Days of Delusion - A Strange Bit of History

Chapter 11

By Clara Endicott Sears, 1924

"And here we wander in illusions;
Some blessed power deliver us from hence!"

The following facts and incidents concerning Mary Hartwell and her betrothed lover, Enoch Robertson, during these last days, when the followers of Prophet Miller were looking for the end, were related to the author by a daughter of the late William Boles Willard, a direct descendant of Major Simon Willard, of Revolutionary fame, and a lifelong resident of the little village of Still River that looks across the Nashua Valley in western Massachusetts. Her recollections of this period are very vivid, and as the Hartwells lived close beside the old Boles Willard homestead, the intercourse between the two families was a daily one, and though a child at the time, she watched this romance with an absorbing interest and in after years heard repeated over and over again all the details of it, which were poured into her parents' ears by the mother and father of the heroine of this little tale, besides hearing through them of the account given by the young man himself regarding his distressing experience. Some minor details were secured from equally reliable sources.

There were three daughters in the Hartwell family, but only one of them was beautiful. She was as sweet and gentle in character as she was lovely to look at, and young Enoch Robertson worshipped the ground she walked on. [Out of regard for descendants, Hartwell and Robertson names are slightly changed from the original at the request of the venerable lady who gave the facts of the story to the author.] He was a high-spirited lad; he had even been rather unmanageable until he and Mary plighted their troth and swore to love each other through all eternity. After that he had but one thought day and night - Mary Hartwell - lovely Mary Hartwell!

In spite of the fact that on all sides it was vehemently stated that the world was coming to an end and that the end was near, the banns were published from the pulpit of the little Baptist Church of Still River.

Mary's parents had no patience with those who believed in the prophecy, neither had their neighbor, Boles Willard and his family, nor did the Robertson family give heed to it - they all went about their business harvesting their crops with an inner conviction that they would be planting them again the following spring.

But it takes more than a prophecy to eradicate fundamental qualities from ordinary human nature, and when Enoch's father, who was known to be exceedingly well-to-do, showed himself ready to lavish both money and affection upon his son's future bride, even those who cried loudest that Time was short exhibited their fair share of curiosity as rumors of the preparations that were being made for the wedding leaked out from various members of both families; and when young Robertson not only presented Mary with an engagement ring that outshone any yet seen in Still River, and, as if that were not enough, drew forth from a shiny leather case a beautiful solid gold watch and placed it in her hands, such extravagance produced a profound impression. Mary's parents, not wishing to be outdone, bought a wedding outfit for her that certainly made a stir in the village. There was a dower chest filled with linen; and the brand-new cowhide trunk, all ready and waiting for the honeymoon, contained all that a bride could wish for wherewith to adorn herself. As for the wedding gown, it was spoken of with bated breath; rumor had it that it was fit for a city bride.

And the young lovers were as happy as the days were long - he ardent and proud of his choice, and she tender and smiling and lovely as a flower. The village looked on indulgently when they walked down the road hand in hand.

But as the wedding day approached, an indescribable change came over Mary Hartwell. The neighbors took note of it and wondered. Some thought she was ill, she looked so pale. Her lover was puzzled and uneasy. Something that he could not define was coming between them. He appealed to her mother to explain it, but she merely said: "'Tis naught, 'tis just a girlish whim - 'twill be all right after the wedding's over," trying thus to comfort him. Sometimes she succeeded, and his confidence returned, but when he sought out Mary and looked searchingly into her face again, he could not blind himself to the change he saw there, and one day he impetuously asked her: "Is all ready for the wedding, Mary?"

Now whenever the happy day had been mentioned before this, the girl's cheeks would glow and she would look up at him with love-light in her eyes, but on this occasion, to his utter dismay, she turned away. "There's no hurry," she said, "best wait awhile."

It came to him like a deathblow! They all began to watch her with anxiety.

In the mean time the days were passing, bringing nearer and nearer the great day that, according to Prophet Miller'' theories and deductions and mathematical calculations, was to bring Time to an end, and open the heavens for the Second Coming of our Saviour. Many of those who had not heeded the warning before were now thrown into a state of great agitation, and they went to the Willard homestead to talk it over with Boles Willard, he being one of the foremost men in the place and known to have shrewd judgment. The talk most often grew loud and vehement on these occasions, and his daughter, then a child, listened to what was said, and would lie awake at night cold with fear and dread of the trumpet that they said would sound from one end of the earth to the other, and of the terrible "nethermost hell" they spoke of so glibly, and of the "burning lake" and the shrieks and groans. Many a time she hid her head under the bedclothes and sobbed, her only comfort being that her father asserted positively that these neighbors were all wrong in what they said, and that no such things were going to happen. More than once she heard them say to her father: "Why, Boles Willard, man, what are you thinking of not to believe the end is at hand? Don't you read your Bible? Haven't you read about Nebuchadnezzar's dream and the prophecies in the Book of Daniel?" To which, to her great comfort, he replied with some show of vehemence: "I do read my Bible, and in it I find that Jesus said, 'Ye know not the day or the hour,' and that's good enough for me!"

Now it was noticed that whenever these talks took place at the Willard homestead, Mary Hartwell would hurry across the road and listen eagerly to every word that was said. It was also noticed that quite frequently she would disappear and be gone for a number of hours, and when she returned her face would look drawn and white and her eyes would shine with unnatural brilliancy. In dire distress Enoch Robertson sought her parents again.

"What had I best do?" he ask them; "the wedding day's fixed on, and 'twill be here soon, and when I speak of it to Mary and say, 'Mary, our wedding's coming right along,' she turns away and says. 'Wait - we'd best wait.' My heart is sore about it and I'm full o' grief!"

They tried anxiously to pacify him, and again the mother said, "'Tis naught - have patience with her"; but she said it with less confidence than before and he divined that they also were troubled. And indeed they were! There was the wedding gown all ready and waiting; and the chest full of linen, and the finery and fixings for the honeymoon! And they had all cost money - more than they could well afford! But more than these things was the match itself of which they were so proud! And there was the costly engagement ring and the solid gold watch! - gifts such as no other Still River girl had ever received from her betrothed. "What was Mary thinking of?" they asked each other in dismay. "Was she falling a victim to the delusion that the world was coming to an end?" As she said nothing about it, they did not ask her directly as to whether this was what troubled her. Instead of that they began to inveigh against these deluded fanatics who were, as they expressed it, "causing a deal o' trouble everywhere." They ridiculed their predictions; they pointed at a number of families living in the neighborhood of what is now Harvard Depot, declaring them to be "no better then crazy folks"; they frowned upon the camp-meetings that were being held on the rocky pasture of the Whitcomb farm. Now known as Beaver Brook Farm, close to Littleton, from whence, it was rumored, the singing and shouting could be heard a mile away. They pointed to the "Community" at Groton, and again cried, "Crazy folks! Crazy folks!" and they actually forbade her going near the Josiah Withington farm on the road from Harvard to Stow. "The goings-on there," they said, "from all accounts were something terrible."

This was true, for those still living who remember it say that no one who was not a believer in the prophecy dared to go near the place, so terrifying were the shouting and singing and sometimes the shrieking that could be heard coming from that lonely spot a long distance off. It was called by many "the craziest spot in Massachusetts."

When they spoke of these things to Mary, she remained silent, but each day they saw her face grow paler until she looked like a frail, delicate flower of the woods, about to droop and fade.

It so happened that one day they missed her about noontime. It had occurred before, but this time, though they could not wholly explain the reason of it, they were exceptionally uneasy. Enoch Robertson, restless and unhappy, went over to the Hartwell house toward dusk and was told that she was still absent. He and Mrs. Hartwell were anxiously talking things over in the kitchen when Mary suddenly appeared in the doorway.

"Mother! Mother!" she cried. "Brother Hall over to Groton says it's time we trimmed our lamps; he says all things point to the end being near; there'll be a great light blaze out on Wachusett Mountain to give us warning; he claims 'twill be the light of the Spirit, and we'll know it for that when we see it, for the beauty of it'll surpass anything we ever dreamed of. He says the valley'll go up in smoke - the rocks'll be torn right out o' the earth and we'll be caught up with 'em into the air - that is, if we are worthy. Mother! Mother! why don't you hear what I say?"

They were so taken by surprise that at first they could not speak. The expression on the young girl's face transfigured it. She looked like one who had seen a vision.

Her mother caught her breath. "Mary, child! Mary!" she gasped, "don't go believing Benjamin Hall - he don't know what he's talking about - no more do you - saying all those crazy things that ain't so! Why, Mary - it's the wedding day you'd ought to be thinking of, child!"

"The wedding day!" - the words came from Mary as though the thought of them filled her with horror. She walked into the kitchen and looked at first one and then the other.

"'Tis no time," she said slowly, "for us to be thinking o' marriage or giving in marriage. We've no more'n time to think of our souls, and what's to become o' them!"

Enoch Robertson flushed to the roots of his hair, and then turned deathly pale. He took two or three steps toward her, but halted suddenly.

"You'd not go back on your word to me, Mary?" he stammered; "you'd surely not do that?" His voice shook in spite of his effort to keep his self-control. He waited a moment. "I'd like an answer," he said, looking right into her face. But she made no answer. It seemed as if she did not hear him.

One of them ran across the road to get Boles Willard. "Come speak to Mary," they urged breathlessly - "She's talking strange!" - and they hurried over to the Hartwell home. But even he failed to make any impression upon her. The delusion had laid its hold upon her, and she was under the spell of it!

It was close upon the eve of her wedding day that Mary Hartwell disappeared. When they first missed her, they said, "She'll come back as she's done before." But when night came and still she did not return, a terrible fear beset them. Every time a cart was heard passing down the road they ran out of the house.

"Was Mary on the road you come by?" they called to the driver. "Nay," was invariably the answer - "she weren't anywheres as far as I could see."

It got noised about as night fell that the girl was missing. After supper most of the men of the village came to the Hartwell home and offered to search the woods, while the women gathered in groups in the road and discussed the situation. "She's looked bad for some time," some agreed. "'Tis strange!" others said, interchanging glances, and shaking their heads - "and the wedding only a few days off! - Could it be she'd tired o' him!" "Nay," said others, "'tis the fear o' the end that's troubled her, poor thing - she couldn't stand the strain o' waiting."

In the meantime young Robertson, with a face drawn and pale with emotion, was preparing to lead the searching party.

"There's the lake," Mary's mother whispered in quavering tones - "and the river, Enoch; best look there. She may have wandered dazed-like and fallen in - the poor child! - Oh, the poor child!"

The fear grew on them all as night settled down upon them. The search lasted for many days and nights. The whole village, men, women, and even the children, hunted the woods and the borders of the lake, and the river, and even as far up as the rocky pastures on Oak Hill, but they found no trace of her. Her lover, frantic with grief, ran hither and thither, calling her by name, but he could hear no answer. He visited all the meeting-places of the followers of Prophet Miller and search the crowds he found gathered there, but Mary was not among them. After a while the village people left off searching.

"'Tis no use," they said; "we've been high and low looking for her - we can't do no more." But Enoch vowed that he would never give up hope. "I'll search for Mary as long as there's blood in my veins!" he declared feverishly, and he wandered the length and breadth of the Nashua Valley; and in every village he came to - "Have you seen Mary Hartwell, 'o Still River?" he would ask eagerly. But it was always the same answer: "Nay - there's been no stranger around." Yet in spite of the prevalent opinion among their neighbors, neither he nor Mary's parents could bring themselves really to believe that Mary was dead. "She's somewhere with those crazy folks," they assured each other in confidence - yet where? Enoch had looked for her high and low and had found no trace of her.

Finally the day came which was to witness the great cataclysm of earth and the wicked inhabitants dwelling upon it. That morning young Robertson, who had passed a sleepless night, hastened to the Hartwell home.

"There's rumors of great excitement in Lowell," he told Mary's mother, "and somehow I feel as though something was drawing me there. If I started now I'd get there by nightfall. I'm thinking Mary, poor girl, hankered to get away from folks who knew her, maybe she's in Lowell - you can't tell!"

"In Lowell!" exclaimed Mrs. Hartwell doubtingly - "Nay, 'tis too far." He did not wait to hear more. He almost ran down the road and in a short time was seen driving over the hill in a two-seated wagon.

Night had already descended upon the town. Young Robertson had left his wagon in the livery stable, and was now hunting the highways and byways of Lowell, through narrow alleys and broader streets searching for some clue which would lead him to the hiding-place of his sweetheart. Demonstrations of hysterical excitement were taking place in many quarters. He could hear singing and shouting down by the bridge, and he hurried to the spot with his heart thumping against his breast, elbowed his way through a crowd of men and women in the throes of a great excitement, scanning each face by the flickering light of the lanterns they carried, to see if he could find Mary's among them; but there was no face there that resembled hers. Some in the crowd were singing with intense fervor, their voices strident, revealing the apprehension that mingled with their exalted emotion. Some were pale with fear and clung together nervously, while others seemed beside themselves with joy, but in all their faces Enoch saw a peculiar flash of something not wholly sane. He hurried away with a sickening dread of seeing that same look on the face of the poor deluded girl whom he loved so dearly - if he found her.

He was turning the corner of a large warehouse when a babel of voices struck his ear coming from the top story of the building, where the windows were all thrown wide open. The rooms within were lighted sufficiently for him to see figures of men and women passing to and fro. He stood still looking up, and a sudden suspicion shot through him.

Finding that the door of the building was unlocked, he bounded upstairs, following the directions of the voices.

Never would he forget the scene that confronted him when he reached the top story, so he told Mary'' mother afterwards. It was all so contrary to his sense of balance and sanity that he felt dazed by it. He looked about him and saw men and women in pairs or in groups, each sex separate from the other, flitting to and fro as though unable to keep still; singing and shouting one moment, and the next stopping short and listening. Every time they did this a thrill seemed to pass through the crowd; the atmosphere was charged with currents that befuddled the brain, and he was seized with a mad desire to push his way right into the centre of the room and denounce these people who believed in a prophecy so cruelly devastating in its influence that it had robbed him of his betrothed - of his affianced bride - of the beautiful girl who was dearer to him than anything else in the world. He felt incensed - enraged against them! Then he looked at the faces passing before him and his passion died down; they were drawn and wistful, and he found himself wondering how many of them had become separated from their dear ones, expecting eternity without them, just as Mary expected to reach it without him since he could not believe as she did.

Two women passed in front of him. They, like most of the others, had on white garments that looked more or less like night-dresses, and their hair which hung loose upon their shoulders partially shielded their faces. But the glimpse he had of the one nearest him set his blood rushing through his veins - was it Mary? He looked again, and then sprang forward and peered into her face. Was it indeed Mary? Was that his lovely Mary Hartwell? He felt his heart contract painfully. How changed she was! Where had those soft rounded curves of youth gone to? The face before him looked waxen.

"Mary!" he cried, in distress, "Mary!" She turned and looked at him and her expression hardly changed. "Mary!" He seized her hand. "Oh, Mary, come away from here - come back home. You'd oughtn't to be in a place like this!"

His voice was full of entreaty and longing. There was no thought of reproach in his heart for her; it was a great wave of pity for her that now swept over him and through him from head to foot. He had never dreamed of finding her like this! The little hand he clasped in his seemed lifeless; he felt no responsive pressure, and it was cold; he put his other hand over it to warm it. "Mary, won't you speak to me?"

She looked at him again - her spirit seemed detached and far away - he hardly knew if she had heard him until she spoke in a low, hurried voice: "The end is very near now," she said, as if impatient at the interruption. "If you have come here as a believer in the prophecy, stay here with us, Enoch, but if not - then go - and go quickly, for the trumpet may sound any moment."

The woman with her tried to pull her away from him, but she resisted her long enough to say, with a little gasp between each word: "You know what it means not to believe? - Enoch! - Enoch! - It means the Lake o' Fire and the nethermost hell! - Oh, Enoch!"

The blood flew to Enoch's face. "It means nothing o' the sort, Mary!" he retorted in sudden anger. "What you say's blasphemy! God ain't like that. He's full o' mercy and loving kindness - all you folks better be careful, making Him out like that; it's blasphemy, I claim!"

The poor deluded girl's eyes filled with a look of horror at these words, and her woman companion dragged her away from him. "Don't you listen to him!" she warned her excitedly.

At that moment a man's voice shouted, "Watchman, what of the night?" There was a sudden silence and every one stood motionless, holding their breath.

A man climbed up some rough wooden steps and pushed the door of a skylight that opened out on to the roof and thrust his head out, gazing upward at the sky.

"I see a strange light yonder, behind those trees; looks as though something was coming!" he announced to those below.

A woman in the crowd shouted, "Glory! - Glory!" - and a thrill of agitation leapt from heart to heart. The crowd began to surge back and forth when the Elder drew in his head again.

"'Tis nothing - 'tis nothing, Brethren," he called quickly - "I was deceived - 'tis naught but the moon rising!"

At that moment a cry went up from the crowd down on the bridge - they could hear it through the open windows - but it subsided immediately. (An incident similar to this one happened at Ludlow, Massachusetts.)

"Mary!" Enoch cried imploringly, striding toward her - "don't stay here with these crazy folks! Why. Mary, girl, the world's not coming to an end; it's all a delusion; there's no sense in what these folks say! The sun'll rise same as ever when the dawn comes.

She turned angrily upon him. "Go away from here," she commanded; "leave me to go up in peace! - I'll not go back with you - I'll have naught to do with an unbeliever!"

Her lover stepped back as though she had struck him. Then he noticed again how wan the lovely face was, and how small and slim her girlish figure looked in its pathetic little ascension robe. Forgetting the affront just received, he came to her side again and touched her on the arm, a sudden thought occurring to him.

"Where's your hat and coat and your dress and all your things, Mary?" he whispered with a sudden sense of shame and pity at these palpable evidences of her complete delusion.

She looked at him with shining and unblinking eyes. "I don't know," she murmured, shaking her head - "I don't remember where I left 'em - it don't matter any more."

"But, Mary," he insisted, "what have you done with the ring? - and the gold watch?" "I don't know," she replied after a few moments pause, as though she were trying to remember - "I don't know what I done with 'em - I'll not need 'em any more now - so it don't matter."

Enoch turned and stumbled down the dark stairway as best he could. He felt as though he were suffocating. What had become of his sweetheart - of the girl who had pledged her love to him, he asked himself despairingly. The little ghost-like figure upstairs did not seem in any way like his lovely Mary Hartwell.

He felt very miserable and unhappy as he sat down on a doorstep opposite the warehouse in order to keep watch on what was going on there. He was glad of a chance to think things over. In the excitement of finding Mary and the agitation of his encounter with her, he had actually lost sight of the fact that when the night was over and these poor creatures had discovered their error, he must get her to submit to his taking her home; indeed, having witnessed the power of the conviction these people were labouring under, he had unconsciously almost fallen in with the idea that at least something must be going to happen before morning; he even found himself looking up at the starry firmament off and on to see if all was well there. But now that he was by himself he became practical again. He began to consider with apprehension the ridicule which those they called "scoffers" would surely hurl at the heads of these poor victims of Prophet Miller's prophecy, and the sudden realization that Mary might be subjected to some such humiliation roused all the ire within him. He was distraught with anxiety.

The hours were passing.

He heard the clocks strike as each one came and went, and when this happened a great silence would fall upon those awaiting the end. Off and on he saw some of the men go out on to the roof and look about, retreating inside again when the singing and praying would be renewed, but it seemed to him now that the voices were beginning to falter, as though exhaustion were setting in. During one of these pauses Enoch crept up the stairs to see what was happening.

The clocks all over the town were striking the hour again and a breeze was rising, bringing with it the peculiar chill that presages the passage of night. When he reached the top landing, he looked in at the door. They were all kneeling now, and the pallor of their upturned faces startled him, making him catch his breath. He looked hurriedly around for Mary - yes, there she was, the poor girl, kneeling upon the rough floor with her slender hands clasped tightly to her breast and her sweet lips quivering. All the love in his heart rushed out in yearning to her; there was something so devotional in her attitude and her delicate face was so pure and flower-like. He threaded his way through the crowd and reached her side.

"Mary," he whispered tenderly - "Mary, the night'll soon be gone. I'll be waiting for you outside, Mary. I won't say no more, except that I'm there to protect you - now and always - you can trust me for that!"

He did not wait for any response, but slipped downstairs, his heart beating tumultuously.

It was not until the sun rose that they gave up hope. With the first streaks of dawn, Enoch saw figures flitting by in the street as if hastening away to hide before the light of day should come to blaze forth the failure of the prophecy. Some remained until the rays of the sun shot above the horizon, staunch to the end. He could see groups of them dispersing down by the bridge. And while he was looking, those in the warehouse began to appear, retreating in all directions, some in tears, some staggering with exhaustion, some with despair and disillusionment written upon their faces. Many of them looked dazed and white like corpses.

Presently Mary appeared in the doorway. In one bound Enoch was by her side. "Come this way, Mary. Come this way," he urged in a low voice which trembled with excitement.

It seemed to him that her movements were purely automatic, as though she was hardly conscious of her surroundings, and his one thought was to get her to the livery stable where he had left his wagon, before any one in the street could recognize her. In looking down at her with solicitude the poor little bedraggled ascension robe attracted his attention. He had a sudden unexpected desire to shield that also, as he recalled what it stood for.

"Can't you remember where you left your other clothes, Mary? Can't you remember, dear?" he asked her, looking about him hurriedly in the hopes of avoiding the notice of scoffers. She shook her head drearily. He took his coat off and wrapped it about her.

"You must have left 'em somewheres with friends," he suggested tenderly, hoping to rouse her. "Maybe if you stand still and think a minute you'll remember."

This time there was no response. Mary was searching the skies with a look of questioning astonishment in which there was mingled a suggestion of reproach. Little white fleecy clouds were sailing joyously through the clear blue ether, made sparkling by the rays of the rising sun; another day, with its round of duties, its call to work, and its wealth of opportunities, had dawned, bringing with it that indescribable energy that accompanies new beginnings.

"We'll go get the wagon," Enoch said quickly, trying to ignore her condition and to speak naturally. The question as to whether he would ever be able to win her back to himself flashed through his mind, but he cast it from him as a lack of faith in her, and devoted himself to urging her forward toward the livery stable, and when they finally reached it he lifted her into his wagon, and started for home.

It was a strange home-coming! To Enoch "the earth and the fullness thereof" looked very fair on this October morning, but he was conscious every moment of the silent and seemingly desolate little figure sitting crouched by his side. Every now and then something like a sob escaped from her which cut him to the quick, but each time his love for her triumphed over the wound in his heart, and he forced himself to feel only tender pity and solicitude. He recalled their past happiness, and the joy with which they talked together of their future home. Could all the love she had showed him then be dead? - he asked himself as a sudden fear gripped his heart. But again he repudiated the thought and summoned patience to his rescue.

When the long drive was nearly over and they were nearing their destination, an old farmer who was passing them in his cart pulled his horse up to call out: "Waal - for all the world didn't come to an end, there was a bright light on Mount Wachusett last night - same as they said there'd be! I guess likely you saw it? Most folks did."

At the mention of a light upon Wachusett, Mary roused herself as though an electric spark had touched her. She gripped hold of Enoch's arm. "Ask him what he means!" she whispered excitedly, a sudden hope flashing in her eyes - "ask him quick what he means! A light on Wachusett, Enoch! - that was to be a sign! - maybe we'd ought to have waited longer. It may come yet." He could feel her trembling as her hand clutched his arm.

Hoping to soothe her by humoring her, he turned and looked at the old man. "A light you say? - how come that?"

"Boys done it!" the latter replied with a prolonged chuckle' "a band o' mischievous boys built a bonfire, mind you, fit to burn up the Mountain! Folks all around were scared stiff and thought for sure the end had come."

Enoch felt the slight figure beside him collapse as though prostrated by the blow. He whipped up his horse hurriedly.

"Say - wait a minute," suddenly shouted the old farmer who had been peering at Mary curiously. "Say! - that ain't Mary Hartwell, o' Still River, setting next ye, be it? - say, Enoch Robertson - hold on there - "

But young Robertson's horse was now galloping down the road, carrying the wagon and its occupants beyond calling distance.

Poor Mary Hartwell - poor deluded girl - how bitter was her awakening! When his horse had slowed down, Enoch glanced at her and saw that she had covered her face with her hands and was weeping piteously. The old man's talk had torn to shreds the last remnants of her shattered dream.

Enoch tried to comfort her, but it was in vain. He was full of distress and nonplussed over his failure to soother her. He did not know what to do or what to say, for when he put his hand out to clasp hers in sympathy she pushed it away from her.

"Don't trouble me!" she cried miserably. "You can't understand - you weren't one of us!"

The girl was completely exhausted by the time they reached her home - the home which the delusion had caused her to desert and to leave desolate.

At the sound of the approaching wagon, Mary's sisters and parents, trembling with emotion, rushed to the door and stood waiting to greet her. As Enoch lifted her down, they stretched their arms out to receive her.

"Mary! - daughter!" cried her mother in a voice that shook in spite of the joy - "you've come back to us! - you've come back home!"

They gathered about her trying to hold back their tears, for they saw the waxen pallor of her face and looked with apprehension at the thinness of her frail, slender hands. With tender words of encouragement and love they carried her into the house and closed the door.

Across the road their neighbors stood watching the scene. Boles Willard shook his head sadly. "Ye know not the day nor the hour," he quoted again from Scripture - "'tis strange they wouldn't heed those words!"

In the village it was said that there never was so fond nor so faithful a lover as Enoch Robertson. He waited and waited for Mary Hartwell, but she paid no heed to him. Sad and despondent like a drooping flower, she sat day by day at her window gazing mournfully across the valley at Wachusett Mountain. Some said, "'Twere best she went away from here." Others said, "She'll never be the same again."

Her mothers and sisters tried to turn her thoughts to the wedding. "Enoch's waiting for you, Mary," they said; "he's waited long enough." But she only shook her head and made no comment.

And so time passed; until one spring when the apple blossoms and the lilacs filled the air with fragrance, Mary donned the wedding gown, and placed the wreath of orange blossoms upon her pallid brow, and in the little Baptist Church in the centre of the village she and Enoch were made man and wife. Then with tender care he took her away from her childhood's home into the outer world of broad activities, where she could forget, and where she could begin her life anew. And the little village knew them no more.

But some years after, it had news of them. It was brought back by two of their former comrades who met them in a railway station - Enoch, Mary, and their children.

"How was Mary?" the village asked eagerly. "She seems like other folks now," was the answer, "and Enoch's made her happy."

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