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The Associate Hermits - Chapter 28. The Hermits Continue To Favor Association Post by :rlscott Category :Long Stories Author :Frank R Stockton Date :May 2012 Read :2243

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The Associate Hermits - Chapter 28. The Hermits Continue To Favor Association


When the Archibald party reached the capital city of their State, the four of them took a carriage and drove immediately to the Dearborn residence. Margery had insisted that Mr. Clyde should go with them, so that he and she should present themselves together before her parents. In no other way did she believe that the subject could be properly presented. The Archibalds did not object to this plan; in fact, under the circumstances, they were in favor of it. During the journey young Clyde had produced a very favorable impression upon them. They had always liked him well enough, and now that they examined his character more critically, they could not fail to see that he was a kind-hearted, gentlemanly young man, intelligent and well educated, and, according to private information from Margery, his family was of the best.

Arrived at the Dearborn door, they found the house in the possession of one female servant, who informed them that Mr. Dearborn was in Canada, on a fishing expedition; that Mrs. Dearborn had gone to attend some sort of a congress at Saratoga, and that she did not expect to be at home until the following Friday, three days after, which was the day on which she had expected her daughter to be brought back to her. This was disheartening, and the four stood upon the steps irresolute. Margery ought to go to her mother, but neither of the Archibalds wished to go to Saratoga, nor could they despatch thither the prematurely betrothed couple.

"I know what we must do," said Mrs. Archibald, "we must go home."

"But, my dear," said her husband, "we agreed to stay away for a month, and the month is not yet up."

"It doesn't matter," said she. "Kate and her husband will take us in for the few days left. When we explain all that we have gone through, she will not be hard-hearted enough to make us go to a hotel until Friday; Margery can come with us."

Margery turned upon Mrs. Archibald a pair of eyes filled with earnest inquiry.

"I know what you want," said Mrs. Archibald. "No, he can go to a hotel in the town; and I shall write to your mother to come to us as soon as she returns; then you two can present yourselves together according to your plans. There is no use talking about it, Hector; it is the only thing we can do."

"We shall break our word to the newly married," said her husband. "Isn't there a State law against that?"

"When we made that arrangement," said his wife, going down the steps, "we did not know our individual selves; now we do, and the case is different. Kate will understand all that when I explain it to her."

They drove back to the station, and took a train for home.

Mr. and Mrs. Bringhurst were sitting in the cool library about nine o'clock that evening; he was reading while she was listening, and they were greatly astonished when they heard a carriage drive up to the front door. During their domestic honey-moon they had received no visitors, and they looked at each other and wondered.

"It is a mistake," said he; "but don't trouble yourself. Mary has not gone to bed, and she will hear the bell."

But there was no bell; the door was opened, and in came father and mother, followed by a strange young couple.

"It is wonderful!" exclaimed Kate, when at last everybody had been embraced or introduced. "A dozen times during the last week have we talked about the delight it would give us if our father and mother could be here to be entertained a little while as our guests in our own house--for you gave it to us for a month, you know. But we refrained from sending you an invitation because we did not want to cut off your holiday. And now you are here! The good fairies could not have arranged the matter better."

When all the tales had been told; when the assertion of individuality and the plans of hermit association had been described and discussed, and the young Bringhursts had told how they, too, without knowing it, had been associate hermits, devoting their time not to the discovery of their own natures, but of the nature of each other, and how perfectly satisfied they had been with the results, it was very late, and young Clyde was not allowed to go out into the darkness to find a hotel.

It was on Thursday afternoon that Mrs. Dearborn arrived at the Archibalds' house. The letter she had received had made her feel that she could not wait until the end of the congress.

"Now, mother," said Margery, when the two were alone together, "you have seen him and you have talked to him, and Uncle Hector has told you how he went to the office of Glassborough & Clyde and found he was really their nephew, and all about him and his family; and you have been told precisely why it was necessary that we should engage ourselves so abruptly on account of the violent nature of Mr. Raybold and the trouble he might cause, not only to us, but to dear Aunt Harriet and Uncle Archibald. And now we come just like two of your own children and put the whole matter entirely into your hands and leave you to decide, out of your own heart, exactly when and where we shall be married, and all about it. Then, when father comes home, you can tell him just what you have decided to do. You are our parents, and we leave it to you."

"What in the world," said Mrs. Dearborn, an hour later, when she was talking to the two married ladies of the household, "can one do with a girl like that? I do not believe dynamite would blow them apart; and if I thought it would I should not know how to manage it."

"No," said Mrs. Archibald, "I am afraid the explosion would be as bad for you as it would be for them."

"Don't try it," said Mrs. Kate. "I take a great interest in that budding bit of felicity; I consider it an outgrowth of our own marriage and honey-moon. When we sent out that wild couple, my father and mother, on a wedding-tour, we did not dream that they would bring back to us a pair of lovers, who never would have been lovers if it had not been for us, and who are now ready for a wedding-tour on their own account, as soon as circumstances may permit. And so, feeling a little right and privilege in the matter, I am going to ask you, Mrs. Dearborn, to let them be married here whenever the wedding-day shall come, and let them start out from this house on their marriage career. Now don't you think that would be a fine plan? I am sure your daughter will like it, when she remembers what she owes us; and if Mr. Clyde objects I will undertake to make him change his mind."

When the plan was proposed in full counsel, it was found that there would be no need for the exercise of Mrs. Kate's powers of persuasion.

* * * * *

About ten days after Mrs. Dearborn and Margery had returned to their home, and Clyde had followed, to move like a satellite in an orbit determined by Mrs. Dearborn, Mr. Archibald was surprised, but also very much pleased, to receive a visit from the bishop.

"I could not refrain," said that expansive individual, "from coming to you as soon as circumstances would allow, and, while expressing to you the great obligations under which you have placed me, to confide to you my plans and my prospects. You have been so good to me that I believe you will be pleased to know of the life work to which I have determined to devote myself."

"I am glad to hear," said the other, "that you have made plans, but you owe nothing to me."

"Excuse me," said the bishop, "but I do. This suit of clothes, sir, is the foundation of my fortunes."

"And well earned," said Mr. Archibald. "But we will say no more about that. Have you secured a position? Tell me about yourself."

"I have a position," said the bishop. "But would you prefer that I tell you of that first, or begin at the beginning and briefly relate to you what has happened since I saw you last?"

"Oh, begin at the beginning, by all means," said Mr. Archibald. "I was sorry to be obliged to leave you all so unceremoniously, and I greatly desire to know what happened after we left."

"Very good, then," said the bishop, "I will give you our history in as few words as I can. On the afternoon after your departure we all went to Sadler's--that is, Miss Raybold and myself and the three guides; for Raybold, when he heard that Miss Dearborn and Mr. Clyde had gone, immediately left for Sadler's, hoping, I think, to find you all there. From what I heard, I think he and Peter Sadler must have had words. At any rate, he discovered that his case was hopeless, and he had himself driven to the station in a carriage, not choosing to wait until our arrival. I have since heard that he has determined to relinquish the law and devote himself to the dramatic arts.

"For some reason or other, Peter Sadler was very glad to see me, and congratulated me heartily on the favorable change in my appearance. He called me his favorite tramp, and invited me to stop at his hotel for a time, but I consented to stay a few days only, for I felt I must go to see the gentleman to whom I wished to engage myself as librarian before my new clothes had lost their freshness. Miss Raybold arranged to stay at Sadler's for a week. She liked the place, and as she had planned to remain away from home for a fortnight, she did not wish to return before the time fixed upon. There were a good many people at Sadler's, but none of them seemed to interest her. She decidedly preferred to talk to Sadler or to me; but although Peter is a jolly fellow, and had some lively conversations with her, he does not seem to care for protracted mental intercourse, and it became so plain to me that she depended upon me, in so large a degree, for companionship and intellectual stimulus, that I did not leave as soon as I intended. It was on Wednesday, in fact, that I steeled my heart and told her that I must positively depart early the following morning, or I could not expect to reach my destination before the end of the week. It was that evening, however, that we became engaged to be married."

"What?" cried Mr. Archibald. "Did you dare to propose yourself to that classic being?"

"No," replied the other, "I cannot, with exactness, say that I did. It would be difficult, indeed, for me to describe the manner in which we arrived at this most satisfactory conclusion. Miss Raybold is a mistress of expression, and, without moving a hair's-breadth beyond the lines of maidenly reserve which always environ her, she made me aware, not only that I desired to propose marriage to her, but that it would be well for me to do so. There were objections to this course, which, as an honest man, I could not refrain from laying before her, and with my proposition I stated these objections, but they were overruled to my entire satisfaction, and she consented to become Mrs. Bishop."

"Mrs. Bishop?" said the other, inquiringly.

"Oh yes; Bishop is my name--Henry C. Bishop. It was this name which suggested the title which was playfully given to me. Before our compact was made I had told Miss Raybold all about my family. She did not ask me to do so, but I knew she desired the information, for I had learned to read those beautiful eyes."

"But," said Mr. Archibald, "how about your position? Did you get the place as librarian?"

"No," said the other, "I did not ask for it. The question of my vocation has been settled most admirably. There never was a human being more frank, more straightforward and pertinent than Miss Raybold. She knows what she wants, and she makes her plans to get it. With regard to means she is sufficiently endowed, but the life work to which she has devoted herself is far more than she can ever accomplish alone. She needs the constant assistance of a sympathetic and appreciative nature, and that, I am happy to say, I am able to give to her; and were I to devote myself to any other calling which would interfere with that assistance, I should be doing her a positive wrong. Therefore, should I state it in definite words, I should say that I am to become my wife's private secretary. That is my position, and it suits me admirably; and I may add that Corona assures me that she is thoroughly well pleased. We are to be married in the fall, and I hope it will not be long before we shall have the pleasure of meeting again our former companions of the hermit camp."

"By-the-way," said Mr. Archibald, as his visitor was about to leave, "tell me something of Matlack. I had a great liking for our guide."

"All that I can tell you is this," said Mr. Bishop, smiling: "Not long after we arrived at Sadler's, he went to Peter and asked him if he intended to send out a camping party to any considerable distance. It so happened that a couple of gentlemen were going to a point on the very limits of Sadler's jurisdiction, and with them Matlack petitioned to go, although another guide had been appointed. I made inquiries, and found that, for some reason, probably connected with the persistencies of the female sex, Matlack had become a sort of Daniel Boone and wanted to go away as far as possible from his kind."

"I hope," said Mr. Archibald, "that our example has not made a real hermit of him. Good-bye. I am very sorry that Mrs. Archibald is not at home; but in both our names I wish you and your future wife the best of good fortunes."

"Father," exclaimed Mrs. Kate, when she heard of this interview, "now you must grant me one more favor! Here is another pair of lovers who owe everything to our honey-moon and your wedding-tour. We ought to know them, for we made them what they are. So let us invite them here, and let them be married from this house. I do not believe Miss Raybold has a proper home of her own; and, in any case, the only way they can pay us what they owe us is to give us the pleasure of seeing them wedded here."

Mr. Archibald rose to his feet. "No, madam!" said he. "I am willing, to a certain extent, to make this house a source of hymeneal felicity, but I draw the line at the bishop. I do not intend that my home shall become a matrimonial factory!"

Frank R Stockton's novel: Associate Hermits

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