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III.-- THE BOAT ON THE Cove.
“I would prefer you should not go with us this morning,” said Dr. Hornbeam to Mrs. Yarrow the next morning, as Mr. Yarrow, escorted by Quamash, upon whose arm he leaned, slowly walked down the garden towards the boat in the cove.
"At least you will be very cautious,” said Mrs. Yarrow.
She stood by the hollies and watched the two as they embarked. She yearned after her husband, felt she ought to be with him, felt as if the burly doctor might estrange him from her, felt ashamed of being envious, and turning, saw Quamash watching the boat likewise.
"It is a pleasant day for rowing, Quamash,” she said.
"Huh!” he replied, "pleasant days not make um float lighter. Bad man! bad man!" and he returned discontentedly towards the house. Evidently the Indian did not like the doctor, and in his original unredeemed state would have deemed the killing of such a man not a murder, but an act of grace and a service to humanity. How much finer things our instincts are than our reflections! If Dr. Hornbeam had been inclined towards politics, his fellow-citizens in civilised life would have eagerly sent him to Congress.
Meantime he handled the light sculls like a Whitehall boatman to the manner born. The dainty little boat — half skiff, half yawl -shot forward gladly, as all things animate and inanimate do when a master's hand impels them. The water gurgled under her prow and flowed in bubbles past. Mr. Yarrow sat limp and helpless in the boat's stern, watching with wonder and admiration the swelling muscles of Dr. Hornbeam's arms, the dome-like spread of his massive chest, the easy sweat upon his florid brow, the solid grip of his hands, the willing service of the boat.
“How strong you are, doctor!” he said. "Oh, if I could only drive the boat along as you do!”
"Try it,” said Dr. Hornbeam, rising, crossing aft, and helping the rather astonished Mr. Yarrow to take his place at the oars and bench. “Pull!” he cried; but there was palpably no pull in the clergyman's arms. He listed the oars indeed, and feebly dabbled their blades half-a-dozen times in the water, but a stout cat-fish would have drawn the boat against his rowing. His face Aushed vividly, the sweat stood out all over it; he looked like a man fatigued well nigh to death, as he finally let go of the oars and gasped and panted for breath.
"That will do bravely,” said the imperturbable Hornbeam, as he helped the feeble man back to his seat, which was easy as a rocking. chair, and recovered the oars. “You are stronger than I thought you were. A few minutes of such work every day, and you will soon be able to row a mile and back."
“Do you think so?” gasped Mr. Yarrow.
“Of course I do,” responded Hornbeam. “Here, take a sip of this; it will invigorate you.” He whipped a small silver flask out of his pocket, with a cordial-cup attached, which he poured full of dark clear liquid. “This is some brandy imported by my grandfather mild as olive oil. It will do you good."
Mr. Yarrow swallowed the subtle spirits like a man used to receive medicines from the hands of others. “It glows in my stomach like a genial flame," said he.
Ay, there's no mistake about its fire,” thought Dr. Hornbeam, and plying the oars, with a dozen master-strokes he brought the boat out from the shadowy, silent, placid cove to the broad waters gladly rippling in the sunshine. It was not too warm for pleasure, and the scene was exquisite in life, light and color. The sunshine was alive over the whole surface of the waters save where the shadows lay of the boat and its occupants; there, through diaphanous olive depths, you saw the cool green oozes waving and the great blue channelcrabs seeking their food. Now and then, with a swist flash and a spatter of diamond sprays, a family of little fishes leaped out into the air for joy. A dozen ducks sat near at hand, silently buoyed by the ripples as they eyed the boat with eyes like elves, or dived with ridiculous suddenness, or came up happy to oil their feathers and make their never-ending toilettes. A kingfisher, issuing from his nest-burrow in the bank near by, came clattering out with a sound like a watchman's rattle, smote the water with a great splash, and flapped out again with his fish in his beak. An oyster-boat slowly went about beyond the cove, and two or three miles away, on a schooner, the hands hoisted the mainsail by creaky blocks and slowly worked up the anchor by the windlass, preparing to sail away.
"All at work - all employed!" murmured the clergyman, taking in all the varied features of the scene, " and I the sɔle unbusy thing'
" Don't quote Coleridge,” interrupted the doctor; “it is not wholesome stuff.''
Mr. Yarrow's cheek was glowing, his eye had waked up with a peculiar lambent light, and there was a strange, eager sort of excitement in his voice and manner as he said :
“My work! doctor! my work! I am losing precious time! When shall I get at my work ?"
"You have not yet told me what your work is, Mr. Yarrow," said the doctor, coolly.
“What! I thought my wife had — did she not—" “She told me nothing, but insinuated that if you found me worthy of confidence you would share with me the the secret, whatever it is. I promise you not to steal it from you."
How enthusiasm dampens off before this matter-of-fact tone that Dr. Hornbeam knew so well how to assume! Mr. Yarrow, just now glowing, palpitating with eagerness and passionate impulse, began to stammer and hesitate, like a schoolboy called upon to speak his exhibition piece in private. At last he asked:
"Do you believe that a man can have a mission, Dr. Hornbeam?”
“I am such an arrant skeptic, Mr. Yarrow, that I believe ineverything!"
“ Heaven has been very kind to me, sir, in spite of all my recreancy and weakness. I am especially charged with the completion of the most momentous task ever laid upon a mortal.”
** If a man ever had a mission, Mr. Yarrow, you ought to be that person, or my knowledge of men goes for nothing!”
“You say so !” cried Mr. Yarrow, triumphantly. “That is just what my Campanula says also. It must be right. Do you know you confirm me strangely, Dr. Hornbeam? I never doubted the reality of the mission, but I must confess I have often felt like Jonah, and willing to flee away rather than accept the burthen. But that is a weakness of the spirit that comes from sympathy with the weakness of the flesh. You confirm my purposes strangely, sir, and give me new courage. You are a man of the world, Dr. Hornbeam, and must look at these matters from a different standpoint from me; yet you confirm me in my mission. You must help me to compass it, for I am panting to do so.”
“I don't think you'll find me a very serviceable spiritual adviser, Mr. Yarrow,” said Dr. Hornbeam, with a short laugh.
“Yes, but "- cried Mr. Yarrow, "yes, but there is a discovery to be made, and you can help me materially."
"Oh, there is a discovery to be made! May I inquire of what sort this discovery is to be ?" “The medium -- the conductor the intermediary
that still remains to be determined, doctor; and upon that point I am free to admit my prayers have not been answered, or have been so obscurely answered that I cannot interpret them.”
“The medium - the conductor of what, Mr. Yarrow?”
“Yes; the Purifying Aither, the atmosphere of the saints, the breath of divinity.”
“Oh!” Dr. Hornbeam spun the boat round with a stroke or two of one oar. “And what is this Aither to do when you have fetched it down, Mr. Yarrow?"
“It is to reform the world! It is to furnish a new motive power for all our moral machinery, and supply our spiritual natures with an entirely new atmosphere."
“Suppose they can't breathe in it, and are asphyxiated - how then, Mr. Yarrow?"
“You should not make a joke of sacred things, Dr. Hornbeam!”
“That is a fact, sir,” said Hornbeam; "and I perceive this has gotten beyond a joke. What you want is to find out a means, if I understand you, of conducting this — this Aither —"
" From heaven to my own spirit! Yes ; that is it. That discovery is all that is needed; all the rest is revealed to me. Yonder above us it floats, ready to be summoned. Here in this empty heart is its receptacle prepared. Give me to bring it down, and this spirit shall rain blessed influences upon a perverted and unhappy earth until it shall become blessed also! That is my work, my mission! I have come into it by authority. I dedicate myself to it. I shall become the servant of man, to lead him with purified garments to the Master's feet. Help me, and share my blessing with me!"
Mr. Yarrow was standing up in the boat, his eyes full of rapture, his hands lifted, his voice impressive. The doctor touched his oars again and tumbled this rather weak-kneed prophet limply back in his seat. After a few heavy strokes the doctor said :
“Have you ever studied chemistry, Mr. Yarrow?” “Chemistry! What has chemistry to do with spiritual concerns?"
“I'll answer that when you tell me what the body has got to do with the soul. There they are nevertheless, and we'll take the facts and leave the problem out. I think if you will study up some chemical subjects that I will suggest to you, you will discover that there is a greater intimacy between spiritual and material things than you fancy; or rather, a greater difficulty than you would suppose in determining the precise point of departure - where the material ends, and where the spiritual begins. The Chemistry of the Future can scarcely be kept out of Heaven itself.”
“That sounds like blasphemy, Dr. Hornbeam."
“But it is mere rude fact, Mr. Yarrow. I have seen moral thunderbolts rive physical oaks, and I've seen physical lightning flash in upon the innermost private resorts of the soul — but there is no need to speak of such things to you. You know all the cosmogonies, all the codes and theologies, and you know nothing, because you don't know chemistry.”
“Will you teach me?"
“You shall begin to learn it to-morrow, Mr. Yarrow, and I will insure you this: if there be an Aither and a mission for it on earth, and a missionary, it shall not fall to the ground for lack of a good conductor. Chemistry will work the miracle, if it be to be done."
And he bent himself to the oars and rowed the invalid back to the hollies. There his wife waited to receive him, and found him already stronger and better, and thanked the doctor for it with her eyes and her voice.
And the doctor, speaking low to her as they returned to the house, said:
“I have the secret. I will cure him ; but it will cost you half your fortune before it is done."
“It is all his,” she answered, simply, "and may all go. It will be nothing without him.”
IV.- THE ISOLATED CHAMBER.
We must now take a leap forward in our story from the season of strawberries to the season that succeeds the last of the peaches. Autumn wears its orange and crimson uniform all around, but scarcely seems to have yet invaded Grayrue Hall. The pines and cedars outside are green as ever, and the garden is as brilliant as before with roses and asters, and flowers that have their season of bloom as the gardener wills. The boat swings at her mooring in the cove, and the hollies are gray-green as ever.
There are changes within the old mansion, however. The carpenters have been there, and have fitted up a large room in the upper story in the most remarkable fashion. It resembles the “battery rooms." of modern telegraphic establishments in some respects; in some it would put you in mind of the work-room of a mediæval alchemist. Wires traverse it in all directions as intricately as the
filaments of a spider's web; costly and elaborate apparatus of brass, steel, glass, crowd the tables and cases ;-there are shelves loaded with jars, botiles, boxes ; surnaces and retorts cumber the floor ; books fill interstices everywhere. Dr. Hornbeam calls it the isolated chamber, and with reason, for he never finds Mrs. Yarrow there, and Quamash could scarcely be tempted into it with the promise of uncounted gold. Only Mr. Yarrow and the doctor are known to frequent it.
Here, however, Mr. Yarrow constantly leads laborious days, and here every morning Dr. Hornbeam may be found in the company of his patient and his pupil; for Dr. Hornbeam has gotten to come to Grayrue Hall as regularly as breakfast-time comes to a day-laborer. They are both here now.
The doctor is one of those stout, oaken-framed persons who do not change in less than a generation except to grow stouter and ruddier and more solid, and after that perhaps to wither and shrink a little, like grindstone-apples that never mellow until the frosts have bitten all the life out of their tenderer kindred. Mr. Yarrow is greatly changed, however. His pallid looks have yielded to sunburn; his thin cheek is filled out; his clothes fit him ; there is nerve in his grasp and muscle in his tread. Palpably he has made improvement under the doctor's strange regimen. There is a bad pucker about his brows, however, and a look of anxiety, of solicitude, of keen concentrated pursuit about his eyes. His nether lip, too, droops strangely, except when he gathers it up and comes out of his abstraction, which is not often.
He is seated at a desk, in a leathern easy-chair, and Doctor Hornbeam occupies a chair by his side. The desk is full of papers, some of which they seem to have been discussing.
“All discovery means mere simplification of process, doctor,” said Mr. Yarrow. “Man invents nothing."
“He finds no new truths out, I do believe."
“'That is so. He merely co-ordinates anew the half dozen 'truths which he inherits — intuitions that are his by gift from his Lord above him — all discovery is better and simpler arrangement of these simple elements."
“Scribe, the dramatist, tells us that there are only seven different situations possible on the stage. Yet we have some hundreds of thousands of plays, and perhaps one in a thousand is original. It is all combination.'
“I know nothing of the stage, doctor —”
“Of course not - I was merely illustrating your position. A truth to-day may seem a lie to-morrow, and next day rise up a more profound and comprehensive truth than ever. It is but the old truth all the same."
“That is it! that is it! We change, God never changes ! His laws are fixed – we oscillate about them from pole to pole, from positive to negative, like that needle."
“ Varium et semper mutabile! And so, miracles —"
“Are always — are God's law! Only our powers of perceiving, of comprehending, of receiving them, change, vary, flicker or flare up, as the case may be.”