Faith found her father in the house on her return. She communicated to him what she had heard, and asked his opinion. He knew, he said, that while there were some—probably the majority—who, regarding Holden’s conduct as only an impropriety, would be disposed to overlook it; there were others who would desire to have him punished, in order to prevent a repetition of such scenes. “Such,” said he, “are the feelings of the world, but they are not mine. So far from deserving censure, Holden is entitled to all honor and praise, for he spoke from the inspiration of conviction. Nor, whatever may be the attempts to injure him, will they succeed. As St. Paul shook the deadly viper from his hand, so will this man rid himself of his enemies. There are more with him than against him, and the shining ones are the stronger.”
The confidence of her father harmonized so well with the hopes of Faith, that it was easy to participate in it, nor in the excitement which she felt, did his language seem other than proper for the occasion.
See winter comes to rule the varied year,
Sullen and sad with all his rising train
Vapors and clouds and storms.
The charming poet depicted truthfully, doubtless, as well as poetically, the English winter, but such is not the character of the season in New England. Clouds and storms, indeed, herald his advent and attend his march; capricious too his humor; but he is neither “sullen” nor “sad.” No brighter skies than his, whether the sun with rays of mitigated warmth but of intenser light, sparkles o’er boundless fields of snow, or whether the moon, a faded sun, leading her festal train of stars, listens to the merry sleigh-bells and the laugh of girls and boys, ever glorified a land. What though sometimes his trumpet sounds tremendous and frowns o’erspread his face! Transient is his anger, and even then from his white beard he shakes a blessing, to protect with fleecy covering the little seeds in hope entrusted to the earth, and to contribute to the mirth and sports of man.
A few days have passed since the occurrences last detailed. The weather had gradually become colder; the ground was as hard as a stone; there had been a heavy fall of snow, and the streets were musical with bells. The snow had fallen before the intense cold commenced, so that the glassy surface of the ice that bridged the rivers and lakes was undimmed, and presented unusual attractions to the skaters.
It was on the afternoon of a fine day that the smooth Severn, hardened into diamond, was covered, just where the Yaupaae and the Wootuppocut unite, to give it form and an independent being, with a gay throng of the people of the village of both sexes. They were mostly young persons, consisting principally of boys from school (for it was Saturday afternoon) with their sisters. Besides these were some young men and women, with here and there one more advanced in years.