She looks through life, and with a balance just
Weighs men and things, beholding as they are
The lives of others.
BAYARD TAYLOR: A Woman, stanza iii
Mary Reed, daughter of George W. and Susan (Quigley) Reed, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, April 8, 1847. She first attended the Model School in Trenton, and later the Normal School, which Edward S. Ellis also had attended and of which he was principal for a time. It may be that he first became acquainted with Mary Reed there. He encouraged her to write, and it is quite probable that it was through his influence that she sent her manuscripts to Beadle and Adams, his own publishers. Ellis was later vice-principal of one of the public schools of Paterson, and remained a lifelong friend of the Crowell family.
When Mary Reed was in her seventeenth year she was married, on January 2, 1865, to Joseph E. Crowell, a veteran of the Civil War, and by him had three daughters and one son. While Mary had published her first poem before marriage, it was not until 1870 that she began actively writing for the weekly story papers. Her first effort was a short story, "The Footprint in the Snow," which appeared in No. 4 of Beadle's Saturday Journal. Encouraged by its success, she produced serial after serial in rapid succession for the next twelve years. Her last novel for Beadle and Adams, "Under the Upas; or, The Enemy in the Dark," was begun in No. 659 of the Saturday Journal, but only three numbers had appeared when that journal ended on November 11, 1882. When it was replaced by Beadle's Weekly, November 18, 1882, the few chapters already published were reprinted, and the story was continued to completion under the new title: "The Counterfeit Son; or, The Enemy in the Dark." Mrs. Crowell was thus connected with the Saturday Journal for practically its entire run—from No. 4 to the end; but, except for the completion of "Under the Upas," no other story by her was published in Beadle's Weekly, and her connection with the firm ceased. Besides many short stories, she wrote nineteen different novels for Beadle and Adams, and these were later printed and reprinted in various editions of the Fireside and Waverley Libraries. "Vials of Wrath; or, The Grave between Them," which first appeared as a serial in the New York Saturday Journal, No. 298, November 27, 1875, to No. 322, May 13, 1876, was also published in book form as No. 14, Cheap Edition of Popular Authors, in 1876.
Mrs. Crowell was deeply religious, sang in the choir and for years taught a women's Bible class in the First Baptist Church of Paterson. She was a woman of vivid imagination. The story is told that during the days when she was writing for Beadle and Adams, in order to be undisturbed by her rather large family, she would retire to the third floor of her home. One evening, while delineating a rather horrendous scene, twilight crept on unobserved, but she kept on writing until she became so panic-stricken by the darkness and her own terrifying creation, that she called to her husband to come and conduct her down through the dark halls to the lighted rooms below.
After she ceased writing novels, she wrote, for a number of years, the Paterson "Society Column" for the Newv York World, and also conducted a personal column in the New York Star under the name "Emerce" (M. R. C.).(1) She also wrote interviews with Paterson society women for the Paterson local papers. On May 6, 1886, a drama written by her and entitled "Love or Life," was acted for the first time in the Paterson Opera House.
Her husband died October 15, 1919. He was the author of "The Young Volunteer," a story of the Civil War, and at the time of his death was editor of the Paterson Morning Call. Mrs. Crowell died in Paterson, March 21, 1934.
REFERENCES: The Star Journal. X, No. 490, August 2, 1879; The Journalist, XIV, January 30, 1892, 6; personal communications from her daughter, Mrs. Lloyd Dorsey.
Saturday Journal. Nos. 4, 5, 12, 53, 71, 128, 159, 216,
298, 372, 492, 512, 550, 570, 602, 618, 631, 644, (659
Beadle's Weekly. No. 1
Cheap Edition of Popular Authors. No. 14
Fireside Library. Nos. 1, 6, 23, 47, 57, 70, 85, 112
Waverley Library (quarto), Nos. 1, 7, 18, 52, 58, 131, 136, 145, 153
Waverley Library (octavo). Nos. 1, 5, 9, 17, 26, 37, 44
SPECIMEN OF MRS. CROWELL'S STYLE
"Two Girls' Lives." The Fireside Library No. 6, p. 6.
Edna had retired to her room, determined to search through her one insignificant little keepsake in a vague, forlorn sort of hope that she would alight on some relic, if ever so small, so insignificant, that would aid her in ascertaining who she was.
Not that she thought that she was Mr. Carlingford's daughter, delightful as it would be to make such a discovery; she had little expectation of finding herself much of anybody, and not much more desire. Whoever she might be, she was still in bonds; whoever she was, she only hoped one day to be Oberdon Audrey's wife.
But not yet; she was not ready to allow herself to think of that yet. Her hour of deliverance was not at hand, bravely as Mr. Carlingford had undertaken to conduct the affair, sanguine as both he and Oberdon were of success.
Now for the square, dingy box, with a thin string tied crossways around it to keep on the cover, and guard its contents. She looked tenderly at the miserable little token, for it recalled the only happy time her young life had enjoyed; it brought back the days when she was a care-free girl of nine and ten, the idol of the only mother she ever had known.
She distinctly remembered how the present Mrs. Saxton, when her adopted mother was only a little while dead, had come to her, and asked her if she wanted this same box, that for years had sat on a shelf in the dead woman's closet, and how, in childish thankfulness at the meanest remembrances of one she so deeply mourned, she gladly took it and kept it for her own. There had been nothing in it of any consequence; one or two neck-ribbons, a narrow little silver ring, battered and worn, and a little tin box, apparendy empty, but soldered tightly on all sides.
No one had ever disputed Edna's possessing of these paltry legacies; indeed, no one ever gave them a second thought beyond Edna's own lasting love for them, solely as a keepsake. She had never parted with the little box, nor the faded ribbons, nor the ring, nor the tin box, that seemed to be an old tobacco-box; but now —or rather the night Mr. Carlingford had almost startled her by his suggestion—she had suddenly wondered if the tiny tin box had a secret, so closely was it sealed.
The idea had never occurred to her before; it hardly would have been likely to happen to any one, so forlorn and dented was the dull-looking little casket; but, somehow, as Edna, with her knife and a hammer, was slowly cutting off the lid, she began to really wonder, earnestly, what its contents were—if not emptiness.
It was not emptiness; nor yet was it anything to raise the slightest hope—and Edna smiled—drearily, we are bound to admit, and quite disappointedly, when there fell on her lap only a curiously-carved cross of white coral, with the letter "G" enwrought with faint gold traces on both sides. It was nothing to her, of her, after all. Only a little love-token from her dear, dead benefactor, with her own initial "G" for Gertrude upon it. True, Edna remembered the interest Mrs. Saxton always manifested in the tiny toy, but it must have been on account of the exquisite workmanship.
Edna was just a little provoked to find herself trying to make an "A"—for Lady Augusta—of the undeniable "G", or a "W" for Mr. Carlingford's Christian name; and then, to punish herself for her presumption, resolved to wear it around her neck on a tiny gold chain she had—she disliked charms especially.
Within the box was what gratified Edna more than the possession of the cross; and yet it was only a small slip of paper, the ink on it faded with age, that barely revealed the words—"On Edna Silvester's neck when I took her, G.S." Only a line, but it told all the story of the poor girl's orphanage.
It was a clue, then, if ever she chose to follow it up. She was not disposed to do so at present, however, and when she had fastened the cross to the chain and attached it around her fair, white throat, she put away the green box, and went down to the music-room.
On the stairs she encountered Mr. Carlingford. She had not seen him since his soul-wrenching interview with his wife, and from that encounter he was now on his way to the library again.
Edna stopped, blankly, at the awful woe on his face. "Oh, Mr. Carlingford! has anything happened? Mrs. Carlingford is not worse?"
He looked at her in a dazed, surprised way. "Worse? she is worse than dead—I beg your pardon; Edna, I could not have understood you."
He looked so unutterably wretched; he seemed so crushed, somehow, and yet so gentle, so courteous, as he always was.
And Edna, with her quick perception, caught at his meaning like a lightning flash. He knew, then, of his wife's baseness.
She crouched on the stair in very depth of pity and sorrow, not daring to say a word more, not capable of going on.
"Edna"—he seemed to make an effort to speak naturally—"if you will come to the library with Mr. Audry the first opportunity—My God! where did you get that?"
He almost clutched the white coral cross in his eager fingers; he startled Edna so she trembled violently. "That—that cross? It is the only trinket I have. Mrs. Saxton's initial is on it."
Then, for the first time, it flashed across her mind that the "G" could not be Gertrude, for when the cross was found on the foundling, it was already marked.
"Mrs. Saxton's initial!" he repeated, half vaguely. "Did her name commence with G? There are two G's on that cross, or there ought to be, if it is the one I think it it. Open it, for Heaven's sake! Let me open it!"
Open it! Edna began to think Mr. Carlingford was growing daft.
She laid it on his hot palm, silently; was there a romance about her, after all?
He touched a little hidden spring, and the cross flew open, revealing two faces—one, a fair young girl who was Edna over again; the other, Mr. Carlingford, as he was years and years before. Edna gazed with fascinated eyes, first at the pictures, then at Mr. Carlingford, whose grand face lighted with tender delight.
"There is no room for doubt, my darling! Long ago we thought the likeness so strange, and now I know you are my own child! There is no mate to that cross, and our little one had it on when she was lost or stolen, we never knew which; nor does it matter, now that we have her back. God is good; He has given me my daughter to recompense me for the loss of her mother."
It was so natural, so commonplace, so utterly unlike what one would suppose a meeting between parent and child to be, that Edna hardly realized it.
"It is so strange! can it be true! I your child, Mr. Carlingford?"
"How can you be else? The cross is the proof; the 'G' is for my dead wife's pet name—'Gustie,'—the resemblance—what more do you ask, my daughter?" What more, surely? Certainly not to quarrel with the first kind freak of Fate.
|1||Given in a letter from Mrs. Dorsey.|