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Madame de Stael

Far from gaining assurance in meeting Bonaparte oftener, he intimidated me daily more and more. I confusedly felt that no emotion of the heart could possibly take effect upon him. He looks upon a human being as a fact or as a thing, but not as a fellow-creature. He does not hate any more than he loves; there is nothing for him but himself; all other things are so many ciphers. The force of his will lies in the imperturbable calculation of his selfishness.--Reflections

Fate was very kind to Madame De Stael.

She ran the gamut of life from highest love to direst pain--from rosy dawn
to blackest night. Name if you can another woman who touched life at so
many points! Home, health, wealth, strength, honors, affection, applause,
motherhood, loss, danger, death, defeat, sacrifice, humiliation, illness,
banishment, imprisonment, escape. Again comes hope--returning strength,
wealth, recognition, fame tempered by opposition, home, a few friends, and
kindly death--cool, all-enfolding death.

If Harriet Martineau showed poor judgment in choosing her parents, we can
lay no such charge to the account of Madame De Stael.

They called her "The Daughter of Necker," and all through life she
delighted in the title. The courtier who addressed her thus received a
sunny smile and a gentle love-tap on his cheek for pay. A splendid woman
is usually the daughter of her father, just as strong men have noble
mothers.

Jacques Necker was born in Geneva, and went up to the city, like many
another country boy, to make his fortune. He carried with him to Paris
innocence, health, high hope, and twenty francs in silver. He found a
place as porter or "trotter" in a bank. Soon they made him clerk.

A letter came one day from a correspondent asking for a large loan, and
setting forth a complex financial scheme in which the bank was invited to
join. M. Vernet, the head of the establishment, was away, and young Necker
took the matter in hand. He made a detailed statement of the scheme,
computed probable losses, weighed the pros and cons, and when the employer
returned, the plan, all worked out, was on his desk, with young Necker's
advice that the loan be made.

"You seem to know all about banking!" was the sarcastic remark of M.
Vernet.

"I do," was the proud answer.

"You know too much; I'll just put you back as porter."

The Genevese accepted the reduction and went back as porter without
repining. A man of small sense would have resigned his situation at once,
just as men are ever forsaking Fortune when she is about to smile; witness
Cato committing suicide on the very eve of success.

There is always a demand for efficient men; the market is never glutted;
the cities are hungry for them--but the trouble is, few men are efficient.

"It was none of his business!" said M. Vernet to his partner, trying to
ease conscience with reasons.

"Yes; but see how he accepted the inevitable!"

"Ah! true, he has two qualities that are the property only of strong men:
confidence and resignation. I think--I think I was hasty!"

So young Necker was reinstated, and in six months was cashier, in three
years a partner.

Not long after, he married Susanna Curchod, a poor governess.

But Mademoiselle Curchod was rich in mental endowment: refined, gentle,
spiritual, she was a true mate to the high-minded Necker. She was a Swiss,
too, and if you know how a young man and a young woman, countryborn, in a
strange city are attracted to each other, you will better understand this
particular situation.

Some years before, Gibbon had loved and courted the beautiful Mademoiselle
Curchod in her quiet home in the Jura Mountains. They became engaged.
Gibbon wrote home, breaking the happy news to his parents.

"Has the beautiful Curchod of whom you sing, a large dowry?" inquired the
mother.

"She has no dowry! I can not tell a lie," was the meek answer. The mother
came on and extinguished the match in short order.

Gibbon never married. But he frankly tells us all about his love for
Susanna Curchod, and relates how he visited her, in her splendid Paris
home. "She greeted me without embarrassment," says Gibbon, resentfully;
"and in the evening Necker left us together in the parlor, bade me
good-night, and lighting a candle went off to bed!"

Gibbon, historian and philosopher, was made of common clay (for authors
are made of clay, like plain mortals), and he could not quite forgive
Madame Necker for not being embarrassed on meeting her former lover,
neither could he forgive Necker for not being jealous.

But that only daughter of the Neckers, Germaine, pleased Gibbon--pleased
him better than the mother, and Gibbon extended his stay in Paris and
called often.

"She was a splendid creature," Gibbon relates; "only seventeen, but a
woman grown, physically and mentally; not handsome, but dazzling,
brilliant, emotional, sensitive, daring!"

Gibbon was a bit of a romanticist, as all historians are, and he no doubt
thought it would be a fine denouement to life's play to capture the
daughter of his old sweetheart, and avenge himself on Fate and the
unembarrassed Madame Necker and the unpiqued husband, all at one fell
stroke--and she would not be dowerless either. Ha, ha!

But Gibbon forgot that he was past forty, short in stature, and short of
breath, and "miles around," as Talleyrand put it.

"I quite like you," said the daring daughter, as the eloquent Gibbon sat
by her side at a dinner.

"Why shouldn't you like me--I came near being your papa!"

"I know, and would I have looked like you?"

"Perhaps."

"What a calamity!"

Even then she possessed that same bubbling wit that was hers years later
when she sat at table with D'Alembert. On one side of the great author was
Madame Recamier, famous for beauty (and later for a certain
"Beauty-Cream"), on the other the daughter of Necker.

"How fortunate!" exclaimed D'Alembert with rapture; "how fortunate I sit
between Wit and Beauty!"

"Yes, and without possessing either," said Wit.

No mistake, the girl's intellect was too speedy even for Gibbon. She
fenced all 'round him and over him, and he soon discovered that she was
icily gracious to every one, save her father alone. For him she seemed to
outpour all the lavish love of her splendid womanhood. It was unlike the
usual calm affection of father and daughter. It was a great and absorbing
love, of which even the mother was jealous.

"I can't just exactly make 'em out," said Gibbon, and withdrew in good
order.

Before Necker was forty he had accumulated a fortune, and retired from
business to devote himself to literature and the polite arts.

"I have earned a rest," he said; "besides, I must have leisure to educate
my daughter."

Men are constantly "retiring" from business, but someway the expected
Elysium of leisure forever eludes us. Necker had written several good
pamphlets and showed the world that he had ability outside of
money-making. He was appointed Resident Minister of Geneva at the Court
of France. Soon after he became President of the French East India
Company, because there was no one else with mind broad enough to fill the
place. His house was the gathering-place of many eminent scholars and
statesmen. Necker was quiet and reserved; his wife coldly brilliant,
cultured, dignified, religious. The daughter made good every deficiency in
both.

She was tall, finely formed, but her features were rather heavy, and in
repose there was a languor in her manner and a blankness in her face. This
seeming dulness marks all great actors, but the heaviness is only on the
surface; it often covers a sleeping volcano. On recognizing an
acquaintance, Germaine Necker's face would be illumined, and her smile
would light a room. She could pronounce a man's name so he would be ready
to throw himself at her feet, or over a precipice for her. And she could
listen in a way that complimented; and by a sigh, a nod, an exclamation,
bring out the best--such thoughts as a man never knew he had. She made
people surprise themselves with their own genius; thus proving that to
make a good impression means to make the man pleased with himself. "Any
man can be brilliant with her," said a nettled competitor; "but if she
wishes, she can sink all women in a room into creeping things."

She knew how to compliment without flattering; her cordiality warmed like
wine, and her ready wit, repartee, and ability to thaw all social ice and
lead conversation along any line, were accomplishments which perhaps have
never been equaled. The women who "entertain" often only depress; they are
so glowing that everybody else feels himself punk. And these people who
are too clever are very numerous; they seem inwardly to fear rivals, and
are intent on working while it is called the day.

Over against these are the celebrities who sit in a corner and smile
knowingly when they are expected to scintillate. And the individual who
talks too much at one time is often painfully silent at another--as if he
had made New-Year resolves. But the daughter of Necker entered into
conversation with candor and abandon; she gave herself to others, and knew
whether they wished to talk or to listen. On occasion, she could
monopolize conversation until she seemed the only person in the room; but
all talent was brighter for the added luster of her own. This simplicity,
this utter frankness, this complete absence of self-consciousness, was
like the flight of a bird that never doubts its power, simply because it
never thinks of it. Yet continual power produces arrogance, and the soul
unchecked finally believes in its own omniscience.

Of course such a matrimonial prize as the daughter of Necker was sought
for, even fought for. But the women who can see clear through a man, like
a Roentgen ray, do not invite soft demonstration. They give passion a
chill. Love demands a little illusion; it must be clothed in mystery. And
although we find evidences that many youths stood in the hallways and
sighed, the daughter of Necker never saw fit by a nod to bring them to her
feet. She was after bigger game--she desired the admiration and
approbation of archbishops, cardinals, generals, statesmen, great authors.

Germaine Necker had no conception of what love is.

Many women never have. Had this fine young woman met a man with intellect
as clear, mind as vivid, and heart as warm as her own, and had he pierced
her through with a wit as strong and keen as she herself wielded, her
pride would have been broken and she might have paused. Then they might
have looked into each other's eyes and lost self there. And had she thus
known love it would have been a complete passion, for the woman seemed
capable of it.

A better pen than mine has written, "A woman's love is a dog's love." The
dog that craves naught else but the presence of his master, who is
faithful to the one and whines out his life on that master's grave,
waiting for the caress that never comes and the cheery voice that is never
heard--that's the way a woman loves! A woman may admire, respect, revere
and obey, but she does not love until a passion seizes upon her that has
in it the abandon of Niagara. Do you remember how Nancy Sikes crawls inch
by inch to reach the hand of Bill, and reaching it, tenderly caresses the
coarse fingers that a moment before clutched her throat, and dies
content? That's the love of woman! The prophet spoke of something
"passing the love of woman," but the prophet was wrong--there's nothing
does.

So Germaine Necker, the gracious, the kindly, the charming, did not love.
However, she married--married Baron De Stael, the Swedish Ambassador. He
was thirty-seven, she was twenty. De Stael was good-looking, polite,
educated. He always smiled at the right time, said bright things in the
right way, kept silence when he should, and made no enemies because he
agreed with everybody about everything. Stipulations were made; a long
agreement was drawn up; it was signed by the party of the first and duly
executed by the party of the second part; sealed, witnessed, sworn to, and
the priest was summoned.

It was a happy marriage. The first three years of married life were the
happiest Madame De Stael ever knew, she said long afterward.

Possibly there are hasty people who imagine they detect tincture of iron
somewhere in these pages: these good people will say, "Gracious me! why
not?"

And so I will at once admit that these respectable, well-arranged, and
carefully planned marriages are often happy and peaceful.

The couple may "raise" a large family and slide through life and out of it
without a splash. I will also admit that love does not necessarily imply
happiness--more often 't is a pain, a wild yearning, and a vague unrest; a
haunting sense of heart-hunger that drives a man into exile repeating
abstractedly the name "Beatrice! Beatrice!" And so all the moral I will
make now is simply this: the individual who has not known an all-absorbing
love has not the spiritual vision that is a passport to Paradise. He
forever yammers between the worlds, fit for neither Heaven nor Hell.

* * * * *

Necker retired from business that he might enjoy peace; his daughter
married for the same reason. It was stipulated that she should never be
separated from her father. She who stipulates is lost, so far as love
goes--but no matter! Married women in France are greater lions in society
than maidens can possibly hope to be. The marriage-certificate serves at
once as a license for brilliancy, daring, splendor, and it is also a badge
of respectability. The marriage-certificate is a document that in all
countries is ever taken care of by the woman and never by the man.

And this document is especially useful in France, as French dames know.
Frenchmen are afraid of an unmarried woman--she means danger, damages, a
midnight marriage and other awful things. An unmarried woman in France can
not hope to be a social leader; and to be a social leader was the one
ambition of Madame De Stael.

It was called the salon of Madame De Stael now. Baron De Stael was known
as the husband of Madame De Stael. The salon of Madame Necker was only a
matter of reminiscence. The daughter of Necker was greater than her
father, and as for Madame Necker, she was a mere figure in towering
headdress, point lace and diamonds. Talleyrand summed up the case when he
said, "She is one of those dear old things that have to be tolerated."

Madame De Stael had a taste for literature from early womanhood. She
wrote beautiful little essays and read them aloud to her company, and her
manuscripts had a circulation like unto her father's bank-notes. She had
the faculty of absorbing beautiful thoughts and sentiments, and no woman
ever expressed them in a more graceful way. People said she was the
greatest woman author of her day. "You mean of all time," corrected
Diderot. They called her "the High Priestess of Letters," "the Minerva of
Poetry," "Sappho Returned," and all that. Her commendation meant success
and her indifference failure. She knew politics, too, and her hands were
on all wires. Did she wish to placate a minister, she invited him to call,
and once there he was as putty in her hands. She skimmed the surface of
all languages, all arts, all history, but best of all she knew the human
heart.

Of course there was a realm of knowledge she wist not of--the initiates of
which never ventured within her scope. She had nothing for them--they kept
away. But the proud, the vain, the ambitious, the ennui-ridden, the
people-who-wish-to-be, and who are ever looking for the strong man to give
them help--these thronged her parlors.

And when you have named these you have named all those who are foremost in
commerce, politics, art, education, philanthropy and religion. The world
is run by second-rate people. The best are speedily crucified, or else
never heard of until long after they are dead.

Madame De Stael, in Seventeen Hundred Eighty-eight, was queen of the
people who ran the world---at least the French part of it.

But intellectual power, like physical strength, endures but for a day.
Giants who have a giant's strength and use it like a giant must be put
down. If you have intellectual power, hide it!

Do thy daily work in thine own little way and be content. The personal
touch repels as well as attracts. Thy presence is a menace--thy existence
an affront--beware! They are weaving a net for thy feet, and hear you not
the echo of hammering, as of men building a scaffold?

Go read history! Thinkest thou that all men are mortal save thee alone,
and that what has befallen others can not happen to thee?

The Devil has no title to this property he now promises. Fool! thou hast
no more claim on Fate than they who have gone before, and what has come to
others in like conditions must come to thee. God himself can not stay it;
it is so written in the stars. Power to lead men! Pray that thy prayer
shall ne'er be granted--'t is to be carried to the topmost pinnacle of
Fame's temple tower, and there cast headlong upon the stones beneath.
Beware! beware!!

* * * * *

Madame De Stael was of an intensely religious nature throughout her entire
life; such characters swing between license and asceticism. But the charge
of atheism told largely against her even among the so-called liberals, for
liberals are often very illiberal. Marie Antoinette gathered her skirts
close about her and looked at the "Minerva of Letters" with suspicion in
her big, open eyes; cabinet officers forgot her requests to call, and when
a famous wit once coolly asked, "Who was that Madame De Stael we used to
read about?" people roared with laughter.

Necker, as Minister of Finance, had saved the State from financial ruin;
then had been deposed and banished; then recalled. In September, Seventeen
Hundred Ninety, he was again compelled to flee. He escaped to Switzerland,
disguised as a pedler. The daughter wished to accompany him, but this was
impossible, for only a week before she had given birth to her first child.

But favor came back, and in the mad tumult of the times the freedom of wit
and sparkle of her salon became a need to the poets and philosophers, if
city wits can be so called.

Society shone as never before. In it was the good nature of the mob. It
was no time to sit quietly at home and enjoy a book--men and women must
"go somewhere," they must "do something." The women adopted the Greek
costume and appeared in simple white robes caught at the shoulders with
miniature stilettos. Many men wore crape on their arms in pretended memory
of friends who had been kissed by Madame Guillotine. There was fever in
the air, fever in the blood, and the passions held high carnival. In
solitude, danger depresses all save the very strongest, but the mob (ever
the symbol of weakness) is made up of women--it is an effeminate thing. It
laughs hysterically at death and cries, "On with the dance!" Women
represent the opposite poles of virtue.

The fever continues: a "poverty party" is given by Madame De Stael, where
men dress in rags and women wear tattered gowns that ill conceal their
charms. "We must get used to it," she said, and everybody laughed. Soon,
men in the streets wear red nightcaps, women appear in nightgowns, rich
men wear wooden shoes, and young men in gangs of twelve parade the avenues
at night carrying heavy clubs, hurrahing for this or that.

Yes, society in Paris was never so gay.

The salons were crowded, and politics was the theme. When the discussion
waxed too warm, some one would start a hymn and all would chime in until
the contestants were drowned out and in token of submission joined in the
chorus.

But Madame De Stael was very busy all these days. Her house was filled
with refugees, and she ran here and there for passports and pardons, and
beseeched ministers and archbishops for interference or assistance or
amnesty or succor and all those things that great men can give or bestow
or effect or filch. And when her smiles failed to win the wished-for
signature, she still had tears that would move a heart of brass.

About this time Baron De Stael fades from our vision, leaving with Madame
three children.

"It was never anything but a 'mariage de convenance' anyway, what of it ?"
and Madame bursts into tears and throws herself into Farquar's arms.

"Compose yourself, my dear--you are spoiling my gown," says the Duchesse.

"I stood him as long as I could," continued Madame.

"You mean he stood you as long as he could."

"You naughty thing!--why don't you sympathize with me?"

Then both women fall into a laughing fit that is interrupted by the
servant, who announces Benjamin Constant.

Constant came as near winning the love of Madame De Stael as any man ever
did. He was politician, scholar, writer, orator, courtier. But with it all
he was a boor, for when he had won the favor of Madame De Stael he wrote a
long letter to Madame Charriere, with whom he had lived for several years
in the greatest intimacy, giving reasons why he had forsaken her, and
ending with an ecstacy in praise of the Stael.

If a man can do a thing more brutal than to humiliate one woman at the
expense of another, I do not know it. And without entering any defense for
the men who love several women at one time, I wish to make a clear
distinction between the men who bully and brutalize women for their own
gratification and the men who find their highest pleasure in pleasing
women. The latter may not be a paragon, yet as his desire is to give
pleasure, not to corral it, he is a totally different being from the man
who deceives, badgers, humiliates, and quarrels with one who can not
defend herself, in order that he may find an excuse for leaving her.

A good many of Constant's speeches were written by Madame De Stael, and
when they traveled together through Germany he no doubt was a great help
to her in preparing the "De l'Allemagne."

But there was a little man approaching from out the mist of obscurity who
was to play an important part in the life of Madame De Stael. He had heard
of her wide-reaching influence, and such an influence he could not afford
to forego--it must be used to further his ends.

Yet the First Consul did not call on her, and she did not call on the
First Consul. They played a waiting game, "If he wishes to see me, he
knows that I am home Thursdays!" she said with a shrug.

"Yes, but a man in his position reverses the usual order: he does not make
the first call!"

"Evidently!" said Madame, and the subject dropped with a dull thud.

Word came from somewhere that Baron De Stael was seriously ill. The wife
was thrown into a tumult of emotion. She must go to him at once--a wife's
duty was to her husband first of all. She left everything, and hastening
to his bedside, there ministered to him tenderly. But death claimed him.
The widow returned to Paris clothed in deep mourning. Crape was tied on
the door-knocker and the salon was closed.

The First Consul sent condolences.

"The First Consul is a joker," said Dannion solemnly, and took snuff.

In six weeks the salon was again opened. Not long after, at a dinner,
Napoleon and Madame De Stael sat side by side. "Your father was a great
man," said Napoleon.

He had gotten in the first compliment when she had planned otherwise. She
intended to march her charms in a phalanx upon him, but he would not have
it so. Her wit fell flat and her prettiest smile brought only the remark,
"If the wind veers north it may rain."

They were rivals--that was the trouble. France was not big enough for
both.

Madame De Stael's book about Germany had been duly announced, puffed,
printed. Ten thousand copies were issued and--seized upon by Napoleon's
agents and burned.

"The edition is exhausted," cried Madame, as she smiled through her tears
and searched for her pocket-handkerchief.

The trouble with the book was that nowhere in it was Napoleon mentioned.
Had Napoleon never noticed the book, the author would have been woefully
sorry. As it was she was pleased, and when the last guest had gone she and
Benjamin Constant laughed, shook hands, and ordered lunch.

But it was not so funny when Fouche called, apologized, coughed, and said
the air in Paris was bad.

So Madame De Stael had to go--it was "Ten Years of Exile." In that book
you can read all about it. She retired to Coppet, and all the griefs,
persecutions, disappointments and heartaches were doubtless softened by
the inward thought of the distinction that was hers in being the first
woman banished by Napoleon and of being the only woman he thoroughly
feared.

When it came Napoleon's turn to go and the departure for Elba was at hand,
it will be remembered he bade good-by personally to those who had served
him so faithfully. It was an affecting scene when he kissed his generals
and saluted the swarthy grenadiers in the same way. When told of it Madame
picked a petal or two from her bouquet and said, "You see, my dears, the
difference is this: while Judas kissed but one, the Little Man kissed
forty."

Napoleon was scarcely out of France before Madame was back in Paris with
all her books and wit and beauty. An ovation was given the daughter of
Necker such as Paris alone can give.

But Napoleon did not stay at Elba, at least not according to any accounts
I have read.

When word came that he was marching on Paris, Madame hastily packed up her
manuscripts and started in hot haste for Coppet.

But when the eighty days had passed and the bugaboo was safely on board
the "Bellerophon," she came back to the scenes she loved so well and to
what for her was the only heaven--Paris.

She has been called a philosopher and a literary light. But she was only
socio-literary. Her written philosophy does not represent the things she
felt were true--simply those things she thought it would be nice to say.
She cultivated literature, only that she might shine. Love, wealth,
health, husband, children--all were sacrificed that she might lead society
and win applause. No one ever feared solitude more: she must have those
about her who would minister to her vanity and upon whom she could shower
her wit. As a type her life is valuable, and in these pages that traverse
the entire circle of feminine virtues and foibles she surely must have a
place.

In her last illness she was attended daily by those faithful subjects who
had all along recognized her sovereignty--in Society she was Queen. She
surely won her heart's desire, for to that bed from which she was no more
to rise, courtiers came and kneeling kissed her hand, and women by the
score whom she had befriended paid her the tribute of their tears.

She died in Paris aged fifty-one.

* * * * *

When you are in Switzerland and take the little steamer that plies on Lake
Leman from Lausanne to Geneva, you will see on the western shore a tiny
village that clings close around a chateau, like little oysters around the
parent shell. This is the village of Coppet that you behold, and the
central building that seems to be a part of the very landscape is the
Chateau De Necker. This was the home of Madame De Stael and the place
where so many refugees sought safety.

"Coppet is Hell in motion," said Napoleon. "The woman who lives there has
a petticoat full of arrows that could hit a man were he seated on a
rainbow. She combines in her active head and strong heart Rousseau and
Mirabeau; and then shields herself behind a shift and screams if you
approach. To attract attention to herself she calls, 'Help, help!'"

The man who voiced these words was surely fit rival to the chatelaine of
this vine-covered place of peace that lies smiling an ironical smile in
the sunshine on yonder hillside.

Coppet bristles with history.

Could Coppet speak it must tell of Voltaire and Rousseau, who had knocked
at its gates; of John Calvin; of Montmorency; of Hautville (for whom
Victor Hugo named a chateau); of Fanny Burney and Madame Recamier and
Girardin (pupil of Rousseau); and Lafayette and hosts of others who are to
us but names, but who in their day were greatest among all the sons of
men.

Chief of all was the great Necker, who himself planned and built the main
edifice that his daughter "might ever call it home." Little did he know
that it would serve as her prison, and that from here she would have to
steal away in disguise. But yet it was the place she called home for full
two decades. Here she wrote and wept and laughed and sang: hating the
place when here, loving it when away. Here she came when De Stael had
died, and here she brought her children. Here she received the caresses of
Benjamin Constant, and here she won the love of pale, handsome Rocco, and
here, "when past age," gave birth to his child. Here and in Paris, in
quick turn, the tragedy and comedy of her life were played; and here she
sleeps.

In the tourist season there are many visitors at the chateau. A grave old
soldier, wearing on his breast the Cross of the Legion of Honor, meets you
at the lodge and conducts you through the halls, the salon and the
library. There are many family portraits, and mementos without number, to
bring back the past that is gone forever. Inscribed copies of books from
Goethe and Schiller and Schlegel and Byron are in the cases, and on the
walls are to be seen pictures of Necker, Rocco, De Stael and Albert, the
firstborn son, decapitated in a duel by a swinging stroke from a German
saber, on account of a king and two aces held in his sleeve.

Beneath the old chateau dances a mountain brook, cold from the Jura; in
the great courtway is a fountain and fish-pond, and all around are
flowering plants and stately palms. All is quiet and orderly. No children
play, no merry voices call, no glad laughter echoes through these courts.
Even the birds have ceased to sing.

The quaint chairs in the parlors are pushed back with precision against
the wall, and the funereal silence that reigns supreme seems to say that
death yesterday came, and an hour ago all the inmates of the gloomy
mansion, save the old soldier, followed the hearse afar and have not yet
returned.

We are conducted out through the garden, along gravel walks, across the
well-trimmed lawn; and before a high iron gate, walled in on both sides
with massive masonry, the old soldier stops, and removes his cap. Standing
with heads uncovered, we are told that within rests the dust of Madame De
Stael, her parents, her children, and her children's children--four
generations in all.

The steamer whistles at the wharf as if to bring us back from dream and
mold and death, and we hasten away, walking needlessly fast, looking back
furtively to see if grim spectral shapes are following after. None is
seen, but we do not breathe freely until aboard the steamer and two short
whistles are heard, and the order is given to cast off. We push off slowly
from the stone pier, and all is safe.

Elbert Hubbard

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