"No she warn't, either," said the landlady, who for some minutes had been aching to speak. "No she warn't, either. I know all about it. She was born in England, and got to be quite a girl before she came over.
Her name was Sarah Fletcher, and Peter Fletcher, who died with the cholera, was her own uncle, and all the connection she had in this country;--but goodness suz, what ails you?" she added, as Mary turned deathly white, while George pa.s.sed his arm around her to keep her from falling. "Here, Sophrony, fetch the camphire; she's goin' to faint."
But Mary did not faint, and after smelling the camphor, she said, "Go on, madam, and tell me more of Sarah Fletcher."
"She can do it," whispered the landlord with a sly wink. "She knows every body's history from Dan to Beersheby."
This intimation was wholly lost on the good-humored hostess, who continued, "Mr. Fletcher died when Sarah was small, and her mother married a Mr. ----, I don't justly remember his name"
"Temple?" suggested Mary.
"Yes, Temple, that's it. He was rich and cross, and broke her heart by the time she had her second baby. Sarah was adopted by her Grandmother Fletcher who died, and she came with her uncle to America."
"Did she ever speak of her sisters?" asked Mary, and the woman replied, "Before she got crazy, she did. One of 'em, she said, was in this country somewhere, and t'other the one she remembered the best, and talked the most about, lived in England. She said she wanted to write to 'em, but her uncle, he hated the Temples, so he wouldn't let her, and as time went on she kinder forgot 'em, and didn't know where to direct, and after she took crazy she never would speak of her sisters, or own that she had any."
"Is Mr. Furbush buried near here?" asked George; and the landlord answered, "Little better than a stone's throw. I can see the very tree from here, and may-be your younger eyes can make out the graves. He ought to have a grave stun, for he was a good feller."
The new moon was shining, and Mary, who came to her husband's side, could plainly discern the buckeye tree and the two graves where "Willie and Willie's father" had long been sleeping. The next morning before the sun was up, Mary stood by the mounds where often in years gone by Sally Furbush had seen the moon go down, and the stars grow pale in the coming day, as she kept her tireless watch over her loved and lost.
"Willie was my cousin--your cousin," said Mary, resting her foot upon the bit of board which stood at the head of the little graves. George understood her wishes, and when they left the place, a handsome marble slab marked the spot where the father and his infant son were buried.
Bewildered, and unable to comprehend a word, Sally listened while Mary told her of the relationship between them; but the mists which for years had shrouded her reason were too dense to be suddenly cleared away; and when Mary wept, winding her arms around her neck and calling her "Aunt;" and when the elegant Mrs. Campbell, scarcely less bewildered than Sally herself, came forward addressing her as "sister," she turned aside to Mrs. Mason, asking in a whisper "what had made them crazy."
But when Mary spoke of little Willie's grave, and the tree which overshadowed it, of the green prairie and cottage by the brook, once her western home, Sally listened, and at last one day, a week or two after her arrival in Boston, she suddenly clasped her hands closely over her temples, exclaiming, "It's come! It's come! I remember now,--the large garden,--the cross old man,--the dead mother,--the rosy-cheeked Ella I loved so well--"
"That was my mother,--my mother," interrupted Mary.
For a moment Sally regarded her intently, and then catching her in her arms, cried over her, calling her, "her precious child," and wondering she had never noticed how much she was like Ella.
"And don't you remember the baby Jane?" asked Mrs Campbell, who was present.
"Perfectly,--perfectly," answered Sally. "He died, and you came in a carriage; but didn't cry,--n.o.body cried but Mary."
It was in vain that Mary tried to explain to her that Mrs. Campbell was her sister,--once the baby Jane. Sally was not to be convinced. To her Jane and the little Alice were the same. There was none of her blood in Mrs. Campbell's veins, "or why," said she, "did she leave us so long in obscurity, me and my niece, _Mrs. George Moreland, Esq.!_"
This was the t.i.tle which she always gave Mary when speaking of her, while to Ella, who occasionally spent a week in her sister's pleasant home, she gave the name of "little cipher," as expressing exactly her opinion of her. Nothing so much excited Sally, or threw her into so violent a pa.s.sion, as to have Ella call her aunt.
"If I wasn't her kin when I wore a sixpenny calico," said she, "I certainly am not now that I dress in purple and fine linen."
When Sally first went to Boston, George procured for her the best possible medical advice, but her case was of so long standing that but little hope was entertained of her entire recovery. Still every thing was done for her that could be done, and after a time she became far less boisterous than formerly, and sometimes appeared perfectly rational for days. She still retained her taste for literature, and nothing but George's firmness and decision prevented her from sending off the ma.n.u.script of her grammar, which was now finished. It was in vain that he told her she was not now obliged to write for a living, as he had more than enough for her support.
She replied it was not _money_ she coveted, but _reputation_,--a name,--to be pointed at as Mrs. Sarah Furbush, auth.o.r.ess of "Furbush's Grammar," &c.,--_this_ was her aim!
"You may write all you choose for the entertainment of ourselves and our friends," said George, "but I cannot allow you to send any thing to a publisher,"
Sally saw he was in earnest, and at last yielded the point, telling Mary in confidence that "she never saw any one in her life she feared as she did Esquire Moreland when he set his foot down!"
And George did seem to have a wonderful influence over her, for a single look from him would quiet her when in her wildest moods. In spite of the desire she once expressed of finding her sister, Mrs.
Campbell's pride at first shrank from acknowledging a relationship between herself and Sally Furbush, but the fact that George Moreland brought her to his home, treating her in every respect as his equal, and always introducing her to his fashionable friends as his aunt, gradually reconciled her to the matter, and she herself became at last very attentive to her, frequently urging her to spend a part of the time with her. But Sal always refused, saying that "for the sake of her niece she must be very particular in the choice of her a.s.sociates!"
True to her promise, on Mary's twenty-first birth-day, Mrs Campbell made over to her one fourth of her property, and Mary, remembering her intentions towards William Bender, immediately offered him one half of it. But he declined accepting it, saying that his profession was sufficient to support both himself and Jenny, for in a few weeks Jenny, whose father had returned from California, was coming, and already a neat little cottage, a mile from, the city, was being prepared for her reception. Mary did not urge the matter, but many an article of furniture more costly than William was able to purchase found its way into the cottage, which with its overhanging vines, climbing roses, and profusion of flowers, seemed just the home for Jenny Lincoln.
And when the flowers were in full bloom, when the birds sung amid the trees, and the summer sky was bright and blue, Jenny came to the cottage, a joyous, loving bride, believing her own husband the best in the world, and wondering if there was ever any one as happy as herself. And Jenny was very happy. Blithe as a bee she flitted about the house and garden, and if in the morning a tear glistened in her laughing eyes as William bade her adieu, it was quickly dried, and all day long she busied herself in her household matters, studying some agreeable surprise for her husband, and trying for his sake to be very neat and orderly. Then when the clock pointed the hour for his return, she would station herself at the gate, and William, as he kissed the moisture from her rosy cheek, thought her a perfect enigma to weep when he went away, and weep when he came home.
There was no place which Ella loved so well to visit, of where she seemed so happy, as at the "Cottage," and as she was of but little use at home, she frequently spent whole weeks with Jenny, becoming gradually more cheerful,--more like herself, but always insisting that she should never be married.
The spring following Mary's removal to Boston, Mrs. Mason came down to the city to live with her adopted daughter, greatly to the delight of Aunt Martha, whose home was lonelier than it was wont to be, for George was gone, and Ida too had recently been married to Mr. Elwood, and removed to Lexington, Kentucky.
And now a glance at Chicopee, and our story is done. Mr. Lincoln's California adventure had been a successful one, and not long after his return he received from George Moreland a conveyance of the farm, which, under Mr. Parker's efficient management, was in a high state of cultivation. Among the inmates of the poor-house but few changes have taken place. Miss Grundy, who continues at the helm, has grown somewhat older and crosser; while Uncle Peter labors industriously at his new fiddle, the gift of Mary, who is still remembered with much affection.
Lydia Knight, now a young lady of sixteen, is a pupil at Mount Holyoke, and Mrs. Perkins, after wondering and wondering where the money came from, has finally concluded that "some of _George's folks_ must have sent it!"
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