Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

Presented by

Public Domain Books

Chapter XXXV: The Image

The murderer of Ludwell Cary unlocked the green door of the office in Charlottesville, entered, and opened the shutters of the small, square windows. Outside was a tangle of rose-stems, but no leaf or bloom. The January sunshine streamed palely in, whitening the deal floor and striking against a great land map on the wall. Upon the hearth had been thrown an armful of hickory and pine. Rand, kneeling, laid a fire, struck a spark into the tinder, and had speedily a leap and colour of pointed flames. He rose, opened his desk, drew papers out of pigeon-holes and laid them in order upon the wood, then pushed before it his accustomed chair. He did not take the latter; instead, after standing a moment with an indescribable air of weary uncertainty, he turned, went back to the firelit hearth, sat down, and, bending forward, hid his face in his hands.

A cricket began to chirp upon the hearth, then the branch of a sycamore, moved by the wind, struck violently against the low eaves of the house. Rand arose, put his hands to his temples, and moved away.

There were law-books on the shelves, and he took down one and fell to studying statutes that bore upon a case he had in court. He read for a time with a frown of attention, but by degrees all interest flagged. He turned a page, looked at it with vagueness, and turned no more. His chin fell upon his hand, and he sat staring at the patch of sunshine on the floor. It was like light on water–light on Indian Run.

Five minutes more and Mocket came in, soft and quick upon his feet, sandy-haired and freckle-faced, with his quaint, twisted smile, and watery blue eye, that glanced aslant at his friend and partner “Good-morning, Lewis”

“Good-morning, Tom.”

Mocket stood by the fire, warming his hands. “If ’twas a mild December, ’tis cold enough now! The wind is icy, and it’s blowing hard.”

“Is it? I thought the air was still.”

As he spoke, Rand arose, replaced the book on the shelf, sat down at his desk, and began to unfold papers. “Work!” he said presently, in a dull voice. “Work! That is the straw at which to catch! Perhaps one might make of it a raft to bear one’s weight. I have known the day when in work I have forgotten hunger, thirst, weariness, calamity. I have worked at night and grudged an hour to sleep. What I have done, cannot I do again? But I would work better, Tom, if I could get some sleep.”

“I am sorry you have bad nights,” said Tom; “but if you slept as deep and innocent as a babe, you couldn’t do better work. That was a praising piece about you in the Enquirer.”

“Nothing less than eulogy, Tom, nothing less! Well–get to work! Get to work!”

“I’ve brought the papers on this case that old Berry has been copying." Tom threw more wood on the fire, then moved to his own desk, dragging a chair after him. “By the way, I stopped at the Eagle for a dram to keep out the cold, and who should come riding by but Fairfax Cary–”

“Ah!” said Rand. “Is he home from Richmond?”

“I didn’t know that he had been to Richmond.”

“Yes. He went two weeks ago.”

“I hadn’t observed it. Well, whenever he went, he’s back again. As I say, I was coming down the steps, buttoning up my coat, and he drew rein–he was riding his brother’s horse and he looked like his brother–and he says to me, says he, ’Mr. Mocket,–’”

Tom broke off, turned the papers in his hand, and uttered an exclamation of disgust. “Old Berry is getting to be too poor a copyist! You’ll have to give this work somewhere else.”

Rand spoke in his measured voice. “What did Fairfax Cary say, Tom?”

“Why, he didn’t say much, and I’m sure I didn’t get any meaning out of what he did say! His words were, ’Mr. Mocket, I wish I could remember all that, on several occasions, I must have said to you.’ Seeing," continued Tom, “that I haven’t spoken to him more than a dozen times in my life, I shouldn’t consider there would be much difficulty in that, and I told him as much. ’You’re mistaken,’ he said. ’It is difficult. We all have bad memories. I’ve been wondering, seeing that I have talked to you of so much, if I ever talked to you of that. On the whole, I don’t think that I ever have. Cultivate your memory, Mr. Mocket. Mine is a damnably poor one.’ And so,” ended Tom, “he rode away and left me staring. I don’t know whether his head is turned or not, but he looked strong enough for anything and all a Cary. If you know what he meant, it is more than I do. These reports are all straight enough now. Do you want to look over them?”

“No,” said his partner, and stood up, moving back his chair with a grating sound. “I don’t know why–I’m restless to-day.” Walking across the room, he stopped before the map upon the wall, and stood there a long while in silence.

“How would it do, Tom,” he asked at last, in a curiously remote and dreamy voice,–"how would it do to find two or three great white-covered waggons, store them with all a childless family would need, put to them teams sound and strong, procure a horse or two besides, a slave or two, a faithful dog,–then to take the long road–west–south–somewhere–anywhere–past the mountains and away, away"–His voice sank, then gathered strength and went on. “Flood and forest, low hills and endless plains, stillness and a measure of peace! Left behind the demon care, full before the eye the red, descending sun–at night the camp-fire, at dawn the start, and in between mere sleep without a dream! It is conceivable that, after much travel, in some hollow or by some spring, after long days and after sleep, one might stumble on new life.” He struck the map with his hand. “Tom, sometimes I think that I will remove from Virginia to the West.”

“You’d be a fool to do that now,” answered Tom succinctly. “But you won’t do it. I don’t know what has been the matter with you this winter, but I reckon you still love power. Next year you’ll be named for Governor of Virginia.”

He fed the fire again, then, going to the window, looked down the street. “The wind has fallen.”

“I am going,” said Rand’s voice behind him, “to ride down the Three-Notched Road. Mrs. Selden sends me word that old Carfax is annoying her again.”

“Can’t I go for you?”

“No. I do not mind the ride. Get the papers ready for court to-morrow.”

Mocket helped him on with his heavy bottle-green riding-coat. “Lewis," spoke the scamp, with a queer note of affection and deprecation, “why don’t you see Dr. Gilmer? You’re growing thin, and do you know, you’re haunted-looking! Tell him you cannot sleep, and make him give you bark or something. I couldn’t carry on business without you, you know.”

Rand looked at him with dark and sombre eyes. “Couldn’t you, poor old Tom? Well, we’ll keep it on awhile together. I don’t want the doctor. Once, long ago, I might have doctored myself.” He laughed. “Now there’s no bark in Peru–no balm in Gilead. Well, what we cannot have, we must do without! Look out, will you, and see if Young Isham is there with Selim?”

The Three-Notched Road stretched red and stark between rusty cedars and gaunt trunks of locust trees. It was cold, and overhead the sun was fighting with the clouds. Rand went rapidly, his powerful horse taking the road with a long and easy stride. Few were abroad; the bare and frozen fields stretched on either hand to the hills, the hills rose to the mountains, grey and sullen in the changing light. That meadow, field, and hill had once been mantled with tender verdure, and would be so again, was hard to believe, the land lay so naked and so grim.

Mrs. Selden’s small, red brick mansion appeared among the leafless trees. Rand checked Selim slightly, gazing at the place with the weary uncertainty he had before exhibited, then turned for the moment from the task, irksome now as were all tasks, and rode on past Mrs. Jane Selden’s to the house in which he had lived with his father and mother, and had lived with Jacqueline.

The place had been rented out since that summer of 1804, but the tenant, failing to make good, was gone, and for some months the house had been vacant. Rand and Selim moved slowly along the old, old familiar way. Every stick, every stone, every fence-corner was known to both. The man let his hand fall upon the brute’s neck. “We’re going home, Selim,” he said. “We’re going home.”

It was not now the small, clean place, fresh with whitewash and bright with garden flowers, shone upon by the sun and sung about by birds, to which he had brought Jacqueline. The tenant had been dull, and the place was fallen into disrepair. In the winter air and without a leaf or flower, it looked again as it had looked when he and Gideon lived there alone. He dismounted, fastened Selim to the fence, and entered by the gate beneath the mimosa tree.

That the mimosa had ever shown sensitive leaf and mist of rosy bloom ranked now among other impossibilities. He stood for a moment looking at it in silence, then walked up the narrow path, mounted the porch steps, and tried the door. It was locked, but with an effort of all his wasted strength he burst it open and so entered the house.

The rooms were unfurnished and forlorn. He went from one to another, pausing in each in the middle of the floor, and gazing around as if to replace in that empty square the objects of the past. This progress made, he looked for a place to rest, but there was neither chair nor bench. All was bare, unswept, and desolate. He went into the kitchen, for he remembered the old settle there upon the enormous hearth. That they could not have removed, it was too heavy. He found it, took off his riding-coat and made a pillow for his head, then lay down full length upon the time-darkened wood. He had lain so, often and often, a little boy, a larger boy, a long-limbed, brooding youth. It had been his refuge from the fields, though hardly a refuge from his father. Gideon had been always there, lounging in his chair on the other side of the hearth, black pipe in hand, heavy stick beside him, revolving in his slow-moving mind, there in the dusk after the day’s work, tobacco–tobacco–tobacco–and how he should keep Lewis from learning. “It had been better if he had succeeded,” said Rand aloud.

With Gideon still before his eyes he fell asleep. Grim as was that figure, there was in the vision of it a strange sense of protection. It was his father, and, giddy from want of sleep, he sank slowly into oblivion, much as before now he had travelled there in the other’s presence,–travelled with a gloomy mind and a body sore from the latest beating. Now the mind was full of scorpions, and the body stood in deadly need of sleep. It took it with a strange reversion to long gone-by conditions. The thought of Gideon’s stick, the feel of his heavy hand upon his shoulder, were with him as of yore. The difference was that the man was comforted by what had been the boy’s leaden cross.

Exhausted as he was, he slept at first heavily, and without a dream. This state lasted for some time, but eventually the brain took up its work, and the visions that plagued him recommenced. He turned, flung out his arm, moaned once or twice, lay quiet, then presently gave a cry and started up, pale and trembling, the sweat upon his brow. He wiped it off, drew a long, shuddering breath, and sat staring.

The kitchen windows were small, and half darkened by their wooden shutters. While he slept, the day had rounded into an afternoon, with more of sunshine than the morning had contained. The gold entered the room uncertainly, dimly, filtering in by the small apertures and striking across to the cavernous fireplace.

Rand knew it was but a trick of the light touching here and there in mote-filled shafts,–a trick of the light aiding the vagaries of an overwrought brain. He put forth his arm and found that it was so–there was no chair there and no figure seated in the chair. It was a trick of the light and an effect of imagination, an imagination that was hounded, day by day, from depth to pinnacle, from pinnacle to depth, back and forth like a shuttlecock in giant hands. No chair was there and no seated figure. He sank back on the settle and found that he saw them both.

The first sick leap of the heart was past. What he saw, he knew, was a mere effect of light and shadow and tragically heightened fancy: when he moved in a certain direction, the dim picture faded, broke into pieces, was gone; but lean far back in the settle, look out with eyes of one awakened from a maze of fearful dreams, and there it was again! He had no terror of it; what was it at last but the projection of a face and form with which his mind had long–had long been occupied? It had ousted the vision of his father; and that, too, was not strange, seeing that, day by day, the thought of the one–the one–the one had grown more and yet more insistent. “Cary,” said Rand, in a hollow voice, “Cary!”

The light and shadow made no answer. Rand waited, gazing with some fixedness, and imagination at white heat saw the head, the face, the form, the quiet dress, the whole air of the man, the look within his eyes and the smile upon his lips. The figure sat at ease, as of old it had sat upon the Justice’s Bench the day of the election, as it had sat beside the bed in the blue room at Fontenoy. Imagination laid Lewis Rand again in that room, showed him the mandarin screen, the sunny, happy morning, the pansies in the bowl. “If,” he cried,–"if I had died then, I had not died a wicked man. Cary–Cary–Cary! I am in torment!”

There came no reply. Rand bowed his head. Without, in the afternoon sky, a cloud hid the sun. When the solitary man in the deserted house looked again, there were no shafts of light, no dark between to create illusion; all was even dusk, forbidding, grey, and cold. He rose from the settle and left the room and the house. Selim whinnied at the gate, and his master, coming swiftly down the path and out of the enclosure, unknotted the reins, mounted, and rode off at speed.

Rand’s haste did not hold. Remorse does not necessarily break habit, and the habit of his lifetime was attention to detail, system in matters of business, scrupulous response to the call where he acknowledged the right. He drew rein at Mrs. Selden’s, dismounted, and lifted the knocker.

Cousin Jane Selden herself met him in the hail. “Lewis! I’m as glad to see you as if you brought the south wind! Come in to the fire, and I’ll ring for cake and wine. It is bitter weather even for January. All’s well at Roselands?”

“All’s well.”

They entered the small parlour and sat down before the fire. “I saw Jacqueline,” continued Mrs. Selden, “at church last Sunday. I thought her looking very badly pale and absent. I know, Lewis Rand, that you love each other dearly. There has been no quarrel?”

“No quarrel.”

“I don’t know,” quoth Mrs. Selden, “of which I’m most sensible when it’s in the air–an east wind or something amiss. The wind’s in the north to-day, but the latter’s on my mind. What is wrong, Lewis?”

“My dear old friend, what should be wrong?”

“That is what I asked you.”

“Then nothing,” he replied, “nothing but the north wind. Now about Carfax–”

Advice given on the subject of all dealings with Carfax, the adviser rose to take his leave. Mrs. Selden removed her spectacles and laid them in her key-basket. It was a sign with her that she was about to speak her mind.

“Lewis,” she said, “I was a good friend to you once.”

“Do I not know that?” he answered. “The best friend a poor boy ever had.”

“No, not quite that–except, perhaps, to help you a little with Jacqueline. Mr. Jefferson was the best friend a poor boy ever had.”

Rand winced. “You say true. The best friend a boy could have. Give me another glass of wine, and then I’ll go.”

“A man like that during youth and a woman like Jacqueline for your manhood–you have had much to prop your life.”

“Yes. Very much.”

“Then,” she said sharply, “don’t let it fall. Grow upward, Lewis, like the vine that gave its strength to make this generous wine! If you don’t, you’ll disappoint your Maker, to say nothing of some poor earthly friends! Don’t fall–don’t run upon the earth like poison oak. You’re meant for noble uses–to help your kind, and to rejoice the heart of the Maker of strong men. Don’t you fail and fall, Lewis Rand!”

Rand paused before her. “How should I help my kind, now–now?”

His old friend looked at him a little wonderingly. “Do the simple right, my dear, whatever it is that you see before you.”

“The simple right! And to rejoice the heart of my Maker–if I have one?”

“Do the right strongly and surely, Lewis.”

“Whatever it is?”

“Whatever it is.” Mrs. Jane Selden looked at him thoughtfully, her hands clasped upon her key-basket. “I’m only an old woman–just a camp-follower with an interest in the battle. I wish that you had had a friend of your own age–a man, and your equal in power and grasp. Gaudylock and Mocket and such–they’re well enough, but you’re high above them, you’re a sort of Emperor to them. Could you but have had such a friend, Lewis–a man like the Carys–”

“For God’s sake, don’t!” cried Rand hoarsely. He poured out a glass of wine, looked at it, and pushed it away. “I will go now, for there is work waiting for me in town, and at home Do as I tell you about Carfax. Good-bye, good-bye!”

Out upon the road, passing through a strip of pine and withered scrub, he raised his hand, and for some moments covered his eyes. When he dropped it, he saw, in the strong purples of the winter evening, again that misty figure, riding this time, riding near him, not in the road, but apparent in the air against and between the tall trunks of pines. “Cary,” he said again, “Cary!”

There was no response from the figure in the air. “Cary,” cried Rand, “I would we had been friends!”

Selim reached the open country; the pines fell away, the form was gone. Rand touched his horse with the spur and rode fast between brown stubble-fields darkening to the hills and to the evening sky. “Friends," he repeated, “friends! That would be on terms of my doing the simple right–the simple right after the most complicated wrong! Terms! there are no terms.”

Leaving the fields, he rode down to a stream, crossed it, and saw the shape against a pale space of evening sky. “Is it to be always thus?” he thought. “I would that I had never been born.”


Chapter I: The Road to Richmond  •  Chapter II: Mr. Jefferson  •  Chapter III: Fontenoy  •  Chapter IV: The Two Candidates  •  Chapter V: Monticello  •  Chapter VI: Rand Comes to Fontenoy  •  Chapter VII: The Blue Room  •  Chapter VIII: Cary and Jacqueline  •  Chapter IX: Expostulation  •  Chapter X: To Althea  •  Chapter XI: In the Garden  •  Chapter XII: A Marriage At Saint Margaret’s  •  Chapter XIII: The Three-Notched Road  •  Chapter XIV: The Law Office  •  Chapter XV: Company to Supper  •  Chapter XVI: At Lynch’s  •  Chapter XVII: Fairfax and Unity  •  Chapter XVIII: The Green Door  •  Chapter XIX: Monticello Again  •  Chapter XX: The Nineteenth of February  •  Chapter XXI: The Cedar Wood  •  Chapter XXII: Major Edward  •  Chapter XXIII: A Challenge  •  Chapter XXIV: The Duel  •  Chapter XXV: Old Saint John’s  •  Chapter XXVI: The Trial of Aaron Burr  •  Chapter XXVII: The Letter  •  Chapter XXVIII: Rand and Mocket  •  Chapter XXIX: The River Road  •  Chapter XXX: Homeward  •  Chapter XXXI: Husband and Wife  •  Chapter XXXII: The Brothers  •  Chapter XXXIII: Greenwood  •  Chapter XXXIV: Fairfax Cary  •  Chapter XXXV: The Image  •  Chapter XXXVI: In Pursuit  •  Chapter XXXVII: The Simple Right  •  Chapter XXXVIII: M. De Pincornet  •  Chapter XXXIX: Unity and Jacqueline  •  Chapter XI: The Way of the Transgressor

[Buy at Amazon]
Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston
At Amazon