The summer’s sun was throwing his parting beams over the circular range of high, detached hills that enclosed a small village situated near the mouth of one of the Green Mountain tributaries of the Connecticut river. Long, wavy lines of thin, blue smoke becoming visible in the absence of the sun, lay stretched, with their delicate aerial tracery, from hill to hill above the shaded hamlet, beneath which the piteous bleat of the hungry calf, the lowing of the returning cow, the joyous shouts of children, with other various sounds of congregated life, rose loud and distinct, in the growing denseness of the evening air, and mingled with the sharp, peeping cries of the night-hawk loftily careering in the expanse above, the low, sweet trill of the retiring wood-bird, and the clear, hurried notes of the whip-poor-will, now beginning to burst from the woody sides of the surrounding heights. The field-laborers were seen, with shouldered implements, leisurely coming in from the adjoining meadows, mechanics and other men of business leaving their shops, and all quitting their various avocations for the day, and quietly taking their different ways to their respective abodes. Among these there was one personage, a man of about fifty, on whom, as he was seen passing on horse-back up a lane to his house, a large ancient looking building, standing aloof from all others, many an eye was turned with anxious or envious glances; for his movements more or less involved the interests of a great portion of this little community. He was the rich man of the village. But it should have been enough for those inclined to envy Jude Hosmer his wealth, and secretly repine, that they could not change situations with himit should have been enough to cure the foolish wish, in this, as in a thousand instances of the kind, to have scanned for a moment but his outward appearance, to say nothing of the unknown elements of misery withinto have noted his wasted frame, his head, prematurely gray, dropped in deep study, his thin, sharp features, combining in an expression of countenance, in which keen anxiety, intense, corroding thought, and eager, grasping desire, were stamped on every lineament, and betrayed in every glance, the whole unrelieved by a single warming touch which spoke of sympathy, or a single relaxing smile that betokened inward happiness.