Skip to main content

Full text of "Hospital sketches ; and, Camp and fireside stories"

See other formats

















The manliest man among my fort^-. — Par^E 53. 


ca:mp and fireside stories 






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 


[n the Clerk's Office ot' the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 

Cambridge: rrt>t;w(.rk bj- Jnlin Wilson and Son. 




I. Obtaining Supplies 3 

II. A Forward Movkment 15 

III. A Day 25 

IV. A Night 40 

V. Off Duty 60 

VI. A Postscript 80 


The King of Clubs and the Queen of Hearts 

Mrs. Podgers' Teapot . 

My Contraband 

Love and Loyalty 

A Modern Cinderella 

The Blue and the Gray 

A Hospital Christmas. 

An Hour .... 





These sketches, taken from letters hastily written 
in the few leisure moments of a very busy life, make 
no pretension to literary merit, but are simply a brief 
record of one person's hospital experience. As such, 
they are republished, with their many faults but par- 
tially amended, lest in retouching they should lose 
whatever force or freshness the inspiration of the time 
may have given tliem. 

To those who have objected to a "tone of levity " in 
some portions of the sketches, I desire to say that the 
wish to make the best of every thing, and send home 
cheerful reports even from that saddest of scenes, an 
army hospital, probably produced the impression of 
levity upon those who have never known the sharp 
contrasts of the tragic and comic in such a life. 

That Xurse Periwinkle gave no account of her 
religious services, thereby showing a "sad want of 
Christian experience," can only be explained by the 
fact, that it would have as soon occurred to her to 
print the letters written for the men, their penitent 
confidences, or their dying messages, as to mention 



the prayers she prayed, the hymns she sung, the 
sacred words she read; while the '-^Christian experi- 
ence'''' she was receiving then and there was far too 
deep and earnest to be recorded in a newspaper. 

The unexpected favor with which the Uttle book 
Avas greeted, and the desire for a new edition, increase 
the author's regret that it is not more worthy such a 
kind reception. l. m. a. 

Concord, March, 1869. 




" I WANT something to do." 

This remark being addressed to the world in general, no 
one in particular felt it their duty to reply ; so I repeated it 
to the smaller world about me, received the following sugges- 
tions, and settled the matter by answering my own inquiry, as 
people are apt to do when very much in earnest. 

" Write a book," quoth the author of my being. 

" Don't know enough, sir. First live, then write." 

" Try teaching again," suggested my mother. 

'* No thank you, ma'am, ten years of that is enough." 

** Take a husband like my Darby, and fulfill your mission," 
said sister Joan, home on a visit. 

" Can't afford expensive luxuries, Mrs. Coobiddy." 

"Turn actress, and immortalize your name," said sister 
Vashti, striking an attitude. 

" I won't." 

" Go nurse the soldiers,"saidmy young neighbor, Tom,pant- 
ing for " the tented field." 

" I will !" 



So far, very good. Here was tbe will, and plenty of it ; 
now for tbe way. At first siglit not a foot of it appeared ; but 
that didn't matter, for the Periwinkles are a hopeful race. 
Their crest is an anchor, with three cock-a-doodles crowino" 


atop. They all wear rose-colored spectacles, and are lineal de- 
scendants of the inventor of aerial architectm-e. Jin hour's 
conversation on the subject set the whole family in a blaze of 
enthusiasm. A model hospital was erected, and each mem- 
ber had accepted an honorable post therein. The paternal P. 
was chaplain, the maternal P. was matron, and all the youth- 
ful P.'s filled the pod of futurity with achievements whose 
brilliancy eclipsed the glories of the present and the past. 
Arriving at this satisfactory conclusion, the meeting ad- 
journed ; and the fact that Miss Tribulation was available as 
army nurse went abroad on the wings of the wind. 

In a few days a towns woman heard of my desire, approved 
of it, and brought about an interview with one of the sister- 
hood which I wished to join, who was at home on a furlough, 
and able and willing to satisfy all inquiries. A morning chat 
with Miss General S. — we hear no end of Mrs. Generals, why 
not a Miss ? — produced three results : I felt that I could do 
the work, was offered a place, and accepted it, promising not 
to desert, but stand ready to march on Washington at an 
hour's notice. 

. A few days were necessary for the letter containing my re- 
quest and recommendation to reach headquarters, and another, 
containing my commission, to return ; therefore no time was 
to be lost ; and heartily thanking my pair of friends, I tore 
home through the December slush as if the rebels were after 
me, and like many another recruit, burst in upon my family 
with the announcement — dd^ 

"I've enlisted! " M^y 


An impressive silence followed. Tom, the irrepressible, 
broke it vfiih a slap on the shoulder and the graceful com- 
priment — 

*' Old Trib, you're a trump !" 

" Thank you ; then I'll take something :" which I did, in 
the shape of dinner, reeling oflf my news at the rate of three 
dozen words to a mouthful ; and as every one else talked 
ecpally fast, and all together, the scene was most inspiring. 

As boys going to sea immediately become nautical in speech, 
walk as if they already had their " sea legs " on, and shiver 
their timbers on all possible occasions, so I turned military at 
once, called my dinner my rations, saluted all new comers, 
and ordered a dress parade that very afternoon. Having re- 
viewed every rag I possessed, I detailed some for picket duty 
while airing over the fence ; some to the sanitary influences of 
the wash-tub ; others to mount guard in the trunk ; while the 
weak and wounded went to the Work-basket Hospital, to be 
made ready for active service again. To this squad I devoted 
myself for a week ; but all was done, and I had time to get 
powerfully impatient before the letter came. It did arrive 
however, and brought a disappointment along with its good 
will and friendliness, for it told me that the place in the Ar- 
mory Hospital that 1 supposed I was to take, was already 
filled, and a much less desirable one at Hurly-burly House 
was oflfered instead. 

" That's just your luck, Trib. I'll take your trunk up 
garret for you again ; for of course you won't go," Tom re- 
marked, with the disdainful pity which small boys affect when 
they get into their teens. I was wavering in my secret soul, 
but that settled the matter, and I crushed him on the spot 
with martial brevity — 

" It is now one ; I shall march at six.'' 


I Lave a confused recollection of spending the afternoon in 
pervading the house like an executive whirlwind, with iny 
family swarming after me, all working, talking, prophesying 
and lamenting, while I packed my " go-abroady " possessions, 
tumbled the rest into two big boxes, danced on the lids till 
they shut, and gave them in charge, with the direction, — 

" If I never come back, make a bonfire of them." 

Then I choked down a cup of tea, generously salted instead 
of sugared, by some agitated relative, shouldered my knap- 
sack — it was only a traveling bag, but do let me preserve the 
unities — hugged my family three times all round without a 
vestige of unmanly emotion, till a certain dear old lady broke 
down upon my neck, with a despairing sort of wail — 

" Oh, my dear, my dear, how can I let you go?'* 

" I'll stay if you say so, mother." 

*' But I don't ; go, and the Lord will take care of you." 

Much of the Roman matron's courage had gone into the 
Yankee matron's composition, and, in spite of her tears, she 
would have sent ten sons to the war, had she possessed them, 
as freely as she sent one daughter, smiling and flapping on the 
door-step till I vanished, though the eyes that followed me 
were very dim, and the handkerchief she waved was very 

My transit from The Gables to the village depot was a funny 
mixture of good wishes and good byes, mud-puddles and shop- 
ping. A December twilight is not the most cheering time to 
enter upon a somewhat perilous enterprise, and, but for the 
presence of Yashti and neighbor Tom, I fear that I might 
have added a drop of the briny to the native moisture of — 

" The town I left behind me ;" 
though I'd no thought of giving out : oh, bless you, no I 
When the engine screeched " Here we are," I clutched my 


escort in a fervent embrace, and skipped into the car with as 
blithe a farewell as if going on a bridal tour — though I be- 
lieve brides don't usually wear cavernous black bonnets and 
fuzzy brown coats, with a hair-brush, a pair of rubbers, two 
books, and a bag of ginger-bread distorting the pockets of the 
same. If I thought that any one would believe it, I'd boldly 
state that I slept from C. to B., which would simplify matters 
immensely ; but as I know they wouldn't, I'll confess that 
the head under the funereal coal-hod fermented with all man- 
ner of high thoughts and heroio purposes " to do or die," — 
perhaps both ; and the heart under the fuzzy brown coat felt 
very tender with the memory of the dear old lady, probably 
sobbing over her army socks and the loss of her topsy-turvy 
Trib. At this juncture I took the veil, and what I did be- 
hind it is nobody's business ; but I maintain that the soldier 
who cries when his mother says " Good bye," is the boy to 
fight best, and die bravest, when the time comes, or go back 
to her better than he went. 

Till nine o'clock I trotted about the city streets, doing those 
last errands which no woman would even go to heaven with, 
out attempting, if she could. Then I went to my usual ref- 
uge, and, fully intending to keep awake, as a sort of vigil 
appropriate to the occasion, fell fast asleep and dreamed pro- 
pitious dreams till my rosy-faced cousin waked me with a kiss. 

A bright day smiled upon my enterprise, and at ten I re- 
ported myself to my General, received last instructions and 
no end of the sympathetic encouragement which women give, 
in look, touch, and tone more effectually than in words. The 
next step was to get a free pass to Washington, for I'd no 
desire to waste my substance on railroad companies when 
** the boys " needed even a spinster's mite. A friend of mine 
had procured such a pass, and I was bent on doing likewise, 


though I had to face the president of the railroad to accomplish 
it. I'm a bashful individual, though I can't get any one to 
believe it; so it cost rae a great effort to poke about the 
Worcester depot till the right door appeared, then walk into a 
room containing several gentlemen, and blunder out my re- 
quest in a high state of stammer and blush. Nothing could 
have been more courteous than this dreaded President, but it 
was evident that I had made as absurd a demand as if I had 
asked for the nose off his respectable face. He referred mo 
to the Governor at the State House, and I backed out, leaving 
him no doubt to regret that such mild maniacs were left at 
large. Here was a Scylla and Charybdis business : as if a 
President wasn't trying enough, without the Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts and the Hub of the Hub on top of that. 

*' I never can do it," thought I. "Tom will hoot at you if 
you don't," whispered the inconvenient little voice that is always 
goading people to the performance of disagreeable duties, and 
always appeals to the most effective agent to produce the prop- 
er result. The idea of allowing any boy that ever wore a 
felt basin and a shoddy jacket with a microscopic tail, to crow 
over me, was preposterous, so giving myself a mental slap for 
such faint-heartedness, I streamed away across the Common, 
wondering if I ought to say " your Honor," or simply " Sir," 
and decided upon the latter, fortifying myself with recollec- 
tions of an evening in a charming green library, where I be- 
held the Governor placidly consuming oysters, and laughing 
as if Massachusetts was a myth, and he had no heavier burden 
on his shoulders than his host's handsome hands. 

Like an energetic fly in a very large cobweb, I struggled 
through the State House, getting into all the wrong rooms and 
none of the right, till I turned desperate, and went into one, 
resolving not to come out till I'd made somebody hear and 


answer nie. I suspect that of all the wrong places I had 
blunderefl into, this was the most so. But I didn't care ; and, 
though the apartment was full of soldiers, surgeons, starers, 
and spittoons, I cornered a perfectly incapable person, and 
proceeded to pump for information with the following re- 
sult : 

" Was the Governor anywhere about?" 

No, he wasn't. 

" Could he tell me where to look ?" 

No, ho couldn't. 

" Did he know anything about free passes ?'* 

No, he didn't. 

" Was there any one there of whom I could inquire ?" 

Not a person. 

" Did he know of any place where information could be 
obtained ?" 

Not a place. 

" Could he throw the smallest gleam of light upon the mat- 
ter, in any way ?" 

Not a ray. 

I am naturally irascible, and if I could have shaken this 
negative gentleman vigorously, the relief would have been 
immense. The prejudices of society forbidding this mode of 
redress, I merely glowered at him ; and, before my wrath 
found vent in words, my General appeared, having seen me 
from an opposite window, and come to know what I was about. 
At her command the languid gentleman woke up, and troub- 
led himself to remember that Major or Sergeant or something 
Mc K. knew all about the tickets, and his office was in Milk 
Street. I perked up instanter, and then, as if the exertion 
was too much for him, what did this animated wet blanket do 
but add — 


" I think Mc K. may have left Milk Street, now, and I 
don't know where he has gone." 

" Never mind ; the new comers will know where he has 
moved to, my dear, so don't bo discouraged ; and if you don't 
succeed, come to me, and we will see what to do next," said 
ray General. 

I blessed her in a fervent manner and a cool hall, fluttered 
round the corner, and bore down upon Milk street, bent on 
discovering Mc K. if such a being was to be found. He 
wasn't, and the ignorance of the neighborhood was really piti- 
able. Nobody knew anything, and after tumbling over bun- 
dles of leather, bumping against big boxes, being nearly anni- 
hilated by descending bales, and sworn at by aggravated 
truckmen, I finally elicited the advice to look for Mc K. in 
Haymarket Square. Who my informant was I've really for- 
gotten ; for, having hailed several busy gentlemen, some one of 
them fabricated this delusive quietus for the perturbed spirit, 
who instantly departed to the sequestered locality he named. 
If I had been in search of the Koh-i-noor diamond I should 
have been as likely to find it there as any vestige of Mc K. 
I stared at signs, inquired in shops, invaded an eating house, 
visited the recruiting tent in the middle of the Square, made 
myself a nuisance generally, and accumulated fine samples of 
mud from every gutter I fell into. All in vain ; and I 
mournfully turned my face toward the General's, feeling that 
I should be forced to enrich the railroad company after all, 
when, suddenly, I beheld that admirable young man, brother- 
in-law Darby Coobiddy, Esq. I an-estod him with a burst 
of news, and wants, and woes, which caused his manly coun- 
tenance to lose its usual repose. 

" Oh, my dear boy, I'm going to Washington at five, and 
I can't find the free ticket man, and there won't be time to see 


Joan, and I'm so tired and cross I don't know what to do; 
and will you help me, like a cherub as you are V 

" Oh, yes, of course. I know a fellow who will set us 
right," responded Darby, mildly excited, and darting into 
some kind of an office, held counsel with an invisible an pel. 
who sent him out radiant. " All serene. I've got him. I'll 
see you through the business, and then get Joan from the 
Dove Cote in time to see you oflf." 

l*m a woman's rights woman, and if any man had offered 
help in the morning, I should have condescendingly refused 
it, sure that I could do everything as well, if not better, my- 
self. My strong-mindedness had rather abated since then, 
and I was now quite ready to be a " timid trembler," if neces- 
sary. Dear me ! how easily Darby did it all : he just asked 
one question, received an answer, tucked me under his arm, 
and in ten minutes I stood in the presence of Mc K., the 

•' Now my troubles are over," thought I, and as usual was 
direfully mistaken. 

" You will have to get a pass from Dr. H., in Temple 
Place, before I can give you a pass, madam," answered Mc 
K., as blandly as if he wasn't carrying desolation to my soul. 
Oh, indeed ! why didn't he send me to Dorchester Heif^hts, 
India Wharf, or Bunker Hill Monument, and done with it ? 
Here I was, after a morning's tramp, down in some place about 
Dock Square, and was told to step to Temple Place. Nor 
was that all ; he might as well have asked me to catch a hum- 
ming-bird, toast a salamander, or call on the man in the moon, 
as find a Doctor at home at the busiest hour of the day. It 
was a blow ; but weariness had extinguished enthusiasm, and 
resignation clothed me as a garment. I sent Darby for Joan, 
and doggedly paddled off, feeling that mud was my native ele- 


ment, and quite sure that the evening papers would announce 
the appearance of the "Wandering Jew, in feminine habili- 

"Is Dr. H. in?'* 

" No, mum, he aint." 

Of course he wasn't; I knew that before I asked: and, 
considering it all in the light of a hollow mockery, added: 

*' When will he probably return V" 

If the damsel had said, " ten to-night," I should have felt a 
gi'im satisfaction, in the fulfillment of my own dark prophecy; 
but she said, " At two, mum ;" and I felt it a personal insult. 

•' I'll call, then. Tell him my business is important :" with 
which mysteriously delivered message I departed, hoping that 
I left her consumed with curiosity ; for mud rendered me an 
object of interest. 

By way of resting myself, I crossed the Common, for the 
thii'd time, bespoke the carriage, got some lunch, packed my 
purchases, smoothed my plumage, and was back again, as the 
clock struck two. The Doctor hadn't come yet ; and I was 
morally certain that he would not, till, having waited till the 
last minute, I was driven to buy a ticket, and, five minutes 
after the irrevocable deed was done, he would be at my serv- 
ice, -with all manner of helpful documents and directions. 
Everything goes by contraries with me ; so, having made up 
my mind to be disappointed, of course I wasn't ; for, present- 
ly, in walked Dr. H., and no sooner had he heard my eiTand, 
and glanced at my credentials, than he said, with the most en- 
guging readiness : 

" I will give you the order, with pleasure, madam." 

Words connot express how soothing and delightful it was to 
find, at last, somebody who could do what I wanted, without 
sendinor me fi'om Dan to Beersheba, for a dozen other bodies 


to do something else first. Peace descended, like oil, upon 
the mfflt'd waters of my being, as I sat listening to the busy 
scratch of his pen ; and, when he tui'ned about, giving me not 
only the order, but a paper of directions wherewith to smooth 
away all difficulties between Boston and Washington, I felt as 
did poor Christian when the Evangelist gave him the scroll, 
on the safe side of the Slough of Despond. I've no doubt 
many dismal nurses have inflicted themselves upon the worthy 
gentleman since then ; but I am sure none have been more 
kindly helped, or are more grateful, than T. P. ; for that short 
interview added another to the many pleasant associations that 
already suiTound his name. 

reeling myself no longer a " Martha Struggles," but a 
comfortable young woman, with plain sailing before her, and 
the worst of the voyage well over, I once more presented my- 
self to the valuable Mc K. The order was read, and certain 
printed papers, necessary to be filled out, were given a young 
^^entleman — no, I prefer to say Boy, with a scornful emphasis 
upon the word, as the only means of revenge now left me. 
Tthis Boy, instead of doing his duty with the diligence so 
charming in the young, loitered and lounged, in a manner 
which proved his education to have been sadly neglected in 

" How doth the littlo busy bee/' 
direction. He stared at me, gaped out of the window, ate 
peanuts, and gossiped with his neighbors — Boys, like himself, 
and all penned in a row, like colts at a Cattle Show. I don't 
imagine he knew the anguish he was inflicting ; for it was 
nearly three, the train left at five, and I had my ticket to get, 
my dinner to eat, my blessed sister to eee, and the depot to 
reach, if I didn't die of apoplexy. Meanwhile Patience 
certainly had her perfect work that day, and I hope she en- 


joyed the job more than I did. Having waited some twenty 
minutes, it pleased this reprehensible Boy to make various 
marks and blots on my documents, toss thera to a Tenerablc 
creature of sixteen, who delivered them to me with such pa- 
ternal directions, that it only needed a pat on the head and an 
encouraging — " Now run home to your Ma, little girl, and 
mind the crossings, my dear," to make the illusion quite per- 

Why I was sent to a steamboat office for car tickets, is not 
for me to say, though I went as meekly as I should have gone 
to the Probate Court, if sent. A fat, easy gentleman gave 
me several bits of paper, with coupons attached, with a warn- 
ing not to separate them, which instantly inspired me with a 
yeai'ning to pluck them apart, and see what came of it. But, 
rememberino; throuo-h what fear and tribulation I had obtained 
them, I curbed Satan's promptings, and, clutching my prize, as 
if it were my pass to the Elysian Fields, I hurried home. 
Dinner was rapidly consumed ; Joan enlightened, comforted, 
and kissed ; the dearest of apple-faced cousins hugged ; the 
kindest of apple-faced cousins' fathers subjected to the same 
process; and I mounted the ambulance, baggage-wagon, or 
anything you please but hack, and drove away, too tiled to 
feel excited, sony, or glad. 




As travelers like to give their own impressions of a journey, 
though every inch of the road may have been described a 
half a dozen times before, I add some of the notes made by 
the way, hoping that they will amuse the reader, and con- 
vince the skeptical that such a being as Nuvse Periwinkle 
does exist, that she really did go to Washington, and that 
these Sketches are not romance. 

New York Train — Seven P. Ji.— Spinning along to take 
the boat at Xew London. Very comfortable ; munch ginger- 
bread, and Mrs. C.'s fine pear, which deserves honorable men- 
tion, because my first loneliness was comforted by it, and plea=;- 
ant recollections of both kindly sender and bearer. Look 
much at Dr. H.'s paper of directions — put my tickets in ev- 
ery conceivable place, that they may be get-at-able, and finish 
by losing them entirely. Suffer agonies till a compassionate 
neighbor pokes them out of a crack with his pen-knife. Put 
them in the inmost corner of my purse, that in the deepest 
recesses of my pocket, pile a collection of miscellaneous arti- 


cles atop, and pin up the whole. Just get composed, feel'mg 
that I've done my best to keep them safely, when the Con- 
ductor appears, and I'm forced to rout them all out again, ex- 
posing my precautions, and getting into a flutter at keeping 
the man waiting. Finally, fasten them on the seat before me, 
and keep one eye steadily upon the yellow torments, till I for- 
get all about them, in chat with the gentleman who shares my 
seat. Having heard complaints of the absurd way in which 
American women become images of petrified propriety, if ad- 
dressed by strangers, when traveling alone, the inborn per- 
versity of my nature causes me to assume an entirely oppo- 
site style of deportment ; and, finding my companion hails 
from Little Athens, is acquainted with several of my three 
hundred and sixty-five cousins, and in every way a respecta- 
ble and respectful member of society, I put my bashfulness in 
my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, 
the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the 
immortality of the soul. 

Ten, P. M. — Very sleepy. Nothing to be seen outside, 
but darkness made visible ; nothing inside but every variety 
of bunch into which the human form can be twisted, rolled, 
or " massed," as Miss Prescott says of her jewels. Every 
-man's legs sprawl drowsily, every woman's head (but mine,) 
nods, till it finally settles on somebody's shoulder, a new proof 
of the truth of the everlasting oak and vine simile ; children 
fret ; lovers whisper; old folks snore, and somebody privatelj 
imbibes brandy, when the lamps go out. The penetrating 
perfume rouses the multitude, causing some to start up, like 
war horses at the smell of powder. When the lamps are re- 
lighted, evei-y one laughs, sniffs, and looks inquiringly at his 
neighbor — every one but a stout gentleman, who, with well- 
gloved hands folded upon his broad-cloth roiunuity, sleeps on 




impressively. Had bo been innocent, he would have waked 
up ; for, to slumber in that babe-like manner, with a car full 
of giggling, staring, sniffing humanity, was simply preposter- 
ous. Public suspicion was down upon him at once. I doubt 
it' the appearance of a flat black bottle with a label would 
have settled the matter more effectually than did the over dig- 
nified and profound repose of this short-sighted being. His 
moral neck-cloth, virtuous boots, and pious attitude availed 
) im nothing, and it was well he kept his- eyes shut, for 
'* Humbug !" twinkled at him from every window-pane, brass 
nail and human eye around him. 

Eleven, P. M. — In the boat "City of Bo.ston," escorted 
thither by my car acquaintance, and deposited in the cabin. 
Trying to look as if the greater portion of my life had been 
passed on board boats, but painfully conscious that I don't 
know the first thing ; so sit bolt upright, and stare about me 
till I hear one lady say to another — "We must secure our 
berths at once ;" whereupon I dart at one, and, while leisurely 
taking off my cloak, wait to discover what the second move 
may be. Several ladies draw the curtains that hang in a 
semi-circle before each nest — instantly I whisk mine smartly 
together, and then peep out to see wbat next. Gradually, on 
hooks above the blue and yellow drapery, appear the coats 
and bonnets of my neighbors, while their boots and shoes, in 
every imaginable attitude, assert themselves below, as if their 
owners had committed suicide in a body. A violent creak- 
ing, scrambling, and fussing, causes the fact that people are 
going regularly to bed to dawn upon my mind. Of course 
they are ; and so am I — but pause at the seventh pin, remem- 
bering that, as I was born to be drowned, an eligible opportu- 
nity now presents itself; and, having twice escaped a wateiy 
gra^e, the third immersion will certainly extinguish my vital 



spark. The boat is new, but if it ever intends to blow up, 
spring a leak, catch afire, or be run into, it will do the deed 
to-night, because I'm here to fulfill my destiny. With tragic 
calmness I resign myself, replace my pins, lash my purse and 
papers together, with my handkerchief, examine the saving 
circumference of my hoop, and look about me for any means 
of deliverance when the moist moment shall arrive ; for I've 
no intention of folding my hands and bubbling to death with- 
out an energetic splashing first. Barrels, hen-coops, portable 
settees, and life-preservers do not adorn the cabin, as they 
should ; and, roving wildly to and fro, my eye sees no ray of 
hope till it falls upon a plump old lady, devoutly reading in 
the cabin Bible, and a voluminous night-cap. I remember 
that, at the swimming school, fat girls always floated best, and 
in an instant my plan is laid. At the first alarm I firmly 
attach myself to the plump lady, and cling to her through 
fire and water ; for I feel that my old enemy, the cramp, will 
seize me by the foot, if I attempt to swim ; and, though I can 
hardly expect to reach Jersey City with myself and my bag- 
gage in as good condition as I hoped, I might manage to get 
picked up by holding to my fat friend ; if not it will be a 
comfort to feel that I've made an effort and shall die in good 
society. Poor dear woman ! how little she dreamed, as she 
read and rocked, with her cap in a high state of starch, and her 
feet comfortably cooking at the register, what fell designs 
were hovering about her, and how intently a small but de- 
termined eye watched her, till it suddenly closed. 

Sleep got the better of fear to such an extent that my boots 
appeared to gape, and my bonnet nodded on its peg, before I 
gave in. Having piled my cloak, bag, rubbers, books and 
umbrella on the lower shelf, I drowsily swarmed on to the 
upper one, tumbling down a few times, and excoriating the 



knobby portions of my frame in the act. A very brief nap 
on the upper roost was enough to set me gasping as if a dozen 
feather beds and the whole boat were laid over me. Out I 
turned ; and, after a series of convulsions, which caused my 
neighbor to ask if I wanted the stewardess, I managed to get 
my luggage up and myself down. But even in the lower 
berth, my rest was not unbroken, for various articles kept 
dropping off the little shelf at the bottom of the bed, and every 
time I flew up, thinking my hour had come, I bumped 
my head severely against the little shelf at the top, evidently 
put there for that express purpose. At last, after listening to 
the swash of the waves outside, wondering if the machinery 
usually creaked in that way, and watching a knot-hole in the 
side of my berth, sure that death would creep in there ag 
soon as I took my eye from it, I dropped asleep, and dreamed 
of muflins. 

Five, A. M. — On deck, trying to wake up and enjoy an 
east wind and a morning fog, and a twilight sort of view of 
something on the shore. Kapidly achieve my purpose, and 
do enjoy every moment, as we go rushing through the Sound, 
with steamboats passing up and down, lights dancing on the 
shore, mist wreaths slowly furling off, and a pale pink sky 
above us, as the sun comes up. 

Seven, A. M. — In the cars, at Jersey City. Much fuss 
with tickets, which one man scribbles over, another snips, and 
a third " makes note on." Partake of refreshment, in the 
gloom of a very large and dirty depot. Think that my sand- 
wiches would be more relishing without so strong a flavor of 
napkin, and my gingerbread more easy of consumption if it 
had not been pulverized by being sat upon. People act as if 
earlv travelino: didn't ao-ree with them. Children scream and 
scamper ; men smoke and growl ; women shiver and fret ; por- 



ters swear ; great truck horses pace up and down with loads of 
baggage ; and every one seems to get into the wrong car, and 
come tumbling out again. One man, with three children, a 
dog, a bird-cage, and several bundles, puts himself and his 
possessions into every possible place where a man, three chil- 
dren, dog, bird-cage and bundles could be got, and is satisfied 
with none of them. I follow their movements, with an in- 
terest that is really exhausting, and, as they vanish, hope for 
rest, but don't get it. A strong-minded woman, with a tum- 
bler in her hand, and no cloak or shawl on, comes rushing 
through the car, talking loudly to a small porter, who lugs a 
folding bed after her, and looks as if life were a burden to 

" You promised to have it ready. It is not ready. It must 
be a car with a water jar, the windows must be shut, the fire 
must be kept up, the blinds must be down. No, this won't 
do. I shall go through the whole train, and suit myself, for 
you promised to have it ready. It is not ready," &c., all 
through again, like a hand-organ. She haunted the cars, the 
depot, the oflice and baggage-room, with her bed, her tumbler, 
and her tongue, till the train started ; and a sense of fervent 
gratitude filled my soul, when I found that she and her un- 
known invalid were not to share our car. 

Philadelphia. — An old place, full of Dutch women, in 
"bellus top " bonnets, selling vegetables, in long, open mar- 
kets. Every one seems to be scrubbing their white steps. 
All the houses look like tidy jails, with their outside shutters. 
Several have crape on the door-handles, and many have flags 
flying from roof or balcony. Few men appear, and the 
women seem to do the business, which, perhaps, accounts for 
its being so well done. Pass fine buildings, but don't know 
what they are. Would like to stop and see my native city ; 



for, having left it at the tender age of two, my recollections 
arc not vivid. 

Baltimore. — A big, dirty, shippy, shiftless place, full of 
goats, geese, colored people, and coal, at least the part of it I 
sec. Pass near the spot where the riot took place, and feel as 
if I should enjoy throwing a stone at somebody, hard. Find 
a guard at the ferry, the depot, and here and there, along the 
road. A camp whitens one hill-side, and a cavalry training 
school, or whatever it should be called, is a very interesting 
sight, with quantities of horses and riders galloping, march- 
ing, leaping, and skirmishing, over all manner of break-neck 
places. A party of English people get in — the men, with 
sandy hair and red whiskers, all trimmed alike, to a hair ; 
rough grey coats, very rosy, clean faces, and a fine, full way 
of speaking, which is particularly agreeable, after our slip- 
shod American gabble. The two ladies wear funny velvet 
fur-trimmed hoods ; are done up, like compact bundles, in tar 
tan shawls ; and look as if bent on seeing everything thorough- 
ly. The devotion of one elderly John Bull to his red-nosed 
spouse was really beautiful to behold. She was plain and 
cross, and fussy and stupid, but J. B., Esq., read no papers 
when she was awake, turned no cold shoulder when she wished 
to sleep, and cheerfully said, " Yes, me dear," to every wish 
or want the wife of his bosom expressed. I quite warmed to 
the excellent man, and asked a question or two, as the only 
means of expressing my good will. He answered very civ- 
illy, but evidently hadn't been used to being addressed by 
strange women in public conveyances ; and Mrs. B. fixed her 
green eyes upon me, as if she thought me a forward huzzy, or 
whatever is good English for a presuming young woman. The 
pair left their friends before wc reached Washington ; and the 
last I saw of them was a vision of a large plaid lady, stalking 


grimly away, on the arm of a rosy, stout gentleman, loaded 
with rugs, bags, and books, but still devoted, still smiling, and 
waving a hearty *' Fare ye well ! We'll meet ye at Willard's 
on Chusday." 

Soon after their departure we had an accident ; for no long 
journey in America would be complete without one. A coup- 
ling iron broke ; and, after leaving the last car behind us, we 
waited for it to come up, which it did, with a crash that 
knocked every one forward on their faces, and caused several 
old ladies to screech dismally. Hats flew off, bonnets were 
flattened, the stove skip/.ed, the lamps fell down, the water 
jar turned a somersault, and the wheel just over which I sat 
received some damage. Of coui'se, it became necessary for 
all the men to get out, and stand about in everybody's way, 
while repairs were made ; and for the women to wrestle their 
heads out of the windows, asking ninety-nine foolish questions 
to one sensible one. A few wise females seized this favorable 
moment to better their seats, well knowing that few men can 
face the wooden stare with which they regard the former pos- 
sessors of the places they have invaded. 

The country through which we passed did not seem so very 
unlike that which 1 had left, except that it was more level and 
less wintry. In summer time the wide fields would have 
shown me new sights, and the way-side hedges blossomed with 
new flowers ; now, everything was sere and sodden, and a gen- 
eral air of shiftlessness prevailed, which would have caused a 
New England ftirmer much disgust, and a strong desire to 
" buckle to, " and " right up " things. Dreary little houses, 
with chimneys built outside, with clay and rough sticks piled 
crosswise, as we used to build cob towers, stood in barren 
looking fields, with cow. pig, or mule lounging about the door. 
We often passed colored people, looking as if they had come 


out of a picture book, or off the stage, Lut not at all the sort 
of peoj)le I'd been accustomed to see at the North. 

Way-side encampments made the fields and lanes gay with 
blue coats and the glitter of buttons. Military washes flapped 
and fluttered on the fences ; pots were steaming in the open 
air ; all sorts of tableaux seen through the openings of ten's, 
and eveiywhcre the boys threw up their caps and cut capers as 
we passed. 

Washington. — It was dark when we an'ived ; and, but for 
the presence of another friendly gentleman, I should have 
yielded myself a helpless prey to the first overpowering hack- 
man, who insisted that I wanted to go just where I didn't. Put- 
ting me into the conveyance I belonged in, my escort added 
to the obligation by pointing out the objects of interest which 
we passed in our long di'ive. Though I'd often been told that 
Wasliington was a spacious place, its visible magnitude quite 
took my breath away, and of course I quoted Randolph's 
expression, "a city of magnificent distances," as I suppose 
every one does when they see it. The Capitol was so like the 
pictures that hang opposite the staring Father of his Country, 
in boarding-houses and hotels, that it did not impress nie, 
except to recall the time when I was sure that Cinderella went 
to housekeeping in just such a place, after she had married the 
inflammable Prince ; though, even at that early period, I had 
my doubts as to the wisdom of a match whose foundation was 
of glass. 

The White House was lighted up, and carnages were roll- 
ing in and out of the great gate. I stared hard at the famous 
East Room, and would have liked a peep through the crack of 
the door. My old gentleman was indefatigable in his atten- 
tions, and I said " Splendid !" to everything he pointed out, 
though I suspect I often admired the wrong place, and 



missed the right. Pennsylvania Avenue, with its bustle, 
lights, mu-ic, and military, made me feel as if I'd crossed the 
water and landed somewhere in Carnival time. Coming to 
loss noticeable parts of the city, my companion fell silent, and 
I meditated upon the perfection which Art had attained in 
America — having just passed a bronze statue of some hero, 
who looked like a black Methodist minister, in a cocked hat, 
above the waist, and a tipsy squire below ; while his horse stood 
like an opera dancer, on one leg, in a high, but somewhat re- 
mnrkable wind, which blew his mane one way and his massive 
tail the other. 

" Hurly-burly House, ma'am !"* called a voice, startling me 
from my reverie, as we stopped before a great pile of build- 
ings, with a flag flying before it, sentinels at the door, and a 
very trying quantity of men lounging about. My heart beat 
rather faster than usual, and it suddenly strack me that I was 
veiy far from home ; but I descended with dignity, wondering 
w^hether I should be stopped for want of a countersign, and 
forced to pass the night in the street. Marching boldly up the 
steps, I found that no form was necessary, for the men fell 
back, the gaard touched their caps, a boy opened .the door, 
and, as it closed behind me, I felt that I was fakly started, 
and Nurse Periwinkle's Mission was begun. 




" They've come ! they've come ! hurry up, ladies — you're 

" Who have come? the rebels? " 

This sudden summons in the gray dawn was somewhat 
startling to a three days' nurse Hke myself, and, as the thun- 
dering knock came at our door, I sprang up in my bed, pre- 

" To gird my woman's form. 
And on the ramparts die," 

if necessary ; but my room-mate took it more coolly, and, as 
she began a rapid toilet, answered my bewildered question, — 

"Bless you, no child; it's the wounded from Frederick-s- 
burg ; forty ambulances are at the door, and we shall have 
our hands full in fifteen minutes." 

" What shall we have to do ? " 

" Wash, dress, feed, warm and nurse them for the next 
three months, I dare say. Eighty beds are ready, and we 
were getting impatient for the men to come. Now you will 


begin to see hospital life in earnest, for you won't probabiy 
find time to sit down all day, and may think yourself fortunate 
if you get to bed by midnight. Come to me in the ball-room 
when you are ready ; the worst cases are always carried there, 
and I shall need your help." 

So saying, the energetic little woman twirled her hair into a 
button at the back of her head, in a *' cleared for action " sort 
of style, and vanished, wrestling her way into a feminine kind 
of pea-jacket as she went. 

I am free to confess that I had a realizing sense of the fact 
that my hospital bed was not a bed of roses just then, or the 
prospect before me one of unmingled rapture. My three 
days' experiences had begun with a death, and, owing to the 
defalcation of another nurse, a somewhat abrupt plunge into 
the superintendence of a ward containing forty beds, where I 
spent my shining hours washing faces, serving rations, giving 
medicine, and sitting in a very hard chair, with pneumonia on 
one side, diptheria on the other, two typhoids opposite, 
and a dozen dilapidated patriots, hopping, lying, and lounging 
about, all staring more or less at the new " nuss," who suffer- 
ed untold agonies, but concealed them under as matronly an 
aspect as a spinster could assume, and blundered through her 
trying labors with a Spartan firmness, which I hope they ap- 
preciated, but am afraid they didn't. Having a taste for 
'' ghastliness," I had rather longed for the wounded to arrive, 
for rheumatism wasn't heroic, neither was liver complaint, or 
measles ; even fever had lost its charms since " bathing burn- 
ing brows ' had been used up in romances, real and ideal. 
But when I peeped into the dusky street lined with what I at 
first had innocently called market carts, now unloading their 
sad freight at our door, I recalled sundry reminiscences I had 
heard from nurses of longer standing, my ardor experienced a 


sudden chill, and I indulged in a most unpatriotic wish that I 
was safe at home again, with a quiet day before me, and no 
necessity for being hustled up, as if I were a hen and had 
only to hop off ray roost, give my plumage a peck, and be 
ready for action. A second bang at the door sent this recreant 
desire to the right about, as a little woolly head popped in, 
and Joey, (a six years' old contraband,) announced — 

" Miss Blank is jes' wild fer ye, and says fly round right 
away. They's comin' in, I tell yer, heaps on 'em- — one was 
took out dead, and I see him, — hi ! warn't he a goner ! " 

AVith which cheerful intelligence the imp scuttled away, 
sincrinor like a blackbird, and I followed, feelino; that Richard 
was not himself again, and wouldn't be for a long time to 

The first thing I met was a regiment of the vilest odors 
that ever assaulted the human nose, and took it by storm. 
Cologne, with its seven and seventy evil savors, was a posy- 
bed to it ; and the worst of this affliction was, every one had 
assured me that it was a chronic weakness of all hospitiils, 
and I must bear it. I did, armed with lavender water, with 
which I so besprinkled myself and premises, that I was 
soon known among my patients as "the nurse with the 
bottle." Having been run over by three excited surgeons, 
bumped against by migratory coal-hods, water-pails, and. 
small boys, nearly scalded by an avalanche of newly-filled 
tea-pots, and hopelessly entangled in a knot of colored 
sisters coming to wash, I progressed by slow stages up stairs 
and down, till the main hall was reached, and I paused to 
take breath and a survey. There they were! "our brave 
boys," as the papers justly call them, for cowards could hard- 
ly have been so riddled with shot and shell, so torn and shat- 
tered, nor have borne suffering for which we have no name. 


with an uncomplaining fortitude, which made one glad to 
cherish each like abrother. In they came, some on stretchers, 
some in men's arms, some feebly staggering along propped on 
rude crutches, and one lay stark and still with covered face, 
as a comrade gave his name to be recorded before they carried 
him away to the dead house. All was hurry and confusion ; 
the hall was full of these wrecks of humanity, for the most 
exhausted could not reach a bed till duly ticketed and regis- 
tered ; the walls were lined with rows of such as could sit, 
the floor covered with the more disabled, the steps md door- 
ways filled with helpers and lookers on ; the sound of many 
feet and voices- made that usually quiet hour as noisy as noon ; 
and, in the midst of it all, the matron's motherly face brought 
more comfort to many a poor soul, than the cordial draughts 
she administered, or the cheery words that welcomed all, mak- 
ing of the hospital a home. 

The sight of several stretchers, each with its legless, arm- 
less, or desperately wounded occupant, entering my ward, 
admonished me that I was there to work, not to wonder or 
weep ; so I corked up my feelings, and returned to the path 
of duty, which was rather " a hard road to travel " just then. 
The house had been a hotel before hospitals were needed, and 
many of the doors still bore their old names ; some not so 
inappropriate as might be imagined, for that ward was in truth 
a hall-room, if gun-shot wounds could christen it. Forty beds 
were prepared, many already tenanted by tired men who fell 
down anywhere, and drowsed till the smell of food roused 
them. Round the great stove was gathered the dreariest 
group I ever saw — ragged, gaunt and pale, mud to the knees, 
with bloody bandages untouched since put on days before ; 
many bundled up in blankets, coats being lost or useless ; and 
all wearinfr that disheartened look which proclaimed defeat, 


more plainly than any telegram of the Burnside blunder. 1 
pitied them so much, I dared not speak to them, though, re- 
membering all they had been through since the fight at Fred, 
ericksburg, I yearned to serve the dreariest of them 
all. Presently, Miss Blank tore me from my refuge behind 
piles of one-sleeved shirts,, odd socks, bandages and lint ; put 
basin, sponge, towels, and a block of brown soap into my 
hands, with these appalling directions : 

" Come, my dear, begin to wash as fast as you can. Tell 
them to take off socks, coats and shirts, scrub them well, put 
on clean shirts, and the attendants will finish them oflf, and 
lay them in bed." 

If she had requested me to shave them all, or dance a 
hornpipe on the stove funnel, I should have been less stag- 
gered ; but to scrub some dozen lords of creation at a mo- 
ment's notice, was really — really . However, there was 

no time for nonsense, and, having resolved when I came to do 
everything I was bid, I drowned my scruples in my wash- 
bowl, clutched my soap manfully, and, assuming a business- 
like air, made a dab at the first dirty specimen I saw, bent on 
performing my task vi et armis if necessary. I chanced to 
lif^ht on a withered old Irishman, wounded in the head, which 
caused that portion of his frame to be tastefully laid out like a 
garden, the bandages being the walks, his hair the shrubbery. 
He was so overpowered by the honor of having a lady wash 
him, as he expressed it, that he did nothing but roll up his 
eyes, and bless me, in an irresistible style which was too much 
for my sense of the ludicrous ; so we laughed together, and 
when I knelt down to take off his shoes, he " flopped" also, 
and wouldn't hear of my touching " them dirty craters. May 
your bed above be aisy darlin', for the day's work ye are doon ! 
—Whoosh ! there ye are, and bedad, it's hard tellin' which is 


the dirtiest, the fut or the shoe." It was ; and if ho hadn't 
been to the fore, I should have gone on jjulling, under the 
impression that the "fut" was a boot, for trousers, socks, 
shoes and legs were a mass of mud. This comical tableau 
produced a general grin, at which propitious beginning I took 
heart and scrubbed away like any tidy parent on a Saturday 
night. Some of them took the performance like sleepy chil- 
dren, leaning their tired heads against me as T worked, others 
looked grimly scandalized, and several of the roughest colored 
like bashful girls. One wore a soiled little bag about his 
neck, and, as T moved it, to bathe his wounded breast, I said, 

" Your talisman didn't save you, did it? " 

" Well, I reckon it did, marm, for that shot would a gone 
a couple a inches deeper but for my old mammy's camphor 
bag," answered the cheerful philosopher. 

Another, with a gun-shot wound through the cheek, asked 
for a looking-glass, and when I brought one, regarded his 
swollen face with a dolorous expression, as he muttered — 

" I vow to gosh, that's too bad ! I warn't a bad looking 
chap before, and now I'm done for ; won't there bo a thun- 
derin' scar ? and what on earth will Josephine Skinner say V* 

He looked up at me with his one eye so apjDealingly. that 1 
controlled my risibles, and assured him that if Josephine was 
a girl of sense, she would admire the honorable scar, as a 
lasting proof that he had faced the enemy, for all women 
thought a wound the best decoration a brave soldier could 
wear. I hope Miss Skinner verified the good opinion I so 
rashly expressed of her, but I shall never know. 

The next scrubbee was a nice-looking lad, with a curly 
brown mane, honest blue eyes, and a merry mouth. He 
lay on a bed, with one leg gone, and the right arm so 
shattered that it must evidently follow : yet the little ser- 


goant was as merry as if his afflictions were not worth 
lamenting over; and when a drop or two of salt water 
mingled with my suds at the sight of this strong young body, 
so niarred and maimed, the boy looked up, with T brave 
smile, though there was a little quiver of the lips, as he 

"Now don't you fret yourself about me, miss; I'm first 
rate here, for it's nuts to lie still on this bed, after knocking 
about in those confounded ambulances, that shake what there 
is lett of a fellow to jelly. I never was in one of these places 
before, and think this cleaning up a jolly thing for us, though 
I'm afiaid it isn't for you ladies." 

'• Is this your first battle. Sergeant ?" 
*• Xo, miss; I've been in six scrimmages, and never got a 
scratch till this last one ; but it's done the business pretty 
thoroughly for me, I should say. Lord ! what a scramble 
there'll be for arms and legs, when we old boys come out of 
our graves, on the Judgment Day : wonder if we shall get 
our own again ? If we do, my leg will have to tramp from 
Fredericksburg, my arm from here, I suppose, and meet my 
body, wherever it may be." 

The fancy seemed to tickle him mightily, for he laughed 
blithely, and so did I ; which, no doubt, caused the new nurse 
to be regarded as a light-minded sinner by the Chaplain, who 
roamed vaguely about, with his hands in his pockets, preach- 
ing resignation to cold, hungry, wounded men, and evidently 
feeling himself, what he certainly was, the wrong man in the 
wrong place. 

" I say, Mrs. ! " called a voice behind me ; and, turning, I 
saw a rough Michigander, with an arm blown off at the shoul- 
der, and two or three bullets still in him — as he afterwards 


mentioned, as carelessly as if gentlemen were in the habit of 
carrying such trifles about with them. I went to him, and, 
while administering a dose of soap and water, he whispered, 
irefully : 

" That red-headed devil, over yonder, is a reb, hang him ! 
He's got shet of a foot, or he'd a cut like the rest of the lot. 
Don't you wash him, nor feed him, but jest let him holler till 
he's tii'ed. It's a blasted shame to fetch them fellers in here, 
along side of us ; and so I'll tell the chap that bosses this 
concern ; cuss me if I don't. 

I regret to say that I did not deliver a moral sermon upon 
the duty of forgiviog our enemies, and the sin of profanity, 
then and there; but, being a red-hot Abolitionist, stared 
fixedly at the tall rebel, who was a copperhead, in every sense 
of the word, and privately resolved to put soap in his eyes, 
rub his nose the wrong way, and excoriate his cuticle gener- 
ally, if I had the washing of him. 

My amiable intentions, however, were frustrated ; for, when 
I approached, with as Christian an expression as my principles 
would allow, and asked the questioL — " Shall I try to make 
you more comfortable, sir?" all I got for my pains was a 
gruff — 

"No; I'll do it myself." 

*' Here's your Southern chivalry, with a witness," thought 
I, dumping the basin down before him, thereby quenching a 
strong desire to give him a summary baptism, in return for his 
ungraciousness ; for my angry passions rose, at this rebuff, in 
a way that would have scandalized good Dr. Watts. He was 
a disappointment in all respects, (the rebel, not the blessed 
Doctor,) for he was neither fiendish, romantic, pathetic, or 
anything interesting; but a long, fat man, with a head like a 


burning bush, and a perfectly expressionless face : so T could 
dislike liiui without the slightest drawback, and ignored his 
existence from that day forth. One redeeming trait he certainly 
did possess, as the floor speedily testified ; for his ablutions 
were so vigorou.-^ly performed, that his bed soon stood like an 
isolated island, in a sea of soap-suds, and he resembled a 
dripping merman, suiFcring from the loss of a fin. If clean- 
liness is a near neighbor to godliness, then was the big rebel 
the godliest man in my ward that day. 

Having done up our human wash, and laid it out to dry, the 
second syllable of our version of the wordWar-fare was enacted 
with much success. Great trays of bread, meat, soup and 
cofifee appeared ; and both nurses and attendants turned 
waiters, serving bountiful rations to all who could eat. I can 
call my pinafore to testify to my good will in the work, for in 
ten minutes it was reduced to a perambulating bill of fare, pre- 
senting samples of all the refreshments going or gone. It was 
a lively scene ; the long room lined with rows of beds, each 
filled by an occupant, whom water, shears, and clean raiment 
had transformed from a dismal ragamuffin into a recumbent 
hero, with a cropped head. To and fro rushed matrons, maids, 
and convalescent " boys," skirmishing with knives and forks; 
retreating with empty plates ; marching and counter-marching, 
with unvaried success, while the clash of busy spoons made 
most inspiring music for the charge of our Light Brigade : 

" Bc<ls to the front of them, 
Beds to the riirht of them, 
Beds 'o tlic left of them, 

Nobody blundered. 
Beamed at by hungry sonls, 
Sereamed at wiih brimming bowls. 
Steamed at by army rolls, 

Buttered and sundered. 
With coffee not cannon plied, 
Each must be satisfied, 
Whether they lived or died; 

All the men wondered." 


Very welcome seemed the generous mtal, after a week of 
suffering, exposure, and short commons ; soon the brown faces 
began to smile, as food, warmth, and rest, did their pleasant 
work ; and the grateful " Thankcc's " were followed by more 
graphic accounts of the battle and retreat, than any paid 
reporter could have given us. Curious contrasts of the tragic 
and comic met one everywhere ; and some touching as well as 
ludicrous episodes, might have been recorded that day. A 
six foot New Hampshire man, with a leg broken and perforated 
by a piece of shell, so large that, had I not seen the wound, I 
should have regarded the stoiyas a Munchausenism, beckoned 
me to come and help him, as he could not sit up, and both his 
bed and beard were getting plentifully anointed with soup. 
As I fed my big nestling with corresponding mouthfuls, I 
asked him how he felt during the battle. 

" Well, 'twas my fust, you see, so I aint ashamed to say I 
was a trifle flustered in the beginnin', there was such an allfired 
racket; for ef there's anything I do spleen agin, it's noise. 
But when my mate, Eph Sylvester, fell, with a bullet through 
his head, I got mad, and pitched in, licketty cut. Our part 
of the fight didn't last long; so a lot of us larked round 
Fredericksburg, and give some of them houses a pretty con- 
sid'able of a rummage, till we was ordered out of the mess. 
Some of our fellows cut like time ; but I warn't a-goin to run 
for nobody; and, fust thing I knew, a shell bust, right in 
front of us, and I keeled over, feelin' as if I was biowed 
higher'n a kite. I sung out, and the boys come back for me, 
double quick ; but the way they chucked me over them fences 
was a caution, I tell you. Next day I was most as black as 
that darkey yonder, lickin' plates on the sly. This is bully 
coffee, ain't it ? Give us another pull at it, and I'll be obleeged 
to you." 


I did ; and, as the last gulp subsided, he said, with a rub 
of hi« old haiulkerchief over cjcs as well as mouth : 

" Look a here; I've got a pair a earbobs and a handkercher 
pin I'm a goin' to give you, if you'll have them ; for you're 
the very moral o' Lizy Sylvester, poor Eph's wife : that's why 
I signalled you to come over here. They aint much, I guess, 
but they'll do to memorize the rebs by." 

Burrowing under his pillow, he produced a little bundle of 
what he called " truck," and gallantly presented me with a 
pair of earrings, each representing a cluster of corpulent 
grapes, and the pin a basket of astonishing fruit, the whole 
large and coppery enough for a small warming-pan. Feeling 
delicate about depriving him of such valuable relics, I accepted 
the earrings alone, and was obliged to depart, somewhat 
abruptly, when my friend stuck the warming-pan in the bosom 
of his night-gown, viewing it with much complacency, and, 
perhaps, some tender memory, in that rough heart of his, for 
the comrade he had lost. 

Observing that the man next him had left his meal untouched, 
I offered the same service I had performed for his neighbor, 
but he shook his head. 

'^ Thank you, ma'am ; I don't think I'll ever eat again, for 
I'm shot in the stomach. But I'd like a drink of water, if 
you aint too busy." 

I rushed away, but the water-pails were gone to be refilled, 
and it was some time before they reappeared. I did not for- 
get my patient patient, meanwhile, and, with the first mugful, 
huriicd back to him. He seemed asleep ; but something in 
the tired white face caused me to listen at his lips for a breath. 
None came. I touched his forehead ; it was cold : and then I 
knew that, while he waited, a better nurse than I had given 
him a cooler draught, and healed him with a touch. I laid 



the sheet over the quiet sleeper, whom no noise could now 
disturb ; and, half an hour later, the bed was empty. It 
seemed a poor requital for all he had sacrificed and suffered, 
— that hospital bed, lonely even in a crowd ; for there was no 
familiar face for him to look his last upon ; no friendly voice 
to say, Good bye ; no band to lead him gently down into the 
Valley of the Shadow ; and he vanished, like a drop in that 
red sea upon whose shores so many women stand lamenting. 
For a moment I felt bitterly indignant at this seeming care- 
lessness of the value of life, the sanctity of death ; then con- 
soled myself with the thought that, when the great muster 
roll was called, these nameless men might be promoted above 
many whose tall monuments record the barren honors they 
have won. 

All having eaten, drank, and rested, the surgeons began 
their rounds ; and I took my first lesson in the art of dressing 
wounds. It wasn't a festive scene, by any means ; for Dr. 
P.. whose Aid I constituted myself, fell to work with a vigor 
which soon convinced me that I was a weaker vessel, though 
nothing would have induced me to confess it then. He had 
served in the Crimea, and seemed to regard a dilapidated body 
very much as I should,, have regarded a damaged garment ; 
and, turning up his cuffs, whipped out a very unpleasant look- 
ing housewife, cutting, sawing, patching and piecing, with the 
enthusiasm of an accom^Dlished surgical seamstress; explaining 
the process, in scientific terms, to the patient, meantime ; 
which, of course, was immensely cheering and comfortable. 
There was an uncanny sort of fascination in watching him, as 
he peered and probed into the mechanism of those wonderful 
bodies, whose mysteries he understood so well. The more 
intricate the wound, the better he liked it. A poor private, 
with botb legs off, and shot through the lungs, possessed more 



attractions for him than a dozen generals, sligbtly scratched in 
some " masterly retreat ;" and had anyone appeared in small 
pieces, requesting to be put together again, he would have 
considered it a special dispensation. 

The amputations were reserved till the morrow, and tho 
merciful magic of ether was not thought necessary that day, so 
the poor souls had to bear their pains as best they might. It 
is all very well to talk of the patience of woman ; and far be 
it from me to pluck that feather from her cap, for, heaven 
knows, she isn't allowed to wear many ; but the patient 
endurance of these men, under trials of the flesh, was truly 
wonderful. Their fortitude seemed contagious, and scarcely a 
cry escaped them, though I often longed to groan for them, 
when pride kept their white lips shut, while great drops stood 
upon their foreheads, and the bed shook with the irrepressible 
tremor of their tortured bodies. One or two Irishmen anath- 
ematized the doctors with the frankness of their nation, and 
ordered the Virgin to stand by them, as if she had been the 
wedded Biddy to whom they could administer the poker, if 
she didn't ; but, as a general thing, the work went on in 
silence, broken only Ly some quiet request for roller, instru- 
ments, or plaster, a sigh from the patient, or a sympathizing 
murmur from the nm'se. 

It was long past noon before these repairs were even par- 
tially made ; and, having got the bodiesof my boys into some- 
thin o^ like order, the next task was to minister to their minds, 
by writing letters to the anxious souls at home ; answering 
questions, reading papers, taking possession of money and 
valuables ; for the eighth commandmnnt was reduced to a 
very fragmentary condition, both by the blacks and whites, 
who ornamented our hospital with their presence. Pocket 
books, purses, miniatures, and watches, were sealed up. 


labelled, and handed over to the matron, till such times as the 
owners theveof were ready to depart homeward or campward 
again. The letters dictated to me, and revised by me, that 
afternoon, would have made an excellent chapter for some 
future history of the war; for, like that which Thackeray's 
" Ensign Spooney " wrote his mother just before Waterloo, 
they were " full of affection, pluck, and bad spelling ;'' nearly 
all giving lively accounts of the battle, and ending with a 
somewhat sudden plunge from patriotism to provender , desir- 
ing '* Marm," " Mnry Ann," cr " Aunt Peters," to send 
along some pies, pickles, sweet stuff, and apples, " to yourn in 
haste," Jue, Sam, or Ned, as the case might be. 

My little Sergeant insisted on trying to scribble something 
with his left hand, and patiently accomplished some half dozen 
lines of hieroglyphics, which he gave me to fold and direct, 
with a boyish blush, that rendered a glimpse of " My Dearest 
Jane," unnecessciry, to assure me that the heroic lad had been 
more successful in the service of Commander-in-Chief Cupid 
than that of Gen. Mars ; and a charming little romance blos- 
somed instanter in Nurse Periwinkle's romantic fjincy, though 
no further confidences were made that day, for Sergeant fell 
asleep, and, judging from his tranquil face, visited his absent 
sweetheart in the pleasant land of dreams. 

At five o'clock a great bell rang, and the attendants flew, 
not to arms, but to their trays, to bring up supper, when a 
second uproar announced that it was ready. The new comers 
woke at the sound ; and I presently discovered that it took a 
very bud wound to incapacitate the defenders of the faith for 
the consumption of their rations ; the amount that some of 
them sequestered was amazing ; but when I suggested the 
probability of a famine hereafter, to the matron, that motherly 
lad5 cried out : " Bless their hearts, why shouldn't they eat ? 


It's their only amuscmnnt ; so fill evciy one, and, if there's 
not enough ready to-night, I'll lend my share to the Lord by 
giving it to the boys." And, whipping up her coffee-pot and 
plate of toast, she gladdened the eyes and stomachs of two or 
three dissatisfied heroes, by serving them with a liberal hand ; 
and I haven't the slightest doubt that, having cast her bread 
upon the waters, it came back buttered, as another large- 
hearted old lady was wont to say. 

Then came the doctor's evening visit ; the administiation of 
medicines ; washing feverish faces ; smoothing tumbled beds ; 
wetting wounds ; singing lullabies ; and preparations for the 
night. By twelve, the last labor of love was done ; the last 
♦' good night " spoken ; and, if any needed a reward for that 
day's work, they surely received it, in the silent eloquence of 
those long lines of f^ices, showing pale and peaceful in the 
shaded rooms, as we quitted them, followed by grateful glances 
that lighted us to bed, where rest, the sweetest, made our pil- 
lows soft, while Night and Nature took our places, filling that 
great house of pain with the healing miracles of Sleep, and 
his diviner brother, Death. 





Being fond of the night side of nature, I was soon promoted 
to the post of night nurse, with every facility for indulging in 
my favorite pastime of " owling." My colleague, a black- 
eyed widow, relieved me at dawn, we two taking care of 
the ward between us, like regular nurses, turn and turn 
about. I usually found my boys in the jolliest state of 
mind their condition allowed ; for it was a known fact that 
Nurse Periwinkle objected to blue devils, and entertained a 
belief that he who laughed most was surest of recovery. At 
the beginning of my reign, dumps and dismals prevailed ; the 
nurses looked anxious nnd tired, the men gloomy or sad ; and a 
general " Hark !-from-the-tombs-a-doleful-sound "style of con- 
versation seemed to be the fashion : a state of things which 
caused one coming from a merry, social New England town, to 
feel as if she had got into an exhausted receiver ; and the 
instinct of self-preservation, to say nothing of a philanthropic 
desire to serve the race, caused a speedy change in Ward 
No. 1. 


More flattering than the most gracefully turned compliment, 
more grateful than the most arlmiring glance, was the sight of 
those rows of faces, all strange to me a little while ago, now 
lighting up, with smiles of welcome, as I came among them, 
enjoying that moment heartily, with a womanly pride in their 
regard, a motherly affection for them all. The evenings were 
spent in reading aloud, writing letters, waiting on and amusing 
the men, going the rounds with Dr. P., as he made his second 
daily survey, dressing my dozen wounds afresh, giving last 
doses, and making them cozy for the long hours to come, till 
the nine o'clock bell rang, the gas was turned down, the day 
nurses went off duty, the night watch came on, and my noc- 
turnal adventures began. 

My ward was now divided into three rooms; and, under 
favor of the matron, I had managed to sort out the patients in 
such a way that I had what I called, " my duty room," my 
" pleasure room," and my " pathetic room," and worked for 
each in a different way. One, I visited, armed with a dressing 
tray, full of rollers, plasters, and pins ; another, with books, 
flowers, games, and gossip ; a third, with teapots, lullabies, 
consolation, and, sometimes, a shroud. 

Wherever the sickest or most helpless man chanced to be, 
there I held my watch, often visiting the other rooms, to see 
that the general of the ward did his duty by the 
fires and the wounds, the latter needing constant wetting. 
Not only on this account did I meander, but also to get fresh- 
er air than the close rooms afforded ; for, owing to the stupid- 
ity of- that mysterious " somebody " who does all the damage 
in the world, the windows had been carefully nailed down 
above, and the lower sashes could only be raised in the mildest 
weather, for the men lay just below. I had suggested a sum- 
mary smashing of a few panes here and there, when frequent 


appeals to headquarters had proved unavailing, and daily 
orders to lazy attendants had come to nothing. No one sec- 
onded the motion, however, and the nails were far beyond my 
reach ; for, though belonging to the sisterhood of " ministering 
ani^els," I had no wings, and might as well have asked for 
a suspension bridge, as a pair of steps, in that charitable 

One of the harmless ghosts who bore me company during 

the haunted hours, was Dan, the watchman, whom I reganled 

with a certain awe ; for, though so much together, I never 

fairly saw his face, and, but fur his legs, should never have 

recognized him, as we seldom met by day. These legs were 

remarkable, as was his whole figure, for his body was short, 

rotund, and done up in a big jacket, and muffler ; his beard 

hid the lower part of his face, his hat-brim the upper ; and all 

I ever discovered was a pair of sleepy eyes, and a very mild 

voice. But the legs ! — very long, very thin, very crooked 

and feeble, looking like gray sausages in their tight coverings, 

and finished off with a pair of expansive, green cloth shoes, 

very like Chinese junks with the sails down. This figure, 

gliding noiselessly about the dimly-lighted rooms, was 

strongly suggestive of the spirit of a beer-barrel mounted 

on cork-screws, haunting the old hotel in search of its lost 

mates, emptied and staved in long ago. 

Another goblin who frequently appeared to me, was the 
attendant of "the pathetic room," who, being a faithful soul, 
was often up to tend two or three men, weak and wandering as 
babies, after the fever had gone. The amiable creature beguiled 
the watches of the night by brewing jorums of a fearful bev- 
erao-e, which he called coffee, and insisted on sharing with 
me ; coming in with a great bowl of something like mud 
feoup, scald'ng hot, guiltless of cream, rich in an all-pervading 


flavor of molasses, scorch and tin pot. Sucb an amount of 
good will and neighborly kindness also went into the mess, 
that I never could lind the heart to refuse, but always received 
it with thanks, sipped it with hypocritical while he 
remained, and whipped it into the slop-jar the instant he 
departed , thereby gratifying him, securing one rousing laugh 
in the doziest hour of the night, and no one was the worse for 
the transaction but the pigs. Whether they were *• cut off 
untimely in their {.ins," or not, I carefully abstained from 

It was a strange life — asleep half the day, exploring 
Washington the other half, and all night hovering, like a 
massive cherubim, in a red rigolette, over the slumbering sons 
li man. I liked it, and found many things to amuse, instmcf, 
and interest me. The snores alone were quite a study, varying 
from the mild sniff to the stentorian snort, which startled the 
echoes and hoisted the performer erect to accuse his neighbor 
of the deed, magnanimously forgive him, and, wrapping the 
drapery of his couch about him, lie down to vocal slumber. 
After hstening for a week to this band of wind instruments, I 
indulged in the belief that I could recognize each by the snore 
alone, and was tempted to join the chorus by breaking out 
•with John Brown's favorite hymn : 

" Blow ye the trumpet, blow!" 
I would have given much to have possessed the art of 
sketching, for many of the faces became wonderfully interest- 
ing when unconscious. Some grew stern and grim, the men 
evidently dreaming of war, as they gave orders, groaned over 
their wounds, or damned the rebels vigorously ; some grew sad 
and infinitely pathetic, as if the pain borne silently all day, re- 
venged itself by now betraying what the man's pride had con- 
cealed so well. Often the roughest grew young and pleasant 


when sleep smoothed the hard lines away, letting the real nature 
assert itself; many almost seemed to speak, and I learned to 
know these men better by night than through any intercourse 
by day. Sometimes they disappointed me, for faces that looked 
moriy and good in the light, grew bad and sly when the shad- 
ows came ; and though they made no confidences in words, I 
read their lives, leaving them to wonder at the change of man- 
ner this midnight magic wrought in their nurse. A few talked 
busily ; one drummer boy sang sweetly, though no persuasions 
could win a note from him by day ; and several depended on 
being told what they had talked of in the morning. Even my 
constitutionals in the chilly halls, possessed a certain charm, 
for the house was never still. Sentinels tramped round it all 
night long, their muskets glittering in the wintry moonlight as 
they walked, or stood before the doors, straight and silent, as 
figures of stone, causing one to conjure up romantic visions of 
guarded forts, sudden surprises, and daring deeds; for in 
these war times the hum drum life of Yankeedom has vanished, 
and the most prosaic feel some thrill of that excitement which 
stirs the nation's heart, and makes its capital a camp of hospit- 
als. Wandering up and down these lower halls, I often heard 
cries from above, steps hurrying to and fro, saw surgeons 
passing up, or men coming clown carrying a stretcher, where 
lay a long white figure, whose face was shrouded and whoso 
fight was done. Sometimes I stopped to watch the passers in 
the street, the moonlight shining on the spire opposite, or the 
gleam of some vessel floating, like a white-winged sea-gull, 
down the broad Potomac, whose fullest flow can never wash 
away the red stain of the land. 

The night whose events I have a fancy to record, opened 
with a little comedy, and closed with a great tragedy ; for a 
virtuous and useful life untimely ended is always tragical to 


those who see not as God sees. My headquarters were beside 
the bed of a New Jersey boy, crazed by the horrors of that 
dreadful Saturday. A slight wound in the knee brought him 
there ; but his mind had suffered more than bis body ; some 
Btring of that delicate machine was over strained, and, for 
days, he had been re-living in imagination, the scenes he could 
not forget, till his distress broke out in incoherent ravings, 
pitiful to hear. As I sat by him, endeavoring to soothe his 
poor distracted brain by the constant touch of wet hands over 
his hot forehead, he lay cheering his comrades on, hurrying 
them back, then counting them as they fell around him, often 
clutching my arm, to drag me from the vicinity of a bursting 
shell, or covering up his head to screen himself from a shower 
of shot; his face brilliant with fever; his eyes restless; his 
head never still ; every muscle strained and rigid ; while an 
incessant stream of defiant shouts, whispered warnings, and 
broken laments, poured from his lips with that forceful bewil- 
derment which makes such wanderings so hard to overhear. 

It was past eleven, and my patient was slowly wearying 
himself into fitful intervals of quietude, when, in one of these 
pauses, a curious sound arrested my attention. Looking over 
my shoulder, I saw a one-legged phantom hopping nimbly 
down the room ; and, going to meet it, recognized a certain 
Pennsylvania gentleman, whose wound-fever had taken a turn 
for the worse, and, depriving him of the few wits a drunken 
campaign tad left him, set him literally trip,ing on the light, 
fantastic toe " toward home," as he blandly informed me, 
touching the military cap which formed a striking contrast to 
the severe simplicity of the rest of his undress uniform. 
"WHien sane, the least movement produced a roar of pain or 
a volley of oaths ; but the de])arture of reason seemed to 
have wrought an agreeable change, both in the man and his 


manners ; for, balancing himself on cne leg, like a meditative 
stork, he plunged into an animated discussion of the war, the 
President, lager beer, and Enfield rifles, regardless of any 
suggestions of mine as to the propriety of returning to bed, 
lest he be court-martialed for desertion. 

Any thing more supremely ridiculous can hardly be im- 
agined than this figure, all draped in white, its one foot 
covered with a big blue sock, a dingy cap set rakingly a^kew 
on its shaven head, and placid satisfaction beaming in its 
broad red face, as it flourished a mug in one hand, an old 
boot in the other, calling them canteen and knapsack, while it 
skipped and fluttered in the most unearthly fashion. What to 
do with the creature I didn't know ; Dan was absent, and if I 
went to find him, the perambulator might festoon himself out 
of the window, set his toga on fire, or do some of his neighbors 
a mischief. The attendant of the room was sleeping like a 
near relative of the celebrated Seven, and nothing short of 
pins would rouse him ; for he had been out that day, and whis- 
key asserted its supremacy in balmy whiflfs. Still declaiming, 
in a fine flow of eloquence, the demented gentleman hopped 
on, blind and deaf to my graspings and entreaties ; and I 
was about to slam the door in his face, and run for help, 
when a second and saner phantom came to the rescue, 
in the likeness of a big Prussian, who spoke no English, 
but divined the crisis, and put an end to it, by bundling the 
lively raonoped into his bed, like a baby, with an authoritative 
command to " stay put," which received added weight from 
being delivered in an odd congh)meration of French and Ger- 
man, accompanied by warning wags of a head decorated with 
a yellow cotton night cap, rendered most imposing by a tassel 
like a bell-pull. Kather exhausted by his excursion, the mem- 
ber from Pennsylvania subsided ; and, after an irrepressible 


laugh togei'ber, my Prussian ally and myself wore returning 
to our places, when the eehe^of a sob caused us to glance along 
the beds. It came from one in the corner — such a little bed ! 
— and such a tearful little face looked up at us, as we stopped 
beside it ! The twelve years old drummer boy was not sing" 
ing now, but sobbing, with a manly effort all the while to stiflo 
the distressful sounds that would break out. 

"What is it, Billy?" I asked, as he rubbed the tears 
away, and checked himself in the middle of a great sob to 
answer plaintively : 

" I've got a chill, ma'am, but I aint cryin' for that, 'cause 
I'm used to it. I dreamed Kit was here, and when I waked 
up he wasn't, and I couldn't help it, then." 

The boy came in with the rest, and the man who was taken 
dead from the ambulance was the Kit he mourned. Well he 
mifrht : for, when the wounded were brouo;ht from Fredericks- 
burg, the child lay in one of the camps thereabout, and 
this good friend, though sorely hurt himself, would not leave 
him to the exposure and neglect of such a time and place ; 
but, wrapping him in his own blanket, carried him in his arms 
to the transport, tended him during the passage, and only 
yielded up his charge when Death met him at the door of 
the hospital which promised care and comfort for the boy. 
For ten days, Billy had burned or shivered with fever and 
ague, pining the while for Kit, and refusing to be comforted, 
becauHC he had not been able to thank him for the generous 
protection, which, perhaps, had cost the giver's life. The 
vivid dream had wrung the childish heart with a fresh pang, 
and when I tried the solace fitted for his years, the remorseful 
fear that haunted him found vent in a fresh burst of tears, as 
he looked at the wasted hands I was endeavorinor to warm : 


' Oh ! if I'd only been as thin when Kit carried me as I am 


now, maybe he wouldn't have died; but I was heavy, he was 
hurt worser than we knew, and so it killed him ; and I didn't 
see him, to say good bye." 

This thought had troubled him in secret ; and my assur- 
ances that his friend would probably have d.jd at all events, 
hardly assuaged the bitterness of his regretful grief. 

At this juncture, the delirious man began to shout ; the one- 
legged rose up in his bed, as if preparing for another dart, 
Billy bewailed himself more pi^eously than before : and if 
ever a woman was at her wit's end, that distracted female was 
Nurse Periwinkle, during the space of two or three minutes,* 
as she vibrated between the three beds, like an agitated pen- 
dulum. Like a most opportune reinforcement, Dan, the bandy, 
appeared, and devoted himself to the lively party, leaving me 
free to return to my post ; for the Prussian, with a nod and a 
smile, took the lad away to his own bed, and lulled him to 
sleep with a soothing murmur, like a mammoth humble bee. 
I liked that in Fritz, and if he ever wondered afterward at the 
dainties which sometimes found their way into his rations, or 
the extra comforts of his bed, he might have found a solution 
of the mystery in sundry persons' knowledge of the fatherly 
action of that night. 

Hardly was I settled again, when the inevitable bowl 
appeared, and its bearer delivered a message I had expected, 
yet dreaded to receive : 

" John is going, ma'am, and wants to see you, if you cau 

" The moment this boy is asleep; tell him so, and let me 
know if I am in danger of being too late." 

My, Ganymede departed, and while I quieted poor Shaw, I 
thought of John. He came in a day or two after the others ; 
and, one evening, when I entered my ** pathetic room," I 


found a lately emptied bed occupied hj a large, fair man, 
with a fine face, and the serenest eyes I ever met. One of 
the earlier comers had often spoken of a friend, who had 
remained behind, that those apparently worse wounded than 
himself might reach a shelter first. It seemed a David and 
Jonathan sort of friendship. The man fretted for his mate, 
and was never tired of praising John — his courage, sobriety, 
self-denial, and unfailing kindliness of heart; always winding 
up witk : " He's an out an' out fine feller, ma'am ; you see 
if he aint." 

I had some curiosity to behold this piece of excellence, and 
when he came, watched him for a night or two, before I made 
friends with him ; for, to tell the truth, I was a little afraid of 
the stately looking man, whose bed had to be lengthened to 
accommodate his commanding stature ; who seldom spoke, 
uttered no complaint, asked no sympathy, but tranquilly 
observed what went on about him ; and, as he lay high upon 
his pillows, no picture of dying statesman or warrior was ever 
fuller of real dignity than this Virginia blacksmith. A most 
attractive face he had, framed in brown hair and beard, comely 
featured and full of vigor, as yet unsubdued by pain ; thought- 
ful and often beautifully mild while watching the afflictions of 
others, as if entirely forgetful of his own. His mouth was 
grave and firm, with plenty of will and courage in its lines, 
but a smile could make it as sweet as any woman's ; and his 
eyes were child's eyes, looking one fairly in the face, with a 
clear, straightforward glance, which promised well for such as 
placed their faith in him. He seemed to cling to life, as if ifc 
were rich in duties and delights, and he had learned the secret 
of content. The only time I saw his composure disturbed, 
was when my surgeon brought another to examine John, who 
scrutinized their faces with an anxious look, asking of the 


elder : " Do you think I shall pull through, nr?'* " I hope 
so, my man." And, as the two passed on. John's eye still 
followed them, with an intentness which would have won a 
truer answer from them, had they seen it. A. momentary 
shadow flitted over his face ; then came the usual serenity, as 
if, in that brief eclipse, he had adcnowledged the existence of 
some hard possibility, and, asking nothing yet hoping all 
things, left the issue in God's hands, with that submission 
which is true piety. 

The next night, as I went my rounds with Dr. P., I 
happened to ask which man in the room probably suffered 
most ; and, to my great surprise, he glanced at John : 

" Every breath he draws is like a stab ; for the ball pierced 
the left lung, broke a rib, and did no end of damage here and 
there ; so the poor lad can find neither forgetfulness nor ease, 
because he must lie on his wounded back or suffocate. It 
will be a hard struggle, and a long one, for he possesses great 
vitality ; but even his temperate life can't save him ; I wish it 

" You don't mean he must die. Doctor?" 
*' Bless you, there's not the slightest hope for him ; and 
you'd better tell him so before long ; women have a way of 
doing such things comfortably, so I leave it to you. He 
won't last more than a day or two, at furthest." 

I could have sat down on the spot and cried heartily, if I 
had not learned the wisdom of bottling up one's tears for 
leisure moments. Such an end seemed very hard for such a 
man, when half a dozen worn out, worthless bodies round him, 
were gathering up the remnants of wasted lives, to linger on 
for years perhaps, burdens to others, daily reproaches to 
themselves. The army needed men like John, earnest, brave, 
and faithful; fighting for liberty and justice with both heart 


and hand, true soLliers of the Lord. I could not give him 
up so soon, or think with any patience of so excellent a nalure 
robbed of its fulQnient, and blundered into eternity by the 
ra-thness or stupidity of those at whose bands so many lives 
may be required. It was an easy thing for Dr. P. to say : 
*• Tell him he must die," but a cruelly hard thing to do, and 
by no means as " comfortuble " as he politely suggested. I 
had not the heart to do it then, and privately indulged the 
hope that some change for the better might take place, in spite 
of gloomy prophesies ; so, rendering my task unnecessary. 

A few minutes later, as I came in again, with fresh rollers, 
I saw John sitting erect, with no one to support him, while 
the surgeon dressed his back. I had never hitherto seen it 
done ; for, having simpler wounds to attend to, and knowing 
the fidelity of the attendant, I had left John to him, thinking 
it might be more agreeable and safe ; for both strength and 
experience were needed in his case. I had forgotten that the 
strong man might long for the gentle tendance of a woman's 
hands, the sympathetic magnetism of a woman's presence, as 
well as the feebler souls about him. The Doctor's words 
caused me to reproach myself with neglect, not of any real 
duty perhaps, but of those little cares and kindnesses that 
solace homesick spirits, and make the heavy hours pass easier. 
John looked lonely and forsaken just then, as he sat with bent 
head, hands folded on his knee, and no outward sign of suffering, 
till, looking nearer, I saw great tears roll down and drop 
upon the floor. It was a new sight there ; for, though I had 
seen many suffer, some swore, some groaned, most endured 
Bilently, but none wept. Yet it did not seora weak, only very 
touching, and straightway ray fear vanished, ray heart opened 
wide and took him in, as, gathering the bent head in my arms, 


as freely as if be bad been a little cbild, I said, " Let me 
help you bear it, Jobn," 

Never, on any buman countenance, bave I seen so swift 
and beautiful a look of gratitude, surprise and comfort, as tbat 
wbicb answered mo more eloquently tban tbe wbispered — 

" Tbank you, ma'am, Ibis is rigbt good! tbis is wbat I 
wanted !" 

•• Tben wby not ask for it before?" 

*' I didn't like to be a trouble ; you seemed so busy, and I 
could manao;e to firet on alone." 

" You sball not want it any more, Jobn." 

Nor did be ; for now I understood the wistful look tbat 
sometimes followed me, as I went out, after a brief pause 
beside bis bed, or merely a passing nod, while busied with 
those who seemed to need me more than he, because more 
urgent in their demands. Now I knew tbat to him, as to so 
many, I was the poor substitute for mother, wife, or sister, 
and in his eyes no stranger, but a friend who hitherto had 
seemed neglectful ; for, in his modesty, he had never gnessed 
tbe tnith. This was changed now ; and, through tbe tedious 
operation of probing, bathing, and dressing his wounds, he 
leaned against me, holding my band fast, and, if pain wrung 
further tears from him, no one saw them fall but me. When 
he was laid down again, I hovered about him, in a remorseful 
state of mind tbat would not let me rest, till I bad bathed bis 
face, brushed his bonny brown hair, set all things smooth 
about him, and laid a knot of heath and heliotrope on his 
clean pillow. While doing tbis, be watched me with the sat- 
isfied expression I so liked to see ; and when I offered the 
little nosegay, held it carefully in his great hand, smoothed a 
ruffled leaf or two, surveyed and smelt it with an air of 
genuino delight, and lay contentedly regarding the glimmer of 


tbe sunshine on the green. Although the manliest man among 
my forty, he said, " Yes, ma'am," like a little boy ; received 
suggestions for his comfort with the quick smile thatbriglitened 
his whole face ; and now and then, as I stood tidying the 
table by his bed, I felt him softly touch my gown, as if to 
assure himself that I was there. Anything more natural and 
frank I never saw, and found this brave John as bashful as 
brave, yet fuii of excellencies and fine aspirations, which, 
having no power to express themselves in words, seemed to 
have bloomed into his character and made him what he was. 

After that night, an hour of each evening that remained to 
him was devoted to his ease or pleasure. He could not talk 
much, for breath was precious, and he spoke in whispers ; but 
from occasional conversations, I gleaned scraps of private 
history which only added to the affection and respect I felt for 
him. Once he asked me to write a letter, and as I settled pen 
and paper, I said, with an irrepressible glimmer of feminine 
curiosity, *' Shall it be addressed to wife, or mother, John?" 

" Neither, ma'am ; I've got no wife, and will write to 
mother myself when I get better. Did you think I was 
married because of this ?" he asked, touching a plain ring he 
wore, and often turned thoughtfully on his finger when he lay 

" Partly that, but more from a settled sort of look you 
have ; a look which young men seldom get until they marry." 

" Ididn't know that ; but I'm not so very young, ma'am, 
thirty in May, and have been what you might call settled this 
ten years. Mother's a widow, I'm the oldest child she has, 
and it wouldn't do for me to marry until Lizzy has a home ol 
her own, and Jack's learned his trade ; for we're not rich, 
and I must be father to the children and husband to the dear 
old woman, if I can." 


" No doubt but you are both, John ; yet how came you to 
go to war, if you felt so ? Wasn't enlisting as bad as mar- 
rying V" 

" No, ma'am, not as I see it, for one is helping my neighbor, 
the other pleasing myself. I went because I couldn't help it. 
I didn't want the glory or the pay ; I wanted the right thing 
done, and people kept saying the men who were in earnest 
ought to fight. I was in earnest, the Lord knows I but I held 
off as long as I could, not knowing which was my duty. 
Mother saw the case, gave me her ring to keep me steady, and 
said ' Go :' so I went." 

A short story and a simple one, but the man and the mother 
were portrayed better than pages of fine writing could have 
done it. 

" Do you ever regret that you came, when you lie here 
suffering so much ?" 

" Never, ma'am ; I haven't helped a great deal, but I've 
shown I was willing to give my life, and perhaps I've got to ; 
but I don't blame anybody, and if it was to do over again, I'd 
do it, I'm a little sorry I wasn't wounded in front ; it looks 
cowardly to be hit in the back, but I obeyed orders, and it 
don't matter in the end, I know." 

Poor John ! it did not matter now, except that a shot in 
front might have spared the long agony in store for him. lie 
seemed to read the thought that troubled me, as he spoke so 
hopefully when there was no hope, for he suddenly added : 

" This is my first battle; do they think it's going to be my 

" I'm afraid they do, John." 

It was the hardest question I had ever been called upon to 
answer ; doubly hard with those clear eyes fixed on mine, 
forcing a truthful answer by their own truth He seemed a 


little startled at first, pondered over the fateful fact a raoment, 
then sliook bis head, with a glance at the broad cbest and 
muscular limbs stretched out before him : 

•' I'm not afraid, but it's diflficult to believe all at once. I'm 
so strong it don't seem possible for such a little wound to kill 

Meriy Mercutio's dying words glanced through my memory 
as he spoke : " 'Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a 
church door, but 'tis enough." And John would have said 
the same could he have seen the ominous black holes between 
his shoulders ; he never had, but, seeing the ghastly sights 
about him, could not believe his own wound more fatal than 
these, for all the suffering it caused him. 

"Shall I write to your mother, now 'r" I asked, thinking 
that these sudden tidings might change all plans and puposes. 
But they did not ; for the man received the order of the Divine 
Commander to march with the same unquestioning obedience 
with which the soldier had received that of the human one ; 
doubtless remembering that the first led him to life, and the 
last to death. 

" Xo, ma'am; to Jack just the same; he'll break it to 
her best, and I'll add a line to her myself when you get 

So I wrote the letter which be dictated, finding it better 
than any I had sent ; for, though here and there a little ungram- 
matical or inelegant, each sentence came to me briefly worded, 
but most expressive; full of excellent counsel to the boy, 
tenderly bequeathing " mother and Lizzie " to his care, and 
bidding him good bye in words the sadder for their simplicity. 
He added a few lines, with steady hand, and, as I sealed it, 
said, with a patient sort of sigh, " I hope the answer will 
come in time for me to see it ;" then, turning away his face, 


laid the flowers against his lips, as if to hide some quiver of 
emotion at the thought of such a sudden sundering of all the 
dear home tics. 

These things had happened two days before ; now John 
was dying, and the letter had not come. I had been sum- 
moned to many death beds in my life, but to none that made 
my heart ache as it did then, since my mother called me to 
watch the departure of a spirit akin to this in its gentleness 
and patient strength. As I went in, John stretched out both 
hands : 

" I knew you'd come ! I guess I'm moving on, ma'am." 

He was ; and so rapidly that, even while he spoke, over his 
face I saw the grey veil falling human hand can lift. 
I sat down by him, wiped the drops from his forehead, stirred 
the air about him with the slow wave of a fan, and waited to 
help him die. He stood in sore need of help — and I could 
do so little ; for, as the doctor had foretold, the strong body 
rebelled against death, and fought every inch of the way, 
forcing him to draw each breath with a spasm, and clench his 
hands with an imploring look, as if he a.sked, " How long 
must I endure this, and be still !" For hours he suffered 
durably, without a moment's respite, or a moment's murmuring ; 
his limbs grew cold, his face damp, his lips white, and, again 
and again, he tore the covering off his breast, as if the lightest 
weight added to his agony ; yet through it all, his eyes never 
lost their perfect serenity, and the man's soul seemed to sit 
therein, undaunted by the ills that vexed his flesh. 

One by one, the men woke, and round the room appeared 
a circle of pale faces and watchful eyes, full of awe and pity ; 
for, though a stranger, John was beloved by all. Each man 
there had wondered at his patience, respected his piety, admired 
his fortitude, and now lamented his hard death ; for the 


influence of an upright nature had made itself deeply felt, 
even in one little week. Presently, the Jonathan who so 
loved this comely David, came creeping from his bed for a 
last look and word. The kind soul was full of trouble, as the 
choke in his voice, the grasp of his hand, betrayed ; but there 
were no tears, and the farewell of the friends was the more 
touching for its brevity. 

*' Old boy, how are you?" faltered the one. 

•* Most through, thank heaven !" whispered the other. 

*' Can I say or do anything for you anywheres?" 

*• Take my things home, and tell them that I did my best.'* 

"I will! I will!" 

"Good bye, Ned." 
- •' Good bye, John, good bye 1" 

They kissed each other, tenderly as women, and so parted, 
for poor Ned could not stay to see his comrade die. For a 
little while, there was no sound in the room but the drip of 
water, from a stump or two, and John's distressful gasps, as 
he slowly breathed his life away. I thought him nearly gone, 
and had just laid down the fan, believing its help to be no 
longer needed, when suddenly he rose up in his bed, and cried 
out with a bitter cry that broke the silence, sharply startling 
every one with its agonized appeal : 

" For God's sake, give me air !" 

It was the only cry pain or death had wrung from him, the 
only boon he had asked ; and none of us could grant it, for 
all the airs that blew were useless now. Dan flung up the 
window. The first red streak of dawn was warming the grey 
east, a herald of the coming sun ; John saw it, and with the 
love of light which lingers in us to the end, seemed to read in 
it a sign of hope of help, for, over his whole face there broke 
that mysterious expression, brighter than any smile, which 


ofren comes to eyes that look their last. He laid himself 
gently down ; and, stretching out his strong right arm, as if to 
grasp and bring the blessed air to his lips in a fuller flow, 
lapsed into a merciful unconsciousness, which assured us that 
for him suffering was forever past. He died then ; for, though 
the heavy breaths still tore their way up for a little longer, 
they were but the waves of an ebbing tide that beat unfelt 
against the wreck, which an immortal voyager had deserted 
with a smile. He never spoke again, but to the end held my 
hand close, so close that when he was asleep at last, I could 
not draw it away. Dan helped me, warning me as he did so 
that it was unsafe for dead and living flesh to lie so long 
together; but though my hand was strangely cold and stiff, 
and four white marks remained across its back, even when 
warmth and color had returned elsewhere, I could not but be 
glad that, through its touch, the presence of human sympathy, 
perhaps, had lightened that hard hour. 

When they had made him ready for the grave, John lay in 
state for half an hour, a thing which seldom happened in that 
busy place ; but a universal sentiment of reverence and 
affection seemed to fill the hearts of all who had known or 
heard of him ; and when the rumor of his death went through 
the house, always astir, many came to see him, and I felt a 
tender sort of pride in my lost patient ; for he looked a most 
heroic figure, lying there stately and still as the statue of some 
young knight asleep upon his tomb. The lovely expression 
which so often beautifies dead faces, soon replaced the marks 
of pain, and I longed for those who loved him best to see him 
when half an hour's acquaintance with Death had made them 
friends. As we stood looking at him, the ward master handed 
me a letter, saying it had been forgotten the night before. It 
was John's letter, come just an hour too late lo gladden the 


eyes that bad longed and looked for it so eagerly ! but be bad 
it ; for, after I bad cut some brown locks for bis mother, and 
taken oflf the ring to send her, telling bow well the talisman 
bad done its work, I kissed this good son for her sake, and 
laid the letter in his hand, still folded as when I drew my 
own away, feeling that its place was there, and making myself 
happy with the thouglit, that, even in bis solitary grave in the 
" Government Lot," he would not be without some token of 
the love which makes life beautiful and outlives death. Then 
I left him, glad to have known so genuine a man, and carrying 
with me an enduring memory of the brave Virginia blacksmith, 
as he lay serenely waiting for the dawn of that long day 
which knows no night. 




" My dear girl, we shall have you sick in your bed, unless 
you keep yourself warm and quiet for a few days. "Widow 
"Wadman can take care of the ward alone, now the men arc so 
comfortable, and have her vacation when you are about again. 
Now do be prudent in time, and don't let me have to add a 
Periwinkle to my bouquet of patients." 

This advice was delivered, in a paternal manner, by the 
youngest surgeon in the hospital, a kind-hearted little gentle- 
man, who seemed to consider me a frail young blossom, that 
needed much cherishing, instead of a stout spinster, who 
had been knocking about the world for thirty years. At the 
time I write of, he discovered me sitting on the stairs, with a 
fine cloud of unwholesome steam rising from the washroom ; 
a party of January breezes disporting themselves in the halls ; 
and perfumes, by no means from " Araby the blest,*' keeping 
them company ; while I enjoyed a fit of couglnng, which 
caused my head to spin in a way that made the application of 
a cool banister both necessaiy and agreeable, as I waited for 


the frolicsome wind to restore the breath I'd lost ; cheering 
myself, meantime, with a secret conviction that pneumonia 
was waiting for me round the corner. This piece of advice 
had been offered by several persons for a week, and refused 
by me with the obstinacy with which my sex is so richly gifted. 
But the last few hours had developed several surprising internal 
and external phenomena, which impressed upon me the fact 
that if I didn't make a masterly retreat very soon, I should 
tumble down somewhere, and have to be borne ignominiously 
from the field. My head felt like a cannon ball ; my feet had 
a tendency to cleave to the floor ; the walls at times undulated 
in a most disagreeable manner; people looked unnaturally 
big ; and the very bottles on the mantle piece appeared to 
dance derisively before my eyes. Taking these things into 
consideration, while blinking stupidly at Dr. Z., I resolved to 
retire gracefully, if I must ; so, with a valedictory to my boys, 
a private lecture to Mrs. Wadman, and a fervent wish that I 
could take off my body and work in my soul, I mournfully 
ascended to my apartment, and Nurse P. was reported off 

For the benefit of any ardent damsel whose patriotic fancy 
may have surrounded hospital life with a halo of charms, I 
will briefly describe the bower to which I retired, in a somewhat 
ruinous condition. It was well ventilated, for five panes of 
glass had suffered compound fractures, which all the surgeons 
and nurses had failed to heal ; the two windows were draped 
with sheets, the church hospital opposite being a brick and 
mortar Argus, and the female mind cherishing a prejudice in 
favor of retiracy during the night-capped periods of existence. 
A bare floor supported two narrow iron beds, spread with thin 
mattrasses like plasters, furnished with pillows in the last 
stages of consumption. In a fire place, guiltless of shovel, 



tongs, andirons, or grate, burned a log. inch l)y inch, being too 
long to go on all at once; so, while the fire blazed away at one 
end, I did the same at the other, as I tripped over it a dozen 
times a day, and flew up to poke it a dozen times at night. A 
mirror (let us be elegant ! ) of the dimensions of a muffin, 
and about as reflective, hung over a tin basin, blue pitcher, 
and a brace of yellow mugs. Two invalid tables, ditto chairs, 
wandered here and there, and the closet contained a varied 
collection of bonnets, bottles, bags, boots, bread and butter, 
boxes and bugs. The closet was a regular Blue Beard 
cupboard to me ; I always opened it with fear and trembling, 
owing to rats, and shut it in anguish of spirit ; for time and 
space were not to be had, and chaos leigned along with the 
rats. Our chimney-piece was decorated with a flat-iron, a 
Bible, a candle minus stick, a lavender bottlq, a new tin pan, 
so brilliant that it served nicely for a pier-nla?s, and such of 
the portly black bugs as preferred a warmer climate than the 
rubbish hole aflforded. Two arks, commonly called trunks, 
lurked behind the door, containing the worldly goods of the 
twain who laughed and cried, slept and scrambled, in this 
refuge ; while from the white-washed walls above either bed, 
looked down the pictured faces of those whose memory could 
make for us — 

" One little room an everywnere." 

For a day or two I managed to appear at meals ; for the 
human grub must eat till the butterfly is ready to break loose, 
and no one had time to come up two flights while it was 
possible for me to come down. Far be it from me to add 
another affliction or reproach to that enduring man, the stew- 
ard ; for, compared with his predecessor, he was a horn of 
plenty ; but — I put it to any candid mind — Is not the 


following bill of fare susceptible of improvement, without 
plunging the nation madly into debt? Tlie three meals were 
*' pretty much of a muchness," and consisted of beef, evidently 
put down for ihe men of '76 ; pork, just in from the street ; 
army bread, composed of saw-dust and saleratus ; butter, salt 
as if churned by Lot's wife ; stewed blackbeiTies, so much 
like preserved cockroaches, that only those devoid of imagina- 
tion could partake thereof with relish ; coffee, mild and 
muddy; tea, three dried huckleberry leaves to a c[uart of 
water — flavored with lime — also animated and unconscious of 
any approach to clearness. Variety being the spice of life, a 
small pinch of the article would have been appreciated by the 
hungry, hard-working sisterhood, one of whom, though accus- 
tomed to plain fare, soon found herself reduced to bread and 
water ; having an inborn repugnance to the fat of the land, 
and the salt of the earth. 

Another peculiarity of these hospital meals was the rapidity 
with which the edibles vanished, and the impossibility of getting 
a drop or crumb after the usual time. At the first ring of the 
bell, a general slc;mpede took place ; some twenty hungry 
souls rushed to the dining-room, swept over the table like a 
swarm of locusts, and left no fnigment for any tardy creature 
who arrived fifteen minutes late. Thinking it of more import- 
ance that the patients should be well and comfortably fed, I 
took my time about my own meals for the first day or two 
after I came, but was speedily enlightened by Isaac, the black 
waiter, who bore with me a few times, and then informed me, 
looking as stern as fate : 

" I say, mam, ef you comes so late you can't have no 
vittles, — 'cause I'm 'bleeged fer ter git things ready fer de 
doctors 'mazin' spry arter you nusses and folks is done. De 
gen'lemen don't kere fer ter wait, no more does I; so you 


jes' please ter come at de time, and dere won't be no frcttln' 

It was a new sensation to stand looking at a full table, 
painfully conscious of one of the vacuums which Nature 
abhors, and receive orders to right about face, without 
partaking of the nourishment which your inner woman clam, 
orously demanded. The doctors always fared better than we ; 
and for a moment a desperate impulse prompted me to give 
them a hint, by walking off with the mutton, or confiscating 
the pie. But Ike's eye was on me, and, to my shame be it 
spoken, I walked meekly away ; went dinnerless that day, 
and that evening went to market, laying in a small stock of 
crackers, cheese and apples, that my boys might not be 
neglected, nor myself obliged to bolt solid and liquid dyspep- 
sias, or starve. This plan would have succeeded admirably 
had not the evil star under which I was born, been in the 
ascendant during that month, and cast its malign influences 
even into my " 'umble " larder ; for the rats had their dessert 
off my cheese, the bugs set up housekeeping in ray cracker- 
bag, and the apples like all worldly riches, took to themselves 
wings and flew away ; whither no man could tell, though 
certain black imps might have thrown light upon the matter, 
had not the plaintiff in the case been loth to add another to 
the many trials of long-suffering Africa. After this failure I 
resigned myself to fate, and, remembering that bread was called 
the staff of life, leaned pretty exclusively upon it ; but it 
proved a broken reed, and I came to the ground after a few 
weeks of prison fare, varied by an occasional potato or surrep- 
titious sip ©f milk. 

Yery soon after leaving the care of my ward, I discovered 
that I had no appetite, and cut the bread and butter interests 
almost entirely, trying the exercise and sun cure instead. 


Flattering myself that I had plenty of time, and could see a 11 
that was to be seen, so far as a lone lorn female could venture 
in a city, one-half of whose male population seemed to be 
taking the other half to tte guard-house, — every morning I 
took a brisk run in one direction or another ; for the January 
days were as mild as Spring. A rollicking north wind and 
occasional snow stoim would have been more to my taste, for 
the one would have braced and refreshed tired body and soul, 
the other have purified the air, and spread a clean coverlid 
over the bed, wherein the capital of these United States 
appeared to be dozing pretty soundly just then. 

One of these trij:s was to the Armory Hospital, the neatness, 
comfort, and convenience of which makes it an honor to its 
presiding genius, and arouses all the covetous propensities of 
such nurses as came from other hospitals to visit it. 

The long, clean, warm, and airy wards, built l)arrack-fashion, 
with the nurse's room at the end, were fully appreciated by 
Nurse Periwinkle, whose ward and private bower were cold, 
dirty, inconvenient, up stairs and down stairs, and in every- 
body's chamber. At the Armory, in ward K, I found a 
cheery, bright-eyed, white-aproned little lady, reading at her 
post near the stove ; matting under her feet ; a draft of fresh 
air flowing in above her head ; a table full of trays, glasses, 
and such matters, on one side, a large, well-stocked medicine 
chest on the other; and all her duty seemed to be going about 
now and then to give doses, issue orders, which well- trained 
attendants executed, and pet, advise, or comfort Tom, Lick, 
or Harry, as she found best. As I watched the proceedings, 
I recalled my own tribulations, and contrasted the two hospitals 
in a way that would have caused my summary dismissal, could 
it have been reported at headquarters. Here, order, method, 
common sense and liberality seemed to rule in a style 


that did one's heart good to see ; at the Hurly burly Hotel, 
disorder, discomfort, bad nianagemeut, and no visible bead, 
reduced things to a condition which I despair of dcicribing. 
The circumlocution fashion prevailed, forms and fusses tor 
mented our souls, and unnecessary strictness in one place was 
counterbalanced by unpardonable laxity in another. Here is 
a sample : I am dressing Sam Dammer's shoulder ; and, having 
cleansed the wound, look about for some strips of adhesive 
plaster to hold on the little square of wet linen which is to 
cover the gunshot wound ; the case is not in the tray; Frank, 
the sleepy, half-sick attendant, knows nothing of it; we 
rummage high and low; Sam is tired, and fumes; Frank 
dawdles and yawns ; the men advise and laugh at the flurry; 
I feel like a boiling tea-kettle, with the lid ready to fly oflf and 
damage somebody. 

•• Go and borrow sbme from the next ward, and spend the 
rest of the day in finding ours," I finally command. A pause ; 
then Frank scuffles back with the message : " Miss Peppercorn 
ain't got none, ar\d says you ain't no business to lose your own 
duds and go boirowin' other folkses." I say nothing, for fear 
of saying too much, but fly to the surgery. Mr. Toddy pestle 
informs me that I can't have anything without an order from 
the surgeon of my ward. Great heavens ! where is he ? and 
away I rush, up and down, here and there, till at last I find 
him, in a state of bliss over a complicated amputation, in the 
fourth story. I make my demand; he answers: "In five 
minutes," and works away, with his head upside down, as he 
ties an artery, saws a bone, or does a little needle-work, with 
a visible relish and very sanguinai-y pair of hands. The fivg 
minutes grow to fifteen, and Frank appears, with the remark 
that, " Dammer wants to know what in thunder you are 
keeping him there with his finger on a wet rag for?" Dr. P. 


tenrs himself away long enough to scribble the order, with 
which I j)lango downward to the surgery again, find the door 
locked, and, while hammering away on it, am told that two 
friends arc waiting to see me in the hall. The matron being 
away, her parlor is locked, and there is no where to see my 
guests but in my own room, and no time to enjoy them till 
the plaster is found. I .settle this matter, and circulate through 
the house to find Toddypestle, who has no right to leave the 
surgery till night. He is discovered in the dead house, smoking 
a cigar, and very much the worse for his researches among the 
spirituous preparations that fill the surgery shelves. He is 
inclined to be gallant, and puts the finishing blow to the fire 
of my wrath ; for the tea-kettle lid flies oflf, and driving him 
before me to his post, I fling down the order, take what I 
choose ; and, leaving the absurd incapable kissing his hand to 
me, depart, feeling as Grandma Riglesty is reported to have 
done, when she vainly sought for chips, in Bimleck Jackwood's 
" shiflcss paster." 

I find Dammer a well acted charade of hks own name, and,- 
just as I get him done, struggling the while with a burning 
desire to clap an adhesive strip across his mouth, full of 
heaven-defying oaths, Fiank takes up his boot to put it on, 
and exclaims : 

*' I'm blest ef hero ain't that case now ! I recollect seeing 
it fall in this mornin', but forgot all about it, till my heel 
went smash inter it. Here, ma'am, ketch hold on it, and give 
the boys a sheet on't all round, 'gainst it tumbles inter t'other 
boot next time yer want it." 

If a look could annihilate, Francis Saucebox would have 
ce'ased to exist ; but it couldn't ; therefore, he yet lives, to 
aggravate some unhappy woman's soul, and wax fat in some 
equally congenial situation. 


Now, while I'm freeing my mind, I should like to enter my 
protest against emplo3'ing convalescents as attendants, instead 
of strong, properly trained, and cheerful men. How it may 
be in other places I cannot say ; but here it was a source of 
constant trouble and confusion, these feeble, ignorant men 
trying to sweep, scrub, lift, and wait upon their sicker comrades. 
One, with a diseased heart, was expected to run up and down 
stairs, carry heavy trays, and move helpless men ; he tried it, 
and grew rapidly worse than when he first came : and, when 
he was ordered out to march away to the convalescent hospital, 
fell, in a sort of fit, before he turned the corner, and was 
brought back to die. Another, hurt by a fall from his horse, 
endeavored to do his duty, but failed entirely, and the wrath 
of the ward master fell upon the nurse, who must either scrub 
the rooms herself, or take the lecture ; for the boy looked stout 
and well, and the master never happened to see him turn 
white with pain, or hear him groan in his sleep when an in vol 
untary motion strained his poor back. Constant complaints 
were being made of incompetent attendants, and some dozen 
women did double duty, and then were blamed for breakinfT 
down. If any hospital director fancies this a good and 
economical arrangement, allow one used up nurse to tell him 
it isn't, and beg him to spare the sisterhood, who sometimes, 
in their sympathy, forget that they are mortal, and run the 
risk of being made immortal, sooner than is agreeable to their 
partial friends. 

Another of my few rambles took me to the Senate Chamber, 
hoping to hear and see if this large machine was run any 
better than some small ones I knew of. I was too late, and 
found the Speaker's chair occupied by a colored gentleman of 
ten ; while two others were on their legs, having a hot 
debate on the cornball question, as they gathered the waste 


paper strewn about the floor into bags ; and several white 
members played leap-frog over the desks, a much wholcsomer 
relaxation than some of the older Senators indulge in, I fancy. 
Finding the coast clear, I likewis* gambolled up and down, 
from gallery to gallery ; sat in Sumner's chair, and cudgelled 
an imaginary Brooks within an inch of his life ; examined 
Wilson's books in the coolest possible manner ; warmed my 
feet at one of the national registers ; read people's names on 
scattered envelopes, and pocketed a castaway autograph or 
two ; watched the somewhat unparliamentary proceedings 
going on about me, and wondered who in the world all the 
sedate gentlemen were, who kept popping out of odd doors 
here and there, like respectable Jacks-in-the-box. Then I 
wandered over the palatial residence of Mrs. Columbia, 
and examined its many beauties, though I can't say I thought 
her a tidy housekeeper, and didn't admire her taste in pictures , 
for the eye of this humble individual soon wearied of expiring 
patriots, who all appeared to be quitting their earthly taberna- 
cles in convulsions, ruffled shirts, and a whirl of torn banners, 
bomb shells, and buff and blue arms and legs. 

The statuary also was massive and concrete, but rather 
wearying to examine; for the colossal ladies and gentle- 
men carried no cai-ds of introduction in face or figure; 
so whether the ipeditative party in a kilt, with well-de- 
veloped legs, shoes like army slippers, and a ponderous 
nose, was Columbus, Cato, or Cockelorum Tibby the tra- 
gedian, was more than I could tell. Several robust ladies 
attracted me; but which was America and which Poca- 
hontas was a mystery; for all affected much looseness 
of costume, dishevelment of hair, swords, arrows, lances, 
scales, and other ornaments quite passe with damsels of 
our day, whose effigies should go down to posterity ai-med 


with fans, crochet neecllcs, rifling whips, and parasols, with 
here and there one holding pen or pencil, rolling-pio or broom. 
The statue of Liberty I recognized at once, for it had no 
pedestal as yet, but stood flat in the mud, with Young America 
most symbcUically making dirt pies, and chip forts, in its 
shadow. But high above the squabbling little throng and 
their petty plans, the sun shone full on Liberty's broad 
forehead, and, in her hand, some summer bird had built its 
nest.' I accepted the good omen then, and, on the first of 
January, the EmancipatioQ Act gave the statue a nobler and 
more enduring pedestal than any marble or granite ever carved 
and quarried by human hands. 

One trip to Georgetown Heights, where cedars sighed over- 
head, dead leaves rustled underfoot, pleasant paths k-d up and 
down, and a brook wound like a silver snake by the blackened 
ruins of some French 3Iinister's house, through the poor 
gardens of the black washerwomen who congregated there, 
and, passing the cemetery with a murmurous lullaby, rolled 
away to pay its little tribute to the river. This breezy run 
was the last I took ; for, on the morrow, came rain and wind : 
and confinement soon proved a powertul reinforcement to the 
enemy, who was quietly preparing to spring a mine, and blow 
me five hundred miles from the position I had taken in what I 
called my Chickahominy Swamp. 

Shut up in my room, with no voice, spirits, or books, that 
week was not a holiday, by any means. Finding meals a 
humbug,! stopped away altogether, trusting that if this sparrow 
was of any worth, the Lord would not let it fall to the ground. 
Like a flock of friendly ravens, my sister nurses fed me, not 
only with food for the body, but kind words for the mind ; 
and soon, from being half starved, I found myself so beteaed 
and betoasted, petted and served, that I was nearly killed 


\vith kindness, in spite of cough, headache, a painful conscious- 
ness of my pleura, and a realizing sense of bones in the human 
frame. From the pleasant bouse on the hill, the home in the 
heart of Washington, and the Willard caravansary, came 
friends new and old, with bottles, baskets, carriages and invita- 
tions for the invalid ; and daily our Florence Nightingale 
climbed the steep stairs, stealing a moment from her busy life, 
to watch over the stranger, of whom she was as thoughtfully 
tender as any mother. Long may she wave I Whatever others 
may think or say, Nurse Periwinkle- is forever grateful ; and 
among her relics of that Washington defeat, none is more 
valued than the little book which appeared on her pillow, one 
dreary day; for the D D. written in it means to her far more 
than Doctor of Divinity. 

Being forbidden to meddle with fleshly arms and legs, I 
solaced myself by mending cotton ones, and, as I sat sewing 
at my window, watched the moving panorama that passed 
below ; amusing myself with taking notes of the most striking 
figures in it. Long trains of army wagons kept up a perpetual 
rumble from morning till night ; ambulances rattled to and fio 
with busy surgeons, nurses taking an airing, or convalescents 
going in parties to be fitted to artificial limbs. Strings of sorry 
looking horses passed, saying as plainly as dumb creatures 
could, "Why, in a city full of them, is there no ^ors^pital 
for us ":" Often a cart came by, with several rough coffins in 
it, and no mourners following ; barouches, with invalid officers, 
rolled round the corner, and carriage loads of pretty children, 
with black coachmen, footmen, arid maids. The women who 
took their walks abroad, were so extinguished in three story 
bonnets, with overhanging balconies of flowers, that their 
charms were obscured ; and all I can say of them is, that thoy 
dressed in the worst possible taste, and walked like ducks. 


The men did the picturesque, and did it so wtll that Wash- 
ino-ton looked like a mammoth masquerade. Spanish hats, 
Bcarlet lined rid!ng cloaks, swords and sashes, high boots and 
bright spurs, beards and mustaches, which made plain faces 
comely, and comely faces heroic ; these vanities of the flesh 
transformed our butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers into 
g;illant riders of gaily caparisoned horses, much handsomer 
than themselves ; and dozens of such figures were constantly 
prancing by, with private prickings of spurs, for the benefit 
of the jierambulating flower-bed. Some of these gentlemen 
affected painfully tight uniforms, ard little caps, kept on by 
some new law of gravitation, as they covered only the bridge 
of the nose, yet never fell off; the men looked like stuffed 
fowls, and rode as if the safety of the nation depended on 
their speed alone. The fattest, greyest officers dressed most, 
and ambled statelily along, with orderlies behind, trying to 
look as if they didn't know the stout party in front, and doing 
much caracoling on their own account. 

The mules were my especial delight ; and an hour's study 
of a constant succession of them introduced me to many of 
their characteristics ; for six of these odd little beasts drew 
each army wagon, and went hopping like frogs through the 
stream of mud that gently rolled along the street. The 
coquettish mule had small feet, a nicely trimmed tassel of a 
tail, perked up ears, and seemed much given to little tosses of 
the head, affected skips and prances ; and, if he wore the 
bells, or were bedizzened with a bit of finery, put on as many 
airs as any belle. The moral mule was a stout, hard-working 
creature, always tugging with all his might; often pulling 
away after the rest had stopped, laboring under the conscien- 
tious delusion that food for the entire army depended upon his 
private exertions. I respected this style of mule ; and, had 


I possessed a juicy eatbage, would have pressed it upon him, 
with thanks for his excellent example. The historical mule 
was a melo-dramatic quadruped, prone to startling humanity 
by erratic leaps, and wild plunges, much shaking of his 
stubborn head, and lashing out of his vicious heels ; now and 
then falling Hat, and apparently dying a la Forrest : a gasp — 
a squirm — a flop, and so on, till the street was well blocked 
up, the drivers all swearing like demons in bad hats, and the 
chief actor's circulation decidedly quickened by every variety 
of kick, cuff, jerk and haul. When the last breath seemed to 
have left his body, and "Doctors were in vain," a sudden 
resurrection took place ; and if ever a mule laughed with 
scornful triumph, that was the beast, as he leisurely rose, gave 
a comfortable shake ; and, calmly regarding the excited crowd 
seeemed to say — " A hit ! a decided hit! for the stupidest 
of aninids has bamboozled a dozen men. Now, then ! what 
are you stopping the way for?" The pathetic mule was, 
perhaps, the most interesting of all ; for, though he always 
seemed to be the smallest, thinnest, weakest of the six, the 
postillion, with big boots, long-tailed coat, and heavy whip, 
was sure to bestride this one, who struggled feebly along, head 
down, coat muddy and rough, eye spiritless and sid, his very 
tail a mortified stump, and the whole beast a picture of meek 
misery, fit to touch a heart of stone. The jovial mule was a 
roly poly, happy-go-lucky little piece of horse-flesh, taking 
everything easily, from cudgeling to caressing ; strolling along 
with a roguish twinkle of the eye, and, if the thing were 
possible, would have had his hands in his pockets, and whistled 
as he went. If there ever chanced to be an apple core, a 
stray turnip, or wisp of hay, in the gutter, this Mark Tapley 
was sure to find it, and none of his mates seemed to begrudge 
him his bite. I suspected this fellow was the peacemaker, 


confiflant and friend of all the others, for he had a sort of 
" Cheer-up, -old-boy,-ril-pull-you-through " look, which was 
exceedingly engaging. 

Pigs also possessed attractions for me, never having had 
an opportunity of observing their graces of mind and manner, 
till I came to Washington, whose porcine citizens appeared to 
enjoy a larger liberty than many of its human ones. Stout, 
sedate looking pigs, hurried by each morning to their places 
of business, with a preoccupied air, and sonorous greeting to 
their friends. Genteel pigs, with an extra curl to their tails, 
promenaded in pairs, lunching here and there, like gentlemen 
of leisure. Rowdy pigs pushed the passers by off the side 
walk; tipsy pigs hiccoughed their version of "We wont go 
home till morning," from the gutter ; and delicate young pigs 
tripped daintily through the mud, as if they plumed them- 
selves upon their ankles, and kept themselves particularly 
neat in point of stockings. 3Iaternal pigs, with their inter- 
esting families, strolled by in the sun ;. and often the pink, 
baby-like sr^ aealers lay down for a nap, with a trust in Provi- 
dence worthy of human imitation. 

But more interesting than officers, ladies, mules, or pigs, 
were my colored brothers and sisters, because so unlike the 
respectable members of society I'd known in moral Boston. 

Here was the genuine article — no, not the genuine article 
at all, we must go to Africa for that — but the sort of creatures 
generations of slavery have made them : obsequious, trickish, 
lazy and ignorant, yet kind-hearted, merry-tempered, quick to 
feel and accept the least token of the brotherly love which is 
slowly teaching the white hand to grasp the black, in this 
great struggle for the liberty of both the races. 

Having been warned not to be too rampant on the subject 
of slavery, as secei^h principles flourished even under the 


shadow of Father Abraham, I had endeavored to walk dis- 
creetly, and curb my unruly member; looking about rae 
with all my eyes the, while, and saving up the result of my 
observations for future use. I had not been there a week 
before the neglected, devil-may care expression in many of 
the faces about me, seemed an urgent appeal to leave nursing 
white bodies, and take some care for these black souls. Much 
as the lazy boys and saucy girts tormented me, I liked them, 
and found that any show of interest or friendliness brought 
out the better traits which live in the most degraded and 
forsaken of us all. I liked their cheerfulness, for the dreariest 
old hag, who scrubbed all day in that pestilential steam, 
gossipped and grinned all the way out, when night set her free 
from drudgery. The girls romped with their dusky sweet- 
hearts, or tossed their babies, with the tender pride that makes 
mother-love a beautifier to the homeliest face. The men and 
boys sang and whistled all day long ; and often, as I held my 
watch, the silence of the night was sweetly broken by some 
chorus from the street, full of real melody, whether the song 
was of heaven, or of hoe-cakes ; and, as I listened, I felt that 
we never should doubt nor despair concerning a race which, 
through such griefs and wrongs, still clings to this good gift, 
and seems to solace with it the patient hearts that wait and 
watch and hope until the end. 

I expected to have to defend myself from accusations of a 
prejudice against color ; but was surprised to find things just 
the other way, and daily shocked some neighbor by treating 
the blacks as I did the whites. The men would swear at tho 
** darkies," would put two gs into negro, and scoff at the idea 
of any good coming from such trash. The nurses were willing 
to be served by the colored people, but seldom thanked them, 
never praised, and scarcely recognized them in the street ; 


whereat the blood of two generations of abolitionists waxed 
hot in my veins, and, at the first opportunity, proclaimed itself, 
and asserted the right of free speech as doggedly as the irre- 
pressible Folsom herself. 

Happening to catch up a funny little black baby, who was 
toddling about the nurses' kitchen, one day, when I went 
down to make a mess for some of my men, a Virginia woman 
standing by elevated her most prominent feature, with a sniff 
of disapprobation, exclaiming : 

•' Gracious, Miss P. ! how can you? I've been here six 
months, and never so much as touched the little toad with a 

*' More shame for you, ma'am," responded Miss P. ; and, 
with the natural perversity of a Yankee, followed up the blow 
by kissing " the toad," with ardor. His face was providen, 
tially as clean and shiny as if his mamma had just polished it 
up with a corner of her apron and a drop from the tea-kettle 
spout, like old Aunt Chloe. Tliis rash act, and the anti- 
slavery lecture that followed, while one hand stirred gruel for 
sick America, and the other hugged baby Africa, did not 
produce the cheering result which I fondly expected ; for my 
comrade henceforth regarded me as a dangerous fanatic, and 
my protege nearly came to his death by insisting on swarming 
up stairs to my room, on all occasions, and being walked on 
like a little black spider. 

I waited for New Year's day with more eagerness than I 
had ever known before ; and, though it brought me no gift, I 
felt rich in the act of justice so tardily performed toward some 
of those about me. As the bells rung midnight, I electrified 
my room-mate by dancing out of bed, throwing up the 
window, and flapping my handkerchief, with a feeble cheer, 
in answer to the shout of a group of colored man in the street 

inkl 3tirro(l 

" Ono hrinU fltirrod gruel for sick America, and the other hufrged baby 
Africa." — Pack 70. 


below. All night they tooted and tramped, fired crackers, 
sung " Glory, Hallelujah," and took comfort, poor souls ! in 
their own way. The sky was clear, the n;ioon shone benignly, 
a mild wind blew across the river, and all good omens seemed 
to usher in the dawn of the day whose noontide cannot now 
bo long in coming. If the colored people had taken hands 
and danced around the White House, with a few cheers for 
the much abused gentleman who has immortalized himself by 
one just act, no President could have had a finer levee, or one 
to be prouder of. 

While these sights and sounds were going on without, 
curious scenes were passing within, and I was learning that 
one of the best methods of fitting oneself to be a nurse in a 
hospital, is to be a patient there. Forthen only can one wholly 
realize what the men suflfer and sigh for ; how acts of kindness 
touch and win; how much or little we are to those about us; 
and for the first time really see that in coaiing there we have 
taken our lives in our hands, and may have to pay dearly for 
a brief experience. Every one was very kind ; the attendants 
of my ward often came up to report progress, to fill niy wood- 
box, or bring messages and presents from my boys. The 
nurses took many steps with those tired feet of theiis, and 
several came each evening, to chat over my fire ana make 
things cosy for the night. The doctors paid daily visits, 
tapped at my lungs to see if pneumonia was within, left doses 
without names, and went away, leaving me as io-norant. and 
much more uncomfortable than when they came. Hours 
began to get confused ; people looked odd ; queer faces haunted 
the room, and the nights were one long fight with weariness 
and pain. Letters from home grew anxious ; the doctors 
lifted their eyebrows, and nodded ominously ; friends said 
" Don't stay,'' and an internal rebellion seconded the advice : 


but the three months were not out, and the idea of giving 
up so soon was proclaiming a defeat before I was fairly routed ; 
60 to all "■ Don't sta3's" I opposed " I wills," till, one fine 
morning, a grny-headcd gentleman rose like a welcome ghost 
on my hearth ; and, at the sight of him, my resolution melted 
away, my heart turned traitor to my boys, and, when he said, 
•* Come home," I answered, "Yes, father;" and so ended 
my career as an army nurse. 

I never shall regret the going, though a sharp tussle with 
typhoid, ten dollars, and a wig, are all the visible results of 
the experiment ; for one may live and learn much in a month. 
A good fit of illness proves the value of health ; real danger 
tries one's mettle ; and self-sacrifice sweetens character. Let 
no one who sincerely desires to help the work on in this way, 
delay going through any fear ; for the worth of life lies in the 
experiences that fill it, and this is one which cannot be forgotten. 
All that is best and bravest in the hearts of men and women, 
comes out in scenes like these ; and, though a hoi^pital is a 
rough school, its lessons are both stern and salutary ; and the 
humblest of pup'.ls there, in proportion to his faithfulness, 
learns a deeper faith in God and in himself. I, for one, 
would return tomorrow, on the "up-again,-and-take-another " 
principle, if I could ; for the amount of pleasure and profit I 
got out of that month compensates for all after pangs ; and, 
though a sadly womanish feeling, I take some satisfaction in 
the thought that, if I could not lay my head on the altar of 
my country, I have my hair ; and that is more than handsome 
Helen did for her dead husband, when she sacrificed only the 
ends of her ringlets on his urn. Therefore, I close this little 
chapter of hospital experiences, with the regret that they were 
no better worth recording; and add the poetical gem with 


which I console myself for the untimely demise of " Nurse 
Periwinkle :" 

Oh, lay her in a little pit. 
With a marble stone to cover it; 
And carve thereon a gruel spoon, 
To show a " nuss " has died too soon. 




My Dear S. : — As inquiries like your own bave come to 
me from various friendly readers of the Sketches, I will 
answer them en masse, and in printed form, as a sort of 
postscript to what has gone before. One of these questions 
was, " Are there no services by hospital death-beds, or on 
Sundays ?" 

In most Hospitals I hope there are ; in ours, the men died, 
and were carried away, with as little ceremony as on a battle- 
field. The first event of this kind which I witnessed was so 
very brief, and bare of anything like reverence, sorrow, or 
pious consolation, that I heartily agreed with the blunily 
expressed opinion of a Maine man lying next his comrade, 
who died with no visible help near him, but a compassionate 
woman and a tender-hearted Irishman, who dropped upon his 
knees, and told his beads, with Catholic feivor, for the good 
of his Protestant brother's parting soul : 

"If, after gettin' all the hard knocks, we are left to die 



this way, with nothing but a Paddy's prayers to help us, I 
guess Christians are rather scarce round Washington." 

I thought so too ; but though Miss Blank, one of my 
mates, anxious that souls should be ministered to, as well as 
bodies, spoke more than once to the Chaplain, nothing ever 
came of it. Unlike another Shepherd, whose earnest piety 
weekly purified the Senate Chamber, this man did not feed as 
well as fuld his flock, nor make himself a human symbol of the 
Divine Samaritan, who never passes by on the other side. 

I have since learned that our non-coraraital Chaplain had 
been a Professor in some Southern College ; and, though he 
maintained that he had no secesh proclivities, I can testify 
that he seceded from his ministerial duties, I may say, ske- 
daddled ; for, being one of his own words, it is as appropriate 
as inelegant. He read Emerson, quoted Carlyle, and tried to 
be a Ch°aplain ; but, judging from his success, I am afraid he 
still hankered after the hominy pots of Eebeldom. 

Occasionally, on a Sunday afternoon, such of the nurses, 
officers, attendants, and patients as could avail themselves of 
it, were gathered in the Ball Room, for an hour's service, of 
which the singing was the better part. To me it seemed that 
if ever strong, wise, and loving words were needed, it was 
then ; if ever mortal man had living texts before his eyes to 
illustrate and illuminate his thought, it was there ; and if ever 
hearts were prompted to devoutest self-abnegation, it was in 
the work which brought us to anything but a Chapel of Ease. 
But some spiritual paralysis seemed to have befallen our 
pastor ; for, though many faces turned toward him, full of the 
dumb hunger that often comes to men when suffering or danger 
brings them nearer to the heart of things, they were offered 
the chaff of divinity, and its wheat was left for less needy 
gleaners, who knew where to look. Even the fine old Bible 


Stories, which may be made as lifelike as any history of our 
day, by a vivid funcy and pictorial diction, were robi^ed of all 
their charms by dry explanations and literal applications, 
instead of being useful and pleasant k'ssons to those men, 
whom weakness had rendered as docile as children in a father's 

I watched the listless countenances all about me, while 
we listened to a dull sermon, delivered with a monotonous 
tone, a business-like manner, and a very visible desire to 
get the uninteresting job done as expeditiously as possible ; 
which demonstrations were most successful in making the 
Sunday sei-vices a duty, not a pleasure. Listless they were 
at the beginning, and listless at the end ; but the instant 
some stirring old hymn was given out, sleepy eyes bright- 
ened, lounging figures sat erect, and many a poor lad 
rose up in his bed, or stretched an eager hand for the 
book, while all broke out with a heartiness that proved 
that somewhere at the core of even the most abandoned, 
there still glowed some remnant of the native piety that 
flows in music from the heart of every little child. Even 
the big rebel joined, and boomed away in a thunderous bass, 
sino-ino" — 

** Salvation ! let the echoes fly," 

as energetically as if he felt the need of a speedy execution 
of the command. 

That was the pleasantest moment of the houi, for then it 
seemed a homelike and happy spot ; the groups of men looking 
over one another's shoulders as they sang ; the few silent 
figures in the beds ; here and there a woman noiselessly per- 
forming some necessary duty, and singing as she worked; 


wliile in the arm chair standing in the niidtt, I placed, for my 
own satisfaction, the imaginary likeness of a certain faithful 
pastor, who took all outcasts by the hand, smote the devil in 
whatever guise he came, and comforted the indigent in spirit 
with the best wisdom of a great and tender heart, which still 
speaks to us from its Italian grave. With that addition, my 
picture was complete ; and I often longed to take a veritable 
sketch of a Hospital Sunday, for, desp'te its drawbacks, 
consisting of continued labor, the want of proper books, the 
barren preaching that bore no fruit, this day was never like 
the other six. 

True to their home training, our New England boys did 
their best to make it what it should be. With many, there 
was much reading of Testaments, humming over of favorite 
hymns, and looking at such books as I could cull from a 
miscellaneous library. Some hiy idle, slept, or gossiped ; yet, 
when I came to them for a quiet evening chat or reading, 
they often talked freely and well of themselves; would 
blunder out some timid hope that their troubles might 
"do 'em good, and keep 'em stiddy;" would choke a 
little, as they said good night, and turned their faces to 
the wall to think of mother, wife, or home, these human 
ties seeming to be the most vital religion which they yet 
knew. I observed that some of them did not wear their 
caps on this day, though at other times they clung to them 
like Quakers ; wearing them in bed, putting them on to 
read the paper, eat an apple, or write a letter, as if, like a 
new sort of Samson, their strength lay, not in their hair, but in 
their hats. Many read no novels, swore less, were more silent, 
orderly, and cheerful, as if the Lord were an invisible Ward- 
master, who went his rounds but once a week, and must find 
all things at their best. I liked all this in the poor, rough 
boys, and cuuld have found it in my heart to put down spoiigo 


and tea-pot, and preach a little sermon then and there, while 
homesickness and pain had made these natures soft, that some 
good seed might be cast therein, to blossom and bear fruit 
here or hereafter. 

Regarding the admission of friends to nurse their sick, I 
can only say, it was not allowed at Ilurlybm-ly House ; though 
one indomitable parent took my ward by storm, and held her 
position, in spite of doctors, matron, and Nurse Periwinkle. 
Though it was against the rules, though the culprit was an 
acid, frost-bitten female, though the young man would have 
done quite as well without her anxious fussiness, and the whole 
room-full been much more comfortable, there was something so 
irresistible in this persistent devotion, that no one had the 
heart to oust her from her post. She slept on the floor, without 
uttering a complaint ; bore jokes somewhat of the rudest ; 
fared scantily, though her basket was daily filled with luxuries 
for her boy ; and tended that petulant personage with a never- 
failing patience beautiful to see. 

I feel a glow of moral rectitude in saying this of her ; for, 
though a perfect pelican to her young, she pecked and cackled 
( I don't know that pelicans usually express their emotions in 
that manner,) most obstreperously, when others invaded her 
premises ; and led me a weary life, with " George's tea-rusks," 
" George's foot-bath," " George's measles," and " George's 
mother ;" till, after a sharp passage of arms and tongues with 
the matron, she wrathfully packed up her rusks, her son, and 
herself, and departed, in an ambulance, scolding to the very 

This is the comic side of the matter. The serious one is 
harder to describe ; for the presence, however brief, of rela- 
tions and friends by the bedsides of the dead or dying, is 
always a trial to the bystanders. They are not near enough 


to know how best to comfort, yet too near to turn their backs 
upon the sorrow that finds its only solace in listening to 
recitals of last words, brcatbed into nurse's ears, or receiving 
the tender legacies of love and longing bequeathed through 


To me, the saddest sight I saw in that sad place, was the 
spectacle of a grey-haired father, sitting hour after hour by 
his son, dying from the poison of his wound. The old father, 
hale and hearty ; the young son, past all help, though one 
could scarcely believe it ; for the subtle fever, burning his 
strength away, flushed his cheeks with color, filled his eyes 
with lustre, and lent a mournful mockery of health to face and 
figure, making the poor lad comelier in death than in life. 
His bed was not in my ward ; but I was often in and out, 
and, for a day or two, the pair were much together, saying 
little, but looking much. The old man tried to busy himself 
with book or pen, that his presence might not be a burden ; 
and once, when he sat writing, to the anxious mother at home, 
doubtless, I saw the son's eyes fixed upon his face, with a look 
of mingled resignation and regret, as if endeavoring to teach 
himself to say cheerfully the long good bye. And again, 
when the son slept, the father watched him, as he had himself 
been watched ; and though no feature of his grave counte- 
nance changed, the rough hand, smoothing the lock of hair 
upon the pillow, the bowed attitude of the grey head, were 
more pathetic than the loudest lamentations. The son died ; 
and the father took home the pale relic of the life he gave, 
offering a little money to the nurse, as the only visible return 
it was in his power to make her ; for, though very grateful, 
he was poor. Of course, she did not take it, but found a 
richer compensation in the old man's earnest declaia- 
tioD : 


"My boy couldn't have been better cared for if be'd been at 
home ; and God will reward yuu for it, though I can't." 

My own ex,^eriences of this sort began when my first man 
died. He had scarcely been removed, when his wife came in. 
Her eye went straight to the well-known bed ; it was empty ; 
and feeling, yet not believing the hard truth, she cried out, 
with a look I never shall forget : 

" Why, whero's Emanuel?" 

I had never seen her before, did not know her relationship 
to the man whom I had only nursed for a day, and was about 
to tell her he was gone, when McGee, the tender-hearted 
Irishman bafore mentioned, brushed by me with a cheerful — 
"It's shifted to a better bed he is, Mrs. Connel. Come out, 
dear, till I show ye;" and, taking her gently by the arm, he 
led her to the matron, who broke the heavy tidings to the 
wife, and comforted the widow. 

Another day, running up to my room for a breath of fresh 
air and a five minutes' rest after a disagreeable task. I found 
a stout young woman sitting on my bed, wearing the misera- 
ble look which I had learned to know bv that time. Seeing: 
her, reminded me that I had heard of some one's dying in the 
night, and his sister's arriving in the morning. This must be 
she, I thought. I pitied her with all my heart. What could 
I say or do ? Words always seem impertinent at such times ; 
I did not know the man : the woman was neither interestins: 
in herself nor graceful in her grief; yet, having known a 
sister's sorrow myself, I could not leave her alone with her 
trouble in that strange place, without a word. So, feeling 
heart-sick, home-sick, and not knowing what else to do, T just 
pat my arms about her, and began to cry in a very helpless 
but hearty wny ; for, as I seldom indulge in this moist luxury, 
I like to enjoy it with all my might, when I do. 



It so happened I could not have done a better thing ; for, 
thougli not a word was spoken, each felt the other's sympathy; 
and, in the silence, our handkereliiefs were more eloquent 
than words. She soon sobbed herself quiet ; and, leaving her 
on my bed, I went back to work, feeling much refreshed by 
the shower, though I'd forgotten to rest, and had washed my 
face instead of my hands. I mention this successful experi- 
ment as a receipt proved and approved, for the use of any 
nurse who may find herself called upon to minister to these 
wounds of the heart. They will find it more eihcacious than 
cups of tea, smelling-bottles, psalms, or sermons; for a friendly 
touch and a companionable cry, unite the consolations of all 
the rest for womankind ; and, if genuine, will be found a 
sovereign cure for the first sharp pang so many suffer in these 
heavy times. 

I am gratified to find that my little Sergeant has found 
favor in several quarters, and gladly respond to sundry calls 
for news of him, though my personal knowledge ended five 
months ago. Next to my good John — I hope the grass is 
green above him, far away there in Virginia I — I placed the 
Sergeant on my list of worthy boys ; and many a jovial chat 
have I enjoyed with the merry-hearted lad, who had a fancy 
for fun, when his poor arm was dressed. While Dr. P. poked 
and strapped, I brushed the remains of the Sergeant's brown 
mane — shorn sorely against his will — and gossiped with all 
my might, the boy making odd faces, exclamations, and 
appeals, when nerves got the better of nonsense, as they 
sometimes did : 

*' I'd rather laugh than cry, when I must sing out anyhow, 
so just say that bit from Dickens again, please, and I'll stand 
it like a man." He did; for " Mrs. Cluppins," "Chad- 
band," and "Sam Weller," always helped him through; 


thereby causing me to lay another offering of love and admi- 
ration on the shrine of the god of ray idolatry, though he does 
wear too much jewelry and talk slang. 

The Sergeant also originated, I believe, the fashion of calling 
his neighbors by their afflictions instead of their names ; and I 
was rather taken aback by hearing them bandy remarks of 
this sort, with perfect good humor and much enjoyment of the 
new game. 

" Hallo, old Fits is off again !" *' How are you, Kheuma- 
tiz?" "Will you trade apples, Ribs?" " I say, Miss P., 
may I give Typus a drink of this ?" " Look here. No Toes, 
lend us a stamp, there's a good feller," etc. He himself was 
christened " Baby B.," because he tended his arm on a little 
pillow, and called it his infant. 

Very fussy about his food was Sergeant B., and much 
trotting of attendants was necessary when he partook of nour- 
ishment. Anything more irresistibly wheedlesome I never 
saw, and constantly found myself indulging him, like the most 
weak-minded parent, merely for the pleasure of seeing his 
blue eyes twinkle, his merry mouth break into a smile, and 
his one hand execute a jaunty little salute that was entirely 
captivating. I am afraid that Nurse P. damaged her dignity, 
frolicking with this persuasive young gentleman, though done 
for his well-being. But " boys will be boys," is perfectly 
applicable to the case ; for, in spite of years, sex, and the 
" prunes-and-prisms " doctrine laid down for our use, I have 
a fellow feeling for lads, and always owed Fate a grudge 
because I wasn't a lord of creation instead of a lady. 

Since I left, I have heard, from a reliable source, that my 
Sergeant has gone home ; therefore, the small romance that 
budded the first day I saw him, has blossomed into its second 
chapter ; and I now imagine " dearest Jane " filling my place, 


tending the wounds I tended, brushing the curly jungle I 
brushed, loving the excellent little youth I loved, and eventu- 
ally walking altarward, with the Sergeant stumping gallantly 
at her side. If she doesn't do all this, and no end more, I'll 
never forgive her ; and sincerely pray to the guardian saint 
of lovers, that " Baby B." may prosper in his wooing, and 
his name be long in the land. 

One of the lively episodes of hospital life, is the frequent 
marching away of such as are well enough to rejoin their 
regiments, or betake themselves to some convalescent camp. 
The ward master comes to the door of each room that is to be 
thinned, reads off a list, of names, bids their owners look 
sharp and be ready when called forj and, as he vanishes, the 
rooms fall into an indescribable state of topsy-turvyness, as 
the boys begin to black their boots, brighten spurs, brush 
clothes, overhaul knapsacks, make presents ; are fitted out 
with needfuls, and — well, why not V — kissed sometimes, as 
they say, good by ; for in all human probability we shall 
never meet ajjain, and a woman's heart yearns over anything 
that has clung to her for help and comfort. I never liked 
these breakings-up of my little household ; though my short 
stay showed me but three. I was immensely gratified by the 
hand shakes I got, for their somewhat painful cordiality assured 
me that I had not tried in vain. The big Prussian rumbled 
out his unintelligible adieux, with a grateful face and a 
premonitory smooth of his yellow moustache, but got no 
farther, for some ene else stepped up, with a large brown hand 
extended, and this recommendation of our very faulty estab- 
lishment : 

'* We're off, ma'am, and I'm powerful sorry, for I'd no idea 
a 'orspittle was such a jolly place. Hope I'll git another ball 


somewheres easy, so Til come back, and be took care on 
again. Mean, ain't it ?" 

I didn't think so, but the doctrine of inglorious eate was 
not tbe the right one to preach up, so I tried to look shocked, 
failed signally, and consoled myself by giving him the fat 
pincushion he had admired as the '' cutest little machine 
agoin." Then they fell into line in front of the house, looking 
rather wan and feeble, some of them, but trying to step out 
smartly and march in good order, though half the knapsacks 
were carried by the guard, and several leaned on sticks instead 
of shouldering guns. All looked up and smiled, or waved 
heir hands and touched their caps, as they passed under our 
windows down the long street, and so away, some to their 
homes in this world, and some to that in the next ; and, for 
the rest of the day, I felt like Ptachcl mourning for her 
children, when I saw the empty beds and missed the familiar 

You ask if nurses are obliged to witness amputations and 
such matters, as a part of their duty ? I think not, unless 
they wish ; for the patient is under the effects of ether, and 
needs no care but such as the surgeons can best give. Our 
work begins afterward, when the poor soul comes to himself, 
sick, faint, and wandering ; full of strange pains and confused 
visions, of disagreeable sensations and sights. Then we must 
sooth and sustain, tend and watch ; preaching and practicing 
patience, till sleep and time have restored courage and self- 

I witnessed several operations ; for the height of my ambition 
was to go to the front after a battle, and feeling that the sooner 
I inured myself to trying sights, the more useful I should be. 
Several of my mates shrunk from such things ; for though the 


spirit was wboUy billing, tl.o flesh was inconveniently weak. 
One funereal lady can.e to try her rowers as a nur.e ; buc^ a 
brief conversation eliciting the facts that she amted at the of blood, was afraid to watch alone, couldn t possibly 
take eare of delirious persons, was nervous about infeeUons. 
and unable to bear much fatigue, she was r^ddly d.^nssed. 
I hope she found her sphere, but fancy a comfortable bandbox 
on a hi.vh shelf would best meet the requirements of ber case 

Dr Z su"-csted that I should witness a dissection ; but i 
never aecepte°dhis Invitations, thinkingthat my nerves belonged 
,0 the livin., not to the dead, and I had better finish my educa- 
tion as a nurse before I began that of a surgeon. But 1 
never met the little man skipping through the hall, wUh oddly 
shaped cases in his hand, and an absorbed expression of couu- 
tenLe, without being sure that a ..elect party of surgeons 
were at work in the dead house, which idea was a rather trying 
one, when I knew the subject was some person whom I had 
nursed and cared for. 

But this must not lead any one to suppose that the surgeons 
were willfully hard or cruel, though one of them remorsefully 
confided to me that he feared his profession blunted his sensi- 
bilities, and, perhaps, reuderea him indifferent to the sight of 

''"T am inclined to think that in some cases it does ; for, though 
a capital surgeon and a kindly man. Dr. P.. through long 
acquaintance with many of the ills flesh is heir to had acquired 
a somewhat trying habit of regarding a man and his wound as 
separate institutions, and seemed rather annoyed that the 
former should express any opinion upon the Utter, or claim 
any ri-ht in it, while under his care. He had a way of 
twLbi^g off a bandage, and giving a limb a comprehensive 
eort of clutch, which, though no doubt entirely scientific, was 

92 iiosi'ital skltciils. 

rather startling than soothing, and highly objectionable as a 
means of preparing nerves for any fresh trial. He also 
expected the patient to assist in small operations, as he consid- 
ered them, and to restrain all demonstrations during the 

" Here, my man, just hold it this way, while I look into it 
a bit," he said one day to Fitz G., putting a wounded arm 
into the keeping of a sound one, and proceeding to poke 
about among bits of bone and visible muscles, in a red and 
black chasm made by some infernal machine of the shot or 
shell description. Poor Fitz held on like grim Death, ashamed 
to show fear before a woman, till it grew more than he could 
bear in silence ; and, after a few smothered groans, he looked 
at me imploringly, as if he said, "I wouldn't, ma'am, if I 
could help it," and fainted quietly away. 

Dr. P. looked up, gave a compassionate sort of cluck, and 
poked away more busily than ever, with a nod at me and a 
brief — " Never mind ; be so good as to hold this till I finish." 

I obeyed, cherishing the while a strong desire to insinuate a 
few of his own disagreeable knives and scissors into him, and 
see how he liked it. A very disrespectful and ridiculous 
fancy, of course ; for he was doing all that could be done, 
and the arm prospered finely in his hands. But the human 
mind is prone to prejudice ; and, though a personable man, 
speaking French like a born " Parley voo," and whipping off 
legs like an animated guillotine, I must confess to a sense of 
relief when he was ordered elsewhere ; and suspect that several 
of the men would have faced a rebel battery with less trepida- 
tion than they did Dr. P., when he came briskly in on his 
morning round. 

As if to give us the pleasures of contrast. Dr. Z. succeeded 
him, who, I think, suffered more in giving pain than did his 


patients in enduring it ; for he often paused to ask: *' Do I 
hurt you?" and, seeing his solicitude, the boys invariably 
answered : " Not much ; go ahead. Doctor," though the lips 
that uttered this amiable fib might be white with pain as they 
spoke. Over the dressing of some of the wounds, we used 
to caiTy on conversations upon subjects foreign to the work in 
hand, that the patient might forget himself in the charms of 
our discourse. Christmas eve was spent in this way ; the 
Doctor strapping the little Sergeant's arm, I holding the lamp, 
while all three lauo;hed and talked, as if anywhere but in a 
hospital ward ; except when the chat was broken by a long- 
drawn *' Oh ! " from " Baby B.," an abrupt request from the 
Doctor to " Hold the lamp a little higher, please," or an 
encouraging, " Most through. Sergeant," from Nurse P. 

The chief Surgeon, Dr. 0., I was told, refused the higher 
salary, greater honor, and less labor, of an appointment to 
the Officer's Hospital, round the corner, that he might serve 
the poor fellows at Hurlyburly House, or go to the front, 
working there day and night, among the horrors that succeed 
the glories of a battle. I liked that so much, that the quiet, 
brown-eyed Doctor was my especial admiration ; and when my 
own turn came, had more faith in him than in all the rest 
put together, "although he did advise me to go home, and 
authorize the consumption of blue pills. 

Speaking of the surgeons reminds me that, having found all 
manner of fault, it becomes me to celebrate the redeeming 
feature of Hurlyburly House. I had been prepared by the 
accounts of others, to expect much humiliation of spirit from 
the surgeons, and to be treated by them like a door-mat, a 
worm, or any other meek and lowly article, whose mission it 
is to be put down and walked upon ; nurses being considered 
as mere servants, receiving the lowest pay, and, it's my private 


opinion, doing the hardest work of any part of the army, 
except the mules. Great, therefore, was my surprise, when I 
found myself treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness. 
Very soon my carefully prepared meekness was laid upon the 
shelf; and, going from one extreme to the other, I more than 
once expressed a difference of opinion regarding sundry messes 
it was my painful duty to administer. 

As eight of us nurses chanced to be off duty at once, we 
bad an excellent opportunity of trying the virtues of these 
gentlemen ; and I am bound to say they stood the test admi- 
rably, as far as my personal observation went. Dr. O.'s 
stethoscope was unremitting in its attentions ; Dr. S. brought 
bis buttons into my room twice a day, with the regularity of a 
medical clock ; while Dr. Z. filled my table with neat little 
bottles, which I never emptied, prescribed Browning, bedewed 
me witb Cologne, and kept my fire going, as if, like the 
candles in St. Peter's, it must never be permitted to die out. 
Waking one cold night, with the certainty that m}' last spark 
had expired, and consef|uently hours of coughing were in 
store for me, I was much amazed to see a ruddy light dancing 
on the wall, a jolly blaze roaring up the chimney, and, down 
upon his knees before it, Dr. Z,, whittling shavings. I ought 
to have risen up and thanked him on the spot ; but, knowing 
that he was one of those who like to do good by stealth, I 
only peeped at him as if he were a friendly ghost ; till, having 
made things as cozy as the most motherly of nurses could 
have done, he crept away, leaving me to feel, as somebody 
says, " as if angels were a watching of me in my sleep ;" 
though that species of wild fowl do not usually descend in 
broadcloth and glasses. I afterwards discovered that he split 
the wood himself on that cool January midnight, and went 
about making or mending fires fur the poor old ladies in their 


dismal dens ; thus causing himself to be regarded as a bright 
and sliining light in more ways than one. I never thanked him 
as I ought ; therefore, I publicly make a note of it, and further 
aggravate that modest M. D. by saying that if this was not 
being the best of doctors and the gentlest of gentlemen, I shall 
be happy to see any improvement upon it. 

To such as wish to know where these scenes took place, I 
must respectfully decline to answer ; for Hurly-burly House 
has ceased to exist as a hospital ; so let it rest, with all its 
sins upon its head, — perhaps I should say chimney top. 
When the nurses felt ill, the doctors departed, and the patients 
got well, I believe the concern gently faded from existence, or 
was merged into some other and better establishment, where I 
hope the washing of three hundred sick people is done out of 
the house, the food is eatable, and mortal women are not 
expected to possess an angelic exemption from all wants, and 
the endurance of truck horses. 

Since the appearance of these hasty Sketches, I have heard 
from several of my comrades at the Hospital ; and their 
approval assures me that I have not let sympathy and fancy 
run away with me, as that lively team is apt to do when 
harnessed to a pen. As no two persons see the same thing 
with the same eyes, my view of hospital life must be taken 
through my glass, and held for what it is worth. Certainly, 
nothing was set down in malice, and to the serious-minded 
party who objected to a tone of levity in some portions of the 
Sketches, I can only say that it is a part of my religion to 
look well after the cheerfulnesses of life, and let the dismals 
shift for themselves ; believing, with good Sir Thomas More, 
that it is wise to " be merrie in God." 

The next hospital I enter will, I hope, be one for the 
colored regiments, as they seem to be proving their right to 


the admiration and kind ofEces of their white relations, who 
owe them so large a debt, a little part of which I shall be 
proud to pa J. 


With a firm faith 

In the good time coming, 

Tribulation Plkiwinkle. 

Concord, April, 1863. 







FIVE-and-twenty ladies, all in a row, sat on one side 
of the haU, looking very much as if they felt like the 
little old woman who fell asleep on the king's highway 
and awoke with abbreviated drapery, for they were all 
arrayed in gray tunics and Turkish continuations, pro- 
fusely adorned with many-colored trimmings. Five-and- 
twenty gentlemen, all in a row, sat on the opposite side 
of the hall, looking somewhat subdued, as men are apt to 
do when they fancy they are in danger of making fools 
of themselves. They, also, were en costume, for all the 
dark ones had grown piratical in red shirts, the light ones 
nautical in blue ; and a few boldly appeared in white, 
making up in starch and studs what they lost in color, 
while all were more or less B}Tonic as to collar. 

On the platform appeared a pile of dumb-bells, a 
regiment of clubs, and a pyramid of bean-bags, and 
stirring nervously among them a foreign-looking gen- 
tleman, the new leader of a class lately formed by 
Dr. Thor Turner, whose mission it was to strengthen 
the world's spine, and convert it to a belief in air and 


exercise, by setting it to balancing its poles and spinning 
merrilj, while enjoying the " Sun-cnre" on a large scale. 
His advent formed an epoch in the history of the town ; 
for it was a quiet old village, guiltless of bustle, fashion, 
or parade, where each man stood for what he was ; and, 
being a sagacious set, every one's true value was pretty 
accurately known. It was a neighborly town, with 
gossip enough to stir the social atmosphere with small 
gusts of interest or wonder, yet do no harm. A sensible, 
free-and-easy town, for the wisest man in it wore the 
worst boots, and no one thought the less of his under- 
standing ; the belle of the village went shopjjing with 
a big Sim-bonnet and tin pail, and no one found her 
beauty lessened ; oddities of all sorts ambled peacefully 
about on their various hobbies, and no one suggested 
the expediency of a trip on the wooden horse upon 
which the chivalrous South is always eager to mount 
an irrepressible abolitionist. Restless people were soothed 
by the lullaby the river sang in its slow journey to the 
sea, old people found here a pleasant place to make 
ready to die in, young people to survey the world from, 
before taking their first flight, and strangers looked back 
upon it, as a quiet nook full of ancient legends and 
modem lights, which would keep its memory green 
when many a gayer spot was quite forgotten. Anything 
based upon common sense found favor with the inhabit- 
ants, and Dr. Turner's theories, being eminently so, 
were accepted at once, and energetically carried out. A 
sort of heathen revival took place, for even the ministers 
and deacons turned Musselmen ; old ladies tossed bean- 
bags till their caps were awTy, and winter-roses blos- 
somed on their cheeks ; school-childi-en proved the worth 


of the old proverb, " An ounce of prevention is worth a 
pound of cure," by getting their backs ready before the 
burdens came ; pale girls grew blithe and strong swing- 
ing their dumb namesakes ; and jolly lads marched to and 
fro embracing clubs as if longevity were corked up in 
those wooden bottles, and they all took " modest quench- 
ers " by the way. 

August Bopp, the new leader of the class, was a Ger- 
man possessing but a small stock of English, though a 
line gymnast ; and being also a bashful man, the appointed 
moment had no sooner arrived than he found his care- 
fully prepared sentences slipping away from his memory 
as the ice appears to do from under unhappy souls first 
mounted upon skates. An awful silence reigned: Mr. 
Bopp glanced nervously over his shoulder at the staring 
rows, more appalling in their stillness than if they had 
risen up and hooted at him ; then piling up the bags for 
the seventh time, he gave himself a mental shake, -and, 
with a crimson visage, was about to launch his first 
" Ladees imd gentlemen," when the door opened, and a 
small, merry-faced figure appeared, looking quite at ease 
in the novel dress, as, with a comprehensive nod, it 
marched straight across the hall to its place among the 
weaker vessels. 

A general glance of approbation followed from the gen- 
tlemen's side, a welcoming murmur ran along the ladies', 
and the fifty pairs of eyes changed their focus for a mo- 
ment. Taking advantage of which, Mr. Bopp righted 
himself, and burst out with a decided, — 

" Ladees und gentlemen : the time have arrived that 
we shall bedn. Will the gentlemen serve the ladees to a 


waud, each oiie, then spread theirselves about the hall, 
and follow the motions I will make as I shall count." 

Five minutes of chaos, then all fell into order, and 
nothing was heard but the leader's voice and the stir of 
many bodies movings imultaucously. An uninitiated ob- 
server would have thought himself in Bedlam ; for, as the 
evening wore on, the laws of society seemed given to the 
winds, and humanity gone mad. Bags flew in all direc- 
tions, clubs hurtled through the air, and dumb-bells played 
a castinet accompaniment to peals of laugliter that made 
better music than any band. Old and young gave them- 
selves up to the universal merriment, and, setting dignity 
aside, played like happy-hearted children for an hour. 
Stout Dr. Quackenboss gasped twice round the hall on 
one toe ; stately Mrs. Primmins ran Uke a girl of fifteen 
to get her pins home before her competitor ; Tommy 
Inches, four feet three, trotted away with Deacon Stone 
on his shoulder, while Mr. Steepleton and Miss Maypole 
hopped together like a pair of lively young ostriches, and 
Ked Amandine, the village beau, blew arrows through a 
pop-gun, like a modern Cupid in pegtops instead of 

The sprightly young lady whose entrance had been so 
opportune seemed a universal favorite, and was over- 
whelmed with invitations to " bag," " hop," and " blow " 
from the gentlemen who hovered about her, cheerfully 
distorting themselves to the verge of dislocation in order 
to win a glance of approbation from the merry black 
eyes which were the tapers where all these muscular 
moths singed their wings. Mr. Bopp had never seen such 
a little piece of earnestness before, and began to think 
the young lady must be training for a boat-race or the 


riug. Her dumb-bells flew about till a pair of Avliite 
arms looked like the sails of a windmill ; she hit out 
from the shoulder with a vigor that would have doue 
execution had there been anything but empty air to 
" punish " ; and the '* one, two, three ! " of the Zouave 
movement went off with a snap ; while the color deep- 
ened from pink to scarlet in her cheeks, the black braids 
tumbled down upon her shoulders, and the clasp of her 
belt flew asunder ; but her eye seldom left the leader's 
face, and she followed every motion with an agility and 
precision quite inspiring. Mr. Bopp's courage rose as 
he watched her, and a burning desire to excel took pos- 
session of him, till he felt as if his muscles were made 
of india-rubber, and his nerves of iron. He went into 
his work heart and soul, shaking a brown mane out of 
his eyes, issuing commands like a general at the head of 
his troops, and keeping both interest and fun in full blast 
till people laughed who had not laughed heartily for years ; 
lungs got their fill for once, unsuspected muscles were 
suddenly developed, and when the clock struck ten, all 
were bubbling over with that innocent jollity which 
makes youth worth possessing, and its memory the sun- 
shine of old age. 

The last exercise was drawing to a close, and a large 
ring of respectable members of society were violently 
sitting do^vn and rising up in a manner which would have 
scandalized Miss Wilhelmina Carolina Amelia Skeggs to 
the last degree, when Mr. Bopp was seen to grow very 
pale, and drop in a manner which it was evident his 
pupils were not expected to follow. 

At this unexpected performance, the gentlemen took 
advantage of their newly-acquired agility to fly over all 


obstacles and swarm od to the platform, while the ladies 
successfully lessened their unusual bloom by staring wildly 
at one another and suggesting awful impossibilities. The 
bustle subsided as suddenly as it arose ; and Mr. Bopp, 
rather damp about the head and dizzy about the eye, but 
quite composed, appeared, saying, with the broken Eng- 
lish and appealing manner which caused all the ladies to 
pronounce him " a dear " on the spot, — 

" I hope you will excoose me for making this lesson to 
be more short than it should : but I have exercise nine 
hours this day, and being just got well from a illness, I 
have not recover the strength I have lost. Next week I 
shall be able to take time by the hair, so that I will not 
have so much engagements in one day. I thank you for 
your kindness, and say good-efening." 

After a round of applause, as a last vent for their 
spirits, the class dispersed, and Mr. Bopp was wTestHng 
"with a vicious pin as he put on his collar ("a sure sign 
he has no ma to see to his buttons, poor lamb ! " thought 
Mrs. Fairbairn, watching him from afar) ; when the 
sprightly young lady, accompanied by a lad the masculine 
image of herself, appeared upon the platform, saying, 
with an aspect as cordial as her words, — 

*' Good-evening, sir. Allow me to introduce my 
brother and myself, Dick and Dolly TVard, and ask you, 
in my mother's name, to come home with us ; for the 
tavern is not a cosy place, and after all this exertion you 
should be made comfortable. Please come, for Dr. Tur- 
ner always stayed wdth us, and we promised to do the 
honors of the to■\^^l to any gentleman he might send to 
supply his place." 

'' Of course we did ; and mother is probably freezing 


her blessed nose off watching for us ; so don't disappoint 
her, Bopp. It's all settled ; the sleigh's at the door, and 
here's your coat ; so, come on ! " 

Dick was a fine sample of young America in its best 
aspect, and would have said " How are you? " to Louis 
Napoleon if he had been at hand, and have done it so 
heartily that the great Frenchman would have found it 
hard to resist giving as frank an answer. Therefore, no 
wonder that Mr. Bopp surrendered at once ; for the 
young gentleman took possession of him bodily, and shook 
him into his coat with an amiable impetuosity which 
developed a sudden rent in the well-worn sleeve thereof, 
and caused an expression of dismay to dawn upon the 
owner's countenance. 

" Beg pardon ; never mind ; mother'll sew you up in 
two seconds, and your overcoat will hide the damage. 
^Tiere is it ? I'll get it, and then we'll be off." 

Mr. Bopp colored distressfully, looked up, looked down, 
and then straight into the lad's face, saying simply, — 
" Thank you ; I haf no coat but one." 
Dick opened his eyes, and was about opening his mouth 
also, for the exit of some blunderingly good-natured 
reply, when a warning poke from his sister restrained 
him ; while Dolly, with the innocent hypocrisy which is as 
natural to some women as the art of tymg bows, said, as 
she led the way out, — 

" You see the worth of gymnastics, Dick, in this 
delightful indifference to cold. I sincerely hope we may 
reach a like enviable state of heahh, and look upon great- 
coats as effeminate, and mufflers a weakness of the flesh. 
Do you think we shall, Mr. Bopp ? " 

He shook his head with a perceptible shiver as the keen 


north wind smote him in the face, but answered, with a 
look half raeriy, half sad, — 

"• It is not choice, but Avliat you call necessitee, with 
me ; and I truly hope you may never haf to exercise to 
keep life in you when you haf sold your coat to pay your 
doctor's bill, or teach the art of laughing while your 
heart is hea^y as one stone. You would not like that, I 
think, yet it is good, too ; for small things make much 
happiness for me, and a kind word is often better than a 

There was something in the young man's tone and 
manner which touched and won his hearers at once. 
Dolly secretly resolved to put an extra blanket on his bed, 
and shower kind words upon him, while Dick tucked him 
up in buffalo robes, where he sat helplessly beaming down 
upon the red hood at his side. 

A roaring fire shone out hospitably as they came, and 
glorified the pleasant room, dancing on ancient furniture 
and pictured walls till the jolly old portraits seemed to 
wink a visible welcome. A cheery-faced little w^oman, 
like an elder Dolly, in a widow's cap, stood on the 
threshold, with a friendly greeting for the stranger, which 
warmed him as no fire could have done. 

If August Bopp had been an Englishman, he would 
have felt much, but said less on that account ; if he had 
been an American, he would have tried to conceal his 
poverty, and impress the family with his past grandeur, 
present importance, or future prospects ; being a German, 
he showed exactly what he was, with the childlike frank- 
ness of his race. Having had no dinner, he ate heartily 
of what was offered him ; being cold, he basked in the 
generous warmth ; being homesick and solitary, he en- 


ioyed the genial influences tliat surrounded him, and 
told his story, sure of sjinpathy ; for even in prosaic 
Yankecdom he had found it, as travellers find Alpine 
flowers among the snow. 

It was a simple story of a laborious boyhood, bemg 
early left an orphan, with a little sister dependent on him, 
till an opening in America tempted him to leave her, and 
come to trv and earn a home for her and for himself. 
Sickness, misfortune, and disappointment had been his 
companions for a year ; but he still worked, still hoped 
and waited for the happy hour Avhen little Ulla should 
come to him across the sea. This was aU ; yet as he 
told it, with the magical accompanunents of gesture, 
look, and tone, it seemed full of pathos and romance to 
his listeners, whose faces proved their interest more flat- 
teringly than their words. 

Mrs^ Ward mended the torn coat Tvdth mothei^y zeal, 
and -ave it many of those timely stitches which thrifty 
women love to sew. The young folks devoted themselves 
to their n-uest, each in a characteristic manner. Dick, as 
hosi, offered every article of refreshment the house 
afforded, goaded the fire to a perpetual roar, and discussed 
oymnastics, with bursts of boyish admiration for the 
^ace and skill of his new leader, whom he christened 
Kin- of Clubs on the spot. Dolly made the stranger one 
of them at once by talking bad German, as an offset to 
his bad Encrhsh, and unconsciously s^nnboUzed his future 
bondage by giving him a tangled skein to hold for the 
furtherance of her mother's somewhat lengthened job. 

The Cupid of the present day was undoubtedly " raised" 
in Connecticut ; for the ingenuity and shrewdness of that 
small personage could have sprung from no other soil. In 


former times bis stratagems were of the romantic order. 
Colin bleated forth his passion in rhyme, and cast sheep's 
eyes from among his flock, while Phyllis coquetted with 
her crook and stuck posies in his hat ; royal Ferdinand 
and Miranda played at chess ; Ivanhoc upset his fellow- 
men like nine-pins for love of lackadaisical Rowena ; and 
" sweet Moll " turned the pages while her lover, Milton, 
sang. But in our day, the jolly little god, though still a 
heathen in the severe simplicity of his attire, has become 
modernized in his arts, and invented huskmgs, apple-bees, 
sleigh-rides, " dropins," g}Timastics, and, among his finer 
snares, the putting on of skates, di'awing of patterns, and 
holding skeins, — the last-named having superior advan- 
tages over the others, as all will testify who have enjoyed 
one of those hand-to-hand skirmishes. 

August Bopp was three-and-twenty, imaginative, grate- 
ful and heart-whole ; therefore, when he found himself 
sitting opposite a blooming little damsel, with a head 
bound by a pretty red snood bent down before him, and 
very close to his own a pair of distracting hands, every 
finger of which had a hit to make, and made it, it is not 
to be denied that he felt himself entering upon a new and 
very agreeable experience. Where could he look but in 
the face opposite, sometimes so girlishly merry and some- 
times so beautifully shy? It was a winning face, full of 
smooth curves, fresh colors, and sunshiny t-vvinkles, — a 
face every one liked, for it was as changeful as an April 
day, and always pleasant, whether mischievous, mourn- 
ful or demure. 

Like one watching a new picture, Mr. Bopp inspected 
every feature of the countenance so near his 0"s^ti ; and 
as his admu'ation " grew by what it fed on," he fell into 



a clirouic sstate of stammer and blush ; for the frank eyes 
were very kind, the smooth cheeks reflected a pretty 
shade of his own crimson, and the smiling lips seemed 
constantly suggesting, with mute eloquence, that they 
were made for kissing, while the expressive hands picked 
at the knots till August felt like a very resigned fly in 
the web of a most enticing young spider. 

K the King of Clubs saw a comely face, the Queen of 
Hearts saw what observing girls call a " good face"; 
and with a -v^^omanly respect for strength, the manliest 
attribute of man, she admired the broad shoulders and 
six feet one of her new master. This face Av^as not hand- 
some, for, true to his fatherland, Bopp had an eminent 
nose, a blonde beard, and a crop of "bonnie browTi hair" 
long enough to have been gathered into a ribbon, as in 
the days of Schiller and Jean Paul ; but Dolly liked it, 
for its strength w^as tempered with gentleness ; patience 
and courage gave it dignity, and the glance that met her 
own was both keen and kind. 

The silk was wound at last, — the coat repaired. Dick 
with difficulty concealed the growing stiffness of his 
shoulders, while Dolly turned up the lamp, which bluntly 
hinted bedtime, and Mrs. Ward successfully devoured 
six gapes behind her hand, but was detected in the 
seventh by Mr. Bopp, wiio glanced at the clock, stopped 
in the middle of a sentence, and, with a hurried " goot- 
night," made for the door without the least idea whither 
he was going. Piloted by Dick, he was installed in the 
" best chamber," where his waking dreams were enliv- 
ened by a great fire, and his sleeping ones by an endless 
succession of skeins, each rapturously concluded in the 
style of Sam Weller when folding carpets wdth the pretty 


" I TELL you, Dolly, it won't do, and I'm not going to 
have it." 

" Oh, indeed ; and how will you help it, you absurd 

"Why, if you don't stop it, I'll just say to Bopp, — 
' Look here, my dear fellow ; this sister of mine is a 
capital girl, but she wiU flirt, and ' — " 

" Add it's a family failing, Dick," cut in Dolly. 

" Not a bit of it. I shall say, ' Take care of your 
heart, Bopp, for she has a bad habit of playing battle- 
dore and shuttlecock with these articles ; and, though it 
may be very good fun for a time, it makes them ache when 
they get a last knock and are left to lie in a corner.' " 

" What eloquence ! But you'd never dare to try it on 
Mr. Bopp ; and I shouldn't like to predict what would 
happen to you if you did." 

" K you say 'dare,' I'll do it the first minute I see 
him. As for consequences, I don't care that for 'em ; '* 
and Dick snapped his fingers with an aspect of much 
disdain. But something in his sister's face suggested the 
wisdom of moderation, and moved him to say, less like a 
lord of creation, and more like a brother who privately 
adored his sister, but of course was not going to acknowl- 
edge such a weakness, — r- 

" Well, but soberly, now, I wish you wouldn't plague 
Bopp ; for it's evident to me that he is hit ; and from the 
way you've gone on these two months, what else was to 
be expected? Now, as the head of the family, — you 
needn't laugh, for I am, — I think I ought to interfere ; 
and so I put it to you, — do you like him, and will you 
have him ? or are you merely amusing yourself, as you 


have done ever since you were out of pinafores ? If you 
like him, all serene. I'd rather have him for a brother 
than any one I know, for he's a regular trump, though he 
is poor ; but if you don't, I won't have the dear old fel- 
low floored just because you like to see it done." 

It may here be remarked that Dolly quite glowed to hear 
her brother praise Mr. Bopp, and that she endorsed every 
word with mental additions of double warmth ; but Dick 
had begun all wrong, and, manlike, demanded her con- 
fidence before she had made up her mind to own she had 
any to bestow ; therefore nothing came of it but vexa- 
tion of spirit ; for it is a weU-knowTi fact that, on some 
subjects, if boys will tease girls will fib, and both main- 
tain that it is right. So Dolly whetted her feminine 
weapon, and assumed a lofty superiority. 

"Dear me ! Avhat a sudden spasm of virtue ; and why, 
if it is such a sin, has not the ' head of the house ' taken 
his sister to task before, instead of indulging in a like 
degeneracy, and causing several interesting persons to 
tear their hair, and bewail his forgetfulness, when they 
ought to have blessed their stars he was out of the way?" 

Dick snow-balled a dozing crow and looked nettled ; for 
he had attained that age when " Tom BrowTi at Oxford " 
was the book of books, the twelfth chapter being the 
favorite, and five young ladies having already been 
endowed with the significant heliotrope flower, — all of 
which facts Dolly had skilfully brought to mind, as a 
return-shot for his somewhat personal remarks. 

" Bah ! they were only girls, and it don't amount to 
anything among us young folks ; but Bopp is a grown 
man, and you ought to respect him too much to play 
such pranks with him. Besides, he's a German, and 


more tender-hearted than we rough Yankees, as any one 
can see by the way he acts when you snub hmi. lie is 
proud, too, for all his meekness, and waits till he's sure 
you like him before he says anything ; and he'll need the 
patience of a family of Jobs at the rate you're going on, 
— a honey-pot one day and a pickle-jar the next. Do 
make up your mind, and say yes or no, right off, Dolly." 

" Would you have me meet him at the door with a 
meek courtesy, and say, ' Oh, if you please, I'm ready to 
say. Yes, thank you, if you'll be good enough to say, 

" Don't be a goose, child ; you know I mean nothing 
of the kind ; only you girls never will do anything 
straight ahead if you can dodge and fuss and make a 
mess of it. Just tell me one thing : Do j-ou, or don't 
you, like old Bopp ? " 

" What an elegant way to put it ! Of course I like 
him w^ell enough as a leader ; he is clever, and sort of 
cunning, and I enjoy his funny ways ; but what in the 
world should I do with a great yellow-haired laddie who 
could put me in his pocket, and yet is so meek that I 
should never find the heart to hen-peck him? You are 
w^elcome to him ; and since you love him so much, there's 
no need of my troubhng myself on his account ; for with 
you for a friend, he can have no earthly wish ungratified." 

" Don't try to be cutting, Dolly, because you look 
homely when you do, and it's a woman's business to be 
pretty always. All I've got to say is, you will be 
in a nice state of mind if you damage Bopp ; for every 
one likes him, and will be down upon you for a heartless 
little wretch ; and I shan't blame them, I promise you." 

" I wish the town wouldn't put its fingers in other 


people's pies, and you may tell it so, witli my compli- 
ments ; and all / have to say is, tliat you men have more 
liberty than you know what to do with, and avc women 
haven't enough ; so it's perfectly fair that we should show 
you the worth of the thing by taking it away now and 
then. I shall do exactly as I please : dance, walk, ride 
and flirt, whenever and with whomever I see fit ; and the 
whole town, with Mr. Dick Ward at their head, can't 
stop me if I choose to go on. Now then, what next?" 
After which declaration of independence Dolly folded 
her arms and wheeled about and faced her brother, a spir- 
ited statuette of Self- Will, in a red hood and mittens. 

Dick sternly asked, — 

" Is that your firm decision, ma'am?" 

'• Yes." 

'' And you will not give up your nonsense ? " 

'^ No." 

" You are quite sure you don't care for Bopp?" 

" I could slap him with all my heart." 

" Very good. I shall see that you don't get a chance." 

" I wouldn't try a skirmish, for you'll get beaten, 

" We'll prove that, ma'am." 

" We will, sir." 

And the belligerents loftily paced up the lawn, with 
their purpose so well expressed by outward signs that 
Mrs. Ward knew, by the cock of Dick's hat and the 
decided tap of Dolly's heels, that a storm was brewing, 
before they entered the door. 

This fraternal conversation took place some two 
months from the evening of Mr. Bopp's advent, as the 
young folks were strolling home from school, which school 


must be briefly alluded to ia order to explain the fore- 
going remarks. It was an excellent institution in all 
respects ; for its presiding genius stood high in the town- 
folks' esteem, and might have served as an example to 
Dr. Watts' " busy bee," in the zeal with which he im- 
proved his " shining hours," and laid up honey against 
the winter, which many hoped would be long in coming. 
All manner of aids were provided for sprouting souls and 
bodies, diversions innumerable, and the best society. But, 
sad to relate, in spite of all these blessings, the students 
who resorted to this academy possessed an Adam-and- 
Eve-like proclivity for exactly what they hadn't got and 
didn't need ; and, not contented with the pleasures pro- 
vided, must needs play truant with that young scamp 
Eros, and turn the ancient towTi topsy-turvy ^yith modern 
innovations, till scandalized spinsters predicted that the 
very babies would catch the fever, refuse their panada in 
jealous gloom, send billets-doux in their rattles, elope in 
wicker-carriages, and set up housekeeping in dolls' houses, 
after the latest fashion. 

Certain inflammable Southerners introduced the new 
game, and left such romantic legends of their loves behind 
them that their successors were fired with an ambition to 
do the like, and excel in all things, from cricket to 

This state of things is not to be wondered at ; for 
America, being reno^Amed as a " fast" nation, has become 
a sort of hot-bed, and seems to force humanity into early 
bloom. Therefore, past generations must not groan over 
the sprightly present, but sit in the chimney-corner and 
see boys and girls play the game which is too apt to end 
in a checkmate for one of the players. To many of the 


lookers-on, the new order of things was as good as a 
puppet-show ; for, with the enthusiasm of youth, the 
actors performed their parts heartily, forgetting the audi- 
ence in their own earnestness. Bless us ! what revolu- 
tions went on under the round jackets, and what 
love-tokens lay in the pockets tliereof. What plots and 
counterplots occupied the heads that wore the innocent- 
looking snoods, and what captives were taken in the 
many-colored nets that would come off and liave to be 
taken care of. What romances blossomed like dandelions 
along the road to school, and wiiat tales the river might 
have told if any one could have learned its musical 
speech. How certain gates were glorified by daily lin- 
gerings thereat, and what tender memories hung about 
dingy desks, old pens, and books illustrated with all man- 
ner of symbolical designs. 

Let those laugh who will : older and wiser men and 
women might have taken lessons of these budding heroes 
and heroines ; for here all w^as honest, sincere, and fresh ; 
the old world had not taught them falsehood, self-interest, 
or mean ambitions. When they lost or won, they frankly 
grieved or rejoiced, and wore no masks except in play, 
and then got them oif as soon as possible. If blue-eyed 
Lizzie froA\Tied, or went home with Joe, Ned, with a wis- 
dom older lovers would do well to imitate, went in for 
another game of foot-ball, gave the rejected apple to little 
Sally, and whistled "Glory Hallelujah" instead of 
" Annie Laurie," which was better than blowing a rival's 
brains out, or glowering at womankind forever after. 
Or, when Tom put on Clara's skates three successive 
days, and danced with her three successive evenings, 
leaving Kitty to freeze her feet in the one instance and 


fold her hands iu the other, bhe just had a " good cry," 
gave her mother an extra kiss, and waited till the recreant 
Tom returned to his allegiance, finding his little friend a 
sweetheart in nature as in name. 

Dick and Dolly Avere foremost in the ranks, and expert 
in all the new amusements. Dick worshipped at many 
shrines, but most faithfully at that of a meek divinity, 
Avho returned charming answers to the ardent epistles 
A\'hicli he left in her father's garden Avail, Avherc, Pyramus 
and Thisbe-like, they often chatted through a chink ; and 
Dolly was seldom seen AA^thout a staff of aids avIio Avould 
have "fought, bled, and died" for her as cheerfully as 
the Little Corporal's Old Guard, though she paid them 
only in words ; for her "Waterloo had not yet come. 

With the charming perversity of her sex in such 
matters, no sooner had Dolly declared that she didn't 
like Mr. Bopp, than she began to discover that she did ; 
and so far from desiring " to slap him," a tendency to 
regard him Avith peculiar good-Avill and tenderness devel- 
oped itself, much to her own surprise ; for with all her 
coquetry and seeming coldness, Dolly had a right 
Avomanly heart of her oaati, though she had never 
acknoAA'ledged the fact till August Bopp looked at her 
with so much love and longing in his honest eyes. 
Then she found a little fear mingling Avith her regard, 
felt a strong desire to be respected by him, discoA-ered a 
certain something which she called conscience, restraining 
a reckless use of her poAver, and, soon after her lofty 
denial to Dick, was forced to oaati that Mr. Bopp had 


become her master iu the finer species of gymnastics 
that came in with Adam and Eve, and have kept all 
creation turning somersets ever since. Of course these 
discoveries were unconfessed, even to that best bosom 
irieud Avhich am^ of us can have ; yet her mother sus- 
pected them, and, Avith much anxiety, saw all, yet held 
her peace, knowing that her little daughter would, sooner 
or later, give her a fuller confidence than could be de- 
manded ; and remembering the happiest moments of her 
own happy past, when an older Dick wooed another 
Dolly, she left that flower, which never can be forced, to 
open at its own sw^eet will. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Bopp, though carrying his heart upon 
his sleeve, believed his secret buried in the deepest gloom, 
and enjoyed all the delightful miseries lovers insist upon 
making for themselves. When Dolly was quiet or absent, 
he became pensive, the lesson dragged, and people fan- 
cied they were getting tired of the humbug ; when Dolly 
was blithe and bland, he grew radiant, exercised w-ithin 
an inch of his life as a vent for his emotions, and people 
went home declaring gymnastics to be the crowning tri- 
umph of the age ; and when Dolly w^as capricious, Mr. 
Bopp became a bewildered weathercock, changing as the 
wind changed, and dire was the confusion occasioned 

Like the sage fowl in the story, Dick said nothing, but 
" kept up a terrible thinking,'* and, not having had expe- 
rience enough to know that when a woman says No she 
is very apt to mean Yes, he took Dolly at her word. 
Believing it to be his duty to warn " Old Bopp," he 
resolved to do it like a Roman brother, regardless of his 
own feelings or his sister's w^rath, quite unconscious that 


the motive-power in the affair wa? a boyish love of ruling 
the young person who ruled every one else. 

Matters stood thus, when the town was electrified by 
a general invitation to the annual jubilee at JoUyboys 
Hall, which this spring flowered into a masquerade, and 
filled the souls of old and young with vi^^ions of splendor, 
frolic and fun. Being an amiable old toAvn, it gave 
itself up, like a kind grandma, to the wishes of its chil- 
dren, let them put its knitting away, disturb its naps, keep 
its hands busy with vanities of the flesh, and its mind in a 
state of chaos for three mortal weeks. Young ladies were 
obscured by tarlatan fogs, behind which they concocted 
angels' wings, newspaper gowns, Minnehaha's wampum, 
and Cinderella's slippers. Inspired but incapabltj boys 
undertook designs that would have daunted a costumer 
of the first water, fell into sloughs of despond, and, 
emerging, settled down from peers and paladins into 
jovial tars, friar waterproofs, and officers in miscellane- 
ous uniforms. Fathers laughed or grumbled at the Avhole 
thing, and advanced pecuniary loans with good or ill 
grace, as the case might be ; but the mothers, whose 
interest in their children's pleasure is a sort of evergreen 
that no snows of time can kill, sewed spangles by the 
bushel, made wildernesses of tissue-paper blossom as the 
rose, kept tempers sweet, stomachs full, and domestic 
machinery working smoothly through it all, by that ma- 
ternal magic which makes them the human providences 
of this naughty world. 

" What shall I go as?" was the universal cry. Garrets 
were taken by storm, cherished relics were teased out of 
old ladies' lavendered chests (happy she who saw them 
again !), hats were made into boots, gowns into doublets, 


cloaks into hose, Sunday bonnets despoiled of their 
plumage, silken cauliflowers sown broadcast over the 
land, and cocked-up caps erected in every style of archi- 
tecture, ^vhile " Tag, Rag, and Bobtail" drove a smash- 
ing business, and everybody knew what everybody else 
was going to be, and solemnly vowed they didn't, — 
which transparent falsehood was the best joke of the 

Dolly allowed her mates to believe she was to be the 
Queen of Hearts, but privately laid hold of certain 
brocades worn by a trim grandmother half a century 
ago, and one evening burst upon her brother in a charm- 
ing "Little Bo-Peep" costume, which, for the benefit of 
future distressed damsels, may be described as a white 
silk skirt, scarlet overdress, " neatly bundled up behind," 
as ancient ladies expressed it, blue hose with red clocks, 
high-heeled shoes with silver buckles, a nosegay in the 
tucker, and a fly-way hat perched on the top of black 
curls, which gave additional archness to Dolly's face as 
she entered, singing that famous ditty. 

Dick surveyed her with approval, turning her about 
like a lay figure, and expressing his fraternal opinion 
that she v/as " the sauciest little turnout he ever saw," 
and then Avet-blanketed the remark by adding, " Of 
course you don't call it a disguise, do you? and don't 
flatter yourself that you won't be known ; for Dolly 
AVard is as plainly written in every curl, bow, and 
gimcrack, as if you wore a label on your back." 

'• Then I shan't wear it " ; and off" went the hat at one 
fell blow, as Dolly threw her crook in one corner, her 
posy in another, and sat down an image of despair. 

'• Now don't be a goose, and rip everything to bits ; 


just wear a domino over all, as Fan is going to, and 
then, Avlien you've had fun enough, take it off and do the 
pretty. It will make two rigs, you see, and bother the 
boys to your heart's content." 

" Dick, I insist upon kissing you for that brilliant sug- 
gestion ; and then you may run and get me eight yards 
of cambric, just the color of Fan's ; but if you tell any 
one, I'll keep her from dancing with you the whole 
evening ; " with which bribe and threat Dolly embraced 
her brother, and shut the door in his face, while he, 
putting himself in good humor by imagining she was 
somebody else, departed on his muddy mission. 

If the ghosts of the fii'st settlers had taken their walks 
abroad on the eventful Friday night, they would have 
held up their shadowy hands at the scenes going on under 
their venerable noses ; for strange figures flitted through 
the quiet streets, and, instead of decorous slumber, ther^ 
was decidedly — 

"A sound of revelry by night." 

Spurs clanked and swords rattled over the frosty 
ground, as if the British were about to make another 
flying call ; hooded monks and nuns paced along, on 
carnal thoughts intent ; ancient ladies and bewigged 
gentlemen seemed hurrying to enjoy a social cup of tea, 
and groan over the tax ; barrels staggered and stuck 
through narrow ways, as if temperance were still among 
the lost arts, while bears, apes, imps and elves pattered 
or sparkled by, as if a second Walpurgis Night had 
come, and all were bound for Blocksberg. 

" Hooray for the rooster ! " shouted Young Ireland, 
encamped on the sidewalk to see the show, as Mephis- 


tophcles' red cock's feather skimmed up tlie stairs, and 
he left a pink domino at the hidies' dressing-room door, 
Avilh the brief warning, " Now cut your own capers and 
leave me to mine," adding, as he paused a moment at 
the great door, — 

" By Jove ! isn't it a jolly sight, though? " 
And so it was ; for a mammoth boot stood sentinel at 
the entrance ; a Bedouin Arab leaned on his spear in one 
corner, looking as if ready to say, — 

" Fly to the desert, fly with me," 

to the pretty Jewess on his arm ; a stately Hamlet, with 
irreproachable legs, settled his plumage in another, still 
undecided to which Ophelia he would first address — 

" The lioney of liis music vows." 

Bluff King Hal's representative was waltzing in a way 
that would have filled that stout potentate with respectful 
admiration, while Queen Katherine flirted with a Fire 
Zouave. Alcibiades whisked Mother Goose about the 
room till the old lady's conical hat tottered on her head, 
and the Union held fast to a very little Mac. Flocks of 
friars, black, white and gray, pervaded the hall, with 
flocks of ballet-girls, intended to represent peasants, but 
failing for lack of drapery ; morning and evening stars 
rose or set, as partners willed ; lively red demons 
harassed meek nuns, and knights of the Leopard, the 
Lion, or Griffin, flashed by, looking heroically uncom- 
fortable in their gilded cages ; court ladies promenaded 
with Jack-tars, and dukes danced Avith dairy-maids, while 
Brother Jonathan whittled. Aunt Dinah jabbered, Ino-o- 


mar flourished his club, and every one felt -warmly enthu- 
siastic and vigorously jolly. 

" Ach himmel ! Das ist wunder sclion ! " murmured a 
tall, gray monk, looking in, and quite unconscious that 
he spoke aloud. 

" Hullo, Bopp ! I thought you -weren't coming," cried 
Mephistopheles in an emphatic whisper. 

'• Ah, I guess you ! yes, you are -well done. I should 
like to be a Faust for you, but I haf no time, do purse 
for a dress, so I throw this on, and run up for a hour 
or two. Where is, — who is all these people? Do you 
know them ? " 

" The one with the Pope, Fra Diavolo, the telegraph, 
and two knights asking her to dance, is Dolly, if that's 
what you Avant to know. Go in and keep it up, Bopp, 
-while you can ; I am off for Fan ; " and Mephistopheles 
departed over the banisters with a -weird agility that de- 
lighted the beholders ; Avhile the gray friar stole into a 
corner and watched the pink domino for half an hour, at 
the end of which time his regards -were somewhat cou- 
fused by discovering that there were two pink damsels so 
like that he could not tell which was the one pointed out 
by Dick, and which the new-comer. 

'• She thinks I vrill not know her, but I shall go now 
and find out for myself;" and, starting into sudden ac- 
tivity, the gray brother strode up to the nearest pink 
lady, bowed, and offered his arm. With a haughty little 
gesture of denial to several others, she accepted it, and 
they joined the circle of many-colored promenaders that 
eddied round the hall. As they went, Mr. Bopp scruti- 
nized his companion, but saw only a slender figure 


shrouded from head to foot, and the tip of a white glove 
resting on his arm. 

" I will speak ; then her voice will betray her," he 
thought, forgetting that his own was uudisguisable. 

*' Madame, permit me that I fan you, it is so greatly 

A fan was surrendered Avitli a bow, and the masked 
face turned fully towards his own, while the hood trem- 
bled as if its wearer laughed silently. 

•'Ah, it is you, — I knoAv the eyes, the step, the 
laugh. Miss Dolly, did you think you could hide from 

" I did not wish to," was the wdiispered answer. 

" Did you think I would come? " 

'• I hoped so." 

" Then you are not displease Avith me?" 

" No ; I. am very glad ; I wanted you." 

The pink head drooped a little nearer, and another 
white glove went to meet its mate upon his arm with a 
pretty, confiding gesture. Mr. Bopp instantly fell into a 
state of bliss, — the lights, music, gay surroundings, 
and, more than all, this unwonted demonstration, put the 
croAATiing glory to the moment ; and, fired with the hopeful 
omen, he allowed his love to silence his prudence, and 
lead him to do, then and there, the very thing he had 
often resolved never to do at all. 

"Ah, Miss Dolly, if you knew how much, how very 
much you haf enlarged my happiness, and made this 
efeuing shine for me, you would more often be a little 
friendly, for this winter has been all summer to me, 
since I kncAV you and your kind home, and now I haf no 
sorrow but that after the next lesson I come no more 


unless you gif me leaf. See now I must say this even 
here, when so much people are about us, because I can- 
not stop it ; and you will f'orgif me that I cannot Avait 
any longer." 

" Mr. Bopp, please don't, please stop ! " began the 
pink domino in a hurried whisper. But Mr. Bopp was 
not to be stopped. He had dammed up the stream so 
long, that now it rushed on fast, full and uncontrollable ; 
for, leading her into one of the curtained recesses near 
by, he sat down beside her, and, still plying the fan, 
went on impetuously, — 

" I feel to say that I lofe you, and tho' I try to kill it, 
my lofe will not die, because it is more strong than my 
will, more dear than my pride, for I haf much, and I do 
not ask you to be meine Frau till I can gif you more 
than my heart and my poor name. But hear now : I 
will work, and save, and Avait a many years if at the end 
you will take all I haf and say, ' August, I lofe you.' 
Do not laugh at me because I say this in such poor 
words ; you are my heart's dearest, and I must tell it or 
never come again. Speak to me one kind yes, and I will 
thank Gott for so much joy." 

The pink domino had listened to this rapid speech 
with averted head, and, when it ended, started up, saying 
eagerly, "You are mistaken, sir, I am not Dolly;" but 
as she spoke her words were belied, for the hasty move- 
ment partially displaced her mask, and Mr. Bopp saw 
Dolly's eyes, a lock of dark hair, and a pair of burning 
cheeks, before the screen was readjusted. With re- 
doubled earnestness he held her back, whispering, — 

" Do not go mitout the little word, Yes, or No ; it is 
not much to say." 


*' Well then, No ! " 

" You mean it? Dolly ! truly mean it? " 

" Yes, let me go at once, sir." 

Mr. Bopp stood up, saying, slowly, — " Yes, go now ; 
they told me you had no heart ; I beliefe it, and thank 
you for that No ; " then bowed, and walked straight out 
of the hall, while the pink domino broke into a fit of 
laughter, saying to herself, — 

" I've done it ! I've done it ! but what a piece of work 
there'll be to-morrow." 

" Dick, who was that tall creature Fan was parading 
with last night? No one knqw, and he vanished before 
the masks were taken off," asked Dolly, as she and her 
brother lounged in opposite corners of the sofa the 
morning after the masquerade, " talking it over." 

" That was old Bopp, Mrs. Peep." 

" Gracious me ! why, he said he wasn't coming." 

" People sometimes say what they don't mean, as you 
may have discovered." 

" But why didn't he come and speak to a body, 

"Better employed, I suppose." 

" Now don't be cross, dear, but tell me all about it, 
for I don't understand how you allowed him to monopo- 
lize Fan so." 

" Oh, don't bother, I'm sleepy." 

"No you're not; you look wicked; I know you've 
been in mischief, and I insist upon hearing all about it, 
so come and tell this instant." 


Dolly proceeded to enforce her command by pulling 
away his pillow and dragging her brother into a sitting 
posture, in spite of his laughing resistance and evident 
desire to exhaust her patience ; for Dick excelled in teas- 
ing, and kept his sister in a fidget from morning till 
night, with occasional fits of penitence and petting which 
lasted till next time. Therefore, though dying to tell, he 
was undecided as to the best method of executing that 
task in the manner most aggravating to his listener and 
most agreeable to himself, and sat regarding her with 
twinkling eyes, and his curly pate in a high state of 
rumple, trying to appear innocently meek, but failing 

" Now, then, begin," commanded Dolly. 

" Well, if you won't take my head ofi" till I'm done, 
I'll tell you the best joke of the season. Are you sure 
the pink domino with Bopp wasn't yourself, — for she 
looked and acted very like you ? " 

" Of course I am. I didn't even know he Avas there, 
and think it very rude and ungentlemanly in him not to 
come and speak to me. You know it was Fan, so do go 

"But it wasn't, for she changed her mind and wore a 
black domino ; I saw her put it on myself. Her Cousin 
Jack came unexpectedly, and she thought if she altered 
her dress and went with him, you wouldn't know her." 

" Who could it have been, Dick? " 

" That's the mystery, for, do you know, Bopp proposed 
to her." 

" He didn't ! " and Dolly flew up with a startled look 
that, to adopt a phrase from his own vocabulary, was 
" nuts " to her brother. 


*' Yes he did ; I heard him." 

" Wheu, where, and how? " 

'* In one of those flirtation boxes ; they dropped the 
curtain, but I heard him do it, on my honor I did." 

" Persons of honor don't listen at curtains and key- 
holes. What did they say?" 

"Oh, if it wasn't honorable to listen, it isn't to hear ; 
so I won't tell, though I could not help knowing it." 

'^ Mercy ! don't stop now, or I shall die with curiosity. 
I dare say I should have done the same ; no one minds 
at such a place, you know. But I don't see the joke 
yet," said Dolly dismally. 

" I do," and Dick went off into a shout. 

" You idiotic boy, take that pillow out of your mouth, 
and tell me the whole thing, — what he said, what she 
said, and what they both did. It was all fun, of course, 
but I'd like to hear about it." 

" It may have been fun on her part, but it was solemn 
earnest on his, for he went it strong I assure you. I'd 
no idea the old fellow was so sly, for he appeared 
smashed with you, you know", and there he was finishing 
up with this unknown lady. I wish you could have 
heard him go on, with tears in his eyes " 

'• How do you know, if you didn't see him?" 

"Oh, well, that's only a figure of speech; I thought 
so from his voice. He w^as ever so tender, and took to 
Dutch when English was too cool for him. It was 
really touching, for I never heard a fellow do it before ; 
and, upon my word, I should think it was rather a tough 
job to say that sort of thing to a pretty woman, mask or 
no mask." 

"What did she say?" asked Dolly, with her hands 


pressed tight together, and a curious little quiver of the 

" She said No, as short as pie-crust ; and when he 
rushed out with his heart broken all to bits, apparently, 
she just burst out laughing, and went and polked at a^ 
two-forty pace for half an hour." 

Dora unclasped her hands, took a long breath, and 
cried out, — 

" She was a wicked, heartless hussy ! and if I kuow\ 
her, I'll never speak to her again ; for if he was really^ 
in earnest, she ought to be killed for laughing at him." i 

" So ought you, then, for making fun of poor Fisheri] 
when he went down on his knees behind the berry bushes j 
last summer. He was earnest enough, for he looked as' 
blue as his berries when he got home. Your theory is 
all right, ma'am, but your practice is all bosh." 

" Hold your tongue about that silly thing. Boys in 
college think they know everything, can do everything, 
have everything, and only need beckon, and all woman- 1 
kind will come and adore. It made a man of him, and \ 
he'll thank me for taking the sentimental nonsense and ^ 
conceit out of him. You will need just such a lesson at 
the rate you go on, and I hope Fan Avill give it to you.' 

"When the lecture is over, I'll go on with the joke, if: 
you want to know it." 

"Isn't this all?" 

" Oh, bless you, no ! the cream of it is to come. 
What would you give to know who the lady was ? " 

" Five dollars, down, this minute." 

" Very good, hand 'em over, and I'll tell you." 

"Truly, Dick?" 

" Yes, and prove it." 


Dolly produced her purse, and, bill in hand, sat wait- 
Qo- for the disclosure. Dick rose with a melo-dramatic 
>o\v, — 

'' Lo, it was I." 

"That's a gi'cat fib, for I saw you flying about the 
vhole evening." 

"You saw my dress, but I was not in it." 

" Oh ! oh ! who did I keep gohig to, then? and what 
lid I do to make a fool of myself, I wonder? " 

Purse and bill dropped out of Dolly's hand, and she 
coked at her brother with a distracted expression of 
jountenance. Dick rubbed his hands and chuckled. 

" Here's a jolly state of things I Now I'll tell you the 
w'hole story. I never thought of doing it till I saw Bopp 
md told him who you were ; but on my way for Fan I 
wondered if he'd get puzzled between you two ; and then 
a o-rand idea popped into my head to puzzle him myself, 
for I can take you off to the life. Fan didn't want me 
to, but I made her, so she lent me hoops, and gOT^Ti, and 
the pink domino, and if ever I thanked my stars I wasn't 
Itall, I did then, for the things fitted capitally as to length, 
though I kept splitting something down the back, and scat- 
tering hooks and eyes in all directions. I wish you 
\coiM have heard Jack roar while they rigged me. He 
shad no dress, so I lent him mine, till just before the 
masks were tak«^n off, when we cut home and changed. 
He told me how you kept running to him to tie up your 
slippers, find your fan, and tell him funny things, think- 
?ing it was me. I never enjoyed anything so much in my 

I "Go on," said Dolly, in a breathless sort of voice, and 
the deluded boy obeyed. 
[ 9 


" I knew Bopp, and hovered near till he came to find 
out who I was. I took you off in style, and it deceived 
him, for I'm only an inch or two taller than you, and 
kept my head do^vn in the lackadaisical way you girls 
do ; I whispered, so my voice didn't betray me ; and 
was very clinging, and sweet, and fluttery, and that 
blessed old goose was sure it was you. I thought it was 
all over once, for when he came the heavy in the recess 
I got a bit flustered, he was so serious about it, my 
mask slipped, but I caught it, so he only saw my eyes 
and forehead, which are just like yours, and that finished 
him, for I've no doubt I looked as red and silly as you 
would have done in a like fix." 

"Why did you say No?" and Dolly looked as stern 
as fate. 

"What else should I say? You told me you wouldn't 
have him, and I thought it would save you the bother of 
saying it, and him the pain of asking twice. I told him 
some time ago that you were a born flirt ; he said he 
knew it ; so I was surprised to hear him go on at such a 
rate, but supposed that I was too amiable, and that 
misled him. Poor old Bopp, I kept thinking of him all 
night, as he looked when he said, ' They told me you had 
no heart, now I believe it, and I thank you for that No.' 
It was rather a hard joke for him, but it's over now, and 
he Avon't have to do it again. You said I wouldn't dare 
tell him about you ; didn't I? and haven't I won the " 

The rest of the sentence went spinning dizzily through 
Dick's head, as a sudden tingling sensation pervaded his 
left ear, followed by a similar smart in the right ; and, 
for a moment, chaos seemed to have come again. What- 
ever Dolly did was thoroughly done : when she danced, 


the soles of her shoes attested the fact ; wheu she flh'ted, 
it was warm work while it lasted ; aud when she was 
angry, it thundered, lightened, and blew great guns till 
the shower came, and the whole affair ended in a rain- 
bow. Therefore, being outwitted, disappointed, mor- 
tified and hurt, her first impulse was to find a vent for 
these conflicting emotions ; and possessing skilful hands, 
she left them to avenge the wrong done her heart, which 
they did so faitlifully, that if ever a young gentleman's 
ears were vigorously and completely boxed, Dick was 
that young individual. As the thunder-clap ceased, the 
gale began, and blew steadily for several minutes. 

"You think it a joke, do you? I tell you it's a 
wicked, cruel thing ; you've told a lie ; you've broken 
August's heart, and made me so angry that I'll never 
forgive you as long as I live. What do you know about 
my feelings? and how dare you take it upon yourself to 
answer for me? You think because we are nearly the 
same age that I am no older than you, but you're mis- 
taken, for a boy of eighteen is a boy, a girl of seventeen 
is often a woman, with a Avoman's hopes and plans ; you 
don't understand this any more than you do August's love 
for me, which you listened to and laughed at. I said I 
didn't like him, and I didn't find out till afterward that I 
did ; then I was afraid to tell you, lest you'd twit me 
with it. But now I care for no one, and I say I do like 
him, — yes, I love him with all my heart, and soul, and 
might, and I'd die this minute if I could undo the harm 
you've done, and see him happy ! I know I've been 
selfish, vain, and thoughtless, but I am not now ; I hoped 
he'd love me, hoped he'd see I cared for him, that I'd 
done trifling, and didn't mind if he was poor, for I'd 


enough for both ; that I longed to make his life pleasant 
after all his troubles ; that I'd send for the little sister he 
loves so well, and never let him suffer any more ; for he 
is so good, so patient, so generous, and dear to me, I 
cannot do enough for him. Now it's all spoilt ; now I 
can never tell him this, never comfort him in any way, 
never be happy again all my life, and yow have done it !" 

As Dolly stood before her brother, pouring out her 
words with glittering eyes, impetuous voice, and face 
pale with passionate emotion, he was scared ; for, as his 
scattered wits returned to him, he felt that he had been 
playing with edge-tools, and had cut and slashed in rather 
a promiscuous manner. Dazed and dizzy, he sat staring 
at the excited figure before him, forgetting the indignity 
he had received, the mistake he had made, the damage 
he had done, in simple w^onder at the revolutions going 
on under his astonished eyes. When Dolly stopped for 
breath, he muttered with a contrite look, — 

"I'm very sorry, — it was only fun ; and I thought it 
w^ould help you both, for how the deuce should I know 
you liked the man when you said you hated him ? " 

" I never said that, and if I'd wanted advice I should 
have gone to mother. You men go blundering off with 
l;uilf an idea in your heads, and never see your stupidity 
till you have made a mess that can't be mended ; we 
Avomen don't work so, but save people's feelings, and are 
called hypocrites for our pains. I never meant to tell 
you, but I w^ill now, to show you how I've been serving 
you, wiiile you've been harming me : every one of those 
notes from Fan w^hich you admire so much, answer so 
carefully, and wear out in your pocket, though copied by 
her, were written by me." 


" The dickins they were ! " Up flew Dick, and clap- 
ping his hand on the left-breast pocket, out came a dozen 
pink notes tied up with a blue ribbon, and much the 
worse for wear. He hastily turned them over as Dolly 
went on. 

" Yes, I did it, for she didn't know how to answer 
your notes, and came to me. I didn't laugh at them, or 
make fun of her, but helped her silly little wits, and made 
you a happy boy for three months, though you teased me 
day and night, for I loved you, and hadn't the heart to 
spoil your pleasure." 

" You've done it now with a vengeance, and you're a 
pair of deceitful minxes. I've paid you off. I'll give 
Fan one more note that will keep her eyes red for a 
month ; and I'll never love or trust a girl again as long 
as I live, — never ! never ! " 

Red with wrath, Dick threw the treasured packet into 
the fire, punched it well down among the coals, flung 
away the poker, and turned about with a look and ges- 
ture which would have been very comical if they had not 
been decidedly pathetic, for, in spite of his years, a very 
tender heart beat under the blue jacket, and it was griev- 
ously wounded at the perfidy of the gentle little divinity 
whom he worshipped with daily increasing ardor. His 
eyes filled, but he winked resolutely ; his lips trembled, 
but he bit them hard ; his hands doubled themselves up, 
but he remembered his adversary was a woman ; and, as 
a last effort to preserve his masculine dignity, he began 
to whistle. 

As if the inconsistencies of womankind were to be 
sho^^^l him as rapidly as possible, at this moment the 
shower came on ; for, taking him tenderly about the neck, 


Dolly fell to weeping so infectiously, that, after standing 
rigidly erect till a great tear dropped off the end of his 
nose, Dick gave in, and laying his head on Dolly's 
shoulder, the brother and sister quenched their anger, 
washed away their malice, and soothed their sorrow by 
one of those natural processes so kindly provided for 
poor humanity, and so often despised as a weakness when 
it might prove a better strength than any pride. 

Dick cleared up first, with no sign of the tempest but 
a slight mist through which his native sunshine glim- 
mered pensively. 

" Don't, dear, don't cry so ; it will make you sick, and 
w^on't do any good, for things will come right, or I'll 
make 'em, and we'll be comfortable all round." 

" No, we never can be as we were, and it's all my 
fault. I've betrayed Fan's confidence, I've spoiled your 
little romance, I've been a thoughtless, wicked girl, I've 
lost August ; and, oh, dear me, I wish I was dead ! " 
with which funereal climax Dolly cried despairingly. 

'' Oh, come now, don't be dismal, and blame yourself 
for every trouble under the sun. Sit down and talk it 
over, and see what can be done. Poor old girl, I forgive 
you the notes, and say I was wrong to meddle with Bopp. 
I got you into the scrape, and I'll get you out if the sky 
don't fall, or Bopp blow his brains out, like a second 
Werther, before to-morrow." 

Dick drew the animated fountain to the wide chair, 
w^here they had sat together since they were born, wiped 
her eyes, and patted her back, with an idea that it was 
soothing to babies, and why not to girls ? 


" I wish mother was at home," sighed Dolly, longing 
for tliat port which was always a haven of refuge in 
domestic squalls like this. 

*•' Write, and tell her not to stay till Saturday." 

" Xo ; it would spoil her visit, and you know she 
deferred it to help us through this dreadful masquerade. 
But I don't know what to do." 

"Why, bless your heart, it's simple enough. I'll tell 
Bopp, beg his pardon, say ' Dolly's willing,' and there 
you are all taut and ship-shape again." 

" I wouldn't for the world, Dick. It would be very 
hard for you, very awkward for me, and do no good in 
the end ; for August is so proud he'd never forgive you 
for such a trick, would never believe that I ' had a heart* 
after all you've said and I've done ; and I should only 
hear with my own ears that he thanked me for that No. 
Oh, why can't people know when they are in love, and 
not go heels over head before they are ready ! " 

"Well, if that don't suit, I'll let it alone, for that is all 
I can suggest ; and if you like your woman's way better, 
try it, only you'll have to fly round, because to-morrow is 
the last night, you know." 

" I shan't go, Dick." 

"AYhynot? we are going to give him the rosewood 
set of things, have speeches, cheers for the King of 
Clubs, and no end of fun." 

" I can't help it ; there would be no fun for me, and I 
couldn't look him in the face after all this." 

" Oh, pooh ! yes you could, or it will be the first time 
you dared not do damage with those wicked eyes of 

" It is the first time I ever loved any one." Dolly's 


voice was so low, and her head drooped so much, that 
this brief confession was apparently put away in Dick's 
pocket ; and, being an exceedingly novel one, filled 
that ardent youth with a desire to deposit a similar 
one in the other pocket, which, being emptied of its 
accustomed contents, left a somewhat aching void in itself 
and the heart underneath. After a moment's silence, he 
said, — 

" Well, if you Avon't go, you can settle it when he 
comes here, though I think we should all do better to 
confess coming home in the dark." 

" He won't come here again, Dick." 

" Won't he ! that shows you don't know Bopp as well as 
I. He'll come to say good-by, to thank mother for her 
kindness, and you and me for the little things we've done 
for him (I wish I'd left the last undone !), and go away 
like a gentleman, as he is, — see if he don't." 

" Do you think so? Then I must see him." 

" I'm sure he will, for we men don't bear malice and 
sulk and bawl when we come to grief this way, but stand 
up and take it without winking, like the young Spartan 
brick when the fox was digging into him, you know." 

'' Then of course you'll forgive Fan." 

" I'll be hanged if I do," gi'owled Dick. 

" Ah ha ! your theory is very good, sir, but your prac- 
tice is bosh," quoted Dolly, with a gleam of the old mis- 
chief in her face. 

Dick took a sudden turn through the room, burst out 
laughing, and came back, saying heartily, — 

"I'll own up ; it is mean to feel so, and I'll think about 
forgiving you both ; but she may stop up the hole in the 
wall, for she won't get any more letters just yet ; and you 


may devote your epistolary powers to A. Bopp in future. 
Well, what is it? free your mind, and have done with it ; 
but don't make your nose red, or take the starch out of 
my collar with any more salt water, if you please." 

" No, I won't ; and I only want to say that, as you 
owe the explanation to us both, perhaps it Avould be best 
for you to tell August your part of the thing as you come 
home to-morrow, and then leave the rest to fate. I can't 
let him go away thinking me such a heartless creature, 
and once gone it will be too late to mend the matter. 
Can you do this without getting me into another scrape, 
do you think? " 

" I haven't a doubt of it, and I call that sensible. I'll 
fix it capitally, — go down on my knees in the mud, if it 
is necessary ; treat you like eggs for fear of another 
smash-up ; and bring him home in such a tip-top state, 
you'll only have to nod and find yourself Mrs. B. any 
day you like. Now let's kiss and be friends, and then 
go pitch into that pie for luncheon." 

So they did ; and an hour afterward were rioting in 
the garret under pretence of putting grandma's things 
aw^ay ; for at eighteen, in spite of love and mischief, boys 
and girls have a spell to exorcise blue devils, and a happy 
faculty of forgetting that " the world is hollow, and their 
dolls stuffed with sawxlust." 

Dick was right, for on the following evening, after the 
lesson, Mr. Bopp did go home with him, " to say good-by, 
like a gentleman as he was." Dolly got over the first 
greeting in the dusky hall, and as her guest passed on to 
the parlor, she popped her head out to ask anxiously, — 

" Did you say anything, Dick ? " 

" I couldn't ; something has happened to him ; he'll 


tell you about it. I'm going to see to the horse, so take 
your time, and do what you like ; " with which vague 
information Dick vanished, and Dolly wished herself any- 
where but where she was. 

Mr. Bopp sat before the fire, looking so haggard and 
worn-out that the girl's conscience pricked her sorely for 
Jier part in the change ; but plucking up her courage, she 
stirred briskly among the tea-cups, asking, — 

" What shall I give you, sir? " 

" Thank you, I haf no care to eat." 

Something in his spiritless mien and sorrowful voice 
made Dolly's eyes fill ; but knowing she must depend 
upon herself now, and make the best of her position, she 
said kindly, yet nervously, — 

" You look tired : let me do something for you if I 
can ; shall I sing for you a little ? you once said music 
rested you." 

" You are kind ; I could like that I think. Excoose 
me if I am dull, I haf, — yes, a little air if you please." 

More and more disturbed by his absent, troubled man- 
ner, Dolly began a German song he had taught her, but 
before the first line was sung he stopped her with an 
imploring, — 

" For Gott sake not that ! I cannot hear it this night ; 
it was the last I sung her in the Yaterland." 

" Mr. Bopp, what is it? Dick says you have a trou- 
ble ; tell me, and let us help you if we can. Are you 
ill, in want, or has any one injured you in any way? 
Oh, let me help you ! " 

Tears had been streaming down Mr. Bopp's cheeks, 
but as she spoke he checked them, and tried to answer 
steadily, — 


" No, I am not ill ; I haf no wants now, and no one 
has hurt me but in kindness ; yet I haf so great a grief, 
I could not bear it all alone, and so I came to ask a lit- 
tle sympathy from your good Mutter, who has been kind 
to me as if I was a son. She is not here, and I thought 
I would stop back my grief; but that moosic was too 
much ; you pity me, and so I tell you. See, now ! when 
I find things go bright with me, and haf a hope of much 
work, I take the little store I saved, I send it to my 
friend Carl Hoffman, who is coming from ray home, and 
say, ' Bring Ulla to me now, for I can make life go well 
to her, and I am hungry till I haf her in my arms again.* 
I tell no one, for I am bold to think that one day I come 
here with her in my hand, to let her thank you in her so 
sweet way for all you haf done for me. Well, I watch 
the wind, I count the days, I haf no rest for joy ; and 
when Carl comes, I fly to him. He gifs me back my 
store, he falls upon my neck and does not speak, then I 
know my little girl will never come, for she has gone to 
Himmel before I could make a home for her on earth. 
Oh, my Ulla ! it is hard to bear ; " and poor Mr. Bopp 
covered his face, and laid it down on his empty plate, as 
if he never cared to lift it up again. 

Then Dolly forgot herself in her great sympathy, and, 
going to him, she touched the bent head with a soothing 
hand ; let her tears flow to comfort his ; and whispered 
in her tenderest voice, — 

" Dear Mr. Bopp, I wish I could cure this sorrow, but 
as I cannot, let me bear it with you ; let me tell you how 
we loved the little child, and longed to see her ; how we 
should have rejoiced to know you had so dear a friend to 
make your life happy in this strange land ; how we shall 


grieve for your gi-eat loss, and long to prove our respect 
and love for you. I cannot say this as I ought, but, oh, 
be comforted, for you will see the child again, and, 
remembering that she waits for you, you will be glad to 
go when God calls you to meet your Ulla in that other 

" Ah, I will go now ! I haf no wish to stay, for all 
my life is black to me. If I had found that other little 
friend to fill her place, I should not grieve so much, 
because she is weller there above than I could make her 
here ; but no : I wait for that other one ; I save all my 
heart for her ; I send it, but it comes back to me ; then 
I know my hope is dead, and I am all alone in the 
strange land." 

There was neither bitterness nor reproach in these 
broken words, only a patient sorrow, a regretful pain, as 
if he saAv the two lost loves before him, and uttered over 
them an irrepressible lament. It was too much for 
Dolly, and with sudden resolution she spoke out fast and 
low, — 

"Mr. Bopp, that was a mistake. It was not me you 
saw at the masque ; it was Dick. He played a cruel 
trick ; he insulted you and wronged me by that deceit, 
and I find it very hard to pardon hira." 

" What ! what is that?" and Mr. Bopp looked up with 
tears still shining in his beard, and intense surprise in 
every feature of his face. 

Dolly turned scarlet, and her heart beat fast as she 
repeated with an unsteady voice, — 

" It was Dick, not me." 

A cloud swept over Mr. Bopp's face, and he knit his 
brows a moment as if Dolly had not been far from right 


wheu she said " he never would forgive the joke." Pres- 
ently, he spoke in a tone she had never heard before, — 
cold and quiet, — and in his eye she thought she read 
contempt for her brother and herself : 

'• I see now, and I say no more but this ; it was not 
kind when I so trusted you. Yet it is well, for you and 
Richart are so one, I haf no doubt he spoke your wish." 

Here was a desperate state of things. Dolly had done 
her best, yet he did not, or would not, understand, and 
before she could restrain them, the words slipped over 
her tongue, — 

" No ! Dick and I never agree." 

Mr. Bopp started, swept three spoons and a tea-cup off 
the table as he turned, for something in the hasty whisper 
reassured him. The color sprang up to his cheek, the 
old warmth to his eye, the old erectness to his figure, and 
the eager accent to his voice. He rose, drew Dolly 
nearer, took her face between his hands, and bending, 
fixed on her a look tender, yet commanding, as he said, 
Mitli an earnestness that stirred her as words had never 
done before, — 

" Dollee, he said No ! do you sa.j Yes?" 

She could not speak, but her heart stood up in her 
eyes, and answered him so eloquently that he was satisfied. 

" Thank the Lord, it's all right ! " thought Dick, as, 
peeping in at the window ten minutes later, he saw Dolly 
enthroned upon Mr. Bopp's knee, both her hands in his, 
and an expression in her April countenance which proved 
that she found it natural and pleasant to be sitting there, 
with her head on the kind heart that loved her ; to hear 
herself called " meine leibchen " ; to know that she alone 


could comfort him for little Ulla's loss, and fill her empty 

" They make a very pretty landscape, but too much 
honey isn't good for 'em, so I'll go in, and we'll eat, 
drink, and be merry, in honor of the night." 

He rattled the latch and tramped on the mat, to warn 
them of his approach, and appeared just as Dolly was 
skimming into a chair, and Mr. Bopp picking up the 
spoons, which he dropped again to meet Dick, and kiss- 
ing him on both cheeks, after the fashion of his country, 
as he said, pointing to Dolly, — 

" See, it is all fine again. I forgif you, and leave all 
blame to that bad spirit, Mephistopheles, who has much 
pranks like that, but never pays one for their pain, as 
you haf me. Heart's dearest, come and say a friendly 
word to Richart, then we will haf a little health : Long 
life and happiness to the King of Clubs and the Queen 
of Hearts." 

" Yes, August, and as he's to be a farmer, we'll add 
another : ' Wiser w4ts and better manners to the Knave 
of Spades.* " 


All. dear mc, dear me, I'm a deal too comfortable ! " 
Judging from appearances, Mrs. Podgers certainly bad 
some cause for tbat unusual exclamation. To begin 
with, the room was comfortable. It was tidy, bright, 
and Avarm ; full of cosy corners and capital contrivances 
for quiet enjoyment. The chairs seemed to extend their 
plump arms invitingly ; the old-fashioned sofa Avas so 
hospitable, that wlioever sat down upon it was slow to get 
up ; the pictures, though portraits, did not stare one out 
of countenance, but surveyed the scene with an air of 
tranquil enjoyment ; and the unshuttered windows al- 
lowed the cheery light to shine out into the snowy street 
through blooming screens of Christmas roses and white 

The fire was comfortable ; for it was neither hidden in 
a stove nor imprisoned behind bars, but went rollicking 
up the wide chimney with a jovial roar. It flickered 
over the suppcr-tab'le as if curious to discover what 
savory viands were concealed under the shining covers. 
It touched up the old portraits till they seemed to wink ; 
it covered the walls with comical shadows, as if the portly 
chairs had set their arms akimbo and were dancing a 
jig ; it flashed out into the street with a voiceless greet- 
ing to every passer-by ; it kindled mimic fires ia the 



brass andirons and the teapot simmering on the hob, 
and, best of all, it shone its brightest on Mrs. Podgers, 
as if conscious that it couldn't do a better thing. 

Mrs. Podgers was comfortable as she sat there, buxom, 
blooming, and brisk, in spite of her forty years and her 
widow's cap. Her black gown was illuminated to such 
an extent that it couldn't look sombre ; her cap had 
given up trying to be prim long ago, and cherry ribbons 
wouldn't have made it more becoming as it set off her 
crisp black hair, and met in a coquettish bow under her 
plump chin ; her white apron encircled her trim waist, 
as if conscious of its advantages ; and the mourning-pin 
upon her bosom actually seemed to twinkle with satisfac- 
tion at the enviable post it occupied. 

The sleek cat, purring on the hearth, was comfortable, 
so was the agTeeable fragrance of muffins that pervaded 
the air, so was the droAvsy tick of the clock in the corner ; 
and if anything was needed to give a finishing touch to 
the general comfort of the scene, the figure pausing in 
the doorway supplied the want most successfully. 

Heroes are always expected to be young and comely, 
also fierce, melancholy, or at least what novel-readers 
call "interesting"; but I am forced to own that my 
present hero was none of these. Half the real beauty, 
virtue, and romance of the world gets put into humble 
souls, hidden in plain bodies. Mr. Jerusalem Turner 
was an example of this ; and, at the risk of shocking 
my sentimental readers, I must frankly state that he was 
fifty, stout, and bald, also that he used bad grammar, 
had a double chin, and was only the Co. in a prosperous 
grocery store. A hale and hearty old gentleman, with 
cheerful brown eyes, a ruddy countenance, and curly gi-ay 


liair sticking up all round his head, with an air of energy 
and independence that was pleasant to behold. There 
he stood, beaming upon the unconscious Mrs. Podgers, 
softly rubbing his hands, and smiling to himself with the 
air of a man enjoying the chief satisfaction of his life, 
as he was. 

"Ah, dear me, dear me, I'm a deal too comfortable !" 
sighed Mrs. Podgers, addressing the teapot. 

" Not a bit, mum, not a bit." 

In walked the gentleman, and up rose the lady, saying, 
Avith a start and an aspect of relief, — 

" Bless me, I didn't hear you ! I began to think you 
were never coming to your tea, Mr. 'Rusalem." 

Everybody called him Mr. 'Rusalem, and many people 
were ignorant that he had any other name. He liked it, 
for it began with the children, and the little voices had 
endeared it to him, not to mention the sound of it from 
Mrs Podgers' lips for ten years. 

" I know I'm late, mum, but I really couldn't help it. 
To-night's a busy time, and the lads are just good for 
nothing with their jokes and spirits, so I stayed to steady 
*em, and do a little job that turned up unexpected." 

" Sit right down and have your tea while you can, 
then. I've kept it warm for you, and the muffins are 
done lovely." 

Mrs. Podgers bustled about with an alacrity that 
seemed to give an added relish to the supper ; and when 
her companion was served, she sat smiling at him with 
her hand on the teapot, ready to replenish his cup before 
he could ask for it. 

"Have things been fretting of you, mum? You 
looked down-hearted as I came in, and that ain't ac- 


cordin' to the time of year, which is merry," said Mr. 
'Rusalem, stirriug his tea with a sense of solid satisfaction 
that would have sweetened a far less palatable draught. 

" It's the teapot ; I don't know what's got into it 
to-night ; but, as I was waiting for you, it set me 
thinking of one thing and another, till I declare I felt as 
if it had up and spoke to me, showing me how I wasn't 
grateful enougli for my blessings, but a deal more com- 
fortable than I deserved." 

While speaking, Mrs. Podgers' eyes rested on an 
inscription which encircled the corpulent little silver tea- 
pot : "To our Benefactor. — TIigtj iclw give to the poor lend 
to the Lord.'' Now one wouldn't think there was any- 
thing in the speech or the inscription to disturb Mr. 
'Rusalem ; but there seemed to be, for he fidgeted in his 
chair, dropped his fork, and glanced at the teapot with a 
very odd expression. It was a capital little teapot, solid, 
bright as hands could make it, and ornamented with a 
robust young cherub perched upon the lid, regardless of 
the warmth of his seat. "With her eyes still fixed upon 
it, Mrs. Podgers continued meditatively, — 

"You know how fond I am of the teapot -for poor 
Podgers' sake. I really feel quite superstitious about 
it ; and when thoughts come to me, as I sit watching it, 
I have faith in them, because they always remind me of 
the past." 

Here, after vain eflforts to restrain himself, Mr. 'Rusa- 
lem broke into a sudden laugh, so hearty and infectious 
that Mrs. Podgers couldn't help smiling, even while she 
shook her head at him. 

" I beg pardon, mum, it's hysterical ; I'll never do it 


again," pauted Mr. 'Rusalem, as he got his breath, and 
went soberly on with his supper. 

It was a singular fact that whenever the teapot was 
particularly alluded to he always behaved in this incom- 
prehensible manner, — laughed, begged pardon, said it 
was hysterical, and promised never to do it again. It 
used to trouble Mrs. Podgers very much, but she had 
grown used to it ; and having been obliged to overlook 
many oddities in the departed Podgers, she easily forgave 
'Rusalem his only one. After the laugh there w-as a 
pause, during which Mrs. Podgers sat absently polishing 
up the silver cherub, with the memory of the little son 
who died two Christmases ago lying heavy at her heart, 
and ]Mr. 'Rusalem seemed to be turning something over 
in his mind as he watched a bit of butter sink luxuri- 
ously into the warm bosom of a muffin. Once or twice 
he paused as if listening, several times he stole a look at 
Mrs. Podgers, and presently said, in a somewhat anxious 
tone, — 

'' You was saying just now that you was a deal too 
comfortable, mum ; would you wish to be made uncom- 
fortable in order to realize your blessings? " 

" Yes, I should. I'm getting lazy, selfish, and forget- 
ful of other folks. You leave me nothing to do, and 
make everything so easy for me that I'm growing young 
and giddy again. Now that isn't as it should be, 

" It meets my views exactly, mum. You've had your 
hard times, your worryments and cares, and now it's 
right to take your rest." 

" Then why don't you take yours? I'm sure you've 


earned it drudging thirty years in the store, with more 
extra work than holidays for your sliarc." 

" Oh well, mum, it's different with me, you know. 
Business is amusing ; and I'm so used to it I shouldn't 
know myself if I was out of the store for good." 

" Well, I hope you are saying up something against 
the time Ayhen business won't be amusing. You are so 
generous, I'm afraid you forget you can't work for other 
people all your days." 

" Yes, mum, I'ye put by a little sum in a safe bank 
that pays good interest, and when I'm past work I'll fall 
back and enjoy it." 

To judge from the cheerful content of the old gentle- 
man's face he was enjoying it already, as he looked about 
him with the air of a man who had made a capital 
investment, and w^as in the receipt of generous diyideuds. 
Seeing Mrs. Podgers' bright eye fixed upon him, as 
if she suspected something, and would have the truth 
out of him in two minutes, he recalled the conversation 
to the point from which it had wandered. 

" If you would like to try how a little misery suits 
you, mum, I can accommodate you if you'll step up- 

" Good gracious, what do you mean ? Who's up there ? 
Why didn't you tell me before ? " cried Mrs. Podgers, in 
a flutter of interest, curiosity, and surprise, as he knew 
she would be. 

"You see, mum, I was doubtful how you'd like it. I 
did it without stopping to think, and then I was afraid 
you'd consider it a liberty." 

Mr. 'Rusalem spoke with some hesitation ; but Mrs. 
Podgers didn't wait to hear him, for she w^as already at 


the door, lamp in liaud, and would have been off had she 
known where to go, " up-stairs" being a somewhat vague 
expression. The old gentleman led the way to the room 
he had occupied tor thirty years, in spite of Mrs. Pod- 
gers' frequent offers of a better and brighter one. He 
was attached to it, small and dark as it was, for the joys 
and sorrows of more than half his life had come to him 
in that little room, and somehow when he was there it 
bri-htened up amazingly. Mrs. Podgers looked well 
about her, but saw nothing new, and her conductor said, 
as he paused beside the bed, — 

" Let me tell you how I found it before I show it. You 
see, mum, I had to step down the street just at dark, and 
passing the windows I give a glance in, as Pve a bad 
habit of doing when the lamps is lighted and you a set- 
ting there alone. Well, mum, what did I see outside but 
a ragged little chap a flattening his nose against the 
glass'lnd staring in with all his eyes. I didn't blame 
him much for it, and on I goes without a word. When 
I came back I see him a lying close to the wall, and 
mistrusting that he was up to some game that might give 
you a scare, I speaks to him : he don't answer ; I 
touches him : he don't stir ; then I picks him up, and see- 
ing that he's gone in a fit or a faint, I makes for the 
st^re with a will. He come to rapid ; and finding that 
he was most froze and starved, I fed and warmed and 
fixed him a trifle, and then tucked him away here, for 
he's got no folks to worry for him, and was too used up 
to go out again to-night. That's the story, mum ; and 
now ril produce the little chap if I can find him." 

With that :Mr. 'Rusalem began to grope about the bed, 
chuckling, yet somewhat anxious, for not a vestige of an 


occupant appeared, till a dive downward produced a sud- 
den agitation of the clothes, a squeak, and the unexpected 
appearance out at the foot of the bed of a singular figure, 
that dodged into a comer, with one arm up, as if to 
ward off a blow, while a sleepy little voice exclaimed 
beseechingly, " I'm up, I'm up, don't hit me ! " 

" Lord love the child, who'd think of doing that ! 
"Wake up, Joe, and see your friends," said Mr. 'Rusa- 
lem, advancing cautiously. 

At the sound of his voice down went the arm, and 
Mrs. Podgers saw a boy of nine or ten, arrayed in a 
flannel garment that evidently belonged to Mr. 'Kusalem, 
for though none too long it was immensely broad, and 
the voluminous sleeves were pinned up, showing a pair 
of w^asted arms, chapped with cold and mottled with 
bruises. A large blue sock still covered one foot, the 
other w^as bound up as if hurt. A tall cotton nightcap, 
garnished with a red tassel, looked like a big extinguisher 
on a small candle ; and from under it a pair of dark, 
hollow eyes glanced sharply with a shrewd, suspicious 
look, that made the little face more pathetic than the 
marks of suffering, neglect, and abuse, which told the 
child's story without words.' As if quite reassured by 
'Rusalem's presence, the boy shuffled out of his corner, 
saying coolly, as he prepared to climb into his nest 
again, — 

" I thought it was the old one when you grabbed me. 
Ain't this bed a first-rater, though ? " 

Mr. 'Rasalem lifted the composed young personage 
into the middle of the big bed, where he sat bolt upright, 
surveying the prospect from under the extinguisher with 
an equanimity that quite took the good lady's breath 

MRS. PODGE lis' TEAPOT. 15^ 

away. But Mr. 'Rusalcm loll back and pointed to him, 
saying, "There he is, mum," with as much pride and 
satisfaction as if he had found some rare and valuable 
treasure; for the little child was very precious in his 
sight. Mrs. Fodgers really didn't know Avhethcr to 
laugh or cry, and settled the matter by plumping down 
beside the boy, saying cordially, as she took the gi'imy 
little hands into her own, — 

" He's heartily welcome, 'Rusalem. Now tell me all 
about it, my poor dear, and don't be afraid." 

" Ho, I ain't afraid a you nor he. I ain't got nothin' 
to tell, only my name's Joe and I'm sleepy." 

" Who is your mother, and w^here do you live, deary?" 
asked Mrs. Podgers, haunted with the idea that some 
woman must be anxious for the child. 

" Ain't got any, we don't have 'em wdiere I lives. The 
old one takes care a me." 
"\Yho is the old one?" 

" Granny. I works for her, and she lets me stay 
alonger her." 

" Bless the dear ! Avhat w^ork can such a mite do? " 
" Heaps a things. I sifs ashes, p.icks rags, goes beg- 
gin', runs arrants, and sometimes the big fellers lets me 
call papers. That's fun, only I gets knocked round, 
and it hurts, you'd better believe." 

" Did you come here begging, and, being afraid to ring, 
stand outside looking in at me enjoying myself, like a 
selfish creeter as I am?" 

" I forgot to ask for the cold vittles a lookin' at warm 
ones, and thinkin' if they was mine what I'd give the little 
fellers when I has my tree." 
"Your what, child?'* 


" My Christmas-tree. Look a here, I've got it, and 
all these to put on it to-morrer." 

From under his pillow the boy produced a smaU 
branch of hemlock, dropped from some tree on its pas- 
sage to a gayer festival than little Joe's ; also an old 
handkerchief which contained his treasures, — only a 
few odds and ends picked up in the streets : a gnarly 
apple, half-a-dozen nuts, two or three dingy bonbons, 
gleaned from the sweepings of some store, and a bit of 
cheese, which last possession he evidently prized higldy. 

" That's for the old one ; she likes it, and I kep it for 
her, — cause she don't hit so hard when I fetch her 
goodies. You don't mind, do you ? " he said, looking 
inquiringly at Mr. 'Rusalem, who blew his nose like a 
trumpet, and patted the big nightcap with a fatherly 
gesture more satisfactory than words. 

" What have you kept for yourself, dear? " asked Mrs. 
Podgers, with an irrepressible sniff, as she looked at the 
poor little presents, and remembered that they " didn't 
have mothers " where the child lived. 

" Oh, I had my treat alonger him," said the boy, 
nodding toward 'Rusalem, and adding enthusiastically, 
"Wasn't that prime! It w^as real Christmasy a settin* 
by the fire, eating lots and not bein' hit." 

Here Mrs. Podgers broke down ; and, taking the boy 
in her arms, sobbed over him as if she had found her 
lost Neddy in this sad shape. The little lad regarded 
her demonstration with some uneasiness at first, but 
there is a magic about a genuine woman that wins its 
way everywhere, and soon the outcast nestled to her, 
feeling that this wonderful night was getting more 
" Christmasy" every minute. 


Mrs. Podgers was herself again directly ; and seeing 
that the child's eyelids were heavy with weakness and 
weariness, she made him comfortable among the pillows, 
and began to sing the lullaby that used to hush her little 
son to sleep. Mr. 'Rusalem took something from his 
drawer, and was stealing away, when the child opened 
his eyes and started up, calling out as he nodded, till the 
tassel danced on this preposterous cap, — 

" I say ! good night, good night ! " 

Looking much gratified, Mr. 'Rusalem returned, shook 
the little hand extended to him, kissed the grateful face, 
and went away to sit on the stairs with tear after tear 
dropping off the end of his nose, as he listened to the 
voice that, after two years of silence, sung the air this 
simple soul thought the loveliest in the world. At first, 
it was more sob than song, but soon the soothing music 
flowed on unbroken, and the wondering child, for the 
first time within his memory, fell asleep in the sweet 
shelter of a woman's arms. 

When Mrs. Podgers came out, she found Mr. 'Rusalem 
intent on stuffing another parcel into a long gray stocking 
already full to overflowing. 

"For the little chap, mum. He let fall that he'd 
never done this sort of thing in his life, and as he hadn't 
any stockings of his own, poor dear, I took the liberty 
of lending him one of mine," explained Mr. 'Rusalem, 
surveying the knobby article with evident regret that it 
wasn't bijrj^er. 


Mrs. Podgers said nothing, but looked from the stock- 
ing to the fatherly old gentleman who held it ; and it is 
my private belief, that if Mrs. Podgers had obeyed the 
impulse of her heart, she would have forgotten decorum. 


and kissed him on the spot. She didn't, however, but 
went briskly into her o^^^l room, whence she presently 
returned with red eyes, and a pile of small garments in 
her hands. Having nearly exhausted his pincushion in 
trying to suspend the heavy stocking, Mr. 'Rusalem had 
just succeeded as she appeared. He saw what she 
carried, Avatched her arrange the little shirt, jacket and 
trousers, the half-worn shoes and tidy socks, beside the 
bed, Avith motherly care, and stand looking at the un- 
conscious child, with an expression which caused Mr. 
'Rusalem to dart down stairs, and compose himself by 
rubbing his hair erect, and shaking his fist in the painted 
face of the late Podgers. 

An hour or two later the store was closed, the room 
cleared, Mrs. Podgers in her arm-chair on one side of 
the hearth, with her knitting in her hand, Mr. 'Rusalem 
in his arm-chair on the other side, with his newspaper on 
his knee, both looking so cosy and comfortable that any 
one Avould have pronounced them a Darby and Joan on 
the spot. Ah, but they weren't, you see, and that spoilt 
the illusion, to one party at least. Both were rather 
silent, both looked thoughtfully at the fire, and the fire 
gave them both excellent counsel, as it seldom fails to do 
when it finds any kindred warmth and brightness in the 
hearts and souls of those who study it. Mrs. Podgers 
kindled first, and broke out suddenly with a nod of great 

" 'Rusalem, I'm going to keep that boy if it's pos- 
sible ! " 

" You shall, mum, whether it's possible or not," he 
answered, nodding back at her with equal decision. 

" I don't know why I never thought of such a thing 


before. There's a many children suffering for mothers, 
and heaven knows I'm wearying for some little child to fill 
my Neddy's place. I wonder if you didn't think of this 
when you took that boy in ; it would be just like you ! " 

Mr. 'Rusalem shook his head, but looked so guilty, 
that Mrs. Podgers was satisfied, called him " a thought- 
ful dear," within herself, and kindled still more. 

" Between you, and Joe, and the teapot, I've got 
another idea into my stupid head, and I know you won't 
laugh at it. That loving little soul has tried to get a 
tree for some poor babies who have no one to think of 
them but him, and even remembered the old one, who 
must be a wretch to hit that child, and hit hard, too, I 
know by the looks of his arms. Well, I've a great 
lonirini]^ to go and give him a tree, — a right good one, like 
those Neddy used to have ; to get in the ' little fellers ' 
he tells of, give them a good dinner, and then a regular 
Christmas frolic. Can't it be done? " 

" Nothing could be easier, mum ;" and Mr. 'Rusalem, 
who had been taking counsel with the fire till he quite 
glowed with warmth and emotion, nodded, smiled, and 
rubbed his hands, as if Mrs. Podgers had invited him to 
a Lord Mayor's feast, or some equally gorgeous jollifica- 

" I suppose it's the day, and thinking of how it came 
to be, that makes me feel as if I wanted to help every- 
body, and makes this Christmas so bright and happy that 
I never can forget it," continued the good woman, with 
a heartiness that made her honest face quite beautiful to 

If Mrs. Podgers had only known what was going on 
under the capacious Avaistcoat opposite, she would have 


held her tongue ; for the more cliaritable, earnest, and 
tender-hearted she grew, the harder it became for Mr. 
'Rusalem to restrain the declaration which had been 
hovering on his lips ever since old Podgers died. As 
the comely relict sat there talking in that genial way, 
and glowing with good-will to all mankind, it was too 
much for Mr. 'Rusalem ; and finding it impossible to 
resist the desire to know his fate, he yielded to it, gave 
a porpentous hem, and said abruptly, — 

" Well, mum, have I done it? " 

"Done what?" asked Mrs. P., going on with her 

" Made you uncomfortable, according to promise." 

" Oh dear, no, you've made me very happy, and will 
have to try again," she answered, laugliing. 

" I will, mum." 

As he spoke Mr. 'Rusalem drew his chair nearer, 
leaned forward, and looking straight at her, said deliber- 
ately, though his voice shook a little, — 

" Mrs. Podgers, I love you hearty ; would you have 
any objections to marrying of me? " 

Not a word said Mrs. Podgers ; but her knitting 
dropped out of her hand, and she looked as uncomfort- 
able as she could desire. 

" I thought that would do it," muttered Mr. 'Rusalem ; 
but went on steadily, though his ruddy face got paler and 
paler, his voice huskier and huskier, and his heart fuller 
and fuller every word he attempted. 

" You see, mum, I have took the liberty of loving you 
ever since you came, more than ten years ago. I was 
eager to make it kno'wn long before this, but Podgers 
spoke first and then it was no use. It come hard for a 


time, but I learned to give you up, though I couldn't 
learn not to love you, being as it was impossible. Since 
Podgers died I've turned it over in my mind frequent, 
but felt as if I was too old, and rough, and poor every 
way to ask so much. Lately, the wish has growed too 
strong for me, and to-night it won't be put down. If 
you want a trial, mum, I should be that I'll warrant, for 
do my best, I could never be all I'm wishful of being 
for your sake. Would you give it name, and if not 
agreeable, we'll let it drop, mum, we'll let it drop." 

K it hadn't been for the teapot, Mrs. Podgers would 
have said Yes at once. The word was on her lips, but as 
she looked up the fire flashed brightly on the teapot 
(which always occupied the place of honor on the 
sideboard, for Mrs. P. was intensely proud of it), and 
she stopped to think, for it reminded her of something. 
In order to explain this, we must keep Mr. 'Rusalem 
waiting for his answer a minute. 

Rather more than ten years ago, old Podgers happen- 
ing to want a housekeeper, invited a poor relation to fill 
that post in his bachelor establishment. He never would 
have thought of marrying her, though the young woman 
was both notable and handsome, if he hadn't discovered 
that his partner loved her. Whereupon the perverse old 
fellow immediately proposed, lest he should lose his 
housekeeper, and was accepted from motives of grati- 
tude. Mrs. Podgers was a dutiful wife, but not a very 
happy one, for the world said that Mr. P. was a hard, 
miserly man, and his wife was forced to believe the 
world in the right, till the teapot changed her opinion. 
There happened to be much suffering among the poor 
one year, owing to the burning of the mills, and contri- 


butions were solicited for their relief. Old Podgers, 
though a rich man, refused to give a penny, but it was 
afterwards discovered that his private charities exceeded 
many more ostentatious ones, and the word " miserly " 
was changed to " peculiar." When times grew pros- 
perous again, the workmen, whose families had been so 
quietly served, clubbed together, got the teapot, and left 
it at Mr. Podgers' door one Christmas Eve. But the 
old gentleman never saw it ; his dinner had been too 
much for him, and apoplexy took him off that very 

In the midst of her grief ]\L*s. Podgers was surprised, 
touched and troubled by this revelation, for she had 
known nothing of the affair till the teapot came. Woman- 
like, she felt great remorse for Avliat now seemed like 
blindness and ingratitude ; she fancied she owed him 
some atonement, and remembering how often he had 
expressed a hope that she wouldn't marry again after he 
was gone, she resolved to gratify him. The buxom 
widow had had many opportunities of putting off her 
weeds, but she had refused all offers without regret till 
now. The teapot reminded her of Podgers and her vow ; 
and though her heart rebelled, she thought it her duty to 
check the ansv/er that sprung to her lips, and slowly, but 
decidedly, replied, — 

" Pm truly grateful to you, 'Rusalem, but I couldn't 
do it. Don't think you'd ever be a trial, for you're the 
last man to be that to any woman. It's a feeling I have 
that it w^ouldn't be kind to Podgers. I can't forget how 
much I owe him, how much I wronged him, and how 
much I can please him by staying as I am, for his 


frequent words were, ' Keep the property together, and 
don't many, Jane.'" 

" Very well, mum, then we'll let it drop, and fall back 
into the old ways. Don't fret yourself about it, I shall 
bear up, and — " there Mr. 'Rusalem's voice gave out, 
and he sat frowning at the lire, bent on bearing up man- 
fully, though it was very hard to find that Podgers dead 
as well as Podgers living was to keep from him the hap- 
piness he had waited for so long. His altered face and 
broken voice were almost too much for Mrs. P., and she 
found it necessary to confirm her resolution by telling it. 
Laying one hand on his shoulder, she pointed to the tea- 
pot with the other, saying gently, — 

" The day that came and I found out how good he 
was, too late to beg his pardon and love him for it, I 
said to myself, ' Pll be true to Podgers till I die, because 
that's all I can do now to show my repentance and re- 
spect.' But for that feeling and that promise I couldn't 
say No to you, 'Rusalem, for you've been my best friend 
all these years, and I'll be yours all my life, though I 
can't be anything else, my dear." 

For the first time since its arrival, the mention of the 
teapot did not produce the accustomed demonstration 
from Mr. 'Rusalem. On the contrary, he looked at it 
with a momentary expression of indignation and disgust, 
strongly suggestive of an insane desire to cast the pre- 
cious relic on the floor and trample on it. If any such 
temptation did assail him, he promptly curbed it, and 
looked about the room with a forlorn air, that made 
Mrs. Podgers hate herself, as he meekly answered, — 

"I'm obliged to you, mum; the- feeling does you 


honor. Don't mind me, it's rather a blow, but I'll be 
up again directly." 

He retired behind his paper as he spoke, and Mrs. 
Podgers spoilt her knitting in respectful silence, till Mr. 
'Rusalem began to read aloud as usual, to assure her that 
in spite of the blow he was up again. 

In the gray da^vn the worthy gentleman was roused 
from his slumbers, by a strange voice whispering shrilly 
in his ear, — 

" I say, there's two of em. Ain't it jolly? " 

Starting up, he beheld a comical little goblin standing 
at his bedside, with a rapturous expression of counte- 
nance, and a paii- of long gray stockings in its hands. 
Both Avere heaping full, but one was evidently meant for 
Mr. 'Rusalem, for every wish, whim and fancy of his 
had been guessed, and gratified in a way that touched 
him to the heart. If it Avere not indecorous to invade 
the privacy of a gentleman's apartment, I could describe 
how there were two boys in the big bed that morning ; 
how the old boy revelled in the treasures of his stocking 
as heartily as the young one ; how they laughed and 
exclaimed, pulled each others nightcaps off, and had a 
regular pillow fight ; how little Joe was got into his new 
clothes, and strutted like a small peacock in them ; how 
Mr. 'Rusalem made himself splendid in his Sunday best, 
and spent ten good minutes in tying the fine cravat 
somebody had hemmed for him. But lest it should be 
thought improper, I will merely say, that nowhere in the 
city did the sun shine on happier faces than these two 
showed Mrs. Podgers, as Mr. 'Rusalem came in with 
Joe on his shoulder, both washing her a merry Christ- 



mas, as heartily as if this were the first the workl had 
ever seen. 

Mrs. Podgers was as brisk and blithe as they, though 
she must have sat up one-half the night making presents 
for them, and laid awake the other half making plans 
for the day. As soon as she had hugged Joe, toasted 
him red, and heaped his plate with everything on the 
table, she told them the order of performances. 

" As soon as ever you can't eat any more you must 
order home the tree, 'Rusalem, apd then go with Joe to 
invite the party, while I see to dinner, and dress up the 
pine as well as I can in such a hurry." 

» Yes, mum," answered Mr. 'Rusalem with alacrity ; 
though how she was going to do her part was not clear 
to him. But he believed her capable of working any 
miracle within the power of mortal woman ; and having 
plans of his own, he soon trudged away with Joe pranc- 
ing at his side, so like the lost Neddy, in the little cap 
an°d coat, that Mrs. Podgers forgot her party to stand 
watching them down the crowded street, with eyes that 
saw very dimly w^hcn they looked away again. 

Never mind how she did it, the miracle was wrought, 
for Mrs. Podgers and her maid Betsey fell to work with 
a will, and when women set their hearts on anything it 
is a knoA\Ti fact that they seldom fail to accomplish it. 
By noon everything was ready, the tree waiting in the 
best parlor, the dinner smoking on the table, and Mrs. 
Podgers at the window to catch the first glimpse of her 
comhig guests. A last thought struck her as she stood 
waiting. There was but one high chair in the house, 
and the big ones would be doubtless too low for the little 
l.eoplc. Bent on making them as comfortable as her 



motherly heart could desire, she set about mendiug the 
matter by bringing out from Podgers' bookcase several 
fat old ledgers, and arranging them in the chairs. While 
busily dusting one of these it slipped from her hands, 
and as it fell a paper fluttered from among the leaves. 
She picked it up, looked at it, dropped her duster, and 
became absorbed. It was a small sheet filled with figures, 
and here and there short memoranda, — not an interest- 
ing looking document in the least ; but Mrs. Podgers 
stood like a statue till she had read it several times ; then 
she caught her breath, clapped her hands, laughed and 
cried together, and put the climax to her extraordinary 
behavior by running across the room and embracing the 
astonished little teapot. 

How long she would have gone on in this wild manner 
it is impossible to say, had not the the jingle of bells, and 
a shrill, small cheer announced that the party had arrived. 
Whisking the mysterious paper into her pocket, and 
dressing her agitated countenance in smiles, she hastened 
to open the door before chilly fingers could find the bell. 

Such a merry load as that was ! Such happy faces 
looking out from under the faded hoods and caps ! Such 
a hearty " Hurrah for Mrs. Podgers ! " greeted her 
straight from the grateful hearts that loved her the 
instant she appeared ! And what a perfect Santa Claus 
Mr. 'Rusalem made, with his sleigh full of bundles as 
well as children, his face full of sunshine, his arms full 
of babies, whom he held up that they too might clap 
their little hands, while he hurrahed with all his might. 
I really don't think reindeers, or the immemorial white 
beard and fur cap, could have improved the picture ; and 
the neighbors were of my opinion, I suspect. 


It was good to sec Mrs. Podgers welcome them all in 
a way that gave the shyest courage, made the poorest 
forget patched jackets or ragged go\vTis, and caused them 
ail to feel that this indeed Avas merry Christmas. It 
was better still to see Mrs. Podgers preside over the 
table, dealing out turkey and pudding with such a boun- 
teous hand, that the small feasters often paused, in 
sheer astonishment, at the abundance before them, 
and then fell to again with renewed energy, as if they 
feared to wake up presently and find the whole a dream. 
It was best of all to see Mrs. Podgers gather them 
about her afterwards, hearing their little stories, learning 
theu' many wants, and winning their young hearts by 
such gentle wiles that they soon regarded her as some 
beautiful, benignant fairy, who had led them from a cold, 
dark world into the land of innocent delights they had 
imagined, longed for, yet never hoped to find. 

Then came the tree, hung thick with bonbons, fruit 
and toys, gay mittens and tippets, comfortable socks and 
hoods, and, lower do\vn, more substantial but less shoA\y 
gifts ; for Mrs Podgers had nearly exhausted the Dorcas 
basket that fortunately chanced to be with her. just then. 
There was no time for candles, but, as if he understood 
the matter and was bent on supplying all deficiencies, the 
sun shone gloriously on the little tree, and made it doubly 
splendid in the children's eyes. 

It would have touched the hardest heart to watch the 
poor little creatures, as they trooped in and stood about 
the wonderful tree. Some seemed ready to go wild with 
delight, some folded their hands and sighed with solemn 
satisfaction, others looked as if bewilderod by such 
unwonted and unexpected good fortune ; and when IMr. 


'Rusalem told them how this fruitful tree had sprung up 
from their loving playmate's broken bough, little Joe hid 
his face in Mrs. Podgers' gown, and could find no vent 
for his great happiness but tears. It was not a large 
tree, but it took a long while to strip it ; and even when 
the last gilded nut was gone the children still lingered 
about it, as if they regarded it with affection as a gener- 
ous benefactor, and were loath to leave it. 

Next they had a splendid round of games. I don't 
know what will be thought of the worthy souls, but Mr. 
'Rusalem and Mrs. Podgers played with all their might. 
Perhaps the reason why he gave himself up so freely to 
the spirit of the hour was, that his disappointment was 
very heavy ; and, according to his simple philosophy, it 
was wiser to soothe his wounded heart and cheer his sad 
spirit with the sweet society of little children, than to 
curse fate and reproach a woman. What was Mrs. 
Podgers' reason it is impossible to tell, but she behaved 
as if some secret satisfaction filled her heart so full that 
she was glad to let it bubble over in this harmless 
fashion. Both tried to be children again, and both suc- 
ceeded capitally, though now and then their hearts got 
the better of them. When Mr. 'Rusalem was blinded he 
tossed all the little lads up to the ceiling when he caught 
them, kissed all the little girls, and, that no one might 
feel slighted, kissed Mrs. Podgers also. When they 
played " Open the gates," and the two grown people 
stood hand in hand while the mirthful troops marched 
under the tall arch, Mrs. Podgers never once looked Mr. 
'Rusalem in the face, but blushed and kept her eyes on 
the ground, as if she was a bashful girl playing games 
with some boyish sweetheart. The children saw nothing 


of all this, and, bless tlieir innocent little hearts ! they 
wouldn't have understood it if they had ; but it was per- 
fectly evident that the gray-headed gentleman and the 
mature matron had forgotten all about their years, and 
were in their teens again ; for true love is gifted with 
immortal youth. 

Wlien weary with romping, they gathered round the 
fire, and Mr. 'Rusalem told fairy tales, as if his dull 
ledgers had preserved these childish romances like flowers 
between their leaves, and kept them fresh in spite of 
time. Mrs. Podgers sung to them, and made them sing 
with her, till passers-by smiled and lingered as the child- 
ish voices reached them, and, looking through the screen 
of roses, they caught glimpses of the happy little group 
singing in the ruddy circle of that Christmas fire. 

It was a very humble festival, but with these poor 
guests came also Love and Charity, Innocence and Joy, 

the strong, sweet spirits who bless and beautify the 

world ; and though eclipsed by many more splendid cele- 
brations, I think the day was the better and the blither 
for Mrs. Podgers' little party. 

When it was all over, — the grateful farewells and 
riotous cheers as the children were carried home, the 
twilight raptures of Joe, and the long lullaby before he 
eould extinguish himself enough to go to sleep, the con- 
gratulations and clearing up, — then Mr. 'Rusalem and 
Mrs. Podgers sat down to tea. But no sooner were 
they alone together than Mrs. P. fell into a curious flut- 
ter, and did the oddest things. She gave Mr. 'Rusalem 
warm water instead of tea, passed the slop-bowl when 
he asked for the sugar-basin, burnt her fingers, laid her 
handkerchief on the tray, and tried to put her fork in her 


pocket, and went on in such a way that Mr. 'Rusalem 
began to fear the day had been too much for her. 

"You're tired, mum," he said presently, hearing her 

" Not a bit," she answered briskly, opening the teapot 
to add more water, but seemed to forget her purpose, 
and sat looking into its steamy depths as if in search of 
something. If it was courage, she certainly found it, 
for all of a sudden she handed the mysterious paper to 
Mr. 'Rusalem, saying solemnly, — 

" Read that, and tell me if it's true." 

He took it readily, put on his glasses, and bent to 
examine it, but gave a start that caused the spectacles to 
fly off his nose, as he exclaimed, — 

" Lord bless me, he said he'd burnt it ! " 

" Then it is true ? Don't deny it, 'Rusalem ; it's no 
use, for I've caught you at last ! " and in her excitement 
Mrs. Podgers slapped down the teapot-lid as if she had 
got him inside. 

" I assure you, mum, he promised to burn it. He 
made me ^^Tite down the sums, and so on, to satisfy him 
that I hadn't took more'n my share of the profits. It 
was my own ; and though he called me a fool he let me 
do as I liked, but I never thought it would come up again 
like this, mum." 

" Of course you didn't, for it was left in one of the old 
ledgers we had dowTi for the dears to sit on. I found it, 
I read it, and I understood it in a minute. It was you 
who helped the mill-people, and then hid behind Podgers 
because you didn't want to be thanked. When he died, 
and the teapot came, you saw how proud I was of it, — 
how I took comfort in thinking he did the kind things ; 


and for my sake you never told the truth, not even last 
night, when a word would have done so much. Oh, 
'Rusalem, how could you deceive me all these years ? " 

If Mr. 'Rusalem had desired to answer he would have 
had no chance ; for Mrs. Podgers was too much in earn- 
est to let any one speak but herself, and hurried on, fear- 
ing that her emotion would get the better of her before 
she had had her say. 

'' It was like you, but it wasn't right, for you've robbed 
yourself of the love and honor that was your due ; you've 
let people praise Podgers when he didn't deserve it ; 
you've seen me take pride in this because I thought he'd 
earned it ; and you've only laughed at it all as if it was 
a fine joke to do generous things and never take the 
credit of 'em. Now I know what bank you've laid up 
your hard earnings in, and what a blessed interest you'll 
get by and by. Truly they who give to the poor lend to 
the Lord, — and you don't need to have the good words 
written on silver, for you keep 'em always in your 

Mrs. Podgers stojDped a minute for breath, and felt 
that she was going very fast ; for 'Rusalem sat looking 
at her with so much humility, love, and longing in his 
honest face, that she knew it would be all up with her 

" You saw how I gi-Ieved for Neddy, and gave me this 
motherless boy to fill his place ; you knew I wanted some 
one to make the house seem like home again, and you 
offered me the lovingest heart that ever was. You 
found I wasn't satisfied to lead such a selfish life, arid 
you showed me how beautiful Charity could make it ; 
you taught me to find my duty waiting for me at my o^vll 


door ; and, putting by your own trouble, you've helped 
to make this day the happiest Christmas of my life." 

If it hadn't been for tlie teapot Mrs. Podgers would 
have given out here ; but her hand was still on it, and 
something in the touch gave her steadiness for one more 

"I loved the little teapot for Podgers' sake; now I 
love it a hundred times more for yours, because you've 
brought its lesson home to me in a way I never can for- 
get, and have been my benefactor as well as theirs, who 
shall soon know you as well as I do. 'Rusalem, there's 
only one way in which I can thank you for all tliis, and 
I do it with my whole heart. Last night you asked me 
for something, and I thought I couldn't give it to you. 
Now I'm sure I can, and if you still want it why " 

Mrs. Podgers never finished that sentence ; for, with 
an impetuosity surprising in one of his age and figure, 
Mr. 'Rusalem sprang out of his chair and took her in his 
arms, saying tenderly, in a voice almost inaudible^ 
between a conflicting choke and chuckle, — 

" My dear ! my dear ! God bless you ! " 


DOCTOR FRANCE came in as I sat sewing up the 
rents in an old shirt, that Tom might go tidily to his 
grave. New shirts were needed for the living, and there 
was no wife or mother to " dress him handsome Avhen 
he went to meet the Lord," as one woman said, describ- 
ing the fine funeral she had pinched herself to give 
her son. 

" Miss Dane, I'm in a quandary," began the Doctor, 
with that expression of countenance Avhich says as plainly 
as words, " I want to ask a favor, but I wish you'd save 
me the trouble." 

*' Can I help you out of it?" 

" Faith ! I don't like to propose it, but you certainly 
can, if you please." 

" Then name it, I beg." 

" You see a Reb has just been brought in crazy with 
typhoid ; a bad case every way ; a drunken, rascally 
little captain somebody took the trouble to capture, but 
w^hom nobody wants to take the trouble to cure. The 
wards are full, the ladies worked to death, and willing to 
be for our o-vvn boys, but rather slow to risk their lives 
for a Reb. Now, you've had the fever, you like queer 
patients, your mate will see to your ward for a while, and 



I will find you a good attendant. The fellow w^on't la.-^t 
long, I fancy ; but lie can't die without some sort of care, 
you know. I've put him in the fourth story of the west 
wing, away from the rest. It is airy, quiet, and com- 
fortable there. I'm on that ward, and will do my best 
for you in every Avay. Now, then, will you go ? " 

"Of course I will, out of perversity, if not common 
charity ; for some of these people think that because I'm 
an abolitionist I am also a heathen, and I should rather 
like to show them that, though I cannot quite love my 
enemies, I am willing to take care of them." 

"Very good; I thought you'd go; and speaking of 
abolition reminds me that you can have a contraband for 
servant, if you like. It is that fine mulatto fellow who 
was found burying his rebel master after the fight, and, 
being badly cut over the head, our boys brought him 
along. "Will you have him ? " 

" By. all means, — for I'll stand to my guns on that 
point, as on the other ; these black boys are far more 
faithful and handy than some of the Avhite scamps given 
me to serve, instead of being served by. But is this man 
well enough ? " 

" Yes, for that sort of w^ork, and I think you'll like 
him. He must have been a handsome fellow before he 
got his face slashed ; not much darker than myself ; his 
master's son, I dare say, and the white blood makes him 
rather high and haughty about some things. He w^as in 
a bad w^ay when he came in, but vowed he'd die in the 
street rather than turn in with the black feUows below ; 
so I put him up in the west wdng, to be out of the way, 
and he's seen to the captain all the morning. When can 
you go up ? " 


" As soon as Tom is laid out, SkiDiier moved, Hay- 
wood washed, Marble dressed, Charley rubbed. Downs 
taken up, Upham laid down, and the whole forty fed." 

We both laughed, though the Doctor was on his way 
to the dead-house and I held a shroud on my lap. But 
in a hospital one learns that cheerfulness is one's salva- 
tion ; for, in an atmosphere of suffering and death, heav- 
iness of heart would soon paralyze usefulness of hand, if 
the blessed gift of smiles had been denied us. 

In an hour I took possession of my new charge, find- 
ing a dissipated-looking boy of nineteen or tAventy raving 
in the solitary little room, with no one near him but 
the contraband in the room adjoining. Feeling decidedly 
more interest in the black man than in the white, yet 
remembering the Doctor's hint of his being " high and 
haughty," I glanced furtively at him as I scattered 
chloride of lime about the room to purify the air, and 
settled matters to suit myself. I had seen many contra- 
bands, but never one so attractive as this. All colored 
men are called " boys," even if their heads are white ; 
this boy was five-and-twenty at least, strong-limbed and 
manly, and had the look of one who never had been 
cowed by abuse or worn with oppressive labor. He sat 
on his bed doing nothing ; no book, no pipe, no pen or 
paper anywhere appeared, yet anything less indolent or 
listless than his attitude and expression I never saw. Erect 
he sat, with a hand on either knee, and eyes fixed on the 
bare wall opposite, so rapt in some absorbing thought as 
to be unconscious of my presence, though the door stood 
wide open and my movements were by no means noise- 
less. His face was half averted, but I instantly approved 
the Doctor's taste, for the profile which I saw possessed 


all the attributes of comeliness belonging to his mixed 
race. He was more quadroon than mulatto, with Saxon 
features, Spanish complexion darkened by exposure, 
color in lips and cheek, waving hair, and an eye full of 
the passionate melancholy which in such men always 
seems to utter a mute protest against the broken law 
that doomed them at their birth. What could he be 
thinking of? The sick boy cursed and raved, I rustled 
to and fro, steps passed the door, bells rang, and the 
steady rumble of army-wagons came up from the street, 
still he never stirred. I had seen colored people in what 
they call " the black sulks," when, for days, they neither 
smiled nor spoke, and scarcely ate. But this was some- 
thing more than that ; for the man was not dully brood- 
ing over some small grievance ; he seemed to see an 
all-absorbing fact or fancy recorded on the wall, which 
was a blank to me. I wondered if it were some deep 
wrong or sorrow, kept alive by memory and impotent 
regret ; if he mourned for the dead master to whom he 
had been faithful to the end ; or if the liberty now his 
were robbed of half its sweetness by the knowledge that 
some one near and dear to him still languished in the 
hell from which he had escaped. My heart quite warmed 
to him at that idea ; I wanted to know and comfort him ; 
and, following the impulse of the moment, I went in and 
touched him on the shoulder. 

In an instant the man vanished and the slave appeared. 
Freedom was too new a boon to have wrought its 
blessed changes yet ; and as he started up, with his 
hand at his temple, and an obsequious " Yes, Missis," 
any romance that had gathered round him fled away, 
leaving the saddest of all sad facts in living guise 


before me. Not ouly did the mauhood seem to die out 
of him, but the comeliness that first attracted me ; for, 
as he turned, I saw the ghastly wound that had laid open 
elieek and forehead. Being partly healed, it was no 
longer bandaged, but held together with strips of that 
transparent plaster which I never see without a shiver, 
and swift recollections of the scenes with Avhich it is 
associated in my mind. Part of his black hair had been 
shorn away, and one eye Avas nearly closed ; pain so dis- 
torted, and the cruel sabre-cut so marred that portion of 
his face, that, when I saw it, I felt as if a fine medal 
had been suddenly reversed, showing me a far more 
striking type of human suffering and wrong than Michael 
Angelo's bronze prisoner. By one of those inexplicable 
processes that often teach us how little we understand 
ourselves, my purpose was suddenly changed ; and, though 
I went in to offer comfort as a friend, I merely gave an 
order as a mistress. 

" WiU you open these windows? this man needs more 

He obeyed at once, and, as he slowly urged up the 
unruly sash, the handsome profile was again turned 
toward me, and again I was possessed by my first impres- 
sion so strongly that I involuntarily said, — 

" Thank you." 

Perhaps it was fancy, but I thought that in the look 
of mingled surprise and something like reproach Avhich 
he gave mc, there Avas also a trace of grateful pleasure. 
But he said, in that tone of spiritless humility these poor 
souls learn so soon, — 

" I isn't a white man. Missis, I'se a contraband." 


" Yes, I know it ; but a contraband is a free man, 
and I heartily congratulate you." 

He liked that ; his ftice shone, he squared his shoulders, 
lifted his head, and looked me full in the eye with a 
brisk, — 

" Thank ye, Missis ; anything more to do fer yer?" 

" Doctor Franck thought you would help me with this 
man, as there are many patients and few nurses or 
attendants. Have you had the fever?" 

"No, Missis." 

" They should have thought of that when they put 
him here ; wounds and fevers should not be together, 
m try to get you moved." 

He laughed a sudden laugh : if he had been a white 
man, I should have called it scornful ; as he was a few 
shades darker than myself, I suppose it must be consid- 
ered an insolent, or at least anunmannerly one. 

" It don't matter, Missis. I'd rather be up here with 
the fever than down with those niggers ; and there isn't 
no other place fer me." 

Poor fellow ! that was true. No ward in all the hos- 
pital would take him in to lie side by side with the most 
miserable white wreck there. Like the bat in -^sop's 
fable, he belonged to neither race ; and the pride of one 
and the helplessness of the other, kept him hovering 
alone in the twilight a great sin has brought to over- 
shadow the whole land. 

"You shall stay, then ; for I would far rather have 
you than my lazy Jack. But are you well and strong 
enough ? " 

" I guess I'll do, Missis." 

He spoke with a passive sort of acquiescence, — as if 



it (litl not much matter if he were not able, aud no one 
would particularly rejoice if he were. 

'' Yes, I think you will. By what name shall I 
call you?" 

"Bob, Missis." 

Every woman has her pet whim ; one of mine was 
to teach the men self-respect by treating them respect- 
fully. Tom, Dick, and Harry would pass, when lads 
rejoiced in those familiar abbreviations ; but to address 
men often old enough to be my father in that style did 
not suit my old-fashioned ideas of propriety. This "Bob" 
would never do ; I should have found it as easy to call 
the chaplain "Gus" as my tragical-looking contraband 
by a title so strongly associated with the tail of a kite. 

"What is your other name?" I asked. "I like to 
call my attendants by their last names rather than by 
their first." 

" I'se got no other. Missis ; we has our masters' names, 
or do without. Mine's dead, and I won't have anything 
of his 'bout me." 

" Well, I'll call you Eobert, then, and you may fill this 
pitcher for me, if you will be so kind." 

He went ; but, through all the tame obedience years of 
servitude had taught him, I could see that the proud 
spirit his father gave him was not yet subdued, for the 
look and gesture with which he repudiated his master's 
name were a more effective declaration of independence 
than any Fourth-of-July orator could have prepared. 

AYe spent a curious week together. Robert seldom 
left his room, except upon my errands ; and I was a 
prisoner all day, often all night, by the bedside of the 
rebel. The fever burned itself rapidly away, for there 


seemed little vitality to feed it in the feeble frame of this 
old young man, whose life had been none of the most 
righteous, judging from the revelations made by his 
unconscious lips ; since more than once Robert authorita- 
tively silenced him, when my gentler bushings were of 
no avail, and blasphemous wanderings or ribald camp- 
songs made my cheeks burn and Robert's face assume an 
aspect of disgust. The captain was a gentleman in the 
world's eye, but the contraband was the gentleman in 
mine ; — I was a fanatic, and that accounts for such 
depravity of taste, I hope. I never asked Robert of 
himself, feeling that somewhere there Avas a spot still too 
sore to bear the lightest touch ; but, from his language, 
manner, and intelligence, I inferred that his color had 
procured for him the feAv advantages within the reach Of 
a quick-witted, kindly-treated slave. Silent, grave, and 
thoughtful, but most serviceable, was my contraband ; 
glad of the books I brought him, faithful in the perform- 
ance of the duties I assigned to him, grateful for the 
friendliness I could not but feel and show toward him. 
Often I longed to ask what purpose was so visibly alter- 
ing his aspect with such daily deepening gloom. But I 
never dared, and no one else had cither time or desire to 
pry into the past of this specimen of one branch of the 
chivalrous " F. F. Vs." 

On the seventh night, Dr. Franck suggested tliat it 
would be well for some one, besides the general watch- 
man of the ward, to be with the captain, as it might be 
his last. Although the greater part of the two preceding 
nights had been spent there, of course I offered to re- 
main, — for there is a strange fascination in these scenes, 


which renders one careless of fatigue and unconscious 
of fear until the crisis is past. 

" Give him water as long as he can dfink, and if he 
drops into a natural sleep, it may save him. I'll look in 
at midnight, when some change will probably take place. 
Nothing but sleep or a miracle will keep him now. 

Away went the Doctor ; and, devouring a whole 
mouthful of gapes, I lowered the lamp, wet the cap- 
tain's head, and sat down on a hard stool to begin my 
watch. The captain lay with his hot, haggard face 
turned toward me, filling the air with his poisonous 
breath, and feebly muttering, with lips and tongue so 
parched that the sanest speech would have been difficult 
to understand. Robert was stretched on his bed in the 
inner room, the door of Avhicli stood ajar, that a fresh 
draught from " his open window might carry the fever- 
fumes away through mine. I could just see a long, dark 
figure, with the lighter outline of a face, and, having 
little else to do just then, I fell to thinking of this curious 
contraband, who evidently prized his freedom highly, yet 
seemed in no haste to enjoy it. Dr. Franck had offered 
to send him on to safer quarters, but he had said, " No, 
thank yer, sir, not yet," and then had gone away to fall 
into one of those black moods of his, which began to 
disturb me, because I had no power to lighten them. As 
I sat listening to the clocks from the steeples all about 
us, I amused myself with planning Robert's future, as I 
often did my own, and had dealt out to him a generous 
hand of trumps wherewith to play this game of life 
which hitherto had gone so cruelly against him, when a 
harsh choked voice called, — 


" Lucy ! " 

It was the captain, and some new terror seemed to 
have gifted him with momentary strength. 

" Yes, here's Lucy," I answered, hoping that by fol- 
lowing the fancy I might quiet him, — for his face was 
damp with the clammy moisture, and his frame shaken 
with the nervous tremor that so often precedes death. 
His dull eye fixed upon me, dilating with a bewildered 
look of incredulity and ^vl'ath, till he broke out fiercely, — 

" That's a lie ! she's dead, — and so's Bob, damn 
him ! " 

Finding speech a failure, I began to sing the quiet 
tune that had often soothed delirium like this ; but hardly 
had the line, — 

" See gentle patience smile on pain," 

passed my lips, Avhen he clutched me by the wrist, whis- 
pering like one in mortal fear, — 

" Hush ! she used to sing that w%ay to Bob, but she 
never would to me. I swore I'd whip the devil out of 
her, and I did ; but you know before she cut her throat 
she said she'd haunt me, and there she is ! " 

He pointed behind me with an aspect of such pale 
dismay, that I involuntarily glanced . over my shoulder 
and started as if I had seen a veritable ghost ; for, peer- 
ing from the gloom of that inner room, I saw a shadowy 
face, with dark hair all about it, and a glimpse of scarlet 
at the throat. An instant showed me that it was only 
Robert leaning from his bed's foot, wrapped in a gray 
army-blanket, with his red shirt just visible above it, 
and his long hair disordered- by sleep. But what a 
strange expression was on his face ! The unmarred side 


was toward me, fixed and motionless as when I first 
observed it, — less absorbed now, but more intent. His 
eye glittered, his lips were apart like one who listened 
with every sense, and his whole aspect reminded me of a 
hound to which some wind had brought the scent of 
unsuspected prey. 

" Do you know him, Robert? Does he mean you?" 
" Laws, no, Missis ; they all own half-a-dozen Bobs : 
but hearin' my name woke me ; that's all." 

He spoke quite naturally, and lay down again, while 
I returned to my charge, thinking that this paroxysm 
was probably his last. But by another hour I perceived 
a hopeful change ; for the tremor had subsided, the cold 
dew was gone, his breathing was more regular, and 
Sleep, the healer, had descended to save or take him 
gently away. Doctor Franck looked in at midnight, 
bade me keep all cool and quiet, and not fail to adminis- 
ter a certain draught as soon as the captain woke. Very 
much relieved, I laid my head on my arms, uncomfort- 
ably folded on the little table, and fancied I was about 
to perform one of the feats which practice renders pos- 
sible, — '-sleeping with one eye open," as we say : a half- 
and-half doze, for all senses sleep but that of hearing ; 
the faintest murmur, sigh, or motion will break it, and 
give one back one's wits much brightened by the brief 
permission to '• stand at ease." On this night the experi- 
ment was a failure, for previous vigils, confinement, and 
much care had rendered naps a dangerous indulgence. 
Having roused half-a-dozen times in an hour to find all 
quiet, I dropped my heavy head on my arms, and, drow- 
sily resolving to look up again in fifteen minutes, fell fast 


The striking of a deep-voiced clock awoke me with a 
start. " That is oue," thought I ; but, to my dismay, two 
more strokes followed, aud iii remorseful haste I sprang 
up to see what harm my long oblivion had done. A 
strong hand put me back into my seat, and held me there. 
It was Robert. The instant my eye met his my heart 
began to beat, and all along my nerves tingled that elec- 
tric flash which foretells a danger that we cannot see. 
He was very pale, his mouth grim, and both eyes full 
of sombre iire ; for even the wounded one was open 
now, all the more sinister for the deep scar above and 
below. But his touch was steady, his voice quiet, as he 
said, — 

" Sit still. Missis ; I won't hurt yer, nor scare yer, ef 
I can help it, but yer waked too soon." 

"Let me go, Robert, — the captain is stirring, — I 
must give him something." 

" No, Missis, yer can't stir an inch. Look here ! " 

Holding me with one hand, with the other he took up 
the glass in which I had left the draught, and showed me 
it was empty. 

"Has he taken it?" I asked, more and more bewil- 

" I flung it out o' winder, Missis ; he'll have to do 

" But why, Robert? why did you do it? " 

" 'Kase I hate him ! " 

Impossible to doubt the truth of that ; his whole face 
showed it, as he spoke through his set teeth, and launched 
a fiery glance at the unconscious captain. I could only 
hold my breath and stare blankly at him, wondering 
what mad act was coming next. I suppose I shook and 


turned white, as women have a foolish habit of doing 
when sadden danger daunts them ; for Robert released 
my arm, sat down upon the bedside just in front of me, 
and said, Avith the ominous quietude that made me cold 
to see and hear, — 

" Don't yer be frightened. Missis ; don't try to run 
uway, fer tlie door's locked and the key in my pocket ; 
don't yer cry out, fer yer'd have to scream a long while, 
with my hand on yer mouth, 'efore yer was heard. Be 
still, an' I'll tell yer what I'm gu'ine to do." 

" Lord help us ! he has taken the fever in some sud- 
den, violent way, and is out of his head. I must humor 
him till some one comes " ; in pursuance of which swift 
determination, I tried to say, quite composedly, — 

"I will be still and hear you ; but open the window. 
Why did you shut it?" 

" I'm sorry I can't do it, Missis ; but yer'd jump out, 
or call, if I did, an' I'm not ready yet. I shut it to make 
yer sleep, an' heat would do it quicker'n anything else I 
could do." 

The captain moved, and feebly muttered " Water ! '* 
Instinctively I rose to give it to him, but the heavy hand 
came do\\Ti upon my shoulder, and in the same decided 
tone Robert said, — 

" The water went with the physic ; let him call.'* 

" Do let me go to him ! he'll die without care ! " 

" I mean he shall ; — don't yer meddle, if yer please. 

In spite of his quiet tone and respectful manner, I saw 
murder in his eyes, and turned faint with fear ; yet the 
fear excited me, and, hardly knowing what I did, I seized 
the hands that had seized me, crying, — 


" No, no ; you shall not kill him ! It is base to hurt a 
helpless man. Why do you hate him ? He is not your 

" He's my brother." 

I felt that answer from head to foot, and seemed to 
fathom what -was coming, with a prescience vague, but 
unmistakable. One appeal was left to me, and I 
made it. 

"Robert, tell me what it means? Do not commit a 
crime and make me accessory to it. There is a better 
way of righting wrong than by violence ; — let me help 
you find it." 

My voice trembled as I spoke, and I heard the fright- 
ened flutter of my heart ; so did he, and if any little act 
of mine had ever won affection or respect from him, the 
memory of it served me then. He looked down, and 
seemed to put some question to himself; whatever it w^as, 
the answer was in my favor, for when his eyes rose 
again, they were gloomy, but not desperate. 

" I will tell yer. Missis ; but mind, this makes no 
difference ; the boy is mine. I'll. give the Lord a chance 
to take him fust : if He don't, I shall." 

" Oh, no ! remember he is your brother." 

An unwise speech ; I felt it as it passed my lips, for a 
black frown gathered on Robert's face, and his strong, 
hands closed with an ugly sort of grip. But he did not 
touch the poor soul gasping there behind him, and seemed 
content' to let the slow suffocation of that stifling room 
end his frail life. 

" I'm not like to forgit dat. Missis, when I've been 
thinkin' of it all this week. I knew him when they fetched 
him in, an' would 'a' done it long 'fore this, but I wanted 


to ask where Lucy was ; he knows, — he told to-night, 
— an' now he's done for." 

" "Who is Lucy? " I asked hurriedly, intent on keeping 
his mind busy with any thought but murder. 

With one of the swift transitions of a mixed temper- 
ament like this, at my question Robert's deep eyes filled, 
the clenched hands were spread before his face, and all I 
heard were the broken words, — 

" My wife, — he took her " 

In that instant every thought of fear was swallowed 
up in burning indignation for the Avrong, and a perfect 
passion of pity for the desperate man so tempted to 
avenge an injury for which there seemed no redrees but 
this. He was no longer slave or contraband, no drop of 
black blood marred him in my sight, but an infinite com- 
passion yearned to save, to help, to comfort him. Words 
seemed so powerless I offered none, only put my hand on 
his poor head, wounded, homeless, bowed down Avith 
grief for which I had no, cure, and softly smoothed the 
long, neglected hair, pitifully w^ondering the while where 
was the wife who must have loved this tender-hearted 
man so well. 

The captain moaned again, and faintly whispered, 
" Air ! " but I never stirred. God forgive me ! just then 
I hated him as only a woman thinking of a sister 
woman's wrong could hate. Robert looked up ; his eyes 
were dry again, his mouth grim. I saw that, said, " Tell 
me more," and he did ; for sympathy is a gift the poorest 
may give, the proudest stoop to receive. 

" Yer see. Missis, his father, — I might say ours, ef 
I warn't ashamed of both of 'em, — his fiither died two 
years ago, an' left us all to Marster Ned, — that's him 


here, eighteen then. He always hated me, I looked so 
like old Marster : he don't, — only the light skin an' hair. 
Old Marster was kind to all of us, me 'specially, an' 
bought Lucy off the next plantation down there in South 
Car'lina, when he found I liked her. I married her, all 
I could ; it warn't nmch, but we was true to one another 
till Marster Ned come home a year after an' made hell 
fer both of us. He sent my old mother to be used up in 
his rice-swamp in Georgy ; he found me with my pretty 
Lucy, an' though young Miss cried, an' I prayed to him 
on my knees, an' Lucy run away, he wouldn't have no 
mercy ; he brought her back, an' — took her." 

" Oh, what did you do?" I cried, hot with helpless 
pain and passion. 

How the man's outraged heart sent the blood flaming 
up into his face and deepened the tones of his impetuous 
voice, as he stretched his arm across the bed, saying, 
with a terribly expressive gesture, — 

" I half murdered him, an' to-night I'll finish.'* 

" Yes, yes, — but go on now ; what came next? " 

He gave me a look that showed no white man could 
have felt a deeper degradation in remembering and con- 
fessing these last acts of brotherly oppression. 

" They whipped me till I couldn't stand, an' then they 
sold me further South. Yer thought I was a white man 
once, — look here ! " 

With a sudden wrench he tore the shirt from neck to 
waist, and on his strong, brown shoulders showed me fur- 
rows deeply ploughed, wounds which, though healed, 
were ghastlier to me than any in that house. I could 
not speak to him, and, with the pathetic dignity a great 


grief leiuls the humblest sufferer, he ended his brief 
tragedy by simply saying, — 

" That's all, Missis. I'se never seen her since, an' 
now I never shall in this world, — maybe not in t'other." 

''But, Robert, why think her dead? The captain was 
wandering when he said those sad things ; perhaps he 
will retract them when he is sane. Don't despair ; don't 
give up yet." 

" No, Missis, I 'spect he's right ; she was too proud to 
bear that long. It's like her to kill herself. I told her 
to, if there was no other Avay ; an' she always minded 
me, Lucy did. My poor girl ! Oh, it wam't right ! No, 
by God, it warn't ! " 

As the memory of this bitter wrong, this double 
bereavement, burned in his sore heart, the devil that 
lurks in every strong man's blood leaped up ; he put his 
hand upon his brother's throat, and, v/atching the white 
face before him, muttered low between his teeth, — 

" I'm lettin' him go too easy ; there's no pain in this ; 
we a'n't even yet. I wish he knew me. Marster Ned ! 
it's Bob; where's Lucy?" 

From the captain's lips there came a long faint sigh, 
and nothing but a flutter of the eyelids showed that he 
still lived. A strange stillness filled the room as the 
elder brother held the younger's life suspended in his 
hand, while wavering between a dim hope and a deadly 
hate. In the whirl of thoughts that went on in my brain, 
only one was clear enough to aot upon. I must prevent 
murder, if I could, — but how? What could I do up 
there alone, locked in with a dying man and a lunatic? 
— for any mind yielded utterly to any vmrighteous im- 
pulse is mad while the impulse rules it. Strength I had 


not, nor much courage, neither time nor wit for strata- 
gem, and chance only could bring me help before it was 
too late. But one weapon I possessed, — a tongue, — 
often a woman's best defence ; and sympathy, stronger 
than fear, gave me power to use it. What I said Heaven 
only knoAvs, but surely Heaven helped me ; w^ords burned 
on my lips, tears streamed from my eyes, and some good 
angel prompted me to use the one name that had power 
to arrest my hearer's hand and touch his heart. For at 
that moment I heartily believed that Lucy lived, and this 
earnest faith roused in him a like belief. 

He listened with the lowering look of one in w^hom 
brute instinct was sovereign for the time, — a look that 
makes the noblest countenance base. He was. but a 
man, — a poor, untaught, outcast, outraged man. Life 
had few joys for him ; the w^orld offered him no honors, 
no success, no home, no love. What future would this 
crime mar ? and why should he deny himself that sweet, 
yet bitter morsel called revenge? How many white 
men, with all New England's freedom, culture, Chris- 
tianity, Avould not have felt as he felt then? Should I 
have reproached him for a human anguish, a human 
lonirins^ for redress, all now left him from the ruin of his 
few poor hopes ? Who had taught him that self-control, 
self-sacrifice, are attributes that make men masters of 
the earth, and lift them nearer heaven? Should I have 
urged the beauty of forgiveness, the duty of devout sub- 
mission? He had no religion, for he was no saintly 
'' Uncle Tom," and Slavery's black shadow seemed to 
darken all the world to him, and shut out God. Should 
I have warned him of penalties, of judgments, and the 
potency of law? AYhat did he know of justice, or the 


mercy that should temper that stern virtue, when every 
hiw, human and divine, had been broken on his hearth- 
stone? Should I have tried to touch him by appeals to 
filial duty, to brotherly love ? How had his appeals been 
answered? What memories had father and brother 
stored up in his heart to plead for either now? No,— 
all these influences, these associations, would have proved 
worse than useless, had I been calm enough to try them. 
I was not ; but instinct, subtler than reason, showed me 
the one safe clue by which to lead this troubled soul 
from the labyrinth in which it groped and nearly feU. 
When I paused, breathless, Robert turned to me, asking, 
as if human assurances could strengthen his faith in 
Divine Omnipotence, — 

" Do you believe, if I let Marster Ned live, the Lord 
will give me back my Lucy ? " 

" As surely as there is a Lord, you will find her here 
or in the beautiful hereafter, where there is no black or 
white, no master and no slave." 

He took his hand from his brother's throat, lifted his 
eyes from my face to the wintry sky beyond, as if 
searching for that blessed country, happier even than the 
happy North. Alas, it was the darkest hour before the 
dawn ! — there was no star above, no light below but 
the pale glimmer of the lamp that showed the brother 
who had made him desolate. Like a blind man who 
believes there is a sun, yet cannot see it, he shook his 
head, let his' arms droR nervelessly upon his knees, and 
sat there dumbly asking that question which many a soul 
whose faith is firmer fixed than his has asked in hours 
less dark than this, — " Where is God?" I saw the 
ti'.l'o had turned, and strenuously tried to keep this rud- 


derless life-boat from slipping back into the whirlpool 
wherein it had been so nearly lost. 

"•' I have listened to you, Robert ; now hear me, and 
heed what I say, because my heart is full of pity for 
you, full of hope for your future, aud a desire to help 
you now. I want you to go away from here, from the 
temptation of this place, and the sad thoughts that haunt 
it. You have conquered yourself once, and I honor you 
for it, because, the harder the battle, the more glorious 
the victory ; but it is safer to put a greater distance 
between you and this man. I will w^rite you letters, 
give you money, and send you to good old Massachusetts 
to begin your new life a freeman, — yes, aud a happy 
man ; for when the captain is himself again, I wdll learn 
where Lucy is, and move heaven and earth to find and 
give her back to you. Will you do this, Robert? " 

Slowly, very slowly, the answer came ; for the pur- 
pose of a week, perhaps a year, was hard to relinquish 
in an hour. 

" Yes, Missis, I will." 

" Good ! Now you are the man I thought you, and 
I'll work for you with all my heart. You need sleep, 
my poor fellow ; go, and try to forget. The captain is 
alive, and as yet you are spared that sin. No, don't look 
there ; I'll care for him. Come, Robert, for Lucy's 

Thank Heaven for the immortality of love ! for when 
all other means of salvation failed, a spark of this vital 
fire softened the man's iron will, until a woman's hand 
could bend it. He let me take from him the key, let 
me draw^ him gently away, aud lead him to the solitude 
which now was the most healing balm I could bestow. 


Once in his little room, he fell down on his bed and lay 
there, as if spent with the sharpest conflict of his life. 
I slipped the bolt across his door, and unlocked my own, 
flung up the window, steadied myself with a breath of 
air, then rushed to Doctor Franck. He came ; and till 
dawn we worked together, saving one brother's life, and 
takinj2r earnest thounjht how best to secure the otlier's 
liberty. "When the sun came up as blithely as if it shone 
only upon happy homes, the Doctor Avent to Robert. 
For an hour I heard the murmur of their voices ; once 
I caught the sound of heavy sobs, and for a time a 
reverent hush, as if in the silence that good man were 
ministering to soul as well as body. When he departed 
he took Robert with him, pausing to tell me he should 
get him off as soon as possible, but not before we met 

Nothing more Avas seen of them all day ; another 
surgeon came to see the captain, and another attendant 
came to fill the empty place. I tried to rest, but could 
not, with the thought of poor Lucy tugging at my heart, 
and was soon back at my post again, anxiously hoping 
that my contraband had not been too hastily spirited 
away. Just as night fell there came a tap, and, opening, 
I saw Robert literally " clothed, and in his right mind." 
Tlie Doctor had replaced the ragged suit with tidy gar- 
ments, and no trace of that tempestuous night remained 
but deeper lines upon the forehead, and the docile look 
of a repentant child. He did not cross the threshold, 
did not offer me his hand, — only took off his cap, 
saying, with a traitorous falter in his voice, — 
" God bless yer. Missis ! I'm gwine." 
I put out botli my hands, and held his fast. 


'' Good-by, Robert ! Keep up good heart, and when 
I come home to Massachusetts we'll meet in a happier 
place than this. Are you quite ready, quite comfortable 
for your journey ? " 

" Yes, Missis, yes ; the Doctor's fixed everything ; I'se 
gwine w4th a friend of his ; my papers are all right, an' 
I'm as happy as I can be till I find " 

He stopped there ; then went on, with a glance into 
the room, — 

'' I'm glad I didn't do it, an' I thank yer. Missis, fer 
hinderin' me, — thank yer hearty ; but I'm afraid I hate 
him jest the same." 

Of course he did ; and so did I ; for these faulty hearts 
of ours cannot turn perfect in a night, but need frost and 
fire, wind and rain, to ripen and make them ready for the 
great harvest-home. Wishing to divert his mind, I put my 
poor mite into his hand, and, remembering the magic of 
a certain little book, I gave him mine, on Avhose dark 
cover whitely shone the Virgin Mother and the Child, 
the grand history of whose life the book contained. The 
money went into Robert's pocket with a grateful murmur, 
the book into his bosom, with a long look and a trem- 
ulous — 

" I never saw my baby, Missis." 

I broke down then ; and though my eyes were too dim 
to see, I felt the touch of lips upon my hands, heard the 
sound of departing feet, and knew my contraband was 

When one feels an intense dislike, the less one says 
about the subject of it the better ; therefore I shall 
merely record that the captain lived. — in time was 
exchanged ; and that, Avhoever the other party was, I 


am convinced the Government got the best of the bar- 
gain. But long before this occurred, I had fulfilled my 
promise to Robert ; for as soon as my patient recovered 
strength of memory enough to make his answer trust- 
worthy, I asked, without any circumlocution, — 

" Captain Fairfax, where is Lucy? " 

And too feeble to be angry, surprised, or insincere, he 
straightway answered, — 

" Dead, Miss Dane." 

" And slie killed herself Avhen you sold Bob? " 

"How the devil did you know that? "he muttered, 
with an expression half-remorseful, half-amazed ; but I 
was satisfied, and said no more. 

Of course this went to Robert, waiting far away there 
in a lonely home, — waiting, working, hoping for his 
Lucy. It almost broke my heart to do it ; but delay 
was weak, deceit was wicked ; so I sent the heavy 
tidings, and very soon the answer came, — only three 
lines ; but I felt that the sustaining power of the man's 
life was gone. 

*' I tort I'd never see her any more ; I 'm glad to know 
she's out of trouble. I thank yer. Missis ; an' if they let 
us, I'll fight fer yer till I'm killed, which I hope will be 
'fore long." 

Six months later he had his wish, and kept his word. 

Every one knows the story of the attack on Fort 
Wagner ; but we should not tire yet of recalling how 
our Fifty-Fourth, spent with three sleepless nights, a 
day's fiist, and a march under the July sun, stormed the 
fort as night fell, facing death in many shapes, following 
their brave leaders through a fiery rain of shot and shell, 
fighting valiantly for "God and Governor Andrew," — 


how the regiment that went into action seven hundred 
strong, came out liaving had nearly half its number 
captured, killed, or woimded, leaving their young com- 
mander to be buried, like a chief of earlier times, willi 
his body-guard around him, faithful to the death. Surely, 
the insult turns to honor, and the Avide grave needs no 
monument but the heroism that consecrates it in our 
sight ; surely, the hearts that held him nearest, see 
through their tears a noble victory in the seeming sad 
defeat ; and surely, God's benediction was bestowed, 
when this loyal soul answ^ered, as Death called the roll, 
" Lord, here am I, Avith the brothers Thou hast given 

The future must shoAv how well that fight was fought ; 
for though Fort Wagner once defied us, public prejudice 
is doAvn ; and through the cannon-smoke of that black 
night, the manhood of the colored race shines before 
many eyes that would not see, rings in many ears that 
would not hear, wins many hearts that would not hith- 
erto believe. 

When the news came that Ave were needed, there was 
none so glad as I to leave teaching contrabands, the ncAv 
AA'ork I had taken up, and go to nurse '' our boys," as 
my dusky flock so proudly called the Avounded of the 
Fifty-Fourth. Feeling more satisfaction, as I assumed 
my big apron and turned up my cuffs, than if dressing 
for the President's levee, I fell to work in Hospital No. 10 
at Beaufort. The scene AA^as most familiar, and yet 
strange ; for only dark faces looked up at me from the 
pallets so thickly laid along the floor, and I missed the 
sharp accent of my Yankee boys in the sloAver, softer 
voices calling cheerily to one another, or answering my 


questions with a stout, " We'll never give it up, Missis, 
till the last Reb's dead," or, "If our people's free, we 
can atlbrd to die." 

Passing from bed to bed, intent on making one pair of 
liands do the work of three, at least, I gradually washed, 
fed, and bandaged my way down the long line of sable 
heroes, and coming to the very last, found that he was 
my contraband. So old, so worn, so deathly weak and 
wan, I never should have knoAvn him but for the deep 
scar on his cheek. That side lay uppermost, and caught 
my eye at once ; but even then I doubted, such an awful 
change had come upon him, when, turning to the ticket 
just above his head, I saw the name, "Robert Dane." 
That both assured and touched me, for, remembering 
that he had no name, I knew that he had taken mine. 
I longed for him to speak to me, to tell how he had fared 
since I lost sight of him, and let me perform some little 
service for him in return for many he had done for me ; 
but he seemed asleep ; and as I stood re-living that 
strange night again, a bright lad, who lay next him 
softly waving an old fan across both beds, looked up and 
said, — 

" I guess you know him, Missis? " 

" You are right. Do you ? " 

" As much as any one was able to, Missis." 

" Why do you say ' was,' as if the man were dead 
and gone ? " 

" I s'pose because I know he'll have to go. He's got 
a bad jab in the breast, an' is bleedin' inside, the Doctor 
says. He don't suffer any, only gets weaker 'n' weaker 
every minute. I've been fannin' him this long while, 



au' he's talked a little ; but he dou't know me now, so 
he's most gone, I guess." 

There was so much sorroAv and affection in the boy's 
face, that I remembered something, and asked, with 
redoubled interest, — 

'' Are you the one that brought him off? I was told 
about a boy who nearly lost his life in saving that of his 

I dare say the young fellow blushed, as any modest 
lad might have done ; I could not see it, but I heard the 
chuckle of satisfaction that escaped him, as he glanced 
from his shattered arm and bandaged side to the pale 
figure opposite. 

" Lord, Missis, that's nothin' ; we boys always stan' 
by one another, an' I warn't goin' to leave him to be 
tormented any more by them cussed Rebs. He's been a 
slave once, though he don't look half so much like it as 
me, an' I was born in Boston." 

He did not ; for the speaker was as black as the ace 
of spades, — being a sturdy specimen, the knave of clubs 
would perhaps be a fitter representative, — but the dark 
freeman looked at the white slave with the pitiful, yet 
puzzled expression I have so often seen on the faces of 
our wisest men, when this tangled question of Slavery 
presented itself, asking to be cut or patiently undone. 

" Tell me what you know of this man ; for, even if 
he were awake, he is too weak to talk." 

" I never saw him till I joined the regiment, an' no 
one 'peared to have got much out of him. He was a 
shut-up sort of feller, an' didn't seem to care for anything 
but gettin' at the Rebs. Some say he was the fust man 
of us that enlisted ; I know he fretted till we were off, 



an' wlioii we pitched into old Wagner, he fought like the 

" Were you with him when he was wounded? How 
was it ? " 

" Yes, Missis. There was somethin' queer about it ; 
for he 'peared to know the chap that killed him, an' the 
chap knew him. I don't dare to ask, but I rather guess 
one owned the other some time ; for, when they clinched, 
the chap sung out, • Bob ! ' an' Dane, ' Marster Ned ! ' — 
then they went at it."* 

I sat do\vn suddenly, for the old anger and compassion 
struggled in my heart, and I both longed and feared to 
hear what was to follow. 

''You see, when the Colonel, — Lord keep an' send 
him back to us ! — it a'n't certain yet, you know. Missis, 
though it's two days ago we lost him, — well, when the 
Colonel shouted, ' Rush on, boys, rush on ! ' Dane tore 
away as if he was goin' to take the fort alone ; I was 
next him, an' kept close as we w^ent through the ditch an* 
up the wall. Hi ! warn't that a rusher ! " and the boy 
flung up his well arm with a whoop, as if the mere mem- 
ory of that stirring moment came over him in a gust of 
irrepressible excitement. 

" Were you afraid?" I said, asking the question women 
often put, and receiving the answer they seldom fail to 

" No, Missis ! " — emphasis on the " Missis " — "I 
never thought of anything but the damn' Rebs, that scalp, 
slash, an' cut our ears off, when they git us. I was 
bound to let daylight into one of 'em at least, an' I did. 
Hope he liked it ! " 


" It is evident that you did. Now go on about Robert, 
for I should be at work." 

" He was one of the fust up ; I was just behind, an' 
though the whole thing happened in a minute, I remem- 
ber how it was, for all I was yellin' an' knockin' round 
like mad. Just where we were, some sort of an officer 
was wavin' his sword an' cheerin' on his men ; Dane 
saw him by a big flash that come by ; he flung away his 
gun, give a leap, tin' went at that feller as if he was Jeff, 
Beauregard, an' Lee, all in one. I scrabbled after as 
quick as I could, but was only up in time to see him git 
the sword straight through him an' drop into the ditch. 
You needn't ask what I did next, Missis, for I don't 
quite know myself; all I'm clear about is, that I man- 
aged somehow to pitch that Reb into the fort as dead as 
Moses, git hold of Dane, an' bring him off. Poor old 
feller ! we said we went in to live or die ; he said he 
went in to die, an' he's done it." 

I had been intently watching the excited speaker ; but 
as he regretfully added those last words I turned again, 
and Robert's eyes met mine, — those melancholy eyes, 
so full of an intelligence that proved he had heard, 
remembered, and reflected with that preternatural power 
which often outlives all other faculties. He knew me, 
yet gave no greeting ; was glad to see a woman's face, 
yet had no smile Avherewith to welcome it ; felt that he 
was dying, yet uttered no farewell. He was too far 
across the river to return or linger now ; departing 
thought, strength, breath, Avere spent in one grateful 
look, one murmur of submission to the last pang he 
could ever feel. His lips moved, and, bending to them. 


a whisper chilled my cheek, as it shaped the broken 
■words, — 

'Td 'a' done it, — but it's better so, — I'm sat- 

Ah ! well he might be, — for, as he turned his face 
from the shadow of the life that was, the sunshine of the 
life to be touched it with a beautiful content, and in the 
drawing of a breath my contraband found wife and 
home, eternal liberty and God. 



DO you mean it, Rose ? " 

" You set a high price on your love ; I cannot pay it." 

" I think you will." 

She came a little nearer, this beautiful woman, whom 
the young man loved with all the ardor of a first affec- 
tion, she laid her hand upon his arm, and looked up in 
his face, her own wearing its most persuasive aspect ; for 
tenderness seemed to have conquered pride, and will was 
concealed under a winning softness which made her 
doubly dangerous, as she said, in the slow, sweet voice 
that betrayed her Southern birth, — 

" Remember what you ask, — what I offer ; then tell me 
which demands the highest price for love. You would 
have me give up friends, fortune, home, all the opinions, 
prejudices, and beliefs of birth and education, all the 
hopes and purposes of years, for your sake. I ask noth- 
ing of you but the relinquishment of a mistaken duty ; 
I offer you all I possess : a life of luxury and power, and, 
— myself." 

She paused there, with a gesture of proud humility, as 
if she would ignore the fact, yet could not quite conceal 
the consciousness, that she had much to bestow upon the 
lover who had far less to offer. 

" Oh, Rose, you tempt me terribly," he said ; " not 



with your possessions or a life of luxury, but Avitli your- 
self, because I love you more than a thousand fortunes or 
a century of case and power. Yet, dear as you are to 
me, and barren as the world will be without you, I dare 
not turn traitor even for your sake." 

" Yet you w^ould have me do it for yours." 

" Xo : treachery to the wrong is allegiance to the 
right, and I only ask you to love your country better than 
yourself, as I try to do." 

"Who shall say which is right and which Avrong? I 
am tired of the w^ords. I want to forget the ills I cannot 
cure, and enjoy life w^hile I may. Youth was made for 
happiness ; why w^aste it in a quarrel w^hicli time alone can 
end? Robert, I do not ask you to turn traitor. I do 
not care what you believe. I only ask you to stay with 
me, now that I have owTied how much you are to me." 

" God knows I wish I could. Rose ; but idleness is 
treason in times like these. What right have I to think 
of my own happiness when my country needs me ? It is 
like deserting my old mother in extremest peril to stand 
idle now ; and when you tempt me to forget this, I must 
deny your prayer, because it is the only one I cannot 

"But, Robert, you are little to the rest of the w^orid, 
and everything to me. Your country does not need you 
half so much as I, — 'a stranger in a strange land' ; for, 
in a great struggle like this, wiiat can one man do?" 

" His duty, Rose." 

She pleaded eloquently with voice, and eyes, and 
hands ; but something in the sad gravity of the young 
man's face was a keener reproach than his words. She 
felt that she could not win him so, and, with a swift and 


subtle change of countenance and manner, she put him 
from her, saying reproachfully, — 

"Then do yours, and make some reparation for the 
peace of mind you have destroyed. I have a right to ask 
this. I came here as to a refuge, hoping to live unknown 
till the storm was over. AVliy did you find me out, pro- 
tect me by your influence, lighten ray exile by your soci- 
ety, and, under the guise of friendship, teach me to 
love you?" 

Robert Stirling watched her with lover's eyes, listened 
with lover's ears, and answered like a lover, finding her 
the fairer and dearer for the growing fear that a hard 
test was in store for him. 

"I found you out, because your beauty would not be 
concealed ; I protected you, because you were a woman, 
and alone ; I gave you friendship, because I wished to 
prove that we of the North hold sacred the faith our 
enemies place in us by sending to our keeping the treasure 
they most value ; and. Rose, I loved you because I could 
not help it." 

She smiled then, and the color deepened beautifully in 
the half-averted face, but she did not speak, and Robert 
took heart from the sign. 

" I never meant to tell you this, fearing what has now 
happened, and I resolved to go away. But, coming here 
to say good-by, your grief melted my resolve, and I told 
you what I could no longer hide. Have I been ungen- 
erous and unjust ? If you believe so, tell me what repa- 
ration I can make, and, if it is anything an honest man 
may do, I will do it." 

She kncAv that, was glad to know it ; yet, w^ith the 
exacting afifection of a selfish woman, she felt a jealous 


fear that she loved more than she was beloved, and 
must assure herself by some trial that she was all in 
air to her young lover. He waited for her answer with 
such keen anxiety, such wistful tenderness, that she felt 
confident of success ; and, yielding to the love of power 
so strong within her, she could not resist the desire of 
exercising it over this new subject, finding her excuse in 
the fond j^et wayward wish to keep from danger that 
which was now so dear to her. 

" I have lost enough by this costly war : I will lose no 
more," she said. "It is easier to part at once than later, 
when time has more endeared us to each other. Choose 
between the country which you love and the Avoman who 
loves you, and by that choice we will both abide." 

" Rose, this is cruel, this is hard ! Let me choose both, 
and be the better man for that double service." 

"It is impossible. Xo one can serve two mistresses. 
I will have all or nothing." 

As she spoke she gently, but decidedly, freed herself 
from his detaining hold, and stood away from him, as if 
to prove both her strength and her sincerity. The act 
changed the words of separation trembling on Robert's 
lips to words of entreaty ; for, though his upright nature 
owned the hard duty, his heart clung to its idol, feeling 
that it must be wrenched away. 

" Wait a little. Rose. Give me time to think. Let 
me prove that I am no coward ; then I will serve you, 
and you alone." 

"Xo, Robert; if you truly loved me, you would be 
eager and glad to make any sacrifice for me. I would 
willingly make many for you ; but this one I cannot, 
because it robs me of you in a double sense. If you 


fall, I lose you ; if you come back alive, I lose you iio 
less, for how can I accept a band reddened with the 
blood of those I love?" 

He had no answer, and stood silent. She saw that this 
moment of keen suffering and conflicting passions was 
the turning-point in the young man's life, yet, nothing 
doubting her power, she hardened herself to his pain that 
she might gain her point now and repay his submission 
by greater affection hereafter. Her voice broke the brief 
silence, steady, sweet, and sad : 

" I see that you have chosen ; I submit. But go at 
once, while I can part as I should ; and remember, we 
must never meet again." 

He had dropped his face into his hands, struggling 
dumbly Avith honest conscience and rebellious heart. 
Standing so, he felt a light touch on his bent head, heard 
the sound of a departing step, and looked up to see Rose 
passing from his sight, perhaps forever. An exclamation 
of love and longing broke from his lips ; at the sound she 
paused, and, turning, let him see that her face Avas bathed 
in tears. At that sight duty seemed doubly stern and 
cruel, the sacrifice of integrity grew an easy thing, and 
separation an impossibility. The tender eyes were ^on 
him, the imploring hands outstretched to him, and the 
beloved voice cried, brokenly, — 

" Oh, Robert, stay ! " 


He spoke out defiantly, as if to silence the inward 
monitor that would not yield consent ; he offered his hand 
to seal the promise, and took one step toward the fair 
temptation, — no more; for, at the instant, up from 



below rose a voice, clear and mellow as a silver horn, 

singing, — 

"He has sounded forth the trumpet 
That shall never call retreat ; 
He is sifting out the hearts of men 

Before his judgment-seat ; 
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer him; 
Be jubilant, my feet ! 

For God is marching on." 

The song broke the troubled silence with a martial 
ring that, to one listener, sounded like a bugle-call, 
banishing with its magic breath the weakness that had 
nearly made a recreant of him ; for the opportune out- 
break of the familiar voice, the memories it woke, the 
nobler spirit it recalled, all made that sweet and stirring 
strain the young man's salvation. Both stood motion- 
less, and so still that every word came clearly through 
the sunny hush that filled the room. Rose's face grew 
anxious, a flash of anger dried the tears, and the ex- 
pression which had been so tender changed to one of 
petulant annoyance. But Robert did not see it ; he no 
longer watched her ; he had turned towards the open 
window, and was looking far away into the distance, 
where seemed to lie the future this moment was to make 
or mar, while his whole aspect grew calm and steady, 
as if with the sense of self-control came the power of 

As the song ended, he turned, gave one parting look 
at the woman whom he loved, said, " I have chosen ! 
Rose, good-by," and was gone. 

Out into the beautiful spring world he went, blind to 
its beauty, deaf to its music, unconscious of its peace. 


Before him went the blithe singer, — a young man, with 
uncovered head, browTi hair blowing in the wind, thought- 
ful eyes bent on the ground, and lips still softly singing, 
as he walked. This brother, always just and gentle, 
always ready with sympathy and counsel, now seemed 
doubly dear to the sore heart of Robert, as, hurrying to 
him, he grasped his arm as a drowning man might clutch 
at sudden help ; for, though the victory seemed won, he 
dared not trust himself alone, with that great longing 
tuorcrinor at his heart. 

" Why, Rob ! what is it? " asked his brother, pausing 
to wonder at the change which had befallen him since 
they parted but a little while ago. 

" Ask no questions, Richard ; but sing on, sing on, 
and, if you love me, keep me fast till we get home," 
answered Robert, excitedly. 

Something in his manner, and the glance he cast over 
his shoulder, seemed to enlighten his brother. Richard's 
face darkened ominously for a moment, then softened 
^\dth siucerest pity as he drew the hand closer through 
his arm, and answered, with an almost womanly com- 
passion, — 

" Poor lad, I knew it would be so ! but I had no fear 
that you would become a slave to that beautiful tyrant. 
The bitter draught is often more wholesome than the 
SAveet, and you are wise to let her go before it is too late. 
Tell me your trouble, Rob, and let me help you bear it." 

" Not now ! not here ! Sing, Rick, if you would not 
have me break away and go back to her again." 

His brother obeyed him, not Avith the war-song, but 
vrith. the simpler air their mother's voice had made a 
lullaby, beloved by them as babies, boys, and men. 


Now, as of old, it soothed and comforted ; and, thoiigli 
poor Robert turned his face away and let his brother 
lead him where he would, the first sharpness of his pain 
was eased by a recollection born of the song ; for he 
remembered that though one woman had failed him, 
there still remained another whose faithful love would 
know no shadow of a change. 

As they came into the familiar room, where every 
object spoke of the dear household league lasting un- 
broken for so many years, a softer mood replaced the 
pain and passion that had struggled in the lover's heart ; 
and, throwing himself into the ancient chair where so 
many boyish griefs had been consoled, he laid his head 
upon his arms, and forgot his manhood for a little while. 
Richard stood beside him, with a kind hand on his 
shoulder, to assure him of a sympathy too deep and wise 
for words, till the fitting moment should appear. It 
soon came ; and when the younger brother had made 
known his trouble, and the elder given what cheer he 
could, he tried to lead Robert's thoughts to other things, 
that he might forget disappointment in action. 

" Nothing need detain you now, Rob," he said ; " for 
the lo5;s of one hope opens the way to the attainment of 
another. You shall enlist at once, and march away to 
fight the good fight." 

"And you, Rick? We have both longed to go, but 
could not decide which it should be. Why should not 
you march away, and let me stay with mother till my 
turn comes ? " 

" Need I tell you why? "We did delay at first, because 
we could not choose which should stay with the dear old 
lady who has only us left now. But lately you have 


lingered because of Rose, and I because I would not 
leave you till I knew how you fared. That is all over 
now ; and surely it is best for you to put States between 
you, and let absence teach you to forget." 

" You are right, and I am a weak fool to dream of 
staying. I ought to go ; but the spirit that once would 
have made the duty easy has deserted me. Richard, I 
liave lost faith in myself, and am afraid to go alone. 
Come with me, to comfort and keep me steady, as you 
have done all my life." 

•' I wish I could. Never doubt nor despond, no ; but 
remember that we trust you, we expect great things of 
you, and are sure you never wiU disgrace the name father 
gave into our keeping." 

" I'll do my best. Rick ; but I shall need you more 
than ever : and if mother only knew how it is with me, 
I think she would say, ' Go.' " 

" Mother does say it, heartily !" 

Both started, and turned to see their mother watching 
them with an untroubled face. A right noble old woman, 
carrying her sixty years gracefully and well, — for her 
tall figure was unbent ; below the gray hair shone eyes 
clear as any girl's, and her voice had a cheery ring to it 
that roused energy and hope in those who heard it ; while 
the benignant power of her glance, the motherly compas- 
sion of her touch, brought confirmation to the wavering 
resolve and comfort to the Avounded heart. 

With the filial instinct which outlives childhood, Robert 
leaned against her as she drew his head to the bosom that 
could always give it rest, and told his sorrow in one 
broken exclamation, — 

" Oh, mother, I loved her so ! " 


" I know it, dear: I saw it, and I warned you. But 
you thought me unjust. I desired to be proved so, and 
it has ended here. You have loved like a man, have 
withstood temptation like a man ; now bear your loss like 
one, and do not mar your sacrifice to principle by any 
vain regrets." 

" Ah, mother, all the courage, energy, and strength 
seem to have gone out of me, and I am tired of my life." 

" Not yet, Rob ; wait a little, and you will find that 
life has gained a new significance. This trouble will 
change the boy into a man, braver and better for the 
past, because, if I know my son, he will never let his life 
be thwarted by a selfish woman's folly or caprice." 

She spoke proudly, and Robert lifted his head with an 
air as proud. 

" You arc right. I will not. But you must let me go! 
I cannot answer for myself if I stay here." 

'' You shall go, and Rick with you." 

"But, mother, can we, — ought we, — to leave you 
alone?" began Richard, longing, yet loath, to go. 

" No, my boys, you neither can nor will ; for I go 
with you." 

"With us? " cried both brothers, in a breath. 

" Ay, lads, that I will ! " slie answered, heartily. 
" There is work for the old hands as well as for the 
young ; and while my boys fight for me, I will both nurse 
and pray for them." 

" But, mother, the distance and danger, the hardships 
and horrors of such a life, will be too much for you. Let 
one of us stay, and keep you safely here at home." 

" Not while you are needed elsewhere. Other mothers 
give their boys ; why should not I give mine ? Other 


women endure the hardships and horrors of camps and 
hospitals ; can I not do as much ? You offer your young 
lives ; surely I may offer the remains of mine. Say no 
more : I must enlist with my boys. I could never sit 
with folded hands at home, tormenting myself with fears 
for you, although God knows I send you willingly." 

"You should have been a Roman matron, mother, 
with many sons to give for your country and few tears 
for yourself," said Richard, watching the fire of her 
glance, and listening to the steady voice that talked so 
cheerfully of danger and of death. 

" Ah, Rob, the ancient legends preserved the brave 
words of the Roman matrons, but they left no record of 
the Roman mothers' tears, because they kept them for 
the bitter hours that came when the sacrifices had been 
made." And, as she spoke, two great drops rolled down 
to glitter upon Robert's hair. 

For a moment no one stirred, as the three looked their 
new future in the face, and, seeing all its perils, owned 
its wisdom, accepted its duties, and stood ready to fulfil 
them to the last. 

Mrs. Stirling spoke first : 

" My sons, these are times to try the metal of all souls ; 
and if we would have ours ring clear, we must follow 
with devout obedience the strong convictions that prompt 
and lead us to the right. Go, lads, and do your best, 
remembering that mother follows you, to rejoice if you 
win, to comfort you if you fail, to nurse you if you need 
it, and if you fall to lay you tenderly into your graves, 
with the proud thought, ' They did their duty : God will 
remember that, and comfort me.' " 

The faces of the brothers kindled as she spoke ; their 


hearts answered her with a nobler fervor than the chiv- 
alrous enthusiasm of young blood, and both made a silent 
vow of loyalty, to last inviolate through all their lives, 
as, laying a hand on either head, that brave old mother 
dedicated sons and self to the service of the liberties 
she loved. 


The Army of the Potomac was on its march north- 
ward, to defeat Lee's daring raid and make a little Penn- 
sylvania village forever memorable. The heights above 
the town were already darkened by opposing troops ; the 
quiet valley was already tumultuous with the tramp of 
gathering thousands, and the fruitful fields already re- 
ploughed for the awful human harvest soon to be gath- 
ered in. Every road swarmed with blue coats, every 
hill-side was a camp, every grove a bivouac, every way- 
side stream a fountain of refreshment to hundreds of 
weary men spent with the privations and fatigues of those 
forced marches through midsummer heats. 

By one of these little brooks a dusty regiment was 
halted for brief repose. At the welcome order, many of 
the exhausted men dropped down where they stood, to 
snatch an hour's sleep ; some sought the grateful shade 
of an orchard already robbed of its early fruit, and ate 
their scanty fare with a cheerful content that made it 
sweet ; others stretched themselves along the trampled 
borders of the brook, bathing their swollen feet, or drink- 
ing long draughts of the turbid water, which, to their 
parched lips, was a better cordial than the costliest wine. 
Apart from all these groups, two comrades lay side by 
side in the shadow of the orchard-wall. Both were 


young and comely men, stalwart, keen-eyed, and already 
bronzed by a Southern sun, although this was their first 
campaign. Both were silent, yet neither slept, and in 
their silence there was a marked difference, — one lay 
looking straight up through the Avaving boughs at the 
clear blue overhead, with an expression as serene ; the 
other half leaned on his folded arm, moodily plucking at 
the turf which was his pillow, with now and then an 
impatient sigh, a restless gesture. One of these dem- 
onstrations of discontent presently roused his comrade 
from a waking dream. He sat up, laid a cool hand on the 
other's hot forehead, and said, with brotherly solicitude, — 

"Not asleep yet, Rob? I hope you've not had a sun- 
stroke, like poor Blake ; for, if you are left behind, we 
shall both lose our share of the fight." 

'' As well die that way as with a rebel bullet through 
your head ; though, if I had my choice, I'd try the last, 
as being the quickest," replied the other, gloomily. 

"That doesn't sound like you, Rob, — you'll think 
better of it to-morrow, when you've had a night's sound 
sleep. This has been a hard march for a young soldier's 

" How much older are you than I, either as man or 
soldier. Rick?" asked Robert, half petulantly, half 

" Three hours older as a man, ten minutes as a sol- 
dier : you know I enlisted first. Yet I'm much the elder 
in many things, as you often tell me," said Richard, with 
the smile that always soothed his brother's more fiery 
spirit. " One of the privileges of my seniority is the 
care of you ; so tell me what harasses you and scares 
rest away ? " 


" The old pain, Rick. All these weeks of absence 
have not lessened it ; and the thought of going into a 
battle out of which I may never come alive, without see- 
ing her once more, makes me almost resolve to desert, 
and satisfy myself at any cost. You cannot understand 
this, for you don't know what it is to love — to have a 
woman's face haunting you day and night, to hear a 
woman's voice always sounding in your ears with a dis- 
tinctness that will not let you rest." 

'• I know it all, Rob ! " 

The words seemed to slip involuntarily from the young 
man's lips, for he checked himself sharply, and cast 
an anxious look at his brother. But Robert was too 
absorbed in his own emotions to read those of another, 
and only answered, in a cheerier tone, — 

" You mean mother. God bless her, wherever she is, 
and send us safely home to her ! " 

An almost pathetic patience replaced the momentary 
agitation Richard's face betrayed, and his eyes turned 
wistfully towards the green hills that lay between the 
mother and her boys, as he answered, with a smile of 
sorrowful significance, — 

" Every man is better and braver for a woman's love ; 
80, as I have no younger sweetheart, I shall take the 
dear old lady for my mistress, and try to serve her like a 
loyal knight." 

"Rick!" exclaimed his brother, earnestly, "if the 
coming battle proves my last as well as my first, promise 
that for my sake you'll befriend poor Rose, — that you 
will forgive her, love her, care for her, as if in truth she 
were my widow." 

Richard grasped the hand outstretched to him, and 


answered, Avith a fervor that fully satisfied his brother, 
*'I promise, Hob!" then added quickly, "But there 
will be no need of that ; for, if mortal man can do it, I 
will keep you, to care for Rose yourself." 

Through the momentary pause that foUoAved came the 
pleasant sound of falling water. 

" Hark, Rob ! do you hear it? Give me your can- 
teen, and I'll bring you a cool draught that shall remind 
you of the old well at home." 

Rising as he spoke, Richard went to the low wall that 
rose behind them, swung himself over, and, plunging 
down a ferny slope, found a hidden spring dripping mu- 
sically from mossy crevices among the rocks into a little 
pool below. Pausing a moment to let the shadowy soli- 
tude of the green nook bathe his weary spirit in its 
peace, he turned to catch the coolest drops that fell ; but, 
as he bent, the canteen slipped from his hand and 
splashed unheeded into the pool, for, just opposite, 
through thickly-growing brakes, he caught the glitter of 
a pair of human eyes fixed fuU upon his face. An 
instant he stood motionless, conscious of that subtle 
thrill through blood and nerves which sudden dano-er or 
surprise can bring to the stoutest heart. Before he could 
move or speak, the brakes were parted, and the weird, 
withered face of an old woman was lifted to the light. 
One of the despised race, clothed in rags, covered with 
dust, spent with weariness and pain, she lay there, such a 
wild and woful object that the lonely spot seemed chosen 
not as a resting-place, but as a gi-ave. Leaning on one 
arm, she stretched the other trembling hand toAvards the 
young man, whispering, Avith an assuring nod, — 

" Don't be skeered, honey ; I'se only a pore ole conty- 


ban', gwine up tcr tie Ian' ob freedum, ef I doesn't drap 
doANTi by de way." 

''Arc you sick, or hurt, or only tired, my poor soul?" 
asked Richard, with such visible compassion in his face 
that the woman's brightened as she answered, with a 
cheerfulness which made her utter destitution more pa- 
thetic, — 

" Fse all dem, and starved inter de bargain ; but, bress 
yer, chile, I'se done got used ter dat, and don't mind em 
much ef I kin jes git on a piece ter-day. I'se ben porely 
fer a spell, and layin' by ; but I'se mendin' fas', and de 
sight ob de blue-coats and de kine face is mos' as relishin' 
as vittles." 

"You shall have all three, as far as I can give them 
to you," said Richard, offering the last of his day's ra- 
tion, and sitting do^vn opposite the poor old creature, 
Avho, muttering hasty thanks, seized and devoured the 
food with an almost animal voracity, which proved how 
o-reat her need had been. As the last morsel vanished, 
she drew a long breath, uttered a sigh of satisfaction, 
and, sitting more erect, said, with a deprecating gesture 
and a grateful glance, — 

" Massa, I couldn't help forgittiu' manners, kase I'se 
ben widout a mouffle sence yisterday, scept two green 
apples and de mint growin' ober dar." 

'• Have you been lying here all night? Where do you 
come from, and where are you going? Tell me, without 
fear, and let me help you if I can." 

" De Lord lub yer kine heart, chile, and keep yer fer 
yer mudder. My boys is all gone now ; but I knows de 
feelin', and I'll trus' yer, fer's I dares. Yer see, I'se 
come from Souf Car'liny, and I'se gwine to de bressed 


Xorf to fine my ole man, what missis tuk wid licr when 
she leP us bery suddin." 

'• What part of the North do you want to find? " asked 
Richard, eager to offer the desolate being such help as 
lay in his power. She saw the friendly impulse, and 
thanked him for it with a look ; but the distrust born of 
many wrongs was stronger than the desire for sympathy, 
and cautiously, yet humbly, she said, — 

" Massa mus* please ter 'scuse me ef I doesn't tell jes* 
whar I'se gwine. My pore old man is all dey's lef me ; 
and ef missis knowed any ways dat I was lookin' fer 
him, she'd tote him some place whar I couldn't come. It's 
way off bery fur ; but de name of de town is wrote 
down in my heart, and, ef I lives, I'll fine it, shore." 

"Where are your boys?" asked Richard, interested 
in spite of the woman's uninviting aspect. 

"• I'se had seven chil'en, honey, but dey's ben sent 
eberywhich way, and I doesn't know whar dey is now, 
scept de dead ones. My darters was sole off years ago ; 
one ob my boys was whipped to def, and one tore so wid 
de houn's it was a mercy de dear Lord tuk him. Two 
was put to work on de fortycations down dar ; and the 
las' one, my little Mose, starved in my arms as we was 
wadin' fru de big swamps, where we runned when word 
come dat de Yanks was comin' and we'd be free ef we 
got to um. It was bery hard to leave de pore chile dar, 
but dere was two or free more little grabes to keep him 
comp'ny ; so I come on alone, and. Glory Halleluyer ! 
here I is." 

"Now, how can I help you, ma'am?" said Richard, 
involuntarily adding respect to pity, as he heard the 
short, sad story of the losses now past help. 


" Ef yer has a bit of money flat yer could spar, chile, 
dat would 'sist me a heap : I kin hide it handy, and git 
vittles or a lif when de roads is bery bad. I'se mos' 
wore out, fer I'se ben weeks a comin', kase I dunno de 
way, and can't trus' folks much. Now the Yanks is 
gwine my road, I wants to foUer fas' as I kin, fer I'se 
shore dey's right." 

While she rambled on, Richard had taken out his 
purse, and halving the small store it contained, offered 
it, saying, kindly, — 

" There old friend ; I'd gladly do more for you if I 
could. I may be going where I shall never need money 
any more ; and, you know, they who give to the poor 
lend to the Lord : so this much will be saved up for me." 

The woman rose to her knees, and, taking the 
generous liand in both her dusky ones, kissed it with 
trembling lips, wet it with grateful tears, as she cried, 
brokenly, — 

" Bress yer, chile ! bress yer ! I'se no words white 
'nuff to tank yer in, but I'll 'member yer all my days, 
and pray de Lord to hold yer safe in de holler ob His 

" Thank you, ma'am. What else can I do for you 
before I go ? " 

" Jes' tell me yer name, honey, so I kin 'mind de Lord 
ob yer tickerlally ; fer dere's such a heap ob prayers 
gwine up to Him dese bitter times. He mightn't mine 
sech pore ones as ole June's ef de good name warn't in 

" Richard Stirling," answered the young man, smiling 
at the poor soul's eagerness. " Good-by, old mother. 
Keep up a stout heart, and trust the blue-coats when 


you see them, till you find your husband and the happy 

AVhile he refilled the canteen, the contraband, with 
the fine sentiment so often found in the least promising 
of this affectionate race, hastily gathered a delicate fern 
or two, and, adding the one wild rose that blossomed in 
that shady spot, offered her little nosegay, with a hu- 
mility as touching as her earnestness. 

" It's a pore give, chile ; but I'se nuffin' else sceptin* 
de wish dat yer'll hab all yer want in dis world and de 

As Richard took it, through his mind flashed the 
memory of old romantic legends, wherein weird women 
foretold happy fortunes to young knights pausing at some 
wayside well, — fortunes to be won only by unshaken 
loyalty to virtue, love, and honor. Looking down upon 
the flower, whose name lent it a double charm to him, 
he said low, to himself, with quickened breath and 
kindling eyes, — 

" A propitious wish ! May it be fulfilled, if I deserve 

Then, as the first drum-beat sounded, he pressed the 
hard hand that gave the gift, and sprang up the bank, 
little dreaming how well the grateful heart he left behind 
him would one day remember and repay his charity. 

Three days later, the brothers stood side by side in the 
ranks at Gettysburg, impatiently awaiting their turn to 
attack a rebel battery that must be silenced. From 
height to height thundered the cannon ; up and down 
the long slopes surged a sea of struggling humanity ; all 
the air was darkened by wavering clouds of smoke and 
dust, which lifted only when iron messengers of death 


tore their way through with deafening reports and sheets 
of flame ; while, in the brief pauses that sometimes fell, 
the bands crashed out with dance-music, as if the wild 
excitement of the hour had made them fitting minstrels 
for an awful " dance of death." 

" Remember, Rob, where that goes, we follow while 
we can," whispered Richard, glancing up at the torn flag 
streaming overhead. 

" I'm ready. Rick," returned his brother, wath flashing 
eyes, set teeth, and in every lineament such visible re- 
solve to do and dare, that one hour seemed to have made 
the boy a hero and a man. 

As the words left his lips, down the long line rang the 
welcome order, " Forward ! charge -! " and, with a shout 
that rose sharp and shrill above the din of arms, the 
brave — th dashed into the rain of shot and shell. 
Stirred by one impulse, the brothers followed wherever 
through the smoke they caught the flutter of the flag, as 
it was borne before them up the hill. More than once 
it dropped from a dead hand, to be caught up by a living 
one before it touched the ground. Robert Stirling's was 
one of these ; and, as he seized the staiF, the battlc- 
madncss seemed to fall upon him, for, waving the banner, 
with a ringing shout he sprang upon the wall, behind 
which rebel riflemen were lying. The sharp sting of a 
ball in the right arm reminded him that he Avas mortal, 
and at the same instant his brother's hand clutched him, 
his brother's voice called through the din, — 

"You're wounded, Rob! For God's sake fall back." 
But, with a grim smile, Robert passed the banner into 
the keeping of his other hand, saying, as his arm dropped 
useless at his side, — 


" Not yet. Clear the way for mc, Rick, and let the 
old flag be the first up." 

A loyal clieer from behind drowned the rebel yell that 
rose in front, as a blue wave rolled np and broke over 
the wall, carrying the brothers with it. Above the deadly 
conflict that went on below, the Stars and Stripes tossed 
wildly to and fro ; but steadily tlie color-bearer struggled 
higher, and steadily his body-guard of one went on before 
him, forcing a passage through the press, till, in a single 
instant, there came a hurtling sound, a deafening crash, 
a fiery rain of death-dealing fragments, and, with an 
awful vision of dismembered bodies, wrathful faces panic- 
stricken in the drawing of a breath, and a wide gap in 
the swaying mass before him, Robert Stirling was flung, 
stunned and bleeding, against the wall so lately left. 

Cries of mortal anguish roused him from a moment's mer- 
ciful oblivion, and showed him that, for his brother and 
himself, the battle was already done. Not far away, half 
hidden under a pile of mingled blue and gray, Richard 
lay quiet on the bloody grass, and, as Robert's dizzy 
eyes wandered up and down his OAvn bruised body to dis- 
cover whence came the sharp agony that wrung his 
nerves, he saw that but one arm now hung shattered at 
his side ; the left was gone, and a single glance at the 
ghastly wound sent such a pang of horror through him 
that he closed his eyes, muttering, with white lips, — 

" Poor mother ! it will be hard to lose us both." 

Something silken-soft swept across his face, and, look- 
ing up, he saw that the flag had fallen with him, and lay 
half upright against the wall, still fluttering bravely 
where many eyes could see it, many Avilling hearts press 
on to defend it. Faithful to the last, he leaned across 


the Staff, and, making a shield of his maimed body, 
^vaited patiently for the coming of friend or foe. How 
the battle went he no longer knew ; he scarcely cared ; 
for now to him the victories and defeats of life seemed 
over, and Death standing ready to bestow the pale cross 
of the legion of honor, laid on so many quiet breasts as 
the loyal souls depart to their reward. 

Witli strange distinctness came the roar of cannon, the 
sharp, shrill ringing of the minie-balls, the crash of 
bursting shells, the shouts, the groans, even the slow drip 
of his blood, as it plashed down upon the stones ; yet 
neither hope nor fear disturbed him now, as all the past 
Hashed through his mind and faded, leaving three mem- 
ories, — his love for Rose, his brother's death, his 
mother's desolation, — to embitter the memorable moment 
when, A^th a deathly coldness creeping to his heart, he 
leaned there bleeding his young life away. 

To him it seemed hours, yet but a few short minutes 
passed before he became conscious of a friendly atmo- 
sphere about him, and, through the trance of suffering 
fast reaching its climax, heard a commanding voice 
exclaim, — 

" It is Stirling : I shall remember this. Take him to 
the rear, and see that he is cared for." 

Robert knew his Colonel's voice, and, gathering up 
both failing strength and sense, he tried to stand erect, 
tried to salute with his one arm, and, failing, said, with 
a piteous look at either ^vound, — 

" I have done my best, sir." 

" My brave fellow, you have ! What more could you 
do for the old flag?" 

Something in the glance, the tone, the words of the 


commander whom he so loved and honored, seemed to 
send new life through the fainting man. His dim eye 
kindled, his voice grew strong and steady, as, forgetful 
of the maimed body it inhabited, the unconquerable 
spirit answered, fervently, — 

" I could die for it." 

Then, as if in truth he had done his best, had died for 
it, Robert Stirling fell forward in the shadow of the 
flag, his head upon the same green pillow where his 
brother's lay. 


" Here's the paper, and Fisher to read it for us, boys^ 
Hush, there, and let's hear what's up ! " 

An instant silence reigned through the crowded ward 
as the chief attendant entered with the morning sheet 
that daily went the rounds. The convalescents gathered 
about him ; the least disabled propped themselves upon 
their arms to listen ; even the w^eakest turned wistful 
eyes that way, and ceased their moaning, that they might 
hear, as Fisher slowly read out the brief despatches, and 
then the mournful lists of wounded, dead, and missing. 

Among the many faces in the room, one female one 
appeared ; a strong, calm face, with steadfast eyes, and 
lips grown infinitely tender with the daily gospel of pa- 
tience, hope, and consolation which they preached in 
w^ords of motherly compassion. Still bathing and bind- 
ing up a shattered limb, she listened to the reading, 
though her heart stood still to hear, and her face flushed 
and paled with the rapid alternations of hope and fear. 
Presently the one audible voice paused suddenly, and a 
little stir ran through the group as the reader stole an 


anxious glauce at the woman. She saw it, divined its 
meaning, and in an instant seemed to have nerved herself 
for anything. Sponge and bandage dropped from her 
hands, a quick breath escaped her, and an expression of 
sharp anguish for a moment marred the composure of her 
countenance ; but she fixed a tearless eye on Fisher, 
asking, steadily, — 

*' Are my boys' names there?" 

" Only one, ma'am, — only one, I do assure you ; and 
he's merely lost an arm. That's better luck than half 
of 'em have ; and now it's got to be a kind of an honor 
to wear an empty sleeve, you know," replied the old man, 
with a half-encouraging, half-remorseful look, as he con- 
siderately omitted to add the words, " and seriously 
wounded in the right," to the line, " R. Stirling, left 
arm gone." 

A long sigh of thanksgiving left the mother's lips ; 
then, with one of the natural impulses of a strong char- 
acter, which found relief in action, she took up the roller 
and resumed her work more tenderly than ever, — for in 
her sight that shattered arm was her boy's arm now, — 
only saying, with a face of pale expectancy, — 

" Read on, Fisher : I have another son to keep or lose." 

So swift, so subtle, is the magnetism of human sym- 
pathy, that not a man in all that room but instantly for- 
got himself, his own anxieties, hopes, fears, and waited 
breathlessly for the utterance of that other name. Several 
sat upright in their beds to catch the good or evil tidings 
in the reader's face ; one dying man sighed softly, from 
the depths of a homesick heart, " Lord, keep him for his 
mother ! " and the standing group drew closer about 
Fisher, peering over his shoulder, that younger, keener 


eyes might read the words, and warn him lest they left 
his lips too suddenly for one listener's ear. 

Slowly name after name was read, and the long list 
drew near its end. A look of relief already settled upon 
some countenances, and one friendly fellow had turned to 
nod reassuringly at the mother, when a hand clutched 
Fisher's shoulder, and with a start he stopped short in 
the middle of a word. Mrs. Stirling rose up to receive 
the coming blow, and stood there mute and motionless, a 
figure so full of pathetic dignity that many eyes grew 
very dim. A gesture signified her wish, and, with choked 
voice and trembling lips, poor Fisher softly read the brief 
record that one word made so terrible, — 

" R. Stirling, dead." 

" Give me the paper." 

A dozen hands were outstretched to serve her ; and, as 
she took it, trying to teach herself that the heavy tidings 
were not false, several caps were silently swept off, — an 
involuntary tribute of respect to that great grief from 
rough yet tender-hearted men who had no words to offer. 

The hurried entrance of a surgeon broke the heavy 
silence ; and his brisk voice jarred on every ear, as he 
exclaimed, — 

" Good-by, boys ! I'm off to the front. God bless 
me ! what's the matter? " 

" Bad news for Mrs. Stirling, sir. Do speak to her : 
I can't," w^hispered Fisher, with two great tears running 
down his waistcoat. 

There was no time to speak ; three words had roused 
her from the first stupor of her sorrow, and down the 
long room she went, steady and strong again, straight to 
the surgeon, saying, briefly, — 


*' To the front ? When do you go ? " 

" In lialf an hour. What can I do for you? " 

" Take me with you." 

" Mrs. Stirling, it is impossible," began the astonished 

" Xothing is impossible to me. I must find my boys, 
— one living and one dead. For God's sake don't deny 
me this ! " 

She stretched her hands to him imploringly ; she made 
as though she would kneel down before him ; and her 
stricken face pleaded for her more eloquently than her 
broken words. 

Dr. Hyde was an army surgeon ; but a man's heart 
beat warm behind his bright buttons, unhardened by all 
the scenes of suffering, want, and woe through which he 
had been passing for three memorable years. Now it 
yearned over this poor mother with an almost filial pity 
and affection, as he took the trembling hands into his 
own and answered, earnestly, — 

" Heaven knows I would not deny you if it were safe 
and Avise to grant your wish. My dear lady, you have 
no conception of the horrors of a battle-field, or the awful 
scenes you must witness in going to the front. These 
hasty lists are not to be relied upon. Wait a little, and 
let me look for your sons. On my soul, I promise to do 
it as faithfully as a brother." 

" I cannot wait. Another week of such suspense would 
kill me. You never saw my boys. I do not even know 
which is living and which is dead. Then how can you 
look for them as well as I? You would not know the 
poor dead face among a hundred ; you would not recog- 
nize the familiar voice even in the ravings of pain or the 


(liu and darkness of those dreadful transports. I can 
bear anything, do anything, go anywhere, to find my 
boys. Oh, sir, by the love you bear your mother, I im- 
plore you to let me go ! " 

The look, the tone, the agony of supplication, made 
her appeal irresistible. 

" You shall," replied the doctor, decidedly, putting all 
objections, obstacles and dangers out of sight. " I'll 
delay one hour for you, Mrs. Stirling." 

Up she sprang, as if endowed, with the spirit and ac- 
tivity of a girl ; hope, courage, gratitude, shone in her 
eyes, flushed warm across her face, and sounded in her 
eager voice, as she said, hurrying from the room, — 

" Not an instant for me. Go as you first proposed. I 
shall be ready long before the time." 

She Avas : for all her thought, her care, Avas for her 
boys, not for herself; and, when Dr. Hyde -went to seek 
her in the matron's room, that busy woman looked up 
from the case of stores she was unpacking, and answered, 
with a sob, — 

" Poor soul ! she's waiting for you in the hall." 

News of her loss and her departure had flowm through 
the house ; for no nurse there Avas so beloved and honored 
as " Madam Stirling," as the stately old lady was called 
among the boys ; and when the doctor led her to the 
ambulance, it was through a crowd of wan and crippled 
creatures gathered there to see her off. Many eyes fol- 
lowed her, many lips blessed her, many hands were out- 
stretched for a farewell grasp ; and, as the ambulance 
went clattering away, old Fisher gave expression to the 
general feeling, when he said, with an air of solemn con- 


viction in almost ludicrous contrast to the emotional con- 
tortions of his bro\vn countenance, — 

" She'll find 'em ! It's borne in upon me uncommon 
strong that the Lord won't rob such a woman of her 
sons, — bless her stout heart ! so give her a cheer, boys, 
and then clear the way ! " 

They did give her a cheer, a right hearty one, — though 
the voices were none of the strongest, and nearly as many 
crutches as caps were waved in answer to the smile she 
sent them as she passed from sight. 

It was not a long journey that lay before her, yet to 
Mrs. Stirling it seemed interminable ; for a heavy heart 
went with her, and, through all the hopeful or despond- 
ent thoughts that haunted her, one unanswerable question 
continually sounded, like a sorrowful refrain, — "One 
killed, one wounded. Which is living? which is dead?" 

All along the road they went two streams of life con- 
tinually flowed, in opposite directions : one, a sad proces- 
sion of suffering humanity passing hospital, or home- 
ward, to live or die, as Heaven willed ; the other, an 
almost equally sad procession of pilgrims journeying to 
the battle-field, to find their wounded or to weep their 
dead, — men and w^omen, old and young, rich and poor, 
all animated by a spirit which made them as one great 
family, through the same costly sacrifice, the same sore 
afiiliction. It was well for Mrs. Stirling that the weary 
way was a little shortened, the heavy hours a little light- 
ened, for her, by the companionship of others bent on a 
like errand. In this atmosphere of general anxiety and 
excitement, accustomed formalities and reserves were for- 
gotten or set aside ; strangers spoke freely to each other ; 
women confidingly asked and gratefully received the 


chivalrous protection of men, and men yearning for sym- 
pathy always found it ready in the hearts and eyes of 
women as they told their sorrows and were comforted. 
Many brief tragedies were poured into Mrs. Stirling's 
ear ; more than one Aveaker nature leaned upon her 
strength ; more than one troubled soul felt itself calmed 
by the pious patience which touched that worn and ven- 
erable countenance with an expression which made it an 
unconscious comfort to many eyes ; and in seeing, sol- 
acing the woes of others, she found fresh courage to sus- 
tain her own. 

They came at last, with much difficulty and many de- 
lays, to the little town in and along which lay nine thou- 
sand dead, and nearly twenty thousand wounded men. 
Although a week had not yet passed since the thunder of 
the cannon ceased, the place already looked like the vast 
cemetery which it was soon to become ; for, in groves 
and fields, by the roadside and along the slopes, wherever 
they fell, lay loyal and rebel soldiers in the shallow graves 
that now are green. The long labor of interment was 
but just begun ; for the living appealed more urgently to 
both friend and stranger, and no heart was closed, no 
hand grew weary, Avhile strength and power to aid re- 
mained. All day supply wagons and cars came full and 
departed empty ; all day ambulances rolled to and fro, 
bringing the wounded from remoter parts of the wide 
battle-field to the railroad for removal to fixed hospitals 
elsewhere ; all day the relief-stations, bearing the blessed 
sign, "U. S. San. Com.," received hundi'eds of sufferers 
into the shelter of their tents, who must else have laid 
waiting their turn for transportation in the burning July 
sun ; all day, and far into the night, red-handed surgeons 


Stood at the rude tables, heart-sick and weary with their 
hard yet merciful labors, as shattered body after body 
was laid before them, while many more patiently, even 
cheerfully, awaited their turn ; and all day mothers, 
-wives, and widows, fathers, friends, and lovers, roamed 
the hills and valleys, or haunted the field-hospitals, search- 
ing for the loved and lost. 

Dr. Hyde was under orders ; but for many hours he 
neglected everything but Mrs. Stirling, going wath her 
from houses, tents, and churches, to barns, streets, and 
crowded yards ; for everywhere the wounded lay thick as 
autumn leaves, — some on bloody blankets, some on scat- 
tered straw, a few in cleanly beds, many on the bare 
ground ; and if anything could liave added to the bitter 
pain of hope deferred, it would have been the wistful 
glances turned on the new-comers from eyes that, seeing 
no familiar face, closed again with a pathetic patience that 
wTung the heart. All day they searched ; but nowhere 
did the mother find her boys, nor any tidings of them ; 
and, as night fell, her companion besought her to rest 
from the vain search, and accept the hospitality of a 
friendly citizen. 

" Dear Mrs. Stirling, wait here till morning," the doc- 
tor said. " I must go to my work, but will not till I 
know that you are safe ; for you can never wander here 
alone. I will send a faithful messenger far and wide, to 
make inquiries througli the night, and hope to greet you 
in the morning with the happiest news." 

She scarcely seemed to hear him, so intent was her 
mind upon the one hope that absorbed it. 

" Go to your work, kind friend," she said ; " the poor 
souls need you more than I. Have no fears for me. I 


want neither rest nor food ; I only want my boys ; and I 
must look for tliem both day and night, lest one hour of 
idleness should make my comiug one hour too late. I 
shall go back to the station. A constant stream of 
wounded men is passing there ; and, while I help and 
comfort them, I can see that my boys are not hurried 
away while I am waiting for them here." 

He let her have her will, well knowing that for such 
as she there was no rest till hope came, or exhausted 
nature forced her to pause. Back to the relief-station 
they went, and, while Dr. Hyde di'essed wounds, issued 
orders, and made diligent inquiry among the throngs that 
came and went, Mrs. Stirling, with other anxious yet 
hopeful, helpful women, moved about the tents, preparing 
nourishment for the men, who came in faster than they 
could be served. Through the whole night she worked, 
lifting water to lips too parched to syllable the word, 
wetting wounds uubandaged for days, feeding famished 
creatures who had lain suffering in solitary places till 
some minister of mercy found and succored them, whis- 
pering words of good cheer, and, by the cordial comfort 
of her presence, sending many a poor soul on his way 
rejoicing. But, while she worked so tirelessly for others, 
she still hungered for her children, and would not be 
comforted. No ambulance came rumbling from the field 
that she did not hurry out to scan the new-comers with 
an eye that neither darkness nor disguise could deceive ; 
not a stretcher with its helpless burden was brought in 
that she did not bend over it with the blessed cup of water 
in her hand, and her poor heart fluttering in her breast ; 
and often, among the groups of sleepers that lay every- 
where, there went a shadowy figure through the night, 


turning the lantern's glimmer on each pallid face ; but 
nowhere did Rick or Rob look back at her with the glad 
cry, " Mother ! " 

At dawn, Dr. Hyde came to her. With difficulty did 
he prevail upon her to eat a morsel and rest a little, while 
he told her of his night's attempts, and spoke cheerfully 
of the many mishaps, the unavoidable disappointments 
and delay, of such a quest at such a time and place. 

" "We have searched the town ; and Blake and Snow 
will see that no Stirling leaves by any of the trains 
to-day. But the hospitals on the outskirts still remain 
for us, — besides the heights and hollows ; for, on a 
battle-field like this, many men might lie unfound for 
days while search was going on about them. I have a 
Avagon here, — a rough affair, but the best I can get ; 
and, if you will not rest, let us go together, and look 
again for these lost sons of yours." 

They went ; and for another long, hot, summer day 
looked on sights that haunted their memories for years, 
listened to sounds that pierced their souls, and with each 
hour felt the weight of impotent compassion weigh heavier 
and heavier upon their hearts. Various and conflicting 
rumors, conjectures, and relations from the comrades of 
the brothers perplexed the seekers, and augmented the 
difficulties of their task. One man affirmed that he saw 
both Stirlings fall ; a second, that both were taken pris- 
oners ; a third, that he had seen both march safely away ; 
and a fourth, that Richard was mortally Avoundcd and 
Robert missing. But all agreed in their admiration for 
the virtue and the valor of the brothers, heartily wishing 
their mother success, and unconsciously applying, by their 
commendations, the only balm that could mitigate her 


paiQ. Up and down, from dawn till dusk, went the heavy- 
hoartcd i)air ; but evening came again, and still no sure 
intelligence, no confirmed fear or liappy meeting, light- 
ened the terrible uncertainty that tortured them. 

" Dear madam, we have done all that human patience 
and perseverance can do. Now, leave your boys in 
God's hand, and let me care for you as if you were my 
mother," said the compassionate doctor, as they paused, 
dusty, jaded, and dejected, at the good citizen's hospitable 

IVIrs. Stirling did not answer him. She sat there, an 
image of maternal desolation, her hands locked together 
on her knee, her eyes fixed and unseeing, and in her face 
a still, white anguish piteous to see. With gentlest 
constraint, her friend led her in, laid the gray head down 
upon a woman's breast, and left her to the tender care 
of one who had knoA^na a grief like hers. 

For hours she lay where kind hands placed her, phys- 
ically spent, yet mentally alert as ever. No passing 
face escaped her, no sound fell unheeded on her ear, no 
movement of those about her was unobserved : yet she 
neither spoke, nor stirred, nor slept, till midnight gath- 
ered cool and dark above a weary world. Then a brief 
lapse into unconsciousness partially repaired the ravages 
those two hard days had wrought. But even when the 
exhausted body rested, the unwearied soul continued its 
sad quest, and in her dreams the mother found her boys. 
So vivid was the vision, that she suddenly awoke to find 
herself thrilled with a strange joy, trembling with a 
strange expectancy. She rose up in her bed, she put 
away her fallen hair, fast whitening with sorrow's frost, 


aud held her brcatli to listen ; for a cry, urj^ent, implor- 
ing, distant, yet near, seemed ringing through the room. 

From without came the ceaseless rumble of ambu- 
lances and the tread of hurrying feet ; from within, the 
sound of women weeping for their dead, and the low 
moaning of a brave officer fast breathing his life away 
upon his young wife's bosom. No voice spoke, that 
Imman ear could hear ; yet through the mysterious hush 
that fell upon her in that hour, her spirit heard an 
exceeding bitter cry, — 

" Mother ! mother ! come to me ! " 

Like one possessed by an impulse past control, she 
left her bed, flung on her garments, seized the little store 
of comforts untouched till now, and, without sign or 
sound, glided like a shadow from the house. 

The solemn peace of night could not so soon descend 
upon those hills again ; nature's tranquillity had been 
rudely broken ; and, like the suffering humanity that 
cumbered her wounded breast, she seemed to moan in 
her troubled sleep. Lights flashed from hill and hollow, 
some fixed, some wandering, — all beacons of hope to 
the living or funeral torches for the dead. Many feet 
went to and fro along the newly-trodden paths ; dusky 
figures flitted everywhere, and soimds of suffering filled 
the night-wind with a sad lament. But, upheld by a 
power beyond herself, led by an instinct in which she 
placed blind faith, and unconscious of doubt, or weari- 
ness, or fear, the solitary woman Avalked undaunted and 
unscathed through that Valley of the Shadow of Death. 

Out from the crowded to^vn she went, turning neither 
to the right nor left, up a steep path her feet had trodden 
once that day, straight to the ruined breastworks formed 


of loose fragments of stone, piled there by many hands 
whose earthly labor was already done. There, gathered 
from among the tllickly-stre^^^l dead, and sheltered by 
an awning till they could be taken lower, lay a score of 
men, blue coats and gi*ay, side by side on the bare earth, 
equals now in courage, suffering, and patience. The 
one faithful attendant who kept his watch alone was 
gone for water, that first, greatest need and comfort in 
hours like those, and the dim light of a single lantern 
flickered through the gloom. Utter silence filled the 
dreary place, till from the remotest comer came a faint, 
imploring cry, the more plaintive and piteous for being a 
man's voice grown childlike in its weak wandering : — 

" Mother ! mother ! come to me I " 

"Who spoke?" 

A woman's voice, breathless and broken, put the 
question ; a woman's figure stood at the entrance of the 
rude shelter ; and when a wakeful sufferer answered, 
eagerly, " Robert Stirling, just brought in dying. For 
God's sake help him if you can," — a woman's face, 
transfigured with a sudden joy, flashed sAviftly, silently 
before his startled eyes, to bend over one low bed, 
whence came the sound of tender speech, prayerful 
thanksgiving, and the strong sobbing of a man who in 
his hour of extremest need found solace and salvation in 
the dear refuge of his mother's arms. 


They were alone together, the mother and her one son, 
after weeks of suffering and a long, slow journey, safely 
at home at last. Poor Rob was a piteous sight now, for 


both arms were goue, one at the shoulder, the other at 
the elbow; yet sadder than the maimed body was the 
altered lace, for, though wan and wasted by much suffer- 
ing, a strong soul seemed to look out at the despairing 
ey^^s, as it the captivity of helplessness were more than 
he could bear. A still deeper grief cast its shadow over 
him, making the young man old before his time, for day 
and night his heart cried out for his brother, as if the tie 
between the twin-born could not be divided even by 
death. This longing, which the consolations of neither 
tenderness nor time could appease, was now the only 
barrier to his recovery. Vainly his mother assured him 
that Richard's death had been confirmed by more than 
one account ; vainly she tried to comfort him by hopeful 
reminders of a glad reunion hereafter, and endeavored to 
rouse hmi by appeals to his filial love, telling him that he 
Avas her all now, and imploring him to live for his old 
mother's sake. He listened, promised, and tried to be 
resigned, but still cherished an unconquerable belief that 
Richard lived, in spite of aU reports, appearances, or seem- 
ing certainties. Asleep, he dreamed of him ; awake, he 
talked of him ; and the hope of seeing him again in this 
world seemed the only thing that gave Rob patience and 
courage to sustain the burden which life had now become 
to him. 

''Mother, when shaU I be freed from this dreadful 
bed?" he broke out, suddenly, as she laid down the book 
she had been reading to deaf ears, and brushed away a 
lock of hair the wind had blown across his forehead, for 
hor watchftil eye and tireless hand spared him the pam 
of asking any service that recalled his loss. 

"Weeks yet, dear. It takes nature long to repair 


such rents in her fine handiwork ; but the wounds are 
healing rapidly, thanks to your temperate life and hardy 

" And your devoted care, most faithful of nurses," 
added Robert, turning his lips to the hand that had 
strayed caressingly from forehead to cheek. " Do your 
best for me, mother, — and you can do more tlian any 
other in the world ; get me on my feet again as soon as 
may be, and then, God willing, I'll find Rick if he's 
above the sod." 

Mrs. Stirling opened her lips to remonstrate against 
the vain purpose, but, seeing the sudden color that lent 
the wan face a semblance of health, hearing the tone of 
energy that strengthened the feeble voice, and remem- 
bering how deep a root the hope had taken in the broth- 
er's heart, she silently resolved to let it sustain him if it 
could, undisturbed by a look or word of unbelief. 

" We will go together, Rob. My first search was suc- 
cessful ; Heaven grant my second may be so likewise. I 
will do my best ; and when I see you your old self again 
I shall be ready to follow anywhere." 

" My old self again ! I never can be that, and why I 
was spared to be a burden to you while Rick was taken 
— no, not taken — I'll neither say nor think that. If he 
were dead I should either follow him or find comfort in 
the thought that he was at peace ; but he is alive, for 
day and night his spirit calls to mine, and I must answer 
it as you answered me when I cried to you in what I 
thought to be my dying hour. Remember, mother, how 
many of our men were found after they were believed to 
to have been killed or taken. John King's grave Avas 
pointed out to his wife, you know ; and, when she had 


almost broken her poor heart over it, she went home, to 
find him waiting for her there. Why should not some 
such happy chance befall us ? Let us believe and hope 
till we can do so no longer, and then I will learn sub- 

His mother only answered with a gentler touch upon 
his head, for in her heart she believed that her son was 
dead. Perhaps the great fear of losing both had made 
the loss seem less when one was spared, or perhaps she 
thought that if either must go Richard was fittest for the 
change, and the nearness she still felt to him made the 
absence of his visible presence less keenly felt than that 
of Robert would have been ; for, though as dear, he Avas 
not so spiritually akin to her as that stronger, gentler 

"Is Rose in town, mother?" Avas the abrupt question 
that broke a momentary silence. 

"Yes, she is still here." 

" Does she know we have come?" 

" She cannot help knowing, when half the town has 
been trooping by with welcomes, messages, and gifts for 

" Do you think she will come to welcome us?" 

" Not yet, dear." 

"Ah ! her pride will keep her away, you think?" 

" Her pity, rather. Rose has generous impulses, and, 
but for her mistaken education, would have been a right 
noble woman. She may be yet, if love proves strong 
enough to teach her the hard, though happy lesson, that 
shall give her back to you again." 

"That can never be, mother. What woman could 
love such a wreck ; and what right have I to expect or 


hope it, least of all from Rose? No, I am done with 
love ; my dream has had a stern awakening ; do not talk 
of the impossible to me." 

His mother smiled the w^ise smile of one who under- 
stood the workings of a woman's heart, and, knowing 
both its w^eakness and its strength, believed that all things 
are possible to love. Perhaps some village gossip had 
breathed a hint into her ear which confirmed her hope ; 
or, judging another by herself, she ventured to comfort 
her son by prophesying the return of the dream which he 
believed forever ended. 

" I will leave that theme for a younger, more persuasive 
woman to discourse upon, when the hour comes in which 
you find that hearts do not always change w^ith changing 
fortunes, that affliction often deepens afiection, and when 
one asks a little pity one sometimes receives much love." 

" I shall never ask either of Rose." 

" If she truly loves you there will be no need of ask- 
ing, Rob." 

His face brightened beautifully as he listened ; his eyes 
shone, and he moved impetuously, as if the mere thought 
had power to lift and set him on his feet, a hale and 
happy man again. But weakness and helplessness held 
him down ; and, with a sharper pang than that of the 
half-healed w^ounds, he lay back, exclaiming M'ith a bitter 
sigh, — 

" No hope of such a fate for me ! I must be content 
with the fulfilment of my other longing, and think of poor 
Rick all the more because I must not think of Rose. 
Oh ! if my worst enemy should bring the dear lad home 
to me, I'd joyfully forgive, love, honor him for that one 


As Robert spoke with almost passionate earnestness, a 
sliadow that had lain across the sunny threshold of the 
door vanished as noiselessly as it had come ; and unseen, 
unheard. Rose glided back into the green covert of the 
lane, saying within herself, as she hurried on, agitated 
by the mingled pain, pride and passion of the new-born 
purpose at her heart, — 

" Yes, Mrs. Stirling, love shall prove strong enough to 
make me what I should be, and Robert shall yet forgive 
and honor me ; for, if human power can do it, I will 
bring his brother home to him." 

Completely absorbed by the design that had taken pos- 
session of her, she hastened back, thinking intently as 
she went ; and, when she called her one faithful servant 
to her, all her plans were laid, her resolution fixed, and 
every moment seemed wasted till the first step was taken, 
for now her impetuous spirit could not brook delay. 

" Jupiter, I am going to Washington in the morning, 
and shall take you with me — so be ready," was the 
rapid order issued to the astonished old man, who had no 
ansAver to make, but the usual obedient — " Yes, missis." 

" I am going to look for Mrs. Stirling's son, the one 
who is supposed to be dead." 

" Lors, missis, he is dead, shore, — ain't he?" 

" I intend to satisfy myself on that point, if I search 
the prisons, camps, hospitals, and graveyards, from Get- 
tysburg to Richmond. I have strength, courage, money, 
and some power, and what better use can I make of them 
than to look for this good neighbor, and ease tlie hearts 
of those who love him best. Go, Jupe, tell no one of 
my purpose, make ready in all haste, and be sure I will 
reward you well if you serve me faithfully now." 


"Yes, missis, — you may 'pend ou me." 

At da^vIl they were away, the young mistress and 
her old slave. No one knew why they had gone, nor 
whither ; and village rumor said Miss Rose had left 
so suddenly because young Stirling and his mother 
had come home. "When Mrs. Stirling heard of the 
departure, her old eyes kindled with indignation, wliile 
her voice trembled with grief, as she said to her 
son, — 

"I am bitterly disappointed in her; think of her no 
more, Rob." 

But Robert turned his face to the wall, and neither 
spoke nor stirred for many hours. 

In ancient times, young knights went out to defend' 
distressed dames and free imprisoned damsels ; but, in 
our day, the errantry is reversed, and many a strong- 
hearted woman goes journeying up and down the land, 
bent on delivering some beloved hero from a captivity 
more terrible than any the old legends tell. Rose was 
now one of these ; and, though neither a meek Una nor 
a dauntless Britomart, she resolutely began the long quest 
which was to teach her a memorable lesson, and make a 
loyal woman of the rebel beauty. 

At first she haunted hospitals ; and, while her heart 
Avas wrung by the sight of every form of suffering, she 
marked many things that sunk deep into her memory, 
and forced it to bear testimony to the truth. She saw 
Confederate soldiers lying side by side with Union men, 
as kindly treated, almost as willingly served, and twice 
conquered by those who could smite hard like valiant 
soldiers, and then lift up their fallen enemy like Christian 
ffentlemen. This sio;ht caused her to recall other scenes 


iu Other hospitals, where loyal prisoners lay perishing for 
help, while rebels close by were cherished with every 
demonstration of indulgent care by men and women, 
Avho not only hardeaed their hearts against the sadder 
sufferers, bnt found a cruel pleasure in tormenting them 
by every deprivation and indignity their hatred could 
devise. She had seen a woman, beautiful and young, go 
through a ward leaving fruit, flowers, delicate food and 
kind words behind her, for every Southern man that lay 
there ; then offer a cup of water to a Northern soldier, 
and as the parched lips opened eagerly to receive the 
blessed draught, she flung it on the ground and went her 
way with a scornful taunt. This picture was in Rose's 
mind as she stood in a Washington hospital, by the 
death-bed of a former neighbor of her own, hearing the 
fervent thanks uttered Avith the last breath he drew, 
watching the sweet-faced nurse close the weary eyes, 
fold the pale hands, and then forgetting everything but 
the one fact, that some woman loved and mourned the 
lost rebel, she '^ kissed him for his mother," Avhile Rose 
turned a^vay with full heart and eyes, never again to 
speak contemptuously of Northern men and women. 

She visited many battle-fields and graveyards, where 
the low mounds rose thickly everywhere, and an army 
of brave sleepers lay awaiting the call to God's great 
review. Here, too, despite the dreary task before her, 
and the daily disappointment that befell her, she could not 
but contrast the decent burial given to dead enemies 
with the sacrilegious brutality with which her friends 
often tried to rob death of its sanctity by mutilation, 
burning, butchery, and the denial of a few feet of earth 
to cover some poor body which a brave soul had ennobled 


by its martyrdom. Seeing these things, she could not 
but blush for those whom she once had blindly honored ; 
could not but heartily respect those whom she once had 
as blindly distrusted and despised. 

She searched many prisons ; for, when neither eloquence 
nor beauty could win its way, money proved a golden key, 
and let her in. Here, as elsewhere, the same strong con- 
trast was forced upon her ; for, while one side fed, clothed, 
and treated their conquered with courteous forbearance, 
often sending them back the richer and better for their 
sojouna, the other side robbed, starved, tormented, and 
often wantonly murdered the helpless victims of the 
chances of war, or returned them worn out with priva- 
tion and neglect to die at home, or to endure the longer 
captivity of strong souls pent in ruined bodies. And 
Rose felt her heart swell with indignant gi'ief and shame, 
as she came out into the free world again, finding the 
shadow of prison-bars across its sunshine, hearing the 
sighs of long-suffering men in every summer wind, and 
fully seeing at last how black a blight slavery and 
treason had brought upon the land she loved. 

She went to Hospital Directories, those kindly insti- 
tuted intelligence offices for anxious hearts, and there 
she saw such sorrowful scenes, yet heard such cheerful, 
courageous words, that sympathy and admiration con- 
tended for the mastery in the Southern woman's breast. 
She heard an old mother say proudly, as she applied for 
a pass, " I have had seveu sons in the army ; three are 
dead, and two are Avounded, but I'm glad my boys Avent.'^ 
She saAv a young wife come to meet 'her husband, and 
learn that he was waiting for her in his coffin ; but 
though her heart was broken, there was no murmuring 


at the heavy loss, no bitter denunciation of those ^vho 
had made her life so desolate, only a sweet submission, 
and sustaining consolation in the knowledge that the 
great sacrifice had been freely made, and the legacy of 
an honorable name had been bequeathed to the baby at 
her breast. Lads came asking for fathers, and whether 
they found them dead or wounded, the spirit of patriot- 
ism burned undiminished in their enthusiastic hearts, 
and each was eager to fill the empty place, undaunted 
by pain and peril of the life. Old men mingled, with 
their tearless lamentations for lost sons, their own re- 
grets that they too could not shoulder guns, and fight the 
good fight to the end. 

All these loyal demonstrations sunk deeply into Rose's 
softened heart, and in good time bore fruit ; for now she 
began to think within herself, " Surely, a war w^hich 
does so much for a people, making women glad to give 
tlieir best and dearest, men eager to lay down their lives, 
strengthening, purifying, and sustaining all, must be a 
holy war, approved by God, and sure of victory in the 
end." The last touch needed to complete the work of 
regeneration was yet to come ; but slowly, surely this 
long discipline made her ready to receive it. 

Her search, meanwhile, had not proved fruitless, for 
after many disappointments one fact was established 
beyond doubt : Richard Stirling was not killed at Gettys- 
burg. By the merest chance she met, in one of the 
Union hospitals which she visited, a rebel lieutenant who 
told her that the same shell wounded both Stirling and 
liimself, and wlieft the first attack was repulsed, that 
Richard was taken prisoner, and sent to the reai* with 
others of his regiment. An hour later, the lieutenant 


himself Avas taken by our men when they returned to 
the charge ; but whether Stirling lived or died he could 
not tell : probably the latter, being severely wounded in 
head and chest. 

The smile, the thanks Rose gave in return for these 
good tidings, and the comforts she gratefully provided, 
w^ould have made captivity dangerously alluring to the 
young lieutenant had she remained. But armed with 
this intelligence she went on her way rejoicing, eager to 
trace and follow the army of prisoners that had gone 
southward. Weeks had been consumed in her search, 
and already rumors of the horrors of the Libby Prison- 
house and Belle Island had disturbed and shocked the 
North. Haunted with woful recollections of all the 
varied sufferings she had seen, her imagination pictured 
Richard weak and wounded, shivering and starving, 
while she waited Avith full hands and eager heart to save, 
and heal, and lead him home. Intent on reacliing Rich- 
mond, she besieged officials in high places as well as low, 
money flowed like water, and every faculty was given to 
the work. It seemed as if she had undertaken an impossi- 
bilty'; for though all pitied, tried to help, and heartily 
admired the beautiful brave woman, no one could serve 
her as she would be served ; and she began to exercise 
her fertile wit in devising some way in which she could 
attain her object by stratagem, if all other means should 

Waiting in her carriage, one day, at the door of a 
helpful friend's office, while Jupe carried up a message, 
she was startled from an anxious re\"ierie by the sudden 
appearance of an agitated black countenance at the win- 


dow, aud the sound of an incoherent voice, exclaiming, 
between hiughtei* and tears, — 

'' Oh, bress de Lord, and sing hallyluyer ! I'se foun' 
her ! I'se foun' her ! Doesn't yer know me, Missy Rose? 
I'se old June, and I'se run away ; but I doesn't kere 
nutiin what comes ob me ef missy'll jes' lem me see my 
pore ole man once more." 

To Juno's infinite surprise, no frown appeared upon 
the face of her young mistress, and no haughty repri- 
mand followed the recognition of the half-ludicrous, half- 
pathetic tatterdemalion who addressed her, but a white 
hand was put forth to draw the new-comer in, and the 
familiar voice answered with a friendliness never heard 
before, — 

" Jupe is safe, and you shall see him soon. Come in, 
you poor old soul, come in." 

In bundled the delighted creature, and began to tell 
her story, but stopped in the middle to dart out again, 
and fall upon the neck of the bewildered Jupiter, as he 
came soberly up to deliver his message. Fortunately it 
was a quiet street, else that tumultuous meeting might 
have been productive of discomfort to all parties ; for the 
old couple wept, laughed, and sung, — went down upon 
their knees to thank Heaven, — got up to embrace, and 
dance, and w^eep again, in a perfect abandonment of 
gratitude, affection and delight. When Rose could 
make herself heard, she bade them both enter the car- 
riage ; then dra^ving down the curtains, and ordering the 
coachman to drive slowly round the square, she let the 
reunited husband and wife give free vent to their emo- 
tions, till from sheer weariness they grew calm again. 

** We hopes missis will *scuse n=! actin' so wild, but 


'pears like we couldn't help it, comlu' so bery sudden an' 
undispected," apologized Jupe, wiping away the last of 
his own and Juno's tears w^ith the same liandkerchief, 
which, very properly, w^as a miniature star-spangled 

But Rose's own eyes were wet ; and in h^r sight there 
was nothing unlovely or unmannerly in that natural out- 
break of affection, for she had learned to feel for others 
now, and the same stern discipline which made her both 
strong and humble, taught her to see much that was true 
and touching in the spectacle of the gray heads bent 
towards each other ; the Avrinkled faces shining with joy ; 
the hard hands locked together, as the childless, friend- 
less old pair found freedom, happiness, and rest for a 
moment in each other's arms. Like a true woman, Juno 
calmed herself first, that she might talk ; and, embold- 
ened by the gracious change in her once imperious 
mistress, she told the story of her wanderings at length, 
not forgetting the chief incident of her long and lonely 
flight, the meeting with Robert Stirling. At the sound 
of his name, both Rose and Jupe exclaimed, and Juno 
was rapidly made acquainted with the mission which 
had brought them there. Deeply impressed with the 
circumstance, and a sense of her own importance, the 
good soul entered heartily into the matter, saying, with 
the pious simplicity of her race, — 

"De ways ob de Lord is 'mazing 'sterious ! butwe's 
boun' to b'lieve dat He'U take special kere ob dat dear 
chile, elseways we shouldn't hab ben brung togedder so 
cur'us. I tole de blessed gen'l'raan I'd 'member him, and 
I has ; I prayed ter be spared ter see his kine face agin, 
an' I was." 


''• Where? wheu? Oh, Jimo, you were surely sent to 
me in my last extremity," cried Rose, now trembling 
with interest and impatience. 

" It was dis way, missy. When dat dear gen'l'man 
lef me I creeped on a piece, but was tuk sick, an' a kind 
fam'ly kep' me a long time. Den I come on agin bery 
slow, an' one day as I was gwine fru a town, — I'se los' 
de name, but it don't matter, — as I was gwine fru dat 
town, dere come a lot ob pris'ners frum Gettysbury, 
or some place like dat, a gwine to Richmun. Dear heart, 
honey, dey was an orfle sight, all lame, an' rags, an' hungry, 
an' de folks run out into de street wid bread ter feed um. 
De guard was bery ugly, and wouldn't let de folks come 
nigh ter do it, so dey jes' fell back and frowed de vittles 
ober de heads of dem rebs, and de pore souls cotched it 
as ef it was de manny dey tells of in de Bible. I helped 
um ; yes, missy, I couldn't stay still noways, so I runned 
into a bake-shop wid some more women, and we stood in 
de winders and hev de bread down to de starvin' creeters 
in de street mighty hearty, you'm be shore ob dat. I 
had a big loaf in my han', and was lookin' roun' for de 
starvinest man dar, when I saw de bery face dat looked 
so kine inter mine yonder l)y de spring. I tank de Lord 
I'd kep de name handy, fer I screeched right out, 'Oh, 
Massa Stirlin' ! Massa Stirlin' ! dis yere's for you wid 
my lub.' He looked up, he 'membered me, he larfed all 
over his pore thin face, jes' as he done de day I gib him 
de rose. Oh, missy ! he was hurted bad ; dey had tuk 
away his hat, and coat, and shoes, and I saAv his head 
was tied up, and dere was a great red stain on de bosom 
ob his shirt, and he looked so weak and wore down dat 
I jes bus out cryin', and forgot all 'bout de bread till I 


was gwine to wipe my eyes wid it. Den I ^ot my wits 
togedder and gib de loaf such a great chuck dat I mos* 
fell out a winder, but he got it ; I sawed him break it in 
bits and gib em roun' to de pore boys side ob him, some 
wid no arms to grab wid, some too hurted to fight and 
run for it like de res. Den I'se fraid he won't had nuf 
for his self, so I gets more and fros it far, and he larfs 
out hearty like a boy, and calls to me, ' I tank yer, ma'am. 
God bless yer ! ' Dat set me cryin' agin, like a ole fool 
as I is, and when I come to dey was movin' on agin, and 
de las I see ob dat dear soul he was marchin' brave, wid 
de sun beatin' down on his pore head, de hot sand burnin' 
his pore feet, and a sick boy hangin' on his arm. But 
fer all dat he kep lookin' back, noddin' and smilin' till 
dey was clean gone, and dere was nuffin left but prayers 
and sobbin' all dat day fer me." 

" It is certain then that he has gone to Richmond ; I 
must follow. Jupe, what message did Mr. Norton send 
me ? " asked. Rose, remembering her unanswered inquiry 
at last. 

"He bery busy, INlissis, elseways he come down and 
see yer ; but he says dere's no gittin' any passes, and de 
only 'vice he can gib, is dat you goes to 'Xapolis and 
looks dere, kase dere's ben some pris'ners fetched dere 
frum Belle Island, and dere's jes one chance dat Massa 
Stirlin' mought be 'mong em." 

" I'll go ! Jupe, order the man back to the hotel. 
There's not a moment to be lost," said Rose. 

" Oh, missy, lem me go wid you ! " implored Juno. " I 
knows I don't look bery spectable, but I'll follow on hind 
yer some ways : I'se good at nussin', I can pry roun* in 
places whar a lady couldn't, and ef dat bressed gen'l'man 


aiu't dar, I'll jes go back and try to fetch him out ob de 
Ian' ob bondage like I did myself." 

" You shall go, Juno, for without you I should still be 
groping in the dark. Surely Heaven helps me, and I 
feci that I shall find him now." 

She did lind him, but how ? She went to Annapolis, 
where a hundred and eighty exchanged prisoners had 
just arrived, and entering the hospital, stood aghast at 
the sight before her. Men who for weeks had been con- 
lined on that desert waste. Belle Island, without shelter 
or clothing, almost without food, and no help, sick or 
well, lay there dead or dying from starvation and neglect. 
Nurses, inured to many forms of suifering, seemed dis- 
mayed at the awful spectacle of living skeletons famish- 
ing for food, yet too weak to taste when eager hands tried 
to minister to them. Some Avere raving in the last stage 
of their long agony ; some were hopelessly insane ; many 
had died unconscious that they were among friends ; and 
others were too far gone to speak, yet dumbly grateful 
for the help that came too late. 

Heart-wrung and horror-stricken. Rose could only pray 
that she might not find Richard among these victims of a 
barbarous revenge which made her disoA\Ti and denounce 
the cause she had clung to until then, and oppressed her 
with a bitter sense of remorse for ever ":ivinn; it her alle- 
";iance. As she stood stru^^din"; with a flood of thouohts 
and feelings too strong for utterance, old Juno, who had 
pressed on before her, beckoned with an eager hand. 
Going to her. Rose found her bending over the mournful 
ghost of a man who lay there like one dead, with hollow 
eyes fast shut, the pinched mouth breathless, the wasted 
limbs stifi" and cold, and no trace of Richard Stirliuf? vis- 


ible, for the frightful emaciation, the long, neglected hair 
and beard, so changed him that his own mother might 
have passed by without a glance of recognition. 

" It is not he, Juno. Poor soul, poor soul ! cover his 
face, and let him rest," siglied Rose, with tremulous lips, 
bending to lay her delicate handkerchief over the piteous 
face, one glance at which had made her eyes too dim for 
seeing, and seemed to utter a mute reproach, as if the 
loss of this life lay at her door. 

"It is de dear boy, missy; I'se shore ob it, fer see 
Avhat I foun' in dis faded little bag dat lay on his heart, 
when I feeled to see if dere was any beat lef. Here's a 
bit ob gray har in a paper wid somefin wrote on it, an' 
here's de flower I gib him. I knows it by de red string 
I pulled out ob my old shawl to tie de posy wid. Ah, 
honey, I specks he smiled so when he tuk de rose, an' 
kep it, kase he tort ob you, and lubbed you bery dear." 

The little case and the dead flower fell from Rose's 
hand, as she read these words upon the worn paper that 
held the gray curl : " For Rick from mother. May 10, 
1863 " ; and she laid her warm cheek doAvn beside that 
chilly one, crying through the heartiest, happiest tears 
she ever shed. 

" Oh, Richard, have I come too late? " 

Something in the touch of tender lips, the magnetism 
of a living, lo^dng heart, seemed to arrest the weary 
spirit in its flight, and call it back to life by the power of 
that passion which outlives death. 

" De heart's a beatin', and de bref's a comin', shore. 
Lif up his head, honey ! Jupe, fan him bery kereful, 
while I gets a drop ob brandy down his frote, an' rubs 


desc pore Laiis dat is all bones. Dear boy, we's got yer, 
Def may go 'way now ! " 

Juno both worked and spoke as if the young man were 
her son ; for she forgot all differences of rank, color, and 
condition, in her glad gratitude to nurse him like a 
mother. Rose laid the unconscious head upon her 
bosom, and, brushing back the tangled hair, watched the 
faint flutter of the eyelids, as life came creeping back, 
and hope dawned again for both of them ; for she felt that 
Richard's restoration would win Robert's pardon, and be 
her best atonement for the past. 

It was long before he was himself again, but Juno 
never left him, day or night ; Jupe was a sleepless, tire- 
less guard, and Rose ministered to him with heart as 
well as hand, seeming to hold death at bay by the sheer 
force of an indomitable will. He knew the forms about 
him, at last ; and the happiest moment of Rose's life was 
that in which he looked up in her face with eyes that 
blessed her for her care, and whispered feebly, — 

" I thought I had suffered much, but this atones for 
all ! " 

After that, every hour brought fresh strength, and 
renewed assurances that the danger had gone by. At 
this point Juno discovered that her soul was stronger 
than her body, for the latter gave out, and Rose com- 
manded her to rest. 

" I need you no longer, for my work is nearly done," 
she said. "Jupe, I told you that if you served me well 
you sliould be rewarded, and I will keep my word. This 
paper assures your freedom, and your wife's, forever ; this 
purse contains a little fortune, to keep you above want 
while you live. Take the late gift, my good old friends. 


and forgive me for the wrong I have done you all these 

Rose's subdued yet earnest manner, and the magnitude 
of the gift, restrained the rapture of the old pair, which 
found vent only in a demonstration that touched Rose 
more than a stream of thanks and blessings. Holding 
fast the precious paper that gave them freedom only at 
life's close, they put b^ck the money, feeling too rich in 
that other gift to fear want, and, taking one of the white 
hands in their black ones, they kissed them, wet them 
with grateful tears, and clung to them, imploring to be 
allowed to stay with her, to serve her, love her, and be 
her faithful followers to the end. 

Much moved, she gave the promise ; and happier than 
any fabled king and queen of Olympus were the old 
freedman and his wife, when they went away to nurse 
each other for a little while, at their mistress's desire, 
leaving her to tend the " General," as Jupe insisted upon 
calling Richard, laboring under a delusion that, be- 
cause he had suffered much, he must have received honor 
and promotion. 

Very quiet, useful hours were those that followed, and 
these proved the sincerity of her amendment, by the zeal 
with which she performed many a distasteful duty for 
Richard and his companions in misfortune, the patience 
with which she bore many discomforts, the energy Avith 
which she met and conquered all obstacles to the fulfil- 
ment of her purpose. Unconsciously Richard did more 
for her than she for him : because, though unseen, his 
work was both more difficult and more enduring than her 
own. She nursed and nourished an exhausted body ; 
he, by tlie influence of character, soothed and sustained 


an anxious soul, helped Rose to find her better self, and, 
througli the force of a fair example, inspired her with 
noble emulation. They talked much, at first : Rose was 
the speaker, and an eloquent one ; for Richard was very- 
like his brother, as she had last seen him, and she felt the 
charm of that resemblance. Then, .as Richard gained 
strength, he loved to lie conversing upon many themes, 
too happy in her presence to remember the sad past, or to 
cherish a fear for the unknown future. Having lived a 
deep and earnest life of late. Rose found herself fitted to 
comprehend the deep and earnest thoughts that found 
expression in those confidential hours ; for if ever men 
and women are their simplest, sincerest selves, it is when 
suffering softens the one, and sympathy strengthens the 

Often Rose caught a wistful look fixed on her face, as 
she read or worked beside her patient, in the little room 
now set apart for him, and she could not but interpret it 
aright, since the story of the rose had given her a key to 
that locked heart. Poor Richard loved her still, and was 
beginning to hope that Juno's wish might be fulfilled, for 
Rose seldom spoke of Rob, had shivered and turned 
pale when she told his great misfortune, and, man-like, 
Richard believed that her love had changed to pity, and 
might, in time, be given to Robert's nnmarrcd counter- 
part. He was very slow to receive this hope, very re- 
morseful when he thought of Rob, and very careful not 
to betray the troubled joy that was doing more toward 
his recovery than any cordial that passed his lips. But, 
when the time came for them to think of turning home- 
ward, he felt that he could not meet his brother Avith any 
secret hidden in his heart ; and, with the courage that 


'vvas as natural to him as his patience, he ended his sus- 
pense, and manfully ^--ent to meet his fate. 

Eose had been reading him to sleep one night, and 
fancying, from his stillness, that she had succeeded, she 
closed her book, and sat watching the thin face that looked 
so pale and peaceful in the shaded light that filled the 
room. Not long did she study it, for suddenly the clear 
eyes opened, and, as if some persistent thought found 
utterance, almost against his will, he asked, — 

" Rose, why did you come to find me?" 

She divined the true meaning of the look, the words, 
with a woman's instinct, and answered both with the 
perfect truth which they deserved. 

" Because your brother wanted you." 

" For his sake you came for me?" 

" Yes, Richard." 

" Then, Rose, you — you love him still? " 

" How can I help it, when he needs me more than 
ever ? " 

For a moment Richard's face changed terribly ; then 
something seemed to gush warm across his heart, send- 
ing a generous glow to cheek and forehead, banishing 
the despair from his eyes, and lending to his voice a 
heartiness unheard before. 

" Forgive me. Rose ; you are a nobler woman than I 
thought you. He does need you more than ever ; give 
him your whole heart, and help me to make his hard life 

"I will — God bless my brother Rick!" and, bend- 
ing, Rose kissed him softly on the forehead, the only 
token that ever betrayed her knowledge of his love, the 


only atonement she had it in her power to make him for 
his loss. 

Richard held the beautiful, beloved face close to his 
own an instant, then turned his head aw^ay, and Rose 
heard one strong, deep sob, but never any word of lam- 
entation or reproach. Too much moved to speak, yet 
too full of sympathy to leave him, she leaned her head 
upon the arm of the cushioned chair in which she sat, 
and soon forgot the lapse of time in thoughts both sweet 
and bitter. A light rustle and a faint perfume recalled 
her to the present ; and looking, without moving, she saw 
Richard's almost transparent hand hold the dead rose in 
the flame of the lamp until its ashes fluttered to the 
ground ; she saw him watch the last spark fade, and 
shiver as he glanced drearily about the room, as if all the 
warmth and beauty had died out of his life, leaving it 
very desolate and dark ; she saw him turn toward her 
while his face grew^ clear and calm again, and, believing 
himself unseen, he lifted a little fold of her dress to his 
lips, as if he bade the woman whom he loved a long fare- 
well ; then he lay down like one spent with some sore 
struggle, which, though hardly fought, had been wholly 

At that sight Rose's tears fell fast ; and, long after 
Richard slept the sleep of utter w^eariness, she still sat 
there, with her head pillowed on her arms, keeping a 
vigil in which she consecrated her -whole life to the ser- 
vice of that cause which, through many trials, had taught 
her a truer loyalty, a purer love. 

In the ruddy glow of an October sunset. Rose led 
Richard across the threshold of the dear old home, and 


gave him to his mother's arms. At first, a joyful tumult 
reigned ; then, as the wonder, gratitude, and joy sub- 
sided, all turned to Rose. She stood apart, silently re- 
ceiving her reward ; and, though worn and weary with 
her long labor, never had she seemed so beautiful as 
then ; for the once proud eyes were grown sweetly 
humble, the serenity of a great content shone in her face, 
and a fine blending of gentleness and strength gave the 
crowning grace to one who was now, in truth, a "right 
noble woman." 

The mother and her sons regarded her in silence for a 
moment, and silently she looked back at them with a 
glance, a gesture that said more eloquently than any 
words : " Forgive me, love me, and forget the past." Mrs. 
Stirling opened her arms, and Rose clung to that moth- 
erly bosom, feeling that no daughter could be dearer 
than she was now, that all her pain and penitence was 
known, and her reward secure at last. 

" Rose, I have but one thing precious enough to give 
you in return for the great service you have so beautifully 
conferred upon me. If I read your heart aright, this is 
the prize for which you have striven and suffered ; and, 
loving you the dearer for your constancy, I freely give 
one-half my treasure to your keeping, sure that you will 
find life richer, happier, and better for your devotion to 
the man you love." 

Rose understood her, — felt that the mother wished to 
prove the woman's pride, the lover's truth, — and well 
she stood the test ; for going straight to Robert, who had 
scarcely spoken, but whose eye had never left her since 
she came, she said, clearly and steadily, — too earnest 


for maiden shame, too humble for false pride, too hope- 
ful for any fear, — 

"Robert, you once said you would never ask either 
pity or love of me. Will you accept both when I offer 
them humbly, heartily, and tell you that all my happiness, 
my hopes, my peace, are now bound up in you? " 

Poor Rob ! he had no arms in which to receive her, 
no words wherewith to welcome her, for speech failed 
him when those tender eyes looked up into his own, and 
she so generously gave him the desire of his life. He 
only bowed his head before her, deliciously oppressed 
with the happiness this double gift conferred. Rose read 
his heart, and with a loving woman's skill robbed the mo- 
ment of all its bitterness and left only its sweetness ; for, 
putting both arms about his neck, she whispered like a 
pleading child, — 

" Dear, let me stay ; I am so happy here ! " 

There was but one answer to that appeal ; and as it 
was given, Mrs. Stirling turned to beckon Richard from 
the room, glad to have him all her o\\ti again. He had 
already stolen out, and standing in the autumn sunshine, 
looked across the quiet river with a countenance as cheer- 
ful as the sunshine, as tranquil as the stream. His 
mother scanned his fiice with a searching yet sorrowful 
eye, that dimmed with sudden dew as, reading its signfi- 
cance, her son met it with a glance that set her anxiety 
■ at rest. 

" Have no fears for me, mother ; I have fought my 
double fight, and am freed from my double captivity. 
The lost love is not dead, but sleeping, never to waken 
in this world, and its grave is growing green." 

" Ah, my good son, the world will see Rob's sacrifice, 


and honor him for it, but yours is the greater one, for 
through many temptations you have been loyal, both to 
your country and yourself. God and your mother love 
and honor you for that, ahhough to other eyes you seem 
to stand forgotten and alone." 

But Richard drew the gray head tenderly, reverently 
down upon his breast, and answered, with the cheerful 
smile unchanged, — 

" Never alone while I have you, mother.'* 




AMONG gi-een New-England hills stood an ancient 
house, many-gabled, mossy-roofed, and quaintly 
built, but picturesque and pleasant to the eye ; for a 
brook ran babbling through the orchard that encompassed 
it about, a garden-plot stretched upward to the whisper- 
ing birches on the slope, and patriarchal elms stood sen- 
tinel upon the lawn, as they had stood almost a century 
ago, when the Revolution rolled that way and found 
them young. 

One summer morning, when the air was full of coun- 
try sounds, — of mowers in the meadow, blackbirds by 
the brook, and the low of cattle on the hill-side, the old 
liouse Avore its cheeriest aspect, and a certain humble 
history began. 

" Nan ! " 

" Yes, Di." 

And a head, brown-locked, blue-eyed, soft-featured, 
looked in at the open door in answer to the call. 

"Just bring me the third volume of ' Wilhelm Meis- 
t(M-,' there's a dear. It's hardly worth while to rouse such 
a lestless gliost as I, wlien I'm once fairly laid." 



As she spoke, Di pushed up her bhick braids, thumped 
the pillow of the couch Avhere she was lying, and with 
eager eyes went down the last page of her book. 

" Nan ! " 

" Yes, Laura," replied the girl, coming back with the 
third volume for the literary cormorant, who took it with 
a nod, still too intent upon the " Confessions of a Fair 
Saint " to remember the failings of a certain plain sinner. 

" Don't forget the Italian cream for dinner. I depend 
upon it ; for it's the only thing fit for me this hot weather." 

And Laura, the cool blonde, disposed the folds of her 
white gown more gracefully about her, and touched up 
the eyebrow of the Minerva she was drawing. 

" Little daughter ! " 

" Yes, father." 

" Let me have plenty of clean collars in my bag, for I 
must go at three ; and some of you bring me a glass of 
cider in about an hour, — I shall be in the lower garden." 

The old man went away into his imaginary paradise, 
and Nan into that domestic purgatory on a summer day, 
— the kitchen. There were vines about the windows, 
sunshine on the floor, and order everywhere ; but it was 
haunted by a cooking-stove, that family altar whence such 
varied incense rises to appease the appetite of household 
gods, before which such dire incantations are pronounced 
to ease the wrath and woe of the priestess of the fire, 
and about which often linger saddest memories of wasted 
temper, time, and toil. 

Nan was tired, having risen with the birds, hurried, 
having many cares those happy little housewives never 
know, and disappointed in a hope that hourly " dwindled, 
peaked, and pined." She was too young to make the 


auxious lines upou her forehead seem at home there, too 
patient to be burilencd with the hibor others should have 
shared, too light of heart to be pent up when earth and 
sky were keeping a blithe holiday. But she was one of 
that meek sisterhood who, thinking humbly of themselves, 
believe they are honored by being spent in the service of 
less conscientious souls, whose careless thanks seem 
quite reward enough. 

To and fro she went, silent and diligent, giving the 
grace of willingness to every humble or distasteful task 
the day had brought her ; but some malignant sprite 
seemed to have taken possession of her kingdom, for 
rebellion broke out everywhere. The kettles would boil 
over most obstreperously, — the mutton refused to cook 
with the meek alacrity to be expected from the nature of 
a sheep, — the stove, with unnecessary warmth of tem- 
per, Avould glow like a fiery furnace, — the irons would 
scorch, — the linens would dry, — and sph-its would fail, 
though patience never. 

Nan tugged on, growing hotter and wearier, more 
hurried and more hopeless, till at last the crisis came ; for 
in one fell moment she tore her gown, burnt her hand, 
and smutched the collar she was preparing to finish in 
the most unexceptionable style. Then, if she had been 
a nervous woman, she would have scolded ; being a 
gentle girl, she only " lifted up her voice and wept." 

" Behold, she watereth her linen with salt tears, and 
bewaileth herself because of much tribulation. But, lo ! 
help Cometh from afar : a strong man bringeth lettuce 
wherewith to stay her, plucketh berries to comfort her 
withal, and clasheth cymbals that she may dance for joy." 

The voice came from the porch, and, with her hope 


fulfilled, Nan looked up to greet John Lord, the house- 
friend, who stood there with a basket on his arm ; and as 
she saw his honest eyes, kind lips, and helpful hands, the 
girl thought this plain young man the comeliest, most 
welcome sight she had beheld that day. 

" How good of you, to come through all this heat, and 
not to laugh at my despair ! " she said, looking up like a 
grateful child, as she led him in. 

" I only obeyed orders, Nan ; for a certain dear old 
lady had a motherly presentiment that you had got into 
a domestic whirlpool, and sent me as a sort of life pre- 
server. So I took the basket of consolation, and came 
to fold my feet upon the carpet of contentment in the 
tent of friendship." 

As he spoke, John gave his own gift in his mother's 
name, and bestowed himself in the wide window-seat, 
where morning-glories nodded at him, and the old butter- 
nut sent pleasant shadows dancing to and fro. 

His advent, like that of Orpheus in Hades, seemed to 
soothe all unpropitious powers Avith a sudden spell. The 
fire began to slacken, the kettles began to lull, the meat 
began to cook, the irons began to cool, the clothes began 
to behave, the spirits began to rise, and the collar was 
finished off with most triumphant success. John watched 
the change, and, though a lord of creation, abased him- 
self to take compassion on the weaker vessel, and was 
seized with a great desire to lighten the homely tasks 
that tried her strength of body and soul. He took a com- 
prehensive glance about the room ; then, extracting a 
dish from the closet, proceeded to unbrue his hands in 
the strawberries* blood. 

" Oh, John, you needn't do that ; I shall have time 


wheu I've turned the meat, made the puddiug, and done 
these things. See, Fm getting on finely now, — you're a 
judge of such matters ; isn't that nice ? " 

As she spoke, Nan offered the polished absurdity for 
inspection with innocent pride. 

"Oh that I were a collar, to sit upon that hand!" 
sighed John ; adding, argumentatively, "As to the 
berry question, I will merely say, that, as a matter of 
public safety, you'd better leave me alone ; for such is 
the destructiveness of my nature, that I shall certainly 
cat something hurtful, break something valuable, or sit 
upon something crushable, unless you let me concentrate 
my energies by knocking off these young fellows' hats, 
and preparing them for their doom." 

Looking at the matter in a charitable light. Nan con- 
sented, and went cheerfully on Avith her work, wondering 
how she could have thought ironing an infliction, and 
been so ungrateful for the blessings of her lot. 

" "Where's Sally? " asked John, looking vainly for the 
energetic functionary who usually pervaded that region like 
a domestic police-woman, a terror to cats, dogs, and men. 

" She has gone to her cousin's funeral, and Avon't be 
back till Monday. There seems to be a great fatality 
among her relations, for one dies, or comes to grief in 
some way, about once a month. But I don't blame poor 
Sally for wanting to get away from this place now and 
then. I think I could find it in my heart to murder an 
imaginary friend or two, if I had to stay here long." 

And Nan laughed so blithely, it was a pleasure to 
hear her. 

"Where's Di?" asked John, seized with a most un- 
raasculine curiosity all at once. 


" She is in Germany, with ' Wilhclm Meister/ but, 
though ' lost to sight, to memory dear ' ; for I was just 
thinking, as I did h(^ things, how clever she is to like all 
kinds of books that I don't understand at all, and to write 
things that make me cry with pride and delight. Yes, 
she's a talented dear, though she hardly knows a needle 
from a crow-bar, and will make herself one great blot 
some of these days, when the ' divine afflatus ' descends 
upon her, I'm afraid." 

And Nan rubbed away with sisterly zeal at Di's forlorn 
hose and inky pocket-handkerchiefs. 

" AYhere is Laura? " proceeded the inquisitor. 

" Well, I might say that she was in Italy ; for she is 
coppng some fine thing of Raphael's, or Michael Angelo's, 
or some great creature's or other ; and she looks so pic- 
turesque in her pretty gown, sitting before her easel, that 
it's really a sight to behold, and I've peeped two or three 
times to see how she gets on." 

And Nan bestirred herself to prepare the dish where- 
with her picturesque sister desired to prolong her artistic 

" "Where is your father?" John asked again, checking 
off each answer with a nod and a little frown. 

'• He is dow^n in the garden, deep in some plan about 
melons, the beginning of which seems to consist in stamp- 
ing the first proposition in Euclid all over the bed, and 
then poking a few seeds into the middle of each. Why, 
bless the dear man ! I forgot it was time for the cider. 
Wouldn't you like to take it to him, John? He'd love 
to consult you ; and the lane is so cool, it does one's 
heart good to look at it." 

John glanced from the steamy kitchen to the shadowy 


path, aod answered, with a sudden assumption of immense 
industry, — 

'^ I couldn't possibly go, Nan, IVe so much on my 
hands. You'll have to do it yourself. ' Mr. Robert of 
Lincoln ' has something for your private ear ; and the 
lane is so cool, it will do one's heart good to see you in 
it. Give my regards to your father, and, in the words 
of ' Little Mabel's ' mother, with slight variations, — 

*Tell the dear old body 

This day I cannot run, 
For the pots are boiling over 
And the mutton isn't done.'" 

" I will ; but please, John, go in to the girls and be 
comfortable ; for I don't like to leave you here," said Nan. 

'^ You insinuate that I should pick at the pudding or 
skim the cream, do you? Ungrateful girl, leave me ! " 
Aud, with melodramatic sternness, John extinguished 
her in his broad-brimmed hat, and offered the glass like 
a poisoned goblet. 

Xan took it, and went smiling away. But the lane 
might have been the Desert of Sahara, for all she knew 
of it ; and she would have passed her father as uncon- 
cernedly as if he had been an apple-tree, had he not 
called out, — 

" Stand and deliver, little woman ! " 

She obeyed the venerable highwayman, and followed 
him to and fro, listening to his plans and directions with 
a mute attention that quite won his heart. 

" That hop-pole is really an ornament now, Nan ; this 
sage-bed needs weeding, — that's good work for you girls ; 


and, now I think of it, you'd better water the lettuce in 
the cool of the evening, after I'm gone." 

To all of which remarks Nan gave her assent ; though 
the hop-pole took the likeness of a tall figure she had seen 
in the porch, the sage-bed, curiously enough, suggested 
a strawberry ditto, the lettuce vividly reminded her of 
certain vegetable productions a basket had brought, and 
the bobolink only sung in his cheeriest voice, " Go 
home, go home ! he is there ! " 

She found John, — having made a Freemason of him- 
self, by assuming her little apron, — meditating over the 
partially spread table, lost in amaze at its desolate appear- 
ance ; one-half its proper paraphernalia having been for- 
gotten, and the other half put on awry. Nan laughed 
till the tears ran over her cheeks, and John was gratified 
at the eflicacy of his treatment ; for her face had brought 
a whole harvest of sunshine from the garden, and all her 
cares seemed to have been lost in the windings of the lane. 

" Nan, are you in hysterics? " cried Di, appearing, book 
in hand. "John, you absurd man, what are you doing?" 

" I'm helpin' the maid-of-alMvork, please marm." 
And John dropped a courtesy with his limited apron. 

Di looked rufiled, for the merry words were a covert 
reproach ; and with her usual energy of manner and 
freedom of speech she tossed " Wilhelm " out of the 
window, exclaiming, irefuUy, — 

" That's always the way ; Fm never where I ought to 
be, and never think of anything till it's too late ; but it's 
all Goethe's fault. What does he write books full of 
smart ' Fhillinas ' and interesting ' Meisters ' for ? How 
can I be expected to remember that Sally's away, and 
people must eat, when I'm hearing the ' Harper ' and lit- 


tie 'Miguou'? John, liow dare you come here and do 
my work, instead of shaking me and telling me to do it 
myself? Take that toasted child away, and fan her like 
a Chinese mandarin, while I dish up this dreadful dinner." 
John and Nan fled like chaff before the wind, while 
Di, full of remorseful zeal, charged at the kettles, and 
wrenched off the potatoes' jackets, as if she were re- 
vengefully pulling her own hair. Laura had a vague 
intention of going to assist ; but, getting lost among the 
lin-hts and shadows of Minerva's helmet, forgot to appear 


till dinner had been evoked from chaos, and peace was 

At three o'clock, Di performed the coronation ceremony 
with her Other's best hat ; Laura retied his old-fashioned 
neck-cloth, and arranged his white locks with an eye to 
saintly effect ; Nan appeared with a beautifully written 
sermon, and suspicious ink-stains on the fingers that 
sHpped it into his pocket ; John attached himself to the 
bag ; and the patriarch was escorted to the door of his 
tent with the triumphal procession which usually attended 
his outgoings and incomings. Having kissed the female 
portion of his tribe, he ascended the venerable chariot, 
which received him with audible lamentation, as its 
rheumatic joints swayed to and fro. 

" Good-by, my dears ! I shall be back early on Mon- 
day morning ; so take care of yourselves, and be sure 
you all go and hear Mr. Emerboy preach to-morrow. My 
re"-ards to your mother, John. Come, Solon ! " 

But Solon merely cocked one ear, and remained a fixed 
fact ; for long experience had induced the philosophic 
beast to take for his motto the Yankee maxim, " Be sure 


you're right, then go ahead ! " lie knew things were 
not right ; therefore he did not go ahead. 

" Oh, by the way, girls, don't forget to pay Tommy 
Mullein for bringing up the cow ; he expects it to-night. 
And, Di, don't sit up till daylight, nor let Laura stay out 
in the dew. Now, I believe, I'm off. Come, Solon ! " 

But Solon only cocked the other ear, gently agitated 
his mortified tail, as premonitory symptoms of departure, 
and never stirred a hoof, being well aware that it always 
took three " comes" to make a " go." 

" Bless me ! I've forgotten my spectacles. They are 
probably shut up in that volume of Herbert on my table. 
Very awkward to find myself without them ten miles 
aw^ay. Thank you, John. Don't neglect to water the 
lettuce. Nan, and don't overwork yourself, my little 
' Martha.' Come " 

At this juncture Solon suddenly went off at a trot, 
and the benign old pastor disappeared, humming " He- 
bron " to the creaking accompaniment of the bulgy 

Laura retired to take her siesta; Nan made a small 
carbanaro of herself by sharpening her sister's crayons, 
and Di, as a sort of penance for past sins, tried her 
patience over a piece of knitting, in which she soon 
originated a somewhat remarkable pattern, by dropping 
every third stitch, and seaming ad libitum. If John had 
been a gentlemanly creature, with refined tastes, he 
would have elevated his feet, and made a nuisance of 
himself by indulging in a "weed"; but being only an 
uncultivated youth, with a rustic regard for pure air and 
w^omankind in general, he kept his head uppermost, and 
talked like a man. instead of smoking like a chimnev. 


'' It will probably be six months before I sit here 
<again, tangling your threads and maltreating your 
needles, Nan. How glad you must feel to hear it ! " 
he said, looking up from a thoughtful examination of the 
hard-working little citizens of the Industrial Community 
settled in Nan's work-basket. 

"No, I'm very sorry ; for I like to see you coming 
and going as you used to, years ago, and I miss you 
very much when you are gone, John," answered truthful 
Nan, whittling away in a sadly wasteful manner, as her 
thoughts flew back to the happy times when a little lad 
rode a little lass in the big wheelbarrow, and never spilt 
his load, — when two brown heads bobbed daily side by 
side to school, and the favorite play was " Babes in the 
Wood," with Di for a somewhat peckish robin to cover 
the small martyrs with any vegetable substance that lay 
at hand. Nan sighed as she thought of these things, 
and John regarded the battered thimble on his finger-tip 
Avith increased benignity of aspect as he heard the sound. 

"When are you going to make your fortune, John, 
and get out of that disagreeable hardware concern?" 
demanded Di, pausing after an exciting " round," and 
looking almost as much exhausted as if it had been a 
veritable pugilistic encounter. 

" I intend to make it by plunging still deeper into 
' that disagreeable hardware concern ' ; for, next year, 
if the world keeps rolling, and John Lord is alive, he 
will become a partner, and then — and then " 

The color sprang up into the young man's cheek, his 
eyes looked out with a sudden light, and his hand 
seemed involuntarily to close, as if he saw and seized 
some invisible dcliirht. 


" What will happen then, John?" asked Nan, with a 
wondering glance. 

" I'll tell you in a year, Nan, — wait till then.*' And 
John's strong hand unclosed, as if the desired good were 
not to be his yet. 

Di looked at him, with a knitting-needle stuck into her 
hair, saying, like a sarcastic unicorn, — 

" I really thought you had a soul above pots and 
kettles, but I see you haven't ; and I beg your pardon 
for the injustice I have done you." 

Not a whit disturbed, John smiled, as if at some 
mighty pleasant fancy of his own, as he replied, — 

" Thank you, Di ; and as a further proof of the utter 
depravity of my nature, let me tell you that I have the 
greatest possible respect for those articles of ironmon- 
gery. Some of the happiest hours of my life have been 
spent in their society ; some of my pleasantest associa- 
tions are connected with them ; some of my best lessons 
have come to me from among them ; and when my 
fortune is made, I intend to show my gi'atitude by taking 
three flat-irons rampant for my coat-of-arms." 

Nan laughed merrily, as she looked at the burns on 
her hand ; but Di elevated the most prominent feature 
of her brown countenance, and sighed despondingly, — 

" Dear, dear, what a disappointing world this is ! I 
no sooner build a nice castle in Spain, and settle a smart 
young knight therein, than down it comes about my 
ears ; and the ungrateful youth, who might fight dragons 
if he chose, insists on quenching his energies in a sauce- 
pan, and wasting his life on a series of gridirons. Ah, 
if Zwere a man, I would do something better than that, 
and prove that heroes are not all dead yet. But, instead 


of that, I'm ouly a woman, and must sit rasping my 
temper with absurdities like this." And Di wrestled 
with her knitting as if it were Fate, and she were paying 
off the grudge she owed it. 

John leaned toward her, saying, with a look that made 
his plain face handsome, — 

'' Di, my father began the world as I begin it, and 
left it the richer for the useful years he spent here, — • 
as I hope I may leave it some half-century hence. His 
memory makes that dingy shop a pleasant place to me ; 
for there he made an honest name, led an honest life, 
and bequeathed to me his reverence for honest work. 
That is a sort of hardware, Di, that no rust can corrupt, 
and which will always prove a better fortune than any 
your knights can win Avith sword and shield. I think 
I am not quite a clod, or quite without some aspirations 
above money-getting; for I have a great ambition to 
become as good a man, and leave as green a memory 
behind me, as old John Lord." 

Di winked violently, and seamed five times in perfect 
silence ; but quiet ^an had the gift of knowing when to 
speak, and by a timely word saved her sister from a 
thunder-showier and her stocking from destruction. 

" John, have you seen Philip since you wrote about 
your last meeting with him ? " 

The question was for John, but the soothing tone was 
for Di, Avho gratefully accepted it, and perked up again 
with speed. 

" Yes ; and I meant to have told you about it," an- 
swered John, plunging into the subject at once. " I saw 
him a few days before I came home, and found him more 
disconsolate than ever, — 'just ready to go to the deuce,* 


as he forcibly expressed himself. I consoled the poor lad 
as well as I could, telliDg him his wisest plan was to defer 
his proposed expedition, and go on as steadily as he had 
begun, — thereby proving the injustice of your father's 
prediction concerning his want of perseverance, and the 
sincerity of his affection. I told him the change in 
Laura's health and spirits was silently working in his 
favor, and that a few more months of persistent endeavor 
would conquer your father's prejudice against him, and 
make him a stronger man for the trial and the pain. I 
read him bits about Laura from your own and Di's let- 
ters, and he went away, at last, as patient as Jacob, ready 
to serve another ' seven years ' for his beloved Rachel." 

" God bless you for it, John ! " cried a fervent voice ; 
and, looking up, they saw the cold, listless Laura trans- 
formed into a tender girl, all aglow with love and long- 
ing, as she dropped her mask, and showed a living 
countenance eloquent with the first passion and softened 
by the first grief of her life. 

John rose involuntarily in the presence of an innocent 
nature whose sorrow needed no interpreter to him. The 
girl read sympathy in his brotherly regard, and found 
comfort in the friendly voice that asked, half playfully, 
half seriously, — 

" Shall I tell him that he is not forgotten, even for an 
Apollo? that Laura the artist has not conquered Laura 
the woman? and predict that the good daughter will yet 
prove the happy wife ? " 

With a gesture full of energy, Laura tore her Minerva 
from top to bottom, while two great tears rolled down 
the cheeks grown pale with hope deferred. 


" Tell liim I believe all things, hope all things, and that 
I never can forget." 

Nan went to her and held her close, leaving the prints 
of two loving, but grimy hands upon her shoulders ; Di 
looked on approvingly, for, though rather stony-hearted 
regarding the cause, she fully appreciated the effect ; and 
John, turning to the window, received the commenda- 
tions of a robin swaying on an elm-bough, with sunshine 
on its ruddy breast. 

The clock struck five, and John declared that he must 
go ; for, being an old-fashioned soul, he fancied that his 
mother had a better right to his last hour than any 
younger woman in the land, — always remembering that 
" she was a widow, and he her only son." 

Nan ran away to wash her hands, and came back with 
the appearance of one who had Avashed her face also, — 
and so she had, but there was a difference in the water. 

" Play I'm your father, girls, and remember it will be 
six months before ' that John ' will trouble you again." 

With which preface the young man kissed his former 
playfellows as heartily^as the boy had been wont to do, 
when stern parents banished him to distant schools, and 
three little maids bemoaned his fate. But times were 
changed now, for Di grew alarmingly rigid during the 
ceremony ; Laura received the salute like a grateful 
fiueen ; and Nan returned it with heart and eyes and 
tender lips, making such an improvement on the childish 
fashion of the thing, that John Avas moved to support his 
paternal character by softly echoing her father's Avords, 
— " Take care of yourself, my little ' Martha.' " 

Then they all streamed after him along the garden- 
path, with the endless messages and warnings girls are 


SO prone to give ; and the young man, with a great soft- 
ness at his heart, went away, as many another John has 
gone, feeling better for the companionship of innocent 
maidenhood, and stronger to wrestle with temptation, to 
wait, and hope, and work. 

" Let's throw a shoe after him for luck, as dear old 
' Mrs. Gummidge * did after ' David * and the ' willin' 
Barkis ! ' Quick, Nan ! you always have old shoes on ; 
toss one, and shout ' Good luck ! ' " cried Di, with one 
of her eccentric inspirations. 

Xan tore off her shoe, and threw it far along the dusty 
road, with a sudden longing to become that auspicious 
article of apparel, that the omen might not fail. 

Looking backward from the hill-top, John answered 
the meek shout cheerily, and took in the group with a 
lincrerin^ orlance : Laura in the shadow of the elms, Di 
perched on the fence, and Nan leaning far over the gate, 
wdth her hand above her eyes and the sunshine touching 
her brown hair with gold. He waved his hat and turned 
away ; but the music seemed to die out of the blackbird's 
song, and in all the summer landsct^pe his eye saw nothing 
but the little figure at the gate. 

" Bless and save us ! here's a flock of people coming ! 
My hair is in a toss, and Nan's without her shoe ; run ! 
fly, girls ! or the Philistines will be upon us ! " cried Di, 
tumbling off her perch in sudden alarm. 

Three agitated young ladies, with flying draperies and 
countenances of mingled mirth and dismay, might have 
been seen precipitating themselves into a respectable 
mansion with unbecoming haste ; but the squirrels were 
the only witnesses of this "vision of sudden flight," and, 
being used to ground-and-lofty tumbling, didn't mind it. 


When the pedestrians passed, the door was decorously 
closed, and no one visible but a young man, who snatched 
sometliing out of the road, and marched away again, 
whistling with more vigor of tone than accuracy of tune, 
— only that, and nothing more. 


Summer ripened into autumn, and something fairer 

" Sweet-peas and mignonette 
In Annie's garden grew." 

Her nature was the counterpart of the hill-side grove, 
where as a child she had read her fairy tales, and now 
as a woman turned the first pages of a more wondrous 
legend still. Lifted above the many-gabled roof, yet not 
cut off from the echo of human speech, the little grove 
seemed a gi-een sanctuary, fringed about with violets, 
and full of summer melody and bloom. Gentle creatures 
haunted it, and there was none to make afraid ; wood- 
pigeons cooed and crickets chirped their shrill roundelays, 
anemones and lady-ferns looked up from the moss that 
kissed the wanderer's feet. Warm airs were all afloat, 
full of vernal odors for the grateful sense, silvery birches 
shimmered like spirits of the wood, larches gave their 
green tassels to the wind, and pines made airy music 
sweet and solemn, as they stood looking heavenward 
through veils of summer sunshine or shrouds of wintry 
snow. JSTan never felt alone now in this charmed wood ; 
for, when she came into its precincts, once so full of sol- 
itude, all things seemed to wear one shape; familiar eyes 
looked at her from the violets in the grass, familiar words 


sounded in the -whisper of the leaves, and she grew con- 
scious that an unseen influence filled the air with new 
delights, and touched earth and sky with a beauty never 
seen before. Slowly these May-flowers budded in her 
maiden heart, rosily they bloomed, and silently they 
waited till some lover of such lowly herbs should catch 
their fresh aroma, should brush away the fallen leaves, 
and lift them to the sun. 

Though the eldest of the three, she had long been 
overtopped by the more aspiring girls. But, though she 
meekly yielded the reins of government, whenever they 
chose to drive, they were soon restored to her again ; for 
Di fell into literature, and Laura into love. Thus en- 
grossed, these two forgot many duties which even blue- 
stockings and innamoratas are expected to perform, and 
slowly all the homely humdrum cares that housewives 
know became Nan's daily life, and she accepted it with- 
out a thought of discontent. Noiseless and cheerful as 
the sunshine, she went to and fro, doing the tasks that 
mothers do, but without a mother's sweet reward, hold- 
ing fast the numberless slight threads that bind a house- 
hold tenderly together, and making each day a beautiful 

Di, being tu-ed of running, riding, climbing, and boat- 
ing, decided, at last, to let her body rest, and put her 
equally active mind through what classical collegians 
term " a course of sprouts." Having undertaken to read 
and know everything^ she devoted herself to the task with 
great energy, going from Sue to Swedenborg with perfect 
impartiality, and having different authors as children 
have sundry distempers, being fractious while they lasted, 
but all the better for them when once over. Carlyle ap- 


peared like scarlet-fever, and raged violently for a time ; 
for, being anything but a " passive bucket," Di became 
prophetic Avith Mahomet, belligerent with Cromwell, and 
made the French Revolution a veritable Reign of Terror 
to her family. Goethe and Schiller alternated like fever 
and ague ; Mephistopheles became her hero, Joan of Arc 
her model, and she turned her black eyes red over Eg- 
mout and Wallenstein. A mild attack of Emerson fol- 
lowed, during which she was lost in a fog ; and lier 
sisters rejoiced inwardly when she emerged, informing 
them that 

'' The Sphinx was drowsy, 
Her wings were furled." 

Poor Di was floundering slowly to her proper place ; 
but she splashed up a good deal of foam by getting out 
of her depth, and rather exhausted herself by trying to 
drink the ocean dry. 

Laura, after the "midsummer night's dream" that 
often comes to girls of seventeen, woke up to find that 
youth and love were no match for age and common 
sense. Philip had been flying about the world like a 
thistle-down for five-and-twenty years, generous-hearted, 
frank, and kind, but wuth never an idea of the serious 
side of life in his handsome head. Great, therefore, 
were the wrath and dismay of the enamored thistle-down, 
when the father of his love mildly objected to seeing her 
begin the world in a balloon, with a very tender but very 
inexperienced aeronaut for a guide. 

" Laura is too young to ' play house ' yet, and you are 
too unstable to assume the part of lord and master, 
Philip. Go and prove that you have prudence, patience, 


energy, and enterprise, and I will give you my girl, — 
but not before. I must seem cruel, that I may be truly 
kind ; believe this, and let a little pain lead you to great 
happiness, or show you Avhere you would have made a 

The lovers listened, owned the truth of the old man's 
Avords, bewailed their fate, and — yielded: Laura for 
love of her father, Philip for love of her. He went 
away to build a firm foundation for his castle in the air, 
and Laura retired into an invisible convent, where she 
cast off the w^orld, and regarded her sympathizing sisters 
through a grate of superior knowledge and unsharablc 
grief. Like a devout nun, she worshipped " St. Philip," 
and firmly believed in his miraculous powers. She fan- 
cied that her woes set her apart from common cares, and 
slowly fell into a dreamy state, professing no interest in 
any mundane matter, but the art that first attracted 
Philip. Crayons, bread-crusts and gray paper became 
glorified in Laura's eyes ; and her one pleasure was to sit 
before her easel, day after day, filling her portfolios with 
the faces he had once admired. Her sisters observed 
that every Bacchus, Piping Faun, or Dying Gladiator 
bore some likeness to a comely countenance that heathen 
god or hero never owned ; and, seeing this, they pri- 
vately rejoiced that she had found such solace for her 

Mrs. Lord's keen eye had read a certain newly-written 
page in her son's heart, — his first chapter of that ro- 
mance, begun in Paradise, whose interest never flags, 
whose beauty never fades, whose end can never come 
till Love lies dead. With womanly skill she divined the 
secret, with motherly discretion she counselled patience. 


aud her sou accepted her advice, feeling that, like inauy 
a healthful herb, its worth lay iu its bitterness. 

" Love like a man, John, not like a boy, and learn to 
know yourself before you take a woman's happiness into 
your keeping. You and Nan have known each other all 
your lives ; yet, till this last visit, you never thought you 
loved her more than any other childish friend. It is too 
soon to say the words so often spoken hastily — so hard 
to be recalled. Go back to your work, dear, for another 
year ; think of Nan in the light of this new hope ; com- 
pare her with comelier, gayer girls ; and by absence 
prove the truth of your belief. Then, if distance only 
makes her dearer, if time only strengthens your affection, 
and no doubt of your own worthiness disturbs you, come 
back and offer her what any woman should be glad to 
take, — my boy's true heart." 

John smiled at the motherly pride of her words, but 
answered, with a wistful look, — 

" It seems very long to wait, mother. If I could just 
ask her for a word of hope, I could be very patient 


"Ah, my dear, better bear one year of impatience 
now than a lifetime of regret hereafter. Nan is happy ; 
why disturb her by a word which will bring the tender 
cares and troubles that come soon enough to such con- 
scientious creatures as herself? If she loves you, time 
will prove it ; therefore, let the new affection spring and 
ripen as your early friendship has done, and it will be all 
the stronger for a summer's growth. Philip was rash, 
and has to bear his trial now, and Laura shares it with 
him. Be more generous, John ; make your trial, bear 
your doubti? alone, and give Nan the happiness without 


the pain. Promise me this, dear, — promise me to hope 
and wait." 

The young man's eye kindled, and in his heart tliere 
rose a better chivahy, a truer valor, than any Di's 
knights had ever known. 

" I'll try, mother," was all he said ; but she was sat- 
isfied, for John seldom tried in vain. 

" Oh, girls, how splendid you are ! It does my heart 
good to see my handsome sisters in their best array,'* 
cried Xan, one mild October night, as she put the last 
touches to certain airy raiment fashioned by her own 
skilful hands, and then fell back to survey the grand effect. 

Di and Laura were preparing to assist at an " event 
of the season," and Nan, with her own locks fallen on 
her shoulders for want of sundry combs promoted to her 
sisters' heads, and her dress in unwonted disorder for lack 
of the many pins extracted in exciting crises of the toilet, 
hovered like an affectionate bee about two very full-blown 

" Laura looks like a cool Undine, with the ivy- wreaths 
in her shining hair ; and Di has illuminated herself to 
such an extent with those scarlet leaves, that I don't 
know what great creature she resembles most," said Nan, 
beaming with sisterly admiration. 

"Juno, Zenobia and Cleopatra simmered into one, 
wdth a touch of Xantippe, by way of spice. But, to my 
eye, the finest woman of the three is the dishevelled 
young person embracing the bed-post ; for she stays at 
home herself, and gives her time and taste to making 
homely people fine, — which is a waste of good material, 
and an imposition on the public." 


As Di spoke, both the fashion-plates looked affection- 
ately at the gray-gowned figure ; but, being works of 
art, they were obliged to nip their feelings in the bud, 
and reserve their caresses till they returned to common 

''Put on your bonnet, and Ave'll leave you at Mrs. 
Lord's on our way. It will do you good. Nan ; and per- 
haps there may be news from John," added Di, as she 
bore down upon the door like a man-of-war under full 

" Or from Philip," sighed Laura, with a wistful look. 

Whereupon Nan persuaded herself that her strong 
inclination to sit dowTi was owing to want of exercise, 
and the heaviness of her eyelids a freak of imagination ; 
so, speedily smoothing her ruffled plumage, she ran down 
to tell her father of the new arrangement. 

" Go, my dear, by all means. I shall be writing, and 
you will be lonely if you stay. But I must see my girls ; 
for I caught glimpses of certain surprising phantoms flit- 
ting by the door." 

Nan led the way, and the two pyramids revolved 
before him with the rigidity of lay-figures, much to the 
good man's edification ; for with his fatherly pleasure 
there was mingled much mild wonderment at the ampli- 
tude of array. 

" Yes, I see my geese are really swans, though there 
is such a cloud between us that I feel a long way off, and 
hardly know them. But this little daughter is always 
available, always my ' cricket on the hearth.' " 

As he spoke, her father drew Nan closer, kissed her 
tranquil face, and smiled content. 

"Well, if ever I see picters, I see 'em now, and I de- 


clare to goodness it's as interestin' as play-act in', every 
bit. Miss Di, with all them boughs in her head, looks 
like the Queen of Sheby, when she went a-visitin' What's- 
his-name ; and if Miss Laura ain't as sweet as a lally- 
barster figger, I should like to know what is." 

In her enthusiasm, Sally gambolled about the girls, 
flourishing her milk-pan as if about to sound her timbrel 
for excess of joy. 

Laughing merrily, the two girls bestowed themselves 
iu the family ark. Nan got up beside Patrick, and Solon, 
roused from his slumbers, morosely trundled them away. 
But, looking backward with a last " Good-night! " Nan 
saw her father still standing at the door with smiling 
countenance, and the moonlight falling like a benediction 
on his silver hair. 

" Betsey shall go up the hill with you, my dear, and 
here's a basket of eggs for your father. Give him my 
love, and be sure you let me know the next time he is 
poorly," Mrs. Lord said, when her guest rose to depart, 
after an hour of pleasant chat. 

But Nan never got the gift ; for, to her great dismay, 
her hostess dropped the basket with a crash, and flew 
across the room to meet a tall figure pausing in the 
shadow of the door. There w^as no need to ask who the 
new-comer was ; for, even in his mother's arms, John 
looked over her shoulder with an eager nod to Nan, who 
stood among the ruins with never a sign of weariness in 
her face, nor the memory of a care at her heart, — for 
they all went out when John came in. 

" Now tell us how, and. why, and when you came. 
Take off your coat, my dear ! And here are the old 


slippers. Why didn't you let us know you were coming 
so soou ? How have you been ? and what makes you so 
late to-night ? Betsey, you needn't put on your bonnet. 
And — oh, my dear boy, have you been to supper 
yet ? " 

Mrs. Lord was a quiet soul, and her flood of questions 
was purred softly in her son's ear ; for, being a woman, 
she must talk, and, being a mother, must pet the one 
delight of her life, and make a little festival when the 
lord of the manor came home. A whole drove of fatted 
calves were metaphorically killed, and a banquet ap- 
peared with speed. John was not one of those romantic 
heroes who can go through three volumes of hair-breadth 
escapes withoiit the faintest hint of that blessed insti- 
tution, dinner ; therefore, he partook copiously of every- 
thing, while the two women beamed over each mouthful 
v,ith an interest that enhanced its flavor, and urged upon 
him cold meat and cheese, pickles and pie, as if dyspepsia 
and nightmare were among the lost arts. 

Then he opened his budget of news and fed them. 

" I was coming next month, according to custom ; but 
Philip fell upon and so tempted me, that I was driven to 
sacrifice myself to the cause of friendship, and up we 
came to-night. He would not let me come here till we 
had seen your father, Xan ; for the poor lad was pining 
for Laura, and hoped his good behavior for the past year 
would satisfy his judge and secure his recall. We had 
a fine talk with your father ; and, upon my life, Phil 
seemed to have received the gift of tongues, for he made 
a most eloquent plea, Avhich I've stowed away for future 
use, I assure you. The dear old gentleman was very 
kind, told Phil he was satisfied with the success of his 


probation, that he sliould see Laura when he liked, and, 
if all went well, should receive his reward in the spring. 
It must be a deliglitful sensation to know you have made 
a fellow-creature as happy as those words made Phil 

John paused, and looked musingly at the matronly 
tea-pot, as if he saw a wondrous future in its shine. 

Nan twinkled off the drops that rose at the thought of 
Laura's joy, and said, with grateful warmth, — 

" You say nothing of your own share in the making 
of that happiness, John ; but we know it, for Philip has 
told Laura in his letters all that you have been to him, 
and I am sure there was other eloquence beside his own 
before father granted all you say he has. Oh, John, I 
thank you very much for this ! " 

Mrs. Lord beamed a whole midsummer of delight 
upon her son, as she saw the pleasure these words gave 
him, though he answered simply, — 

" I only tried to be a brother to him, Nan ; for he has 
been most kind to me. Yes, I said my little say to-night, 
and gave my testimony in behalf of the prisoner at the 
bar, a most merciful judge pronounced his sentence, and 
he rushed straight to Mrs. Leigh's to tell Laura the bliss- 
ful news. Just imagine the scene when he appears, and 
how Di will open her wicked eyes and enjoy the spectacle 
of the ardent lover, the bride-elect's tears, the stir, 
and the romance of the thing. She'll cry over it to-night, 
and caricature it to-morrow." 

And John led the laugh at the picture he had conjured 
up, to turn the thoughts of Di's dangerous sister from 

At ten Nan retired into the depths of her old bonnet 


with a far different face from the one she brought out of 
it, aud John, resuming his hat, mounted guard. 

'' Don't stay late, remember, John ! " And in Mrs. 
Lord's voice there was a warning tone that her son inter- 
preted aright. 

" I'll not forget, mother." 

And he kept his word ; for though Philip's happiness 
floated temptingly before him, and the little figure at his 
side had never seemed so dear, he ignored the bland 
winds, the tender night, and set a seal upon his lips, 
thinking manfully within himself, " I see many signs of 
promise in her happy face ; but I will wait and hope a 
little longer for her sake." 

"Where is father, Sally?" asked Nan, as that func- 
tionary appeared, blinking owlishly, but utterly repudi- 
ating the idea of sleep. 

'• He went down the garding, miss, when the gentle- 
men cleared, bein' a little flustered by the goin's on. 
Shall I fetch him in ? " asked Sally, as irreverently as if 
her master were a bag of meal. 

" No, we will go ourselves." And slowly the two 
paced do-svn the leaf-strewn walk. 

Fields of yellow grain were waving on the hill-side, 
and sere corn-blades rustled in the wind ; from the orchard 
came the scent of ripening fruit, and all the garden-plots 
lay ready to yield up their humble offerings to their mas- 
ter's hand. But in the silence of the night a greater 
Reaper had passed by, gathering in the harvest of a 
righteous life, and leaving only tender memories for the 
gleaners who had come so late. 

The old man sat in the shadow of the tree his own 


hands planted ; its fruitful boughs shone ruddily, and its 
leaves still whispered the low lullaby that hushed him to 
his rest. 

" How fast he sleeps ! Poor father ! I should have 
come before and made it pleasant for him." 

As she spoke, Nan lifted up the head bent down upon 
his breast, and kissed his pallid cheek. 

" Oh, John, this is not sleep ! " 

" Yes, dear, the happiest he will ever know." 

For a moment the shadows flickered over three white 
faces, and the silence deepened solemnly. Tlien John 
reverently bore the pale shape in, and Nan dropped down 
beside it, saying, Avith a rain of grateful tears, — 

" He kissed me when I went, and said a last ' good- 
night ! ' " 

For an hour steps went to and fro about her, many 
voices whispered near her, and skilful hands touched the 
beloved clay she held so fast ; but one by one the busy 
feet passed out, one by one the voices died away, and 
human skill proved vain. Then Mrs. Lord drew the 
orphan to the shelter of her arms, soothing her with the 
mute solace of that motherly embrace. 

" Yes, we are poorer than we thought ; but when 
everything is settled, we shall get on very well. We 
can let a part of this great house, and live quietly together 
until spring ; then Laura will be married, and Di can go 
on their travels with them, as Philip wishes her to do. 
We shall be cared for ; so never fear for us, John." 


Xau said this, as her friend parted from her a week 
later, after the saddest holiday he had ever known. 

"And what becomes of you, Nan?" he asked, watcli- 
ing the patient eyes that smiled when others would 
have wept. 

" I shall stay in the dear old house ; for no other 
place would seem like home to me. I shall find some lit- 
tle child to love and care for, and be quite happy till the 
girls come back and want me." 

John nodded wisely, as he listened, and went away 
prophesying within himself, — 

" Slie shall find something more than a child to love ; 
and, God willing, shall be very happy till the girls come 
home and — cannot have her." 

Nan's plan was carried into efiect. Slowly the divided 
waters closed again, and the three fell back into their old 
life. But the touch of sorrow drew them closer ; and, 
though invisible, a beloved presence still moved among 
them, a familiar voice still spoke to them in the silence 
of their softened hearts. Thus the soil was made ready, 
and in the depth of winter the good seed was so^vn, was 
watered with many tears, and soon sprang up green with 
the promise of a harvest for their after years. 

Di and Laura consoled themselves with their favorite 
emplo}Tnents, unconscious that Nan was grooving paler, 
thinner, and more silent, as the weeks went by, till one 
day she dropped quietly before them, and it suddenly 
became manifest that she was utterly worn out with 
many cares, and the secret suffering of a tender heart 
bereft of the paternal love which had been its strength 
and stay. 

" I'm only tired, dear girls. Don't be troubled, for I 


shall be up to-morrow," she said cheerily, as she looked 
into the anxious faces bending over her. 

But the weariness was of many months' growth, and 
it was weeks before that " to-morrow " came. 

Laura installed herself as nurse, and her devotion was 
repaid fourfold ; for, sitting at her sister's bedside, she 
learned a finer art than that she had left. Her eye grew 
clear to see the beauty of a self-denying life, and in the 
depths of Nan's meek nature she found the strong, 
sweet virtues that made her what she was. 

Then remembering that these womanly attributes were 
a bride's best dowry, Laura gave herself to their attain- 
ment, that she might become to another household the 
blessing Nan had been to her own ; and turning from the 
worship of the goddess Beauty, she gave her hand to 
that humbler and more human teacher. Duty, — learning 
her lessons with a willing heart, for Philip's sake. 

Di corked her inkstand, locked her bookcase, and went 
at housework as if it were a five-barred gate ; of course 
she missed the leap, but scrambled bravely through, and 
appeared much sobered by the exercise. Sally had 
departed to sit under a vine and fig-tree of her own, so 
Di had undisputed sway ; but if dish-pans and dusters 
had tongues, direful would have been the history of that 
crusade against frost and fire, indolence and inexperience. 
But they were dumb, and Di scorned to complain, though 
her struggles were pathetic to behold, and her sisters 
went through a series of messes equal to a course of 
"Prince Bedreddin's" peppery tarts. Reality turned 
Romance out of doors ; for, unlike her favorite heroines 
in satin and tears, or helmet and shield, Di met her fate 
in a big checked apron and dust-cap wonderful to see ; 


yet she wiekled her broom as stoutly as '' Moll Flanders " 
shouldered her gun, and marched to her daily martyrdom 
in the kitchen with as heroic a heart as the " Maid of 
Orleans " took to her stake. 

Mind won the victory over matter in the end, and Di 
was better all her days for the tribulations and the tri- 
umphs of that time ; for she dro^vned her idle fancies in 
her wash-tub, made burnt-offerings of selfishness and 
pride, and learned the worth of self-denial, as she sang 
with happy voice among the pots and kettles of her con- 
quered realm. 

Nan thought of John ; and in the stillness of her 
sleepless nights prayed Heaven to keep him safe, and 
make her worthy to receive, and strong enough to bear, 
the blessedness or pain of love. 

Snow fell without, and keen winds hov/lcd among the 
leafless elms, but "herbs of grace" were blooming beau- 
tifully in the sunshine of sincere endeavor, and this 
dreariest season proved the most fruitful of the year ; for 
love taught Laura, labor chastened Di, and patience 
fitted Nan for the blessing of her life. 

Nature, that stillest yet most diligent of housewives, 
beiran at last that "spring-cleaning" which she makes 
so Vasant that none find the heart to grumble as they 
do Avhen other matrons set their premises a-dust. Her 
handmaids, wind and rain and sun, swept, washed, and 
garnished busily, green carpets were unrolled, apple- 
boughs were hung with draperies of bloom, and dande- 
Hons, pet nurslings of the year, came out to play upon 

the sward. 

From the South returned that opera troupe whose man- 
ager is never in despair, whose tenor never sulks, whose 


l^rima donna never fails, and in the orchard hona fide 
matinees were held, to v/hich buttercups and clovers 
crowded in their prettiest spring hats, and verdant young 
blades twinkled their dewy lorgnettes, as they bowed 
and made way for the floral belles. 

May was bidding June good-morrow, and the roses 
were just dreaming that it was almost time to wake, 
when John came again into the quiet room which now 
seemed the Eden that contained his Eve. Of course 
there was a jubilee ; but something seemed to have be- 
fallen the Avhole group, for never had they all appeared 
in such odd frames of mind. 

John was restless, and wore an excited look, most 
unlike his usual serenity of aspect. Nan the cheerful 
had fallen into a well of silence, and was not to be ex- 
tracted by any hydraulic power, though she smiled like 
the June sky over her head. Di's peculiarities were out 
in full force, and she looked as if she would go off like a 
torpedo at a touch ; but through all her moods there was 
a half-triumphant, half-remorseful expression in the 
glance she fixed on John. And Laura, once so silent, 
now sang like a blackbird, as she flitted to and fro ; but 
her fitful song was always, '-Philip, my king." 

John felt that there had come a change upon the three, 
and silently divined whose unconscious influence had 
wrought the miracle. The embargo was off his tongue, 
and he was in a fever to ask that question which brings 
a flutter to the stoutest heart ; but though the " man" had 
come, the "• hour " had not. So, by way of steadying his 
nerves, he paced the room, pausing often to take notes of 
his companions, and each pause seemed to increase his 
wonder and content. 


He looked at Nan. She was in licr usual place, the 
shabby little chair she loved, because it once was large 
enough to hold a curly-headed playmate and herself. Tlie 
old work-basket was at her side, and the battered thimble 
busily at work ; but her lips wore a smile they had never 
worn before, the color of the unblown roses touched her 
cheek, and her downcast eyes were full of light. 

He looked at Di. The inevitable book was on her 
knee, but its leaves were uncut ; the strong-minded knob 
of hair still asserted its supremacy aloft upon her head, 
and the triangular jacket still adorned her shoulders in 
defiance of all fashions, past, present, or to come ; but 
the expression of her brown countenance had groAvn 
softer, her tongue had found a curb, and in her hand lay 
a card with " Potts, Kettel & Co." inscribed thereon, 
which she regarded with never a scornful word for 
the "Co." 

He looked at Laura. She was before her easel, as of 
old ; but the pale nun had given place to a blooming girl, 
who sang at her work, which was no prim Pallas, but a 
Clytie turning her human face to meet the sun. 

"John, what are you thinking of?" 

He stirred as if Di's voice had disturbed his fancy at 
some pleasant pastime, but answered with his usual sin- 
cerity, — 

" I was thinking of a certain dear old faiiy tale, called 
' CindereUa.' " 

" Oh ! " said Di ; and her " Oh" was a most impressive 
monosyllable. " I see the meaning of your smile now ; 
and, though the application of the story is not very com- 
plimentary to all parties concerned, it is very just and 
very true." 


She paused a moment, then went on with softened 
voice and earnest face, — 

" You think I am a blind and selfish creature. So I 
am, but not so blind and selfish as I have been ; for 
many tears have cleared my eyes, and sincere regret has 
made me humbler than I was. I have found a better 
book than any father's library can give me, and I have 
read it with a love and admiration that grew stronger as 
I turned the leaves. Henceforth I take it for my guide 
and gospel, and, looking back upon the selfish and 
neglectful past, can only say. Heaven bless your dear 
heart. Nan ! " 

Laura echoed Di's last words ; for, with eyes as full 
of tenderness, she looked down upon the sister she had 
lately learned to know, saying, warmly, — 

" Yes, ' Heaven bless your dear heart, Nan ! ' I never 
can forget all you have been to me ; and when I am far 
away with Philip, there will always be one countenance 
more beautiful to me than any pictured face I may dis- 
cover, there will be one place more dear to me than 
Rome. The face will be yours. Nan, — always so pa- 
tient, always so serene ; and the dearer place will be this 
home of ours, which you have made so pleasant to me 
all these years by kindnesses as numberless and noiseless 
as the drops of dew." 

" Why, girls, what have I ever done, that you should 
love me so? " cried Nan, with happy wonderment, as the 
tall heads, black and golden, bent to meet the lowly 
brown one ; and her sisters' mute lips answered her. 

Then Laura looked up, saying, playfully, — 

" Here are the good and wicked sisters ; where shall 
we find the Prince ? " 


" There ! " cried Di, pointing to John ; and then her 
secret went off like a rocket ; for, with her old impetuos- 
ity, she said, — 

" I have found you out, John, and am ashamed to look 
you in the face, remembering the past. Girls, you know, 
when father died, John sent us money, which he said 
Mr. Owen had long owed us, and had paid at last ! It 
was a kind lie, John, and a generous thing to do ; for we 
needed it, but never would have taken it as a gift. I 
know you meant that we should never find this out ; but 
yesterday I met Mr. Owen returning from the West, 
and when I thanked him for a piece of justice we had 
not expe<:ted of him, he gruffly told me he had never 
paid the debt, never meant to pay it, for it was outlawed, 
and we could not claim a farthing. John, I have laughed 
at you, thought you stupid, treated you unkindly ; but I 
know you now, and never shall forget the lesson you 
have taught me. I am proud as Lucifer, but I ask you 
to forgive me, and I seal my real repentance so — and 

"With tragic countenance, Di rushed across the room, 
threw both arms about the astonished young man's neck, 
and dropped an energetic kiss upon his cheek. There 
was a momentary silence ; for Di finely illustrated her 
strong-minded theories by crying like the weakest of her 
sex. Laura, with " the ruling passion strong in death," 
still tried to draw, but broke her pet crayon, and en- 
dowed her Clytie with a supplementary orb, owing to the 
dimness of her own. And Nan sat, with drooping eyes 
that shone upon her work, thinking, wuth tender pride, — 

" They know him now, and love him for his generous 


Di spoke first, rallying to her colors, though a little 
daunted by her loss of self-control : 

"Don't laugh, John — I couldn't help it; and don't 
think I'm not sincere, for I ana, — I am ! and I will 
prove it by growing good enough to be your friend. 
That debt must all be paid, and I shall do it ; for I'll 
turn my books and pen to some account, and write sto- 
ries full of dear old souls like you and Nan ; and somej 
one, I know, will like and buy them, though they are not 
' works of Shakspeare.* I've thought of this before, 
have felt I had the power in me ; now I have the motive, 
and no2v I'll do it.'* 

If Di had proposed to translate the Koran, or build a 
new Saint Paul's, there would have been many chances 
of success ; for, once moved, her will, like a battering- 
ram, would knock down the obstacles her wits could not 
surmount. John believed in her most heartily, and 
showed it, as he answered, looking into her resolute 
face, — 

" I know you will, and yet make us very proud of our 
Di. Let the money lie, and when you have made a for- 
tune, I'll claim it with enormous interest ; but, believe 
me, I feel already doubly repaid by the esteem so gener- 
ously confessed, so cordially bestowed, and can only say, 
as we used to years ago, — ' Now let's forgive and for- 

But proud Di would not let him add to her obligation, 
even by returning her impetuous salute ; she slipped 
away, and, shaking off the last drops, answered, with a 
curious mixture of old freedom and new respect, — 

" No more sentiment, please, John. We know each 
other now ; and when I find a friend, I never let him go. 


We have smoked the pipe of peace ; so let us go back to 
our wigwams and bury the hatchet. Where were we 
when I lost my head? and what were we talking about?" 
'' Cinderella and the Prince." 

As he spoke, John's eye kindled, and, turning, he 
looked down at Nan, who sat diligently ornamenting 
with microscopic stitches a great patch going on, the 
wrong side out. 

c4 Yes, — so we were; and now, taking pussy for the 
godmother, the characters of the story are- well person- 
ated— aU but the slipper," said Di, laughing, as she 
thought of the many times they had played it together 
years ago. 

A sudden warmth stirred John's heart, a sudden 
purpose shone in his countenance, and a sudden change 
befell his voice, as he said, producing from some hiding- 
place a little worn-out shoe, — 

" I can supply the slipper ; — who will try it first? " 
Di's black eyes opened wide, as they fell on the 
familiar object ; then her romance-loving nature saw the 
whole plot of that drama which needs but two to act it. 
A great delight flushed up into her face, as she promptly 
took her cue, saying, — 

" No need for us to try it, Laura ; for it wouldn't fit 
us, if our feet were as small as Chinese dolls ' ; — our 
parts are played out ; therefore, ' Exeunt wicked sisters to 
the music of the wedding-bells.' " And pouncing upon 
the dismayed artist, she swept her out, and closed the 
door with a triumphant bang. 

John went to Nan, and, dropping on his knee as rev- 
erently as the herald of the fairy tale, he asked, stiU 
.'smiling, but with lips grown tremulous, — 


" Will Cinderella try the little shoe, and, — if it fits, — 
go with the Prince ? " 

But Nan only covered up her face, weeping happy 
tears, while all the w^eary work strayed down upon the 
floor, as if it knew her holiday had come. 

John drew the hidden face still closer ; and, while she 
listened to his eager W'Ords, Nan heard the beating of the 
strong man's heart, and knew^ it spoke the truth. 

" Nan, I promised mother to be silent till I was sure 
I loved you wholly, — sure that the knowledge would 
give no pain when I should tell it, as I am trying to tell 
it now. This little shoe has been my comforter through 
this long year, and I have kept it as other lovers keep 
their fairer favors. It has been a talisman more eloquent 
to me than flower or ring ; for, w^hen I saw how worn it 
was, I always thought of the willing feet that came and 
went for others' comfort all day long ; when I saw the 
little bow you tied, I always thought of the hands so 
diligent in serving any one who knew a want or felt a 
pain ; and when I recalled the gentle creature Avho had 
w^orn it last, I always saw her patient, tender, and 
devout, — and tried to grow more w^orthy of her, that I 
might one day dare to ask if she would w^alk beside me 
all my life, and be my ' angel in the house.' "Will you, 
dear? Believe me, you shall never know a weariness or 
gi'ief I have the power to shield you from." 

Then Nan, as simple in her love as in her life, laid her 
arms about his neck, her happy face against his own, 
and answered softly, — 

" Oh, John, I never can be sad or tired any more ! " 


DON'T bring him in here ; every corner is full," said 
the nurse, eying with dismay the gaunt figure lying 
on the stretcher in the doorway. 

"Where shaU we put him, then? Tliey can't have 
him in either of the other wards on this floor. He's 
ordered up here, and here he must stay, if he's put in the 
hall, poor devil ! " said the foremost bearer, looking 
around the crowded room in despair. 

The nurse's eye followed his, and both saw a thin hand 
beckoning from the end of the long ward. 

" It's Murry ; I'll see what he wants ; " and IRIiss 
Mercy went to him with her quick, noiseless step, and 
the smile her grave face always wore for him. 

" There's room here, if you turn my bed 'round, you 
see. Don't let them leave him in the hall," said Murry, 
lifting his great eyes to hers, brilliant with the fever 
burning his strength away, and pathetic with the silent 
protest of life against death. 

" It's like you to think of it ; he's a rebel," began 
Miss Mercy. 

" So much more reason to take him in. I don't mind 
having him here ; but it will distress me dreadfully to 
know that any poor soul was turned away, from the com- 
fort of this ward especially." 



The look he gave her made the words an eloquent 
compliment, and his pity for a fallen enemy reproached 
her for her own lack of it. Her face softened as she 
nodded, and glanced about the recess. 

^' You will have the light in your eyes, and only the 
little table between you and a very disagreeable neigh- 
bor," she said. 

" I can shut my eyes if the light troubles them ; I've 
nothing else to do now," he answered, with a faint laugh. 
" I was too comfortable before ; I'd more than my share 
of luxuries ; so bring him along, and it w^ill be all right." 

The order was given, and, after a brief bustle, the two 
narrow beds stood side by side in the recess under the 
organ-loft — for the hospital had been a church. Left 
alone for a moment, the two men eyed each other silently. 
Murry saw a tall, sallow man, with fierce black eyes, 
w41d hair and beard, and a thin-lipped, cruel mouth. A 
ragged gray uniform was visible under the blanket 
thrown over him ; and in strange contrast to the squalor 
of his dress, and the neglect of his person, was the 
diamond ring that shone on his unwounded hand. The 
right arm was bound up, the right leg amputated at the 
knee ; and, though the man's face was white and haggard 
with suffering, not a sound escaped him as he lay with 
his eyes fixed half defiantly upon his neighbor. 

John Clay, the new-comer, saw opposite him a small, 
wasted figure, and a plain face ; yet both face and figure 
were singularly attractive, for suffering seemed to have 
refined away all the grosser elements, and left the spir- 
itual very visible through that frail tenement of flesh. 
Pale-brown hair streaked the hollow temples and white 
forehead. A deep color burned in the thin cheeks still 


tauned by the wind and weather of a long campaign. 
Tlie mouth was grave and sweet, and in the gray eyes 
hiy an infinite patience touched with melancholy, lie 
wore a di'cssing-gown, but across his feet lay a faded 
coat of army-blue. As the other watched him, he saw a 
shadow pass across his tranquil face, and for a moment 
he laid his wasted hand over the eyes that had been so 
full of pity. Then he gently pushed a mug of fresh 
water, and the last of a bunch of grapes, toward the 
exhausted rebel, saying, in a cordial tone, — 

" You look faint and thirsty ; have 'em." 

Clay's lips were parched, and his hand went involun- 
tarily toward the cup ; but he caught it back, and, lean- 
ing forward, asked, in a shrill whisper, — 

" Where are you hurt? " 

" A shot in the side," answered Murry, visibly sur- 
prised at the man's manner, 

"What battle?" 

" The Wilderness." 

"Is it bad?" 

"I'm dying of wound-fever ; there's no hope, they say." 

That reply, so simple, so serenely given, would have 
touched almost any hearer ; but Clay smiled grimly, and 
lay dowm as if satisfied, with his one hand clenched, and 
an exulting glitter in his eyes, muttering to himself, — 

" The loss of my leg comes easier after hearing tliat." 

Murry saw his lips move, but caught no sound, and 
asked, with friendly solicitude, — 

" Do you want anything, neighbor ? " 

"Yes — to be let alone," was the curt reply, with a 
savage frown. 

" That's easily done. I sha'n't trouble you very long, 


any way ; " and, with a sigh, Murry turned his face 
away, and lay silent till the surgeon came up on his 
morning round. 

'•Oh! you're here, are you? It's like Mercy Carrol 
to take you in," said Dr. Fitz Hugh, as he surveyed the 
rebel, with a slight frown ; for, in spite of his benevo- 
•lence and skill, he Avas a stanch loyalist, and hated the 
South just then. 

" Don't praise me ; he never Avould have been here but 
for Murry," answered Miss Mercy, as she approached, 
with her dressing-tray in her hand. 

" Bless the lad ! he'll give up his bed next, and feel 
offended if he's thanked for it. How are you, my good 
fellow?" and the doctor turned to press the hot hand, 
with a friendly face. 

" Much easier and stronger, thank you, doctor," was 
the cheerful answer. 

" Less fever, pulse better, breath freer — good symp- 
toms. Keep on so for twenty-four hours, and, by my 
soul, I believe you'll have a chance for your life, Murry," 
cried the doctor, as his experienced eye took note of a 
hopeful change. 

" In spite of the opinion of three good surgeons to the 
contrary?" asked Murry, with a wistful smile. 

" Hang everybody's opinion ! We are but mortal men, 
and the best of us make mistakes in spite of science and 
experience. There's Parker ; we all gave him up, and 
the rascal is larking 'round "Washington as well as ever 
to-day. "While there's life there's hope ; so cheer up 
my lad, and do your best for the little girl at home." 

"Do you really think I may hope?" cried Murry, 
white with the joy of this unexpected reprieve. 


" Hope is a capital medicine, aud I prescribe it for a 
day at least. Don't build on this change too much, but 
if you are as well to-morrow as this morning, I give you 
my word I think you'll pull through." 

Murry laid his hands over his face with a broken 
"Thank God for that! "and the doctor turned away 
with a sonorous " Hem ! " and an air of intense satis- 

During this conversation Miss Mercy had been watch- 
insT the rebel, who looked and listened to the others so 
intently that he forgot her presence. She saw an expres- 
sion of rage and disappointment gather in his face as the 
doctor spoke ; and when Murry accepted the hope held 
out to him. Clay set his teeth with an evil look, that would 
have boded ill for his neighbor had he not been helpless. 

" Ungrateful traitor ! I'll watch him, for he'll do mis- 
chief if he can," she thought, and reluctantly began to 
unbind his arm for the doctor's inspection. 

"Only a flesh-wound, — no bones broken, — a good 
syringing, rubber cushion, plenty of water, and it will 
soon heal. You'll attend to that. Miss Mercy; this 
stump is more in my line ; " and Dr. Fitz Hugh turned 
to the leg, leaving the arm to the nurse's skilful care. 

" Evidently amputated in a hurry, and neglected since. 
If you're not careful, young man, you'll change places 
with your neighbor here." 

" Damn him ! " muttered Clay in his beard, with an 
emphasis which caused the doctor to glance at his venge- 
ful face. 

"Don't be a brute, if you can help it. But for him 
you'd have fared ill," began the doctor. 

" But for him I never should have been here," muttered 


the man, in French, with a furtive glance about the 

" You owe this to him?" asked the doctor, touching 
the wound, and speaking in the same tongue. 

" Yes ; but he paid for it — at least, I thought he had." 

" By the Lord ! if you are the sneaking rascal that 
shot him as he lay wounded in the ambulance, I shall be 
tempted to leave you to your fate ! " cried the doctor, 
with a wrathful flash in his keen eyes. 

" Do it, then, for it was I," answered the man defi- 
antly ; adding, as if anxious to explain, ''We had a tus- 
sle, and each got hurt in the thick of the skirmish. He 
w^as put in the ambulance afterward, and I was left to 
live or die, as luck would have it. I was hurt the 
worst ; they should have taken me too ; it made me mad 
to see him chosen, and I fired my last shot as he drove 
away. I didn't know whether I hit him or not ; but 
when they told me I must lose my leg I hoped I had, 
and now I am satisfied." 

He spoke rapidly, w^ith clenched hand and fiery eyes, 
and the two listeners watched him Avith a sort of fascina- 
tion as he hissed out the last words, glancing at the occu- 
pant of the next bed. Murry evidently did not understand 
French ; he lay with averted face, closed eyes, and a hope- 
ful smile still on his lips, quite unconscious of the meaning 
of the fierce words uttered close beside him. Dr. Fitz Hugh 
had laid down his instruments, and knit his black brows 
irefully while he listened. But as the man paused, the 
doctor looked at Miss Mercy, who was quietly going on 
with her work, though there was an expression about her 
handsome mouth that made her womanly face look almost 


grim. Taking up his tools, the doctor followed her 
example, saying slowly, — 

"If I didn't believe Murry was mending, I'd turn you 
over to Roberts, whom the patients dread as they do the 
devil. I must do my duty, and you may thank Murry 
for it." 

"Does he know you are the man who shot him?" 
asked Mercy, still in French. 

" No ; I shouldn't stay here long if he did," answered 
Clay, with a short laugh. 

"Don't tell him, then — at least, till after you are 
moved," she said, in a tone of command. 

" Where am I going? " demanded the man. 

" Anywhere out of my ward," was the brief answer, 
with a look that made the black eyes waver and fall. 

In silence nurse and doctor did their work, and passed 
on. In silence Murry lay hour after hour, and silently 
did Clay watch and wait, till, utterly exhausted by the 
suffering he was too proud to confess, he sank into a 
stupor, oblivious alike of hatred, defeat, and pain. Find- 
ing him in this pitiable condition, Mercy relented, and, 
womanlike, forgot her contempt in pity. He was not 
moved, but tended carefully all that day and night ; and 
when he woke from a heavy sleep, the morning sun shone 
again on two pale faces in the beds, and flashed on the 
buttons of two army-coats hanging side by side on the 
recess wall, on loyalist and rebel, on the blue and the 

Dr. Fitz Hugh stood beside Murry's cot, saying cheer- 
ily, " You are doing well, my lad — better than I hoped. 
Keep calm and cool, and, if all goes right, we'll have lit- 
tle Mary here to pet you in a week." 


" Who's Mary?" whispered the rebel to the attendant 
who was washing his face. 

" His sweetheart ; he left her for the war, and she's 
•\vaitin' for him back — poor soul ! " answered the man, 
with a somewhat vicious scrub across the sallow cheek 
he was wiping. 

" So he'll get well, and go home and marry the girl 
he left behind him, "^vill he ? " sneered Clay, fingering a 
little case that hung about his neck, and vras now visible 
as his rough valet unbuttoned his collar. 

"What's that. — your sweetheart's picter?" asked 
Jim, the attendant, eying the gold chain anxiously. 

" I've got none," was the gruiF answer. 

" So much the wus for you, then. Small chance of 
gettin' one here ; our girls won't look at you, and you 
ain't likely to see any of your own sort for a long spell, 
I reckon," added Jim, working away at the rebel's long- 
neglected hair. 

Clay lay looking at Mercy Carrol as she went to and 
fro among the men, leaving a smile behind her, and car- 
rying comfort wherever she turned, — a right womanly 
woman, lovely and lovable, strong yet tender, patient 
yet decided, skilful, kind, and tireless in the discharge of 
duties that w^ould have daunted most women. It was in 
vain she wore the plain gray gown and long apron, for 
neither could hide the grace of her figure. It was 
in vain she brushed her luxuriant hair back into a net, 
for the wa^y locks would fall on her forehead, and stray 
curls would creep out or glisten like gold under the 
meshes meant to conceal them. Busy days and watchful 
nights had not faded the beautiful bloom on her cheeks, 
or dimmed the brightness of her hazel eyes. Always 


ready, fresh, and fair, Mercy Carrol was regarded as the 
good angel of the hospital, and not a. man in it, sick or 
well, but was a loyal friend to her. None dared to be a 
lover, for her little romance was known ; and, though 
still a maid, she was a widow in their eyes, for she had 
sent her lover to his death, and over the brave man's 
grave had said, " Well done." 

Jim watched Clay as his eye followed the one female 
figure there, and, observing that he clutched the case still 
tighter, asked again, — 

" What is that — a charm ? " 

" Yes, — against pain, captivity and shame." 

" Strikes me it a'n't kep' you from any one of 'em," 
said Jim, with a laugh. 

" I haven't tried it yet." 

"How does it work?" Jim asked more respectfully, 
being impressed by something in the rebel's manner. 

" You will see when I use it. Now let me alone ; " 
and Clay turned impatiently away. 

" You've got p'ison, or some deviltry, in that thing. 
If you don't let me look, I swear I'll have it took away 
from you ; " and Jim put his big hand on the slender 
chain with a resolute air. 

Clay smiled a scornful smile, and offered the trinket, 
saying coolly, — 

" I only fooled you. Look as much as you like ; 
you'll find nothing dangerous." 

Jim opened the pocket, saw a lock of gray hair, and 
nothing more. 

" Is that your mother's ? " 

" Yes ; my dead mother s." 

It w^as strange to see the instantaneous change that 


passed over the two men as each uttered that dearest 
word in all tongues. Rough Jim gently reclosed and 
returned the case, saying kindly, — 

" Keep it ; I wouldn't rob you on't for no money." 

Clay thrust it jealously into his breast, and the first 
trace of emotion he had shown softened his dark face, as 
he answered, with a grateful tremor in his voice, — 

" Thank you. I wouldn't lose it for the world." 

" May I say good-morning, neighbor? " asked a feeble 
voice, as Murry turned a very wan, but cheerful face 
toward him, when Jim moved on with his basin and 

" K you like," returned Clay, looking at him Avith 
those quick, suspicious eyes of his. 

" Well, I do like ; so I say it, and hope you are 
better," returned the cordial voice. 

''Are you?" 

" Yes, thank God ! " 

"Is it sure?" 

" Nothing is sure, in a case like mine, till I'm on my 
legs again ; but I'm certainly better. I don't expect you 
to be glad, but I hope you don't regret it very much." 

" I don't." The smile that accompanied the words 
surprised Murry as much as the reply, for both seemed 
lionest, and his kind heart warmed toward his suffering 

" I hope you'll be exchanged as soon as you are able. 
Till then, you can go to one of the other hospitals, where 
there are many reb — I would say, Southerners. If 
you'd like, I'll speak to Dr. Fitz Hugh, and he'll see you 
moved," said Murry, in his friendly way. 

" I'd rather stay here, thank you." Clay smiled again 


as he spoke in the mild tone that surprised Murry as 
much as it pleased him. 

" You like to be in my corner, then? " he said, with a 
boyish laugh. 

" Very much — for a- while." 

" I'm very glad. Do you suffer much? " 

" I shall suffer more by and by, if I go on ; but I'll 
risk it," answered Clay, fixing his feverish eyes on 
Murry's placid face. 

*' You expect to have a hard time with your leg?" 
said Murry, compassionately. 

" With my soul." 

It was an odd answer, and given with such an odd 
expression, as Clay turned his face away, that Murry 
said no more, fancying his brain a little touched by the 
fever evidently coming on. 

They spoke but seldom to each other that day, for 
Clay lay apparently asleep, with a flushed cheek and 
restless head, and Murry tranquilly dreamed waking 
dreams of home and little Mary. That night, after all 
was still, Miss. Mercy went up into the organ-loft to get 
fresh rollers for the morrow, — the boxes of old linen, 
and such matters, being kept there. As she stood look- 
ing down on the thirty pale sleepers, she remembered 
that she had not played a hymn on the little organ for 
ISIurry, as she had promised that day. Stealing softly to 
the front, she peeped over the gallery, to see if he was 
asleep ; if not, she would keep her word, for he was her 

A screen had been drawn before the recess where the 
two beds stood, shutting their occupants from the sight 
of the other men. Murry lay sleeping, but Clay was 


awake, and a quick thrill tingled along the young 
woman's nerves as she saw his face. Leaning on one 
arm, he peered about the place with an eager, watchful 
air, and glanced up at the dark gallery, but did not see 
the startled face behind the central pillar. Pausing an 
instant, he shook his one clenched hand at the uncon- 
scious sleeper, and then thrcAv out the locket cautiously. 
Two white mugs, just alike, stood on the little table 
between the beds, water in each. With another furtive 
glance about him. Clay suddenly stretched out his long 
arm, and dropped something from the locket into Murry's 
cup. An instant he remained motionless, with a sinister 
smile on his face ; then, as Jim's step sounded beyond 
the screen, he threw his arm over his face, and lay, 
breathing heavily, as if asleep. 

Mercy's first impulse was to cry out ; her next, to fly 
down and seize the cup. No time was to be lost, for 
Murry might wake and drink at any moment. What 
was in the cup? Poison, doubtless ; that was the charm 
Clay carried to free himself from " pain, captivity and 
shame," when all other hopes of escape vanished. This 
hidden helper he gave up to destroy his enemy, who was 
to outlive his shot, it seemed. Like a shadow, Mercy 
glided down, forming her plan as she went. A dozen 
mugs stood about the room, all alike in size and color ; 
catching up one, she partly filled it, and, concealing it 
under the clean sheet hanging on her arm, went toward 
the recess, saying audibly, — 

" I want some fresh water, Jim." 

Thus warned of her approach. Clay lay with carefully- 
averted face as she came in, and never stirred as she 
bent over him, while she dexterously changed Murry's 


mug for the oue she carried. Hiding the poisoned cup, 
she went away, saying aloud, — 

" Never mind the water, now, Jim. Murry is asleep, 
and so is Clay ; they'll not need it yet." 

Straight to Dr. Fitz Hugh's room she went, and gave 
the cup into his keeping, with the story of what she had 
seen. A man was dying, and there was no time to test 
the water then ; but putting it carefully away, he prom- 
ised to set her fears at rest in the morning. To quiet 
her impatience, Mercy went back to watch over Murry 
till day dawned. As she sat down, she caught the glim- 
mer of a satisfied smile on Clay's lips, and looking into 
the cup she had left, she saw that it was empty. 

" He is satisfied, for he thinks his horrible revenge is 
secure. Sleep in peace, my poor boy ! you are safe 
while I am here." 

As she thought this, she put her hand on the broad, 
pale forehead of the sleeper with a motherly caress, but 
started to feel how damp and cold it was. Looking 
nearer, she saw that a change had passed over Murry, 
for dark shadows showed about his sunken eyes, his once 
quiet breath Avas faint and fitful now, his hand deathly 
cold, and a chilly dampness had gathered on his face. 
She looked at her watch ; it was past twelve, and her 
heart sunk within her, for she had so often seen that 
solemn change come over men's faces then, that the hour 
was doubly weird and woful to her. Sending a message 
to Dr. Fitz Hugh, she waited anxiously, trying to believe 
that she deceived herself. 

The doctor came at once, and a single look convinced 
him that he had left one death-bed for another. 

" As I feared," he said ; " that sudden rally was but 


a last effort of nature. Tliere was just one chance for 
him, and he has missed it. Poor Lad ! I can do nothing ; 
he'll sink rapidly, and go without pain." 

"Can I do nothing?" asked Mercy, with dim eyes, 
as she held the cold hand close in both her own with 
tender pressure. 

" Give him stimulants as long as he can swallow, and, 
if he's conscious, take any messages he may have. Poor 
Hall is dpng hard, and I can help him ; I'll come again 
in an hour, and say good-by." 

The kind doctor choked, touched the pale sleeper with 
a gentle caress, and went away to help Hall die. 

Murry slept on for an hour, then woke, and knew 
without words that his brief hope was gone. He looked 
up wistfully, and whispered, as Mercy tried to smile with 
trembling lips that refused to tell the heavy truth, — 

" I know — I feel it ; don't grieve yourself by trying to 
tell me, dear friend. It's best so ; I can bear it, — but I 
did want to live." 

"Have you any word for Mary, dear?" asked Mercy, 
for he seemed but a boy to her since she had nursed 

One look of sharp anguish and dark despair passed 
over his face, as he wrung his thin hands and shut his 
eyes, finding death terrible. It passed in a moment, and 
his pallid countenance gi^ew beautiful with the pathetic 
patience of one who submits without complaint to the 

" Tell her I was ready, and the only bitterness was 
lea^-ing her. I shall remember, and wait until she 
comes. My little Mary ! O, be kind to her, for my 
sake, when you teU her this." 


" I will, Murry, as God hears me. I will be a sister 
to her while I live." 

As Mercy spoke, with fervent voice, he laid the hand 
that had ministered to him so faithfully against his cheek, 
and lay silent, as if content. 

" What else? let me do something more. Is there no 
other friend to be comforted ? " 

" No ; she is all I have in the world. I hoped to 
make her so happy, to be so much to her, for she's a 
lonely Uttle thing ; but God says ' No,' and I submit." 

A long pause, as he lay breathing heavily, with eyes 
that were dimming fast fixed on the gentle face beside 

'' Give Jim my clothes, send Mary a bit of my hair, 
and — may I give you this? it's a poor thing, but all I 
have to leave you, best and kindest of women." 

He tried to draw off a slender ring, but the strength 
had gone out of his w^asted fingers, and she helped him, 
thanking him with the first tears he had seen her shed. 
He seemed satisfied, but suddenly turned his eyes on 
Clay, who lay as if asleep. A sigh broke from Murry, 
and Mercy caught the words, — 

" How could he do it, and I so helpless ! " 

" Do you know him?" she whispered, eagerly, as she 
remembered Clay's own words. 

" I knew he was the man who shot me, when he came. 
I forgive him ; but I wish he had spared me, for Mary's 
sake," he answered sorrowfully, not angrily. 

"Do you really pardon him?" cried Mercy, wonder- 
ing, yet touched by the words. 

"I do. He will be sorry one day, perhaps ; at any 
rate, he did what he thought his duty ; and war makes 


brutes of us all sometimes, I fear. I'd like to say good- 
by ; but he's asleep after a weary day, so don't wake 
him. Tell him I'm glad he is to live, and that I forgive 
him heartily." 

Although uttered between long pauses, these words 
seemed to have exhausted Murry, and he spoke no more 
till Dr. Fitz Hugh came. To him he feebly returned 
thanks, and whispered his farewell, then sank into a stu- 
por, during which life ebbed fast. Both nurse and doctor 
forgot Clay as they hung over Murry, and neither saw 
the strange intentness of his face, the half awe-struck, 
half remorseful look he bent upon the dying man. 

As the sun rose, sending its ruddy beams across the 
silent ward, Murry looked up and smiled, for the bright 
ray fell athwart the two coats hanging on the wall beside 
him. Some passer-by had brushed one sleeve of the blue 
coat across the gray, as if the inanimate things were 
shaking hands. 

" It should be so — love our enemies; we should be 
brothers," he murmured faintly ; and, with the last im- 
pulse of a noble nature, stretched his hand toward the 
man w^ho had murdered him. 

But Clay shrunk back, and covered his face without a 
word. When he ventured to look up, Murry was no 
longer there. A pale, peaceful figure lay on the narrow 
bed, and Mercy was smoothing the brown locks as she 
cut a curl for Mary and herself. Clay could not take his 
eyes away ; as if fascinated by its serenity, he watched 
the dead face with gloomy eyes, till Mercy, having done 
her part, stooped and kissed the cold lips tenderly as she 
left him to his sleep. Then, as if afraid to be alone with 
the dead, he bid Jim put the screen between the beds. 


and bring him a book. His order was obeyed ; but he 
never turned his pfiges, and lay, with muffled head, try- 
ing to shut out little Watts' sobs, as the wounded drum- 
mer boy mourned for Murry. 

Death in an hospital makes no stir, and in an hour no 
trace of the departed remained but the coat upon the 
wall, for Jim would not take it down, though it was his 
now. The empty bed stood freshly made, the clean cup 
and worn Bible lay ready for other hands, and the card 
at the bed's head hung blank for a new-comer's name. 
In the hurry of this event. Clay's attempted crime was 
forgotten for a time. But that evening Dr. Fitz Hugh 
told Mercy that her suspicions were correct, for the water 
luas poisoned. 

" How horrible ! what shall we do?" she cried, with 
a ^resture full of enero^etic indio^nation. 

" Leave him to remorse ! " replied the doctor, sternly. 
*' I've thought over the matter, and believe this to be the 
only thing Ave can do. I fancy the man won't live a 
week ; his leg is in a bad way, and he is such a fiery 
devil he gives himself no chance. Let him believe he 
killed poor Murry, at least for a few days. He thinks 
so now, and tries to rejoice ; but if he has a human heart 
he will repent." 

"But he may not. Should we not tell of this? Can 
he not be punished ? " 

"Law won't hang a dying man, and I'll not denounce 
him. Let remorse punish him while he lives, and God 
judge him when he dies. Murry pardoned him, — can 
we do less ? " 

Mercy's indignant face softened at the name, and for 
Murry's sake she yielded. Neither spoke of what they 


tried to think the act of a half-delirious man ; and soon 
they could not refuse to pity him, for^ the doctor's proph- 
ecy proved true. 

Clay was a haunted man, and remorse gnawed like a 
worm at his heart. Day and night he saw that tranquil 
face on the pillow opposite ; day and night he saw the 
pale hand outstretched to him ; day and night he heard 
the faint voice murmuring kindly, regretfully, " I forgive 
him ; but I wish he had spared me, for Mary's sake." 

As the days passed, and his strength visibly declined, 
he began to suspect that he must soon follow Murry. 
No one told him ; for, though both doctor and nurse did 
their duty faithfully, neither lingered long at his bedside, 
and not one of the men showed any interest in him. No 
new patient occupied the other bed, and he lay alone in 
the recess with his own gloomy thoughts. 

"It will be all up with me in a few days, won't it?" 
he asked, abruptly, as Jim made his toilet one morning 
with unusual care, and such visible pity in his rough face 
that Clay could not but observe it. 

" I heard the doctor say you wouldn't suffer much 
more. Is there any one you'd like to see, or leave a 
message for ? " answered Jim, smoothing the long locks 
as gently as a woman. 

" There isn't a soul in the world that cares whether I 
live or die, except the man who wants my money," said 
Clay, bitterly, as his dark face grew a shade paler at this 
confirmation of his fear. 

" Can't you head him off some way, and leave your 
money to some one that's been kind to you ? Here's the 
doctor — or, better still. Miss Can-ol. Neither on 'em 
is rich, and both on 'em has been good friends to you, or 


you'd 'a' fared a deal wus than you have," said Jim, not 
Avithout the hope that, in saying a good word for them, 
he might say one for himself also. 

Clay lay thinking for a moment as his face clouded 
over, and tlien brightened again : 

" Miss Mercy wouldn't take it, nor the doctor either ; 
but I know who will — and, by G — d, I'll do it ! " he 
exclaimed, with sudden energy. 

His eye happened to rest on Jim as he spoke, and 
feeling sure that he was to be the heir, Jim retired to 
send Miss Mercy, that the matter might be settled before 
Clay's mood changed. Miss Carrol came, and began to 
cut the buttons off Murry's coat while she waited for 
Clay to speak. 

"What's that for?" he asked, restlessly. 

" The men want them, and Jim is willing, for the coat 
is very old and ragged, you see. Murry gave his good 
one away to a sicker comrade, and took this instead. It 
Avas like him, — my poor boy ! " 

" I'd like to speak to you, if you have a minute to 
spare," began Clay, after a pause, during which he 
watched her with a wistful, almost tender expression, 
unseen by her. 

" I have time ; what can I do for you? " Very gentle 
was Mercy's voice, very pitiful her glance, as she sat 
down by him, for the change in his manner, and the 
thought of his approaching death, touched her heart. 

Trying to resume his former gruffness, and cold expres- 
sion, Clay said, as he picked nervously at the blanket, — 

"I've a little property that I put into the care of a 
friend going North. He's kept it safe ; and now, as I'll 
never want it myself, I'd like to leave it to — ". He 



paused an instant, glanced quickly at Mercy's face, and 
seeing only womanly compassion there, added, with an 
irrepressible tremble in his voice, — "To little Mary." 

If he had expected any reward for the act, any comfort 
for his lonely death-bed, he received both in fullest meas- 
ure when he saw Mercy's beautiful face flush with sur- 
prise and pleasure, her eyes fill with sudden tears, and 
heard her cordial voice, as she pressed his hand warmly 
in her o^vn. 

" I wish I could tell you how glad I am for this ! I 
thought you were better than you seemed ; 1 was sure 
you had both heart and conscience, and that you would 
repent before you died." 

" Repent of what? " he asked, with a startled look. 

" Need I tell you?" and her eye went from the empty 
bed to his face. 

''You mean that shot? But it was only fair, after 
all ; we killed each other, and war is nothing but whole- 
sale murder, any way." He spoke easily, but his eyes 
were full of trouble, and other words seemed to tremble 
on his lips. 

Leaning nearer, Mercy whispered in his ear, — 

" I mean the other murder, which you would have 
committed when you poisoned the cup of water he offered 
you, his enemy." 

Every vestige of color faded out of Clay's thin face, 
and his haggard eyes seemed fascinated by some spectre 
opposite, as he muttered slowly, — 

" How do you know? " 

" I saw you ; " and she told him all the truth. 

A look of intense relief passed over Clay's counte- 


nance, and the remorseful shadow lifted as he murmured, 
brokenly, — 

" Thank God I didn't kill him ! Now, dying isn't so 
hard ; now I can have a little peace." 

Neither spoke for several minutes ; Mercy had no 
words for such a time, and Clay forgot her presence as 
the tears dropped from between the wasted fingers spread 
before his face. 

Presently he looked up, saying eagerly, as if his flut- 
tering breath and rapidly failing strength warned him of 
approaching death, — 

" Will you ■^^Tite down a few words for me, so Mary 
can have the money? She needn't know anything about 
me, only that I was one to whom Murry was kind, and 
so I gave her all I had." 

" I'll get my pen and paper ; rest, now, my poor fel- 
low," said Mercy, wiping the unheeded tears away for 

" How good it seems to hear you speak so to me ! How 
can you do it ? " he whispered, with such grateful won- 
der in his dim eyes that Mercy's heart smote her for the 

"I do it for Murry's sake, and because I sincerely 
pity you." 

Timidly turning his lips to that kind hand, he kissed 
it, and then hid his face in his pillow. When Mercy 
returned, she observed that there were but seven tarnished 
buttons where she had left eight. She guessed who had 
taken it, but said nothing, and endeavored to render poor 
Clay's last hours as happy as sympathy and care could 
make them. The letter and will were prepared as well 
as they could be, and none too soon ; for, as if that 


secret was the burden that bouDd Clay's spirit to the 
shattered body, no sooner was it lifted off than the 
diviner part seemed ready to be gone. 

" You'll stay with me ; you'll help me die ; and — oh, 
if I dared to ask it, I'd beg you to kiss me once when I 
am dead, as you did Murry. I think I could rest then, 
and be fitter to meet him, if the Lord lets me," he cried 
imploringly, as the last night gathered around him, and 
the coming change seemed awful to a soul that possessed 
no inward peace, and no firm hope to lean on tlirough the 
valley of the shadow. 

"I will — I will! Hold fast to me, and believe in 
the eternal mercy of God," whispered Miss Carrol, with 
her firm hand in his, her tender face bending over him 
as the long struggle began. 

" Mercy," he murmured, catching that word, and smil- 
ing feebly as he repeated it liugeringly. *' Mercy ! yes, 
I believe in her ; she'll save me, if any one can. Lord, 
bless and keep her forever and forever." 

There was no morning sunshine to gladden his dim 
eyes as they looked their last, but the pale glimmer of 
the lamp shone full on the blue and the gray coats hang- 
ing side by side. As if the sight recalled that other 
death-bed, that last act of brotherly love and pardon. 
Clay rose up in his bed, and while one hand clutched the 
button hidden in his breast, the other was outstretched 
toward the empty bed, as his last breath parted in a cry 
of remorseful longing, — 

" I will ! I will ! Forgive me, Murry, and let me say 
good-by \ " 


MERRY Christmas ! " " Merry Christmas ! " " Merry 
Christmas, and lots of 'em, ma'am ! " echoed from 
every side, as Miss Hale entered her ward in the gray 
December dawn. No wonder the greetings were hearty, 
that thin faces brightened, and eyes watched for the com- 
ing of this small luminary more eagerly than for the 
rising of the sun ; for when they woke that morning, 
each man found that in the silence of the night some 
friendly hand had laid a little gift beside his bed. Very 
humble little gifts they were, but well chosen and thought- 
fully bestowed by one who made the blithe anniversary 
pleasant even in a hospital, and sweetly taught the lesson 
of the hour — Peace on earth, good- will to man. 

" I say, ma'am, these are just splendid. I've dreamt 
about such for a week, but I never thought I'd get 'em," 
cried one poor fellow, surveying a fine bunch of grapes 
Avith as much satisfaction as if he had found a fortune. 

" Thank you kindly. Miss, for the paper and the fix- 
ings. I hated to keep borrowing, but I hadn't any 
money," said another, eying his gift with happy anticipa- 
tions of the home letters with which the generous pages 
should be filled. 

"They are dreadful soft and pretty, but I don't believe 
I'll ever wear 'em out ; my legs are so wimbly there's no 



go in 'em," whispered a fever patient, looking sorrowfully 
at the swollen feet ornamented with a pair of carpet 
slippers gay with roses, and evidently made for his 
especial need. 

" Please hang my posy basket on the gas-burner in the 
middle of the room, where all the boys can see it. It's 
too pretty for one alone." 

" But then you can't see it yourself, Joe, and you are 
fonder of such things than the rest," said Miss Hale, 
taking both the little basket and the hand of her pet 
patient, a lad of twenty, dying of rapid consumption. 

" That's the reason I can spare it for a while, for I 
shall feel 'em in the room just the same, and they'll do 
the boys good. You pick out the one you like best, for 
me to keep, and hang up the rest till by-and-by, please." 

She gave him a sprig of mignonette, and he smiled as 
he took it, for it reminded him of her in her sad-colored 
gown, as quiet and unobtrusive, but as grateful to the 
hearts of those about her as was the fresh scent of the flower 
to the lonely lad who never had known womanly tender- 
ness and care until he found them in a hospital. Joe's 
prediction was verified ; the flowers did do the boys good, 
for all welcomed them with approving glances, and all 
felt their refining influence more or less keenly, from 
cheery Ben, Avho paused to fill the cup inside with fresher 
water, to surly Sam, who stopped growling as his eye 
rested on a geranium very like the one blooming in his 
sweetheart's window when they parted a long year ago. 

" Now, as this is to be a merry day, let us begin to 
enjoy it at once. Fling up the windows, Ben, and Bar- 
ney, go for breakfast while I finish washing faces and 
settling bed-clothes." 


With which directions the little woman fell to work 
with such infectious energy that in fifteen minutes thirty 
gentlemen with spandy clean faces and hands were par- 
taking of refreshment with as much appetite as their 
various conditions would permit. Meantime the sun 
came up, looking bigger, brighter, jollier than usual, as 
he is apt to do on Christmas days. Not a snow-flake 
chilled the air that blew in as blandly as if winter had 
relented, and wished the " boys " the compliments of the 
season in his mildest mood ; while a festival smell per- 
vaded the whole house, and appetizing rumors of turkey, 
mince-pie, and oysters for dinner, circulated through the 
wards. TVhen breakfast was done, the wounds dressed, 
directions for the day delivered, and as many of the dis- 
agi'eeables as possible well over, the fun began. In any 
other place that would have been considered a very quiet 
morning ; but to the weary invalids prisoned in that 
room, it was quite a whirl of excitement. None were 
dangerously ill but Joe, and all were easily amused, for 
weakness, homesickness and ennui made every trifle a 
joke or an event. 

In came Ben, looking like a " Jack in the Green," with 
his load of hemlock and holly. Such of the men as 
could get about and had a hand to lend, lent it, and soon, 
under Miss Hale's direction, a green bough hung at the 
head of each bed, depended from the gas-burners, and 
nodded over the fireplace, while the finishing effect was 
given by a cross and crov/n at the top and bottom of the 
room. Great was the interest, many were the mishaps, 
and frequent was the laughter which attended this per- 
formance ; for Avounded men, when convalescent, are par- 
ticularly jovial. When '' Daddy Mills," as one venerable 



volunteer was irreverently christened, expatiated learn- 
edly upon the difference between " sprewce, hemlock and 
pine," how they all listened, each thinking of some 
familiar wood still pleasantly haunted by boyish recol- 
lections of stolen gunnings, gum-pickings, and bird-nest- 
ings. When quiet Hayward amazed the company by 
coming out strong in a most unexpected direction, and 
telling with much effect the story of a certain " fine old 
gentleman " who supped on hemlock tea and died like a 
hero, what commendations were bestowed upon the im- 
mortal heathen in language more hearty than classical, 
as a twig of the historical tree was passed round like a 
new style of refreshment, that inquiring parties might 
satisfy themselves regarding the flavor of the Socratic 
draught. When Barney, the colored incapable, essayed 
a grand ornament above the door, and relying upon one 
insufficient nail, descended to survey his success with the 
proud exclamation, " Look at de neatness of dat job, 
gen'l'men," — at which point the whole thing tumbled 
down about his ears, — how they all shouted but Pneu- 
monia Ned, who, having lost liis voice, could only make 
ecstatic demonstrations vnth his legs. When Barney cast 
himself and his hammer despairingly upon the floor, and 
Miss Hale, stepping into a chair, pounded stoutly at the 
traitorous nail aud performed some miracle with a bit 
of string which made all fast, what a burst of applause 
arose from the beds. When gruff Dr. Bangs came in to 
see what all the noise was about, and the same intrepid 
lady not only boldly explained, but stuck a bit of holly in 
his button-hole, and wished him a merry Christmas with 
such a face full of smiles that the crabbed old doctor felt 
himself giving in very fast, and bolted out again, calling 


Christmas a humbug, and exulting over the thirty emetics 
he Avould ha\c to prescribe on the morrow, what indig- 
nant denials followed him. And when all was done, 
how everybody agreed with Joe when he said, " I think 
we are coming Christmas in great style ; things look so 
green and pretty, I feel as I was settin' in a bower." 

Pausing to survey her work, Miss Hale saw Sam look- 
ing as black as any thunder-cloud. He bounced over on 
his bed the moment he caught her eye, but she followed 
him up, and gently covering the cold shoulder he evi- 
dently meant to show her, peeped over it, asking, with 
unabated gentleness, — 

"What can I do for you, Sam? I want to have all 
the faces in my ward bright ones to-day." 

" My box ain't come ; they said I should have it two, 
three days ago ; why don't they do it, then ? " growled 
Ursur Major. 

" It is a busy time, you know, but it will come if they 
promised, and patience won't delay it, I assure you." 

" My patience is used up, and they are a mean set of 
slow coaches. I'd get it fast enough if I wore shoulder 
straps ; as I don't, I'll bet I sha'n't see it till the things 
ain't fit to eat ; the news is old, and I don't care a hang 
about it." 

" I'll see what I can do ; perhaps before the hurry of 
dinner begins some one will have time to go for it." 

" Nobody ever does have time here but folks who 
would give all they are worth to be stirring round. You 
can't get it, I know ; it's my luck, so don't you worry, 

Miss Hale did not " worry," but worked, and in time 
a messenger was found, provided with the necessary 


money, pass and directions, and despatched to hunt np 
the missing Christmas-box. Then she paused to see 
what came next, not that it was necessary to look for a 
task, but to decide which, out of many, was most impor- 
tant to do first. 

" Why, Turner, crying again so soon? What is it 
now? the light head or the heavy feet? " 

" It's my bones, ma*am. They ache so I can't Liy 
easy any way, and I'm so tired I just wish I could die 
and be out of this misery," sobbed the poor ghost of a 
once strong and cheery fellow, as the kind hand wiped 
his tears away, and gently rubbed the weary shoulders. 

" Don't wish that Tm-ner, for the worst is over now, 
and all you need is to get your strength again. Make 
an effort to sit up a little ; it is quite time you tried ; a 
change of posture will help the ache wonderfully, and 
make this ' dreadful bed,' as you call it, seem very com- 
fortable when you come back to it." 

" I can't, ma'am, my legs ain't a bit of use, and I 
ain't strong enough even to try." 

" You never will be if you don't try. Never mind 
the poor legs, Ben will carry you. I've got the matron's 
easy-chair all ready, and can make you Yevj cosy by the 
fire. It's Christmas-day, you know ; why not celebrate it 
by overcoming the despondency which retards your re- 
covery, and prove that illness has not taken all the man- 
hood out of you ? " 

" It has, though, I'll never be the man I was, and may 
as well lay here till spring, for I shall be no use if I do 
get up." 

If Sam was a gi'owler this man was a whiner, and 
few hospital wards are without both. But knowing that 


much snfFermg had soured the former and pitifully weak- 
ened the latter, their nurse had patience with them, and 
still hoped to bring them round again. As Turner whim- 
pered out his last dismal speech she bethought herself of 
something which, in the hurry of the morning, had 
slipped her mind till now. 

" By the way, I've got another present for you. The 
doctor thought I'd better not give it yet, lest it should 
excite you too much ; but I think you need excitement to 
make you forget yourself, and that when you find how 
many blessings you have to be grateful for, you will 
make an effort to enjoy them." 

"Blessings, ma'am? I don't see 'em." 

" Don't you see one now?" and drawing a letter from 
her pocket she held it before his eyes. His listless face 
brightened a little as he took it, but gloomed over again 
as he said fretfully, — 

" It's from wife, I guess. I like to get her letters, but 
they are always full of grievings and groanings over me, 
so they don't do me much good." 

" She does not grieve and groan in this one. She is too 
happy to do that, and so will you be when you read it." 

" I don't see Avhy, — hey ? — why you don't mean — " 

"Yes I do!" cried the little woman, clapping her 
hands, and laughing so delightedly that the Knight of the 
Rueful Countenance was betrayed into a broad smile for 
the first time in many weeks. " Is not a splendid little 
daughter a present to rejoice over and be grateful for?" 

" Hooray ! hold on a bit, — it's all right, — I'll be out 
again in a minute." 

After which remarkably spirited burst. Turner vanished 
under the bed-clothes, letter and all. Whether he read, 


lauglied or cried, in the seclusion of that cotton grotto, 
■was unknown ; but liis nurse suspected that he did all 
three, for ■when he reappeared he looked as if during 
that pause he had dived into his '• sea of troubles," and 
fished up his old self again. 

" What will I name her? " -was his first remark, deliv- 
ered ■with such vivacity that his neighbors began to think 
he was getting delirious again. 

" What is your w^ife's name? " asked Miss Hale, gladly 
entering into the domesticities which were producing 
such a salutary effect. 

" Her name's Ann, but neither of us like it. I'd fixed 
on George, for I wanted my boy called after me ; and 
now you see I ain't a bit prepared for this young woman." 
Very proud of the young woman he seemed, neverthe- 
less, and perfectly resigned to the loss of the expected 
son and heir. 

"Why not call her Georgiana then ? That combines 
both her parents' names, and is not a bad one in itself." 

" Xow that's just the brightest thing I ever heard in 
my life ! " cried Turner, sitting bolt upright in his excite- 
ment, though half an hour before he would have consid- 
ered it an utterly impossible feat. " Georgiana Butter- 
field Turner, — it's a tip-top name, ma'am, and we can 
call her Georgie just the same. Ann will like that, it's 
so genteel. Bless 'em both ! don't I wish I w^as at 
home." And down he lay again, despairing. 

" You can be before long, if you choose. Get your 
strength up, and off you go. Come, begin at once, — 
drink your beef-tea, and sit up for a few minutes, just in 
honor of the good news, you know." 

" I will, by George ! — no, by Georgiana ! That's a 


good one, aiu't it?" and the whole ward was electrified 
by hearing a genuine giggle from the ''Blueing-bag." 

Down went the detested beef-tea, and up scrambled 
the determined drinker with many groans, and a curious 
jumble of chuckles, staggers, and fragmentary repeti- 
tions of his first, last, and only joke. But when fairly settled 
in the great rocking-chair, with the gray flannel gown 
comfortably on, and the new slippers getting their inau- 
gural scorch, Turner forgot his bones, and swung to and 
fro before the fire, feeling amazingly well, and looking 
very like a trussed fowl being roasted in the primitive 
iiishiou. The languid importance of the man, and the 
irrepressible satisfaction of the parent, were both laugh- 
able and touching things to see, for the happy soul could 
not keep the glad tidings to himself. A hospital ward is 
often a small republic, beautifully governed by pity, 
patience, and the mutual sympathy which lessens mutual 
suffering. Turner was no favorite ; but more than one 
honest feUow felt his heart warm towards him as they 
saw his dismal face kindle with fatherly pride, and heard 
the querulous quaver of his voice soften with fatherly 
affection, as he said, " My little Georgie, sir." 

" He'U do now, ma'am ; this has given him the boost 
he needed, and in a week or two he'll be off our hands." 
Big Ben made the remark with a beaming countenance, 
and Big Ben deserves a word of praise, because he never 
said one for himself. An ex-patient, promoted to an 
attendant's place, which he fiUed so weU that he was 
regarded as a model for all the rest to copy. Patient, 
strong, and tender, he seemed to combine many of the 
best tmits of both man and woman ; for he appeared to 
know by instinct where the soft spot was to be found 


ill every heart, and how best to help sick body or sad 
soul. No oue would have guessed this to have seen him 
lounging in the hall during one of the short rests he 
allowed himself. A brawny, six-foot fellow, in red shirt, 
blue trousers tucked into his boots, an old cap, visor 
always up, and under it a roughly-bearded, coarsely- 
featured face, whose prevailing expression was one of 
great gravity and kindliness, though a humorous twinkle 
of the eye at times betrayed the man, whose droll sayings 
often set the boys in a roar. " A good-natured, clumsy 
body " would have been the verdict passed upon him by 
a casual observer ; but watch him in his ward, and see 
how great a wrong that hasty judgment would have 
done him. 

Unlike his predecessor, who helped himself generously 
when the meals came up, and carelessly served out 
rations for the rest, leaving even the most helpless to 
bungle for themselves or wait till he was done, shut him- 
self into his pantry, and there, — to borrow a hospital 
phrase, — gormed, Ben often left nothing for himself, or 
took cheerfully such cold bits as remained when all the 
rest were served ; so patiently feeding the weak, being 
hands and feet to the maimed, and a pleasant provider 
for all that, as one of the boys said, — "It gives a relish 
to the vittles to have Ben fetch 'em." If one were rest- 
less, Ben carried him in his strong arms ; if one were 
undergoing the sharp torture of the surgeon's knife, Ben 
held him with a touch as firm as kind ; if one were home- 
sick, Ben wrote letters for him with great hearty blots 
and dashes under all the affectionate or important words. 
More than one poor fellow read his fate in Ben's pitiful 
eyes, and breathed his last breath away on Ben's broad 



breast, — always a quiet pillow till its work was done, 
then it would heave with genuine gricf^ as his big hand 
softly closed the tired eyes, and made another comrade 
ready for the last review. The war shows us many Bens, 
— for the same power of human pity which makes 
women brave also makes men tender ; and each is the 
womanlier, the manlier, for these revelations of unsus- 
pected strength and sympathies. 

At tAvelve o'clock dinner was the prevailing idea in 
ward No. 3, and when the door opened every man sniffed, 
for savory odors broke loose from the kitchens and went 
roaming about the house. Now this Christmas dinner 
had been much talked of; for certain charitable and 
patriotic persons had endeavored to provide every hospi- 
tal in Washington with materials for this time-honored 
feast. Some mistake in the list sent to head-quarters, 
some unpardonable neglect of orders, or some premedi- 
tated robbery, caused the long-expected dinner in the 

Hospital to prove a dead failure ; but to which of these 
causes it was attributable was never known, for the deep- 
est mystery enveloped that sad transaction. The full 
weight of the dire disappointment was mercifully light- 
ened by premonitions of the impending blow. Barney 
was often missing ; for the attendants were to dine en 
masse after the patients Avere done, therefore a speedy 
banquet for the latter parties was ardently desired, and 
he probably devoted his energies to goading on the cooks. 
From time to time he appeared in the doorway, flushed 
and breathless, made some thrilling announcement, and 
vanished, leaving ever-increasing appetite, impatience 
and expectation, behind him. 

Dinner was to be served at one ; at half-past twelve 


Barney proclaimed, " Dere aiu't no vegetables but squash 
and pitaters." A universal groan arose ; and several 
indignant parties on a short allowance of meat consigned 
the defaulting cook to a warmer climate than the tropical 
one he was tHen enjoying. At twenty minutes to one, 
Barney increased the excitement by whispering, omi- 
nously, " I say, de puddins isn't plummy ones." 

" Fling a piller at him and shut the door, Ben," roared 
one irascible being, while several others not fond of pud- 
dings received the fact with equanimity. At quarter to 
one Barney piled up the agony by adding the bitter 
information, " Dere isn't but two turkeys for dis ward, 
and dey's little fellers." 

Anxiety instantly appeared in every countenance, and 
intricate calculations were made as to how far the two 
fowls would go when divided among thirty men ; also 
friendly warnings w^ere administered to several of the 
feebler gentlemen not to indulge too freely, if at all, for 
fear of relapses. Once more did the bird of evil omen 
return, for at ten minutes to one Barney croaked through 
the key-hole, " Only jes half ob de pies has come, gen'l'- 
men." That capped the climax, for the masculine palate 
has a predilection for pastry, and mince-pie w^as the sheet- 
anchor to which all had clung when other hopes went 
down. Even Ben looked dismayed ; not that he expected 
anything but the perfume and pickings for his share, but 
he had set his heart on having the dinner an honor to the 
institution and a memorable feast for the men, so far 
away from home, and all that usually makes the day a 
festival among the poorest. He looked pathetically grave 
as Turner began to fret, Sam began to swear under his 
breath, Hayward to sigh, Joe to w^sh it was all over, and 


the rest began to vent their emotions with a freedom which 
was anything but inspiring. At that moment Miss Hale 
came in with a great basket of apples and oranges in one 
hand, and several convivial-looking bottles in the other. 

" Here is our dessert, boys ! A kind friend remem- 
bered us, and we will drink her health in her own currant 

A feeble smile circulated round the room, and in some 
sanguine bosoms hope revived again. Ben briskly emp- 
tied the basket, while Miss Hale whispered to Joe, — 

" I know you would be glad to get away from the 
confusion of this next hour, to enjoy a breath of fresh 
air, and dine quietly with IVIrs. Burton round the corner, 
wouldn't you?" 

" Oh, ma'am, so much ! the noise, the smells, the fret 
and flurry, make me sick just to think of! But how can 
I go ? that dreadful ambulance 'most killed me last time, 
and I'm weaker now." 

" My dear boy, I have no thought of trying that again 
till our ambulances are made fit for the use of weak and 
wounded men. Mrs. Burton's carriage is at the door, 
with her motherly self inside, and all you have got to do 
is to let me bundle you up, and Ben carry you out." 

With a long sigh of relief Joe submited to both these 
processes, and when his nurse watched his happy face as 
the carriage slowly rolled away, she felt well repaid for 
the little sacrifice of rest and pleasure so quietly made ; 
for Mrs. Burton came to carry her, not Joe, aAvay. 

"Now, Ben, help me to make this imfortunate dinner 
go off as well as we can," she whispered. '' On many 
accounts it is a mercy that the men are spared the temp- 
tations of a more generous meal ; pray don't tell them 


SO, but make the best of it, as you know very well how 
to do." 

"ril try my best, Miss Hale, but I'm no less disap- 
pointed, for some of 'era, being no better than children, 
have been living on the thoughts of it for a week, and it 
comes hard to give it up." 

If Ben had been an old-time patriarch, and the thirty 
boys his sons, he could not have spoken with a more 
paternal regret, or gone to work Avith a better will. Put- 
ting several small tables together in the middle of the 
room, he left Miss Hale to make a judicious display of 
plates, knives and forks, while he departed for the ban- 
quet. Presently he returned, bearing the youthful tur- 
keys and the vegetables in his tray, followed by Barney, 
looking unutterable things at a plum-pudding baked in a 
milk-pan, and six very small pies. Miss Hale played a 
lively tattoo as the procession approached, and, Avhen the 
viands were arranged, with the red and yellow fruit pret- 
tily heaped up in the middle, it really did look like a 

" Here's richness ! here's the delicacies of the season 
and the comforts of life ! " said Ben, falling back to sur- 
vey the table Avith as much apparent satisfaction as if it 
had been a lord mayor's feast. 

" Come, hurry up, and give us our dinner, Avhat there 
is of it ! " grumbled Sam. 

"Boys," continued Ben, beginning to cut up the tur- 
keys, " these noble birds have been sacrificed lor the 
defenders of their country ; they Avill go as far as ever 
they can, and, when they can't go any farther, we shall 
endeavor to supply their deficiencies with soup or ham, 
oysters having given out unexpectedly. Put it to vote ; 


both have been provided on this joyful occasion, and a 
word will fetch either." 

" Ham ! ham ! " resounded from all sides. Soup was 
an every-day affair, and therefore repudiated with scorn ; 
but ham, being a rarity, was accepted as a proper reward 
of merit and a tacit acknowledgment of their wrongs. 

The " noble birds " did go as far as possible, and Avere 
handsomely assisted by their fellow martyr. The pudding 
was not as plummy as could have been desired, but a 
slight exertion of fancy made the crusty knobs do duty 
for raisins. The pies were small, yet a laugh added 
flavor to the mouthful apiece, for, when Miss Hale asked 
Ben to cut them up, that individual regarded her with an 
inquiring aspect as he said, in his drollest tone, — 

'' I wouldn't wish to appear stupid, ma'am, but, when 
you mention ' pies,' I presume you allude to tliese trifles. 
' Tarts,' or ' patties,' would meet my views better, in 
speaking of the third course of this lavish dinner. As 
such I will do my duty by 'em, hoping that the appetites 
is to match." 

Carefully dividing the six pies into twenty-nine dimin- 
utive wedges, he placed each in the middle of a large 
clean plate, and handed them about with the gravity of 
an undertaker. Dinner had restored good humor to 
many ; this hit at the pies put the finishing touch to it, 
and from that moment an atmosphere of jollity prevailed. 
Healths were drunk in currant wine, apples and oranges 
flew about as an impromptu game of ball was got up, Miss 
Hale sang a Christmas carol, and Ben gambolled like a 
sportive giant as he cleared away. Pausing in one of 
his prances to and fro, he beckoned the nurse out, and, 
when she followed, handed her a plate heaped up with 


good things from a better table than she ever sat at 

" From the matron, ma'am. Come right in here and 
eat it while it's hot ; they are most through in the dining- 
room, and you'll get nothing half so nice," said Ben, 
leading the way into his pantry and pointing to a sunny 

" Are you sure she meant it for me, and not for your- 
self, Ben?" 

" Of course she did ! Why, what should I do with it, 
when I've just been feastin' sumptuous in this very 
room ? " 

" I don't exactly see what you have been feasting on," 
said Miss Hale, glancing round the tidy pantry as she sat 

" Havin' eat up the food and washed up the dishes, it 
naturally follows that you don't see, ma'am. But if I go 
oiF in a fit by-and-by you'll know what it's owin' to," 
answered Ben, vainly endeavoring to look like a man 
suffering from repletion. 

" Such kind fibs are not set down against one, Ben, so 
I will eat your dinner, for if I don't I know you will 
throw it out of the window to prove that you can't 
eat it." 

" Thankee ma'am, I'm afraid I should ; for, at the 
rate he's going on, Barney wouldn't be equal to it," said 
Ben, looking very much relieved, as he polished his last 
pewter fork and hung his towels up to dry. 

A pretty general siesta followed the excitement of din- 
ner, but by three o'clock the public mind was ready for 
amusement, and the arrival of Sam's box provided it. 
He was asleep wlien it was brought in and quietly depos- 


itcd at his bed's foot, ready to surprise him on awaking. 
The advent of a box was a great event, for the fortunate 
receiver seldom failed to " stand treat," and next best to 
getting things from one's own home was the getting them 
from some other boy's home. This was an unusually 
large box, and all felt impatient to have it opened, thougii 
Sam's exceeding crustiness prevented the indulgence of 
great expectations. Presently he roused, and the first 
thing his eye fell upon was the box, with his own name 
sprawling over it in big black letters. As if it w^ere 
merely the continuance of his dream, he stared stupidly 
at it for a moment, then rubbed his eyes and sat up, ex- 
claiming, — 
>" Hullo ! that's mine ! " 

"Ah! who said it wouldn't come? who hadn't the 
faith of a grasshopper ? and Avho don't half deserve it for 
being a Barker by nater as by name ? " cried Ben, em- 
phasizing each question with a bang on the box, as he 
waited, hammer in hand, for the arrival of the ward- 
master, whose duty it was to oversee the opening of such 
matters, lest contraband articles should do mischief to 
the owner or his neighbors. 

"Ain't it a jolly big one? Knock it open, and don't 
wait for anybody or anything ! " cried Sam, tumbling off 
his bed and beating impatiently on the lid with his one 

In came the ward-master, off came the cover, and out 
came a motley collection of apples, socks, dough-nuts, 
paper, pickles, photographs, pocket-handkerchiefs, gin- 
gerbread, letters, jelly, newspapers, tobacco, and cologne. 
"All right, glad it's come, — don't kill yourself," said the 
ward-master, as he took a hasty survey and walked off 


again. Drawing the box nearer the bed, Ben delicately 
folloAved, and Sam was left to brood over his treasures in 

At first all the others, following Ben's example, made 
elaborate pretences of going to sleep, being absorbed in 
books, or utterly uninterested in the outer world. But 
very soon curiosity got the better of politeness, and one 
by one they all turned round and stared. They might 
have done so from the first, for Sam was perfectly uncon- 
scious of everything but his own aiFairs, and, having read 
the letters, looked at the pictures, unfolded the bundles, 
turned everything inside out and upside down, tasted all 
the eatables and made a spectacle of himself Avith jelly, 
he paused to get his breath and find his way out of the 
confusion he had created. Presently he called out, — 

" Miss Hale, will you come and right up my duds for 
me?" adding, as her woman's hands began to bring 
matters straight, " I don't know what to do with 'em all, 
for some won't keep long, and it will take pretty steady 
eating to get through 'em in time, supposin' appetite 
holds out." 

" How do the others manage with their things?" 

" You know they give 'em away; but I'll be hanged 
if I do, for they are always callin' names and pokin' fun 
at me. Guess they won't get anything out of me noAv." 

The old morose look came back as he spoke, for it had 
disappeared while reading the home letters, touching the 
home gifts. Still busily folding and arranging, Miss 
Hale asked, — 

" You know the story of the Three Cakes ; which are 
you going to be — Harry, Peter, or Billy? " 

Sam began to laugh at this sudden application of the 


nursery legend ; and, seeing her advantage, Miss Hale 
pursued it : 

" We all know how much you have suffered, and all 
respect you for the courage with which you have borne 
your long confinement and your loss ; but don't you think 
you have given the boys some cause for making fun of 
you, as you say? You used to be a favorite, and can be 
aL^iin, if you will only put off these crusty ways, which 
will grow upon you faster than you think. Better lose 
both arms than cheerfulness and self-control, vSam." 

Pausing to see how her little lecture was received, she 
saw that Sam's better self was waking up, and added yet 
another word, hoping to help a mental ailment as she 
had done so many physical ones. Looking up at him 
with her kind eyes, she said, in a lowered voice, — 

" This day, on which the most perfect life began, is a 
good day for all of us to set about making ourselves 
readier to follow that divine example. Troubles are 
helpers if wo take them kindly, and the bitterest may 
sweeten us for all our lives. Believe and try this, vSam, 
and when you go away from us let those who love you 
find that two battles have been fought, two victories 

Sam made no answer, but sat thoughtfully picking at 
the half-eaten cookey in his hand. Presently he stole a 
glance about the room, and, as if all helps were waiting 
for him, his eye met Joe's. From his solitary corner by 
the fire and the bed he would seldom leave again until he 
went into his grave, the boy smiled back at him so 
heartily, so happily, that something gushed warm across 
Sam's heart as he looked do\vn upon the faces of mother, 
sister, sweetheart, scattered round him, and remembered 


how poor his comrade was in all such tender ties, 
and yet how rich in that beautiful content, which, " hav- 
ing nothing, yet hath all." The man had no words in 
which to express this feeling, but it came to him and did 
him good, as he proved in his own way. " Miss Hale," 
he said, a little awkwardly, " I wish you'd pick out what 
you think each would like, and give 'em to the boys." 

He got a smile in answer that drove him to his cookey 
as a refuge, for his lips would tremble, and he felt half 
proud, half ashamed to have earned such bright approval. 

"Let Ben help you, — he knows better than I. But 
you must give them all yourself, it will so surprise and 
please the boys ; and then to-morrow we will write a 
capital letter home, telling what a jubilee we made over 
their fine box." 

At this proposal Sam half repented ; but, as Ben came 
lumbering up at Miss Hale's summons, he laid hold of 
his new resolution as if it was a sort of shower-bath and 
he held the string, one pull of which would finish the 
baptism. Dividing his most cherished possession, which 
(alas for romance!) was the tobacco, he bundled the 
larger half into a paper, whispering to Miss Hale, — 

" Ben ain't exactly what you'd call a miuisterin' angel 
to look at, but he is amazin' near one in his ways, so I'm 
goin' to begin with him." 

Up came the " ministering angel," in red flannel and 
cow-hide boots ; and Sam tucked the little parcel into his 
pocket, saying, as he began to rummage violently in 
the box, — 

" Now jest hold your tongue, and lend a hand here 
about these things." 

Ben was so taken aback by this proceeding that he 


Stared blankly, till a look from Miss Hale enlightened 
him ; and, taking his cue, he played his part as well as 
could be expected on so short a notice. Clapping Sam 
on the shoulder, — not the bad one, Ben was always 
thoughtful of those things, — he exclaimed heartily, — 

'' I always said you'd come round when this poor arm 
of yours got a good start, and here you are jollier'n ever. 
Lend a hand ! so I will, a pair of 'em. What's to do ? 
Pack these traps up again ? " 

" No ; I want you to tell what yoiCd do with 'em if 
they were yours. Free, you know, — as free as if they 
really was." 

Ben held on to the box a minute as if this second sur- 
prise rather took him oif his legs ; but another look from 
the prime mover in this resolution steadied him, and he 
fell to work as if Sam had been in the habit of being 
" free." 

" Well, let's see. I think I'd put the clothes and sich 
into this smaller box that the bottles come in, and stan' 
it under the table, handy. Here's newspapers — pictures 
in 'em, too ! I should make a circulatin' lib'ry of them ; 
they'll be a real treat. Pickles — well, I guess I should 
keep them on the winder here as a kind of a relish dinner- 
times, or to pass along to them as longs for 'em. Cologne 
— that's a dreadful handsome bottle, ain't it? That, now, 
would be fust-rate to give away to somebody as Avas very 
fond of it, — a kind of a delicate attention, you know, — 
if you happen to meet such a person anywheres." 

Ben nodded towards Miss Hale, who was absorbed in 
folding pocket-handkerchiefs. Sam winked expressively, 
and patted the bottle as if congratulating himself that it 
was handsome, and that he did know what to do with it. 



The pantomime was not elegant, but as mueli real affec- 
tion and respect went into it as if he had made a set 
speech, and presented the gift upon his knees. 

"The letters and photogi'aphs I should probably keep 
under my piller for a spell ; the jelly I'd give to Miss 
Hale, to use for the sick ones ; the cake-stuff and that 
pot of jam, that's gettin' ready to Avork, I'd stand treat 
with for tea, as dinner wasn't all we could have wished. 
The apples I'd keep to eat, and fling at Joe Avlien he was 
too bashful to ask for one, and the tohaccer I would not go 
lavishin' on folks that have no business to be enjoyin* 
luxuries when many a poor feller is dyin' of want down 
to Charlestown. There, sir ! that's what I'd do if any 
one was so clever as to send me a jolly box like this." 

Sam was enjoying the full glow of his shower-bath by 
this time. As Ben designated the various articles, he set 
them apart ; and when the inventory ended, he marched 
away with the first instalment : two of the biggest, rosiest 
apples for Joe, and all the pictorial papers. Pickles are 
not usually regarded as tokens of regard, but as Sam 
dealt them out one at a time, — for he would let nobody 
help him, and his single hand being the left, was as 
awkward as it was willing, — the boys' faces brightened ; 
for a friendly word accompanied each, which made the 
sour gherkins as welcome as sweetmeats. With every 
trip the donor's spirits rose ; for Ben circulated freely 
between whiles, and, thanks to him, not an allusion to 
the past marred the satisfaction of the present. Jam, 
soda-biscuits, and cake, were such welcome additions to 
the usual bill of fare, that when supper was over a vote 
of thanks was passed, and speeches were made ; for, 
being true Americans, the ruling passion found vent in 


the usual " Fellow-citizens ! " and allusions to the " Star- 
spangled Banner." After which Sam subsided, feeling 
himself a public benefactor, and a man of mark. 

A perfectly easy, pleasant day throughout would be 
ahiiost an impossibility in any hospital, and this one was 
no exception to the general rule ; for, at the usual time, 
Dr. Bangs went his rounds, leaving the customary amount 
of discomfort, discontent and dismay behind him. A 
skilful surgeon and an excellent man was Dr. Bangs, but 
not a sanguine or conciliatory individual ; many cares 
and crosses caused him to reorard the world as one laro-e 
hospital, and his fellow-beings all more or less danger- 
ously wounded patients in it. He saw life through the 
bluest of blue spectacles, and seemed to think that the 
sooner people quitted it the happier for them. He did 
his duty by the men, but if they recovered he looked 
half disappointed, and congratulated them with cheerful 
prophecies that there would come a time when they 
would wish they hadn't. If one died he seemed relieved, 
and surveyed him with pensive satisfaction, saying 
heartily, — 

" He's comfortable, now, poor soul, and well out of 
this miserable world, thank God ! " 

But for Ben the sanitary influences of the doctor's 
ward would have been small, and Dante's doleful line 
might have been written on the threshold of the door, — 

"Who enters here leaves hope behind." 

Ben and the doctor perfectly understood and liked each 
other, but never agreed, and always skirmished over the 
boys as if manful cheerfulness and medical despair were 
fighting for the soul and body of each one. 


"Well," began the doctor, looking at Sam's arm, or, 
rather, all that Avas left of that member after two ampu- 
tations, " we shall be ready for another turn at this in a 
day or two if it don't mend faster. Tetanus sometimes 
follows such cases, but that is soon over, and I should 
not object to a case of it, by way of variety." Sam's 
hopeful face fell, and he set his teeth as if the fatal 
symptoms were already felt. 

" If one kind of lockjaw was more prevailing than 
'tis, it wouldn't be a bad thing for some folks I could 
mention," observed Ben, covering the well-healed stump 
as carefully as if it were a sleeping baby ; adding, as the 
doctor walked away, "There's a sanguinary old saw- 
bones for you ! Why, bless your buttons, Sam, you are 
doing splendid, and he goes on that way because there's 
no chance of his having another cut at you ! Now he's 
squenchin' Turner, jest as we've blowed a spark of spirit 
into him. If ever there was a born extinguisher its 

Ben rushed to the rescue, and not a minute too soon ; 
for Turner, who now labored under the delusion that his 
recovery depended solely upon his getting out of bed 
every fifteen minutes, was sitting by the fire, looking up 
at the doctor, who pleasantly observed, while feeling his 
pulse, — 

" So you are getting ready for another fever, are you? 
Well, we've grown rather fond of you, and will keep you 
six weeks longer if you have set your heart on it." 

Turner looked nervous, for the doctor's jokes were 
always grim ones ; but Ben took the other hand in his, 
and gently rocked the chair as he replied, with great 
politeness, — 


" This robust convalesceut of ourn Avould be happy to 
oblige you, sir, but he has a pressin' engagement up to 
Jersey for next week, and couldn't stop on no account. 
You see Miss Turner wants a careful nuss for little 
Georgic, and he's a goin' to take the place." 

Feeling himself on the brink of a laugh as Turner sim- 
pered with a ludicrous mixture of pride in his baby and 
fear for himself, Dr. Bangs said, with unusual sternness 
and a glance at Ben, — 

" You take the responsibility of this step upon your- 
self, do you ? Very well ; then I wash my hands of 
Turner ; only, if that bed is empty in a week, don't lay 
the blame of it at my door." 

" Nothing shall induce me to do it, sir," briskly re- 
sponded Ben. " Now then, turn in my boy, and sleep your 
prettiest, for I wouldn't but disappoint that cheerfulest of 
men for a month's wages ; and that's liberal, as I ain't 
likely to get it." 

" How is this young man after the rash dissipations of 
the day ? " asked the doctor, pausing at the bed in the 
corner, after he had made a lively progress do^vn the 
room, hotly followed by Ben. 

" I'm first-rate, sir," panted Joe, who always said so, 
though each day found him feebler than the last. Every 
one was kind to Joe, even the gruff doctor, whose man- 
ner softened, and who w^as forced to frown heavily to 
hide the pity in his eyes 

" How's the cough ? " 

" Better, sir ; being weaker, I can't fight against it as 
I used to do, so it comes rather easier." 

" Sleep any last night?" 

" Not much ; but it's very pleasant laying here when 


tlie room is still, aud no light but the fire. Ben keeps it 
bright ; and, when I fret, he talks to me, and makes the 
time go telling stories till he gets so sleepy he can hardly 
speak. Dear old Ben ! I hope he'll have some one as 
kind to him, when he needs it as I do now." 

" He will get what he deserves by-and-by, you may 
be sure of that," said the doctor, as severely as if Ben 
merited eternal condemnation. 

A great drop splashed down upon the hearth as Joe 
spoke ; but Ben put his foot on it, and turned about as 
if defying any one to say he shed it. 

" Of all the perverse and reckless Avomen whom I have 
known in the course of a forty years' practice, this one 
is the most perverse and reckless," said the doctor, 
abruptly addressing Miss Hale, who just then appeared, 
bringing Joe's "posy-basket" back. " You will oblige 
me, ma'am, by sitting in this chair with your hands folded 
for twenty minutes ; the clock will then strike nine, and 
you will go straight up to your bed." 

Miss Hale demurely sat down, and the doctor ponder- 
ously departed, sighing regretfully as he went through 
the room, as if disappointed that the whole thirty were 
not lying at death's door ; but on the threshold he turned 
about, exclaimed " Good-night, boys ! God bless you ! " 
and vanished as precipitately as if a trap-door had swal- 
lowed him up. 

Miss Hale Avas a perverse woman in some things ; for, 
instead of folding her tired hands, she took a rusty-cov- 
ered volume from the mantle-piece, and, sitting by Joe's 
bed, began to read aloud. One by one all other sounds 
grew still ; one by one the men composed themselves to 
listen ; and one by one the words of the sweet old Christ- 


mas story can>e to them, as the woman's quiet voice went 
reading on. If any wounded spirit needed balm, if any 
hungry heart asked food, if any upright purpose, new- 
born aspiration, or sincere repentance wavered for want 
of human strength, all found help, hope, and consolation 
in the beautiful and blessed influences of the book, the 
reader, and the hour. 

The bells rung nine, the lights grew dim, the day's 
work was done ; but Miss Hale lingered beside Joe's bed, 
for his face wore a wistful look, and he seemed loath to 
have her go. 

"What is it, dear?" she said; "what can I do for 
you before I leave you to Ben's care ? " 

He drew her nearer, and whispered earnestly, — 

'• It's something that I know you'll do for me, because 
I can't do it for myself, not as I want it done, and you 
can. I'm going pretty fast now, ma'am ; and when — 
when some one else is laying here, I want you to tell the 
boys, — every one, from Ben to Barney, — how much I 
thanked 'em, how much I loved 'em, and how glad I 
was that I had known 'em, even for such a little while." 

" Yes, Joe, I'll tell them all. What else can I do, 
my boy ? " 

" Only let me say to you what no one else must say for 
me, that all I want to live for is to try and do something 
in my poor way to show you how I thank you, ma'am. It 
isn't what you've said to me, it isn't what you've done 
for me alone, that makes me grateful ; it's because you've 
learned me many things without knowing it, showed me 
what I ought to have been before, if I'd had any one to 
tell me how, and made this such a happy, home-like 
place, I shall be sorry when T have to go." 


Poor Joe ! it must have fared hardly with him all 
those twenty years, if a hospital seemed home-like, and 
a little sympathy, a little care, could fill him with such 
earnest gratitude. He stopped a moment to lay his cheek 
upon the hand he held in both of his, then hurried on as 
if he felt his breath beginning to give out : 

" I dare say many boys have said this to you, ma'am, 
better than I can, for I don't say half I feci; but I know 
that none of 'em ever thanked you as I thank you in my 
heart, or ever loved you as I'll love you all my life. 
To-day I hadn't anything to give you, I'm so poor ; but 
I wanted to tell you this, on the last Christmas I shall 
ever see." 

It was a very humble kiss he gave that hand ; but the 
fervor of a first love warmed it, and the sincerity of a 
great gratitude made it both a precious and pathetic gift 
to one who, half unconsciously, had made this brief and 
barren life so rich and happy at its close. Always 
womanly and tender. Miss Hale's face was doubly so as 
she leaned over him, whispering, — 

" I have had my present, now. Good-night, Joe." 


THE clock struck eleven. 
"Look again, Gabriel ; is there no light coming?" 

" Not a ray, mother, and the night seems to darken 
every instant. " 

" Surely, half an hour is time enough to reach the 
main land and find Dr. Firth." 

" Ample time ; but Alec probably found the doctor ab- 
sent, and is waiting for him." 

"• But I bade the boy leave my message, and return at 
once. Every moment is precious ; what can we do?" 

" Nothing but wait." 

Ai^ impatient sigh was the only answer vouchsafed to 
the unpalatable advice, and silence fell again upon the 
anxious watchers in the room. Still leaning in the deep 
recess of the window, the young man looked out into the 
murky night, listened to the flow of the great river rolling 
to the sea, and let the unquiet current of his thoughts 
drift him whithersoever it would. His imaginative tem- 
perament found a sad similitude between the night and 
his own mood, for neither his physical nor mental eye 
could see what lay before him, and in his life there 
seemed to have come an hour as full of suspense, as 
prophetic of storm, as that Mliicli now oppressed the earth 
and lowered in the sky. 



Every instant that brought the peace of death nearer 
to the father, also brought the cares of life nearer to the 
son, and their grim aspect daunted him. The child of a 
Northern mother, bred at the North by her dying desire, 
he had been summoned home to take the old man's place, 
and receive a slave-cursed inheritance into his keeping. 
Had he stood alone, his task would have been an easy 
one ; for an upright nature, an enthusiastic spirit, would 
have found more sweetness than bitterness in a sacrifice 
made for conscience sake, more pride than pain in a just 
deed generously performed. But a step-mother and her 
daughters were dependent on him now, for the old man's 
sudden seizure left him no time to make provision for 
them ; and the son found a double burden laid upon his 
shoulders when he returned to what for years had been a 
loveless home to him. To reduce three delicately nur- 
tured women to indigence seemed a cruel and Quixotic 
act to others, a very hard, though righteous one to him ; 
for poverty looked less terrible than affluence founded 
upon human blood and tears. He had set 
aside all private ambitions and aspirations that he might 
dedicate his life to his kindred ; had manfully withstood 
their ridicule and reproaches, and only faltered when, in 
their hour of bereavement, they appealed to him with 
tears and prayers. Then pity threatened to conquer 
principle, for Gabriel's heart was as gentle as it was gen- 
erous. Three days of sorrowful suspense and inward strife 
had passed ; now death seemed about to set its seal upon 
one life, and irresolution to mar another, for Gabriel still 
wavered between duty and desire, crying within himself, 
" Lord, help me ! I see the right, but I am not strong 
enough to do it ; let it be decided for me." 

AN HOUR. 347 

It ^Ya3 —suddenly, entirely, and forever ! 
The tinkle of a bell roused him from his moody reverie, 
and, without quitting the shadow of the half-drawn cur- 
tain, he watched the scene before him with the interest 
of one in whom both soul and sense were alert to inter- 
pret and accept the divine decree which he had asked, m 
whatever guise it came. 

The bell summoned a person whose entrance seemed 
to bring warmth, vitality and light into that gloomy room, 
aUhough she was only a servant, with the blood of a 
despised race in her veins. More beautiful than either 
of her young mistresses, she looked like some brilliant 
flower of the tropics beside two pale exotics, and the 
unavoidable consciousness of this showed itself in the 
skill with which she made her simple dress a foil to her 
beauty, in the carriage of her graceful head and the sad 
pride of her eyes, as if, being denied all the other rights 
of womanhood, the slave clung to and cherished the one 
possession which those happier women lacked. As she 
entered, noiselessly, she gave one keen, comprehensive 
glance about the room, — a glance that took in the gray 
head and pallid face upon the pillow, the languid lady 
sittmg at the bedside, the young sisters spent with weep- 
ing and watching, half asleep in either corner of a couch, 
and the man's glove that lay beside a brace of pistols on 
a distant table. Then her eyes fell, all expression faded 
from her face, and she stood before her mistress with a 
meek air, curiously at variance with the animated aspect 
she had worn on entering. 

" Milly, are you sure you gave Alec my message cor- 
rectly? " asked Mrs. Butler, imperiously, with a look of 
unconcealed dislike. 


" Yes, missis, I gave it word for word." 

The voice that answered would have gone straight to a 
stranger's heart and made it ache, for a world of hope- 
less patience rendered its music pathetic, and dignified the 
little speech, as if the woman's spirit uttered a protest in 
every word that passed her lips. 

" He has been gone nearly an hour. I can wait no 
longer. Tell Andy to go at once and see what keeps him." 

"Andy's down at the landing, seeing to the boats 
before the storm, missis." 

" Let Tony do that, and send Andy off at once." 

" Tony's too cut up with his last whipping to stir." 

" How very tiresome ! Where is overseer Neal?" 

" Sick, missis." 

" Sick ! I saw him two hours ago, and he was per- 
fectly well then." 

" He was taken very suddenly, but he'll be out of 
pain by morning." 

As Milly spoke, with a slight motion of the lips that 
would have been a scornful smile had she not checked it, a 
faint, far-off cry came on the wind ; a cry of mortal fear 
or pain it seemed, and so full of ominous suggestion that, 
though inured to sounds of suffering, Mrs. Butler invol- 
untarily exclaimed, — 

"What is that?" 

" It's only Rachel screaming for her baby ; the last 
thing old master did was to sell it, and she's been crazy 
ever since," answered Milly, with a peculiar quickening 
of the breath and a sidelong glance. 

" Foolish creature ! but never mind her now : tell me 
who is about that I can send for Dr. Firth." 

" There's no one in the house but blind Sandra and me." 



"What do you mean? Who gave the people leave 
to go?" 

''I did." 

Hitherto the girl had spoken in the subdued tone of a 
well-trained servant, though there was no trace of her 
race in her speech but a word or two here and there ; for 
Milly's beauty had secured for her all the advantages 
which would increase her value as a chattel. But in the 
utterance of the last two words her voice rose with a 
sudden ring that arrested Mrs. Butler's attention, and 
caused her to glance sharply at the girl. Milly stood 
before her meek and motionless, and not an eyelash stirred 
during that brief scrutiny. Her mistress could not see 
the mingled triumph and abhorrence burning in those 
averted eyes, did not observe the close clenching of the 
hand that hung at her side, nor guess what a sea of black 
and bitter memories was surging in her comely hand- 
maid's heart. 

" How dared you send the servants away without my 
orders?" demanded Mrs. Butler, in an irritated and irri- 
tating voice. 

" Master Gabriel said the house must be kept very 
quiet on old master's account ; I couldn't make the T)oys 
mind, so I sent them to the quarters." 

" This is not the first time you have presumed upon 
my son's favor, and exceeded my orders. You have 
been spoiled by indulgence, but that shall be altered soon." 

" Yes, missis, — it shall ; " and as the girl added the 
latter words below her breath, there was a glitter as of 
white teeth firmly set lest some impetuous speech should 
break loose in spite of her. Her mistress did not mark 
that little demonstration, for her mind was occupied 


with its one care, as she said, half aloud, half to 
herself, — 

" What shall I do ? The night is passing, your master 
needs help, and Alec has evidently forgotten, or never 
received, ray message." 

For the first time an expression of anxiety was visible 
on Milly's face, and there was more eagerness than 
deference in her suggestion : 

" Master Gabriel might go ; it Avould save time and 
make the matter sure, as missis doubts my word." 

" It is impossible ; his father might rouse and ask for 
him, and I will not be left alone. It is not his place to 
carry messages, nor yours to propose it. Quick ! lift your 
master's head, and chafe his hands. God help us all ! " 

A low sigh from the bed caused the sudden change 
from displeasure to distress, as Mrs. Butler bent over her 
husband, forgetful of all else. What a strange smile 
flashed across Milly's face, and kindled the dark fire of 
her eyes, as she looked down upon the master and mis- 
tress, whose helplessness and gi'ief touched no chord of 
pity or sympathy in her heart ! Only an instant did she 
stand so, but in that instant the expression of her face 
was fully revealed, not to the drowsy sisters, but to 
Gabriel in his covert. -He saw it, but before he could 
fathom its significance it was hidden from him ; and when 
his mother looked up there was nothing to be seen but 
the handsome head bending over the pale hand that Milly 
was assiduously chafing. Something in the touch of 
those warm palms seemed to rouse in the old man a 
momentary flicker of memory and strength, for the last 
thought that that had disturbed his failing consciousness 
found utterance in broken words : 

AN HOUR. 351 

"I promised her her liberty, — she shall have it ; wait 
a little, Milly, — wait till I am better." 

" Yes, master, I can wait now ; " and the girl's eye 
turned toward the clock with an impatient glance. 

The old man did not hear lier, for, with an incoherent 
murmur, he seemed to sink into a deeper lethargy than 
before. His wife believed him dying ; and cried, as she 
wrung her hands in a paroxysm' of despairing help- 
lessness, — 

" Look out, Milly, look out ! and if no one is coming, 

run to the quarters and send off the first boy you meet." 

. Milly moved deliberately toward the window, but 

paused half-way to ask, with the same shade of anxiety 

flitting over her face, — 

" Where is Master Gabriel ? shouldn't he be called ? " 

" He was here a moment ago, and has gone to the 
landing, doubtless ; you can call him as you go." 

With sudden eagerness the girl glided to the window, 
now too intent upon some purpose of her own to see the 
dark outline of a figure half concealed in the deep folds 
of the curtain ; and, leaning far out, she peered into 
the gloom with an intentness that sharpened every 

'' There is no one coming, missis," she said, raising 
her voice unnecessarily, as one listener thought, unless 
the momentary stillness made any sound seem unusually 
loud. As the words left her lips, from below there came 
a soft chirp as of some restless bird ; it was twice re- 
peated, then came a pause, and in it, with a rapid, noise- 
less gesture, Milly drew a handkerchief from her pocket 
and dropped it from the window. It fluttered whitely 
for a moment, and as it disappeared an acute ear might 


liave caught the sound of footsteps stealing stealthily 
away. Milly evidently 'heard them, for an expression of 
relief began to dawn upon her face. Suddenly it changed 
to one of terror, as, in the act of withdrawing her arm, 
a strong hand grasped it, and Gabriel's voice demanded, — 

" What does this mean, Milly? " 

For a moment she stru^^o^led like some wild creature 
caught in a net, then steadied herself by a desperate 
effort, exclaiming, breathlessly, — 

" Oh, Master Gabriel, how you frightened me !" 

" I meant to. Now tell what all this means, at once 
and truly," he said, in a tone intended to be stern, but 
which was only serious and troubled. 

"All what means, sir?" she answered, feigning inno- 
cent surprise, though her eye never met his, and she still 
trembled in his hold. 

" You know ; the signals, the dropping of the hand- 
kerchief, the steps below there, and the figure creeping 
through the grass." 

" Master must have quick eyes and ears to see and 
hear all that in such a minute. I only saw my handker- 
chief drop by accident ; I only heard a bird chirp, and 
one of the dogs creep round the .house ; " but as she 
spoke she cast an uneasy glance over her shoulder into 
the night without. 

" Why lie to me, Milly? I have watched you ever 
since you came in, and you are not yourself to-night. 
Something is wrong ; I've felt it all day, but thought it 
was anxiety for my poor father. Why are all the people 
sent off to the quarters ? Why is Andy meddling Avith 
the boats without my orders? and why do you look, 
speak, and act in this inexplicable manner ? " 

AN HOUR. 353 

" If master gets worried and imagines mischief when 
there is none, I can't help it," she said, doggedly. 

Both while speaking and listening Gabriel had scruti- 
nized her closely, and all he saw confirmed his suspicion 
that something serious was amiss. In the slender wrist 
he held the pulse thrilled quick and strong ; he heard the 
rapid beating of her heart, the flutter of the breath upon 
her lips ; saw that her face was colorless, her eyes both 
restless and elusive. He was sure that no transient fear 
agitated her, but felt that some unwonted excitement pos- 
sessed her, threatenening to break out in spite of the 
self-control which years of servitude had taught her. 
"What he had just seen and heard alarmed him ; for his 
father had been a hard master, the island was governed 
by fear alone, and he never trod the dykes that bounded 
the long, low rice-fields without feeling as if he Avalked 
upon a crater-crust which might crack and spew fire any 
day. Many small omens of evil had occurred of 
late, which now returned to his recollection with sinister 
significance ; and the vague disquiet that had haunted 
him all day now seemed an instinctive premonition of 
impending danger. Many fears flashed through his mind, 
and one resolution was firmly fixed. His face grew stern, 
his voice commanding, and his hand tightened its hold 
as he said, — 

" Speak, Milly, or I shall be tempted to use my author- 
ity as a master, and that I never wish to do. If there 
is any deviltry afloat I must know it ; and if you will not 
tell it me I shall search the island till I find it for myself." 

She looked at him for the first time, as he spoke, with 
a curious blending of defiance for the master and admi- 
ration for the man. His last words changed it to one of 


fear ; and her free hand was extended as if to bar his 
way, while she said, below her breath, and with another 
glance into the outer gloom, — 

"You are safe here, but if you leave the house it will 
cost you your life." 

" Then it must ; for if you will not show me the peril, 
I swear I'll go to meet it blindly." 

" No, no, Avait a little ; I dare not tell ! " 

" You shall tell. I am the mistress here, and have 
borne enough. Speak, girl, at once, or this proud spirit 
of yours shall be broken till you do." 

Mrs. Butler had heard all that passed, had approached 
them, and being a woman who was by turns imperious, 
peevish, and passionate, she yielded to the latter impulse 
as she spoke, and gave the girl's shoulder an impatient 
shake, as if to force the truth out of her. The touch, 
the tone, were like sparks to powder ; for the smoulder- 
ing fire blazed up as Milly flung her off, wrenched her- 
self free from Gabriel, and turned on his mother with a 
look that sent her back to her husband trembling and 

" Yes, I will speak, though it is too soon ! " cried 
Milly, with a short, sharp laugh. " They may kill me 
for telling before the time ; I can't help it ; I must have 
one hour of freedom, if I die the next. There is devil- 
try afloat to-night, and it is yourselves you may blame 
for it. We can't bear anymore, and before a new master 
comes to torment us like the old one, we've determined 
to try for Hberty, though there'll be bloody work before 
we get it. The boys are not at the quarters, but fifty 
are waiting at the rice-mill till midnight, and then they'll 
come up here to do as they've been done by. While 



they wait they're begianing with overseer Neal ; whip- 
• ping, burning, torturing him, for all I kuow, as other 
men, and women too, have been whipped, burnt and 
tortured there. That was his scream you heard. Alec 
never went for the doctor ; Andy's guarding the boats 
till we want them ; big Mose is watching round the 
house ; the alarm bell's down ; I've cleared the house of 
arms, and spoilt the pistols that I dared not take ; Master 
Gabriel's the only white man on the island, and there's 
no help for you unless the Lord turns against us. "Who 
is the mistress now ? " 

The girl paused there, breathless but exultant, for the 
words had poured from her lips as if the pent-up degra- 
dation, wrath and wrong of nineteen years had broken 
bounds at last and must overflow, even though they 
wrecked her by their vehemence. Some spirit stronger 
than herself seemed to possess and speak out of her, 
making her look like an embodied passion, beautiful, yet 
terrible, as she glanced from face to face, seeing how pale 
and panic-stricken each became, as her rapid words made 
visible the retribution that hung over them. Gabriel 
stood aghast at the swift and awful answer given to his 
prayer ; the daughters fled to their mother's arms for 
shelter ; the wife clung to her husband for the protection 
which he could no longer give, and, as if dragged back 
to life by the weight of a woe, such as he had himself 
inflicted upon others, the old man rose up in his bed, 
speechless, helpless, yet conscious of the dangers of the 
hour, and doubly daunted by death's terrors, because so 
powerless to succor those for whom he had periled his 
own soul. A bitter cry broke from him as his last look 
showed him the impending doom which all his impotent 


remorse could not avert, and in that cry the old man's 
spirit passed, to find that, even for such as he, Infinite 
justice was tempered by Infinite mercy. 

During the few moments in Avhich the wife and daugh- 
ters forgot fear in soitow, and the son took hurried 
counsel Avith liimsclf how best to meet the coming 
danger, Milly was learning that the bitter far exceeds 
the sweet in human vengeance. The slave exulted in 
the freedom so dearly purchased, but the woman felt that 
in avenging them her wrongs had lost their dignity, and 
though she had changed places with her mistress, she 
found that power did not bring her peace. She had no 
skill to analyze the feeling, no words in Avhich to express 
it, even to herself, but she was so strongly conscious of 
it, that its mysterious power marred the joy she thought 
to feel, and forced her to confess that in the hour of 
expected triumph she was bafiled and defeated by her 
own conscience. With women doomed to a fate like 
hers, the higher the order of intelligence the deeper the 
sense of degradation, the more intense the yearning for 
liberty at any price. Milly had always rebelled against 
her lot, although, compared with that of her class, it had 
not been a hard one till the elder Butler bought her, that 
his son, seeing slavery in such a lovely form, might learn 
to love it. But Gabriel, in his brief visits, soon convinced 
his father that no temptation could undermine his sturdy 
Northern sense of right and justice, and though he might 
easily learn to love the beautiful woman, he could not 
learn to oppress the slave whose utter helplessness ap- 
pealed to all that was manliest in him. 

Milly felt this deeply, and knew that the few black 
drops in her veins parted herself and Gabriel more hope- 

AN HOUR. 357 

lessly than the widest seas that ever rolled between two 
lovers. This inexorable fact made all the world look 
dark to her; life became a burden, and one purpose 
alone sustained her, — the resolution to achieve her own 
liberty, to enjoy a brief triumph over those who had 
Avronged her, then to die, and find compensation for a 
hapless human love in the fatherly tenderness of a Divine 
one. She had prayed, worked and waited for this hour, 
with all the ardor, energy and patience of her nature. 
Yet when it came she was not satisfied ; a sense of guilt 
oppressed her, and the loss seemed greater than the gain. 
Gabriel had given her a look which wounded more deeply 
than the sharpest reproach ; and the know^ledge that she 
had forfeited the confidence he had always shoAvn her, 
now made her gloomy when she would have been glad, 
humble when she thought to have been proudest. Ga- 
briel saw and understood her mood, felt that their only 
hope of deliverance lay in her, and while his mother and 
sisters lamented for the dead, he bestirred himself to 
save the living. 

" Milly," he began, with sad seriousness, " we deserve 
no mercy, and I ask none for myself ; I only implore you 
to spare the women and give me time to atone for the 
weak, the wicked hesitation which has brought us to this 
pass. I meant to free you all as soon as you were legally 
mine, as it was too late for my father to endear his mem- 
ory by one just act. But it was hard to make my mother 
and ray sisters poor, and so I waited, hoping to be sho\\Ti 
some way by which I could be just and generous both to 
you and them." 

" Three women were more precious than two hundred 
helpless creatures in the eyes of a Christian gentleman 


from the free North ! I'm glad you told me this ; " and 
there was something like contempt in the look she gave 
her master. 

There was no answer to that, for it was true ; and in 
the remorseful shame that sent the blood to Gabriel's 
forehead, he confessed the fact which he was too honest 
to deny. Still looking at her, Avith eyes that pleaded for 
him better than his words, he said, with a humility that 
conquered her disdain, — 

" I shall expiate that sin if I die to-night ; and I will 
give myself up to be dealt with as you please, if you will 
save my mother and my sisters, and let them free you in 
my name. Before God and my dead father I promise 
this, upon my honor ! " 

" There are no witnesses to that but those whom I'll 
not trust ; honor means nothing to us who are not allowed 
to keep our o^vn," said Milly, looking moodily upon the 
ground, as if she feared to look up lest she should 
relent, for excitement was ebbing fast, and a flood of 
regretful recollections rising in her heart. 

"I did not expect that reproach from you," Gabriel 
answered, taking courage from the signs he saw. "Do 
you remember, when my father gave you to me, how 
indignantly I rejected the gift, and promised that in my 
eyes you should be as sacred as either of those poor 
girls? Have I not kept my word, Milly?" 

" Yes ! O yes ! " she said, with trembling lips, and 
eyes she dared not lift, they were so full of grateful tears. 
Carefully steadying her traitorous voice, she added, earn- 
estly, " Master Gabriel ! I do remember, and I've tried 
all day to save you, but you wouldn't go. I will trust 
your word, and do my best to help the ladies, if they'll 

AN HOUR. 359 

promise to free us all to-morrow, aud you will leave the 
island at ouce. Mose will let you pass ; for that hand- 
kerchief was dropped to tell him that you Avere abroad, 
and were to be got off against your will, if you wouldn't 
go quietly. Both he and Andy will save you for my 
sake ; the others won't, because they don't know you as 
we do. Please go, Master Gabriel, before it is too late." 

^' No, I shall stay. What would you think of me, if I 
deserted these helpless women in such danger, to save 
myself at their expense? I cannot quite trust you, 
Milly, after treachery like this." 

" Who taught us to be treacherous, and left us nothing 
but our own cunning to help ourselves with ? " 

The first part of Gabriel's speech made the last less 
hard to bear ; and Milly's question was put in a tone that 
was more apologetic than accusatory, for Gabriel cared 
what she thought of him, and that speech comforted her. 

'' Not I, Milly ; but let the sins of the dead rest, and 
tell me if you will not help my mother and Grace and 
Clara off, instead of me ? The promise will be all the 
sooner and the better kept, or, if it comes too late, I 
shall be the only and the fittest person to pay the 

Milly's face darkened, and she turned away with an 
expression of keen disappomtment. Mrs. Butler aud her 
daughters had restrained their lamentations to listen ; but 
at the sound of Gabriel's proposal, the sisters ran to 
Milly, and, clinging about her knees, implored her to 
pity, forgive, and save them. Well for them that they 
did so ; for Milly felt as if many degi-adations were can- 
celled by that act, and, as she saw her young mistresses 
at her feet, the sense of power soothed her sore heart. 


and added the grace of generosity to the duty of forgive- 
ness. She did not speak, yet she did not deny their 
prayer, and stood wavering between doubt and desire as 
the fateful moments rapidly flew by ; Gabriel remembered 
that, and, taking her hand, said, in a voice whose earnest- 
ness was perilously persuasive to the poor girl's ear, — 

" Milly, you said there was no hope for us unless God 
turned against you. I think He has, and, speaking 
through that generous heart of yours, pleads for us better 
than we can plead for ourselves. It is so beautiful to 
pity, so magnanimous to forgive ; and the greater the 
wrong, the more pardon humbles the transgi-essor and 
ennobles the bestower. Dear Milly, spare these poor 
girls as you have been spared ; prove yourself the truer 
woman, the nobler mistress ; teach them a lesson which 
they never can forget, and sweeten your liberty with the 
memory of this act.'" 

Milly listened still with downcast eyes and averted 
face, but every word went straight to her heart, soothing, 
strengthening, inspiring all that was best and bravest in 
that poor heart, so passionate, and yet so warm and 
womanly withal. No man had ever spoken to her before 
of magnanimity, of proving herself superior to those 
who had shown no mercy to her faults, accorded no 
praise to her virtues, nor lightened a hard servitude 
with any touch of friendliness. No man had ever looked 
into her face before with eyes in which admiration for 
her beauty was mingled with pity for her helpless woman- 
hood ; and, better than all, no man, old or young, had 
ever until now recognized in her a fellow-creature, born 
to the same rights, gifted with the same powers, and 
capable of the same sufferings and sacrifices as himself. 

AN HOUR. 361 

That touched aud won her; that appealed to the spirit 
which lives through all oppression in the lowest of God's 
children ; and througli all her frame there went a glow 
of wannth and joy, as if some strong, kind hand had 
lifted her from the gloom of a desokite despair into the 
sunshine of a happier world. Her eye wandered toward 
the faces of dead master, conquered mistress, and dark- 
ened as it looked ; passed to the pale girls still clinging 
to her skirts, and softened visibly ; was lifted to Gabriel, 
and kindled with the new-born desire to prove herself 
worthy of the confidence which would be her best re- 
ward. A smile broke beautifully across her face, and 
her lips were parted to reply, when Mrs. Butler, who 
sat trembling behind her, cried, in a shrill, imploring 
Avhisper, — 

"Remember all I've done for you, Milly, all I still 
have it in my power to do. I promise to free you, if you 
will only save us now. Be merciful, for your old 
master's sake, if not for mine." 

The sound of that querulous voice seemed to sting 
Milly like a lash, threatening to undo all Gabriel's work. 
Her eye grew fiery again, her mouth hard, her face bit- 
terly scornful, as she said, with a glance which her mis- 
tress never forgot, — 

" I'm not likely to forget all you've done for me ; I 
would not accept my liberty from you if you could give 
it ; and if a word of mine could save you, I'd not say 
it for old master's sake, much less for yours." 

With a warning gesture to his mother, Gabriel turned 
that defiant face toward himself, and holding it firmly 
yet gently between his hands, bent on it a look that 
allayed the rising storm by the magic of a power whicli 


the young man had never u.sed till now, though conscious 
of possessing it, — for Milly's tell-tale countenance had 
betrayed her secret long ago. As he looked deep into 
her eyes, with a glance which was both commanding and 
compassionate, they first fell with sudden shame, then, 
as if controlled by the power of those other eyes, they 
rose again and met them with a sad sincerity that made 
their beauty tragical, as they filled slowly till two great 
tears rolled down her cheeks, wetting the hands that 
touched them ; and when Gabriel said, softly, " For 
my sake you will save us ? " she straightway answered, 
" Yes." 

" God bless you, Milly ! Now tell me how I am to 
help you, for time is going, and lives hang on the 

He released her as he spoke ; and, though she still 
looked at him as if he were the one saving power of her 
thwarted life, she answered, pleadingly, — 

" Hush, Master Gabriel ! please don't speak to me, for 
then I only feel, — now I must think." 

How still the room grew as they Avaited ! The pres 
ence of death was less solemn than that of fear, for the 
dead seemed forgotten, and the living all unconscious of 
the awesome contrast between the pale expectancy of 
their panic-stricken faces and the repose of that one un- 
troubled countenance. How suddenly the night grew 
full of ominous sounds ! How intently all eyes were 
fixed upon the beautiful woman who stood among them 
holding their lives in her hands, and how they started, 
when, through the hush, came a soft chime as the half- 
hour struck ! Milly heard and answered that silvery 
sound as the anxious watchers would have had her : 



" It can be done," she said, in a tone which carried 
hope to every heart. " It can be done, but I must do it 
alone, for I can pass Mose and get Andy across the river 
without their suspecting that I'm going for help. You 
must stay here and do your best to guard the ladies, 
Master Gabriel ; it won't be safe for any of you to go 


" But, Milly, the boys may not wait till twelve, or you 
may be delayed, and then we are lost." 

" I have thought of that ; and as I go out I'll take old 
Sandra with me ; she'll understand in a minute. She'll 
go do^\^l to the mill and talk to them and keep them, if 
anything can do it, for they love and fear her more than 
any one on the island. Be quiet, trust to me, and I'U 
save you. Master Gabriel." 

He silently held out his hand, as if pledging his word 
to obey and trust. With the warmth and grace of her 
impulsive temperament, Milly bent her head, laid her 
cheek against that friendly hand, wet it with grateful 
tears, kissed it with loving lips, and went her way, feel- 
ing as if all things were possible to her for Gabriel's 

Listening breathlessly, they heard her foot-falls die 
away, heard Sandra's voice below, a short parley with 
Mose, then watched the old woman and the young depart 
in opposite directions, leaving them to feel the bitterness 
of dependence in a strange, stern fashion, which they had 
never thought to know. Man-like, Gabriel could not long 
stand idle while danger menaced and women faced it for 
him. Anxious to take such precautions as might hold 
the expected assailants at bay, even for a moment, he 
bade his mother and sisters remain quiet, that no sus- 


picion might be excited, aud crept down to test the capa- 
bilities of the house to withstand a sliort siege, if other 
hopes failed. The slight, mauy-doored and windowed 
mansion, built for a brief occupancy when the winter 
months rendered the region habitable for whites, w- as but 
ill-prepared to repel any attack ; and a hasty survey 
convinced Gabriel that it was both hazardous and vain 
to attempt a barricade which a few strong arms could 
instantly destroy. As he stood disheartened, unarmed, 
and alone in the long hall, dimly lighted by the lamp he 
carried, a sense of utter desolation came over him, 
dampening his courage, and oppressing his mind with the 
dreariest forebodings. Thinking of the many true hearts 
and stout arms far away there at the North, which w^ould 
have come to his aid so readily could his need have been 
known, he yearned for a single friend, a single weapon, 
that he might conquer or die like a man. And both 
were given him. 

Pausing before a door that opened out upon the r^ar 
of the house, his eye caught sight of a heavy whip, whose 
loaded handle had felled men before now, and might 
easily do so again, if wielded by a strong arm. He took 
it dowm, saying to himself, '* It is the first time I ever 
touched the accursed thing ; God grant that it may be 
the last." A low sound behind him caused the blood 
to chill an instant in his veins, then to rush on with a 
quicker flow, as, poising the weapon in one hand, he 
lifted the lamp above his head, and searched the gloom. 
Far at the other end of the long hall a dark figure crept 
along, and a pair of glittering eyes were fixed upon his 
own. "Come on; I'm ready," he said, steadily, and 
was answered by the patter of rapid steps, the sight of 

AN HOUR. 365 

au unexpected ally, as a great black hound came leaping 
upon him in a rapture of canine delight. Old Mort had 
been the fiercest, most efhcicnt blood-hound on the island ; 
and still, in spite of age, was a formidable beast, ready- 
to track or assault a negro, and pull him down or throt- 
tle him, at word of command. He had been his pos- 
sessor's favorite till Gabriel came ; then he deserted the 
old master for the young, and was always left at large 
when he was at home. Mort had been missing all day, 
and now the rope trailing behind him was sufficient evi- 
dence that he had been decoyed away, lest his vigilance 
should warn his master, and that, having freed himself, 
he had stolen home, to lie concealed till night and his 
master's presence reassured him. 

As the great creature reared himself before the young 
man, with a paw on either shoulder, and looked into his 
face with eyes that seemed almost human in their intelli- 
gent affection, Gabriel dropped the whip, put down the 
lamp, and caressed the hound with an almost boyish 
gratitude and fondness ; for, with the sense of security 
this powerful ally brought, there came a remorseful 
memory, that, though the possessor of two hundred 
human beings, he had no friend but a dog. At this 
point jMort suddenly pricked up his ears, slipped from 
his master's hold, and snuffed suspiciously at the closed 
door. Some one was evidently without, and the crea- 
ture's keen scent detected the unseen listener. With a 
noiseless command to the dog to keep quiet, Gabriel 
caught up his only weapon, and stood waiting for what- 
ever demonstration should follow. None came ; and 
presently IMorl returned to him with a sagacious glance 
and a sleepy yawn, sure evidences that Mose had paused 


a moment in bis round, and had gone on again. Big 
Mose was, with one exception, the strongest, most rebel- 
lious slave on the place ; and though Gabriel had longed 
to rush out and attack him, he had not dared to try it, 
for his strength was as a child's compared to the stalwart 
slave's. Now, with Mort to help him, the thing was 
possible ; and as he stood there, with only a door be- 
tween him and the man who had sworn to take his life, 
a strange consciousness of power came to him ; his mus- 
cles seemed to grow firm as iron, his blood flowed calm 
and cool, and in his mind there rose a purpose, desper- 
ately simple, yet wise, despite its seeming rashness. He 
would master Mose, and, leaving Mort to guard him, 
would go down to the mill, and, if both Sandra's and 
his own appeals and promises proved unavailing, would 
give himself up, hoping that his death or torture would 
delay the doom of those defenceless women, and give 
Milly time to bring them better help than any he could 
give. Some atonement must be made, he thought, and 
perhaps innocent blood Avould wash the black stain from 
his father's memory better than the deed he had hoped 
to do in that father's name on the morrow. He had held 
a precious opportunity in his hands,- had delayed through 
a mistaken kindness ; now it was lost, perhaps forever, 
and he must pay the costly price which God exacts of 
those who palter with their consciences. As the thought 
came, and the purpose grew, it brought with it that high 
courage, that entire self-abnegation which we call hero- 
ism ; and that fateful moment made Gabriel a man. 

A word, a gesture, put the dog upon his mettle ; then 
cutting away the long rope, Gabriel threw it over his 
arm, unbarred the door, set it ajar, and, standing behind 

AN HOUR. 367 

it, with the hoimd under his hand, he waited for Mose 
to make his round. Soon Mort's restless ears gave token 
of his approach ; and, as the steahhy steps came stealing 
on, he was with dilliculty restrained ; for now instinct 
showed him danger, and he was as eager as his master 
to be up and doing. The streak of light attracted the 
man's eye. lie paused, drew nearer, listened ; then 
softly pushed the door open, and leaned in to reconnoi- 
tre. That instant Mort was on him, a heavy blow half 
stunned him, and, before his scattered wits could be col- 
lected, he was down, his hands fast bound, and both 
master and dog standing over him panting, but unhurt. 

" Now, Mose, if you want to save your life, be still, 
and answer my questions truly," said Gabriel, with one 
hand on the man's throat, the other holding back Mort, 
whose tawny eye was savage now. " I know your plot, 
and" have found means to spoil it. How do you think 
I'm going to punish you all ? " 

" Dun'no, massa," muttered Mose, with a grim resig- 
nation to any fate. 

" I'm going to free every man, woman, and child on 
the island, and fling that devilish thing into the river," 
he said, as he spurned the whip with his foot. 

An incredulous look and derisive grin was the only 
thanks and answer he received. 

" You don't believe it? "Well, who can blame you, poor 
soul? Not I. Now tell me how many men are on the 
watch between here and the rice-mill?" Gabriel spoke 
with a flash of the eye and a sudden deepening of the 
voice ; for both indignation and excitement stirred him. 
The look, the tone, did more to convince Mose than a 
flood of words ; for he had learned to try men by tests 


of his own, and had more faith in the promises of their 
faces than those of their tongues. More respectfully, 
he said, — 

" No one, 'sides me, massa. Andy's at de landin', 
and de rest at de mill 'ceptin' dem as isn't in de secret." 

" Mind, no lies, Mose, or your free papers Avill be the 
last I sign to-morrow. Get up, and come quietly with 
me ; for if you try to run, Mort will pin you. I'm going 
to the mill, and want you safely under lock and key first." 

" Is massa gwine alone ? " asked Mose, glancing about 
him, for Gabriel spoke as if he had a score of men at 
his command. 

" Yes, I'm going alone ; why not? " 

" Massa knows dere's fifty of de boys dar sworn to 
kill him, if Milly don't git him 'way 'fore dey comes up?" 

" I know, and Milly's done her best to get me off, but 
I'd rather stay ; I'm not afraid." 

Gabriel's blood was up now : danger had no terrors 
for him ; and, beyond the excitement of the moment, his 
purpose lent him a calm courage which impressed the 
slave as something superhuman. Like one in a maze of 
doubt and fear, he obediently followed his master to an 
out-house, where, binding feet as well as hands, Gabriel 
left him w^ith the promise and the warning, — 

" Sit here till I come to let you out a free man, if I 
live to do it. Don't stir nor call, for Mort will be at the 
door to silence you and howl for me, if you try any 
tricks. I'll not keep you long, if I can help it." 

The slave only stared dumbly at him, incapable of 
receiving the vast idea of liberty, pardon, and kindness 
all at once ; and bidding Mort guard both prisoner and 
house, Gabriel stole along the path that wound away 

AN HOUR. 369 

through grove and garden to the rice-mill, where so many 
lutes were soon to be decided. As he went he glanced 
from earth to sky, and found propitious omens every- 
where. No flowery thicket concealed a lurking foe to 
clutch at him in the dark ; but the fragrance of trodden 
grass, the dewy touch of leaves against his cheek, the 
peaceful night-sounds that surrounded him, gave him 
strange comfort and encouragement ; for when his fellow- 
creatures had deserted, Nature took him to her motherly 
heart. From above, fitful glimpses of the moon guided 
him on his perilous way ; for the wind had changed, the 
black clouds were driving seaward, and the storm was 
passing without either thunderbolt or hurricane. Coming, 
at length, within sight of the half-ruined mill, he paused 
to reconnoitre. Through chinks in the rude walls a dim 
light shone, muffled voices rose and fell ; and once there 
was a hoarse sound, as of a half-uttered shout. Creeping 
warily to a dark nook among the ruins, Gabriel made his 
way to a crevice in an inner wall, and, looking through 
it, saw a sight little fitted to reassure him, either as a 
master or a man. 

The long, low^-raftered portion of the mill, Avhich once 
had been the threshing-floor, Avas now lighted by the red 
glare of several torches, which filled the place with wekd 
shadows, and sudden glimpses of objects that seemed the 
more mysterious or terrible for being but half seen. In 
one corner, under a coarse covering, something lay stark 
and still ; a clenched hand was visible, and several locks 
of light hair dabbled with blood, but nothing more. Fifty 
men, old and young, of all shades of color, all types of 
their unhappy race, stood or sat about three, who evi- 
dently were the leaders of the league. One, a young 


man, so fair that the red lines across his shoulders looked 
doubly barbarous there, Avas half-kneeling, and steadily 
filing at a chain that held his feet together as his hands 
had been held till some patient friend had freed them, 
and left him to finish the slow task. He worked so 
eagerly that the drops stood thick upon his haggard face, 
and his scarred chest heaved with his painful breath ; for 
this was the Tony who was too much cut up with his 
last whipping to run on Mrs. Butler's errand, but not too 
feeble to strike a blow for liberty. The second man was 
as near an animal as a human creature could become, 
and yet be recognized as such. A burly, brutal-looking 
negro, maimed and distorted by every cruelty that could 
be invented or inflicted, he was a sight to daunt the 
stoutest heart, as he sat sharpening the knife which had 
often threatened him in the overseer's hand, and was 
still red with the overseer's blood. 

Standing erect between the two, and in striking con- 
trast to them, was a gigantic man, with a fine, dark face, 
a noble head, and the limbs of an ebony Hercules. A 
native African, from one of those tribes whose wills are 
never broken, — who can be subdued by kindness, but 
who often kill themselves rather than suffer the degrada- 
tion of the lash. No one had dared to subject him to 
that chastisement, as was proved by the unmarred smooth- 
ness of the muscular body, bare to the waist ; but round 
his neck was riveted an iron collar, with four curved 
spikes. It was a shameful badge of serfdom ; it pre- 
vented him from lying down, it galled him with its cease- 
less chafing, yet he wore it with an air which would have 
made the hideous necklace seem some barbaric ornament, 
if that had been possible ; and faced the excited crowd 

AN HOUR. 371 

with a native dignity whicli nothing could destroy, and 
which proved him their master in intelligence, as well as 
stren^^th and coura^je. 

Before them all, yet lifted a little above them by her po- 
sition on a fallen fragment of the roof, stood old Cassan- 
dra. A tall, gaunt woman, with a countenance which age, 
in making venerable, had not robbed of its vigor ; her 
sightless eyes were wide open with a weird eifect of see- 
ing without sight, and her high white turban, her long 
staff, and the involuntary tremor of her shrivelled hands, 
gave her the air of some ancient sorceress or priestess, 
bearing her part in some heathen rite. The majestic- 
looking slave with the collar had apparently been speak- 
ing, for his face was turned toward her, and his dark 
features were still alive with the emotions which had just 
found vent in words. As Gabriel looked, old Sandra 
struck the floor with her staff, as if commanding silence ; 
and, as the stir of some momentary outbreak subsided, 
she said, in a strong voice, which rose and fell in a sort 
of solemn chant as her earnestness increased and her 
listeners grew obedient to its spell, — 

" Chil'en, I'se heerd yer plans, — now I wants ter len' 
a han' and help you in dis hour of tribbleation. You's 
killed oberseer Neal, and d'rectly you's all gwine up ter 
de house to kill massa, missis and de young folks. Now 
what's you gwine to do dat fer? and what's dey eber 
done bad nuf ter make you wuUin' ter fro 'way yer souls 
dis night?" 

" Kase we can't b'ar no more." " Old massa hunted 
my boy wid hounds and dey tore him ter def." " He 
sold my chil'en and drove Rachel crazy wid de partin'." 
" Old missis had my pore girl whipped kase she was too 


sick ter stan* and dress her." " Massa Gabriel may be 
harder dan de ole one, and we's tired ob hell." 

These, and many another short, stern answer, came 
to Sandra's question ; she expected them, was ready to 
meet them, and knew how best to reach the outraged 
hearts now hungering for vengeance. Her well-known 
afflictions, her patience, her piety, gave a certain sanctity 
to her presence, great weight to her words, and an 
almost marvellous power to her influence over her own 
people, who believed her to be half saint, half seer. She 
felt her power, and, guided by an instinct that seldom 
failed, she used it wisely in this perilous hour, remem- 
bering that her listeners, though men in their passions, 
were children in their feelings. 

" You pore boys, I knows de troof ob all dat, and Fse 
had my trubblcs hard and heavy as you has, but I'se 
learnt to fergib 'em, and dey don't hurt now. Ole massa 
bought me thirty year' ago 'way from all I keered fer, 
and I'se slaved fer him widout no t'anks, no wages, eber 
since ; but I'se fergived him dat. He sole my chil'en, 
all ten ; my boys up de riber, my perty little girls down 
to Orleans, and bringed up his chil'en on de money ; dat 
come bery hard, but de Lord helped me, and I fergived 
him dat. He shot my ole Ben kase he couldn't whip me 
hisself, nor stan' by and see it done ; dat mos' broke my 
heart, but in de end I foun' I could fergib him one time 
more. He made me nuss him when de fever come and 
every one was 'fraid ob him ; de long Avatchin', de hard 
work and de cryin' fer my chil'en made me bline at last ; 
but I fergived him dat right hearty, fer though dey took 
my eyes away dey couldn't bline my soul, and in de 
darkness I hab seen de Lord." 

AN HOUR. 373 

The truth, the pathos, the devout assurance of her 
.N'ords, hupressed and controlled the sympathetic crea- 
tures to whom she spoke, as no reproach or denunciation 
would have done. A murmur went through the crowd, 
and more than one savage face lost something of its bru- 
taUty, gained something of its former sad patience, as^ 
the old woman touched, with wondrous skill, the chords 
that still made music in these tried and tempted hearts. 

" Yes, chil'en, I hab seen de Lord, and He has made de 
night into day fer me, has held me up in all my trubbles, 
tofe me to hole fas' by Him, and promised He would 
bring me safe ter glory. I'se faith ter feel He will, and 
while I wait, I'se savin' up my soul fer Him. Boys, He 
says de same to you froo me ; He says hole fas', b'ar all 
dat's sent, beleebe in Him, and wait the coming ob de 


'' We's done tired a-waitin', de Lord's so bery long a 

comin', Sandra." 

It was a weary, hopeless voice that answered, as an 
old man shook his white head and lifted up the dim eyes 
that for eighty years had ^vatched in vain. 

" It's you dat's long a-comin' ter Him, Uncle Dave, 
but He ain't tired ob waitin' for yer. De places dar in 
heaven is all ready, de shinin' gowns, de harps ob gole, 
de eberlastin' glory, and de peace. No rice-swamps dar, 
lio sugar-mills, no cotton-fields, no houn's, no oberseer, 
no nmssa but de blessed Lord. Dar's yer chil'en. Uncle 
Dave, growed beautiful white angels, and a-waitin' tiU 
yer comes. Dar's yer wife, Pete, wid no lashes on her 
back, no sobbin' in her heart, a-waiting fer yer, anxious. 
Dar's yer fader, Jake ; he don't need no proppin' now, 
and he'll run to meet yer when yer comes. Dar's yer 


pore sister Rachel, Xed ; she ain't crying fer baby now ; 
de Lord's got her in de holler ob His ban', and she's 
a-waitin' fer de little one and you to come. Dar's my 
Ben, my chil'en all saved up for me, and when I comes 
I'll see 'em waitin' fer me at de door. But, best ob all, 
dar's de dear Lord waitin' fer us ; He's holdin' out his 
arras, He's beckonin' all de while. He's sayin', in dat lovin' 
voice ob His, ' I sees yer sorrows, my pore chil'en, I 
hears yer sobbin' and yer prayers, I fergives yer sins, I 
knows yer won't 'spoint me ob dese yere fifty precious 
souls, and I'se a-waitin', waitin', waitin' fer yer all.' " 

Strange fervor was in the woman's darkened face, 
strange eloquence in her aged voice, strange power in 
the persuasive gestures of her withered hands out- 
stretched above them, warning, pleading, beckoning, 
as if, in truth, the Lord spoke through her, illuminat- 
ing that poor place with the light of His divine compas- 
sion, the promises of His divine salvation. A dead 
silence followed as the last yearning cadence of the one 
voice rose, fell, and died away. Sandra let the strong 
contrast between the here and the hereafter make its 
due impression, then broke the silence, saying briefly, 
solemnly, — 

" Boys, de Lord has spared yer one great sin dis night ; 
ole massa 's dead." 

"Glory be to God, amen ! " " Halleluyer ! dat I'se 
libed ter see dis happy day ! " " De Debbie's got him, 
shore ! " " Don't give up de chance, boys ; young massa 
and de missis is lef for us." 

Such exclamations of gi'atitude, joy, and revenge, were 
the only demonstration which the news produced, and, 
mingling with them, a gust of wind came sweeping 

AN HOUR. 375 

through the mill, as if nature gave a long sigh of relief 
tliat another tyrant had ceased to blight and burden her 
fair domain. Sandra's quick ear caught the last words, 
and a deep oath or two, as several men rose with the 
fierce fire rekindling in their eyes. 

" Yes ! " she cried, in a tone that held them even 
against their will, — "yes, young massa's lef ; but not 
to die, for if yer gives up your chance of damnation 
dis night, you'll all be free to-morrer. He's promised 
it ; he'll do it, and dere'll be no blood but dat bad man's 
yonder, to cry from de groun', and b'ar witness 'ginst 
yer at de Judgment-Day." 

" Free ! to-morrer ! Who's gwine to b'lieve dat, 
Sandra ? TTe's been tole such stories often ; but de 
morrer's never come, and now we's gTNdne to bring 
one for ourselves." 

The gigantic man with the spiked collar on his neck 
said that, with a smile of grim determination, as he took 
up the iron bar, which in his desperate hands became a 
terribly formidable weapon. 

A low growl, as of muttering thunder, answered him, 
and Sandra's heart sunk within her. But one hope 
remained ; and, desperately clinging to it, she found that 
even in these betrayed, benighted creatures there still 
lived a sense of honor, a loyalty to truth, born of the 
manhood God had given them, the gratitude which one 
man had inspired. 

" Hear me, jes once more, 'fore yer goes, boys. Tell 
me, what has young massa done ter make yer want his 
blood? Has he ever lashed yer, kicked, and cussed yer? 
Has he sole yer chil'ren, 'bused yer wives, or took yer 
ole folks from yer ? Has he done anything but try to 


make ole massa kinder, to do his best fer us while he's 
here ; and when he can't do nor b'ar no more, don't he 
go 'way to pray de Lord ter help us fer His sake ? " 

Not a voice answered ; not one complaint, accusation, 
or reproach was made, and Prince, the fierce leader of 
the insurrection, paused, with his foot upon the threshold 
of the door ; for a grateful memory confronted and ar- 
rested him. One little daughter, the last of many chil- 
dren, had been taken from him to be sold, when Gabriel, 
moved by his despair, had bought and freed and given 
her back to him, with the promise that she never should 
be torn from him again. For an instant the clasp of 
little clinging arms seemed to make the sore chafing of 
the iron ring unfelt ; the touch of the hand that gave 
the precious gift now made that rude weapon weigh 
heavily in his own, and from the darkness which lay 
between him and the doomed home there seemed to rise 
the shadow of the face which once had looked compas- 
sionately into his and recognized him as a man. He 
turned, and, standing with his magnificent yet mournful 
figure fully revealed by the red flicker of the torches, 
put out one hand as if to withhold the desperate crowd 
before him, and asked, with an air of authority which 
well became a prince by birth as well as name, — 

" Sandra, who tole you massa meant ter free us right 
away ? You has blessed dreams sometimes, and maybe 
dis is one ob 'em. It's too good to be de troof." 

"It is de troof, de livin' troof, and no dream ob mine 
was eber half so blessed as dis yere will be, if we has 
faith. Milly tole me jes now dat Massa Gabriel swore 
before de Lord and his dead father dat he'd free us all 
ter-morrer ; and I come here ter save yer from de sin dat 

AN HOUR. 377 

won't help, but hinder yer awful in dis world and de 
next. Dere's more good news 'sides dat. I hecrd 'em 
talkiu' 'bout de Norf. It's risin', boys, it's risin' ! — de 
tings we's hecrd is shore, and de day ob jubilee is comin' 

It was well she added that last hope, for its effect was 
wonderful. Men lifted up their heads, hope quenched 
hatred in eyes that grew joyfully expectant, and for a 
moment the black sky seemed to glimmer with the first 
rays of the North star which should lead them up from 
that Dismal Swamp to a goodly land. Sandra felt the 
change, knew that only one more effective touch was 
needed to secure the victory, and, like the pious soul 
she was, turned in her hour of need to the only Friend 
who never had deserted her. Painfully bending her stiff 
knees, she knelt down before them, folded her hard 
hands, lifted her sightless eyes, and cried, in an agony 
of supplication, — 

" Dear Lord, speak to dese yere pore chil'en, fer I'se 
done my bes' ! Help 'em, save 'em, don't let 'em spile 
de freedom dat's comin' by a sin like dis to-night, but let 
'em take it sweet and clean from Thy han' in de mornin'. 
Stan' by young massa, hole him up, don't let him 'spoint 
us, fer we'se ben bery patient. Lord ; and help us to 
wait one night more, shore dat he'll keep de promise fer 
Thy blessed sake." 

"I will!" 

Tlie voice rang through the place like a voice from 
heaven ; and out from the darkness Gabriel came among 
them. To their startled, superstitious eyes he seemed no 
mortal man, but a beautiful, benignant angel, bringing 
tidings of great joy, as he stood there, armed with no 


weapon but a righteous purpose, gifted with no eloquence 
but the truth, stirred to his heart's core by strong emotion, 
and lifted above himself by the high mood born of that 
memorable hour. 

" My people ! mine only while I speak ; break up your 
league, lay down your arms, dry your tears, and forgive 
as you are forgiven, for this island no longer holds a 
master or a slave ; but all are free forever and forever." 

An awful silence fell upon the place, unbroken till old 
Sandra cried, Avith a glad, triumphant voice, — 

" Chil'en ! de Lord hab heerd, de Lord hab answered ! 
Bless de Lord ! O bless de Lord ! " 

Then, as a strong wind bows a field of grain, the 
breath of liberty swept over fifty souls, and dow^n upon 
their knees fell fifty free men, while a great cry went up 
to heaven. Shouts, sobs, prayers and praises ; the clash 
of falling arms ; the rattle of fetters wrenched away ; 
the rush of men gathered to each other's breasts, — all 
added to the wild abandonment of a happiness too mighty 
for adequate expression, as that wave of gratitude and 
love rolled up and broke at Gabriel's feet. With face 
hidden in his hands he stood ; and while his heart sung 
for joy, tears from the deepest fountains of a man's 
repentant spirit fitly baptized the freedmen, who, chnging 
to his garments, kissing his feet and pouring blessings on 
his head, bestowed upon him a far nobler inheritance 
than that which he had lost. 

'' Hark ! " 

The word, and Sandra's uplifted hand, hushed the 
tumultuous thanksgiving, as if she were in truth the 
magician they believed her. A far-off murmur of many 
voices, the tramp of many feet was heard ; all knew 

AN HOUR. 379 

what it portended, yet noue trembled, none fled ; for a 
mightier power than either force or fear had conquered, 
and the victory was already won. 

Through widening rifts in the stormy sky the moon 
broke clear and calm, gliding, like a visible benediction, 
from the young man's bent head to the dusky faces lifted 
toward the promised light ; and in that momentary hush, 
solemn and sweet, across the river a distant clock struck