It was partly to himself, and partly to his son, that the Solitary spoke, nor was Pownal at all certain that he comprehended his meaning. He had at first fancied, his father was offended at his acceptance of the rich merchant’s bounty, but he soon saw that Holden regarded money too little to consider the mere giving or receiving of it as of much consequence. Upon further reflection, and a consideration of the manner in which his father had lived for so many years, the idea which yet seemed shadowed forth by his language, that he was possessed of property, appeared utterly chimerical. He was therefore disposed to attach to his father’s words some mystical sense, or to suppose that he imagined himself in possession of a secret, by means of which he could command the wealth he scorned. Of course the young man considered such anticipations as visionary as the immediate coming of that millenium for which the longing eyes of the enthusiast daily looked forth.
From yon blue heavens, above us bent,
The gard’ner Adam and his wife
Smile at the claims of long descent:
Howe’er it be, it seems to me,
’Tis only noble to be good;
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.
The news of the discovery of the relationship between Holden and Pownal had reached Hillsdale before their arrival, and the friends and acquaintances of both, comprising pretty much the whole village, hastened to present their congratulations. Many supposed now they had obtained a clue to the singularities of the Solitary, and expected that since he had recovered his son, he would resume the habits of ordinary life. But nothing seemed further from Holden’s intention. In spite of the entreaties of his son, and the remonstrances of those few who ventured to speak to him on the subject, he returned on the very day of their arrival to his cabin. It was, however, with no harshness, but with gentle and even exculpatory language, he refused their request.
“Think not hard of me, my son, nor you, kind friends,” he said, “if my ears are deaf to your solicitations. The old man is weary and seeketh rest. The trembling nerves still quiver to the cries of the horsemen and the rattling of chariots, nor may the tumult pass away till old sights and sounds stealing in with soft ministry compose the excited yet not unpleased spirit. I would gladly in solitude lay my tired head on the bosom of the Father, and thank Him in the silence of His works for mercies exceeding thought.”