"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
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
"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
"'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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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."