Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter VII: The Blue Room

The news of the accident to Lewis Rand spread far and wide. Both as a lawyer and as Mr. Jefferson’s adjutant he had become in two years’ time a marked man. Federalist and Republican were agreed that the recent election was but a foot in the stirrup. Another two years might see him–almost anywhere. He was likely to ride far and to ride fast. To the Federalists his progress from the tobacco-fields to the Elysian Heights of office was but another burning sign of the degeneracy of the times and the tendencies of Jefferson. On the other hand, the Republicans quoted the Rights of Man and the Declaration of Independence, and made the name of Lewis Rand as symbolic as a liberty pole. He was bon enfant, bon Républicain. Virginia, like Cornelia, numbered him among her starry gems. He was of the Gracchi. He was almost anything Roman, Revolutionary, and Patriotic that the mind of a perfervid poet could conjure up and fix in a corner of the Argus or the Examiner. Every newspaper in the state mentioned the accident, and in a letter from a Gentleman of Virginia, an account of it was read by the subscribers to the Aurora.

All this was somewhat later, when the stage-coach and the mail-rider had distributed the slow-travelling news. In the mean time Lewis Rand lay in the curtained bed in the blue room at Fontenoy, and wondered at that subtle force called Chance. The blue roses upon the hangings, the blue willows and impossible bridges of the china, the apple-cheeked moon surmounting the face of the loud-ticking clock were not more fantastically unnatural than that he, Lewis Rand, should be lying there between the linen sheets, in the sunny morning stillness of the fourth day after his fall, listening for the stir of the awakening house, for one step upon the stair, and for one voice. He was where he had desired to be; he was at Fontenoy; but the strangeness of his being there weighed upon him. He would hear the step and the voice; chance had brought him past every ward of a hostile house, and had laid him there in the blue room to be generously pitied and lavishly cared for; chance had given him leverage. To each the chaos of his own nature; if, with Rand, the Spirit brooded none too closely over the face of the deep, yet was there light enough to tread by. As he lay in the blue room, watching the early sunlight steal through the window and lay a golden finger on his bed, he had no sense of triumph, no smugness of satisfaction over the attainment of his dream. He thought of how often as a boy, working under the glare of the sun, in the shadeless tobacco-fields, he had dreamed of the poplars of Fontenoy, the cool porches, the cool rooms, the rest from labour, and the books, of all that the little girl named Jacqueline had told him, sitting under the apple tree beside the stream that flowed between a large and a small farm on the Three-Notched Road. As a boy, he would have been puzzled to choose between “Will you go to Heaven?” and “Will you go to Fontenoy?” The one seemed as remote, as unattainable, and as happy as the other. The advantage was possibly with Fontenoy, for he could picture that to himself. He could not have described the mansions in the skies, but, thanks to Jacqueline, he knew every room at Fontenoy. Before he was laid in it, he had known the blue room, the roses on the curtains, and the peacock-feathered mandarin forever climbing a dull yellow screen. The library should be below, with the bookshelves, and the glass door opening on the snowball bushes. Outside his window was the flower garden. He had seen the garden with his bodily eyes, for there was the morning he had spent at Fontenoy. In the desert of his hardly-treated, eager, and longing youth the place and the life of which the girl who came to Mrs. Selden’s had told him was become the vision of an oasis and a paradise. The magic word was Fontenoy. If Gideon Rand or Adam Gaudylock chanced to pronounce it, it was as though the Captain of the Thieves had said, “Open Sesame!” The cave door opened, and he saw strange riches.

That day at Fontenoy! He tried to recall it, but it did not stand out in his memory; it was curiously without edge. Trying to remember was like remembering a dream, delicious and evasive. The child named Jacqueline had changed to a girl named Jacqueline. She had spoken to him shyly, and he had answered with much greater shyness, with a reddening cheek and a stumbling tongue. He remembered her dress, a soft blue stuff that he was afraid of touching, and he remembered how burning was his consciousness of his coarse shoes, his shirt of osnaburg, the disreputable hat upon his sunburnt hair. Then they had walked in the garden, and sat on the steps of a summer house, and he had been very happy after all. And then a black boy had come to tell him that the Colonel was ready with the receipt he was to carry back to the Three-Notched Road. He said good-bye with great awkwardness, and went away, and he saw the girl no more for a long, long time, for so long a time that insensibly her image faded. It was in the October of that year that he went to Richmond with Gideon, and met Mr. Jefferson in the bookshop by the bridge.

The years that followed that meeting! Rand, lying still upon his pillows, with his eyes upon the yellow mandarin, passed them in review,–well, they had not been wasted! Usually he saw the approximate truth about himself, and he knew that these years of toil and achievement were honourable to him. He thought of all those years, and then he turned his head upon the pillow and faced through widely opened windows the misty, fragrant morning. His mind turned with suddenness to a morning two summers past. His father, who had lived to take grim pride in the son he had been used to thwart, was six months dead, and he himself was living alone, as he yet lived alone, in the small house upon the Three-Notched Road. He lived there with his ambitions, which were many. That morning he had gone, without knowing why, down through the tobacco-field to the stream which parted his patrimony from his neighbour’s grassy orchard. And there, beneath the apple tree, across the clear, brown water stood Jacqueline. He forgot her no more. “Fontenoy” was again the magic word, the “Open Sesame,” but Jacqueline was the wealth of all the world. He was young, and he was a man of strong passions who had lived, perforce, a rigid, lonely, and ascetic life. He had dreamed of most things, and he had dreamed of love. It was the hectic vision of a hued pool. Love, entered, proved to be the sea, boundless and strong, salt, clean, and the nurse of life. He loved Jacqueline to the end of his life; he never swerved from allegiance to the sea.

For a summer month he saw her almost every day,–twice or thrice beneath the apple tree beside the stream, and at other times in Mrs. Jane Selden’s parlour, porch, or little friendly garden. He did not tell Jacqueline that he loved her; he had not dared so much. The fact that he was the son of Gideon Rand while she was a Churchill mattered little to his common sense and his Republicanism. His blood was clean. He had never heard of a Rand in prison or a beggar. Moreover, he meant to make his name an honoured one. But he was a poor man, though he meant also to become a rich man, and he was a Republican, with no thought of changing his party. Politics might not matter, perhaps, to Miss Churchill, but they mattered decidedly to her uncles and guardians, whom she loved and obeyed. Wealth and birth mattered too, to them. Lewis Rand set no great store upon obedience for obedience’ sake, but he divined that Miss Churchill rarely vexed those she loved. He had an iron will, and he set his lips, and resolved that this was not the time to speak of that ocean on whose shore he stood. He meant that the time should come. The probability of a rejection he looked full in the face, and found that he did not believe in it, though when he looked as fully at his assurance, that, too, became incredibly without foundation. Jacqueline’s spirit might dwell in the mountains, and never dream of the sea; she gave him no sign, and he could not tell. The summer month went by; she returned to Fontenoy, and he saw her no more for a long time. When she was gone, he fell upon work like a bereaved lion upon his prey. As best he might, he would make that hunting do. He worked at first with lonely fury, though at last with zest. Only by this road, he knew, could he enter the gates of Fontenoy. Success begets success; let him make himself a name, and the gates might open! When he was not in court, or not most diligently preparing a case, or not instructing Tom Mocket, who was on the way to become his partner, or not busied with affairs of his patron, or not keenly observant of the methods of the poor whites whom he hired to tend his tobacco, he read. He read history: Clarendon, Gibbon, and Hume; Aristotle, Bacon, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, and Voltaire, Rousseau, and Tom Paine. His Ossian, Cćsar, and Plutarch belonged to his younger days. A translation of the Divina Commedia fell into his hands, and once he chanced to take up, and then read with the closest attention, Godwin’s Caleb Williams. From Monticello he received the hot and clamorous journals of the day, Federalist and Republican. He studied the conditions they portrayed with the intentness of a gladiator surveying his arena. The Examiner, the Argus, the Aurora, the Gazette gave, besides the home conflict, the foreign news. He missed no step of Buonaparte’s.

Thrice in these two years he had seen Jacqueline. Once he rode to church at Saint Anne’s that he might see her. She had been at the great race when Major Churchill’s Mustapha won over Nonpareil and Buckeye. The third time was a month ago in Charlottesville. She was walking, and Ludwell Cary was with her. When she bowed to Rand, Cary had looked surprised, but his hat was instantly off. Rand bowed in return, and passed them, going on to the Court House. He had not seen her again until four days ago, when he opened his eyes upon her face. The golden finger on his bed became a shining lance that struck across to the wall. There were ivy and a climbing rose about the window through which he looked to the shimmering poplars and the distant hills. Many birds were singing, and from the direction of the quarters sounded the faint blowing of a horn. A bee came droning in to the pansies in a bowl. Rand’s dark eyes made a journey through the room, from the flowered curtains to the mandarin on the screen, from the screen to the willowed china and the easy chair, from the chair to the picture of General Washington on the wall, the vases on the mantel-shelf, and the green hemlock branches masking for the summer the fireplace below. Over all the blue room and the landscape without was a sense of home, of order and familiar sweetness. It struck to the soul of a too lonely and too self-reliant man. Suddenly, without warning, tears were in his eyes. Raising his uninjured arm, he brushed them away, settled his bandaged head upon the pillows, and stared at the clock. The half-shut door of a small adjoining room opened very slowly and softly, and Joab entered on tiptoe, elaborate caution surrounding him like an atmosphere.

“You, Joab,” said Rand. “It’s time you were in the field.”

Joab’s preternaturally lengthened countenance became short, broad, and genial. He threw back his head and breathed relief. “Dar now! What I tell em? Cyarn Selim nor no urr boss kill you, Marse Lewis! Mornin’, sah. I reckon hit is time I wuz in de field, but I reckon I got to stay heah to tek care of you. How yo ahm, Marse Lewis?”

“It’s not so bad.”

“You sho wuz ressless in yo sleep–a-talkin’ an’ a-turnin’ an’ sayin’ you mustn’t keep de cote waitin’. I done sit by you ter keep de kivers on twill de cock crow. What you reckon you said to me? You said, ’Is dat you, Gineral Buonaparte?’”

Rand laughed, “Did you say, ’Yes, sire my brother?’”

“No, sah, I say, ’Hit’s Joab, Marse Lewis.’ I gwine now ter git de water to shave you ef dar’s fire in de kitchen. Folks git up moughty late at Fontenoy. I don’ know when I gwine git yo breakfast.”

An hour later appeared the master of the house, red and jovial, solicitous for his guest’s comfort, and prodigal of suggestions for his ease and entertainment. Not until Rand was well and gone from Fontenoy would Colonel Dick let his mind rest upon the indubitable fact that here had been an upstart and an enemy. Hard upon the Colonel’s steps came the doctor. Arm and ankle and wounded head were doing well–there was no fever to speak of–Mr. Rand had an unabused constitution and would make a rapid recovery. For precaution’s sake, best let a little blood. Rest, gruel, and quiet, and in a few days Mr. Rand would be downstairs with the ladies. The blood was let, and the doctor rode away. Joab and the culprit Selim went on Rand’s errands to the town and to the home on the Three-Notched Road. Mammy Chloe, in white apron and kerchief and coloured turban, presented herself with a curtsy, delivered kindly messages from the ladies of the house, and sat down with her sewing in the little adjoining room. The morning advanced, sunny and peaceful, with vague sounds, faint laughter from distant rooms, droning of bees, and rustling of cool poplar leaves.

Rand, lying high upon his pillows, stopped his work of writing with his left hand to listen to a step coming up the polished stairway and along the passage leading to his room. His ear was almost as quick and accurate as was Adam Gaudylock’s, and he rightly thought he knew the step. A somewhat strange smile was on his lips when Ludwell Cary knocked lightly at the blue room door. “Come in!” called Rand, and Cary, entering, closed the door behind him and came up to the bed with an outstretched hand and a pleasant light upon his handsome face.

“Ah, Mr. Rand,” he said, smiling, “I see my revenge. I shall sit each day by your bedside, and read you the Federalist! How is the arm? Your right! That’s bad!”

“It will heal,” answered Rand. “Will you not take a chair?”

Cary pushed the easy chair nearer the bed, and sat down. “The ladies charge me,” he said pleasantly, “with more messages of sympathy and hopes for your recovery than I can remember. Miss Dandridge vows that you have supplanted in her affections the hero of her favourite romance. ’Twas she and my brother, you know, who found you upon the road. Colonel Churchill and the county must mend that turn where you came to grief. It is a dangerous place.”

“I was not attentive,” said Rand, “and my horse is a masterful brute. Pray assure Miss Dandridge and your brother of my gratitude. I am under deep obligation to all at Fontenoy.”

“It is a kindly place,” said Cary simply. He looked about him. “The blue room! When I was a boy and came a-visiting, they always put me here. That screen would set me dreaming–and the blue roses and the moon clock. I used to lie in that bed and send myself to sleep with more tales than are in the Arabian Nights. There’s a rift in the poplars through which you can see a very bright star–Sirius, I believe. May you have pleasant dreams, Mr. Rand, in my old bed!” He glanced from Rand’s flushed face to the papers strewn upon the counterpane. “You have been writing? Would Dr. Gilmer approve?”

Rand looked somewhat ruefully at the scrawled sheets and the ink upon his fingers. “It is a necessary paper of instructions,” he said. “I was retained by the State for the North Garden murder case. It is to be tried next week–and here am I, laid by the heels! My associate must handle it.” He made a movement of impatience. “He’s skilful enough, but he’s not the sort to convince a jury–especially in Albemarle, where they don’t like to hang people. If he’s left to himself, Fitch may go free.”

“The murderer?”

“Yes, the murderer. These,” he laid his hand upon the papers, “are the points that must be made. If Mocket follows instructions, the State will win. But I wish that Selim had not chosen to break my right arm–it is difficult to write with the left hand.”

“Could not Mr. Mocket take his instructions directly from you?”

Rand moved again impatiently, and with a quick sigh. “I sent him word not to come. I will not bring a friend or ally where I myself must seem an intruder and a most unwelcome guest. There’s a fine irony in human affairs! Selim might have thrown me before Edgehill or Dunlora–but to choose Fontenoy!” He looked at Cary with a certain appeal. “I shall, of course, remove myself as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you could assure me that Colonel Churchill and his family understand–”

“Set your mind at rest,” said Cary at once. “Colonel Churchill is the soul of kindness and hospitality, and the ladies of Fontenoy are all angels. You must not think yourself an unwelcome guest.” He glanced again at the papers. “I am sure you should not try to write. Will you not accept me as amanuensis? The matter is not private?”

Not at all: but–”

“Then let me write from your dictation. I have nothing at all to do for the next two hours,–I am staying in the house, you know,–and it will give me genuine pleasure to help you. You have no business with such labour. Dr. Gilmer, I know, must have forbidden it. Come! I write a very fair clerkly hand.”

“You don’t know the imposition,” said Rand, with an answering smile. “It is nothing less than a Treatise on Murder.”

“I shall be glad,” replied Cary, “to hear what you have to say on the subject. Come! here are blank sheets and a new quill and an attentive secretary!”

Rand smiled. “It’s the strangest post for you!–but all life’s a dream just now. I confess that writing is uphill work! Well–since you are so good.”

He began to dictate. At first his words came slowly, with some stiffness and self-consciousness. This passed; he forgot himself, thought only of his subject, and utterance became quiet, grave, and fluent. He did not speak as though he were addressing a jury. Gesture was impossible, and his voice must not carry beyond the blue room. He spoke as to himself, as giving reasons to a high intelligence for the invalidity of murder. For an infusion of sentiment and rhetoric he knew he might trust Mocket’s unaided powers, but the basis of the matter he would furnish. He spoke of murder as the check the savage gives to social order, as the costliest error, the last injustice, the monstrousness beyond the brute, the debt without surety, the destruction by a fool of that which he knows not how to create. He spoke for society, without animus and without sentiment; in a level voice marshalling fact and example, and moving unfalteringly toward the doom of the transgressor. Turning to the case in hand, he wove strand by strand a rope for the guilty wretch in question; then laid it for the nonce aside and spoke of murder more deeply with a sombre force and a red glow of imagery. Then followed three minutes of slow words which laid the finished and tested rope in the sheriff’s hand. Rand’s voice ceased, and he lay staring at the poplar leaves without the window.

Cary laid the pen softly down, sat still and upright in his chair for a minute, then leaned back with a long breath. “The poor wretch!” he said.

“Poor enough,” assented Rand abruptly. “But Nature does not, and Society must not, think of that. As he brewed, so let him drink, and the measure that he meted, let it be meted to him again. There is on earth no place for him.” He fell silent again, his eyes upon the dancing leaves.

“You will make your mark,” said Cary slowly. “This is more than able work. You have before you a great future.”

Rand looked at him half eagerly, half wistfully. “Do you really think that?”

“I cannot think otherwise,” Cary answered. “I saw it plainly in the courtroom the other day.” He smiled. “I deplore your political principles, Mr. Rand, but I rejoice that my conqueror is no lesser man. I must to work against the next time we encounter.”

“You have been long out of the county,” said Rand. “I had the start of you, that is all. You were trained to the law. Will you practise it, or will Greenwood take all your time?”

“I shall practise. A man’s life is larger than a few acres, a house, and slaves. But first I must put Greenwood in order, and I must–” He did not finish the sentence, but sat looking about the blue room. “The old moon clock! I used to listen to it in the night and dream of twenty thousand things, and never once of what I dream of now! What a strange young savage is a boy!” He gathered the written sheets together. “You will want to look these over? I shall be very glad to see that they reach Mr. Mocket safely, or to serve you in any way. Just now I am very idle, and I will be your secretary every day with pleasure.” He rose. “And now you must rest, or we will have a rating from Dr. Gilmer. Is there any message I may take for you?”

“My devotion and my thanks to the ladies of the house,” replied Rand–"to Mrs. Churchill and Miss Dandridge and to Miss Churchill. For these"–he put his hand upon the papers–"I shall look them over, and Joab will take them to Charlottesville to Mocket. I cannot sufficiently thank you for your aid and for your kindness.”

Cary went, and Rand lay back upon his pillows, weary enough, though with a smile upon his lips. He valued Cary’s visit, valued the opinion of his fellow lawyer and fellow thinker. He valued praise from almost any source, though this was a hidden thirst. Where he loved, there he valued good opinion most; but also he strongly desired that his enemies should think highly of him. To be justly feared was one thing, to be contemned quite another. Apparently Ludwell Cary neither feared nor contemned. As, a few days before on the Justice’s Bench, Rand had wondered if he were going to hate Cary, so now, lying in the quiet blue room, weakened by pain and loss of blood, softened by exquisite kindness, and touched by approbation, he wondered if he were going to like Cary. Something of the old charm, the old appeal, the old recognition, with no mean envy, of a golden nature moving in harmonious circumstance, stirred in Lewis Rand’s breast. He sighed and lay still, his eyes upon the pansies on the table beside his bed. The moon clock ticked; the sunshine entered softly through the veil of poplar leaves; upon the bough that brushed the window, a cicada shrilled of the approaching summer. Rand put out his uninjured arm and took a pansy from the bowl. The little face, brave and friendly, looked at him from the white counterpane where he laid it. He studied it for a while, touching it gently, with the thought in his mind that Jacqueline might have gathered the pansies, and then he left it there, took up his papers, and turned to the argument which must hang Fitch.


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

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Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston
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