Mercy Philbrick's Choice eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about Mercy Philbrick's Choice.


But unto him who finds men’s souls astray
In night that they know not is night at all,
Walking, with reckless feet, where they may fall
Each moment into deadlier deaths than slay
The flesh,—­to him whose truth can rend away
From such lost souls their moral night’s black pall,—­
Oh, unto him what words can hearts recall
Which their deep gratitude finds fit to say? 
No words but these,—­and these to him are best:—­
That, henceforth, like a quenchless vestal flame,
His words of truth shall burn on Truth’s pure shrine;
His memory be truth worshipped and confessed;
Our gratitude and love, the priestess line,
Who serve before Truth’s altar, in his name.

Mercy Philbrick’s Choice.

Chapter I.

It was late in the afternoon of a November day.  The sky had worn all day that pale leaden gray color, which is depressing even to the least sensitive of souls.  Now, at sunset, a dull red tint was slowly stealing over the west; but the gray cloud was too thick for the sun to pierce, and the struggle of the crimson color with the unyielding sky only made the heavens look more stern and pitiless than before.

Stephen White stood with his arms folded, leaning on the gate which shut off, but seemed in no wise to separate, the front yard of the house in which he lived from the public highway.  There is something always pathetic in the attempt to enforce the idea of seclusion and privacy, by building a fence around houses only ten or twelve feet away from the public road, and only forty or fifty feet from each other.  Rows of picketed palings and gates with latches and locks seem superfluous, when the passer-by can look, if he likes, into the very centre of your sitting-room, and your neighbors on the right hand and on the left can overhear every word you say on a summer night, where windows are open.

One cannot walk through the streets of a New England village, without being impressed by a sense of this futile semblance of barrier, this touching effort at withdrawal and reticence.  Often we see the tacit recognition of its uselessness in an old gate shoved back to its farthest, and left standing so till the very grass roots have embanked themselves on each side of it, and it can never again be closed without digging away the sods in which it is wedged.  The gate on which Stephen White was leaning had stood open in that way for years before Stephen rented the house; had stood open, in fact, ever since old Billy Jacobs, the owner of the house, had been carried out of it dead, in a coffin so wide that at first the bearers had thought it could not pass through the gate; but by huddling close, three at the head and three at the feet, they managed to tug the heavy old man through without taking down the palings.  This was so long ago that now there was nobody left who

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Mercy Philbrick's Choice from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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