things were at a danger point, and far too dangerous for me.
I stepped to the window and looked toward the ground: it was a good drop, but the occasion demanded action. I unbent the clasps and spread the windows open. The night wind coming up, a draught flickered the candle and then wiped it clean. I dropped into the darkness.
At the hedgeway I came upon two men in consultation.
“Trust to your legs and get away,” I called to them in a hoarse whisper.
One of them stopped long enough to look at me. "Blast me!” said he ; "Blast me! if it ain't the ballad monger."
R. B. M., '02.
ON MT. KEARSARGE : 1865.*
It is not necessary to cross the sea and wander in distant lands; an observant tourist will find enough in the journey of a day to feed his mind for a week and fill a moderate volume. He will be better pleased, gain more information and benefit from the hundred miles that he may travel, than one with half-closed eyes an dull ears, though he wander from Greenland to Patagonia and girdle the earth a dozen times.
We only visited a single mountain—that was the one objective point of our journey; we passed but thirty-six hours from home, and yet our waking hours recall the incidents and sleep invites the return of the glorious visions in their ever-shifting panorama.
And who were we? Two students, resting for a few weeks, seeking to increase our somewhat diminished store of strength, ambitious to ascend to lofty heights and have a mighty landscape mapped beneath our feet, like the kittens in the closet peering over the edge of their native box, to exclaim, "How large the world is!" One of us was a stranger to mountains, the other an acquaintance of two years' standing, who was and is possessed, to coin a word, of a perfect oreomania. We started on Monday. On the previous Saturday, looking from a high hill in mid-afternoon, lying at length in the north-west, stretched out like a drowsy bear, black and brawny, we saw the dark form of the Kearsarge. Again at sunset, returning homeward, we saw him as a monarch clad in robes of purple, a perfect incarnation of amethystine light, and the saffron sky made for him a golden throne high canopied with deep azure. No language can describe, no painting imitate, this mountain coloring. The most beautiful and highly colored copy of the artist fades to nothingness, when at the sunset hour Nature with soft pencil touches the mountain and sky with tints of purple
*This article was written by Professor Fay as a theme for an English course, during his freshman year in college.-ED.
and gold. From that hour the Kearsarge became our El Dorado. On its summit the riches that we sought would surely be found, views such as the soaring eagle looks upon as his pinions are damped in the cloud. Nor were we doomed to disappointment.
As I said before, we started on Monday. The plan was perfected at eight o'clock in the morning, and at eleven we were on our way, ready for any emergency. Our arrangement was to ride to Andover and from there ascend the mountain. At sunset to descend, and pass the night at a house about a mile and a half from the top. To awake before sunrise, again seek the summit, descend on the opposite side and walk back to Concord, a distance, as we thought, of about seventeen miles. But by no means did we follow out this scheme.
Our outfit for so short a trip was simple: a blanket, lest it should be cold on the mountain, a small package of provisions, and last, but most important of all (for were not our eyes to be the principal guests at the feast?), a large field-glass.
Thus equipped we set forth. We reached Andover after a pleasant ride by cars of about an hour and a half, up the valley of the Merrimac, winding in and out among the hills of rocky New Hampshire. Leaving the cars, we turned our footsteps towards the rocky slopes of the Kearsarge. A lofty headed usurper in North Conway has taken to himself this now famous name; the
ue Kearsarge is situated in Merrimac county some twenty miles north west of the capital of New Hampshire. As we plodded on, there it loomed, only a few minutes' walk perhaps. “What time shall we be there?" inquired Micrus of Typhlus, the lover of mountains, looking longingly towards the height. “About three o'clock," was the knowing response. Blissful ignorance! On we go up long hills, sweating fearfully under the noonday sun, resting here and there, for time is ours. As we ascend, hill after hill comes into view beyond its predecessors, making those that at first seemed so high, mere dwarfs and nearly under foot. Hereupon Typhlus, wiping the perspiration from his eyeglasses, began to moralize. “Micrus," said he, “thus it is in our student life.” Every branch when mastered seems as trifling to our more enlightened eyes, as these hills at our feet look puny compared with those high ones yonder, and as we ascend the hill of science, each new height that rises on our vision, takes a lower position in our minds as the next rises beyond.” Micrus evidently sees the point but does not care to give the conversation a metaphysical turn.
The road was steep and the day hot, so not until half-past two did we reach the house where conveyances are left and aspirants for the summit take to their feet. There is as yet no bridle path up the mountain, although it is now much visited, mostly by inhabitants of the neighboring towns. Our idea of arriving at the top at three o'clock here met its end, and we fixed the time at four; afterwards, when higher up the hill, we decided that five would be sufficiently early. Micrus, being short of limb and unused to mountain travel, found the ascent difficult, Typhlus, lazy under the influence of the August weather, was glad to make frequent pauses. The path from the halfway house lies through a hill pasture for about three-quarters of a mile, and “then comes the tug-of-war." Up steep ascent, over slippery ledges inclined at forty-five degress, with not a shrub to aid one, the path ascends another three-quarters of a mile and lands one upon the highest ledge. As we began to ascend the ledges, we met a party returning, many of the number being ladies clad in the Bloomer style,—the most sensible apparel for the mountain, the most hideous and unladylike for the home or street.
This party gave encouraging accounts, and seemed glad once more to meet with residents of earth. Leaving them behind, onward we went, Micrus leading the way. Now and then we halted to rest and enjoy the views. Woe to Typhlus! At one haltingplace, unheeding youth! he left behind the small package of provision that he bore, and the loss was not discovered until the next halt was made, some hundreds of yards farther up the ledges. We had taken but little food with us, as we had planned to stop at the farm-house below; but meanwhile we had decided to pass the night on the summit; moreover, we had eaten nothing since we