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were, I dare say, put on by her maid every
morning, quite as they should be; but, gradually,
they got wrong as the day advanced, standing
up here, hanging down there, revealing small
streaks of silver-white hair, so soft and silken,
that the writer was always struggling to
imagine those brown delusions altogether away, and
to picture the sweet matron's face in its own
natural adornment. The young people doted on
the lady prioress; for, though she had a heart for
all mankind, and was the friend and comforter of
those who needed comfort and help, her especial
sympathies with youth and happiness were
obvious. She had a child's mind and simplicity,
a child's facility of enjoyment, and a touch of
harmless humour which was irresistible. Why
were there not more of her stamp? It seems
strange that a place like Heilthal, which
provided its inhabitants so liberally with all the
comforts of life, and with so many ways to
happiness, should yet sour their tempers, nurse
their faults, and take away their peace of mind.
The root of the evil was, undoubtedly, that the
canonesses had nothing worth mentioning to do.


"I CAN'T stand this any longer, Ned; I shall
turn out, and go on deck. This stifling heat is
bad enough to bear, without the stings of the
confounded mosquitoes. I could as soon sleep
in a kiln with a blister all over me."

I scrambled out of my berth, and huddled on
my clothes as well as the dim light would allow.
The other occupant of the little cabin, my dear
old friend and kinsman, Ned Granger, merely
yawned and stretched himself. Petty annoyances
did not trouble him. He had been sleeping
as contentedly as if the villanous little
den of a cabin close to the engine, which we
had been talked into hiring on board the
Van Buren, were a cool and airy bed-chamber.
We had both been outwitted by the steamboat
clerk, a " smart citizen," who had assured
us on his honour that the only disposable
cabin left on board the Mississippi packet was
a snug and pleasant one, free from bugs and
cockroaches, and not in the least too hot. And
now I was stewed and stung to the verge of
fever, while Ned, whom nothing seemed to hurt,
turned over on his pillow with a little sigh,
murmuring, " Take it coolly, old chap. You'll
forget the temperature and the gnats when we
get to Cairo and have our breakfast ashore.
Take it coolly."

I replied rather testily that I wished I could,
but that, not being a salamander, I couldn't.
And with this withering retort I left the cabin,
and stumbled my way on deck. The hurricane-
deck of an American river steamer is a gay scene
by day, but it had a melancholy and lonely look
as I saw it in the feeble moonlight, bare and
deserted. The pilot in his lofty wheelhouse,
intent upon the helm and the bearings, and a
solitary deck hand who filled the office of lookout,
appeared to be the only human beings
awake save myself. To be sure, from the hatchway
of the engine-room there gushed at times
a transient glare of dull crimson firelight, and a
pitch-black figure crossed the gleam, while a
sound as of the dull roaring of a caged wild
beast, told that the furnace had been supplied
with fresh wood. It was very hot and sultry,
even in the air; but the atmosphere was
endurable when compared with the oven-like
oppression of the heat below. The mosquitoes
were still troublesome, but I felt that I could
bear their sharp stings better than when I lay
in the close cabin.

I leaned over the side rail and gazed upon
the yellow river, whose turbid waters stretched
for an immense distance on either hand; the
moon was new and pale, but I could make out
the bold bluffs of the Tennessee shore, though
the low-lying forest of the Missouri bank was
hid in dark shadow.

"'Tis lonesome here, mister, ain't it?" drawled
out a nasal voice at my elbow. I could not
help starting.

"I didn't mean to skear you, Mr. Barham,"
apologised the voice, which I now recognised
as that of an American passenger, General
Jeremiah Flint, who had taken a fancy to
Ned Granger and myself, and with whom we
had struck up a travelling friendship. General
Flint was a thorough-bred Yankee, one of
those tall lathy dark-browed down-easters who
are found in active employment all over the
Union. His complete history, of which he now
and then favoured us with piquant scraps, would
have been very amusing even in print, and
partook a good deal of the adventurous ups and
downs in the career of Hajji Baba. Just now
the general was at rather a low pitch of the
social see-saw, being on board the boat in no
more exalted capacity than that of travelling
salesman to a " jobber" of dry goods at
Philadelphia. General Flint was not and never had
been a military man. He had been postmaster
general of some small State, Vermont or Maine,
and had retained the latter and more portable
half of his quondam official designation.

"It's kinder dull up here, but I couldn't
sleep," said the new comer; " I've got it
happened home upon my mind to night that
mischief's on the brew."

"On the what?" said I, laughing.

"On the brew, sir," answered the general,
very solemnly. " Young men like you, Mr.
Barham, air too apt to ridicule the presentiments
of their elders, but Jeremy Flint's no
greenhorn, and he don't relish the feel of

I had observed before, that the general was
a little oracular, and, what may seem odder
in a Yankee, slightly superstitious; but I knew
he was a keen practical person who had seen
ten times as much of the world as I, an ex-
Oxonian of four-and-twenty, could possibly have
done. Therefore, when my queer acquaintance
seemed ill at ease, I strongly suspected that his
prognostications of coming evil were based on.
other grounds than those of sentiment.

"I'll let you know, mister, the long and short

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