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Full text of "In war times at La Rose Blanche"

IN WAR TIMES 



AT LA ROSE 




M ' E: M • D A V I S 



THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 
OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 
PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 



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J^ILMLR COLLECTK 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/inwartimesatlaroOOdavi 




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IN WAR TIMES 



AT LA ROSE BLANCHE 



BY 

M E M DAVIS 



Twelve Illustrations by E W Kemble 



BOSTON 
D LOTHROP COMPANY 

FRANKLIN AND HAWLEY STREETS 



Copyright, 1888 

BY 

D. LoTHROP Company. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

MARCHING ORDERS II 

CHAPTER II. 

" THE gunnel's VALLY " 28 

CHAPTER III. 
mandy's doll-party 43 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE DISH-RAG BONNET 64 

CHAPTER V. 

A MORNING-GLORY 85 

CHAPTER VI. 
103 



" HAREGENAB '* 



CHAPTER VII. 
A NEW DOG 124 



602802 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VIII 

POOR WHITEY 148 

CHAPTER IX. 

A LETTER FROM THE FRONT I7I 

CHAPTER X. 

A soldier's TRYST I95 

CHAPTER XI. 

OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS 2l6 

CHAPTER XII 

"PO'-SOULS" 235 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



" Jes' you keep still, Marse Tom ! " cried Mammy Frontis. 

" Please, Marse Jim, is you seen marster ? " . . 37 

" Her name is Lucinda-Ketura," said the Yankee . 59 
" Is you done whipped the Yantees ? " asked little 

Percy 71 

The father and son from the Warloopy ... 95 

The next moment she was clasped in father's arms 113 
Hester and Mammy, dragging their overturned boat 

after them 133 

In the midst of the chaos, sat Monterey-Bull-Run . 145 

Mammy dances " Sugar-in-de-gourd," . . . 159 

In the midst of the battle 181 

♦' The White Rose," and the old chief ... 201 

" Who hurted you. Aunt W^ose ? " he asked suddenly 225 

Home from the war 253 



IN WAR-TIMES 
AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 



CHAPTER I. 

MARCHING ORDERS. 

WELL, Dandy ? " 
" Please, Marse, I wants to go to de war 
'long o' Marse Tom." 

We were all out on the high veranda at La 
Rose Blanche : my pretty fragile mother rocking 
softly in her low chair ; and my father sitting on 
the steps at her feet. And great-uncle Selden, 
who had come up from the city to say good-by — 
for his battalion had marching orders from " the 
front," as everybody was then vaguely saying; 
and great-uncle Selden's black, woolly-headed little 
body-servant, Frederic. And my brothers, Tom 

II 



12 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

and Hartwell, in their bran-new uniforms all span- 
gled with brass-buttons. And cousin Nellie Brans- 
come, who was swinging in a hammock under the 
rose-vine and strumming upon her guitar — her 
brother Wesley was down in the summer-house pout- 
ing because he wasn't old enough to have a uniform 
and go to the war ! And Captain Brion and Tom 
Dennison, who were under the rose-vine with cousin 
Nell. And Mandy, myself, and the four little 
boys. 

It was a soft warm afternoon in March. The 
orange-trees were in bloom, and so were the roses 
and the honeysuckles and the violets, and a little 
breeze that came up from the river brought in all 
their blended sweets. The birds were singing in 
the magnolia-trees that shaded the broad avenue 
leading down to the front gate ; and yellow and 
gold-dusted butterflies were zigzagging about the 
flower-dotted lawn. Overhead the sky was blue — ■ 
oh ! so blue, and away over by the sugar-house, 
where we could see the snow-white tents of the 
camp, with the flag fluttering from the tall flag-staff, 
there was a delicious purple haze that seemed to 



MARCHING ORDERS. 13 

melt into a low-lying mass of white cloud hovering 
about the edge of the swamp. 

The carriage was drawn up at the foot of the 
long sweep of steps, with Uncle Joshua on the 
driver's seat; and two or three horses, saddled 
and bridled, were also waiting ; for everybody, ex- 
cept " we chillun," was going over to the camp 
to visit the Selden Rifles. 

Dandy had led around one of the horses and 
after standing a moment at its head, he had 
dropped the bridle and walked boldly up the steps 
and stood with his brimless hat in his hand before 
my father. 

Then it was that my father said "Well, Dandy?" 
and Dandy said " Please, Marse, I wants to go to 
de war 'long o' Marse Tom." 

My father shook his head. Dandy was only 
thirteen years old. It is true that my brother Hart 
was but two years older, and even my big brother 
Tom was little more than sixteen. But they had 
stormed so, and so entreated and threatened in 
their defiant boyish way to run away and enlist 
" anyhow, first thing anybody knew," that they had 



14 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

finally wrung a reluctant consent from father to 
enroll themselves in the Selden Rifles, Captain 
Brion's company, now in camp over by the sugar- 
house and upon the eve of starting to the front. 
And oh ! how proud they were when they came 
home one day and told us they had been mustered 
in (Mandy and I both thought it had something to 
do with plasters), and how they strutted around 
the house the day their new uniforms came home 
and they had them on for the first time ! 

Father shook his head. " No, Dandy," he said. 
" You are much too young to go. Besides Virgil — " 

" But, Marse," abruptly broke in Dandy who had 
never been separated from brother Tom a day since 
he was four years old, " who gwine to take keer o' 
Marse Tom ? Dars Virg fer ter bresh Marse Hart's 
close an' fetch he boots and load he gun, but who 
gwine — " Here Dandy choked and great tears 
rolled down his dusky cheeks. 

Mandy giggled audibly when father again shook 
his head and Dandy went slowly down the steps. 
Mandy professed the greatest contempt for Dandy, 
who was her twin-brother. 



MARCHING ORDERS. I 5 

At this moment Mammy, high-turbaned and 
smiling, came out carrying a big basket covered 
with a white cloth. The boys smacked their lips 
over the spicy and suggestive odors which floated 
from it. Then my mother and cousin Nell and 
great-uncle Selden and my father got into the car- 
riage ; the basket was handed up to uncle Joshua 
and they rolled away down the shelled drive, fol- 
lowed by Captain Brion and Tom Dennison on 
horseback ; and by my brother Hart and Wesley 
Branscome, who emerged from the summer-house 
still pouting but eager, on foot. As the cavalcade 
started brother Tom waved his hand and called 
after his Captain with the easy familiarity of those 
first days of the war : " Say, Cap, I'm goin' to stay 
awhile. I'll be 'long about sundown." The Cap- 
tain nodded and in a few moments they were all 
out in the wide lane between the Cherokee-rose 
hedges, moving briskly toward Camp Nellie. 

" I think it's a shame that father won't let you 
go, Dandy," exclaimed brother Tom coming down 
the steps three at a time. We swarmed after him, 
Mandy and I, and Sam and Charley and Will, and 



1 6 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

even little toddling Percy; and great-uncle Selden's 
Frederic. How fine and grand we thought him as 
we clustered about his knees , and yet how familiar 
with his bonny smile and quizzical eyes. The same 
idea seized us all as he swung us playfully around 
in the old way. *' Play with us ! O please play 
with us," cried Sam and Charley and I in a breath. 

"Play with us," echoed Will. 

"P'ay," cooed little Percy. 

For brother Tom had always led all our sports 
and we missed him sadly since he had got himself 
mustered in. My dolls had never presented so 
respectable an appearance as since brother Tom 
had gone to live in camp, but somehow their re- 
spectability was not as satisfying as I had once 
imagined it might be. 

The embryo soldier shook back his brown curls 
and laughed. "All right," he assented, tossing his 
cap on the steps and stripping off his many-but- 
toned jacket. " What'll we play 1 " 

" Deer and dogs ! Deer and dogs ! " we shouted 
with one voice, eager for our favorite game. 

"All right," he said again. " You an' Dandy'll 



MARCHING ORDERS. 1 7 

be the hunters, little Sis an' Mandy an' the little 
boys'U be the dogs. Mind out, now, I'm goin' 
to run mighty fast, an' I'm not goin' to fall until 
I'm shot 'tween the eyes. Ready ! One ! Two ! 
Three! Go!" And he set off trotting leisurely 
through the winding walks toward the rose-garden 
in the corner of the grounds, making believe to run, 
with the little boys screaming at his heels. This 
was our old game. Mandy and Dandy and I held 
back so as to give the little ones a chance, until 
we neared the yupon-hedge surrounding the rose- 
garden. Then Dandy quickened his pace at which 
the laughing gray-clad "deer" leaped lightly over 
the hedge and began to speed around the mazy 
walks. Dandy in hot pursuit and nimble-footed 
Mandy not far behind. I — a fat, rather clumsy 
little lass of eight years toiled breathlessly along 
in the rear, lifting my stick gun and shouting 
" bang'''' at every step. 

The tall, slim figure bounded here and there, flew 
across rose-beds ablaze with bloom, darted down 
unexpected aisles, doubled upon his steps, eluding 
Dandy who was only less quick than himself ; and 



l8 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

finally breaking through the midst of the little boys 
who were scampering gleefully and wildly about 
the grass-plot in the corner, he sprang again over 
the hedge and dashed up the alley between the 
double rows of china-trees alongside the banana- 
plantation. 

All at once, as I crept through a hole in the 
hedge to follow, I saw him drop to the ground. 
This was the proper climax to our little drama 
always. The hunter, then supposed to have 
wounded his prey, came up with an imaginary 
knife to despatch him, while the pack of hounds 
yelped and barked vigorously around. But this 
time, as we approached, the stag varied the usual 
programme. He rose and ran forward a few steps 
and dropped again ; and Dandy, who had reached 
the spot where he first fell, stopped suddenly with 
a cry. We saw him whirling around and beating 
the ground with his stick-gun. Something long 
and lithe and gleaming seemed to whirl with him 
in the cloud of dust that surrounded him. Pres- 
ently the shining ceased ; he dropped his stick and 
ran to my brother Tom, stooped over him where 



MARCHING ORDERS. 19 

he lay and stood up again with another sharp cry. 

V 

We had all stopped and we now huddled together 
in vague alarm. 

" Mandy," he shouted hoarsely, " run ! run ! blow 
de haron fur Marse. Run! " and down he dropped 
again on his knees. 

It seemed but a second later — we had not stirred, 
the little boys and I — when I saw Mandy standing 
on the horse-block by the gate, blowing with all her 
might upon the big conch — the signal of danger 
at La Rose Blanche. 

(Nobody could blow the conch like Mandy, not 
even Uncle Silas, who was an African Prince, and 
who had taught the art to all the younger negroes.) 

But, even before the first blast, Mammy came 
flying out, with all the house-servants in her wake. 
She threw up her hands as she knelt for a moment 
by the boys, but said cheerfully as she rose to her 
feet : " Jes' you keep still, Marse Tom, honey, an', 
Dandy, don't you stop er minnit. I'se comin' back 
turreckly wid er split chicken. You Lizybun, Me- 
lindy, Sofy, you lazy niggers, hump yerselfs, an' kill 
dem puUits in de hen-house hine de kitchen. Does 



20 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

yer want ter see Marse Tom die er dat snake- 
pizen?" 

Long before her speech was ended she had scut- 
tled away and the last words were flung over her 
shoulder as she ran. They seemed to put life into 
my benumbed feet and I started forward. But 
stopped shrieking with horror. For there, writhing 
and twisting in the dust was an enormous snake, 
whose head was bruised, but whose slender and 
forked tongue was darting angrily from wide-open 
jaws. 

" Lawd ! Miss M'ay ! min' out ! min' out ! " 
screamed Dandy, spitting out a great mouthful of 
green stuff, " mayby hit ain't dead yit ! " He had 
my brother's head on his knee and as he spoke 
he bent down again and pressed his lips to his 
forehead which was pale and dripping with 
blood. 

I sprang aside and then stumbled blindly on. 
*' What's the matter with my brother Tom "i " I 
demanded, trembling in every limb. Dandy lifted 
his head only to spit out another mouthful of green- 
ish foam. " Whafs the matter with my brother 



MARCHING ORDERS. 21 

Tom?" I repeated imperiously, but beginning to 
cry. 

*' Rattlesnake done bit him. Spec he gwine ter 
die," mumbled Dandy with his mouth on the wound. 
At this, my brother Tom moved and groaned, and 
I howled outright. And the little boys howled 
louder even than they had been howling before. 

I seem to remember nothing more until a horse 
came galloping up to the front gate ; and my father 
was kneeling by my brother whose head was still 
on Dandy's knee, and was pouring something down 
his throat from a flask — and making Dandy swal- 
low some too — and Mammy w^as binding a warm, 
bleeding, still-palpitating chicken upon his fore- 
head; and the carriage was lumbering up the drive, 
with mother's pale face at the window, and a pro- 
cession was going across the lawn with father look- 
ing very anxious and serious in front, carrying 
brother Tom, whose head hung lifelessly over his 
shoulder ; and Mammy bringing up the rear with 
me in her arms, big girl as I was, and sobbing with 
all her might. 

The next afternoon we were all out on the ve- 



22 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

randa again, brother Tom lying on a lounge with 
his head bandaged and his ruddy face very pale, 
but almost as jolly and noisy as ever. Mother was 
hanging over him, hardly sure yet that he had been 
spared to her. Father stepped out of the wide hall 
as Dandy came around the corner of the house 
leading Captain Brion's horse. " Dandy," he called, 
"come up here." 

Dandy dropped the bridle and came running up 
with his hat in his hand and his face agrin. Father 
did not speak to him at once, which I thought 
strange. He coughed once or twice, looking first 
at Dandy and then at brother Tom. Suddenly he 
reached out his big white hand and took Dandy's 
little black paw and gave it a hearty shake. 

"Well, Dandy," he said as he dropped it, "what 
do you want most of everything in the world ? " 

And Dandy replied : " Please, Marse, I wants to 
go to de war 'long o' Marse Tom." 

Father broke into a queer little laugh. "All 
right. Dandy, you can go," he said. 

Brother Tom gave a wild whoop. Dandy made 
a respectful " curchy " and backed down the steps, 



MARCHING ORDERS. 23 

his dark eyes shining. He darted around the end 
of the gallery where Mandy and I looking over the 
railing saw him throw himself on his hands and lift 
his heels in the air cracking them jubilantly to- 
gether. 

" Look at dat fool nigger ! " said Mandy scorn- 
fully. " Law, I is sorry for Marse Tom ! " 

A week later they went. We all drove over to 
the camp to say good-by, for there was to be no 
halt in the march down to the boat at the landing, 
waiting to take them away. Half the Parish was 
there with hampers of provisions and bottles of 
rare old wine and packages of books and bunches 
of flowers and such like for " the boys." 

Cousin Nelly presented a flag which Tom Den- 
nison received on the part of the Selden Rifles. 
He turned red in the face and stammered and broke 
down in his speech; but everybody applauded all 
the same ; and I saw cousin Nellie give him her 
glove. 

I gave to each of my brothers a clumsy Jiuswife, 
which with Mandy's help I had secretly constructed. 
(I saw one of them only the other day. It was 



24 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

crumpled and stained and soiled, with the same 
needles — they were very big ones — that we stuck 
in it, sticking in it still !) 

Mother packed the boys' trunks a last time her- 
self putting in a great many fine white shirts and 
handkerchiefs and other linen, and showed Virgil 
and Dandy how to fold the things ; and told them 
over and over to be careful of their young Masters. 

And then . . . the good-byes were said . 

. . and we came away. 

It was almost sunset when they came by. We 
were waiting at the front gate to see them pass. 
Mother and cousin Nellie were in the gateway 
with Mammy and the other house-servants around 
them. Mandy and I and the four little boys were 
perched on the fence with Wesley Branscome, who 
kept digging his fists in his e3^es to keep back the 
tears, and whispering to me : "I'm as old as Dandy 
an' I'm goin' to run off an' go — see 'f I don't ! " 

There they came at last ! along the rose-bordered 
lane. Uncle Silas marched in front beating a drum, 
and great-uncle Selden's old body-servant, who had 
been with him through the Mexican War, marched 



MARCHING ORDERS. 25 

by him, playing "The Girl I Left Behind Me," on 
the fife. Then came Captain Brion with father 
and great-uncle Selden who were going with them 
as far as the city. Little seven-year-old Frederic 
trotted as usual at uncle Selden's knee. Tom 
Dennison carried the flag and very proud he looked 
as his eyes fell upon cousin Nell, whose glove was 
fastened in his cap. They all lifted their caps and 
cheered as they went by ; I fairly danced on the 
fence and the four little boys screamed themselves 
hoarse. 

Our boys came almost the last, behind Domi- 
nique Brion and Louis Walker. Brother Tom 
lifted his cap and smiled at my mother, throwing 
up his head proudly, and looking very tall and 
handsome. But brother Hart looked straight be- 
fore him, stumbling a little as if he did not see his 
way plainly. His cap was pulled down upon his 
yellow curls and his eyes were red and swollen. I 
know now that he had been crying; then I thought 
it a shame that he did not take off his cap and 
hurrah like the others. 

Close behind the boys marched Virgil and 



26 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Dandy. Virgil was a sober staid fellow, very big 
and very black, and he strode along as if it were 
quite an everyday affair to go to war. But Dandy ! 
Dandy was grinning from ear to ear. He danced 
along rather than walked ! In front of the gate 
he threw himself on his hands and waved his feet 
exultantly about for a second, and then darted for- 
ward with a yell to regain his place. 

"Look at dat fool nigger!" exclaimed Mandy 
from the fence. " My land ! how sorry I is for 
Marse Tom ! " 

The music got fainter and fainter ; the cloud of 
dust moved further down the lane, the flag floating 
in the midst of it. A turn in the road presently 
swallowed it up, and five minutes later the boat, 
whose smoking chimneys we could see above the 
trees at the landing, gave a shrill whistle and swung 
off down the river. 

As I climbed down from the fence I saw Mam- 
my with her arms around my mother, half-leading, 
half-carrying her to the house. " Don't you cry, 
honey ! " she implored, with the tears streaming 
down her own fat cheeks. " Dem chillun ain't gwine 



MARCHING ORDERS. 27 

ter git killed ! Ain't I hear you pray ter de Lawd, 
an' ain't de Lawd done say he gwine ans'er de 
prar o' de good 'ooman? An' ain't I done tu'n de 
grounds in de coffee cup dis very mawnin' an' see 
as how dey bofe gwine ter come home 'long o' 
Dandy an' Virg, all kivered wid gole like yer 
granpappy in de pictyur? Sho 's yer bawn, honey, 
nothin' ain't gwine ter happen ter dem chillun ! " 



CHAPTER II. 
"the gunnel's vally." 

A CORNER of La Rose Blanche," we always 
called it — the queer, roomy old house 
down in the French quarter of New Orleans where 
great-uncle Selden lived. 

On the outside it was as different as possible 
from our wide-galleried, dormer-windowed planta- 
tion-house set in the midst of green lawns and 
shaded by embowering trees. For its odd little 
balconies with their curiously-wrought iron rail- 
ings, hung directly over the narrow, noisy street ; 
its sloping, tile-edged roof touched shoulders on 
either side with other peaked roofs, and almost 
rubbed noses too in friendly greeting with the tall 
stuccoed building just across the way. Its great 
arched entrance-door, whose grifhn-headed knocker 
filled our childish hearts at once with terror and 

28 



'*THE gunnel's VALLY." 29 

delight, opened into a long, dim, tunnel-like cor- 
ridor, where a little stream of yellow river-water 
rippled musically along by the wall over the flags. 
The spacious open court at the end of the corridor 
was paved with cool-looking stone. A fountain 
played there, sprinkling the broad-leaved plants 
and curling ferns that grew about the weather- 
stained rim of the marble basin. Orange-trees 
and oleanders, that seemed to me then to be always 
in bloom, were set here and there in brightly- 
painted tubs. In one corner stood a row of 
gigantic Eastern water-jars — " Forty-Thief jars," 
brother Tom said they were ! — their bulgy sides 
mossy-green and glistening in the sunlight. A 
talkative old parrot who greeted every incomer 
with a torrent of shrill gombo-French, had his 
perch upon the outstretched (handless) arm of a 
discolored statue leaning against the carved balus- 
trade of the stairway that led up into the big 
square hall. It was down that very stairway that 
grG2it-gre2Lt-gmnd'piere, dark-eyed, slim and grace- 
ful, in the flowered brocade and high-heeled slip- 
pers of her portrait at Rose Blanche came, leaning 



30 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

on great-great-grandpapa's arm ; and here in this 
ver}' court waited the sleek, fat negro torch-bearers 
that night to light them on their way to the In- 
auguration-Ball ot the first American Governor. 

But different as its exterior was from La Rose 
Blanche, when once you got inside of its airy 
rooms, you found there a familiar home-look. 
The spice-jars by the fire-place in the parlor, and 
the Sevres vases and silver candlesticks on the 
high wooden mantel, were disposed in exactly the 
same fashion as those at the plantation-house ; 
the same portraits were on the wall, following you 
about v/ith soft smiling eyes; the claw-footed tables 
and the great mahogany beds with damask-hung 
baldachins — even the flowered rugs and the em- 
broidered piano-cover (not yet converted into 
blankets for the soldiers) had a look of kin with 
like things at home. 

We were often at this pleasant corner of La 
Rose Blanche, especially during the Carnival-time 
of the short, bright winters, when we crowded the 
little balconies to watch the processions of mask- 
ers in the street below, and to listen to the holiday 



"the gunnel's vally." 31 

music ; or threaded the thronged banquettes our 
selves, in Mammy's charge, tricked out in gro- 
tesque mask and domino, gleefully dusting the 
spectators with flour and pelting them with bonbons. 

But now, the processions that we watched from 
the balconies, and that passed and repassed all 
day long had lost their merry Mardi-Gras look. 
The masks had disappeared and in their place 
were grey uniforms that glittered with gold-lace 
and shone with brass-buttons. The narrow streets 
of the old town echoed beneath the steady swing- 
ing step of marching troops ; strange flags fluttered 
on the air ; the throb of drums was everywhere. 
The first gun of the great Civil War had been 
fired at Fort Sumter and our newly-enlisted sol- 
diers were hurrying off singly, in squads, in de- 
tachments, in companies, eager, anxious, alert, 
with beating hearts, and spirits high with hope. 

The Selden Rifles had already gone to the 
front, and with them our boys, Tom and Hart ; 
and mother had come down from the Plantation 
to say another and even a sadder good-by ; for 
father was a captain in great-uncle Selden's bat- 



32 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

talion of artillery ; and the battalion had received 
its marching orders. 

I was down in the court-yard the morning they 
went away, with the four little boys who sat quite 
still on a bench under the latticed gallery, not 
knowing what to make of the strange tumult in 
the placid old house. The sound of smothered 
sobs came down to us and mingled with the " Com- 
ment fa va? Mo pas connais !^^ of the old parrot. 

Frederic, with a bit of lath on his shoulder, 
stood erect and motionless by the fountain where 
little Marse Charley had placed him half an hour 
before with solemn orders not to desert his post, 
" not even if they shoots you down dead ! " 

Father came down first and went away. We 
ran along the corridor after him and stood in the 
doorway watching him down the long, crowded 
street, until a passing group with a flag moving in 
its midst seemed to swallow him up, and then we 
came dejectedly back to our bench in the court. 
Frederic was still standing sentry by the fountain. 

Another step sounded on the stair and great- 
uncle Selden, tall and trim and soldierly in his 



"the gunnel's vally." 33 



grey uniform, with a sword dangling at his side 
and a long black plume floating from his slouched 
hat, came slowly down. 

Frederic dropped his bit of lath and ran forward. 

" Whar is you gwine, Marster ? " he demanded 
with affectionate familiarity. 

Uncle Selden paused a moment to lay a kindly 
hand upon the little woolly head, and looking 
down into the small black face uplifted wonder- 
ingly to his own he replied gravely : 

" I am going to the war, Frederic." 

We all swarmed around him for a good-by ; 
then his quick step echoed across the flags, his 
spurs rang along the shadowy corridor, the heavy 
street-door opened and closed with a bang behind 
him. Frederic pattered after him with the rest of 
us, and when we came in we left him squeezing 
his round face between the bars of the ontex grille 
and calling out over and over "Whar is you gwine, 
Marster ? Whar is you gwine, Marster ? " 

He was only seven years old, little Frederic; 
but he proudly called himself and was known to 
all the Rose Blanche folks as " the Gunnel's 



34 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

vally." Ever since he could toddle he had trotted 
after uncle Selden, meeting him at the street door 
when he came in and soberly taking possession of 
his hat and cane ; fetching his newspaper, warm- 
ing his slippers, tugging at his boots, raking out 
coals for his pipe — while his own "daddy," the 
Colonel's fat, old body-servant who had attended 
him through the Mexican war, stood behind his 
master's chair, grinning broadl}^, or growling in 
an undertone at the youngster according to his 
humor. " Whar is you been, Marster ? " the little 
"vally" would cry imperiously, as the Colonel 
came up the corridor. " Whar is you gwine, 
Marster ? " he would insist whenever the Colonel 
took up his hat and cane to go out. " Dat chile 
am jes de Cunnel's shadder," Uncle Joshua used 
to chuckle when they came up to La Rose Blanche. 
We went back to the Plantation the same day 
that father and uncle Selden went away. On the 
fourth morning afterward. Aunt Sara, Frederic's 
mother, lingered nervously about the doorway of 
her mistress's room after her duties there were 
finished. 



"the gunnel's vally." 35 



" What is it, Sara ? " asked aunt Selden at last, 
lifting her pale, tear-stained face from the prayer- 
book on her knees. 

" I hates to 'sturb yer, Mis' Ray, 'deed I does, 
seein' as how you is so 'flicted 'bout Marster. 
But, we is done look high an' low, fur de Gunnel's 
vally, ma'am, an' we cyant fin' him. We ain't 
had de luck ter fin' dat chile no-whurs. Mis' Ray!" 

" When did you miss him ? " aunt Selden asked. 

" Marster he leave lak in the mawnin' un' de 
Gunnel's vally he 'spear in de evenin' o' de same 
day lak," and poor Aunt Sara covered her face 
with her apron and sobbed aloud. 

Aunt Selden sprang up alarmed. " O, Sara," 
she cried reproachfully, " why didn't you come to 
me sooner ! " 

"I did'n had de heart to 'sturb yer, Mis' Ray," 
persisted Sara. 

Search was made at once and in every direc- 
tion. The police was notified. Aunt Selden her- 
self drove in her carriage with Sara on the seat 
beside her, from house to house making inquiries. 
A description of the lost child was posted about 



36 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

the city and a reward offered for the recovery of 
the Colonel's pet — the bright little pickaninny 
so dear to the whole household. 

AH this solicitude was in vain. The boy could 
not be found. All sadly agreed at last that in 
attempting to follow his Master he must have 
wandered down to the levee, where once or twice 
he had been permitted to accompany the Colonel, 
and that he had slipped into the great turbid river 
whose swift current had borne his little lifeless 
body away. 

It was nearly a year later that a young officer 
was walking one morning slowly and listlessly 
along one of the weed-grown streets of a strag- 
gling little village in Virginia. His thoughts were 
hovering gloomily over the trampled field some 
hundred yards away, scarcely relieved yet of the 
ghastly de'bris strewn there by the battle of a few 
days before. He did not feel the timid touch 
upon his hand, nor notice the piping and plaintive 
voice which asked. 

"Please, Marse Jim, is you seen Marster?"_ 



f 
PI 
> 

> 

X 

w 



o 

G 

PI 



> 

33 




H ■- |i?^^^ ^^^ ~;_T^ 











"the gunnel's vally." 39 

But a more impatient tug at his sleeve roused 
him from his abstraction and the reiterated ques- 
tion brought him to a stand-still, " Please, Marse 
Jim, is you sten Marster ? " 

He looked down at the little bunch of rags 
which stood at his knee. 

** What do you want, you little black ape ? " he 
asked frowning, while a vague remembrance stirred 
at his heart. 

" Don' you 'member me, Marse Jim ? I'se de 
Gunnel's vally. Sholy you 'members 7ne! — Marse 
Jim, please, is you seen Marster ? " 

The young officer groaned and covered his face 
with his hands. The "Gunnel's vally" stood with 
his head on one side regarding him wistfully. It 
was a very forlorn and wretched little " vally " 
indeed ! His round cheeks had fallen in ; his 
great eyes were hollow and sunken ; his pinched 
little body was bruised and sore. The few soiled 
and tattered rags he wore hardly covered his nak- 
edness ; his mud-encrusted feet were bare ; the 
long wool on his head was unkempt and knotted 
with leaves and bits of stick and straw. 



40 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

The young officer turned presently, leaving 
Frederic's question unanswered. He afterward 
remembered that the child never asked it again. 
He took the half-starved waif to his own quarters 
and fed and clothed him ; and soon after, having 
a short furlough, he hurried home taking the 
" Gunnel's vally " with him. 

We were all there when they came — and it was 
our last visit to that corner of Rose Blanche for 
a long time, for hardly a week later it was that 
Farragut's capturing fleet came up the river and 
planted the stars and stripes once more upon the 
City Hall ! 

A cry of wonder and rejoicing — with that un- 
dercurrent of pain which all rejoicing had in those 
days — burst from us all when cousin Jim came 
up the stairway leading little Frederic by the 
hand. 

In the hall where all the household, black and 
white, swarmed about him with greeting and ques- 
tioning, Frederic's eyes wandered around in mute 
inquiry. At last we saw them rest upon uncle 
Selden's portrait with the funeral-wreath twined 



"the gunnel's vally," 41 

about it and the torn flag drooping on the wall 
below. A strange look crept slowly over his face ; 
his meagre body trembled from head to foot, his 
lip quivered. 

" Don't tell him ! Don't tell him, Sara ! " aunt 
Selden moaned, dropping her head on Sara's 
faithful breast. " You have no need to tell him ! 
Don't you see that he knows .f'' 

" I knows dat my Marster is done shot dead," 
said the " Gunnel's vally " with a short dry sob. 

No one ever knew what the poor little soul had 
suffered, or what he had seen during those long 
months. To all questions he replied by a curious 
far-away gaze that filled the questioner with a kind 
of terror. Once only, when he had been sitting 
silent for hours, as was his wont, before the 
kitchen-fire, with his head dropped upon his breast 
and his eyes half-closed, he said suddenly, but with- 
out turning his head, or lifting his heavy eyelids : 

" Mammy, dey uz er heap er white gentermens 
layin' on de groun'. Dey uz all kivered wid blood. 
One genterman — whar look lak Marster's li'l 
Marse Hart — he ax me ter fotch him er drink er 



42 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

water — an' — I — did'n had no water fer ter gi' 
him." 

He remained a weakly, broken, and prematurely- 
old little creature always ; but always tenderly 
cared for by the family of his beloved " Marster." 

The other day just before he died — in the old 
house down in the French quarter, which is un- 
changed ; even the old parrot is still there singing 
and scolding in gombo-French just as he used to 
do when the Colonel walked about the court with 
his little "vally" at his heels — the other day 
when Frederic lay dying beside the open window, 
a company of holiday soldiers passed along the 
street. Their feet rang on the pavement; the 
drum-beat throbbed on the air — the band was 
playing " Dixie." At the sound he opened his 
eyes and gazed anxiously around the room. 
" Marse Jim," he murmured entreatingly, "please, 
is you see7i Marster ? " 

The next moment a joyful smile swept over his 
emaciated face ; a light flashed into his sunken 
eyes ; a quick cry as of recognition escaped from 
his lips, and then — He had found " Marster ! " 



. CHAPTER III. 

mandy's doll-party. 

MANDY gave herself a good many airs over 
her doll-party. 

" Case you knows, Miss Ma'y," she said as we 
swept the leaves out of the play-house and settled 
Sissy-Maria, and Adelmina, and Lodore, and the 
rest of the company on the bit of carpet in one 
corner ; " you knows when you gin yo' doll-party 
las' week Florence-Pope did'n had dat new cape 
o' hern ; an' yo' maw did'n had no loaf-sugar, an' 
no reesons, an' no sho'-'nough coffee, like she got 
now, whar Marse Jeems done saunt her fum de 
cose." 

" But you ain't got no sho'-'nough coffee," I put 
in jealously. 

" I knows I ain't," returned Mandy with a toss 
of the head. " But Mis' Lucy done gin me er 

43 



44 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

cup er loaf-sugar, an' de reesons, an' I gwine back 
ter de house terreckly ter git er hunk er poun'- 
cake she done promis' me, whar Mammy bakin' 
now. Dat cake o' yo'ne want no mo'n 'lasses-cake 
an'/^' at dat!" 

My heart was beginning to swell under these 
taunts. But just here Lore n a who was holding 
the twins (pinned to her dress-sleeves) toppled 
over on her face dragging Sissy-Maria and Flor- 
ence-Pope down in her fall. 

" O dear ! " I groaned, as I picked them up 
and brushed the dust from their clothes, " 'f I 
only had a nuss what could bend her arms and 
her legs and could sit down — like the Mullenses," 
I added with a sigh. 

" Dem jinted Mullenses wuz nice," assented 
Mandy in a sympathetic tone. This restored good 
feeling between us and we proceeded harmoni- 
ously with our arrangements. 

We were down in a far corner of the grounds, 
in the shadows of the rose-hedge — white with 
bloom — which bordered the lane. Between us 
and the house stretched the long avenues of the 



mandy's doll-party. 45 

orange-plantation where the sunlight hardly sifted 
through the thickly-woven leaves, but the winds 
went softly, stirring the flowering grasses under- 
neath the trees. A little way back were the sta- 
bles, and the roomy carriage-house, and the cribs 
with their hay-piled lofts. Then, again, the 
feathery green of the hedge ; and beyond all, the 
great yellow river that glinted and gleamed under 
the blue sky. 

The little nook itself was overhung on one side 
by lithe, long-reaching festoons from the rose- 
hedge ; and on the other by a low-branched wild- 
peach tree. A blossoming honeysuckle covered 
the screen-like trellis at the back, and swung its 
tendrils along the bench where my brothers used 
to sit, making believe to study their Latin verbs 
while Tom Dennison, their tutor, walked up and 
down the orange-avenues with sweet cousin Nellie 
Branscome. 

*' Dar now ! " said Mandy at last, stepping back 
to survey the table which looked very fine indeed, 
with a big blue cup of white sugar at one end, 
and a bunch of raisins at the other, and bits of 



46 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

broken china — gilt-edged, some of them were, 
and one even had a dainty moss-rose bud on it — 
along the sides. "Dar now! Spec Mammy done 
bakin' fer Mis' Lucy by dis time. Jes you watch 
dat table, Mis' Ma'y, an' keep dem borodacious 
chillun fum eatin' up de party, whilse I run fetch 
de poun'-cake." 

She darted down the weed-grown path in the 
direction of the stable-yard, and in a moment was 
out of sight. 

No sooner was she gone than Sissy-Maria, in 
the very squeakiest tone I could assume for her, 
demanded to be " taken out visitin'." 

"No, Sissy-Maria, my child," I replied in my 
most maternal voice, " Mis' Dixylan' is down to 
Nu-Leens, an' you can't by no means go to see 
Florence-Pope." 

Sissy-Maria began to cry and I was shaking my 
finger at her and scolding, when a voice which 
seemed to come from somewhere over my head, 
said, "Don't scold Sissy-Maria! I'll play 'ladies' 
with you till Mandy comes back." 

I jumped up and looked around bewildered. 



mandy's doll-party. 47 

At first I thought it must l^e my brother Tom 
come back from the war. I peered up into the 
wild-peach, half-expecting to see his mischievous 
eyes sparkling down at me. I ran around behind 
the trellis where both the boys used sometimes 
to crouch, waiting to jump out at me as I stepped 
in the play-house. A low chuckle of amusement 
followed me as I ran back alarmed at finding no 
one in sight. I looked up again at the sound, 
and then I saw laughing down at me from the 
other side of the hedge a sunburned boyish face, 
which disappeared immediately, and almost imme- 
diately re-appeared at that very hole in the hedge 
— a little choked now with interwoven vines — 
through which my brother Tom used to creep in 
and out. The next moment a boy came crawling 
into the play-house, dragging a gun after him. 

He stood up and gave himself a shake, and 
leaned his gun against the trunk of the wild-peach, 
and then sat down on the bench and looked at 
me with a funny twist in his eyes that made me 
feel at home with him at once. 

He was about as old as brother Tom, I thought, 



48 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

and as tall and slim, with brown curling hair like 
his, and frank sunny blue eyes ; and there were 
brass-buttons on his jacket and stripes down the 
legs of his trousers, by which signs I knew he 
must be " in the war." 

We gazed at each other a moment in silence, 
and then, as he took up Adelmina and began 
dancing her on his knee, I asked from the head 
of the table where I was seated, — 

" Who are you ? " 

"Well — I'm one of your new neighbors," he 
replied, hesitating a little. 

" Oh ! " said I, wondering if they had come to 
live at Bon Soldat, which had been vacant ever 
since Captain Brion was killed at Bull Run, and 
Madame Brion had gone away, taking Angelique 
and Odille, my friends and playmates, with her. 
"I hope your mother likes it here?" I added, with 
a wish to be polite. 

He looked at me queerly and for a minute I 
thought he might be going to cry. 

" Have you got any sisters } " I went on with- 
out waiting for a reply to my last observation. 



mandy's doll-party. 49 

He brightened up. "Yes," he cried. "One. 
The jolUest little chap ! About your size. And 
you look just like her ! " 

I was a good deal excited over this possible 
companion of mine and I poured out a volume of 
questions about her, all of which he answered with 
an eager delight which almost equalled my own. 

In less time than it takes to tell it I knew that 
her name was " Ally," and she had five dolls, and 
a pony, and a dog named "Cssar," and was nearly 
nine years old (like me) ; and she practised her 
scales some, but didn't like to do it, and generally 
cried when she didn't get what she wanted — like 

me ! 

" Are you in the war ? " I demanded, returning 
abruptly to my visitor's own personal history. He 
nodded. "I s'pose you've got a furlough?" I 
w^ent on. " My brother Tom is in the war. And 
my brother Hart is. And cousin Wesley Brans- 
come is. And now father is too. Atid there ain't 
no men left 'round here anywhere, nor boys neither. 
I'm glad you've come. — O dear !" 

This last exclamation was provoked by Lorena, 



50 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

■who had lurched forward, as she had a habit of 
doing, and sprawled herself and the twins in the 
dust. 

The boy gathered them up so gently, and so 
carefully restored them to their place, that I pres- 
ently found myself relating to him the oft-repeated 
history of the Mullenses, a certain unfortunate 
family of wooden dolls, whose arms and legs 
worked so beautifully, and who had suffered mar- 
tyrdom at the hands of my brother Tom and his 
body-servant, Dandy. 

My strange visile laughed more than was po- 
lite, I thought, at this sad story, and I retired 
within myself and sat eying him, pouting and dis- 
trustful. 

"O come, little Sis, don't be mad," he cried 
coaxingly. " Let's play ' ladies.' I play ' ladies * 
with Ally. But I used to growl about it some- 
times," he added as if to himself, shaking his 
head ruefully. "Wouldn't I be good to her now, 
if I had a chance, though ! Who are you going 
to be?" 

*' Oh ! " — I w^as all good-nature again — " I'm 



mandy's doll-party. 51 



always Mis' Meddlelan — from the song, you 

know : 

His torchers sat thy temper tore, 

MeddlelaJi^ my Meddlelan. 

I think it's such a pretty name, don't you?" 

"Yes," he returned gravely; "I do. And must 
I be Mis' Dixylan'?" 

He certainly was a delightful boy. You would 
never believe how he doctored Lodore's sore 
throat ; and how he scolded Lorena for taking 
the twins out in the sun ; and how he listened 
when I told him how hard it was to get my floors 
waxed " p'operly," and what a good " subserstute " 
parched potatoes were for sho'-'nough coffee ; and 
such like talk proper between ladies visitin' to- 
gether. He was a great deal nicer than Mandy 
to play with. I told him so and I was even say- 
ing that I hoped Mandy would stay up at the 
house and — 

He jumped up tumbling Florence-Pope and 
Adelmina to the ground, seized his gun and dis- 
appeared, all in a second, I never knew how, from 
my bewildered sight. 



52 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

And here came Uncle Joshua running bare- 
headed through the orange-grove and calling at 
every step : " Little Miss ! Miss Ma'y 1 Miss 
Ma'y ! Whar is you ? whar is you ? " 

And Mammy panted along behind him crying, 
" O my chile ! my chile ! Dey is took my chile ! " 
They uttered a fervent " Bress de Lord ! " as they 
caught sight of me, and a moment later Uncle 
Joshua had gathered me up in his strong arms 
and was flying back to the house, Mammy follow- 
ing and praying as she ran. I was dumb with as- 
tonishment and fright, and only when my mother, 
who clasped me to her breast at the foot of the 
steps, had brought me into her own room, where 
the four little boys, and cousin Nell, and Mandy 
and all the house-maids were huddled together, 
did I dare to ask what it all meant. I was sure 
that my father was taken prisoner, or that one, or 
both, of my brothers were killed. " Oh ! what is it ? " 
I implored, trembling and clinging to mother. 

" The Yankees are come," everybody in the 
room said at once in an awful whisper. Even little 
Percy breathed " Yantees is tum!^^ 



MANDY S DOLL-PARTY. 53 

I Stood a moment speechless and terrified. 
Then the extent of my own special calamity burst 
upon me. " O, Mandy, Mandy ! " I shrieked, 
"they'll capshiir Sissy-Maria, an' Florence-Pope, 
an' Lodore an' Lorena, an' the twins, an' Adel- 
mi-na ! " 

The two or three days that followed were like a 
dream. Mandy and I and the four little boys 
were shut up with cousin Nell in mother's room. 
Mother herself came and went with a white, sol- 
emn face, Mammy always at her elbow, and 
sometimes Uncle Joshua, who held long, mysteri- 
ous consultations with her. Unusual noises from 
the outside reached us through the shuttered 
windows which we were forbidden to approach. 
Heavy footsteps echoed along the halls and in the 
rooms below. Then gradually these sounds ceased 
and an unnatural quiet seemed to reign over every- 
thing. I had never been in the house so long be- 
fore since I could remember, except when I had 
the measles, and I seemed to myself to be shut 
up in one of those enchanted castles which brother 
Tom used to tell about when we gathered around 



54 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

him on the front steps in the twilight. And the 
thought of Sissy-Maria and the rest was heavy 
upon my heart. 

So, at last, one afternoon when mother and 
Mammy were out of the way, and cousin Nell 
asleep on the lounge, and the little boys squab- 
bling over their playthings, Mandy and I stole on 
tiptoe into the hall and out upon the veranda 
and down the steps. I smothered an exclamation 
at sight of the cluster of white tents over by the 
sugar-house, with a flag floating from a flag-pole in 
their midst ! And on the warm, sleepy air came 
the faint sound of a drum. 

The lawn had a curiously deserted and desolate 
look ; scraps of paper, and rags, and corn-shucks, 
were strewed over its unkempt grass ; its low 
hedges were trampled and broken ; the rose-vines 
were torn from the trellises and lay withering on 
the ground. 

I noted all this wonderingly, as Mandy drew me 
around the corner of the house in the direction of 
the stables. " Case," she whispered, while we 
crept stealthily along, " we mus' go by de little 



mandy's doll-party. 55 

crib-lof. I'se done brung some corn-pone fer ter 
feed Mis' Hamilton." 

" Mrs. Hamilton " was my own big yellow pet 
hen, and she was hatching out a brood of chicks 
under our care. 

The stable-doors were wide open, and the stalls 
deserted. The cribs also seemed to be empty, 
their doors mostly swinging by one hinge, or 
wrenched off entirely. Not a soul was in sight, 
and not a creature, of the many creatures feathered 
or four-footed, that were wont to make the stable- 
yard so busy and so noisy. 

All at once Mandy clutched my arm. "My 
Ian' ! Miss Ma'y," she whispered, " 'f dar ain't one 
er dem borodacious Yankees now ! " My heart 
flew into my mouth. I tried to run, but seemed 
rooted to the ground, and my gaze was fascinated 
by a pair of blue-clad legs — which had a strangely 
familiar look, somehow — dangling from the win- 
dow of the little crib, and feeling about as if in 
search of the top of a short plank leaning ladder- 
wise against the wall. The head and shoulders of 
their owner were still in the hay-loft and invisible. 



56 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Mandy waited a second and then marched 
boldly forward and threw down the plank. Then 
reaching up she seized one of the legs and gave 
it a violent jerk. A voice above remonstrated 
angrily, but she held on, and emboldened by her 
example I caught the other leg as it came within 
reach, and — there we were in a confused heap on 
the ground — Mandy and myself and the Yankee ! 
He sprang to his feet scowling frightfully at 
Mandy, but as his eyes fell upon me his face 
changed. 

*' Hello, Mis' Meddlelan ! " he cried joyfully. 

It was my playfellow! 

" Are you a Yankee ? " I asked soberly, and not 
quite reassured. 

"Well, yes," he admitted. "I guess I am — a 
sort of a one." 

" An' what was you doin' in my hay-lof ? " 

" Hunting eggs," he replied promptly. " I'm 
awful fond of eggs. Don't your brother Tom like 
'em ? " 

At this my severity melted away. I could 
almost see my brother Tom sliding down the 



mandy's doll-party. 57 

side of that very crib, with his hat full of eggs 
to roast in Mammy's fire for you and me, sis ' ! 

But Mandy poked her head out of the loft 
which she had reached in some way known only 
to herself. " Miss Ma'y," she wailed down to me, 
" de nes' is broke up an' dey is tooken Mis' Hamil- 
ton ! " I ceased to smile and burst into tears. 

"Oh! don't cry, little Sis, don't cry," implored 
my Yankee. " I didn't do it, 'pon honor I didn't. 
And I've brought you a hired girl. Come see her." 

" A what ? " I dropped the corner of my apron 
and stared at him. 

" A new help. Didn't you say you wanted one 
to nurse the twins ? Come ! " 

He took my hand and raced me gleefully along 
the path to the play-house. 

Well, there was everything just as I had left it, 
except that a long line of red ants was crawling 
across the table and up the sides of the blue cup 
and down into the sugar ; and some bees were 
buzzing over the bunch of raisins. The dolls 
were sitting primly upon their bit of carpet — even 
Adelmina and Florence-Pope had somehow got 



58 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

back to their places. Oh ! and here was Lorena 
idle like a grand lady by Sissy-Maria. And 
the twins were clasped in the arms of a big 
wooden doll, with flowing scarlet hair and beauti- 
ful staring black eyes. I flew to this stranger 
and took jDOssession of her with a cry of ecstasy. 
She had on a dark-blue flannel dress with a belt 
made out of the same scarlet silk whose ravelled 
threads composed her scanty locks. Her skin 
was a little rough, and her nose uneven, but she 
could sit down, having a lovely bend to her knees, 
and her nicely-jointed arms moved both at shoul- 
der and elbow. 

The boy stood by the bench, looking down at 
me and smiling. " I'm glad you like her," he 
said. " Her name is Lucindy-Keturah. I whit- 
tled her out myself, and I fixed her hair and 
sewed her gown." 

" Oh ! " I sighed, " she's just l>e-u-tiM ! Has 
Ally got one like her ? " 

His laughing face became a trifle sober. 

" You're good, goo^ if you are a Yankee," I 
went on. " I'm goin' to run and show her to 







;), 









li^"-' 



^-iMi' 




HER NAME IS LUCIN UA-KETU RAH." SAID TFIE \ ANKEE. 



M Andy's doll-party. 6i 

mother. Where is your mother?" I broke off 
with a sudden recollection of the new neighbors. 

The Yankee boy's lip trembled ; a flush came 
into his cheek. " Home," he said briefly. "With 
Ally. In Massachusetts." All at once he covered 
his face with his hands and sobbed outright. 
"Oh ! " he cried, " if I could only see my mother." 

I didn't know at all what to say, and so I stood 
quite still for a little while. And then I reached 
up and patted his elbow timidly. 

He took his hands away from his face and 
looked at me ; then stooped over and laid his 
cheek wet with warm tears against my own ; and 
then without another word walked slowly down 
the hedge-path. Presently I saw him rise lightly 
into the air as he leaped over the hedge, and the 
sound of his footsteps echoed up the lane and 
died away. 

" Miss Ma'y," said Mandy solemnly, as we 
stole back to the house, " you jes ought ter be 
skatne er yo' sef. I gwine tell yo' maw dat you 
done talk to er Yankee, an' done 'cepted a nuss 
fum er Yankee — an 'er Yankee whar come ter 



62 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

steal aiggs at dat. Yo' maw gwine ter be powerful 
upsot, and she gwine ter scole yur an' mek you 
bu'n up that Lucindy-Kitury, sho's you bawn." 

But my mother did not scold when I told her 
the story. She listened with a soft smile on her 
face, and unshed tears, whose meaning I vaguely 
understood, in her large dark eyes. And when 
I had finished she took Lucindy-Keturah and laid 
her hand almost caressingly upon the shock of 
scarlet hair, and looked at the clumsy stitches in 
the blue dress, with a little laugh that died off 
into a sob down in her throat. 

And that night, somewhere " 'way in the night," 
I awoke and saw her kneeling over by the win- 
dow with the white moonlight all around her and 
her face shining out of it as the Holy Mother's 
face shines out of the glory that is about her in 
the picture over the altar in our little church 
down by the river. 

I sat up in bed and asked, as I had asked many 
and many a time before during the past year, 

" Mother, are you praying for father ? " 

" Yes, dear," she replied softly. 



mandy's doll-party. 63 

"And for your Boys in Gray who are so far 
away from you ? " 

"Yes, dear," she said more softly still. "For 
my Boys in Gray. And for the Boy in Blue too 
who is so far away from his mother. And for his 
mother, God help her ! God help us all ! " 



CHAPTER IV. 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 



THE four little boys were down at Mammy's 
cabin the day she planted the dish-rag 
gourd seed. And from that time on they used to 
troop there every morning, like four little Jacks 
out of the Bean-Stalk Story to see how the vine 



was coming on. 



" Dat ar gode," Mammy would say, watching it 
fondly as it crept up the sides of the cabin, stretch- 
ing out its soft little tendrils to clasp here a knot, 
there a corner of the flung-open shutter, and 
spreading everywhere its broad green leaves with 
their pale fuzzy lining, " dat ar gode-vine gwine 
ter be ez handy ez er town-sto' o' er tradin'-boat. 
Mis' Lucy ain't gwine ter ha' ter werry no mo' 
'bout dish-rags an' aperns fer dem triflin' no-'count 
house-gals ; an' ez ter botixCxX.^ ! Miss Nellie say ez 

64 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 65 

how over ter Marse Jeems's Plantation all five er 
de young ladies is done got dey bonnits fum er 
gode vine like dis ! " 

The little boys talked a great deal among them- 
selves about this wonderful vine. Would the 
aprons (they asked each other) be all blue like 
those Mammy gave out every two days to M'lindy 
and 'Riah and Sophy ? or striped red and green 
like the one she herself sometimes put on of after- 
noons ? Would the dish-rags be white with a tape- 
loop in one corner .? And the bonnets ? They 
took note of the bonnets in church one Sunday, 
and the next morning they counted up, together, 
seventeen — all different — from Madame Michel's 
rusty black straw with its white inside ruching, to 
the fluffy pink thing — a network of crepe and 
rose - buds — worn by Mademoiselle Elise, her 
pretty grand-daughter from New Orleans. 

It was little Percy who found the first flower, 
away up under the overhanging eaves. *' Oh, a 
yeller bonnet's tummin' ! A yeller bonnet's tum- 
min' ! " he shouted to the others ; and almost cried 
when it proved to be only a flower ! 



66 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

But the yellow trumpets that soon hung the 
vine from the ground to the very top of the peaked 
roof were pretty enough, and so were the long, 
slim, emerald-green gourds that presently began 
to show under the leaves and to thrust themselves 
out into the warm sunshine. " An' bimeby," 
prophesied Charley confidently, " them gourds is 
goin' to bust and bloom into bonnits — all over 
Mammy's cabin — seventeen kinds of 'em. An' 
into aperns. An^ into dish-rags ! " 

Meantime they came, as I have said, every day 
to look at the vine and to play in its shadow. And 
no wonder ! For this was the very cosiest spot in 
all the Quarter. Mammy's cabin stood squarely 
across one end of the long dotible-row of white- 
washed cabins that stretched between the further 
edge of the grounds and the rear cane-fields. In 
the little patch in front were squares of cabbages 
and beans ; and of sweet corn whose bronzing 
tassels tossed in the sun ; and of artichokes whose 
dainty cones nestled under curious ashy-green 
leaves ; and of egg-plants with their purplish-red 
globes ; and of ochra and tomatoes and garlic. 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 67 

Hedge-like rows of sage and fennel and rosemary 
and lavender bordered these tiny squares, and in 
the corners grew stout rose-bushes weighted with 
great pale-pink " damasks," filling all the air with 
a delicious odor which is like no other perfume 
in the world. To my dying day, I am sure, that 
a whiff of one of these old-fashioned damasks will 
bring before my eyes a picture of Mammy's cabin, 
vine-covered and tranquil, with its one window- 
shutter flung back, and a broken tea-cup on the 
sill filled with wide open roses scattering their pink 
petals on the ground below ; and a thin smoke 
curling lazily from the squat chimney; and the lit- 
tle boys playing about the step expectant of hot 
gingerbread ; and Mammy herself bustling about 
the wide fireplace within ; and the winds of sum- 
mer stirring softly by from the river ; and a ten- 
der blue sky — that seems to bend so low that 
one has only to reach up a hand to touch it — 
over all. 

Four or five great umbrella-china trees shaded 
the back-yard where generation after generation 
of big-jointed goslings and downy chicks and 



68 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

fuzzy ducklings ran noisily about, with Jupe, 
Uncle Joshua's lean brown old hound, to watch 
them and to keep out intruders. 

Here, too, toddled and tumbled and frolicked 
the babies of the Quarter, when their mothers 
were at work in the cane-fields. Old Aunt Rose, 
withered and wrinkled, but tall and straight, who 
sat in a big chair in the cabin-door minding them, 
came over, with Grandpa's Uncle Silas, from 
Africa, where she was a Princess, with a thousand 
"niggers " of her own — so she used to tell us as 
we hovered around her, half-frightened, half-fas- 
cinated by her strange broken speech and hollow 
voice, and by the curious marks which banded her 
forehead and circled her leathery neck and arms. 

One morning — the slim gourds were growing 
longer and longer and bursting-time must surely 
be at hand! — the four little boys and Aunt Ca'l- 
line's six-year-old "triplers," Marthy and Mary 
and Laz'rus, got into a rough-and-tumble conflict 
all together. I don't think that any of them ever 
remembered afterwards what it was about, for 
just as Aunt Rose fell upon them all with her 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 69 

terrible frown and her long switch, the back cane- 
field seemed suddenly to swarm with soldiers, 
who came leaping across the ditch and over the 
low hedge. Their brass buttons glittered as they 
swept past the cabin and poured into the house 
yard and took possession of the kitchen and 
smoke-house and surged up the steps of the back 
gallery. 

There was a great commotion and a vast deal 
of confusion and of hurr}-ing to and fro, but sev- 
eral of the men stopped to shake hands with the 
little boys and pat their curly heads, when they 
came timidly across from the Quarter and edged 
their way through the crowd to the house. 

" Is you done whipped de Yantees ? " asked lit- 
tle Percy of a tall fellow who had a sword dan- 
gling from his belt. The soldier laughed and said 
not yet; and then gathered him in his arms and 
carried him up the steps — the other three treading 
close upon his heels — and put him down inside 
the hall where mother was. And by the time 
Uncle Joshua had found me and brought me up 
from the play-house, they all knew that the new- 



70 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

comers were none other than " the Yankees " 
themselves. 

" What will they do to our gourd-vine ? " they 
used often to ask in the days that followed, trot- 
ting after Mammy, or tugging at mother's skirts 
whenever she came into the room where we were. 

As we became accustomed to the stillness which 
settled over everything after the first noisy week 
when the blue-coated strangers roamed at will over 
the grounds, or lounged through the house, we 
were allowed to creep out on the veranda and 
listen to the faint sounds of music and laughter 
and life that floated across from the camp over 
by the sugar-house. Our own familiar home- 
noises — the cheery clucking of hens, the patient 
low of cows, the neighing of horses, the clatter of 
looms and whir of spinning-wheels — even the hur- 
rying bustle of the house-girls with their brushes 
and brooms and Mammy's imperious voice scold- 
ing them and keeping them in order — all this 
seemed to have ceased forever. The kitchen was 
empty ; the outhouses were all closed ; the very 
Quarter itself seemed deserted. 



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THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 73 

Only sometimes a squad of soldiers tramped up 
the lane toward the camp ; or a single shot some- 
where broke the drowsy stillness ; and sometimes 
in the early gray of the morning strange sounds 
came from the river, and great formless things, 
half-seen through the overhanging mist, surged by 
on the yellow flood, breathing heavily. 

And then, for a moment, a little of the old life 
and activity would come back. The cabin-doors 
would open suddenly and the field-hands would 
pour out, eager and questioning, and the house- 
servants would crowd around the steps, or gather 
on the ragged lawn, until mother came out to 
reassure them. 

But, at last, one afternoon — it was after the 
long summer had faded into the fall and the blue 
haze of a dying November overhung the waving 
bluish-green cane-fields and the yet-blooming 
hedges — when we looked over toward the camp 
we saw that the flag-pole stood up slender and 
bare against the sky ; the white tents had disap- 
peared ! And presently we heard the sound of a 
fife and drum. It came nearer and nearer, and 



74 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

all at once there were the soldiers coming with a 
steady echoing tread along the lane, with the 
pretty striped flag moving in their midst. 

Before mother's warning voice could reach us 
we had scampered down to the gate — Mandy and 
I and the four little boys — to see them go by. 
M'lindy and 'Riah and Sophy and the others were 
already there looking on wonderingly. 

The tall fellow in front, the one with a sword at 
his belt who had carried little Percy up the steps, 
saw us on the fence and took off his hat and smiled 
as he went by. And so did nearly all of the others. 
Then the little boys waved their ragged home- 
made palmetto hats and hurrahed gayly and the 
soldiers laughed and cheered too. 

Suddenly among the very last I caught sight of 
a face that I knew ! 

My Yankee playfellow's cap was pulled down 
upon his forehead ; his cheeks were flushed ; his 
eyes seemed to have lost their merry twinkle. 
My heart swelled as I looked at him, and a con- 
fused vision of my brother Hart marching off to 
the war, and little Ally, and her five dolls, and my 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 75 

mother kneeling and praying in the white moon- 
light, and another and unknown mother kneeling 
too and praying, rose before me. 

"Good-by, Mis' Meddlelan," he called out wav- 
ing his hand, and looking back when he had 
passed. 

" Good-by," I called after him, " good-by ! 
good " — "^ 

And then I wondered why my throat should fill 
up, and why the tears should come streaming 
down my cheeks. 

The boat that directly swung away from the 
landing and went puffing up the river, only carried 
them a few miles away. They had changed their 
quarters, that was all. And a blue-coat still 
drifted occasionally along the lane, or between the 
rows of cane in the fields ; or even sauntered in 
and sat for awhile on the steps of the veranda. 

But the spell was broken, and La Rose Blanche 
awoke. Some of the cabins in the Quarter were 
empty and remained closed ; but the most took on 
their old air of noisy life. The long-disused weav- 
ing-room was opened and the clatter of looms and 



76 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

whirr of spinning-wheels began again. A little 
movement even re-commenced about the stable- 
yard where a few forlorn mules stood in the broken 
stalls munching nubbins. In the house M'lindy 
and 'Riah and Sophy bustled about flourishing 
brooms and dusters, cleaning windows, shaking 
rugs, and giggling and dodging Mammy's wrathful 
hand as of old. On the lawn Jake and Grief raked 
the dead leaves into heaps and burned them under 
Uncle Joshua's supervision, and Uncle Joshua 
himself, spade in hand, pottered about the rose- 
garden singing, as he always did when he had a 
spade in his hand, ''''Possum up de guin-stimip, coony 
ill de holler^^'' while mother and Cousin Nellie went 
from trellis to trellis tying up vines and snipping 
off dead twigs and putting things to rights gen- 
erally. 

Of course the very first day of our release from 
the house, the four little boys went whooping down 
to Mammy's cabin to inspect the dish-rag-gourd- 
vine. 

They stopped and looked at each other in a 
kind of silent dismay when they saw it. The vine 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 77 

was there, oh, yes ! But the leaves had nearly all 
dropped off and the few that remained were 
brown and shriveled. The pretty, long green 
gourds had grown longer and bigger indeed, 
and hung thick against the cabin-walls and lay 
shoulder to shoulder on the sloping roof, but they 
had become discolored and shrunken and ugly. 

" You neen'ter min' dat, chillen ! " Mammy ex- 
claimed, appearing in the cabin-door. " De dish- 
rags, an' aperns, an^ bonnits is sholy inside o' dem 
godes. I gwine ter tote er armful ter Mis' Lucy 
one o' dese days an' ax her to 'splain 'bout 'em." 

They stood by, a little dubious, the day she tore 
down the withered vine and picked off the gourds, 
laying them in heaps on the ground ; but they fol- 
lowed her gleefully when she went to the house, 
Charley and Sam and Will each hugging a load of 
the musky-smelling things ; but little Percy rode 
triumphantly on Mammy's shoulder with a big 
gingerbread man hot from Mammy's own oven 
clasped in his arms — for it was his birthday. 

They looked on with wide-eyed interest while 
mother peeled off the outer rind of the gourds and 



78 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

ran her scissors through the pale yellow spongy 
mass inside, and cut open carefully the odd little 
seed-chambers. 

" I don't think we shall have any aprons for 
M'lindy and 'Riah and Sophy," she said, as she 
spread out one delicate roll of network after 
another; and she smiled down at the excited little 
faces around her. " But here are really dozens of 
dish-rags for them ; and now we are going to find 
one bonnet at least ! " 

What a time we all made over that bonnet to be 
sure ! How we watched her needle as it flew in 
and out embroidering together the pretty, lace-like 
strips from the gourds. What a hunt we had for 
some wire to run under the edges and to stiffen 
the tall silk scoop that arched over the front. For 
it was of the pattern known to us inside the lines 
but I believe unheard-of in the outer world, as a 
" sky-scraper." And what a discussion there was 
before mother would consent to cut a piece out of 
the lilac brocade gown — worn by our great-great- 
grandmother Selden at Governor Claiborne's In- 
auguration Ball at New Orleans, in the beginning 



THE DISH-R4G BONNET. 79 

of the century — for the strings and the sky-scraper. 
And how pretty it was when it was finished ! 

" Did'n' I tole you dem godes uz gwine ter be 
powerful handy ! " exclaimed Mammy admiringly. 

" We knowed our vine was goin' to bloom bon- 
nets and dish-rags ! " chorused the little boys. 

But the bonnet was laid on a shelf in the 
armoire, for something of more importance than 
the making of a bonnet was to be done that day. 
Uncle Joshua knew of a man who was about to 
try to "get through the lines" and mother was 
going to send a box to father and the boys. 

We all flocked out on the back-gallery to help 
pack it. It was not a very big box, but a great 
deal somehow went into it. There were socks 
and shirts for father and brother Tom and brother 
Hart and cousin Wesley Branscome, and for Dandy 
and Virgil. There was a dainty little tobacco- 
pouch for Tom Dennison with cousin Nellie's ini- 
tials on it ; and some Perique tobacco for father 
from Uncle Joshua ; and a little package of tea 
and some sure-enough coffee — the last we had ; 
and an uneven-looking and rather soiled " com- 



8o IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

forter " which Mandy and I had taken turns to 
knit for father ; and two fine soft silk handker- 
chiefs, with a Toreador embroidered in the corners, 
for brothers Tom and Hart. These last were my 
own and had come in uncle James' blockade-run- 
ner from Mexico, and I hesitated and looked at 
mother when I brought them out. " Yes, dear,'* 
she said, "send them if you like. We all want 
to give to our soldiers the most precious things 
that we have." 

There were other packages too of socks and 
handkerchiefs and the like, for needy comrades. 

I did not wonder now to see mother's tears 
dropping upon all these things as she folded and 
laid them in, for I too was beginning to under- 
stand. 

When the packing was done we followed mother 
into the rose-garden, leaving Uncle Joshua to nail 
up and mark the box and smuggle it down to th*^ 
river where the man would be waiting after dark 
in his dug-out. 

The next Sunday we were all ready for church. 
The carriage drawn by a pair of rickety old mules 



THE DISH-RAG BONNEl. 8l 

was waiting at the steps with Uncle Joshua on the 
driver's seat. 

Mother had put on her new black-and-white 
check home-spun dress, with its black velvet collar 
and buttons and dainty neck-ruffle of fine old yel- 
low lace ; she had drawn on the black silk gloves 
made of a pair of Grandmother Selden's lavender- 
scented stockings ; she had a cluster of winter- 
roses at her belt, and she was waiting for Cousin 
Nellie to fetch her new dish-rag bonnet from the 
armoire. 

" I clar ter goodness, Mis' Lucy," said Mammy 
who stood in front of her with her hands resting 
on her ample hips and her turbaned head on one 
side, " I clar ter goodness, I is done dress' you 
fer yo' firs' communion ; I is done dress you fer 
yo' comin'-out party, an' I is done dress you fer 
yo' weddin' ; an' I sholy is never seen you look ez 
sweet ez you does in dat ar home-spun ! An' I 
wishes dat Marse John could see you dis minnit, 
honey, dat I does !" 

A soft little flush passed over mother's pale 
face and her lips trembled. But just then Cousin 



82 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Nellie came flying in. "Aunt Lucy," she cried 
breathlessly, "your dish-rag bonnet is go?ie/^^ 

And sure enough it was gone. There was not 
a sign of it in the armoire, or anywhere. A great 
hubbub followed the fruitless search. Everybody 
talked and wondered at once. 

It was more exciting even than the advent of 
the Yankees ! 

In the midst of the commotion little Percy came 
strolling in, his hands behind his back and his 
new jeans hat set firmly on his yellow curls. 
When he understood what it was all about he 
stood suddenly still and turned an astonished little 
face toward mother. 

"Why, muzzer," he exclaimed, "I sought you 
fordot it, an' I yunned an' put it in ee bokty 

" W^hat box ? " asked mother, puzzled. 

" Ee solyer's bokt," he replied, spreading out 
his little hands, and lifting his small shoulders, 
and rolling up his eyes, like a Diego. " You said 
'at you wanted ee solyers to have ee mos' pessus 
sings, an' I come'd to get my ginger-b'ead man 'at 
Mammy made me, an' I saw 'at pessus bonnit, an' 



THE DISH-RAG BONNET. 83 

I yunned an' 'tuffed ee bonnit an' ee ginger-b'ead 
man in ee bokt for ee solyers. Was'n nobody 
yare^ an' den Unk Josh he come'd an' nailed up 
ee bokt." 

And big tears began rolling down his fat cheeks 
and dropped like rain upon his new jeans kilt. 

But by this time mother was kneeling on the 
floor beside him with her arms around him laugh- 
ing and crying in the same breath ; and Mammy 
was hovering over them both laughing and crying 
too. 

" My land ! " exclaimed Mandy who was stand- 
ing by, " dat fool-nigger, Dandy, kin eat de gin- 
gerbread man ef it ar hard ez er rock time it gits 
dar. But what dem soldiers gwine ter do wid 
Mis' Lucy's dish-rag bonnit ! " 

But the box never reached them after all ! 
Whether some needier rebels pounced upon it on 
the way and wore, God bless them ! the things in- 
tended for our own, or whether indeed it fell into 
alien hands and never got through the lines at all, 
we never knew, for we never heard of it after- 
ward. 



84 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 



But even yet we sometimes wonder — can any- 
one tell us ? — who got the dish-rag bonnet ! 



Note. — Luffa acutangula is the botanical name of the gourd-vine 
commonly known as " Torchon " in French, " Dish-rag " in English. 
The gourds, which are cucumber-shaped and quite long, must be plucked, 
for use, before the outer rind has quite hardened ; it then peels off like 
the skin of a banana. Within is a roll of spongy substance of a lovely 
pale lemon color, containing a number of rows of seed vessels. When 
this roll is cut open it makes a strip four or five inches wide, the length of 
the gourd ; and the seed-chambers being clipped and the seed taken out a 
very beautiful surface is presented of alternating smooth and raised bands. 

During the war a variety of articles were manufactured from these 
gourds ; the strips were cut and sewed into bonnets, baskets and some- 
times fancy aprons bound on the edges with cambric and tied back with 
colored ribbons. It has always been used in the South by the negroes for 
dish-rags, hence the common name. 



CHAPTER V. 

A MORNING-GLORY. 

DEY is sholy fightin' up yander somewhurs 
pas' de ben' o' de river," said Uncle Joshua 
shaking his head mournfully. " Dat rumberlin' 
am de canyun-balls bustin' fum de canyuns, an' 
dat crackerlin' am de shot-guns an' de muskits. 
Oh, Lord ! what foolishness is done tu'n de hade 
o' Dy people dat mek 'em lif ' up de han' ginse one 
anoder ter 'stroy de Ian', an' ter full up de Val- 
ley o' Armyergedjen wid blood eenermos' ter de 
bridles o' de bosses ! — Don't you be skeered, Mis' 
Lucy, honey," he broke off abruptly, turning his 
kindly old face toward my mother. " Don't you be 
skeered ; ain't nobody gwine ter tech er ha'r o' yo' 
hade whilse yo' Uncle Joshua han' am hot." 

A heavy boom like the crash of distant thunder 
had startled us as we sat at the breakfast-table. 

85 



86 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Mother had arisen, trembling, when the sound 
came again — and again — and finally seemed to 
be merged into one continuous roar that pafpitated 
along the ground and made the house quiver 
faintly beneath our feet. She had gone out on 
the back veranda, leaving the food untouched on 
her plate ; and there the household was gathered 
— black and white — listening and looking in 
strained expectation. 

A cold little wind blew in our faces, but the 
azure January sky laughed cloudless in the yellow 
sunshine, save where a vaporous ridge of smoke 
was gradually spreading along the tops of the 
moss-hung trees in the bend of the river. 

As the morning wore away, sharper and shriller 
sounds smote our ears, coming nearer one while, 
and then receding like the waves of the sea; and 
sometimes we almost thought we heard confused 
cries and hoarse shouts. 

At first there had been a good deal of noise 
and excitement about the place. The field-hands 
came hurrying in ; the women ran up and many of 
them crept under the veranda of the " great-house," 



A MORNING-GLORY. 87 

or huddled in the lower halls ; the men hung, hes- 
itating, around the cabins in the Quarter for a 
while and then disappeared ; old Aunt Rose came 
across the back-yard driving the forgotten babies 
before her like a flock of little brown woolly sheep ; 
and mounting the steps painfully between Uncle 
Joshua and Mammy she was placed in mother's 
own chair in the wide sitting-room, where a cheer- 
ful wood-fire blazed, and where the babies toddled 
about as much at home on the flowered carpet as 
on the bare floor of Mammy's cabin. 

After a while, however, a stillness fell over La 
Rose Blanche and over the group on the gallery. 
Even the four little boys sat hand-in-hand in a row 
together on the top step, silent, and with small 
sober faces turned in the direction of the un- 
wonted sounds. 

But they jumped up and flew to Mammy, hiding 
their faces in her skirts, as old Jupe, who was 
lying at their feet, lifted his head suddenly and 
uttered a long lugubrious howl, and at the same 
moment a volley of shots rang sharply out at the 
further edge of the rear cane-fields, followed by a 



88 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

rushing trampling sound, and another but more 
irregular volley. 

And a confused mass of men came flying across 
the yellow stubble of the field, striding over the 
low hedge and leaping the ditch, almost at the 
very spot where the soldiers had come swarming 
over last summer. Only, these flying men, who 
clutched their guns and breathed heavily as they 
ran, wore gray uniforms. Their faces were grimy 
with smoke and dust ; and here and there one wore 
a bloody bandage about his head in lieu of a cap. 

Some of them glanced up as they dashed ob- 
liquely across the yard, and one, a boyish fellow 
with dark eyes shining in his swarthy face, even 
smiled and cheered as he caught sight of mother's 
down-stretched arms and silent prayerful face. 
He disappeared with the rest around the corner 
of the house ; others passed lower down by the 
stables and swept across the orange-plantation ; 
others further down still, skirted along the hedge 
— in all perhaps a couple of hundred men, though 
they seemed thrice that number. 

Sharp shots still echoed behind them, and hardly 



A MORNING-GLORY. 89 

had they begun to leap over, or break through 
the rose-hedges bordering, on either side, the wide 
lane, when a straggling line of men in blue came 
panting over the cane-stubble, and striding the 
low hedge, and leaping the ditch and rushing 
across the grounds in hot pursuit. 

We ran down the long hall and out upon the 
front veranda, and stood there breathless. It was 
like a dream, with men as phantoms blown across 
it! Not a word, or a cry except that one little 
cheer that broke from the dark-eyed boy as he 
sped past, had escaped the lips of pursued or pur- 
suer since they came first in sight. 

And now, the foremost line — though indeed, 
neither blue nor grey were formed in lines, but 
dashed along in irregular and broken squads that 
were here shoulder to shoulder, and there were 
wide apart — the grey line was now sweeping 
across the field beyond the lane ; we saw them run 
up the sloping embankment of the wide ditch that 
marks the boundary of La Rose Blanche. Their 
forms stood dark and sharply outlined for a brief 
second, against the sky ; then dropped out of sight. 



90 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Their pursuers, hardly equalling them in num- 
bers, followed impetuously ; but stopped suddenly, 
as a flash of fire ran along the weedy edge of the 
embankment, a puff of bluish vapor arose, and a 
rattling volley burst and went echoing by. For a 
long time — it seems to me as I remember it, 
though it was in reality perhaps but a few mo- 
ments — the blue coats held their ground, and the 
crash of interchanging shots filled the air with 
confusion. 

M'lindy and 'Riah and Sophy fled shrieking into 
the hall, but I think none of the others stirred — 
the little boys only shrunk closer to Mammy and 
Uncle Joshua ; and Mandy and I pressed a little 
nearer to mother and cousin Nellie, as the bullets 
came whizzing by. One even struck a post of the 
veranda just above where cousin Nellie's canary 
swung in its gilded cage, flattened and fell on the 
steps. Mammy reached up and unhooked the 
cage. *' Hifs dade,''^ she said with a sob, as she 
took out the little creature, which had not been 
struck by the ball, but had perhaps died of fright. 
The fluffy yellow ball lying motionless in Mammy's 



A MORNING-GLORY. 9 I 

large dusky palm stands out curiously vivid amid 
the disordered memories of that fearful time. 

There was a sudden wavering among the men in 
blue ; they fell back ; at first step by step, and 
then more rapidly. Then from behind the em- 
bankment the men in grey arose. They appeared 
once more outlined against the sky, and a yell, 
hoarse, harsh, terrible, burst from them as they 
rushed down the slope, A swift light, like a 
streak of forked lightning, darted along their now 
almost compact ranks. It was the glinting of the 
low sun upon their bayonets and upon their pol- 
ished gun-barrels. 

It seemed but a moment before they all panted 
by again ; the straggling line of blue followed this 
time by the straggling line of grey, leaping the 
ditch, striding over the hedge, sweeping across the 
yellow stubble, and plunging into the wood. An 
occasional shot came ringing back, and once again 
the wild yell was borne to us, fainter, but more ex- 
ultant still ; but soon we heard nothing but the 
distant boom of the cannon, which itself was com- 
ing at longer intervals, and which died away in 



92 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

silence as the beams of the setting sun turned to 
a dark yellowish red the low-lying cloud of smoke 
caught on the tree-tops in the bend of the river. 

" 'Pears like dey all uz playin' Deer an' Dogs," 
remarked Mandy. "An' hit's powerful hard ter 
tell which air de deer an' which air de dogs ! " 

When we ran again to the back veranda to watch 
*' the battle " — as we always called it afterward — 
roll back into the wood, we found two soldiers 
seated on the steps. They wore faded grey uni- 
forms and ragged shoes and tattered caps. One 
of them, an old man with a grey beard, and homely, 
wrinkled face, was tying a soiled handkerchief 
about the other one's arm. 

" Oh, it ain't nothin', ma'am," said the boy, for 
he was a mere lad, looking up bashfully at mother 
and cousin Nell, who hovered over him with clean 
bandages and lint and healing-salve. "Jest a 
scratch, ain't it, Dad?" 

The old man was presently telling mother, while 
the boy ate a slice of bread and drank some milk, 
where they came from : 

" 'Way out yander by the Warloopy River in 



A MORNING-GLORY. 93 

Texas. The ole woman an' the gals is thar a-makin' 
of the craps, and an' me an' Jake air a-carryin' on 
the war ! " He laughed gayly and passed an affec- 
tionate arm around Jake's thin shoulders. " Come, 
Jake," he added, rising to his feet, " the boys'U 
be a hikin' away 'fore we git thar 'f we don't look 
out. We jest put in fur a little scrimmage, ma'am ; 
the Yanks air a heap too many fer we-uns roun' 
in these here diggin's." 

And they trudged away. 

We watched them stepping cheerily across the 
field, the boy still gathered within the long bony 
arm. They paused and looked back when they 
reached the verge of the field, and a moment later 
they were lost to sight. 

It was many a long day before we saw a grey 
uniform again. 

The next morning was quiet enough. The 
women and boys came creeping back from the 
swamp to which they had fled at the first crack of 
the rifles ; but the men, except Uncle Joshua, had 
for the time wholly disappeared. 

Old Aunt Rose and the flock of babies remained 



94 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

in the sitting-room ; and there mother was tending 
one of Aunt Ca'lline's "triplers" — Marthy, I 
think it was — who had a fever and sore throat, 
when Uncle Joshua came in, his face wearing a 
strange, troubled, frightened look. He stooped 
ever mother where she knelt by the child's pallet, 
and said something to her in a low voice. A still 
deeper pallor passed over her pale face. She stood 
up and motioned to cousin Nellie to take her place, 
pressing the glass and spoon she held into her 
hand, and went out without a word. 

At the foot of the steps, when she found that 
Mandy and I and the four little boys had followed 
her, she turned and opened her lips as if to send 
us back, but took my hand instead and drew me 
to her side. Uncle Joshua led us through the 
<Drange-plantation. The leafy boughs over our 
heads, broken by the bullets of the day before, 
hung down dying and exhaling a sweet musky 
perfume ; the ground in many places was trampled 
where the soldiers had passed through and the 
dry grass was crushed into the brown earth. 

We neared the play-house ; and then — I cannot 



1^.. 






s 



% 







V 






V 







A MORNING-GLORY. 97 

tell why — I suddenly divined what it was that we 
had come out to see, and I longed to stop, but 
somehow felt as if I could not. 

He was lying there — my Yankee playfellow — 
close under the shadow of the broken hedge, not 
far from where I had first seen him. His face, 
strange and pallid, was upturned to the sky, his 
eyes were wide open, all their laughing blue faded 
to a dull opaque grey. One arm was thrown up 
over his head, and the other lay across his breast, 
concealing the bullet hole in his jacket, but not the 
dark red stain which spread along his side and dyed 
the brown grasses around him. His gun was lying 
a few feet away where it had fallen from his nerve- 
less hand, whose white fingers were still bent as if 
to grasp it. A soft dim sunlight — for the sky was 
cloudmg — streamed over him and a bird in the 
wild peach-tree was twittering gently. 

My mother sprang forward with an agonized 
cry — the only one wrung from those brave lips 
through all the four years of suspense and agony 
— and threw herself on her knees beside the dead 
boy, and pressed her lips to his cold forehead. 



98 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

I Stood by quivering, but tearless, while she 
wiped the ghastly face with her handkerchief, and 
smoothed back the brown, curling hair, with little 
inarticulate caressing murmurs ; and pressed the 
white lids over the staring eyes, and sought to 
compose the stiffened limbs. 

But I burst into a passion of weeping when she 
gently opened the blood-stained jacket and drew 
from the pocket a packet of letters and that photo- 
graph of the sweet-faced mother, with the child 
that " looked like me " leaning against her knee, 
which he had shown me so proudly in the play- 
house that unforgotten summer day. 

They laid him, Uncle Joshua and Alammy and 
mother, upon the linen sheet and wrapped its thick, 
white, scented folds tenderly about him. And 
mother sat beside him while Uncle Joshua and 
Mammy dug the grave. It was sundown before 
the resting-place was hollowed deep enough, and 
by that time the sky was thick with clouds, a chill 
wind had arisen and heavy drops of rain were be- 
ginning to fall. 

Mandy and I and the little boys had dragged 



A MORNING-GLORY. 99 

up long garlands of green from the ruined rose- 
hedge, and branches from the wild peach-tree; 
and of these Uncle Joshua made a green couch in 
the bottom of the grave where the earth was moist 
and cold ; and upon this they laid him, with his 
gun beside him, and over him again they heaped 
the glistening green of rose-brier and honeysuckle. 

It was quite dark when the earth was rounded 
up to a mound above him, and Uncle Joshua and 
Mammy leaned exhausted on their spades. Mother 
knelt down on the wet ground, her white face shim- 
mering through the darkness, and prayed. Her 
soft clear voice seemed to fill all the wild night and 
hush it to repose. 

" And to all who loved him. Father be merciful," 
she breathed at last. " Bless them and comfort 
them and give them of Thy peace. And upon us 
also have mercy." 

'''' Ameii^^^ sobbed Uncle Joshua. 

Then Mammy, who was crouched at the foot of 
the grave with little Percy clasped in one arm and 
me in the other, began to rock herself slowly from 
side to side and to wail softly, and presently her 



lOO IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

voice arose in a wild strain half-mournful, half- 
triumphant : 

I looks at my ban's an' my ban's looks new. 

Gwine whar dey ain't no mo' dyin' ! 
I looks at my feet all bathe' in dew, 

Gwine whar dey ain't no mo' dyin' ! 

Cryin' amen, Good Lord, cryin' amen, 

— Gwine whar dey ain't no mo' dyin' ! 

She paused abruptly, and when she began again, 
Percy's shrill little voice joined hers and soared 
with it out into the ever-gathering darkness : 

De angel come an' he sbet my eyes, 
Gwine whar dey ain't no mo' dyin' ! 

But my Lord he'll open 'em in Pa'adise, 
Gwine whar dey ain't no mo' dyin' ! 

Mother leaned over and touched her gently on 
the arm. She arose and swung the child to her 
shoulder and moved away toward the house, still 
singing. 

The strangely-blended voices floated back to us 

as we followed silently through the down-pouring 

rain : 

Cryin' amen, Good Lord, cryin' amen, 
Gwine whar dey ain't no mo' dyin'. 



A MORNING-GLORY. lOI 

A week later, pale and tottering yet from the 
illness brought on by the excitement and exposure 
of that terrible day, I came with Mandy out of the 
house. The storm of wind and rain that had 
lasted three or four days had been the breaking-up 
of our short winter. 

There were no flowers, but the vines on the trel- 
lises were tossing up feathery tufts of young leaves ; 
the lawn was green and gay under the warm sky ; 
and as we passed through the orange-grove the 
little warm wet grasses were soft beneath our feet. 
In the branches above I thought that I smelled 
blossoms though we could not find any. The grave 
had been smoothed, a rough cross placed at the 
head and a board at the foot. The grass had not 
yet had time to grow in the beaten space around. 

But on the top of the mound itself, nestling close 
against the brown earth, lo ! a tmy, pale-blue, del- 
icate morning-glory ! Such haste had it been in 
to bloom, the tender little thmg, that it had hardly 
waited for the vine to put out a leaf, and had 
spared no time for a curhng tendril, but hung 
there on the end of the single fragile stem, sway- 



102 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

ing in the light breeze, with the dew upon it and 
a faint sweet fragrance at its heart. 

I stooped and plucked it. " For little Ally and 
for his mother ^^^ I said to myself softly. 

And long afterward, the withered morning-glory 
was laid in the mother's own hand, when she came 
to us and knelt hand-in-hand with my mother above 
her boy's sodded grave. 



CHAPTER VI. 



HAREGENAB. 



A STRANGE thing happened one morning at 
La Rose Blanche — the big plantation-bell 
did not ring ! Such a thing had never been known 
to happen on a week-day morning ! 

Before war-times it was the Overseer, who at 
sunrise ordered Grief, or Jerry to pull the dan- 
gling bell-rope ; and sat by on his horse with th9 
dogs yelping around, while, at the summons, the 
field-gang turned out from the Quarter, ready for 
the day's work. The Overseer had long ago 
shouldered his gun and marched off to the front. 
But Uncle Joshua had gone on ringing the bell 
every morning with his own hands ; and then, 
when all the Quarter was astir, he would lead 
around the bay mare, Wanka — fleet, beautiful, 
shining Wanka — for mother to mount, and after- 

103 



I04 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

ward he would pace slowly along by her side as 
she marshalled the gang; and rode about the 
plantation, inspecting levees and ditches ; super- 
intending the laying of the mother-cane, and the 
" flushing " of the lines, and the hoeing out of 
weed and grass and tie-vine. 

Nor once had the clanging tones of the bell 
failed to break on the morninof air while the 

o 

stranger tents and the alien flag shone over against 
the sky by the sugar-house, though through all 
those idle months the hands responded to its call 
only by coming to their cabin-doors and peering 
out, until the clangor ceased, and then, suddenly 
disappearing from sight again. Its familiar sound 
added to the general note of activity when the 
camp was removed and mother and Uncle Joshua 
resumed their rounds ; watching the long battal- 
ion of cutters, and following in the wake of cane- 
piled wagons, that creaked their way toward the 
factory with its immense smoking chimneys. 

(Only now, pretty Wanka was gone, and a 
gaunt solemn " sugar-mule " bore the light form 
of the Madame soberly about.) 



" HAREGENAB." 105 



Even on the day after an outer wave of battle 
had rolled over the place, leaving its heart-break- 
ing flotsam behind, the sunrise bell sounded — 
with not a soul to obev its voice — and old Aunt 
Rose's brown, woolly flock clapped little gleeful 
hands as the well-known echoes floated in to them 
at play around the great-house sitting-room fire. 

" Dat ar bell," Uncle Joshua was wont to ob- 
serve, " am ez sho' ez de sun-up, 'cep'n on Sun- 
days ; an' I gwine ter take ter ringin' hit on Sundays 
jes fer ter shake up dem lazy niggers. Ki ! yi ! 
yi!" 

But here was sun-up and long past, of a week- 
day morning and no bell. And what was more 
curious still — no Uncle yoshica ! 

" Mis' Lucy," said Mammy — and her dark face 
had a strange ashen hue, and her great, fawn-like 
eyes were swollen and downcast — "I dunno, 
honey, what is come o' Joshua. He is done 
promis' Marse John dat he ain't never gwine ter 
'sert you an' de chillun long's his hade am 'bove 
de groun'. But 'pear lak he is done break his 
word. Caze he is lef ; an' wusser'n dat, he is 



Io6 IN WAR-TIiMES AT LA E^SE BLANCHE. 

Steal away lak er thief t in de middle o' de night. 
An' de ole dog Jupe a-howellin' down by de cabin 
do', lak ez ef he know'd we is all disgrace'." Her 
breast heaved and a dry sob swelled her throat. 

" Spec Daddy done 'sert Mis' Lucy an' de chil- 
lun an' jinded de Yankees up yander pas' de ben' 
o' de river, lak some o' de res' o' dem sassy nig- 
gers," remarked Mandy. 

Mother laid a soft, white reassuring hand upon 
Mammy's fat shoulder. 

*' I have no idea where Uncle Joshua has gone, 
Mammy," she said; "but wherever he is, he is 
faithful to his trust, I know." 

" De Lord bless yer, honey ! I knowed dat you 
wa'nt gwine ter 'pute no harm ter Joshua," Mammy 
cried, the tears gushing all at once from her eyes. 
"Yer good-fer-nothin'T^'rt'^^Z?," she went on, whirl- 
ing wrathfully around upon Mandy, " ain't yer 
shame' o' yo'se'f ter been a-black-bikin' o' yo' own 
Daddy ter Mis' Lucy an' de chillun ! " 

Mandy dodged the threatened blow and ran 
down the steps to hold the bridle of the mule while 
mother climbed upon his back. 



" HAREGENAB." I07 



"Miss Ma'y," she said solemnly, as mother rode 
off to the farther field with Mammy walking by 
her side, "'f Daddy ain't jinded de Yankees, den 
I knows what is come o' him — Ha'ygjiab done 
catch him ! " 

How we all missed him, to be sure ! And how 
" obstropolous," as Mammy declared, ever}'thing 
on the place — from the mules in the stables to 
the hoe-gang in the cane-rows — seemed to be- 
come " de minit Joshua's back am fair' tu'n'd, an' 
Mis' Lucy's right han' am tucken away." 

Some days later there was another happening. 
Father Kenyon suddenly appeared — coming slowly 
up the magnolia avenue from the front-gate, with 
his hands clasped behind his back and his merry 
brown eyes blinking at the sun — just as he used 
always to come after early mass at our little church, 
to smoke a pipe and play a game of chess with 
father. His long black frock was rusty and thread- 
bare, and dull stains that might once have been 
warm and bright and red, flecked it here and 
there, and discolored the cuffs of the sleeves. 
For he had been following the army about for two 



Io8 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

years, away over yonder, where the noise of bat- 
tle was loudest, and where the warm, bright, red 
blood gushed most freely, as he passed from field 
to field, ministering alike to friend and foe. 

But his smooth round face was the same — jolly 
and beaming! as we ran pell-mell to meet him, 
with joyful cries. And it beamed more brightly 
still when he thrust his hand into his bosom and 
drew out a package of letters. 

The great river, guarded by sharp-shooters on 
the banks, and by mysterious-looking gun-boats 
that surged up and down on its yellow breast, and 
sometimes belched forth fire and thunder at foes 
whom we could not divine, now cut the Confeder- 
acy in twain, and it had been months since a letter 
had found its way across from that far-aw^ay " front " 
where our hearts were. 

These were from the boys, written upon scraps 
of coarse brown paper, and telling briefly — brave 
young souls — of weary marches, and fierce en- 
gagements, and scanty rations ; and dwelling gayly 
on the little homely incidents of camp-life. 

"Wes and Dandy had the measles," concluded 



*' HAREGENAB." I09 



brother Tom's letter, "but they are out of hospi- 
tal now, and Hart's arm is nearly well. And Vir- 
gil has just come into camp with a fine fat pig and 
some coUards {I do?i'l know where he could have got 
them). But our mess is going to give a party to- 
night, you bet ! " 

In brother Hart's letter there was a line for 
me. Dear ! dear ! I came upon it just the other 
day, a torn and crumpled scrap, wrapped around 
an old war-time "huswife." My heart swelled, 
and more than twenty years seemed to melt away 
as I unfolded it. And a vision of the curly-haired 
boy who wrote it, and of another curly-haired lad 
who longed for one more chance to "be good to 
little Ally" rose before me as I traced the lines 
through tears. 

''Dere little Sis," it said (he never could spell 
my brother Hart ! ), " I used to teeze you and make 
you cry when I was at home. I am now verry 
sorry. When I come home (if I ever doo) I will 
never teeze you again." 

Father's regiment had been transferred to 
another command, and so there was no letter from 



no IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

him, but news of him had reached the camp just 
before Father Kenyon left. He was well and in 
good spirits. He had been promoted. And he 
was as sure as ever that The Cause would triumph 
in the end. 

" Now, aunt Lucy," said cousin Nellie when 
Father Kenyon had had his breakfast and finished 
the story of his long, roundabout journey North 
and West and finally South, with the contraband 
letters concealed in his bosom, "now, aunt Lucy, 
Father Kenyon has come home, and we have let- 
ters from all the boys, and good news from uncle 
John, and it is your wedding-day beside. I am 
going to put La Rose Blanche en fete once more 
just to show how glad I am ! " 

Mother shook her head doubtfully, but she 
smiled at the same time, and her eyes gave 
assent. 

" Suppose the blue-coats do come around," con- 
tinued cousin Nell, drawing on her gloves and 
picking up the garden-shears. "They can't do 
much, I reckon, with a parcel of women and old 
men and children. Besides I rather like 'em, and 



"HAREGENAB.' Ill 

anyway I'm not a bit afraid of 'em;" and she ran 
gayly down the steps. 

We were presently hanging rose-wreaths on the 
old-fashioned crystal-drop chandeliers, and twining 
rose-garlands over the pictures; and cramming 
roses into bowls and jars and vases. M'lindy 
brought in the mops and brushes to give an extra 
polish to the waxed floors ; and 'Riah and Sophy 
set to work in the dining-room, rubbing the silver, 
brought out from its hiding-place, known only to 
mother, now that Uncle Joshua was gone. 

Mother herself took down and wiped the com- 
pany-china. Mammy, with the little boys tagging 
at her heels, bustled about the kitchen whence the 
smell of molasses-pie and Beauregard cup-cake, 
and gun-boat custard, and other war-time dainties, 
soon came floating over to the great-house. " My 
Ian', but don't dat mek a-body hongry ! " exclaimed 
Mandy. 

Jerry and Grief and Jake rode off in different 
directions with little notes and messages, and just 
before night Grandpa Selden's carriage rolled up 
the drive and Uncle Silas descended from the 



112 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

driver's seat to throw open the door and let down 
the steps. Grandpa himself got out, fussy, and 
scolding in his high cheery voice, his wooden leg 
grinding on the shell-walk and his snuff-box and 
spectacles tumbling out of his pocket as usual. 

A little later uncle James' five girls came in a 
lumbering plantation-cart driven by Uncle Jed, 
their old carriage driver, who thought the dignity 
of the family compromised by such a turnout, and 
bore himself very stiffly while he helped his young 
ladies to the ground. 

And Madame Brion, who had come back to Bon 
Soldat, walked over with Odille and Angelique, all 
three looking strangely pale and sad in their rusty 
mourning. 

And by the time grandpa's old chum and com- 
rade. Major Brentling, had arrived with Madame 
Michel and Mademoiselle Celeste, her grand-daugh- 
ter. Uncle Silas, in Uncle Joshua's blue cut-away 
coat with brass buttons, was gliding noiselessly 
about lighting the candles. Their mellow radiance 
streamed through the long open windows into the 
soft starlight outside. The waxed floors gleamed 




rVv'l W- 



"haregenab." 115 

like polished mirrors. The tall blue Chinese spice- 
jars on each side of the wide fireplace were uncov- 
ered, and a musky fragrance of dried rose-leaves 
and oriental drugs floated from them and mingled 
with the perfume of freshly-gathered roses and 
star-like cape-jessamines. A faint breeze came 
whispering through the curtains to stir the little 
yellow flames of the candles. 

Mother, clad in the white gown she always wore 
on her wedding anniversary, moved softly about, 
welcoming her guests, and then went over in the 
corner by Madame Brion and the two mothers of 
soldier boys sat there clasping hands and speaking 
in low tones ; and looking at each other with sad, 
tender eyes. 

Grandpa in his own big arm-chair by a window 
was telling Father Kenyon for the hundredth time 
about Monterey and the queer sensation he had on 
the battle-field when he tried to rise and walk after 
the shell that stunned him had whizzed by. " My 
leg was gone, sir, clean gone if you'll believe me, 
and I didn't even know it ! And Max here, not a 
dozen paces away with his arm smashed to smith- 



Il6 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

ereens ! Eh, those were fine days, Max, old fel- 
low! " and he gave Major Brentling a hearty slap 
on the shoulder. 

Charley and Sam leaned against his knee and 
listened with shining eyes and flushed faces. But 
Will and little Percy were rolling about on the 
lawn in the patches of light that streamed from 
the windows over the flower-dotted grass. 

Odille and Angelique and I sat on the steps of 
the veranda listening spell-bound to Mandy's story 
of "Haregenab and Shadder." It was not the 
first time we had heard it. In fact we knew every 
word of it by heart, but we were always de- 
lighted to quake and thrill anew over its vague 
horrors. 

"Well, chillun," Mandy went on, " Ha'yg'nab 
live in er house down by de aidge o' de swamp ; 
er house whar got er i'on do', an' er key big ez er 
gate-pos'. He air er gi-yunt like dem whar Marse 
Tom use ter read 'bout, an' he ar ez high ez er 
sugar-house chimbly. His jaws is white ez er pil- 
ler-case an' his eyes is red ez fire. His arms is 
long's Aunt Judy's cloze-pole ; an' he got er mouf 



" HAREGENAE. ' II7 

sump'n lak er wash-'pot. Shadder ar his bruddei 
an' jis 'pintedly lak him 'cep'n Shadder black. 

" Ha'yg'nab got er way er gittin' up frum de bed 
made out'n red-hot coals, an' stretchin' hissef an' 
say'n, low-lak an' sof, 'Shadder, Ise gittin' er lit- 
tle hongry. Hit's time somebody wuz brung in.' 
Den dey start out bofe tergedder. Ha'yg'nab step- 
pin' slow-lak an' powerful easy, an' Shadder steppin' 
slow^-lak an' powerful easy clos't terhine him. Dey 
creep — an' creep — an' c-r-e-e-p " — 

" O Mandy ! " 

" — Creep — an' creep an' c-r-e-e-p untwell dey see 
somebody. Mayby hit's grown-folks lak Daddy, 
but mos' all de time hit's chillun, caze Ha'yg'nab 
love dey bones de bes' ; but when he gets right 
hongry, he don't keer much. Den dey stop an' 
Ha'yg'nab reach out his long arm an' grab de 

chile" — 

Here Mandy seized Odille by the shoulders and 
we all huddled together in a spasm of terror and 

delight. 

— " Grab de chile (caze hit's mos' in gin'ral a 
chile) an' jerk him onto his shoulder an' creep off. 



Il8 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Den Shadder stretch out his long arm an' grab 
'nother chile, an' den " — 

Mandy stopped abruptly. She sat on the step 
above us, her face turned toward the lawn. We 
could see her eyes slowly dilate in the dim light. 
We turned wonderingly to follow her fascinated 
gaze. 

A tall figure, gigantic in the uncertain starshine, 
had come out of the shadows of the magnolia- 
trees, and was advancing across the lawn toward 
the little boys, who were bobbing and tumbling 
gleefully about. When it reached them it paused, 
stooped, and put out a long arm. A white hand 
gleamed for a second in the yellow patch of light ; 
and the next moment little Percy was swung up- 
ward, his shrieks stifled against a white diml3^-seen 
face. At the same moment a second figure darted 
forward ; long black arms reached out and closed 
upon Will ; we heard confused cries and hurried 
footsteps that crunched upon the shelled walk as 
we ourselves burst into wild screams and fled 
into the house, stumbling blindly over each 
other. 



"haregenab." 119 



" What isit ? " exclaimed mother running across 
the room to meet us. 

" O mother, mother, Haregenab and Shadder ! 
Haregenab and Shadder!*' I sobbed, hiding my 
face in her skirts. 

" What do you mean ! " said grandpa, seizing 
me by the arms and shaking me vigorously. 

" Oh, they've got the little boys ! They've got 
the little bo — " There was a sudden confusion 
at the door. Mother looked up. A great wave 
of joy swept over her face and lighted her eyes. 
And the next moment she was clasped with little 
Percy in father's arms. 

" I done brung him ter 3'er, Mis' Lucy, honey,'* 
said Uncle Joshua, swinging Will down from his 
shoulder, and taking off his battered old hat. " I 
is done got word dat Marse John uz on de yuther 
side o' de ribber, whar he is come ter fotch some 
'spatches ter de Gin'l. Dat huccome I done steal 
off in de middle o' de night 'dout tellin' de old 
woman. I skeered lessen she mout /<?//." (Mam- 
my gave a kind of a grunt that did not at all disturb 
the grin of delight overspreading her broad face.) 



I20 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

*' I pull over in er dug-out. An' I uz powerful 
skeered lessen some o' dem fool sharp-shooterers 
uz gwine ter kill me, an' den Mis' Lucy wa'nt 
never gwine ter know huccome I ter sneak off in 
de middle o' de night, caze you knows. Mis' Lucy, 
dat I is done promis' Marse John dat I ain't never 
gwine ter 'sert you an' de chillun — an' I aint. 
Den I foun' Marse John. My ! but I uz glad ter 
see Marse John once mo'. An' he 'low as how he 
ca'ynt spar much time but he 'boun ter spen' de 
weddin'-day long o' Mis' Lucy an' de chillun. An' 
he tuck'n tuck off de gray nuniform wid de brass 
buttons an' de gole stars on de collar, an' put on 
dem homespun cloze whar he's got on now ; an' 
den Marse John an' me, we lay roun' dar mos' four 
days waitin' fer er chance ter cross de ribber. Dat 
huccome we ain't got home no sooner." 

By this time everybody had shaken hands with 
Uncle Joshua and he backed into a corner, his old 
face shinins: with satisfaction. 

As for father he looked bigger and browner than 
ever standing with his arm about mother, trying to 
answer a dozen questions at once. 



'* HAREGENAB.*' 121 



Pretty soon the news somehow got down to the 
Quarter, and the hall began to swarm with the 
familiar, eager, dusky faces — for only a few had 
failed to come back after the last scattering. 
Father shook hands all around and made them a 
hearty speech which set their dark eyes to rolling 
and dancing and their white teeth a-gleaming. 

Then the younger ones returned to the Quarter 
and a few of the older ones were posted about the 
place to keep watch. For sometimes, though not 
often, a squad of blue-coats would appear sudden- 
ly, and finding everything tranquil, as suddenly 
disappear. 

It was after twelve o'clock when we came out of 
the dining-room, and Major Brentling and Father 
Kenyon went away. The others all slept at La 
Rose Blanche. I tried hard to keep awake w^hile 
the good-nights and good-bys were being said. 
Grandpa was the last to go, and he loomed up 
large as Mandy's "gi-yunt" before my sleepy eyes 
as he kissed father on both cheeks and stumped off 
up-stairs. And then I dimly saw for a moment 
the shadowy room and the two figures arm-in-arm 



122 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

walking up and down and talking in low tones, 
my mother's white garments fluttering in the chill 
night breeze that poured in at the window. And 
then, all at once they too faded away. 

When I awoke a gray misty light was creeping 
into the bedroom. Mother was standing by an 
open window, still dressed in her white gown, with 
a bunch of drooping roses at her belt, and a with- 
ered jessamine in her do\vn-falling hair. Her 
hands were clasped and she was gazing out toward 
the river which was full now and gleamed level 
with the top of the sodded levee. 

"Was father here ? Where is father ? " I asked. 

She turned a strained anxious face upon me, as 
if she only half understood and then looked out 
again toward the river. 

I knew without further questioning that father 
had gone back to " the front." 

That was Sunday. Monday morning the joyous 
clamor of the bell roused the Quarter once more, 
and Uncle Joshua presently came around the cor- 
ner of the house leading the sugar-mule. 

" I done fotch Marse John ter de yuther side all 



" HAREGENAB." 1 23 



right, Mis' Lucy," he said as he lifted her into the 
saddle and moved off by her side. " An' de las' 
word he ax me war ter be sho' an' not 'sert you an' 
de chillun an' I ain't gwine ter 'sert you an' de 
chillun long's my hade am 'bove de groun'." 

" I don't keer what dey say," said Mandy, look- 
ing after them, from the top step, " Miss Ma'y, if 
daddy don't quit foolin' roun' dem gum-boats an' 
dem sharp-shoopers Ha'yg'nab gwine ter cotch 
him shdT 



CHAPTER VII. 



A NEW DOG. 



EVERY day it crept nearer to the top of the 
levee — the big, tawny River. Until, one 
morning, it glinted and gleamed under the June 
sky, level with the high crest ; and when a light 
breeze blew across its foamy surface, little waves 
came washing over and trickled down the long 
grass-grown slope into the dusty road that ran 
alongside. 

The cane-crop of La Rose Blanche was " laid 
by." Over the quiet fields stretched an unbroken 
sweep of beryl-green, where sunshine and shadow 
chased each other, and whence, at intervals, arose 
little rythmic murmurs, as if the Small People 
were at play in the cool dim underworld beneath. 

In the cornfields rank upon rank of bronze tas- 
sels were jauntily tossing, and within the shelter 

124 



A NEW DOG. 



125 



of broad rustling blades below, nestled the tender 
milky roasting-ears, with shreds of yellow silk es- 
caping from their soft enfolding sheaths. 

In the cotton-patch, where the hoes were still 
busy, the rich, brown earth showed between rows 
of dark velvety green ; and, of mornings, spots of 
vivid color glowed where blue and crimson morn- 
ing-glories trailed their tangled vines. 

The rose-hedges were white with long waxen 
buds, and wide-open, large-leaved blossoms with 
yellow hearts that quivered in the sun. The lawn 
was sweet with the musky perfume of sensitive- 
plants, whose fluffy balls were half-hidden in the 
rank growth of unshaven grass. And from the 
rose-garden every afternoon mother brought a 
great shallow basket piled high with rose-petals to 
add to the heap already drying in a shady corner 
of the veranda for the spice-jars. 

The Jack-beans clambering over the cabins 
down at the Quarter, swung their long purple 
clusters of bloom lazily in the air ; and the gourd- 
vines flashed their yellow trumpets. 

The bananas, whose tattered leaves were never 



126 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

silent, were beginning to put out long crooked 
arms with bunches of paly-pink, down-drooping 
flowers at the ends. The orange trees were hung 
thick with tiny green globes. 

" How pretty it all looks, Uncle Joshua ! " said 
mother. 

" Hit sholy do," responded Uncle Joshua, letting 
his gaze wander slowly from field to field out to 
the dark moss-hung swamp, and back again, by 
hedge, and patch, and rose-garden. " Hit am een- 
ermos' ez clar-shinin' ez P'yardise ! But den. Mis' 
Lucy honey, dars dat bondacious River! She 
sholy am on er boom. An' she kin 'stroy all we- 
all's 'sumption 'd'out humpin' herse'f ef she tek 
hit in her hade ter come rampagin' thoo dat weak 
place in de levee ! De good Lord sen' hit don't 
rain," he concluded despondently as he went off to 
have more earth shoveled against the weak place 
in the levee. 

Grandma Selden (Mere we always called her) 
who had come up from River-View on her annual 
visit, said in her soft pretty French — for Mere 
had never learned to speak English, and was deaf 



A NEW DOG. 127 

to US all, even to Grandpa, unless we addressed 
her in her own tongue — - Mere said that La Rose 
Blanche looked just as it did when she was a 
little girl. She was born at La Rose Blanche, 
and grew up there and was married there to 
Grandpa, who then could not speak a word of 
French, but who managed somehow, being young 
and brave and handsome, to woo and win her. 

Old Justine, who stood behind her Mistress' 
chair, tossed her head and said (her patois was as 
musical as Mere's French) that for her part she 
thought it was much prettier when Madame was a 
girl, and Madame's father was alive, and before 
ces Americains got their hands on it. 

By this she meant our La Rose Blanche negroes, 
who came into the family with Grandpa and with 
father. 

Mammy, behind mother's chair, tossed her head 
and said that "we-all's fambly am one o' de bes' 
famblys in ole Virginn}^, an' ain't gwine no French 
nigger had de insii'ajice to run hit down whar I is !'* 

Then ever)^body laughed, for such spats were 
common between the two, and Mammy and Justine 



128 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

went amicably off together to make gonibo zherbes* 
for dinner. 

That very day the rain begun to fall — not hard 
at first, but in a gentle drizzle, through which all 
green things looked greener still. But at dark the 
sky became heavy with ominous clouds crossed 
and re-crossed incessantly by white blinding streaks 
of lightning ; and sharp thunder-claps from time 
to time burst upon the sultry, breathless air. 

Lights were twinkling down by the River, where 
guards paced to and fro, keeping watch over 
the levee — that precious rampart which alone 
stretched between utter destruction and the un- 
conscious teeming fields below. In front of Bon 
Soldat a huge fire was blazing, and further down 
we could see, red against the stormy sky, the smoke 
of another that we knew must mark the upper 
boundary of River-View. 

Suddenly the wind arose, bringing with it a 

strange sound, deep, hoarse continuous, like the 
prolonged roar of a wild beast. The quick rush 

* " Gombo Zherbes " {gomho anx herbes), gombo with the ordinary 
foundation and with beet-tops, lettuce, celery-tops, mustard-greens, etc., 
added and boiled to rags. 



A NEW DOG. 



129 



of down-falling rain drowned it for a breath, but 
through a momentary lull it broke again, hollow, 
menacing, terrible. 

It was the voice of the River — the growl of the 
wild beast preparing to spring upon its prey ! 

The lights on the levee hurried wildly about, 
and presently gathered like a swarm of gigantic 
fire-flies about that fatal "weak place," over against 
the orange-plantation, and where the bank made 
a little curve inward. 

Then hasty footsteps went splashing by under 
the window. A cry rung sharply out; and the 
fierce clangor of the plantation-bell smote into the 
fury of the storm. 

We knew what that meant! The weak place 
had given way! A crevasse had broken through 
the levee ! 

The bell of our little church at the landing re- 
plied almost instantly — in softer and mellower 
tones; and soon, like a far-away echo, came the 
response of the Bon Soldat bell. 

The Quarter sprung into life; torches flared 
from one cabin to another; squads of men tramped 



130 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

across the yard laughing, grumbling, singing, hal- 
looing. Then, through the sweep of the rain, and 
above the roar of the River, we heard the crack- 
ing of whips down the levee-road ; and the loud 
outcry of teamsters urging their mules to a run ; 
and the creaking of wheels, as heavily-loaded 
wagons came lumbering up from the neighboring 
plantations. A little later and a dozen voices be- 
gan to shout out hoarse commands to an ever- 
increasing, yelling, distracted crowd. 

For hours with our faces pressed against the 
window-panes, we children watched the flames of 
the great bonfires flaring and leaping in the wind, 
and listened to the sounds that came, now con- 
fused and indistinct, now loud and clear, through 
the sudden hushes of the storm. 

" Dat River ar mighty vir'grous, sho's you 
bawn," said Mandy at last. "An' she ain't gwine 
ter do nothin' but laugh terhine de backs at all 
dem white-folks and niggers makin' lak dey kin 
keep her out'n anywhurs whar she tek er notion 
ter git." 

Meanwhile Mammy had made her way to the 



A NEW DOG. 131 

kitchen, with Aunt Hester the cook and half-a- 
dozen of the women, and there they were baking 
corn-pone, and frying bacon, and boiling huge pots 
of parched-potato and parched-molasses coffee. 
Mother and Mere and cousin Nellie were in the 
dining-room packing hampers. And all night long 
Grief and Jake and Jerry were kept busy carrying 
food and drink out to the exhausted workers. 

The next morning the rain had ceased, but the 
sky was grey and lowering, and rough gusts of 
wind still blew out of the east. 

The little boys stayed with Mere, but I went 
with mother; Uncle Joshua led the sugar mule 
around and lifted her into the saddle. I was 
perched behind her with my arms clasped tightly 
around her waist. 

A thick yellow stream of water was forcing itself 
sullenly along the lane toward the swamp ; as we 
approached the River it grew suddenly deeper and 
mounted almost to the axles of the wagons grouped 
in a corner of the field. The mules fastened to 
the troughs behind, stood in it up to their knees, 
placidly munching away at the wisps of hay that 



132 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

came floating by from the stacks waiting their 
turn to be packed into the barricade. 

A few hundred yards to the left the army of 
men were at work, wheeling barrow-loads of earth 
from the back-fields ; filling earth-bags ; splashing 
through water waist-deep about the partly-closed 
crevasse^ driving piles, laying timbers, heaping straw, 
brushwood, earth — what-not! against the grow- 
ing rampart. 

There were the Bon Soldat negroes and those 
of River- View and Ridgefield ; and many familiar 
faces, black and white, from round about the Par- 
ish ; and working away with a will, like the rest, 
were a dozen or more of Yankee soldiers from the 
camp above the bend. 

Grandpa Selden was standing on the slippery 
crest of the levee shouting directions to the men 
below; and Major Brentling with his one arm was 
helping to drag a heavy beam up the wet slope. 

The men all stopped work for a minute as 
mother came riding up, and burst into a ringing 
cheer. Their voices sounded far-away and faint 
in my ears ; everything swam before my eyes and 



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A NEW DOG. 135 

I grew sick and dizzy. Uncle Joshua reached up 
and took me in his arms. 

" No wonder de chile am skeered," he said. 
" Hit am er tarryfyin' sight to be sho'." 

The vast, foaming, tawny sea roared by far 
above our heads, swirling against the half-finished 
barrier, and here and there breaking through ; it 
dashed in angry waves over the long line of solid 
embankment and poured down the sloping sides 
to mingle with the muddy flood that filled the road 
and was already encroaching upon the fields. 

The unconscious fields were laughing back at 
the blue sky, beginning to smile through the part- 
ing clouds ! 

Suddenly a warning-shout rung from the top of 
the levee. An enormous tree-trunk with jagged 
ends where wide-spreading limbs had been, came 
plunging against the barricade ; it struck the pil- 
ing with a dull boom, recoiled, rose almost erect 
in the air, balancing itself and churning the water 
frantically for a second, and plunged forward 
again. 

A cry of rage and despair burst from four or 



136 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

five hundred throats as the piling gave way, the 
earth-bags melted, and the torrent came leaping, 
seething, hissing through. Some of the men were 
beaten to the ground by the force of the sudden 
rush. 

" What will they do now ? " I asked when Uncle 
Joshua had turned back toward the house with me. 

" Dey'll jes' go at her ag'in, chile, an' she ain't 
gwine ter let 'em git de bes' o' her long's she kin 
he'p it. She am got er powerful heap o' ebo in 
her — dat River am ! " 

This was indeed but the beginning. Day after 
day the fight went on with pretty much the same 
result. Sometimes Grandpa would come stump- 
ing in and announce with a sigh of satisfaction 
that the crevasse was closed at last. The wet and 
wearied men would go home to their well-earned 
rest, leaving the patrol alone on his beat. The 
scantily-stocked store-room of La Rose Blanche 
would be shut ; the ordinary routine of the house- 
hold would be resumed — and, a few hours later, 
the bell would clang out its imperious summons, 
and the conflict would begin anew. 



A NEW DOG. 137 

In the meantime, the in-pouring torrent — at 
first taken off to the swamp by the draining 
ditches — was slowly but steadily overflowing their 
banks. Inch by inch it crawled through the 
orange-plantation, along the lane, up the fields, 
into the grounds — until by the time the crevasse 
was really closed, it spread an unbroken lake, over 
La Rose Blanche, across Bon Soldat, and beat 
against the steps of the River- View great-house 
miles away down the river. 

Only the rear-cane-fields somehow escaped and 
stood high and dry above the water, and here, in 
a snug corner, the mules and cattle were housed. 

At first the waves, that lapped softly against 
the basement windows and rippled away over the 
lawn and sparkled in the hot sunlight, were thick 
and muddy. But gradually they became clear ; 
then as if in a vast mirror, we could see the soft 
grass, and the little hedges and rose-bushes and 
the violet-beds, emerald-green, waving back and 
forth with a gentle undulatory motion far below 
the wind-stirred surface. The partly-submerged 
rose-hedges bloomed defiantly, their glossy leaves 



138 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

and waxen buds reflected in the clear pool below ; 
the tall cane standing deep in the flood rustled 
its plumy tufts gayly. 

But, after awhile, a sickly yellow began to steal 
over the fields ; the hedges strewed the waves with 
white unopened buds ; a thick scum overspread 
the water and a damp, clinging, curious odor per- 
vaded the air. 

We seemed to be living in a strange, new world. 
Sometimes a fish leaped up near a trellis showing 
his white glistening sides as he fell back with a 
splash. Then the little boys would rush headlong 
into the house for their poles and lines, and they 
would hang for hours over the banisters waiting 
for a nibble. Long, slimy, greenish snakes would 
coil themselves on the steps to bask in the sun- 
shine, and hardly take the trouble to slide off 
when anybody came down to the boats moored 
against the pillars with their paddles laid across. 
Once, a monstrous alligator glided across the lawn, 
swimming, his rusty nose in the air, and dived 
under the rose-garden gate. Ten minutes later a 
babyone, three or four feet long, came crawling 



A NEW DOG. 



139 



up the steps, making a funny little puffing noise 
as he came, and when he reached the veranda 
he stretched himself out with a grunt and lay- 
there lazily opening and shutting his small 
eyes. 

Boats were darting about all day long from one 
part of the plantation to another. Uncle Joshua 
every morning piloted out a fleet of little pirogues 
to some point where work could yet be done. 
Hester and Mammy went and came from the 
Quarter, paddling themselves awkwardly, while 
Jake and Grief in their light dug-outs danced jeer- 
ing and chaffing around them. Often a yell of 
derisive laughter would bring us to the back gal- 
lery, and there would come the two dear old souls, 
dripping, muddy, and scolding ; dragging their 
overturned boat after them, and threatening with 
uplifted oars the saucy youngsters. 

Every day mother, in the " ladies-boat," pulled 
by Jerry, went to our little church at the landing, 
taking one or more of us children with her; some- 
times she made a visit to Madame Brion at Bon 
Soldat ; or even ventured as far as River-View to 



I40 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

fetch back something for Mere, who never trusted 
herself in a boat. 

One night, the fleet of pirogues came sweeping 
along the lane between the high rose-hedges ; the 
men were singing, keeping time to the splash of 
their paddles. They turned, one after another, 
into the wide gateway, their rich mellow voices 
floating across to us where we sat in the starlight 
on the veranda : 

White folks say de nigger won't steal, 
But I cotch six in my corn-fiel'. 

Run, nigger, run, patterroler catch you ; 
Run, nigger, run, hit's almos' day. 

As they bore away toward the Quarter, a boat 
detached itself from the dark mass and shot noise- 
lessly over the lawn to the house. It was the 
" ladies-boat " which had been to carry cousin 
Nellie to Bon Soldat for the night. 

As Jerry drew up alongside the steps and rested 

on his oars, a large dog rose in the hinder part of 

, the boat and leaped out. He stood a moment, as 

if hesitating, on the lower step, and then bounded 

swiftly up and disappeared into the hall. 



A NEW DOG. 141 

"Re'kin dat Madame Brion Caesar-dog,'' said 
Jerry, when he had steadied the wobbUng boat. 
" I didn' know he dar. I dunno huccome he ter 
sneak home long o' me dat er way." 

The next morning the little boys came down 
from their play-room under the roof in a high 
state of excitement. 

"We've got a new dog," said Sam, "an' 'tain't 
Madame Brion's Caesar-dog neither." 

" Such a nice dog," added Will. 

"'Cause he yets us p'ay wiz him," explained 
little Percy. And they hurried away with a plate- 
ful of bread for their new playmate. 

The new dog was really a comfort, mother said. 
Her mind had not been so easy about the boys 
since the flood came with its snakes and alligators, 
and perhaps other and undreamed-of dangers. 
They were at least safe, up in the garret with a 
good-natured dog. 

They trotted off every morning as soon as they 
had finished their breakfast, with an ample supply 
for Mont'rey — his name was " Mont'rey," they 
said, " after Grandpa's leg " — and shouts of glee- 



142 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

fill laughter and joyous cries would presently come 
ringing down the stairs. 

One day they took old Jupe up to the play-room 
to introduce him to the new dog. But Jupe evi- 
dently did not find the new dog to his liking, for 
we heard him utter a wild yell, and directly he 
came tearing down the stairs, with his tail between 
his legs and the skin fairly quivering on his lean 
body. He plunged into the water and made for 
Mammy's cabin ; and no threats or coaxing could 
thereafter induce him to enter the great-house. 

One afternoon when the glee overhead was 
louder even than usual, Mere, who had a head- 
ache, said to mother : " Lucille, I wish you would 
go up and tell the little boys, and the new dog, to 
be just a little more quiet." 

When mother reached the head of the second 
stairway, she opened the door of the play-room 
and looked in. 

They were playing " soldier." Little Percy 
marched at the head of the line, beating lustily 
upon an old tin bucket ; Will followed, with his 
lath sword held stiffly against his breast ; Charley 



A NEW DOG. 



143 



and Sam trod hard upon his heels, their stick- 
guns on their shoulders and their canteens swing- 
ing at their sides. And the new dog, with Percy's 
straw hat stuck on the back of his head, brought 
up the rear, walking on his hind legs. 

Mother turned pale at sight of him, and almost 
swooned. The new dog was a big shaggy, half- 
grown black bear ! 

He had been driven in by the overflow and 
tamed by the innocent confidence of his little 
^osts ! 

He dropped on all-fours and growled when 
mother came in, but seeing that his comrades 
marched away undisturbed, he cocked his head a 
little on one side and stood up again ; and there 
they went, around and around, the tin drum rat- 
tling, the small Captain gravely marking time, the 
" comp'ny " keeping step. 

''Boom!'' said an imaginary cannon. Charley 
and Sam fell down groaning. The bear stood 
still and looked at them. But Captain Will gave 
him a smart slap with his lath sword, and down 
he tumbled in a heap with the others. 



144 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

" Isn't he a good doggie, mother? " asked Char- 
ley when they had all scrambled to their feet. 

Mother said yes, though her knees trembled. 

<« We've put another name to him," Sam said. 
" We call him ' Mont'rey ' after Grandpa's leg, 
and ' Bull Run ' after Captain Brion's battle." 

After that Mont'rey-Bull-Run was brought down- 
stairs and became one of the family. His antics 
kept the whole house in an uproar ; even Mere, who 
was afraid of him, could not help laughing at 
him. 

The water by this time was beginning to drain 
slowly away from the plantation ; the tops of the 
little hedges showed first, and then the leaves of 
the violet-beds and finally the yellowed grass. 

One morning when Mammy opened the dining- 
room door she uttered a cry of dismay. The floor 
was strewn with broken dishes, chairs and tables 
were overturned, the doors of the side-board were 
swung open, the lower panes of the long windows 
were smashed. In the midst of this chaos sat 
Mont'rey-Bull-Run digging his paws into a broken 
honey-jar clasped in his arm, and licking them 




IN THE MIDST OF THE CHAOS, SAT MON l' REV-BULL-RUN. 



A NEW DOG. 147 

with little snorts of delight. Mammy pounced 
upon him with her broom. 

" He look at me er minit, mournful-lak," she 
said afterward. "An' den he sot down de jar an' 
tromp straight out in de hall ter de hat-rack, an' 
tek de baby's (Percy's) li'l straw hat in he mouf 
an' march off powerful 'fended-lak down de step 
— an' I ain't seed him no mo', caze I ha' ter mek 
dem triflin' no-'count house-gals wipe up the flo' 
un' tote out de smash-up chiny." 

We never saw Mont'rey-Bull-Run again. 

The little boys were inconsolable. 

" He we-ent away," sobbed Will, " 'cause 
Mammy sc-o-lded him, an' hu-r-ted his feelin's. 
We lo-ved him better'n anything. An' when we 
git to be men, we're goin' do-own to the swamp 
an' 'vite him to come home ag'in'. He'll come, 
won't he, mother.'*" 

" Cosehe will," cried little Percy, smiling through 
his tears. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



POOR WHITEY. 



POOR Whitey was never allowed in the grown- 
folks' parlors on grand occasions, when the 
tall silver candlesticks on each end of the mantel, 
and the crystal-drop chandeliers suspended from 
the ceiling were ablaze with wax-candles ; nor 
even — at such times — in the library or sitting- 
room. On ordinary evenings, however, she made 
her appearance with great regularity " at early 
candle-lighting;" and at all juvenile feasts she 
was considered indispensable, being supposed to 
confer great dignity and circumstance thereupon. 
Poor Whitey was in fact — or rather is, for she 
still exists — an overgrown candlestick, and ac- 
cording to family tradition once belonged to Gen- 
eral Washington. She is certainly quaint and 
old-timey enough to have flourished at Mount 

148 



POOR WHITEY. 149 

Vernon in Lady Washington's day, in company 
with certain high-backed chairs and claw-footed 
tables still to be seen there. 

She is contriv^ed somewhat after this fashion : 
An upright rod about three feet high standing on 
a base, or pedestal, and terminating in a large 
ring, supports near its top a circular plate, which 
may be raised or lowered at will along the rod by 
means of a sliding screw. This disc contains 
sockets for six candles ranged about its rimmed 
edge. A battered extinguisher swings from a 
chain on one side, and a huge pair of snuffers 
hang underneath. The pewter of which base and 
plate are made has been rubbed and polished by 
succeeding generations until it shines like silver; 
and when, as sometimes used to happen, six can- 
dles of Mammy's best home-made were alight at 
once in the sockets. Poor Whitey presented to our 
childish eyes a gorgeous spectacle indeed ! 

Mammy grumbled a little when we insisted on 
having six whole ones for our "sugar-candy night; " 
but she gave them to us nevertheless ; and I helped 
Mandy, myself, stick them in the sockets, and went 



150 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

with her when she carried Poor Whitey — bright 
from an extra poHshing — over to the Quarter. 

There, everything was bustle and confusion. It 
was the morning of the annual Plantation Festival 
which celebrates the wind- up of the "rolling." 
The last load of cane had been hauled from the 
fields to the sugar-house, and the " Rose Blanche 
Procession Day " had come. 

" Now, chillun," said Mammy, when we had de- 
posited Poor Whitey carefully in a corner of her 
cabin, " jes' you clar yo'se'fs out. Caze I gwine 
ter shet de cabin-do' twel night ; an' den, ef hit 
'pear lak fum what Mis' Lucy say, dat you is 
'haveded yo'se'fs whilse I is been gone 'long o' de 
Percession, I is gwine ter gin you de fines' sugar- 
candy night you is had sence de young Marsters, 
an' Virg, an' Dandy, is march off ter de wah ter 
de chune o' De gal I lef hehine me^ 

It was the last day of the year, clear, shining, 
crisp. A chill wind had shriveled the petals of 
the Christmas roses that glowed redly on their 
straggling bushes in the rose-garden ; but the 
fruity smell of the sweet-olive was everywhere, and 



POOR WHITEY. 



iS» 



the violet-beds were purple with bloom. The 
river-breeze parting the brown, rustly grass on the 
lawn showed an undergrowth of delicate tender 
green ; a daring horn appeared here and there at 
the roots of the tall, dry banana-stems; the orange- 
crop had been gathered, but under the glossy 
leaves a few forgotten globes of gold still hung ; 
while all around them were hints of swelling flower- 
buds ; and even — if you searched carefully — 
you might find a shining, white-petaled, odorous 
flower ! 

At nine o'clock the sugar-house whistle blew. 
At the shrill sound the four little boys, who had 
been up and dressed since daylight, broke away 
from mother and tumbled down the steps — the 
pink streamers on their hats flying in the wind. 
For that was the signal for the starting of the Pro- 
cession. It came along the lane with a great 
beating of home-made drums, and a blowing of 
big conch-shells that almost drowned the jubilant 
ringing of the Plantation-bell. As it turned in at 
the carriage-gate and began to wind around the 
shelled drive, away down at the end of the line, 



152 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

in the very last cart, Big Mose stood up. His burly 
form looked gigantic against the background of 
the clear morning sky. We heard him "patting 
Juba " for a minute and then his powerful voice 
burst forth sweet and sonorous : 

Git-a long, nigger, de jubilee am come ! 

Two hundred throats took up the chorus and it 
swept along the line, preceded by a peculiar, long- 
drawn, plaintive shout that rose and fell and rose 
again, ending in a sharp staccato jerk : 

Hi-yi-Yll ! De rollin', de rollin' am done ! 

Big Mose : Ef dey's gwine ter be er hoe-cake de nigger want 

some, 
C/io: Hi-yi-YW ! De rollin', de rollin' am done ! 

Uncle Joshua led the Procession mounted on 
mother's own big sugar-mule ; then came all the 
high-wheeled carts and long-bodied wagons belong- 
ins: to La Rose Blanche and all the Rose Blanche 
negroes in them, dressed in their Sunday-best. 

The wheels of the carts and wagons were wound 
with Spanish moss and garlands of glossy green 
jessamine from the swamp. Tall boughs of wild- 



POOR VVHITEY. 1 53 

peach were nailed to the sides and nodded over 
the seats. The harness of the mules was deco- 
rated with tassels of red and yellow yarn ; and 
banners and streamers of bright-colored homespun 
cloth were borne aloft by the riders. 

The sugar-mule stopped of his own accord be- 
fore the front steps. The singing ceased abruptly 
and Uncle Joshua took off his hat and stood up 
in his stirrups. It was a great day for Uncle 
Joshua, and although he laughed, showing his 
white teeth, and held his head proudly, the tears 
poured down his wrinkled old cheeks while he 
made his speech. 

He waved his hand toward mother standinsf on 
the top step, and said that '' A\do' de Madame dar 
am er invalique, an' am never had de win' blow 
col', er de sun shine hot on her face whilse Marse 
John wuz hyar, an' dey wa'nt no wah ; yit she 
have tooken de place on top o' her hade, an' de 
white chillun an' de black pipple in her lil' hans, 
lak er pail an' two buckets o' water ; an' she is done 
toted 'em clean ter de een o' de crap-year 'd'out 
spillin' nary drap. Derefore, I axes fer de bigges* 



154 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

cheer fer de Madame dat wuz ev'n been heerd on 
dis Plantation ! " 

It came : and a rousing one it was ; for every 
man, woman and child from the Quarter — except 
old Aunt Rose and the smallest of the babies — 
was out in the Procession. Mother ran down the 
steps and shook hands with Uncle Joshua and 
said that if it had not been for him, how could 
she have got along ? And what would she have 
done anyway if her people had not stood faithfully 
by her through all these years of trouble and 
heart-ache ? 

Then they all broke out again in loud hurrahs 
for Mis' Lucy — and for Marse John — an' De 
Young Marsters — " 'd'out fergettin' o' Virg an' 
Dandy whar is off yander helpin' ter carry on de 
wah ! " 

The little boys climbed up into the foremost 
cart with Mammy and Aunt Hester. M'lindy 
and 'Riah and Sophy came out of the house gig- 
gling and tossing their heads and were crowded 
into the next wagon. There was room for Mandy 
too, but she waved her hand disdainfully and 



POOR WHITEY. 155 

called down from the veranda : " Go 'long wid 
yer, niggers ! I ain't gwine ter be cotch in no 
sech er comp'ny ez you is ! I is gwine ter stay 
home 'long o' my Miss May." 

I ran to her gratefully for I knew she was dying 
to go ! 

And as soon as the sugar-mule could be got to 
understand that mother was not going too, the 
Procession moved off. 

Big Mose took up his song again and the refrain 
came echoing back along the lane and from far 
down the levee-road, as they rolled slowly away to 
Bon Soldat : 

Big Mose : De rabbit an' de yalligater comin' ter de feas', 

CAo: Hi-yi-Yll ! De rollin', de rollin' am done ! 

Big Mose: De coon an' de possum makin' lak dey mighty 

pleas', 
Cho : Hi-yi-Yll ! De rollin', de rollin' am done ! 

We could even hear it, faintly, when, the sere- 
nading at Bon Soldat over, they wound along the 
river-side to Ridgefield and River-View — for it is 
the custom for the Rolling-Procession to visit all 
the neighboring plantations. 



156 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

It was sundown before they came back. Big 
Mose's voice was a little husky, and his tall form 
swayed backward and forward in the cart, as if 
his knees might be a little shaky under him, but 
the song was as stirring and the chorus as ram- 
pant as ever when they passed down the lane to 
the sugar-sheds : 

Big Mose : Oh, bake dat hoe-cake, yaller-gal, an' bake it 

mighty brown ! 
Cho : Hi-yi-YW ! De rollin', de rollin' am done ! 
Big Mose : Sizzle up de bacon-fat an' shake de coffee-groun', 
Cho: Hi-yi-YlW De rollin', de rollin' am done! 

Time was when half the Parish gathered at La 
Rose Blanche the night of the Rolling-Feast. 
Then, the grown-up ladies and gentlemen would 
stroll over to the Quarter and look on for awhile 
at the games and dancing there, and go back to 
wait in the great-house parlors, with music and 
perhaps a quadrille or two of their own, until the 
children, sticky and sleepy, but very happy, came 
over from Mammy's cabin. For " sugar-candy 
night," our own special feast, was always at 
Mammy's cabin. 



POOR WHITEY. 157 

But now, only Madame Brion was come, and 
there was only Odille and Angelique to walk 
through the twilight, with Sissy-Aiaria and Lucindy- 
Keturah and me, across to the Quarter. 

The dance was down at Aunt Ca'lline's at the 
other end of the Quarter ; and the chu'ch folks 
around Aunt Hester's fire next door were singing 
hymns. Stretched along under the trees in front 
of these two cabins were long tables set out with 
great dishes of cold barbecued meats and sweet- 
potatoes ; there were generous trays of salt-risin' 
bread and bowls of cuit ; and platters of snow- 
balls and other old-fashioned cakes of Mammy's 
baking. 

The fiddles were scraping away down there at 
a lively rate ; and the sound of hilarious laughter 
and of shuffling feet mingled with the lugubrious 
strains of baptisin' songs, led by Uncle Brother 
Jack Yates. 

There was music in Mammy's cabin too. Uncle 
Joshua sat by the open door, his raw-hide-bottom 
chair tilted back against the jamb. His fiddle 
was tucked under his chin and he was playing 



158 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

softly and sadly, with eyes half-closed and his out- 
stretched foot beating time. In the corner near 
by sat Jerry with his banjo. Jerry was a " seeker " 
and not " fitten " yet, he thought, to go with the 
chu'ch folks in Aunt Hester's cabin ; and not 
quite satisfied in his own mind as to how much 
" de Debbie " might have to do with the frolic in 
full swing at Aunt Ca'lline's. 

The big pot was already on the fire, with Mandy 
stationed in front of it to watch it and keep the 
candy from boiling over. The little boys, with 
Aunt Ca'lline's "triplers," Marthy, Mary and Laz'- 
rus, and Aunt Hester's coal-black little Chiltowee, 
were ranged solemnly around the hearth, with big 
blue aprons tied under their chins. Mammy was 
lighting Poor Whitey's candles. 

When she caught sight of us she made a dash 
toward us holding up her hands. " Laws, chile," 
she exclaimed, " I dunno fer sho', what Mis' Lucy 
is done been thinkin' 'bout ter let you come ter 
de sugar-candy night dress' up in dat caliker dress 
whar she done gin forty dollars er yard fer, Con- 
fed'rit money! An' look at Mis' Brion's HI' gals 



POOR WHITEY. l6l 

in dem 'spensive mo'nin' cloze whan dey Maw 
knows de Yankees ain't gwine ter let no mo' run 
de biock-2ide. : Jes' you all put on dese here home- 
spun ap'uns, an' don't you dar' ter tek 'em off 
whilse you is in dis cabin. Law ! Law ! we-all's 
fambly is powerful QxtvRY'gimf / But who gwine 
ter blame 'em ! Ain't dey de bes' o' de quality!" 

She went back to Poor Whitey who, with her 
crown of candles, adorned the table, which con- 
tained, besides the buttered plates for the candy, 
a store of good things from the Rolling-Feast 
tables. 

The wind blew softly in moving the flames of 
the candles and stirring the ruffled hangings of 
Mammy's big four-posted bed in the corner. We 
were all very quiet as yet, holding our breath lest 
that fatal "turning back to sugar" should befall 
the boiling candy. There was hardly a sound 
except the steady pat of Uncle Joshua's foot 
keeping time to the soft undertones of his fiddle 
and Jerry's banjo ; and the funny little clank of 
Abel's (Mammy's one-legged pet rooster) wooden 
stump as he strutted about the floor. 



l62 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

But, hark ! Old Jupe lying on the doorstep 
raised his head and growled. Uncle Joshua's foot 
ceased its rythmic beat and he held his bow sus- 
pended in air. There was a confused trampling 
noise in the lane, the sudden rush of horses' feet, 
an outcry of angry voices, a pistol-shot — and 
another! — another! Then we heard the click of 
the big-gate latch and quick galloping around the 
drive and up to the great-house. 

A half-second or more of breathless silence in 
which On Jordan's stormy hanks and Billy-in-the 
low-ground came floating in, strangely blended 
together, from the feast; then light footsteps 
sounded in Mammy's little garden, and two men 
leaped in at the open door, and stood hesitating 
and uncertain in the midst of us. 

They were bareheaded, and one of them had his 
arm in a sling. The brass buttons on their grey 
jackets flashed in the light. 

They were panting heavily as if from a long 
run, and they looked with half-defiant, half-appeal- 
ing eyes from Uncle Joshua who had arisen from 
his chair, to Mammy on the hearth. 



POOR WHITEY. 163 

Not a word was spoken. We stared at Mammy 
in wonder when after a brief pause she laid a 
hand on the shoulder of one of the intruders and 
pushed him into the corner behind her big, cur- 
tained bed, beckoning at the same time to the 
other one to follow. When she turned and saw 
our astonished and tell-tale faces all fixed upon 
the improvised hiding-place — except Mandy's ; 
through this scene and all that followed she kept 
her eyes steadily upon the candy-pot, merely 
glancing over her shoulder with a grunt when 
Mammy pounced upon her. When Mammy saw 
our betraying faces she threw up her hands in a 
kind of despair. 

" Mandy," she cried sharply all at once, darting 
over to the fireplace, "yer good-fer-nothin' frazzle, 
you is lettin' dat sugar candy bile over sho's you 
born ! Lif hit offen de fiah fer er minit, an' don't 
you dar ter stir hit, you hear me ? " 

" Don't I knows dat yer don't has to stir sugar- 
candy ? " retorted Mandy contemptuously. 

"Joshua, ole man," continued Mammy, turning 
to him, " ef you'll jes' tech up Sugar-in-de-gourd 



164 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

lak Daddy use ter play hit whense we wuz young 
folks, I gwine ter show de chillun dem ar steps 
whar I tuk de fus' time you ever seed me, de night 
whense you come on er pass ter de Rollin'-Feas' 
ter ole Marster's Plantation. Dey ain't none o' 
dem fool young niggers, not even dem triflin' 
house-gals, kin step 'em off in dese hyar days." 

Uncle Joshua looked at her as if dazed for a 
moment. Then a sort of light seemed to break 
over his face. He grinned, but drew his mouth 
demurely down at once, and nodded solemnly. 
He tilted his chair back, tucked his fiddle under 
his chin and began. 

No more soft, plaintive undertones now ! The 
bow skipped mincingly over the strings, while 
Mammy slipped her feet from her shoes and took 
her position in the middle of the room, with her 
head well up, and her hands fixed firmly on her 
hips. Then she began to shuffle her feet slowly, 
her large body graceful, erect and perfectly mo- 
tionless, and her head turning gravely from side 
to side. 

The fiddle spoke out. The bow rocked over it 



POOR WHITEY. 165 

in a perfect ecstasy of mirth. Quick, joyous notes 
danced along the strings, ending in gay little 
shrieks, like the bubbling laughter of girls. 
Mammy's glancing feet responded. A large smile 
dawned upon her face and her eyes twinkled. I 
think even Uncle Joshua himself forgot the grey- 
coats in hiding behind the bed. I know the rest 
of us did. 

As for Jerry, he sat in the corner, with his legs 
crossed, his head thrown back, and his eyes rolled 
up in a fervor of delight. His long bony hands 
skimmed lightly as birds over the strings of his 
banjo, whose loud humming supported the high- 
keyed melody of the fiddle. 

" Hello ! what are you up to in here ? " 
Music and dancing stopped abruptly at the 
sound of the rough, threatening voice. It came 
from a tall man in dark-blue uniform who had 
stepped quietly upon the threshold. Around him 
a dozen or more of men were crowded, and behind 
them we now began to hear the stamping and 
champing of horses, and to see other faces peering 
down at us from the saddles. 



1 66 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

" What de matter, Sah ? " said Uncle Joshua, 
bringing his chair to the floor with a thump and 
getting up, fiddle in hand. 

"The matter?" said the officer who had spoken 
before and who held a pistol in his hand. " The 
matter is that we are after a couple of rebs, and 
we have run 'em in here somewhere. We have 
searched the house and we are going to search 
this cabin." 

He made a quick determined step forward as he 
spoke, and his men came crowding in after him. 

" Is dat so, Sah ? " said Mammy, coming forward 
with Poor Whitey swinging by the large ring to 
her forefinger. " Sut'ny, you kin su'ch de cabin, 
Sah ! " she went on, setting Poor Whitey down on 
the floor directly in front of the officer, "you is 
skeeren de chillun, an' runnin' de resk o' spilin' 
dey sugar-candy, but 3'ou is sut'ny welcome ter 
su'ch de cabin, Sah ! " 

As she finished her speech I saw her great bare 
foot steal stealthily out from under the edge of 
her home-spun skirt and bestow a covert kick 
upon Poor Whitey. 



POOR WHITEY. 167 

And, behold, there was Poor Whitey toppling 
over with a bang and the six lighted candles roll- 
ing about in every direction. 

We children, all except Mandy whose intent gaze 
was fixed upon the candy-pot, set up a shriek, for 
an injury to Poor Whitey seemed to us a far 
greater calamity than a Yankee invasion ! Mammy 
too began to wail in a heart-broken voice : ''What 
is I gwine ter do ef Po' Whitey am broke ! An' 
she been in we-alls fambly ever sense Gin'l Wash- 
ington done own her ! An' Mis' Lucy an' de chil- 
lun so powerful keerful o' her — " 

The officer looked surly and impatient at first, 
but broke all at once into a loud laugh. *' Great 
Scott ! " he exclaimed, standing by with his arms 
hanging helpless at his side while Mammy and 
Uncle Joshua, and two or three of the soldiers 
scrambled after the candles and righted Poor 
Whitey. " What a precious to-do over an old pew- 
ter thing like that ! Come on, boys, there's nobody 
in here but a parcel of children, and these two 
old fools!" 

The others joined in his laugh and they moved 



1 68 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

on to the next cabin, where we heard them pound- 
ing on the door, and old Aunt Rose's thin queru- 
lous voice in parley with them. 

Uncle Joshua resumed his seat, but his fiddle 
dropped to the floor, and he sat staring blankly at 
Mammy, while the menacing voices echoed on 
from cabin to cabin, until they finally broke in 
upon the singing and dancing at the other end of 
the Quarter. 

Apparently the chase was about given up, for 
presently we heard the sound of the horses feet 
as they galloped off down the lane, and the merry- 
making began again and grew louder and more 
boisterous than before. 

I do not know when the two rebels came out 
from their hiding-place and passed over to the 
great-house. Perhaps when the candy, which came 
out all right under Mandy's steady care, had been 
poured into the buttered plates, and Mammy al- 
lowed us to take it out into the back yard to cool. 

Anyway, they were at the great-house the next 
morning ; and they stayed there for the next three 
weeks, though we children never saw them, and 



POOR WHITEY. 169 

did not know until afterward that they had been 
all that time shut up in the little cabinet-room 
where father kept his fishing-tackle. 

They were brothers ; nice-looking lads, mother 
said. They had been home on a short furlough, 
and were making their way back to their command 
on the other side of the River. 

One night Uncle Joshua thought he might ven- 
ture to put them across. Randolph, the elder 
brother, was picked off by the sharp-shooters, when 
they were nearly in mid-stream. He was instantly 
killed and his bleeding body dropped over into 
the river and was borne away on its yellow bosom. 
Jack, the younger, made the landing safely and 
reported to his regiment for duty. 

Poor Whitey remains to this day a cherished 
member of La Rose Blanche family. Not long 
ago I heard Mammy's voice on the veranda. By 
its tone I knew that she was back "endurin' o' 
de wah." I peeped out. She was sitting in a 
low easy-chair — for Mammy is very old — and in 
front of her stood two freckle-faced, curly-haired 
little boys. 



170 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

"Ef hit hadn't er been fer Po' Whitey," she 
was saying, "yo' paw wouldn't er never come 
back an' married into our fambly, an' you wouldn't 
er been kin to we-all. Caze when he war hid 
'hine my bed in de cabin dat night 'long o' yo' po' 
Uncle Randolph whar de sharp-shoopers done kill, 
ef Po' Whitey hadn't er tuk hit in her hade ter 
timble over, de Yankees would er cotch him sho' !" 

" An' was my mamma married to my papa 
then ? " queried one of the little boys. 

"Shucks, chillun, what is you talkin' 'bout!" 
said Mandy who had come up the steps. " Miss 
Ma'y wa'nt nothin' but er teenchy HI' gal den, an' 
she wuz mo' skeerder lessen de Yankees tooken 
dem dolls o' hern — 'specially dat Lucindy-Ketury 
whar you heern her tell 'bout, dan she wuz 'sturb 
lessen dey git yo' paw ! " 

"Dass so ! '* chuckled Mammy, nodding her tur- 
baned head. "All de same, hit wuz 'long o' Po' 
Whitey dat de Yankees didn't cotch Marse Jack, 
an' dat huccome yo' maw think so much o' Po' 
Whitey ! " 



CHAPTER IX. 

A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 

DEY mus' be er blue-coat roun' here some- 
whurs ! " exclaimed Mandy, stopping ab- 
ruptly and beginning to peer about her. 

" Why ? " I asked, stopping too, but not quaking 
with terror as I would once have done at such 
an announcement. We were getting used to blue- 
coats at La Rose Blanche. 

" Caze, I is jes' dis minit heerd ole Mister 
Fraid-o'-Yankee gin dat squawk o' his'n whar mean 
ter say dat he is done seed er blue-coat ; an' he 
sut'ny ain't gin it na'y time yit 'd'out he is seed 
one." 

Sure enough, even as she spoke there he came 
around the corner of the carriage-house, the big 
white gander, and running as if for dear life ! 
His wings were out-spread ; his neck stretched to 

171 



172 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

its Utmost length ; his clumsy yellow feet were 
beating the dust. He turned his eyes piteously 
upon us as he went by, but he did not stop ; and 
we watched him with breathless interest as he 
labored across the back-yard, and up the steps of 
the great-house veranda ; until he finally made a 
dive at the hall-door and disappeared from 
view. 

" Dar ! he knows he safe now ! " chuckled 
Mandy. 

Mister Fraid-o'- Yankee had had no history — 
not even a name — up to the day when the Yan- 
kees first invaded La Rose Blanche. He had 
waddled placidly about the stable-yard at the head 
of a great flock of motherly, respectable geese and 
long-legged, downy goslings, leading them proudly 
of mornings down to the wide ditch for their daily 
swim, and marshalling them at precisely the same 
hour every afternoon in front of Mammy's cabin- 
door to be fed. 

But that day had wrought a great change in his 
destiny ! Every feathered thing on the Plantation 
had that day fallen a victim to the nimble-footed, 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 173 

noisy, hungry soldiers ; except this same patriarch- 
gander, who after having been chased around and 
around the stables, and over and under the little 
crib, and across the back-yard, had saved himself 
at last by a despairing flight up the veranda-steps, 
whence he made his way into the dining-room. 
There he ensconced himself under the side-board 
and refused for days to come out. When he did 
at last make his appearance, bedraggled and very 
cast-down, he took up his quarters in the sitting- 
room with us children, and never ventured into 
the yard until his foes had changed their camp, 
and even then, only after a long and solemn sur- 
vey of the premises from the top step. 

From that time on, the most distant glimpse of 
a blue uniform filled him with terror. He would 
utter one hoarse frightened squawk^ as Mandy 
said, and make for the house with all his might, 
never stopping until he was under the side-board, 
which he seemed to consider the only safe place 
of refuge for him. 

It was one of the little boys who had dubbed 
him derisively Mister Fraid-o'-Yankee ; and ole 



174 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Mister Fraid-o'- Yankee he had been now for 
nearly three years. 

" Yes, dey is sholy er Yankee somewhurs roun' 
here," repeated Mandy when we had seen the old 
gander quite out of reach of real or fancied pur- 
suit, " an' dar he am now, Miss Ma'y, down yan- 
der by liF Miss Ally's br'ur's grave ! " 

We had come out of the stable-yard where we 
had been hunting eggs, and turned into the weed- 
grown path skirting along the orange-plantation. 

A solitary figure in dark-blue uniform was indeed 
standing beside the grave of " little Ally's brother," 
as we always called the unknown Yankee lad whose 
memory we tenderly cherished. He held his cap 
in one hand and the other rested on the rough 
wooden cross where half an hour before we had 
hung the fresh garland daily placed there. 

He looked up and saw us as we were stealing 
away and beckoned us to him. A little of the 
old tremor passed over me as I went forward, but 
it melted upon a nearer view of the honest open 
face and kindly grey eyes of the soldier. 

He was a middle-aged man, short and rather 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 1 75 

Stout with grizzled hair and moustache. He wore 
a couple of gold stripes on his sleeves. He waved 
his hand as we came slowly up, and called out 
cheerily, " Don't you be a-feared, I hain't no idee 
o' hurtin' you ! " 

We stopped at the foot of the grave and looked 
at him in silence. " This poor little chap here," 
he said presently, touching the sod with his foot, 
" was in my mess, and a braver and better lad 
never carried a gun on his shoulder ! He hadn't 
ought to have gone in the fight that day, for he 
wasn't well ; and he was downhearted like ; and 
just the night before he said to me, he said, 
' Parker, I don't know how it is, but I feel some- 
how as if I'm never going to see my mother and 
my little sister again, and if I get killed to-mor- 
row' — and then he sort of choked and didn't say 
any more. I come over here with a squad of men 
soon's we could after the fight looking for him, and 
I ain't never forgot that there hed been kind hands 
to bury him ; and more than once since, I've been 
here and seen that kind hands keep on keerin' yet 
for his grave." 



176 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANXHE. 

He seemed to be talking to himself rather than 
to us, and muttered on, as he stooped to pick up 
a bit of orange-flower from the loose bunches scat- 
tered over the mound. 

But, as he lifted his head, a confused, hesitating 
look came into his face. He put his hand into his 
jacket-pocket. " I've got a letter here that be- 
longs to your folks," he said slowly. " I captured 
the man that was bringing it myself — yesterday. 
There was some other things too, for — for your 
folks, but I guess the Colonel '11 bring them over 
himself. I thought I'd bring this. It's been read, 
and there ain't any bad news in it." 

He handed it to me. I broke out in thanks 
and exclamations of delight. *' Poor little gal," I 
heard him say as he turned away. 

*' He didn't mean me, did he, Mandy ? " I asked 
as we ran along the broad sweet-scented avenue 
of orange-trees toward the house. 

" I reckin he mus' er meant lil' Miss Ally," 
suggested Mandy. 

Mother was in the dining-room cutting out 
clothes for the field-hands. Mammy was busy 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 1 77 

putting together and folding the pieces, and Sophy 
was running out every few minutes with great bun- 
dles to the sewing-women at work in the weaving- 
room. Over by the front windows cousin Nellie 
was directing M"lindy and 'Riah who were braiding 
palmetto. The four little boys seated on the floor 
were soberly sorting out palmetto-strips. 

But when we came running in with the letter 
everything stopped. It was a bulky package com- 
posed mostly of scraps of brown paper written 
upon with a lead-pencil. Mother grew a shade 
paler as she took it. "Oh, it's been read, mother," 
I cried gayly, " there ain't any bad news in 
it!" 

It was from brother Hart and dated more than 
six months ago. But it was also the first letter 
from the boys for more than a year ! And how 
our hearts beat while we listened ! 

" Dere Mother," it began, the bad spelling 
seeming somehow to bring him nearer to us, it was 
so like him ! " The boy hasn't got it iti him to 
spell properly," Tom Dennison the tutor used to 
say with a doleful laugh. 



178 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

* " Dere Mother, we have not written since we 
were marched over to Tenneesee last fall to help 
fight the battle of Chickamauga ; and the last we 
heard from home was when Father came back 
from there. (And we have seen him only once 
since then.) We know we ought to have written, 
and brother Tom would write (now that we have 
a chants to send a letter), but he is on duty. I 
am laid up (with not much the matter — a little 
stratch only — ) and Virg is waiting on me. I 
will try and tell you all that has befalen us since 
we wrote last. 

" We miss poor Wes so much ! Sometimes I 
think I can hear him calling me through the noyse 
of a fight, as he did when he lay dying at Chicka- 
mauga ! 

" But, I will tell you about our moovements since 
we wrote last. 

" After leaving Chattanooga, we had but little 
fighting the ballance of last winter except a small 
affair at Knoxville ; but we spent a miserable win- 

* Written by Hartwell Moore, Company A, ist Texas Regiment, 
Hood's Brigade. 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 1 79 

ter in East Tenneesee. We were where we could 
not get either rations or clothes from the Govern- 
ment, and we lived by foraging in the country 
(Virg is the best forager you ever saw !) and the 
only active service we did was an occasional brush 
with some stray cavalry, and now and then to run 
down a bushwacker. By the time spring came we 
were in the worst possible fix. (It would be 
spring at La Rose Blanche but it seemed like 
mid winter when we began to move on for Vir- 
ginia.) 

" One morning General Longstreet called for all 
the men that had shoes to report at Head Quar- 
ters, and out of our whole regiment of over 400 
men, there were but 20 that had shoes and a suit 
of clothes. (Brother Tom was among these lucky 
ones, but I wasn't — somehow.) The rest were a 
sorry-looking lot of men ; most all were barefooted, 
and all were ragged and dirty. The men that had 
shoes and clothes were detailed from each regi- 
ment, and I believe that out of the whole corps 
there were only about 400 or 500 men. They gave 
them axes and sent them ahead to build fires 



l8o IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

at short intervals, and our march was a sort of 
scramble from one fire to another. There was no 
order about it ; we were allowed to get as warm as 
we could at one fire, and then go as far as we could, 
and then stop at another. I nede not say that we 
were scattered along the rout for about loo miles, 
but all finally got to the line without accident or 
loss. (I thought the cold would kill both Dandy 
and Virg !) From there they brought us on by 
train to Charlottsville, and there we drew rations 
and clothes and we were as proud as soldiers could 
well be to look decent once more. 

" It was here we drew for the first time coffee 
as rations (shore enough coffee and none of your 
parched meal !). We only got a table spoonful of 
green coffee for 3 days rations. (We generally 
used ours to play odd-or-even with !) 

*' But we hadn't had any fighting for some 
time and the boys were getting tired of doing 
nothing. 

" So that it was a welcome order which said one 
day ' Cook 3 days rations and be ready to move 
in 2 hours.' That is about the way we always 




H 






r- 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 1 83 

get our orders. Well, we didn't get the cooking 
done, but we did move in the 2 hours. 

" We had been away so long that we did not 
know where the Yankees were, or our own army, 
either, for that matter ; but from the way they 
hurried us on, and from an all-night march, with 
but 3 hours halt, we knew there was something 
up. 

" This was about the 4th of May 2 days before 
the battle of the Wilderness (2 months ago.) 

" It was on that morning that I was made Color- 
Bearer. There was no sentiment wasted on it. 
Our Company is the color-company by position 
in the Regiment. We have 2 stands of colors, a 
State flag and a battle-flag. It was the State flag 
that was given to me. There was little seremony 
about the presentation. As we were about to 
move, my Captain ordered me to the front to re- 
ceive the colors of our Great State, the flag that 
more than 50 men had been killed while bearing 
it, and the same colors that had been the Guide to 
a thousand men who were perfectly willing to die 
for it, and the last thing that many a man had 



184 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

looked at as he drew his last breath ; and the 
same flag that but 2 days after, led some 175 
men to death or greevous wounds. This was the 
formal presentation by the Captain ; I was ordered 
to the front : 

*' ' Private , you are hereby detailed to carry 

the flag. You will have the rank of sergeant, and 
are hereby relieved from all company duty. Fall 
in ! right-face ! forward, march ! arms at will, 
rout step ! ' 

" So I am a Color-Bearer ; and brother Tom is 
a Corporal. And Virg and Dandy are proud I 
can tell you. They think we are bigger than 
Major-Generals ! 

" So we mooved along day and night in good 
spirits, for all the signs pointed to active work. 
We marched all night the night of the 5th and the 
morning of the 6th found us on the road to the 
Wilderness. 

" It was a beautiful morning and we all enjoyed 
it. For there was not a man that ever thought 
that before the sun that was just rising went down, 
more than one half of us would be dead or wounded. 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 1S5 



with thousands of others. But when the sun be- 
gan to come up it was as red as blood. I have 
never seen the sun look as red as it did that 
morning. 

" A few minutes after we saw the sun, we heard 
a cannon-shot — the first we had heard for months, 
and we might have thought it a sunrise-gun, if it 
had not been follow^ed by so many others. We 
knew then that the day's work had begun. As we 
were in good spirits, there was many a joke passed 
around about ^o. furlough wotmds some of us would 
get, for you know no one gets a leave of absence 
now except for a wound. 

"Now, we meet a courier, his horse just able to 
stagger along, but still nobly doing his best — 
some would say ' under whip and spur ' ; but a 
cavalryman, or a courier does not use whip or 
spur. They can get more ride out of a horse than 
any one. They just stick close to the horse, lean 
forward and help him over all the bad places, and 
neithur beat nor kick the wind out of him ; and so 
long as he is able to moove the horse will go, and 
often stops to drop dead. 



1 86 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

" We meet the courier and at once there comes 
the order : * Forward ! Double-Quick ! March ! ' 
Then all sounds ceased except the rattle of our 
harness and the tramp of our feet. On we go, 
over miles and miles (we w^ere 8 miles off.) We 
have no orders except once in a while ' close up ! ' 
Now, some of the heavier-burdened begin to get 
behind. Our officers do not urge them, or order 
them along, for they know that every man that is 
going in the fight will be there somehow, and those 
that mean to shirk will do it anyhow. 

" On we go, never breaking the double-quick. 
Now those that we were leaving come on under 
all the steam that they can put on. Most of them 
have thrown away their knap-sacks and blankets, 
and as they step in rank they gasp out : ' if we win 
I can get all the blankets I want, and if we lose I 
won't need them ' — and many a man never did 
need them. 

" We speed on, and meet courier after courier, 
but can go no faster. 

" All in front has become silent. Now we be- 
gin to see a few wounded men. (You know a 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 187 

wounded man can go where he pleases.) Still we 
have no news from the front. 

" Now, we halt for a few moments to take 60 
rounds of ammunition, and make hasty inquiries 
at a house if there has been any fighting around 
there. She only says that the whole Earth is 
covered with soldiers. ' What are they ? Yanks 
or Rebs ? ' ' All sorts ! ' 

" On again at a double-quick. Now we come to 
where the fences have been pulled down for the 
Cavalry to Operate. A little farther and we are 
in the woods that begin the Wilderness. Now we 
come to field-hospitals, with surgeons busy, and all 
around under the trees wounded men. Now we 
come to wagons, and disabled Artillery, some with 
2 and some with 3 horses ; and now to a con- 
fused lot of men, horses, cannon, wagons and am- 
bulances. 

" We know by this time that it has been almost, 
if not quite a defeat ; and it gets worse and worse 
as we move on, for here we lind small groups of 
men crowded around a torn flag, and officers rush- 
ing around trying to rally their men, some com- 



1 88 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

manding and some begging them to get to their 
places. The men seemed to have lo'^t all heart, 
but as we came along and they knew that releef 
was at hand, they took new courage and began to 
get to their places, and even raised a faint cheer 
as we passed them. 

" Then there is a little space where there is 
nothing but dead and wounded, the dead grim and 
silent, and the wounded crying for water and some 
praying for death. 

" Now, we are thrown out in line of battle and 
move on more steady. We come to a small open 
place and here find a battery of 6 guns, all that 
was between the armies of Grant and Lee. 

" There was a few officers near the guns, but 
none of them looked very lively. As we pass the 
battery they cease firing and we moove silently on, 
down to a line of thick brush-wood where we know 
that some of us at least will meet death, and an 
uncertain fate for all. We get nearer and nearer 
the wood. All the skirmishers are in and we make 
ready for the first shock when God of Heaven ! 
there is General Lee! He passes through our 



A LETTER. FROM THE FRONT. 1 89 

ranks. There is no need to call a halt, for as one 
man we halt, and there is a mighty shout of ' Go 
back General Lee! Go back General Lee!' Some 
men seize his bridle-rein and some catch his stir- 
rups. He waves them off and turns to us and 

says: 

" ' On this Brigade depends the fate of this day. 
The enemy must be held until our men come up. 
I will lead you myself.' 

" There was not a man to moove ; but still the 
cry of ' Go back Genej-al Lee ! ' 

" Then our General Lee raised his hat and rode 
back. All this time there had not been a single 
shot fired from either side. 

" Just here a poor little rabbit, so scared that it 
did not know what to do, came and laid itself 
down at the feet of one of my mess-mates. He 
took it tenderly up and put it in his haversack. 

" Now comes the order : ' Forward guide cen- 
tre ! keep cool, men ! aim low ! ' With a wild 
yell we dash forward, and but a few steps and we 
receive a terrible volley at the shortest possible 
range. What wide gaps it makes in our ranks! 



190 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

but we close them up and rush forward, and gain 
inch by inch, giving volley for volley. 

" But how very thin our ranks are getting ! and 
the smoke is so thick that we cannot see, but stumble 
over the dead and wounded of the enemy, whom 
we are already pushing back. Now, they bring up 
a fresh line and we sway back and forth for a few 
moments ; then they break and we gain a little ; 
now they rally and come down on us, as if to crush 
us with weight of numbers. We are down in a 
little ditch, almost surrounded, but determined not 
to give up, for has not our General Lee told us to 
hold them back until our men come up ! 

*' Now we hear the thunder of a battery coming 
down, and they unlimber close to us and we hear 
every order as they load the guns. Still not a man 
has thought of giving up ; when thank God, we hear 
close in our rear the old rebel yell, and we know 
that is our relief. And they do come with a rush, 
capture the battery before it has time to fire a shot ; 
and we are moved back to rally what few there is 
left of us. 

" We were in there just 3 quarters of an hour, 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. I91 

and we lost one half of our men. Of the 12 that 
went in as color-guard, the other flag-bearer and 
myself were the only ones that came out at all, and 
our flags were both full of holes and the staffs shot 
in several places. 

" But our work was done for that day. We re- 
formed our Brigade and only lost a few more men 
in a charge later in the day. 

*' Neither brother Tom, nor Virg, nor Dandy, nor 
myself was hurt that day ; a bullet tore the top of 
brother Tom's cap off, and that was all. 

" Well, you may want to know the fate of the 
man and the rabbit. I know little Sis and Mandy 
will. Dandy and Virg say that the rabbit was a 
' luck-charm,' for that night as we all sat by a lit- 
tle fire among thousands of dead and wounded, 
my mess-mate took out the rabbit from his haver- 
sack. 

"It was alive, and neither the rabbit nor 
the man had a scratch ; and as we talked over 
the many things that had happened that day, he 
cooked the rabbit on a ramrod over the fire and 
we all ate him ! That sounds cruel I know dere 



192 ■ IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Mother ! But you must not forget that we are 
about half-starved all the time ! 

" And now as my hand aches, I reckon I will 
have to let brother Tom tell the rest of the story. 
He sends his love and so do Dandy and Virg. 
Father was well when we heard from him last. 
Dominique is writing to his mother and sends his 
love to you. Tell Mammy that we wish often for 
some of her good-go-downs. 

** We will soon be coming home we think for the 
Confederacy is bound to be reconized and the war 
can't last much longer. With love dere Mother, 

Your son, Hart. 

" Jes' look at dat now," cried Mammy in a burst 
of admiration, as mother finished the reading. 
" Didn't I tale you, Mis' Lucy, honey, dat dem 
chillun wuz gwine ter come home all kivered wid 
gole, luk dey granpappy's, an' dey gret-gran- 
pappy's pickshur whar hangin' in de parlor ! But 
dey ain't forgit dey ole Mammy's good-go-downs, 
do ! An' ef dey is er diis^ er flour in de fiour 
barrel — which dey ain't now — but ef dey is 



A LETTER FROM THE FRONT. 1 93 

whense dey gits home I gwine ter mek 'em er 
bakin' o' good-go-downs whar gwine ter mek dey 
moufs water ! " 

But mother was not listening. " My poor little 
Wesley," she murmured with overflowing eyes and 
with Cousin Nellie's head on her shoulder. 

" Dass so," said Mammy, her face changing. 
" De chile fyarcall ter me sometimes in de middle 
o' de night-time so's I cyan't sleep. Jes' lak he 
call ter de yuther chile o' my bres', lil' Marse 
Hart whar is got ter be er Color-Barrier, an' whar 
writ dat fine letter ! But don't you cry. Miss Nellie, 
honey ; he walkin' in de streets o' gole dis minit 
whar dey ain't no mo' wah ! " 

" — An' no mo' hongry, an' no mo' col', an' no 
mo' trebble, an' no mo' br'ur gins br'ur, bless de 
Lord ! " added Uncle Toshua who had come in 
quietly during the reading of the letter. 

" Less play Wilderness," cried Charley to his 
three companions. 

And while they were quarreling about which 
should be the Yanks and which the Rebs, old 
Mister Fraid-o'- Yankee came out from under the 



194 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

side-board. He argued well perhaps from the 
joyous faces he saw all around ; for he walked out 
on the gallery, and having first carefully spied 
out the land, he waddled down the steps into the 
back-yard. 



CHAPTER X. 



A soldier's tryst. 



THERE was always that quaint pleasant " cor- 
ner of La Rose Blanche " down on Rue 
Royale in the old French Quarter of New Ore- 
leans ! But during the war-times Rose Blanche 
seemed suddenly to stretch far and wide its arms, 
and to take in, here a weather-stained tent, or a 
rude hut ; there a trampled space of ground about 
a cheery camp-fire with only the sky for a roof ; 
or a long stretch of dusty road echoing to the • 
steady swinging tramp of an army ; or a pallet in 
a crowded hospital-ward ; or a bunk in a prison ; 
or even, alas, a smoke-hung, blood-besprinkled 
battle-field ! For wherever father and the boys 
were, there was a part of La Rose Blanche. 

There were a great many happenings in these 
outlying dependencies of the home roof-tree, that 

195 



196 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

we knew only long afterward, when peace had come 
again ; and the Blue and the Grey had clasped 
hands in a union never more to be disturbed. 

Here is the story of one of these happenings. 
Out of the picture that it makes as I recall it, 
look the dark laughing eyes of Cousin Wesley 
Branscome, who cried so the day brother Tom 
and brother Hart went away, because he was not 
old enough to go too ! And who, a year later, 
shouldered his gun and marched off to join the 
Selden Rifles in Virginia. How we all ran down 
to the gate after him the morning he went away! 
And how much harder it seemed to see him go 
because there were no flags flying, as when the 
others marched, and no drum beating, and no fife 
playing " The Girl I Left Behind J/^," and no 
shouting and hurrahs ! But only a little squad 
of recruits, eager indeed but not gay. For the 
past long sad year had taught us all something of 
what war meant ! 

" Tuzzin Wes ! " cried little Percy after him as 
he turned off down the lane, " don't you fordit to 
tum back ! " 



A soldier's tryst. 197 



" I'm sure to come back, little Perce," called 
Cousin Wes gayly over his shoulder. 

" And that is why they call the place La Rose 
Blanche," said Tom Dennison. 

It was a windless night, and the smoke of the 
camp-fire floated gently upward toward a clear, 
steel-blue winter sky where the stars glittered coldly 
bright. Ruddy light from the blazing logs played 
over the faded grey uniforms of the men lounging 
around, and turned their tarnished brass buttons 
to gold ; further back, in the rude brush tent, it 
set agleam here, a polished gun-barrel, there, a 
rusty canteen ; and softened the dinginess of the 
smoke-hung boughs on the roof and the sombre 
colors of the soiled and ragged blankets lying in 
careless heaps upon the well-trampled ground. 

Other fires were burning along the narrow val- 
ley and under the lee of the snow-covered rido-es ; 
and long lines of brush-tents, with now and then 
a rough attempt at a log-cabin, stretched out in 
every direction. For the army was in winter 
quarters. The guards were tramping their meas- 
ured beat as usual, and the outer line of pickets 



198 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

was posted beyond. But there was surcease for a 
time, of the weary marching and fighting that had 
been going on now for two years and more. The 
scanty rations could be cooked and eaten in 
peace ; the thin pallets were spread down at night 
without anticipation of a sudden arousing drum- 
beat and a ringing order to " fall in " at midnight ; 
letters home were written (on the backs of old 
envelopes and scraps of wall paper ! ) without a 
continual ducking and dodging to avoid falling 
shells ; the men, idle around their cheery fires, 
fought their battles over, and told over and over 
their worn-out jokes and stories ; or, oftener, 
talked of the far-away loved ones whose unforgot- 
ten faces filled their waking and sleeping dreams. 

" What's that about Rose Blanche, Tom ? " said 
a voice out in the shadow as Sergeant Dennison 
paused to rake together some falling embers. 

" Hello, Nagle ! " chorused the whole group 
heartily; "come in, Sid, come in, old fellow" — a 
needless invitation since the owner of the voice 
had promptly followed it and dropped unceremo- 
niously upon an unappropriated blanket. 



A soldier's tryst. 199 

"What were you saying about La Rose Blanche, 
Tom ? " he repeated, reaching out for a coal and 
balancing it carefully upon his pipe. 

" I was just telling these cold-blooded Virginia 
fellows," replied Tom, "that snowed up as we are 
here — in these mountains, down in our countr)' the 
spring-sap is rising ; and around one plantation 
that we know — eh, Sid ! there are miles of Chero- 
kee-rose hedges that just about now are all white 
with buds and flowers." 

" That's so," assented Sid. 

" But that's not the reason they call it La Rose 
Blanche," added Tom. " You know my mother was 
born in that dear old house and she knows all its 
traditions! They have a pretty story that goes 
away back to the early days of the first white 
settlers, about the finding of a pale-face baby-girl 
by an old Indian chief. She lay cooing and laugh- 
ins on her dead mother's breast in the lone little 
cabin that stood just where the plantation-house 
now stands ; and a few rods away her father was 
lying face-downward with a bullet hole in his fore- 
head. The old chief took the baby into his own 



200 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

wigwam and gave her a name whose liquid sylla- 
bles meant in our tongue The White Rose. The 
story goes on to tell how she grew up the joy of 
the old chief, her adopted father, and the delight 
of the tribe. Then came along, somehow, a young 
French officer who wooed and won and carried 
away La Rose Blanche from the mourning tribe. 
At least that is the gist of the legend. At home, 
even little Ma'y has it all at her fingers' ends." 

" Wa'al ! " drawled a huge red-bearded fellow 
at the other side of the fire who was busily carving 
from a bit of polished bone a tiny high-heeled slip- 
per, " I hain't got much s^niy-mint 'bout the Injuns, 
an' I don't keer much 'bout roses, but I do wisht I 
had some o' them sugar-house merlasses they make 
down thar, stidder the sorghum the Corn-fed Gov'- 
mint g'ves us ! " 

" And over at Bon Soldat," pursued Tom, taking 
up his interrupted story, " there's a double row of 
red and white oleanders that — do you see that, 
boys ? that chap has gone again ! " 

The visitor looked up startled by the sudden 
break in Tom's harangue and at the altered tone. 



H 

X 
W 

X 

a 
o 



D 




A soldier's tryst. 203 



"Who is gone? What is it?" he demanded, 
looking around bewildered. 

"Oh, nothing!" replied Tom, still shading his 
eyes with his hand and peering out into the shad- 
ows beyond the firelight. "Or rather," he added, 
sinking back upon his pile of blankets and return- 
ing his pipe to his lips, " it's that boy. Come to 
think of it, Sid, he's your cousin, and — " 

" Wes Branscome ? Yes. Well, what of him ? 
Where is he, by the way ? He was here when I 
came in ! However, 1 reckon he has gone over 
to my mess. The boys are having some kind of 
a shindy over there. His cousins, Tom and 
Hart, are there with their body-servants. Listen ! 
There's Virg and Dandy singing now ! " 

On the still night air came the lugubrious 
refrain : 

" De Lawd d'liver Dan-/?^// 

Dan-j/u//, Dan-j«//, 

From de lion den. 
De Lawd d'liver Dan-y//// 
An' de same Lawd gwine d'liver me too ! '* 

" How that does take me back to Rose Blanche," 



204 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

mused Tom a little wistfully. " No, he's not over 
there," he went on energetically. You know, Nagle, 
I — " he broke off abruptly and colored a little, 

" Yes, I know you are going to marry his sister 
— and a mighty pretty girl my cousin Nell is too," 
responded his friend tranquilly. "But what is the 
matter with Wes ? " 

"The truth is," said Tom, " none of those Rose 
Blanche boys have got any business in the army ! 
Tom, perhaps ; he is a stout sturdy lad, but Wes- 
ley and Hart when they first came, looked like a 
couple of girls with their rosy cheeks and yellow 
curls — " 

"Look enough like girls yet ! " interpolated 
Jack Winter from his pallet in the tent. 

"Well, when Wesley came on the first batch of 
recruits, Aunt Lu — his aunt wrote me a letter 
and put the boy in my charge. Said I was to look 
after his morals too, don't you know ? And some- 
how I can't help feeling responsible for the little 
chap, good-conduct and all ! " and Tom sighed. 
" He's a plucky boy, and no mistake. Never 
flinched even under his first fire. I have fairly 



A soldier's tryst. 205 



to hold him back sometimes ! A real straight-up- 
and-dovvn little man every way. But since we've 
been in camp here — six weeks almost, you know, 
he has slipped out quietly nearly every night about 
this time ; and two or three hours later, he steals 
in again. Never says where he's been ; even his 
cousins don't know; gets past the guards some- 
how ; and well, I'm mightily concerned to know 
where he is spending his time, that's all ! " 

"Rustic sweetheart," suggested Nagle senten- 
tiously. 

"Maybe so," replied Tom, gazing into the fire. 

" Anyhow," growled Winter, " the little chap is 
so awfully sneaky about it ! " 

"We've all chaffed him a good deal," Dennison 
went on. "But he does not seem to care, and I 
am afraid — fact is, Sid, I am worried and anxious 
about the boy and I don't know what to do." 

"Tell you what," replied his friend after a mo- 
ment's silence, "we'll follow him and find out 
what he is up to. That is ' sneaky ' too," he added 
with a laugh, " but you owe it to Aunt Lucy — and 
Nell." 



206 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

" Done ! " said Tom, blushing again. 

The next night was raw and dark. The snow 
which had lain for days frozen hard upon the 
ground had turned to a cold and disagreeable 
slush ; and the wind as it swept down from the 
mountain-tops was charged with fine points of 
sleet that stung like needles when they struck the 
faces of the guards moving silently back and forth 
on their boats. Sergeant Dennison and Private 
Nagle marched forward along the lonely winding 
road that struck off toward the foot-hills of the 
gigantic mountain that frowned away to the left, 
and down which the slender form in front of them 
had turned after leaving the camp well behind. 
Nowadays a boy of sixteen with his hands in his 
pockets and his cap pulled down upon his fore- 
head, trudging alone along a dark and lonesome 
road, would be whistling gayly to keep himself 
company ; but in those times when the next turn- 
ing might show a phalanx of blue-coats, or from 
the next clump of bushes might come the crack 
of a rifle, men and boys learned silence and watch- 
fulness. So, one shadow went warily between 



A SOLDIER S TRYST. 207 

the naked trees where the wind shrieked; and 
two other shadows followed noiselessly, now stop- 
ping lest they should be seen or heard, now hurr}-- 
ing lest they should lose sight of the unconscious 
object of their curiosity. 

It was nearly two miles from camp when Wesley 
Branscome turned abruptly to the left and disap- 
peared. The two men who were following him 
reached the mouth of the wide ravine just in time 
to see him spring up a little wind-swept ridge, 
upon which, dimly outlined against the cloudy 
sky, stood a small low cabin. From the door, as 
the lad opened it, a ruddy glare came pouring out, 
illuminating the rocky slope where the snow lay 
in patches, and flashing down upon the muddy 
waters of the little stream that rushed noisily along 
the bottom of the ravine. It was gone immedi- 
ately, for the door closed with a bang ; but beneath 
the clumsy wooden shutter of the single window a 
line of light gleamed, and after waiting some mo- 
ments the two spies crept softly up the ridge and 
applied their eyes to this crack. 

It afforded them a full view of the interior of 



2o8 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

the one room of the little hut. There was no light 
except that from the fire blazing in the wide fire- 
place, but that sufficed to show the clumsy loom 
in one corner with an unfinished piece of dark 
cloth upon it, and the ample feather-bed, with blue 
coverlid and white pillows on the rude bedstead, in 
the other. A rickety ladder between them led up 
to a hole in the low rough ceiling. On one of its 
rounds squatted a great reddish-brown rooster, 
with his head under his wing. His feathers glis- 
tened in the firelight. Bunches of herbs, strings 
of red pepper and " hanks " of bluish yarn hung 
against the walls, and a pine table with a few 
homely blue dishes upon it was set squarely across 
the door on the opposite side of the room. On a 
low chair in a corner of the vast fireplace sat an 
old woman with snow-white hair and lean wrinkled 
face. She was carding wool. A pile of fleecy rolls 
lay on the floor beside her, so delicate and sym- 
metrical that it was a wonder how the feeble old 
hands and the well-worn cards could have wrought 
them. 

Directly in front of the fire stood a tall thin- 



A soldier's tryst. 209 

legged spinning-wheel. From this came a loud 
monotonous whiz-z-bur-r-r, and a regular dick, click, 
as the spinning-stick struck the flying spokes. 
Wesley Branscome was the spinner. He had 
thrown off his heavy over-coat and his cap. His 
yellow curls shone as he stepped forward — a trim, 
slight, boyish figure in a faded grey jacket and 
ragged trousers — forward and backward and for- 
ward again — deftly lengthening out the roll and 
running the thread upon the spindle ; then catch- 
ing a fresh roll from the pile on a chair beside him 
to add it in turn to the fast-growing white cone. 

For a time there was no sound in the room but 
this whiz-z, hur-r-r, click, click and the measured one, 
two, forward, and one, two, three, backward step 
of the boy, and the soft scratch, scratch, of the old 
woman's cards. 

Dennison outside, turned wondering eyes upon 
his companion, who nudged him with his elbow 
and gave a meaning look at the ladder. 

Of course ! Down that shaky stair would pres- 
ently descend the buxom Omphale for whose sake 
this young Hercules was spinning. 



2IO IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Hard upon the smiles which overspread the 
faces of the watchers at this conckision, the old 
woman laid down her cards and began poking 
among the glowing embers with a bit of stick. 

" Wessy," she said, in a thin, sweet quavering 
voice, " I've got some taters a-roastin' fer ye." 

"Oh-h! haveyoMt^^ cried the young soldier in 
a tone of boyish rapture, stopping his wheel and 
going down on his knees on the broken hearth. 

" D' you reckon they're done, Granny ? Let me 
take 'em out." He shaded his eyes with one 
hand and raked out a couple of enormous ash- 
covered yams. At the savory odor that came 
floating through the crack as he laid them open, 
Tom Dennison and his companion hardly re- 
strained a groan of envy. 

" ^-va-m I but they're nice ! Have some, Gran- 
ny." He was squatted upon his heels before her, 
and she leaned over and patted his shoulder with 
a loving old wrinkled hand. 

" No, chile, / don't want none. I'm jes power- 
ful glad to see you eaten of 'em — I hain't 
cyarded much ter-day," she added presently. 



A soldier's tryst. 211 



" Been weavin' ? " asked Wesley, with a back- 
ward glance at the same time over his shoulder 
at the loom. 

" No ; settin' the dye fer them las' hanks. 
Like ter froze my han's off. But we mos' done, 
Wessy." 

He nodded. 

" Lor, how proud Bigy an' Jim '11 be ! Hit's 
been nigh about five weeks, hain't it, Wessy?" 
said Granny. 

He nodded again, munching his potato. 

"I hed come home from my Liddy's fu'nal an' 
was a-settin' here with the do' shot to, wonderin' 
how them boys o' hern, 'way off yander in Com- 
p'ny G. were gwine ter git the cloze she'd prom- 
ised Mm, an' rit an' rit ter 'em about ; an' me with 
all the wool in the house, an' nobody to he'p me. 
An' you come jumpin' the fence ter git er drink 
o' water — " 

A sly twinkle came into the old soul's watery 
eyes as she uttered the last sentence. 

The lad laughed. 

" Now, Granny," he said, " you know I was 



212 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

runnin' your red rooster! I didn't know any- 
body was in the house." 

*' He's gettin' mighty fat," she replied, following 
his glance over toward the ladder. "We-uns is 
gwine ter have him biled the night we git the las' 
hank spun." 

" Oh, I wish we could heve a chicken-pie, 
Granny — an' dumpliti^s / " 

" Wa-al, mebby we kin somehow. An' I tole 
you 'bout Liddy an' them boys o' hern in Com- 
p'ny G., an' ez how I wanted ter make the cloze 
she were so sot on makin' fer 'em. An' you 
'lowed that ef I'd larn you ter spin yoti''d he'p me 
make 'em." Another nod from the boy. They 
were evidently rehearsing an oft-repeated scene. 

"Granny," he said, suddenly springing up and 
looking down at her with a quizzical expression, 
*' what do you suppose the boys in camp think } 
They think that I come out every night to see 
— my sweetheart," and a peal of laughter rang 
through the cabin, waking the fat rooster, who un- 
covered his head, flapped his wings, and uttered 
a hoarse crow. 



A SOLDIERS TRYST. 213 

" Shucks, you don't say," cried the old dame, 
turning a smiling wrinkled face up toward 
him. 

'*That they do," and he broke into a shuffling 
dance to the tune of " The Yea7's Creep Slowly By, 
Lorena,^^ whistled in quick time. 

After which he caught up the spinning-stick in 
one hand, and a fleecy roll in the other, and the 
whiz-z^ bur-r, click, click, one, two, forward, one, 
two, three, backward step began again. 

The gentle scratch, scratch, of the cards chimed 
in, and soothed by these familiar sounds the red 
rooster stuck his head under his wing again and 
went to sleep. 

During this scene the men outside had not dared 
to move, fearing to betray themselves. As soon, 
however, as the noise of the wheel filled the air, 
they stole stealthily down the slope, and around 
the projecting mountain-spur, and so out into the 
slush-covered road again. 

Not a word was spoken between them until 
they had slipped past the guards and were near- 
ing the camp-fires. 



214 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

Then Sergeant Dennison paused long enough 
to say : 

" Say, Sid, I feel as if I had been caught steal- 
ing a sheep ! — or rather, I ought perhaps to say 
as I would have felt before the war began if I had 
been caught stealing a sheep ! " 

Private Nagle broke into a queer little laugh. 
"Just imagine how you would have felt if that 
blessed pair of innocents had caught you 
sneaking around, that crack in the window," he 
said. 

" And I tell you what, boys," concluded the 
sergeant, after giving an account of the adventure 
to his mess, "you can have my" — he was about 
to say hat, but recollecting himself, he took off his 
shabby cap, looked at it affectionately and re- 
turned it to his head with a comical sigh, as if he 
found it impossible to do the subject justice. 

More than a year later, a letter, worn and soiled, 
and dilapidated with travelling after the army, at 
length reached the company to one of whose 
members it was addressed. " Wessy Brancekum, 
Seldun Ryefls," it declared in a big scrawly hand. 



A soldier's tryst. 215 

Captain Dennison's hands trembled as he took it. 
For Wesley Branscome was sleeping the long 
sleep in his unnamed grave on the fatal field of 
Gettysburg. 

Dere Wessy, [it ran,] Bigy an' Jim got thare cloze, but my leg 
were shot off at Gettysb'urg an' Pm back with Graujiy. Jim 
is ritin' this letter fer me. Grany sens yu her htv an air 
mity prowd uv the kyards. She sez bee shore an' kum by this 
way when the Yanks is whipt an' yu lite out fer home so no 

more 

/rum Ji?n Cager 



CHAPTER XI. 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 



'TT^HE orange-flower petals were falling like 
-*- flakes of perfumed snow upon clean, white 
sheets spread underneath the trees in the planta- 
tion to receive them. And in the kitchen, the 
orange-flower water, and the still more delicate 
orange-flower conserve were in process of making. 
Now, this was in some sort a high and myste- 
rious rite at La Rose Blanche. Mere could never 
be persuaded that mother knew just how thick 
the syrup out to be, or precisely the quantity of 
flowers necessary to produce the flavor. And so 
she came up every spring from River-View, ac- 
companied by old Justine, and armed with her 
home-made, time-yellowed, Creole recipe book. 
On such occasions Hester, the cook, cleared out 
of the kitchen with a snort, and a muttered fling at 

216 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 217 

"dem French doin's." And with her own small, 
plump, white hands, Mere sorted out the thick, 
waxen, sweet-smelling leaves and dropped them 
one by one into the clear bubbling syrup. Justine 
meanwhile washed and rinsed dozens of tall, long- 
necked bottles and placed them in shining rows 
out on a table in the sun to dry. Cousin Nellie, 
as a great privilege and on condition of keeping 
quite still, was allowed to sit on the broad, low 
window-sill and cut out and twist into shape the 
funny little paper boats in which the dainty con- 
serve would be ser\^ed. Now and again mother 
would come to the door with a tray piled high with 
fresh petals ; these ]Mere would take from her in 
impressive silence and empty upon a vast silver 
salver which she alwavs used at this au2:ust cere- 
monial. 

But we children were banished. Not for worlds 
would we have ventured within reach of Mere's 
threatening spoon and her stern and emphatic 
" AUez-vous-en^ mes enfant s ! " 

But oh, what joy, after the bottles had been 
filled and sealed and left standing to cool, and the 



2l8 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

flat, wide-mouthed glass jars with their translucent 
contents were ranged upon the closet-shelves — 
what joy to be called up and receive, each from 
Mere's own hands, one of those quaint little 
paper-boats filled to the brim with the warm, fra- 
grant conserve; and to hie away with them to 
Mammy's cabin, there to beg a bit of cake (or 
cone-pone !) and play " party " on her doorstep. 

But that blissful moment had not yet arrived on 
this occasion. 

It was the next day after brother Hart's long- 
delayed letter from the front had come ; and such 
a soft, sunshiny, flower-sweet day ! Old Aunt 
Rose had brought her troop of babies over from 
the Quarter to the lawn in front of the house. 
They were playing there, tumbling about in the 
long grass like so many little brown elves. Aunt 
Hester's little Chittowee, with a crown of yellow 
jessamine on her head, and her eerie black face 
peeping out from a collar of woodbine and honey- 
suckle, was leading them like an elfin queen in 
their noisy revels. Aunt Rose herself sat stiffly 
erect on a bench by the hedge. Her well-seasoned 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 219 

switch lay across her lap. Her elbows were 
pressed against her sides ; her long, bony hands 
were laid, palm downward, upon her knees ; her 
feet showing below her scant homespun skirts, 
were drawn closely together. Her attitude sug- 
gested that rock-cut statue of the old Egyptian 
Queen in her ruined temple, whose picture father 
had brought home from Egypt, and which hung 
over his study-table. 

Her deep-set eyes, under their bristling white 
eyebrows, had a dreamy, far-away look. 

Little Percy had left off playing and was lean- 
ino- ao-ainst her knee. He stroked her tattooed 
wrists with his soft fingers. "Who hurted you, 
Aunt Wose ? " he asked suddenly, lifting his blue 
eyes earnestly to her face. 

She looked down at him in her strange un- 
smiling w^ay, without replying, and then her gaze 
wandered vaguely on toward the orange-plantation 
where we could see mother moving along between 
the trees, stooping here and there to gather the 
fallen flower petals. Her lean leathery old face 
brightened ; it seemed almost to shine She 



220 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

always looked like that whenever she saw mother. 

We seized the moment, knowing it to be a favor- 
able one, and began to beg : 

" Oh, Aunt Rose, tell us about when you was a 
Princess ! " 

" When you was a Afercan Frin^ess, you know," 
besought Charley. 

"An' when you was capshu'd ! Please, Aunt 
Rose, please ! " 

She began abruptly, her dreamy eyes still fol- 
lowing mother about the orange-grove. That was 
always her way when she could be induced to tell 
her story at all, which was but rarely. Her speech 
was almost like that of our other home-negroes, 
though Uncle Silas, her brother, the African 
Prince who belonged to Grandpa Selden, had a 
curious broken language of his own which was 
almost unintelligible. But her voice was strangely 
hollow and monotonous ; and when excited by the 
memory of her wrongs she became almost terrible. 
At such times her deep eyes glittered wdth an un- 
canny light, and a dark red spot glowed in either 
hollow of her tawny, sunken cheeks. 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. _ 221 

" Yass, I is done been Fnn-ress. An' I is Prin- 
cess yit," she added, almost ferociously. " I is 
bo'n er King's dotter. Dey uz er gran' town in 
my country ; an' da pipple uz lak de cane what 
wave in de cane-fiel', dey uz so many ! An' in dat 
town dey uz er gret-house mo' bigger'n Missy's 
gret-house yonner." 

" She mean yo' maw when she say Missy ; she 
al'uz call Mis' Lucy, Missy," explained Mandy, 
who was sitting at the other end of the bench 
pretending to knit. 

" An' de gret-house uz in de middle o' all de 
yuther houses ; an' it had high trees wid leaf lak 
bunches o' fedders on top,* all roun' it ; an' dat 
us de King's house. De King he Silas an' me 
fader. On'y Silas not name SiVas den, same ez I 
not name Rose den. Silas he uz Prince Limpopo ; 
an' I uz Fi'incess Ghargal. I got oder Prince, 
whar uz big Chief fur hus-ban' ; an' got five 
chillun ; five li'l brown gal, mo' prettier dan any 
o' dese here nigger-babies," she turned her eyes 
contemptuously for a moment upon the noisy 
brood at her feet. 

* Palm-trees. 



22 2 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

" An' de}^ uz er thousan' nigger stannin' roun' 
de King's p^ret-house fur to do we wu'k an' fur ter 
mek granjure. An' when me an' de five li'l gal is 
walk out, dey uz nigger walk long fur ter tote de 
pya'-sol an' de big fan. I is had de dress all 
made out'n dem kind of fedders whar used to 
be in Missy bonnit. An' dem di'mons whar Missy 
used ter war in de good times fo' de wah, dey ain' 
nuttin ter dem di'mons whar I is wore roun' my 
wase lak ropes. An' dese here marks is de marks 
o' African Vx'mcess'' Aunt Rose touched with an 
air of pride the tattoo-marks on her forehead, 
neck and arms. 

" Dey uz plenty o' wah in my country, but not lak 
dis wah. Dey fight heap mo' braver, an' dey tek 
de women un de chillun un' ca'y 'em off an' mek 
'em slave. Dat de way we git we slave too. But 
de King, we fader, he big Chief an' he don't 
nebber git whup. All de gret-house shine wid de 
gole whar he done brung fum de fur-off country. 
Oh, we all happy den, an' I uz proud Vxxwcess wid 
dem five li'l brown gal ! 

" One day, dey uz er battle. Er big black 



% 

I 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 223 

Chief vvhar come fum yuther side er de mountain, 
he bu'n up de gret-house, an' done tuk an' ca'y 
off de King whar uz Silas an' me fader; an' he 
ca'y off Silas an' me, an' heap mo' fighting men 
an' lakly women. But he done kill de Prince 
whar uz my hus-ban', an' he lef terhine all dem 
li'l brown gal." 

" Oh, Aunt Rose," we sighed under our breath. 

" An' I ain' nebber seen 'em no mo'." Her 
voice rose to a shrill cry and her body swayed 
slowly from side to side. " Nebber no mo'," she 
repeated and then dropped into sudden silence. 

We held each other's hands and hardly stirred 
until she began again. 

" We is trabbel five days, an' mos' six, aiV den 
we done come ter de big water. An' dey uz er boat 
whar uz so big dat it mek us 'feard. De big black 
Chief whar brung us, he done sell us ter de Cap'n 
er de big boat an' den we his slave. Dey uz'heap 
er yuther nigger in de boat an' dey done crowd us 
in ; an' we uz down in er dark hole ; but we b^leeve 
we kin see de Ian' whar we leavin' terhine us ; an' 
de trees whar got lak er bunch er fedders on top; 



2 24 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

an' de li'l ribber ; an' de freedom, an' de chil- 
lun, oh de cbillun ! We stretch out de ban's 
an' cry, while the boat roll high lak dis, an' den 
roll low lak dat." She stood up and dipped for- 
ward until the bow of her pointed tignoii almost 
touched the grass, and then arose slowly again to 
her full height with her arms outstretched. The 
red flush was beginning to dawn into her sunken 
cheeks. 

" Den de King, my fader, he 'fuse ter eat, caze 
he ain' nebber been use ter bein' slave. An' one 
day he say he gwine die, an' he heart break, an' 
he done die. Den I fight an' den dey is wrop de 
chain 'roun de arms o' de Vxn\.-ccss''' 

We shrank back half-afraid before the menacing 
glow in her eyes. But just then mother went past 
carrying her flower-piled tray to the kitchen, and 
the soft look came back into old Aunt Rose's face. 
She sat down and continued : 

" At las' one day dey run de ship up er yaller 
ribber whar dey call de Bra-z-z/j", an' we uz tuk out. 
An' some er de niggers uz lef darbut me an' Silas 
we uz brung in er 'nur boat to New-orl-eends. An' 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 227 

we uz put in er kine er place whar dey call de 
slave-pen, 'long wid er heap er yuther slave. By 
dat time de tears er my eyes dey uz all dry-up, an' 
de heart in my bres' uz lak er clod fum de fiel' 
cep'n fur ter hate. 

"At las' one day we uz tuk fum de slave-pen an' 
dey done march us two an' two long de streets 
er New-orl-eends, an' close up ter er gret-house 
whar gut pos'es lak de King gret-house whar bu'n 
down." 

" She mean de Sain' Charl' Hotel whar yo' paw 
and maw done stay dat time jes fo' de wah, when 
dey tuk me wid you alls," interpreted Mandy. 

" An' at de corner we bleege ter stop, caze dey 
uz er percession in de way. An' jes' den, 'long 
come er li'l white gal, jes so big. An' she lak er 
angel, on'y den I did'n know nuttin' 'bout no angel. 
She uz wid er paw an' her maw, an' she done see 
me, an' she run up an' pass her sof li'l ban's roun' 
dese marks, same ez de chile done jes' now. She 
did'n know dem marks uz de marks o' er Vx\Vi-cess^ 
but she done see de trebble whar uz in my face I 
reckin', caze she done say wu'ds whar uz sof'-lak 



2 28 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

an' sweet. I couldn't un'erstan' dem wu'ds den, 
but I done un'erstan' whar uz terJiine dem wu'ds, 
an' de hard heart lak a clod in my bres' 'gin ter 
melt." 

" She mean dat she done bus' out cryin'," said 
Mandy. 

" An' when dey fetch me ter de block under dat 
gret-house fur ter be sol', lo an' behole, dar uz dat 
li'l white gal paw done come ter buy me caze she 
done ax him will he do it ! An' he buy me, an' 
den he buy de Prince my br'ur whar not name 
Silas den.'''' 

" Dat uz yo' grandpa whar got de wood laig dnt 
buy Aun' Rose an' Unk' Silas," said Mandy. 

" Den he gi' me ter de li'l white gal an' I done 
feel lak Prin-rtjr.f once mo' when dey tuk me ter de 
house whar dey uz niggers stannin' roun' ter do de 
wuk' an' ter wait on de gret pipple." 

" Dat uz Fred'ric's Marster's house whar done 
been kill sence de wah 'gin," said Mandy. 

"Dat li'l white gal she uz Missy. I is seen her 
grow up t'well now she am yo' maw. I is always 
b'lonf^ ter her, an' she knnu I is Prin-^.^'j'i' ; an' I 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 229 

ain' never been feel lak slave since Missy tech me 
wid dem sof li'l fingers ! I is aluz been kep' 
roun' de house t'vvell I ax Missy fur ter let me 
niin' de babies, caze I is done gittin' ole, an' caze 
de babies mek me think 'bout dem five li'l brown 
gal whar I ain' nebber gwine to see no mo'." The 
sombre look came again into Aunt Rose's eyes, 
but the curious softening was in her voice as she 
concluded : " Yass, I is been Vv'm-cess in Af'ica, an' 
now I is Missy's Fiin-cess. An' Missy, she li'l 
angel when she so big, an' she angel no7a .^" 

" Dassso, jes ez sho' ez you am bawn ! Dat am 
er fac' 'bout Mis' Lucy s/io\" said a voice a little 
\vay off. It was Uncle Joshua's. He had a spade 
in his hand and had co:ne out to work in the vio- 
let-beds that bordered the walk. He nodded at 
Aunt Rose who had settled down upon her bench 
again with the far-away look on her face, and 
stuck his spade into the moist brown earth. He 
began to sing as he always did when he was pot- 
tering about mother's flowers : 

" Possum up er yum-stump, coony up er holler." 
We ran through a gap in the hedge and came 



230 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

around to where he was. " Now, chillun, jis' you 
keep out'n de way caze dese here am Mis' Lucy's 
vVlcts an' I got ter be pow'ful keerful, lessen — " he 
paused, for there came the unwonted sound of 
horses feet trampling along the lane. Two men 
rode up to the gate and dismounted. As they 
came in we saw that they wore blue uniforms, and 
a moment later we recognized the latter one whom 
we had seen several times while the crevasse was 
open and the Yankee soldiers had come down to 
help rebuild the levee. He was the Colonel of 
the regiment camped above the bend of the river. 
The little boys ran through the gap in the hedge 
to Aunt Rose, and I shrank back leaving Uncle 
Joshua to go forward and meet them. The tall 
Colonel stopped when he came up to Uncle Joshua 
and said something to him in a low tone. Uncle 
Joshua's voice in reply sounded sharp and unnat- 
ural though I could not hear what he said. The 
officer spoke again and seemed to be urging some- 
thing; and then Uncle Joshua fell upon his knees 
and began sobbino: and rockin^r himself to and 
fro. " Oh," I heard him cry as if half beside, him- 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 23 1 

self, " who gwine ter tell her ! I cyant tell her ! 
Oh, Lord, vvhargive an' whar tek away, hab mussy 
on her ! An' on de chillun ! Oh, my Marster ! 
my Marster ! " 

The Colonel stood for a moment as if irresolute 
and perplexed and then walked on slowly toward 
the house followed by his orderly. He carried in 
his hand a sheathed sword which I had seen him 
take from the soldier as they came in the gateway. 
Once he turned as if to go back. A quick excla- 
mation broke from him as he faced around again. 
For there in the walk before him and barring his 
way stood mother. She had come through the 
gap in the hedge followed by the little boys who 
were all huddled about her. She was deadly pale 
and her great eyes were fixed upon the officer's 
face with a look of terror. I had never seen fear 
on her brave face before and I shivered at it while 
I wondered what it meant. 

The Colonel uncovered his head and the soldier 
after a moment's hesitation took off his cap. The 
weather-beaten faces of the men were almost as 
pale as mother's ! 



232 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

There was a short silence ; the officer seemed to 
be trying to find a way to begin what he had to say. 

" Madame," he said at last, " a messenger com- 
ing from the other side of the river, and bearing 
letters and — other messages for this neighborhood 
has been captured by some of my men. A num- 
ber of the letters he carried were old — some of 
them had been drifting about for months. But 
one among them was of late date and contained 
the news of — " 

He broke off abruptly and turned away as if 
unable to bear the look in the eyes gazing into 
his. His glance fell upon little Percy. He 
stooped and bent one knee to the ground and 
drew the child gently to him. " My son," he said, 
putting the sword into the small hands and clos- 
ing them upon it, " give this to your mother and 
tell her that it was the sword of a brave and hon- 
orable man who died a gallant death on the battle- 
field." The empty tray she was holding dropped 
from mother's hand and a low cry escaped from 
her blanched lips. " Tell her — " but a tear 
splashed down upon the little upturned face. He 



OUR AFRICAN PRINCESS. 233 

laid a hand caressingly upon the yellow curls and 
rose to his feet. He thrust a letter into the hands 
of one of the other children and without another 
word he hurried off down the walk ; the soldier 
followed, and a moment later they were galloping 
along the lane toward the river. 

I think none of us really understood until little 
Percy went up to mother and began in his childish 
way to repeat what the officer had said. But when 
with one great sob she stooped and lifted him in 
her arms with father's sword hugged to his breast 
— oh, then, we all knew ! 

Father had been killed ten days before at the 
head of his men while leadino: a charjre ; and he 
had been buried on the battle-field. 

That night, long after even dear faithful Mammy, 
and Uncle Joshua, who seemed dazed by the blow, 
had gone to their cabin and all the house was still, 
except for an occasional moan from the couch 
where mother was lying, I heard a slight sound 
outside the door. I had been asleep, but had 
awakened and was vainly trying to picture father 
lying on the ground with his face upturned to the 



2 34 IN WAR-TIMES AT LA ROSE BLANCHE. 

sky and his arm thrown above his head, and a dull 
red stain on his breast and on the grass beside 
him, as I had seen the dead Yankee soldier-lad 
lying, down by the play-house that never-forgotten 
morning. 

I crept softly out of bed for fear of disturbing 
mother, and went over to the door. 

" Who's there ? " I asked in a loud whisper. 
A voice so low and sweet that I could hardly 
believe it to be old Aunt Rose's voice replied : 
" It de Missy's Vnn-cess.''' 

I pushed open the door and looked out. It was 
old Aunt Rose. The moonlight flooded the long 
cold hall and streamed over her sitting in a high- 
backed chair close by the door. Her turbaned 
head was held stiffly erect. Her hands were laid 
palm-downward upon her knees ; her elbows were 
pressed against her sides and her feet were drawn 
together. 

" I'se watchin' an' waitin'," she whispered, " caze 
yer knows, li'l Miss Ma'y, dat Missy might wan' 
sumpin' in de night, an' den, here me, ready" 



CHAPTER XII. 



" PO'-SOULS." 



I 



T was a long month since Lee had surrenderee^. 



the remnant of his army to General Grant at 
Appomattox Court-House. 

At first a kind of lonely stillness had settled 
over the country, as if everything had suddenly 
come to an end. Crowds of black-robed women, 
indeed, with white faces and tearless eyes, stole 
every morning into our little church down at the 
landing, to pray ; and to ask each other in trem- 
ulous whispers if there was yet any news from the 
other side of the swift, swollen river where their 
fathers and husbands, and sons and brothers were. 
But when they had gone back, hopeless and help- 
less, to their vigils at home, the grass-grown neigh- 
borhood roads were utterly deserted, and the 
strange awesome quiet closed down again. 

235 



236 " PO -SOULS." 

Presently, however, our soldiers began to trudge 
by, making their way homeward in every direc- 
tion. Their old canteens ^nd grimy haversacks 
were sluno; still over their shoulders ; their rasfsfed 
caps were pulled down in military fashion upon 
their sunburned foreheads ; their grey jackets, 
tattered, camp-stained and mud-splashed, were 
buttoned with a certain trim air across their 
breasts ; their step, weary and footsore though 
they were, had not lost a steady measured cadence 
that told of years of strict discipline and watch- 
ful service. 

But the buoyancy and the spring had all died 
out of these battle-scarred, weather-beaten, way- 
worn figures ; a stern sadness was on their meagre 
faces; a curious half-defiant, half-bewildered look 
shone in their hollow, restless eyes. 

Every day, singly, or in groups of twos and 
threes, they came along our rose-bordered lane 
and turned in at our gate. Sometimes they stayed 
over night ; one stopped for a four or five days 
wrestle with a fever which had seized upon his 
half-star\-ed body as became through the swamps ; 



"PO'-SOULS." 237 



another dropped exhausted in the gateway, and 
lingered on with us until he died, raving in his 
delirium to the last of a vine-hung cabin out on 
the banks of the Comal River, where " Mary and 
little Mary " were waiting for him. But, for the 
most part, it was only for a rest on the steps that 
they came, while Mammy, from such poor and 
scanty stores as remained to us, got them a bite to 
eat. For they were all hungry, poor fellows ! 

While they ate we gathered around and listened 
as they lived over again their life in camp and 
hospital and prison; and made again their hur- 
ried midnight marches ; and heard again the sharp 
click of the Vidette's rifle ; and wheeled again into 
the thick of battle ; or led again the desperate 
charge, where this comrade or that fell with a bullet 
in his brain ; or dashed once more up the breast- 
works after their brave young color-bearer, who 
won a cheer from the blue-coats themselves as he 
leaped down and planted his colors in their very 
midst ! And as they went over and over the terri- 
ble four-years story, with all its dangers and hard- 
ships, its hopes and fears, its bloodshed and its 



238 " PO'-SOULS." 

splendor, the dark look would die out of their 
emaciated faces, their voices would ring, their 
eyes would flash and sparkle. For a brief space 
defeat and humiliation were forgotten, and the old 
familiar " rebel yell " would seem about to burst 
from their lips. Then the momentary light would 
fade, and a silence would come that nobody dared 
or cared to break. 

But these were unfamiliar forms that came along 
the rose-bordered lane and turned in at our gate ; 
strange faces that greeted us and went on their 
eager way toward a home-welcoming, somewhere. 

We had no tidings as yet from our own boys. 

Mother's eyes grew sadder every day and her 
step more listless. Father Kenyon came, bringing 
with him Louis Walker, whose leg had been shat- 
tered by a shell the very day before the final sur- 
render. But he had heard nothing for a long time 
of the handful that remained of the Selden Rifles. 

He had, himself, a scar on his left cheek from 
a wound that he got the same day father was killed. 
For he was standing by father when he fell, and 
he helped, with the blood streaming from his own 



*' PO'-SOULS." 239 



face — and washing away his tears ! — to lay him in 
that hastily scooped-out grave on the battle-field, 
where he sleeps still. 

" Ain't b'uther Tom an' b'uther Hart, an' Dandy 
an' Virg never comin' home no' more. Mammy ? " 
little Percy asked one day. " All the yether 
webels is comin' home an'goin' home all th' time ! " 

" Ya'as, honey, cose dey is ! " Mammy replied 
with a quick glance toward mother who was walk- 
ing slowly up and down the veranda and watch- 
ing the gate ; " ob cose dey is on dey way dis minit. 
Yer ole Mammy knows dey is. On'y dey ain' 
gvvine ter come footin' it, lak dese here po' hungry 
white trash whar yer sees comin' pas' dis yer way 
mawnin' an night. ^ Dough I is pow'ful glad ter 
gin 'em sumpin ter eat," she added hospitably, 
" jes ez long ez dey is er dus' er meal lef in de 
barril. But we-all's white chillun ain' gwine ter 
come dat er way. We-alls folks rides/" 

"An' me an' Unk Joshua, an' b'uther Tom an' 
b'uther Hart, an' Dandy, an' th' res' of us four 
little boys '11 hoe th' cane an' grin' th' sugar, an' 
bull' up th' fires, an' take care of mother, won't 



-jr4'0 " PO'-SOULS." 



we, Mammy ? " he asserted proudly another day, 
as we walked from the deserted Quarter over to 
the great-house. 

Mammy groaned, as if this vision — since, a 
sturdy reality ! — were almost more than she could 
bear ; but Mandy said with a flirt of her shoul- 
ders : 

" Spec dem fool-niggers is wishin' by dis time 
dat dey uz back in dey own cabin, wid Mammy 
ter gin out dey vittles eb'y mawnnin'; an' Daddy 
ter mek 'em hump dey-sefs down de cane-rows 
twel sundown ! " 

The cabins were indeed empty and the negroes 
all gone ! Except, of course, Uncle Joshua and 
Mammy and Mandy. And mother's Frm-cess, old 
Aunt Rose. To say nothing of the " triplers." 

The men of the field-gang had been slipping 
quietly away, one by one, during the past six 
months. By planting-time hardly an able-bodied 
hand, or a plantation-mule remained on the place. 
With the news of the surrender — and thev seemed 
to have heard it even before we did — there was 
a general stampede from the Quarter. They 



"PO'-SOULS." 241 

swarmed down to the landing to hail the down- 
ward-going boats and crowded aboard in breath- 
less haste, generally taking a pile of bed-clothes 
and a battered-looking chest with them, and leav- 
ing the rest of their belongings carefully locked 
up in their deserted cabins. 

For a time the house-people stayed on, going 
about their work in a fluttered, excited kind of 
^vay — at which in truth no one can wonder ! and 
regarding rather contemptuously the hurried ex- 
odus of the field-hands. 

But one fine morning M'lindy and Sophy and 
'Riah had disappeared. A day or so afterward 
Aunt Hester came into the dining-room where we 
were at breakfast. She passed around the hot 
hoe-cakes she carried and then planted herself 
behind mother's chair. " Mis' Lucy," she said, 
" I hates ter leab you an' de chillun, 'deed I does. 
But yer knows, chile, dat I is free now, an' I wants 
ter /^^/ my freedom. 'Pears lak I cy'ant /c-^/ hit 
long's I stays on de place, even wid de wages you 
is 'lowin fer ter gimme. An' so I'se had my chis'' 
tucken down ter de landin' an' I'se gwine ter de 



242 "PO'-SOULS." 



city fer ter 'joy mysef erwhile an' feel my free- 
dom." 

" Umph," grunted Mammy, after mother had 
taken leave of her and she was backing out at the 
door. " Dat Hester ain't b'long ter we-all's f ambly 
but jes' 'bout thirty year no-how. Ole Mars' done 
bought her fum er nigger-trader den I reckin' ! '' 

A little later came Aunt Ca'lline : " Mis' Lucy, 
chile, I is made up my min' ter leab yer ; 'dough 
hit do trebble me pow'ful ter go 'way fum you an' 
de chillun. I'se gwine ter de city termorrer, I 
don' know, 'dough, how I is gwine ter git erlong ; 
an' mebbe I ain' gwine ter /^/^ hit down dar. Dat 
huccome I gwine ter leab de triplers heah, 'long 
er you. Caze I mout come back ef I don't git 
erlong." And sure enough, Marthy and Mar}^ and 
Laz'rus marched up to the house the next morning 
and announced that their mammy had " saunt 'em 
fer ter stay wid Mis' Lucy twell she fin' out how 
she lak hit in New 'Leens." 

Jerry and Jake and Grief were among the very 
last to go. " Yer knows, Mis' Lucy," they said as 
they stood around, looking a little shamefaced and 



" PO'-SOULS." 243 



sheepish, " yer knows dat dey ain't no use o' we 
"wu'kin' iiozv whence de Gov^mint is bkege ter tek 
cy'ar o' we-all. De Gov^mint is 'vite us ter hoF 
out we han's ; an' we is boun' ter see what isgwine 
ter be shuck down ter de po' 'buseded nigger, yah ! 
yah ! yah ! ! " 

Jerry had his banjo under his arm, and as they 
went off down the lane we heard him strumming 
on it, and their voices came back to us in a lively 
refrain : 

*' Sheep an' shote walkin' in de paster, 

' Sheep,' said shote, ' won't yer walk er little faster ? ' 

* Shote,' said sheep, ' my toe is so',' 

• Sheep,' said shote, ' I did'n know.' '' 

At last, one afternoon, we were all out on the 
veranda. Grandpa was there ; and Mere, with 
old Justine behind her chair in her bright tigfiou 
and white ajDron, just the same as if there had 
been no war, and she had never heard of freedom. 
And mother in her low chair. And cousin Nellie 
in the hammock under the rose-vine softly sing- 



ing: 



" Wounded by bayonets, shells and balls. 
Somebody's Darling was borne one day." 



244 "PO'-SOULS." 



The magnolias were in bloom, their great white 
bells showing among the dark-green leaves of the 
trees that bordered the long avenue down to the 
gate, and their peculiar pungent perfume coming 
up to us on little puffs of warm south wind. And 
there were roses starting the ruined hedges. But 
the flower-beds were choked with weeds ; rank 
grasses waved knee-deep in the rose-garden; piles 
of last winter's dead leaves were drifted against 
the trellises ; unpruned and untended vines trailed 
over the walks. Out in the fields the thin stand 
of cane whose sickly yellow tufts rustled in the 
breeze, was knotted with tie-vines ; the cotton- 
patch had disappeared under a mass of morning 
glories. Over by the edge of the swamp, a black- 
ened waste surrounded one tall, wide-mouthed 
chimney — the unknown hand that put the torch 
to River-View and to the out-houses of Bon-Soldat 
had the same night fired our sugar-house and 
sheds. A forlorn, ragged, unkempt look was over 
evervthin?. 

*' Hit don't look lak we-all's plantation, do it, 
Mis' Lucy ! " sighed Mammy, who had come out 



** PO'-SOULS." 245 

of the hall-door and stood by mother. To which 
mother shook her head silently. 

Mand}', now a tall comely girl of seventeen, 
was sitting on the top step winding yarn. I was 
patiently holding the hank for her. 

" Caze, yer knows, Miss Ma'y," she said, " dat 
dem pizen, no-'count house-gals is done sot dey- 
se'fs free, an' we is got ter larn ter do de wu'k an' 
mek we-all's own livin'." 

" The " triplers " were playing out on the lawn. 
Old Aunt Rose sat on a bench, with her switch 
across her lap minding them — not that jNIarthy 
and Marv and Laz'rus needed mindins: ; 2:reat, 
sturdy, strapping, ten-3'ear-olds that they were ! 
But Aunt Rose followed them about and looked 
after them from her long habit of " mindin' de 
babies." 

Uncle Joshua was on the bottom step with 
the little boys grouped around him. Poor Uncle 
Joshua, his wool had turned white as cotton since 
the day the Yankee officer brousfht home father's 
sword ! 

A small dark object lay in his wrinkled yellow 



246 " PO'-SOULS." 

palm. The little boys were looking at it cu- 
riously. 

" What is it anyhow, Uncle Joshua ? " one of 
them asked. 

" Hit am er rabbit-foot," replied Uncle Joshua. 

" Rabbit-foots is for good luck, ain't they. Uncle 
Joshua ? " said Percy. 

" Ya'as, honey. An' I is went 'roun' dis mawnin' 
'fore de time fer ter ring de plantation-bell — I is 
gwine ter keep on ringin' dat bell eb'y mawnin', 
Mis' Lucy, same ez ef dem lazy niggers uz heah !" 
he interrupted himself to say, turning an upward 
look at mother who smiled wistfully down at him. 
"I is went roun' an' teched all de pos'es on de 
place wid de rabbit-foot. De cayage-gate pos'an' 
de house-gate pos', an' de v'randy-pos', an' bofe de 
do'-pos'es, er hopin' dat de rabbit-foot '11 fotch 
good-luck ter de place. Caze hit 'pears lak ez 
how good luck am ez sca'ce on dis plantation dese 
times, ez jay-birds on er Friday." And Uncle 
Joshua gave a sort of groan. 

" Is jay-birds scarce on Friday ? " demanded 
Will. 



"PO'-SOULS." 247 



"Look-er heah, honey, is you eber in yo' bawn 
day heerd tell o' anybody whar is see er jay-bird 
on er Friday ? " 

" But why, Uncle Joshua ? " 

" Go long, chillun ! yer knows dat de jay-bird 
am bleege ter spen' he time er totin' san' er 
Friday." 

'' But w/iy/'' 

"Well, dey do say," said Uncle Joshua, "dat 
hit am de rabbit dat done sot dat wicked jay-bird 
ter totin' dat san'. Yer see hit am sump'n lak 
dis yer : De rabbit am de' mos' wises' er all de 
anermiles ; an' onct he gin er party, lak whar yo' 
maw use ter gin fo' de wah whence Marster an' 
de young Marsters uz heah ; an' dey wa'n't nobody 
kill yit on de fiel'-er-battle ; and no swo'd wa'n't 
saunt home ; " Uncle Joshua's voice faltered, but 
he presently went on : 

" Well, Mars' Rabbit he gin er party ; hit uz on 
er Friday, caze he al'uz gins he's party on er 
Friday. An' all de critters done come, an' dey uz 
havin' ^x fine time. Whoo ! er mighty fine time ! 
But jes' 'zactly whence dey all done eatin' de 



248 "PO'-SOULS. 



)) 



gombo, an' de cat-fish uz gwine ter be brung in, 
Mars' Jay-bird he tucken sick. An' he rise up fum 
he cheer an' say ez how he feel pow'ful bad fer 
ter leab all dat good comp'ny, but he got ter go 
home an' sen' fer de doctor ; an' den he go oR, 
limpin'-lak. De res' o' de comp'ny dey uz turrible 
'stressed. Not but whar dey could eat do'." 
Uncle Joshua chuckled. '' An' dey stay ober dat 
possum an' sweet-'tater plum twel de nex' mawnin' ! 

" Whence dey all git home, lo an' behole, all dey 
house done been broke op'n an' all dey 'sessions 
done stole ! Dey all mek er mighty ter-do, an' 
run ter Mars Rabbit (caze he so wise), de jay-bird 
'long o' de res'. Mars' Rabbit he thunk er minit 
an' den he tell 'em ter go back ter dey own house 
caze he ain't got no notion 'tall 'bout who dun tuk 
dey-all's prop'ty. An' Mars' Jay-bird he mo'n de 
loudes' er all an' 'buse Mars' Rabbit on de way 
home caze he didn't gin 'em no 'vice 'bout ketchin' 
de thief." 

*' If Mars' Rabbit was the most wisest, why 
didn't he know who the thief was ? " inquired one 
of the small listeners. 



" ro '-SOULS." 249 

" Dat 'zactly whar I gwine ter tell yer ! On de 
ve'y nex' Friday Mars' Rabbit he gin 'nuther party 
an' ax em all, an' dey all come jes' de same ez 
befo'. An' zactly de same ez de yether time 
Mars' Jay-bird riz up in he cheer an' 'clar dat he 
tucken sick an' dat he mus' go home an' sen' fer 
de doctor. An' off he go limpin'-lak. Den Mars' 
Rabbit he ax de compn'y fer ter 'sense him fer er 
li'l while. An' soon's he out'n de house heah he 
go todes de Jay-bird house, bookity ! bookity ! bookity I 
whoo ! he do git ober de groun' fas ! When he 
git dar he op'n de do' an' goes in caze dey want 
nobody dar; an' so he shet de do' an' sot down 
by de fiah an' waited. Pres'ny he hear er noise 
comin', an' 'rectly de do' op'n, an' in come Mars' 
Jay-bird, pow'ful spry, an' totin' er big baig on he 
shoulder. An' yer jes ought ter see whar wuz in 
dat meal-sack ! " 

"An' Mars' Jay-bird was'n sick at all!" cried 
Percy amazed. 

" Cose he wa'n't, but whoo ! he mighty sick when 
he see Mars' Rabbit sittin' dar in de cornder jes' 
er waitin' fer him ! He drap down on he knees an' 



250 



PO -SOULS. 



he beg, 'Please, Mars' Rabbit, don't put me in de 
jail ! ' Mars' Rabbit he thunk and thunk, an' 
'rectly he gin out he min' 'bout de case. He say, 
' Mars' Jay-bird, I don't lak ter 'stroy yo' char-^^/'er 
wid yo' neighbors an' I gwine ter let you off on de 
perwided, dat you don't nebber steal nothin' no 
mo'. At de same time I is gwine ter gin yer 
sump'n ter do whar'll keep yer busy on de feas' 
davs; an' 2\so keep yer fum bein' tuk sick an' 
habin' ter sen' fer de doctor.' An' so's he done 
sot de jay-bird ter totin' san' eber Friday, an' dat 
de reason whar you cy'ant neber cotch er sight o' 
er jay-bird on er Friday. Dey all totin' san', dass 
why. Lan' ! chillun', I tells you dat Mars' Rabbit 
am de mos' wises' o' all de anermiles an' he am 
al'uz sho' ter fotch good luck. Das de reason I is 
tech de pos'es on dis place wid dis yer Mars'- 
Rabbit-foot ! " 

And Uncle Joshua's eyes twinkled almost as 
they used to do, as he put the rabbit-foot back into 
his pocket. 

Grandpa had been looking absently down toward 
the lane while he listened, and now he turned to 



"PO'-SOULS." 251 

mother. " Lucille," he remarked, " here conies 
another squad of soldiers. It is almost sundown, 
and we must keep them over night if we can. 
What is in the oven, Mammy ? " 

The gate opened as he spoke and the squad 
came in. We could see the glitter of their buttons 
in the red rays of the evening sun. They paused 
a moment at the end of the long shelled walk, and 
then came on marching abreast with steady sol- 
dierly step. There were four of them. Presently 
we saw that they had stuck a red handkerchief, or 
a bit of rag, on the end of a stick and were carry- 
ino- it like a flacr. One of them drummed with 
his fists on an imaginary drum, and another pre- 
tended to play upon a fife. The tune that they 
were all whistling came plainly to us in a moment. 
It was " The Girl I Left Behind Me." 

Grandpa brought his wooden leg down on the 
floor with a thump, and peered half-frowning over 
the railing. 

But, what was the matter ! There was mother 
springing from her chair and standing all a-tremble 
with outstretched arms. Mammy's head was 



252 "PO'-SOULS." 

lifted and her eyes shining. Then there was 
Mammy catching mother in her arms and running 
down the steps with her clasped to her breast as 
if she had been a baby. And then, there they all 
were in a group together, two of the ragged sol- 
diers with their arms around mother. And Mammy 
first frantically hugging the other two and then 
turning, shouting wildly, to throw her arms around 
mother and the boys ! 

Uncle Joshua, after one look, threw himself upon 
his knees and cried out : " Lord, now let Dy sar- 
vent 'part in peace, caze dese eyes is done seed 
Dy salvation ! " 

Yes ! it was brother Hart, and brother Tom, and 
Virg and Dandy ! Dominique Brion had hurried 
home to his widowed mother at Bon Soldat ; 
Sidney Nagle and Tom Dennison had stopped 
with Father Kenyon down at the landing. They 
had tramped home together all the way from Vir- 
ginia ; and they had waited two days on the other 
side of the River for a chance to come over. And 
these, with poor maimed Louis Walker, were all 
of the Selden Rifles who ever came home ! 



\3 ki^,: 




"PO'-SOULS." 255 

We pressed around our boys at the foot of the 
steps. What scarecrows they were, to be sure ! 
Their grey uniforms hung upon them in tatters ; 
their pieces of shoes were tied with strings to their 
bruised and bleeding feet ; their rimless caps were 
set jauntily upon long and unkempt locks. Their 
faces and hands were scratched and stained. 
Their laughing blue eyes looked out of deep 
hollows ; their young cheeks were all fallen in. 
Virg, big, fat, solemn Virg, had become gaunt. 
Dandy, always slim and trim, was a tall framework 
of skin and bone. 

"Jes' look at dat fool-nigger. Dandy!" called 
Mandy f rom the veranda. She was leaning over 
the railing; her black face was wet with tears and 
her voice was husky, but a lively sparkle was in 
her dancing eyes. " Look at dat nigger whar is 
done been ter de war 'long o' Mars' Tom ! My 
Ian' ! I is sorrier dan ever fer Mars' Tom ! " 

Dandy glanced up at her and laughed, showing 
his white teeth, and looking for a moment like the 
old Dandy. Then he threw himself upon his 
hands and essayed to lift his heels in the air and 



256 " PO'-SOULS." 

clap them together. But it was a miserable failure. 
He tumbled over on the ground and laid there 
breathless. Ashe crawled up slowly, he scratched 
his head and looked around with a beseechinsr, 
apologetic air. "I reckin," he admitted, " dat I 
is kinder weak. De truf is. Mis' Lucy an' li'l 
Miss Ma'}^, we is all hongry an' dat's er fac'." 

Mother swallowed a little sob and she and 
Mammy looked at each other with a kind of agony 
in their tear-filled eyes. Then Mammy darted 
around the corner of the house to the kitchen and 
we all followed. 

" 'Tain't nothin' hwipd" -souls ^^ chillun," she said 
as she placed the young Marsters at the head of 
the long kitchen-table, with a cloth before them ; 
and settled Virg and Dandy at the foot with some 
tin plates. " 'Tain't de good-go-downs t whar yo' 
Mammy done promis' yer "i But hit am all we got. 
An' dem po'-souls am mighty good eatin' when 
you is hongry. I is said ter yer Uncle Joshua dis 
mawnin' whence I uz drappin' dem po'-souls in de 

* " Po'-souls " are corn-meal dumplings boiled with mustard or turnip- 
greens and bacon, or with collards. 

t " Good-go-duwns " are very light fried flour puffs. 



<' r>/-\' orMTT c " 



PO-SOULS. 257 

pot-liquor fer Mis' Lucy an' de chillun an' we-all 
dinner, datsposen de young Marsters an' Virg an' 
Dandy gwine ter git heah ter-day. An' dat hue- 
come I ter mek so many po'-souls ! " 

Uncle Joshua hovered around in an ecstasy of de- 
light. " De good luck done come back ter be sho' ! " 

"Joshua!" cried Mammy, turning upon him, 
" don't yer dar fer ter say dat de luck done come 
'long o' dat dar no-'count rabbit-foot whar yer got 
in yer pocket, whence Mis' Lucy am been er 
prayin' an' er prayin', an' de good Book say//;^/- 
edly as how de prars o' de good 'ooman am gwine 
ter be answered ! " 

"I ain't said hit! I ain't said hit!" replied 
Uncle Joshua, solemnly raising his eyes heaven- 
ward, "Lord, hit am Dy han' dat is brung dese 
chillun home an' dat am stop de onrighteous wah 
twix br'ur an' br'ur ! Dy name be praiseded ! " 

"An' did'n I tole yer. Mis' Lucy," said Mammy, 
beaming at mother, " did'n I tole yer, dat same 
day whar de chillun went off to de wah, dat dey 
uz comin' home ! Did'n I tole yer dat wa'n't nothin' 
gwine ter happen ter dese chillun ! " 



Dorothy Thorn is a first-class American novel. 

By whicli we do not mean to declare the authoi 
a Walter Scott on his second book. The world 
may take its time and rate him as it will; but 
Dorothy Thorn we are sure of. 

It begins as life begins, wherever we pick up 
the threads of it, human. It goes on the same. 
The tale is a sketch of not-surprising events. 
There is not an incident told in the book that does 
not seem tame in the telling, tame with the unro- 
mantic commonplace of life ; and yet there is not 
a spot where the people forget their parts or hesi- 
tate for words or fail to suit the action to them : 
and, however easy the pages, the chapters move 
with conscious strength; and the whole Is one; 
it falls with the force of a blow. 

There 13 a moral to Dorothy Thorn ; there are 
more than one. She is made to live for something 
beyond the reader's diversion. What that purpose 
is, or what those purposes are, is not set down in 
the book ; but nobody reads and asks. It is high 
in the sense of being good ; and good in the sense 
of being successful It touches the question of 
questions, w^ork ; and the wisdom comes from two 
women who do not work. It touches never so 
lightly the rising question, the sphere of woman — 
the wisdom on that is said in a dozen words by a 
woman who has never given her "sphere" an 
anxious thought. 

Dorothy Thorn of Thornton. By Julian Warth. 276 pages. 
12mo, cloth, $1.25. 

There is hardly a less promising condition out 
of which to write a novel than having a hobby to 
ride ; and of hobbies what can be less picturesque 
than the question how we who work and we who 
direct are going to get on together harmoniousljF 

t 



But, when a novel is full of every high satisfac- 
tion, refreshment and gratification in spite of its 
carrying freight of practical wisdom, or rather, 
when wisdom itself is a part of the feast and the 
flow of soul is all the more refreshing for it, then, 
we take it, that novel stands apart from the novels 
of any time or country. And such is the Dorothy 
Thorn of Julian Warth. Not the loftiest fkght of 
Imagination ; simple in plot — indeed there is no 
plot — the passing of time lets the story go on, 
and it goes the easy way ; and, when it is d(Mie, tt 
is done. We close the book with regret. The 
exaltation has passed; and we are again in the 
world where wisdom is tame and common things 
bereft of their dignity. But we have sat with th9 
gods and the nectar was heavenly. 



Stories have not run out; but we often think, 
as we read some quaint and simple tale that be- 
longs to another time or people, " how good the 
stories were in those days ! " or '* they are better 
story-tellers than ours!" The truth is, good 
stories are rare and live forever. To-day may 
lose them ; to-morrow finds them. 

Swiss Stories for Children and for those who Love Children. 
From the German of Madame Spyri by Lucy Wlieelock. 214 
pages. 12mo, cloth, $1.00. 

So true to child life and family life, they belong 
to us as truly as to the Swiss mountaineers. 

Some of these have delighted English eari 
before. 



t 

T 



As a people we hold opinions concerning th« 
rest of the world notoriously incomplete. A book 
that makes us familiar with life abroad as it 
really is is a public benefit as well as a source of 
pleasure. 

The common saying goes : there is nothing like 
travel for opening one's eyes to the size of the 
"world, to the diversity of ways of thinking and 
living, and to the very little chance of our having 
hit on the true interpretation of everything; no 
education is so broadening. But it is true that 
few have the aptness at seeing strange things in a 
"way to cemprehend them; and to see and mis- 
judge is almost worse than not to see at all. 

There is no preparation for travel or substitute 
for it that goes so far towards mending our recep- 
tivity or ignorance as an agreeable book that 
really takes one into the whole of the life one pro- 
poses to study. There is an excellent one out just 
now. 

Life Among the Germans. By Emma Louise Parry. 34© 
pages. 12mo, cloth, $1.50. 

The wonder of it is : it is written by a student- 
girl! — that a girl has the judgment, the tact, the 
self-suppressing watchfulness, the adaptability, 
freshness and readiness, teachableness, the charm- 
ing spirit and manner that lets her into the inside 
view of everything, makes her welcome in homes 
and intimate social gatherings, not as one of 
themselves, but as a foreigner-learner ; and added 
to all these splendid endowments the gift of easy- 
flowing narrative, light in feeling and full of sub- 
stance ! 

The book is wonderfully full in the sense of 
solidity. Sentence piled on sentence. Little dis- 
course; all observation; participation. You see 
und share; and you rise from the reading, ao6 



with a jumble of unconnected information, but 
with a clear impression of having met the people 
and lived in the fatherland. You know the Ger- 
mans as you might not get to know them if you 
lived for a year or two among the?®. 



!Nobody but Mrs. Diaz could get so much wit, 
good sense, and bright nonsense out of barn 
lectures before an audience of nine by a pliiloso- 
pher of eight years and a month. But trust the 
author of the Cat Book, the William Henry Letters, 
Lucy Maria, Polly Cologne and the Jimmy Johns. 

The John Spicer Lectures. By Abbj Morton Dia^- 99 
pages. 16mo, 60 cents. 

All in perfect gravity. These are the subjects : 
Christmas Tree, Knives, Swapping, Clothes, Food, 
Money. And the passages where the applause 
came in are noted. The applause and groans are 
often important parts of the text. 



Excellent reading are sketches of eminent men 
and women if only they are bright enough to 
make one wish they were longer. A great deal 
of insight into history> character, human nature, 
is to be got from just such sketches. 

Here are two bookf uls of them : 

Stories of Great Men and Stories of Remarkable "Women. 
Both by Faye Huntington. 136 and 99 pages. 16mo, cloth, 
60 cents each. 

Both the great men and remarkable women, of 
whom by the way there are twenty-six and twenty- 
two, are chosen from many sorts of eminence; 
but they are sketched in a way to draw from the 
life of each some pleasant practical lesson. Not 
designed f c^ Sunday Schools apparently ; but good 
tbere. 



Can you imagine a more welcome visitor than a 
civilized Chinaman with the recollections of the 
liowery land still fresh, but seeing with our eyes 
and estimating by our weights and measures, and 
gifted with a tolerable English tongue? 

"Wlien 1 was a Boy in China. By Yau Phou Lee. 112 page* 
16mo. cloth, 60 cents. 

The author, grandson of a mandarin, son of a 
merchant, born in '61, went to the Government 
School at Shanghai, and in '73 was chosen one of 
the thirty sent to the United States to be educa- 
ted. 

He writes on: Infancy; House and Household; 
Cookery ; Games and Pastimes ; Girls of My Ac- 
quaintance; School and School-life; Religions; 
Holidays; Stories and Story-tellers (gives a speci- 
men story) ; How I Went to Shanghai ; How I 
Prepared for America ; First Experiences. 

The narrative is personal. Jumps right Into 
It. Tells of himself as a baby, of c«jurse from 
knowledge of what happens to boy babies there. 
Illustrates Lowell's commendation of President 
Lmcoln's English — " strikes but once and so well 
that he needn't strike but once." An easy writer, 
Graceful enough, but quick and done with it; full 
of his subject, and yet not over-fond; impatient 
lest his reader tire. He need not hurry. We are 
eager listeners, not at all critical. 

An American boy of twelve beginning life in the 
heart of China and writing a book at twenty-six 
" When I was a Boy in Am(,rica " would indeed b« 
a remarkable man to write so well I 

May Yan Phou Lee liavo a roillioD reader*? 



A deeper book concerning self -education, wha*- 
erer other education may be, and growth of body 
and soul. 

Hold Up Your Heads, Girls! By Annie H. Ryder 197 
pages. 12mo, cloth, $1.00 

The girls are supposed to be out of school. 
How to Talk, How to Get Acquainted with Nature, 
How to Make the Most of Work, What Can I Do? 
What to Study? and so on to the eleventh chap- 
ter, Youths and Maidens. 

All depends on the preacher. The preacher is 
kind and wise. 



Still another ; but this is a story of mothers and 

daughters. Euth w^as untidy. Busy with books. 

No time for trifles. Work would have to come 

sometime, let it come when it must, but why so 

soon? And Alice was busy with music. Thera 

were four of them. 

How The}-- Learned Housework. By Christina Goodwin. 
149 pages. r2mo, cloth, $1.00. 

If you, young girl, imagine you are going to 
learn housework by reading the book, you had 
better read it and find your mistake ; for next to 
knowledge itself is the knowing how to get it. 



A New England Idyl, by Belle C. Greene, is a 
Btory right out of the soil ; and the soil is pretty 
well taken up with stones, and leans up edgewise 
besides. This rough and hard New England has 
had its share in forming American charactGr. 

12mo, cloUi, $1.00. 

The Idyl is work. The story is good enougk 
without any Moral. The Moral is more than any 
story. 



^tf. praise of a book of travel Is rightly held to 
be " It is next to the journey itself." 

Some Tliinps Abroad. By Rev. Alexander McKenzie, 
D. D. 450 pages. 12ino, cloth, $1.50. 

You sit by your evening lamp and read, as If 
from the letters of a friend, the record of his 
daily experiences. He sees the north and soutk 
of Europe, via Constantinople into Asia, the Holj 
Land, etc. 

As in the case of friendly letters, your enjoy- 
ment in reading depends on the writer's geniality 
quite as much as on the news he has to tell of his 
wanderings. What could be more agreeable than 
to be taken thus to the far-off haunts of seekers 
after knowledge and pleasure without the toilsome 
goings and waitings and coming back at the end 
of it all. You have the shade of your own home 
trees in the hot afternoon and delicious sleep in 
your own home bed and the sound of your break- 
fast bell in the morning; nevertheless you have 
flcen Some Things Abroad and talked them over 
delightfully. You probably know quite as much 
about them as many who bear the tossings and 
dust and tossings again of a journey a quarter 
round the world. For our part we ask no better 
company. Dr. McKenzie tells it off so gayly, we 
can hardly believe in the hardships of seeing. 

The book has the air of talking over the day in 
the cool of the evening, only two or three of us 
there. 



Garland from the Poets, selection of short 
miscellaneous poems by Coventry Patmore, with 
not a word of comment or explanation beyond the 
poets' names. 250 pages, 128 poems. 16mo, doth, 
T5 centa. 



Never were easier stories told than the Cats* 
Arabian Nights. If Pussyanita lives till the chil- 
dren tire of reading or hearing them read, she will 
live to be very old indeed. They softened King 
Grimalkum and saved the lives of Pussyanita and 
all the rest of the cats. 

Cats' Arabian Nights ; or King Grimalkum and Pussyanita. 
By Abby Morton Diaz. 227 quarto pages and full of cat 
pictures. 8vo, boards, $1.25. 

Mrs. Diaz puts most wonderful wisdom into 
nonsense, and nobody gives it the credit of seri- 
ousness. It takes the wisdom underneath to givd 
it the fizz. 



A Book of Golden Deeds of All Times and Lands 
ia a series of fifty tales of heroic and noble actions 
culled out of history by Charlotte M. Yonge " for 
the young, and intelligent uneducated people " by 
which the learned author means not for historians. 
"Enough of the surrounding events have in gen- 
eral been given to make the situation comprehen- 
sible, even without knowledge of the general 
history." And "there is a cloud of doubt," she 
says in her preface, "resting on a few of the 
tales, whicn it may be honest to mention, though 
they were far too beautiful not too tell." 466 
pages including a time-table. 12mo, clot'^a, $1.25. 



Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical 
Poems in the English Language, by Francis Tur- 
ner Palgrave, diSers from otlier collections in the 
attempt to include in it all the best, and none be- 
side the best, by writers not living when the col- 
lection was begun. As the distinguished Editor 
rightly says in his preface, it would obviously 
have been invidious to apply this standard to the 
living. 405 pages, including notes and indices. 
16mo, cloth, $1.00. 



RARE BOOK 
COLLECTION 




THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

AT 

CHAPEL HILL 

Wilmer 
327