|Rights||No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Article Title||The Two Paths|
THE TWO PATHS. -- And the two paths stretched before them. In one the flowers seemed each a separate glory. There was the rapture of bird songs, and permeating all, such a glow of light and color that the eyes were dazzled. The other was darkened by shade, and barren of all beauty, yet in the remote distance there was a bright line of light, not visible on the flower-lined path. In fact its own radiance was quite sufficient, and no one cared to look beyond. -- Evelyn Seaton, who had read the above paragraph aloud, laid down the book with a laugh. "Oh, the old fashioned parable, mamma! I wonder if those old writers really thought they were mystifying people. Of course any child can understand that the bright path is pleasure, and the dark one duty, or virtue. That's the usual meaning of all these old moral tales, isn't it?" "And yet it is wrong," Mrs. Seaton answered. "The path of duty may sometimes be dark, but frequently the sweetest flowers bloom by its side. ???? remember the weather was cold and disagreeable, and you didn't wish to go to school. Duty was dark to you then; but when at the end of the week you received such a flattering testimonial from Prof. Adams, you were delighted at having conquered your reluctance." "Then I presume the old professor was the bright line at the end of my path," laughed Evelyn. "Oh, you artful mamma! You coaxed me to read the allegory just to point it like a pistol at my pleasure-loving self. Surely I'm not such a pleasure-seeker, such an excitement lover, as you say I am." "I have never seen a girl sixteen years of age more so," was Mrs. Seaton's grave answer. "For an hour's excitement, I sometimes think you would sacrifice anything. Laugh as you will at the allegory, but you have two paths, as well as every other girl, and I fear it will only be a mere chance if you get into the right one. "Suppose that to please me you try an experiment. It will be something new, and you like novelty. Take up one or two duties at once, to-day [today], and try to be cheerful, though your young friends have left you." Several of Evelyn's young relatives had been spending the last two weeks with her. They had left that morning, and she wandered about the house gloomy and discontented, until the episode of "The Two Paths" had roused her a little. The young people had had what they called a jolly time at Mrs. Seaton's. The weather had been fine, and they had ridden, walked, and played croquet to their heart's content. Evelyn had thrown herself into the enjoyment of each hour with her usual impetuosity. Now that she was alone, the dullness of the old life was almost unbearable, and she was actually turning over in her mind several plans, perhaps objectionable in themselves, but which might give her a little amusement. She was not a girl who ever paused to ask herself, "Is this right?" but, "will this amuse me?" As if in answer to her thoughts, Molly, one of the servants, who was sweeping out the hall, gave her a significant look as she was going upstairs. "O dear, if I aint had a time tryin' to give you this note, so no one would see! Somehow your mar? seemed to be suspicioning [suspecting] something, and kept you close all the morning. Here it is. He says to me, says he, "Molly, you put it in her own hands, mind, and tell her I'll be at the gate at the end of the Acacia Walk. I'm bound to see her this very morning." Them was his very words." Evelyn, with the note in her hand, fled to her room with crimson cheeks. She hardly knew whether to be shocked or pleased, for though she had often received notes from Captain Campbell, through the housemaid, she had never met him in the manner now proposed. He was a handsome, worthless young man, who had been visiting a relative in the neighborhood, and she and her cousins had met him first at an impromptu party, given by this very relative. I don't like to have you visit at Mrs. Foster's her mother had said. "She is a careless, frivolous woman, who receives all kinds of objectionable people at her house. Captain Campbell, who is staying there, is the last man with whom your father and I would wish you to have even a passing acquaintance." "But I needn't be introduced to him," Evelyn said. "It would be too bad to have Belle and Lina disappointed when they've so set their hearts on this party. Besides, you'll be with us, mamma." But unfortunately Mrs. Seaton was sick the evening of the party, and against her better judgment she allowed the young people to go to it without her. There was something very pleasant and exciting to Evelyn in seeing the objectionable captain's eyes, which certainly were handsome, following her everywhere. We must acknowledge that she had very few personal attractions, but a large fortune inherited from an uncle made her irresistibly charming to the needy adventurer. He was introduced to her, and then began a chapter of deceit and contemptible subterfuges, which it is best to pass over in silence. Mr. and Mrs. Seaton did not know that their daughter even knew a man with whom, through Molly's aid, she was carrying on a clandestine correspondence. The cousins had been aware of the flirtation, and laughed, as gay, thoughtless young creatures will at such things. But Belle Atkins, who was older, and a little more worldly-wise, had said, on the day of her departure," If I were you, Evelyn, I'd drop that Captain Campbell. Everybody says he isn't nice at all; and I think he is rather dangerous to flirt with. Of course I know you're only amusing yourself and don't care two straws for him, but I'm afraid he'll get you in his power in some way, if you don't stop this flirtation." Sitting there in her room, with the note in her hand, Evelyn hardly knew whether she really cared for the writer or not. He was certainly the handsomest man she had ever seen, and then he was so devoted to her! It never entered the foolish girl's mind that her money had something to do with this devotion; and then, since the beginning of the acquaintance she had been so pleasantly excited. To be sure the dread of discovery was always with her. Her father was a stern man, who could be very harsh and unforgiving. She was only a school girl, she did not realize that there was something very wrong and unnatural in the position in which she had placed herself in connection with this fascinating man. Evelyn sat there for some moments perplexed and undecided. She could not make up her mind to give up the handsome captain, but yet the note she held showed she must come to some decision.???? He told her???? a sudden summons compelled ? leave town that day, and that she ? meet him at noon. There was an urgent necessity for it, and if he did not find her at the end of the Acacia Walk, he would come up to the house. Her heart almost stood still when she thought of the possible consequences of his coming to the house. She did not dream that the man only wrote this to frighten her into compliance with his scheme. The spider had woven its web, and was waiting for the fly to step into it. If she would only meet him, he felt confident in his power to persuade her to another step -- a clandestine marriage. Circumstances had hurried his plans, and something definite must be decided upon that very day. Evelyn's thought did not quite go the length of his. In fact through the whole affair she had had no definite end in view. It was all an exciting, charming romance, with stern parents and a slandered lover; but somehow this last note made her uneasy. "What a goose I am to feel frightened!" she said, "What harm is there in walking down the avenue? And if Captain Campbell happens to be on the other side of the gate, surely the highway is free to all. Of course I shouldn't like pa to see him, he's so prejudiced; but there's no danger of his getting home before four o'clock." The servant Molly entered at that moment, without the ceremony of knocking. "La, miss, your beau's waitin' for you," she said, with offensive familiarity. "He told me he was comin' to the big gate, and I run there to see if he was come. You'd better hurry up. And, O miss can't you give me some money? I need a dollar or two, monstrous bad." "I haven't any to-day [today], Molly," Evelyn said, with a feeling of humiliation. "I'll get it for you soon." The girl flounced off with a sullen look, and Evelyn knew that if the hush-money was not given, Molly would not hesitate to reveal her secret to her parents. She had already used it to extort ribbons and other small articles in Evelyn's wardrobe which happened to take her fancy. Evelyn put on her hat, and slipped out at the back door. The Acacia Avenue was an old disused walk, running along the side of the house to a gate on the high road, which had been ? up when the new avenue was made in front of the house. Because of her nervousness and anxiety, Evelyn lingered in the walk in spite of the impatient captain at the end. Not usually observant, to-day [today] nothing escaped her notice, in this unwonted thoughtful mood. Perhaps she wished to abstract herself from all unpleasant reflections; perhaps her better angel was making a last effort in? her behalf; but the sun? fell in lines of light through the branches and the glow of the flowers which lined the path had never seemed to her so brilliant and beautiful. Always rich in bloom, the Acacia Walk to day [today] was at its fairest and best. Stopping a minute to pluck a crimson rose, she turned and looked back at a little foot-path -- a short cut to the house she had left. It was dim, and shaded by trees through whose dense foliage the sun seldom pierced, but it had no ?, and went straight down to an opening in the park which looked like a bright glimmer in the distance. A sudden remembrance smote Evelyn. Were not her shoes? on the very path of the allegory, she had read a few days before? Standing there she remembered how it ended; and the ? and bloom had dazzled only to lead ? a darksome pit. And there at the end of that dim way lay all the peace and security of her home. By an impulse which she did not stop to question, she turned and ran as if pursued, until? the house was gained. When in her own room?, she felt that she had chosen the right? path, and there was in her mind a delightful ? of security. She would not meet Captain Campbell, come what might. That day at dinner Mr. Seaton said to his wife, "You know that young scamp Campbell, who has been staying near here? It appears that he was dismissed from his regiment for dishonorable conduct, and this morning he was sought for on some more serious charge. I do not know what it was, but he gave the constable the slip, and is off to parts unknown." The two parents did not know the cause of Evelyn's sudden faintness, and insisted upon her lying down until she was better. She obeyed, glad to be alone, though her own thoughts were too full of mortification and shame to be pleasant companions. But it was a wholesome discipline. Evelyn's reading of "The Two Paths" was what is called accidental, but years afterwards, when she was an elderly woman, and liked to tell the story to her children, she would say,"My dears, a watchful Providence works through what men call trifles! There is no such thing as accidents or trifles in the world. Though the links may be very small, in? the chain of events that make up our lives, yet they are links, and the thoughtful and the discerning can see many of them in this world. The whole will be revealed in the next."