As, for example, the breakfast. It is six o’clock,—the hired men and oxen are gone,—the breakfast-table stands before the open kitchen-door, snowy with its fresh cloth, the old silver coffee-pot steaming up a refreshing perfume,—and the Doctor sits on one side, sipping his coffee and looking across the table at Mary, who is innocently pleased at the kindly beaming in his placid blue eyes,—and Aunt Katy Scudder discourses of housekeeping, and fancies something must have disturbed the rising of the cream, as it is not so thick and yellow as wont.

Now the Doctor, it is to be confessed, was apt to fall into a way of looking at people such as pertains to philosophers and scholars generally, that is, as if he were looking through them into the infinite,—in which case, his gaze became so earnest and intent that it would quite embarrass an uninitiated person; but Mary, being used to this style of contemplation, was only quietly amused, and waited till some great thought should loom up before his mental vision,—in which case, she hoped to hear from him.

The good man swallowed his first cup of coffee and spoke:—

‘In the Millennium, I suppose, there will be such a fulness and plenty of all the necessaries and conveniences of life, that it will not be necessary for men and women to spend the greater part of their lives in labour in order to procure a living. It will not be necessary for each one to labour more than two or three hours a day,—not more than will conduce to health of body and vigour of mind; and the rest of their time they will spend in reading and conversation, and such exercises as are necessary and proper to improve their minds and make progress in knowledge.’

New England presents probably the only example of a successful commonwealth founded on a theory, as a distinct experiment in the problem of society. It was for this reason that the minds of its great thinkers dwelt so much on the final solution of that problem in this world. The fact of a future Millennium was a favourite doctrine of the great leading theologians of New England, and Dr. H. dwelt upon it with a peculiar partiality. Indeed, it was the solace and refuge of his soul, when oppressed with the discouragements which always attend things actual, to dwell upon and draw out in detail the splendours of this perfect future which was destined to glorify the world.

Nobody, therefore, at the cottage was in the least surprised when there dropped into the flow of their daily life these sparkling bits of ore, which their friend had dug in his explorations of a future Canaan,—in fact, they served to raise the hackneyed present out of the level of mere commonplace.

‘But how will it be possible,’ inquired Mrs. Scudder, ‘that so much less work will suffice in those days to do all that is to be done?’

‘Because of the great advance of arts and sciences which will take place before those days,’ said the Doctor, ‘whereby everything shall be performed with so much greater ease,—also the great increase of disinterested love, whereby the skill and talents of those who have much shall make up for the weakness of those who have less.

‘Yes,’—he continued, after a pause,—‘all the careful Marthas in those days will have no excuse for not sitting at the feet of Jesus; there will be no cumbering with much serving; the church will have only Maries in those days.’

This remark, made without the slightest personal intention, called a curious smile into Mrs. Scudder’s face, which was reflected in a slight blush from Mary’s, when the crack of a whip and the rattling of waggon-wheels disturbed the conversation and drew all eyes to the door.

There appeared the vision of Mr. Zebedee Marvyn’s farm-waggon, stored with barrels, boxes, and baskets, over which Candace sat throned triumphant, her black face and yellow-striped turban glowing in the fresh morning with a hearty, joyous light, as she pulled up the reins, and shouted to the horse to stop with a voice that might have done credit to any man living.

‘Dear me, if there isn’t Candace!’ said Mary.

‘Queen of Ethiopia,’ said the Doctor, who sometimes adventured a very placid joke.

The Doctor was universally known in all the neighbourhood as a sort of friend and patron-saint of the negro race; he had devoted himself to their interests with a zeal unusual in those days. His church numbered more of them than any in Newport; and his hours of leisure from study were often spent in lowliest visitations among them, hearing their stories, consoling their sorrows, advising and directing their plans, teaching them reading and writing, and he often drew hard on his slender salary to assist them in their emergencies and distresses.

This unusual condescension on his part was repaid on theirs with all the warmth of their race; and Candace, in particular, devoted herself to the Doctor with all the force of her being.

There was a legend current in the neighbourhood, that the first efforts to catechize Candace were not eminently successful, her modes of contemplating theological tenets being so peculiarly from her own individual point of view that it was hard to get her subscription to a received opinion. On the venerable clause in the Catechism, in particular, which declares that all men sinned in Adam and fell with him, Candace made a dead halt:—

‘I didn’t do dat ar’, for one, I knows. I’s got good mem’ry,—allers knows what I does,—nebber did eat dat ar’ apple,—nebber eat a bit ob him. Don’t tell me!’

It was of no use, of course, to tell Candace of all the explanations of this redoubtable passage,—of potential presence, and representative presence, and representative identity, and federal headship. She met all with the dogged,—

‘Nebber did it, I knows; should ’ave ’membered, if I had. Don’t tell me!’

And even in the catechizing class of the Doctor himself, if this answer came to her, she sat black and frowning in stony silence even in his reverend presence.

Candace was often reminded that the Doctor believed the Catechism, and that she was differing from a great and good man; but the argument made no manner of impression on her, till, one day, a far-off cousin of hers, whose condition under a hard master had often moved her compassion, came in overjoyed to recount to her how, owing to Dr. H.’s exertions, he had gained his freedom. The Doctor himself had in person gone from house to house, raising the sum for his redemption; and when more yet was wanting, supplied it by paying half his last quarter’s limited salary.

‘He do dat ar’?’ said Candace, dropping the fork wherewith she was spearing doughnuts. ‘Den I’m gwine to b’liebe ebery word he does!’

And accordingly, at the next catechizing, the Doctor’s astonishment was great when Candace pressed up to him, exclaiming,—

‘De Lord bress you, Doctor, for opening de prison for dem dat is bound! I b’liebes in you now, Doctor. I’s gwine to b’liebe ebery word you say. I’ll say de Catechize now,—fix it any way you like. I did eat dat ar’ apple,—I eat de whole tree, an’ swallowed ebery bit ob it, if you say so.’

And this very thorough profession of faith was followed, on the part of Candace, by years of the most strenuous orthodoxy. Her general mode of expressing her mind on the subject was short and definitive.

‘Law me! what’s de use? I’s set out to b’liebe de Catechize, an’ I’m gwine to b’liebe it,—so!’

While we have been telling you all this about her, she has fastened her horse, and is swinging leisurely up to the house with a basket on either arm.

‘Good morning, Candace,’ said Mrs. Scudder. ‘What brings you so early?’

‘Come down ’fore light to sell my chickens an’ eggs,—got a lot o’ money for ’em, too. Missy Marvyn she sent Miss Scudder some turkey-eggs, an’ I brought down some o’ my doughnuts for de Doctor. Good folks must lib, you know, as well as wicked ones,’—and Candace gave a hearty, unctuous laugh. ‘No reason why Doctors shouldn’t hab good tings as well as sinners, is dere?’—and she shook in great billows, and showed her white teeth in the abandon of her laugh. ‘Lor’ bress ye, honey, chile!’ she said, turning to Mary, ‘why, ye looks like a new rose, ebery bit! Don’t wonder somebody was allers pryin’ an’ spyin’ about here!’

‘How is your mistress, Candace?’ said Mrs. Scudder, by way of changing the subject.

‘Well, porly,—rader porly. When Massa Jim goes, ’pears like takin’ de light right out her eyes. Dat ar’ boy trains roun’ arter his mudder like a cosset, he does. Lor’, de house seems so still widout him!—can’t a fly scratch his ear but it starts a body. Missy Marvyn she sent down, an’ says, would you and de Doctor an’ Miss Mary please come to tea dis arternoon?’

‘Thank your mistress, Candace,’ said Mrs. Scudder; ‘Mary and I will come,—and the Doctor, perhaps,’ looking at the good man, who had relapsed into meditation, and was eating his breakfast without taking note of anything going on. ‘It will be time enough to tell him of it,’ she said to Mary, ‘when we have to wake him up to dress; so we won’t disturb him now.’

To Mary the prospect of the visit was a pleasant one, for reasons which she scarce gave a definite form to. Of course, like a good girl, she had come to a fixed and settled resolution to think of James as little as possible; but when the path of duty lay directly along scenes and among people fitted to recall him, it was more agreeable than if it had lain in another direction. Added to this, a very tender and silent friendship subsisted between Mrs. Marvyn and Mary; in which, besides similarity of mind and intellectual pursuits, there was a deep, unspoken element of sympathy.

Candace watched the light in Mary’s eyes with the instinctive shrewdness by which her race seem to divine the thoughts and feelings of their superiors, and chuckled to herself internally. Without ever having been made a confidante by any party, or having a word said to or before her, still the whole position of affairs was as clear to her as if she had seen it on a map. She had appreciated at once Mrs. Scudder’s coolness, James’s devotion, and Mary’s perplexity,—and inly resolved, that, if the little maiden did not think of James in his absence, it should not be her fault.

‘Laws, Miss Scudder,’ she said, ‘I’s right glad you’s comin’, ’cause you hasn’t seen how we’s kind o’ splendified since Massa Jim come home. You wouldn’t know it. Why, he’s got mats from Mogadore on all de entries, and a great big ’un on de parlour; and ye ought to see de shawl he brought Missus, an’ all de cur’us kind o’ tings to de Squire. ’Tell ye, dat ar’ boy honours his fader and mudder, ef he don’t do nuffin else,—an’ dat’s de fus’ commandment wid promise, ma’am; and to see him a-settin’ up ebery day in prayer-time, so handsome, holdin’ Missus’s han’, an’ lookin’ right into her eyes all de time! Why, dat ar’ boy is one o’ de ’lect,—it’s jest as clare to me; and de ’lect has got to come in,—dat’s what I say. My faith’s strong,—real clare, ’tell ye,’ she added, with the triumphant laugh which usually chorused her conversation, and turning to the Doctor, who, aroused by her loud and vigorous strain, was attending with interest to her.

‘Well, Candace,’ he said, ‘we all hope you are right.’

Hope, Doctor!—I don’t hope,—I knows. ’Tell ye, when I pray for him, don’t I feel enlarged? ’Tell ye, it goes wid a rush. I can feel it gwine up like a rushin’, mighty wind. I feels strong, I do.’

‘That’s right, Candace,’ said the Doctor, ‘keep on; your prayers stand as much chance with God as if you were a crowned queen. The Lord is no respecter of persons.’

‘Dat’s what he a’n’t, Doctor,—an’ dere’s where I ’gree wid him,’ said Candace, as she gathered her baskets vigorously together, and, after a sweeping curtsy, went sailing down to her waggon, full laden with content, shouting a hearty ‘Good mornin’, Missus,’ with the full power of her cheerful lungs, as she rode off.

As the Doctor looked after her, the simple, pleased expression with which he had watched her, gradually faded, and there passed over his broad, good face, a shadow, as of a cloud on a mountain-side.

‘What a shame it is,’ he said; ‘what a scandal and disgrace to the Protestant religion, that Christians of America should openly practise and countenance this enslaving of the Africans! I have for a long time holden my peace—may the Lord forgive me!—but I believe the time is coming when I must utter my voice. I cannot go down to the wharves, or among the shipping, without these poor dumb creatures look at me so that I am ashamed; as if they asked me what I, a Christian minister, was doing, that I did not come to their help. I must testify.’

Mrs. Scudder looked grave at this earnest announcement; she had heard many like it before, and they always filled her with alarm, because——Shall we tell you why?

Well, then, it was not because she was not a thoroughly indoctrinated anti-slavery woman. Her husband, who did all her thinking for her, had been a man of ideas beyond his day, and never for a moment countenanced the right of slavery so far as to buy or own a servant or attendant of any kind: and Mrs. Scudder had always followed decidedly along the path of his opinions and practice, and never hesitated to declare the reasons for the faith that was in her. But if any of us could imagine an angel dropped down out of heaven, with wings, ideas, notions, manners, and customs all fresh from that very different country, we might easily suppose that the most pious and orthodox family might find the task of presenting him in general society, and piloting him along the courses of this world, a very delicate and embarrassing one. However much they might reverence him on their own private account, their hearts would probably sink within them at the idea of allowing him to expand himself according to his previous nature and habits in the great world without. In like manner, men of high, unworldly natures are often reverenced by those who are somewhat puzzled what to do with them practically.

Mrs. Scudder considered the Doctor as a superior being, possessed by a holy helplessness in all things material and temporal, which imposed on her the necessity of thinking and caring for him, and prevising the earthly and material aspects of his affairs.

There was not in Newport a more thriving and reputable business at that time than the slave-trade. Large fortunes were constantly being turned out in it, and what better Providential witness of its justice could most people require?

Beside this, in their own little church, she reflected with alarm, that Simeon Brown, the richest and most liberal supporter of the society, had been, and was then, drawing all his wealth from this source; and rapidly there flashed before her mind a picture of one and another, influential persons, who were holders of slaves. Therefore, when the Doctor announced, ‘I must testify,’ she rattled her tea-spoon uneasily, and answered,—

‘In what way, Doctor, do you think of bearing testimony? The subject, I think, is a very difficult one.’

‘Difficult? I think no subject can be clearer. If we were right in our war for liberty, we are wrong in making slaves or keeping them.’

‘Oh, I did not mean,’ said Mrs. Scudder, ‘that it was difficult to understand the subject; the right of the matter is clear, but what to do is the thing.’

‘I shall preach about it,’ said the Doctor; ‘my mind has run upon it some time. I shall show to the house of Judah their sin in this matter.’

‘I fear there will be great offence given,’ said Mrs. Scudder. ‘There’s Simeon Brown, one of our largest supporters,—he is in the trade.’

‘Ah, yes,—but he will come out of it,—of course he will,—he is all right, all clear. I was delighted with the clearness of his views the other night, and thought then of bringing them to bear on this point,—only, as others were present, I deferred it. But I can show him that it follows logically from his principles; I am confident of that.’

‘I think you’ll be disappointed in him, Doctor;—I think he’ll be angry, and get up a commotion, and leave the church.’

‘Madam,’ said the Doctor, ‘do you suppose that a man who would be willing even to give up his eternal salvation for the greatest good of the universe could hesitate about a few paltry thousands that perish in the using?’

‘He may feel willing to give up his soul,’ said Mrs. Scudder, naïvely, ‘but I don’t think he’ll give up his ships,—that’s quite another matter,—he won’t see it to be his duty.’

‘Then, ma’am, he’ll be a hypocrite, a gross hypocrite, if he won’t,’ said the Doctor. ‘It is not Christian charity to think it of him. I shall call upon him this morning and tell him my intentions.’

‘But, Doctor,’ exclaimed Mrs. Scudder, with a start, ‘pray, think a little more of it. You know a great many things depend on him. Why! he has subscribed for twenty copies of your “System of Theology.” I hope you’ll remember that.’

‘And why should I remember that?’ said the Doctor,—hastily turning round, suddenly enkindled, his blue eyes flashing out of their usual misty calm,—‘what has my “System of Theology” to do with the matter?’

The Minister is moved.

‘Why,’ said Mrs. Scudder, ‘it’s of more importance to get right views of the gospel before the world than anything else, is it not?—and if, by any imprudence in treating influential people, this should be prevented, more harm than good would be done.’

‘Madam,’ said the Doctor, ‘I’d sooner my system should be sunk in the sea than it should be a millstone round my neck to keep me from my duty. Let God take care of my theology; I must do my duty.’

And as the Doctor spoke, he straightened himself to the full dignity of his height, his face kindling with an unconscious majesty, and, as he turned, his eye fell on Mary, who was standing with her slender figure dilated, her large blue eye wide and bright, in a sort of trance of solemn feeling, half-smiles, half-tears,—and the strong, heroic man started, to see this answer to his higher soul in the sweet, tremulous mirror of womanhood. One of those lightning glances passed between his eyes and hers which are the freemasonry of noble spirits,—and, by a sudden impulse, they approached each other. He took both her outstretched hands, looked down into her face with a look full of admiration, and a sort of naïve wonder,—then, as if her inspired silence had been a voice to him, he laid his hand on her head, and said,—

‘God bless you, child! “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”’

In a moment he was gone.

‘Mary,’ said Mrs. Scudder, laying her hand on her daughter’s arm, ‘the Doctor loves you!’

‘I know he does, mother,’ said Mary, innocently; ‘and I love him,—dearly!—he is a noble, grand man!’

Mrs. Scudder looked keenly at her daughter. Mary’s eye was as calm as a June sky, and she began, composedly, gathering up the teacups.

‘She did not understand me,’ thought the mother.

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