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“I, considering how honour would become such a person, was
pleased to let him seek danger, where he was like to find fame.”


Another sorrow soon overtook poor Bessie; but
now she had a right to feel, and might express all
she felt, and look full in the face of her friends
for sympathy, for they shared the burden with her.

In the year 1778, letters were sent by General
Washington to the governors of the several states,
earnestly entreating them to re-enforce the army.
The urgency of this call was acknowledged by
every patriotic individual; and never did heart more
joyously leap than Eliot Lee's, when his mother
said to him—“My son, I have long had misgivings
about keeping you at home; but last night, after
reading the general's letter, I could not sleep; I
felt for him, for the country; my conscience told
me you ought to go, Eliot; even the images of the
children, for whose sake only I have thought it
right you should stay with us, rose up against me:
we should pay our portion for the privileges they
are to enjoy. I have made up my mind to it, and
on my knees I have given you to my country.
The widow's son,” she continued, clearing her


Page 80
voice, “is something more than the widow's mite,
Eliot; but I have given you up, and now I have
done with feelings—nothing is to be said or thought
of but how we shall soonest and best get you

Eliot was deeply affected by his mother's decision,
voluntary and unasked; but he did not express
his satisfaction, his delight, till he ascertained that
she had well considered the amount of the sacrifice
and was willing to meet it. Then he confessed
that nothing but a controlling sense of his filial duty
had enabled him to endure loitering at the fireside,
when his country needed the aid he withheld.

The decision made, no time was lost. Letters
were obtained from the best sources to General
Washington, and in less than a week Eliot was
ready for his departure.

It was a transparent morning, late in autumn, in
bleak, wild, fitful, poetic November. The vault
of heaven was spotless; a purple light danced
over the mountain summits; the mist was condensed
in the hollows of the hills, and wound them
round like drapery of silver tissue. The smokes
from the village chimneys ascended through the
clear atmosphere in straight columns; the trees
on the mountains, banded together, still preserved
a portion of their summer wealth, though now
faded to dun and dull orange, marked and set off
by the surrounding evergreens. Here and there a
solitary elm stood bravely up against the sky,


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every limb, every stem defined; a naked form,
showing the beautiful symmetry that had made its
summer garments hang so gracefully. Fruits and
flowers, even the hardy ones that venture on the
frontiers of winter, had disappeared from the gardens;
the seeds had dropped from their cups; the
grass of the turf-borders was dank and matted
down; all nature was stamped with the signet seal
of autumn, memory and hope. Eliot had performed
the last provident offices for his mother; every
thing about her cheerful dwelling had the look
of being kindly cared for. The strawberry-beds
were covered, the raspberries neatly trimmed out,
the earth well spaded and freshly turned; no gate
was off its hinges, no fence down, no window unglazed,
no crack unstopped.

A fine black saddle-horse, well equipped, was at
the door. Little Fanny Lee stood by him, patting
him, and laying her head, with its shining flaxen
locks, to his side—“Rover,” she said, with a trembling
voice, “be a good Rover—won't you? and
when the naughty regulars come, canter off with
Eliot as fast as you can.”

“Hey! that's fine!” retorted her brother, a year
younger than herself. “No, no, Rover, canter up
to them, and over them, and never dare to canter
back here if you turn tail on them, Rover.”

“Oh, Sam! how awful; would you have Eliot


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“No, indeed, but I had rather he'd come deused
near it than to have him a coward.”

“Don't talk so loud, Sam—Bessie will hear

But the young belligerant was not to be silenced.
He threw open the “dwelling-room” door, to appeal
to Eliot himself. The half-uttered sentence died
away on his lips. He entered the apartment,
Fanny followed; they gently closed the door, drew
their footstools to Eliot's feet, and quietly sat down
there. How instinctive is the sympathy of children!
how plain, and yet how delicate its manifestations!

Bessie was sitting beside her brother, her head on
his shoulder, and crying as if her heart went out
with every sob. The youngest boy, Hal, sat on
Eliot's knee, with one arm around his neck, his
cheek lying on Bessie's, dropping tear after tear,
sighing, and half-wondering why it was so.

The good mother had arrived at that age when
grief rather congeals the spirit than melts it. Her
lips were compressed, her eyes tearless, and her
movements tremulous. She was busying herself
in the last offices, doing up parcels, taking last
stitches, and performing those services that seem
to have been assigned to women as safety-valves
for their ever effervescing feelings.

A neat table was spread with ham, bread, sweetmeats,
cakes, and every delicacy the house afforded
—all were untasted. Not a word was heard except


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such broken sentences as “Come, Bessie, I
will promise to be good if you will to be happy!”

“Eliot, how easy for you—how impossible for

“Dear Bessie, do be firmer, for mother's sake.
For ever! oh no, my dear sister, it will not be
very long before I return to you; and while I
am gone, you must be every thing to mother.”

“I! I never was good for any thing, Eliot—and

“Bessie, my dear child, hush—you have been
—you always will be a blessing to me. Don't
put any anxious thoughts into Eliot's mind—we
shall do very well without him.”

“Noble, disinterested mother!” trembled on
Eliot's lips; but he suppressed words that might
imply reproach to Bessie.

The sacred scene was now broken in upon by
some well-meaning but untimely visiters. Eliot's
approaching departure had created a sensation in
Westbrook; the good people of that rustic place
not having arrived at the refined stage in the progress
of society, when emotion and fellow-feeling are
not expressed, or expressed only by certain conventional
forms. First entered Master Hale, with Miss
Sally Ryal. Master Hale “hoped it was no intrusion;”
and Miss Sally answered, “by no means; she
had come to lend a helping hand, and not to intrude”
—whereupon she bustled about, helped herself and
her companion to chairs, and unsettled everybody
else in the room. Mrs. Lee assumed a more tranquil


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mien; poor Bessie suppressed her sobs, and
withdrew to a window, and Eliot tried to look composed
and manly. The children, like springs relieved
from a pressure, reverted to their natural
state, dashed off their tears, and began whispering
among themselves. Miss Sally produced from
her workbag a comforter for Mr. Eliot, of her own
knitting, which she “trusted would keep out the
cold and rheumatism:” and she was kindly showing
him how to adjust it, when she spied a chain of
braided hair around his neck—“Ah, ha, Mr. Eliot,
a love-token!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, it is,” said little Fanny, who was watching
her proceedings; “Bessie and I cut locks of
hair from all the children's heads and mother's, and
braided it for him; and I guess it will warm his
bosom more than your comforter will, Miss Sally.”

It was evident, from the look of ineffable tenderness
Eliot turned on Fanny, that he “guessed” so
too; but he nevertheless received the comforter
graciously, hinting, that a lady who had been able
to protect her own bosom from the most subtle
enemy, must know how to defend another's from
common assaults. Miss Sally hemmed, looked at
Master Hale, muttered something of her not always
having been invulnerable; and finally succeeded
in recalling to Eliot's recollection a tradition
of a love-passage between Miss Sally and the pedagogue.

A little girl now came trotting in, with “grandmother's


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love, and a vial of her mixture for Mr.
Eliot—good against camp-distemper and the like.”

Eliot received the mixture as if he had all grandmother's
faith in it, slipped a bright shilling into
the child's hand for a keepsake, kissed her rosy
cheek, and set her down with the children.

Visiters now began to throng. One man in a
green old age, who had lost a leg at Bunker's Hill,
came hobbling in, and clapping Eliot on the shoulder,
said, “this is you, my boy! This is what I
wanted to see your father's son a-doing: I'd go too,
if the rascals had left me both my legs. Cheer
up, widow, and thank the Lord you've got such a
son to offer up to your country—the richer the
gift, the better the giver, you know; but I don't
wonder you feel kind o' qualmish at the thoughts
of losing the lad. Come, Master Hale, can't you
say something? A little bit of Greek, or Latin,
or 'most any thing, to keep up their sperits at the
last gasp, as it were.”

“I was just going to observe, Major Avery, to
Mrs. Lee, respecting our esteemed young friend,
Mr. Eliot, that I, who have known him from the
beginning, as it were, having taught him his alphabet,
which may be said to be the first round of the
ladder of learning (which he has mounted by my
help), or rather (if you will allow me, ma'am, to
mend my figure) the poles that support all the
rounds; having had, as I observed, a primordial acquaintance
with him, I can testify that he is worthy


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every honourable adjective in the language, and we
have every reason to hope that his future tense
will be as perfect as his past.”

“Wheugh!” exclaimed the major, “a pretty
long march you have had through that speech!”

The good schoolmaster, quite unruffled, proceeded
to offer Eliot a time-worn Virgil; and
finished by expressing his hopes that “he would
imitate Cæsar in maintaining his studies in the
camp, and keep the scholar even-handed with the

Eliot charmed the old pedagogue, by assuring
him that he should be more apt at imitating Cæsar's
studies than his soldiership, and himself bestowed
Virgil in his portmanteau.

A good lady now stepped forth, and seeming
somewhat scandalized that, as she said, “no serious
truth had been spoken at this peculiar season,”
she concluded a technical exhortation by giving
Eliot a pair of stockings, into which she had
wrought St. Paul's description of the gospel armour.
“The Scripture,” she feared, “did not
often find its way to the camp; and she thought
a passage might be blessed, as a single kernel of
wheat, even sowed among tares, sometimes produced
its like.”

Eliot thanked her, said “it was impossible to
have too much of the best thing in the world; but
he hoped she would have less solicitude about him,


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when he assured her that his mother had found
place for a pocket Bible in his portmanteau.”

A meek-looking creature now stole up to Mrs.
Lee, and putting a roll of closely-compressed lint.
into her hand, said, “tuck it in with his things, Miss
Lee. Don't let it scare you—I trust he will dress
other people's wounds, not his own, with it.—My!
that will come natural to him. It's made from the
shirt Mr. Eliot stripped from himself, and tore into
bandages for my poor Sam, that time he was
scalt. Mr. Eliot was a boy then, but he has the
same heart now.”

Mrs. Lee dropped a tear on the lint, as she stowed
it away in the closely-packed portmanteau.

“There comes crazy Anny!” exclaimed the
children; and a woman appeared at the door,
scarcely past middle age, carrying in her hand a
pole, on which she had tied thirteen strips of cloth
of every colour, and stuck them over with white
paper stars. Her face was pale and weatherworn,
and her eye sunken, but brilliant with the wild
flashing light that marks insanity. The moment
her eye fell on Eliot, her imagination was excited
—“Glory to the Lord!” she cried—“glory to the
Lord! A leader hath come forth from among my
people! Go on, Eliot Lee, and we will gird thee
about with the prayers of the widow and the
blessings of the childless! This is comfort! But
you could not comfort me, Eliot Lee, though you
spoke like an angel that time you was sent to me


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with the news the boys was shot. I remember you
shed tears, and it seemed to me there was a hissing
in here (she put her hand on her head) as they fell.
My eyes were dry—I did not shed one tear, though
the doctor bid me. I cried them all out when
he (she advanced to Eliot, and lowered her voice),
the grand officer in the reg'lars, you know, decoyed
away my poor Susy, the prettiest and kindest
creature that ever went into Westbrook meeting;
fair as Bessie Lee, and far more plump and rosy—
to be sure Susy was but a servant-girl, but—” she
raised her voice to a shriek, “I shall never lay
down my head in peace till they are all driven into
the salt sea, where my Susy was buried.”

“We'll drive them all there,” said Eliot, soothingly,
laying his hand on her arm—“every mother's
son of them, Anny—now be quiet, and go home,

“Yes, sir—thank you, sir,—yes, sir!” said she,
calmed and courtesying again and again—“oh, I forgot,
Mr. Eliot!” she drew from her bosom an old
rag, in which she had tied some kernels of butter-nuts—“give
my duty to General Washington, and
give him these butternut meats—it's all I have to
send him—I did give him my best—they were
nice boys, for all—wer'n't they, Bob and Pete?”
And whimpering and trailing her banner after her,
the poor bereft creature left the house.

A loud official rap was heard at the door, and
immediately recognised as the signal of the minister's


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approach. We must claim indulgence while
we linger for a moment with this reverend divine,
for the race of which he was an honoured member
is fast disappearing from our land. Peace be with
them! Ill would they have brooked these days of
unquestioned equality of rights, of anti-monopolies,
of free publishing and freer thinking, of
universal suffrage, of steam-engines, rail-roads, and
spinning-jennies,—all indirect contrivances to raze
those fortunate eminences, by mounting which little
men became great, and lorded it over their fellows:
but peace be with them! How should they
have known (till it began to tremble under them)
that the height on which they stood was an artificial,
not a natural elevation. They preached equality
in Heaven, but little thought it was the kingdom
to come on earth. They were the electric chain,
unconscious of the celestial fire they transmitted.

We would give them honour due; and to them
belongs the honour of having been the zealous
champions of their country's cause, and of having
fought bravely with the weapons of the church militant.

Our good parson Wilson was an Apollo “in little;”
being not more than five feet four in height,
and perfectly well made,—a fact of which he betrayed
the consciousness, by the exact adjustment
of every article of his apparel, even to his long
blue yarn stockings, drawn over the knee, and kept
sleek by the well-turned leg, without the aid of


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garters. On entering Mrs. Lee's parlour, he gave
his three-cornered hat, gold-headed cane, and buck-skin-gloves
to little Fanny, who, with the rest of
the children, had at his approach slunk into a corner
(they need not, for never was there a kinder
heart than parson Wilson's, though somewhat in
the position of vitality enclosed in a petrefaction),
and then giving a general bow to the company, he
went to the glass, took a comb from his waistcoat-pocket,
and smoothed his hair to an equatorial line
around his forehead; he then crossed the room to
Mrs. Lee with some commonplace consolation on
his lips; but the face of the mother spoke too eloquently,
and he was compelled to turn away,
wipe his eyes, and clear his throat, before he could
recover his official composure. “Mr. Eliot,” he
then began, “though a minister of the gospel of
peace, I heartily approve your going forth in the
present warfare, for surely it is lawful to defend
that which is our own; no man has a right to that
for which he did not labour; to cities which he built
not; to olive-yards and vineyards which he planted

“I don't know about olive-yards and vineyards,”
interposed the major, “never having seen such
things; but I'm thinking we can eat our corn and
potatoes without their help that have neither planted
nor gathered them.”

The parson gave an acquiescent nod to the major's
emendation of his text, and proceeded:—“I


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have wished, my young friend, to strengthen you in
the righteous cause in which you are taking up
arms; and, to that end, besides the prayers which
I shall daily offer for you and yours at the throne
of divine grace, I have made up a book for you
(here he tendered a package, large enough to fill
half the portmanteau of our equestrian traveller),
consisting of extracts selected from three thousand
eight hundred and ninety-seven sermons, preached
on the Sabbaths throughout my ministry of forty-eight
years, besides occasional discourses for peace
and war, thanksgivings and fasts, associations and
funerals. As you will often be out of reach of
preaching privileges, I have provided here a word
in season for every occasion, which I trust you
may find both teaching and refreshing after a weary
day's service.”

Eliot received the treasure with suitable expressions
of gratitude. The good man continued:
—“I could not, my friends, do this for another; but
you know that, speaking after the manner of men,
we look upon this dear youth as the pride and glory
of our society.”

“And I'm thinking, reverend sir,” said the major,
with that tone of familiarity authorized by
age (but stared at by the children), “I'm thinking
you'll not be called on again for a like service; for
after Eliot Lee is gone, there's not another what
you can raly call a man in the parish. To begin
with yourself, reverend sir; you've never been a


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fighting character, which I take to be, humanly
speaking, a necessary part of a man; then there's
myself, minus a leg; and Master Hale here, who
—I respect you for all, Master Hale—never was
born to be handy with a smarter weapon than a
ferule; then comes blind Billy, and limping Harris,
and, to bring up the rear, Deacon Allen and the
doctor.” Here the major chuckled: “They both
say they would join the army if 'twas not as it is;
but they have been dreadful near-sighted since the
war broke out. That's all of `mankind,' as you may
say, that's left in the bounds of Westbrook. Oh,
I forgot Kisel—poor Kisel! Truly, he seems to
have been made up of leavings. Kisel would not
make a bad soldier either, if it were one crack and
done. He is brave at a go-off, but he can't bear
the sight o'blood; and if he shoots as crooked as
he talks, he'd be as like to shoot himself as anybody
else. But sometimes the fellow's tongue
does hit the mark in a kind of providential manner.
By the Lor—Jiminy, I mean!—there he comes, on
Granny Larkin's colt!”

The person in question now halted before Mrs.
Lee's door, mounted on an unbroken, ragged, party-coloured
animal, such as is called, in country
phrase, “a wishing horse,” evidently equipped for
travelling. His bridle was compounded of alternate
bits of rope and leather; a sheepskin served him
for a saddle, behind which hung on either side a
meal-bag, filled with all his worldly substance.


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His own costume was in keeping; an over-garment,
made of an old blanket, a sort of long
roundabout, was fastened at the waist with a
wampum belt, which, tied in many a fantastical
knot, dangled below his knees; his undergarments
were a pair of holyday leather breeches,
and yarn stockings of deep red; a conical cap,
composed of alternate bits of scarlet and blue cloth,
covered his head, and was drawn close over his
eyebrows.—Nature had reduced his brow to the
narrowest precincts; his face was concave; his
eyes sparkling, and in incessant motion; his nose
thin and sharp; a pale, clean-looking skin, and a
mouth with more of the characteristics of the brute
than the human animal, complete the portrait of
Kisel, who, leaping like a cat from his horse,
appeared at the door, screaming out, in a cracked
voice, “Ready, Misser Eliot?”

While all were exchanging inquiring glances,
and the children whispering, “Hush, Kisel—don't
you see Dr. Wilson?” Eliot, who comprehended
the strange apparition at a glance, came forward
and said—

“No, Kisel; I am not ready.”

“Well, well—all same—Kisel can wait, and
Beauty too—hey!”

“No, no, Kisel,” replied Eliot, kindly taking
the lad's hand, “you must not wait—you must give
this up, my good fellow.”

“Give it up!—Diddle me if I do—no, I told


Page 94
you that all the devils and angels to bargain should
not stop me, no—you go, I go—that's it, hey!”

Here Major Avery, who sat near the door, his
mouth wide open with amazement, burst into a
hoarse laugh, at which Kisel, his eyes flashing
fire, gave him a smart switch with his riding-whip
(a willow wand) over the face. The good-humoured
man, deeming the poor lad no subject for
resentment, passed his hand over his face as if a
moscheto had stung him, saying—“Well, now,
Kisel, that was not fair, my boy; I was only
smiling that such a harlequin-looking thing as you
should think of being waiter to Mr. Eliot. He
might as well take a bat, or a woodpecker.”

Eliot did not need his poor friend should be
placed in this ludicrous aspect to strengthen the
decision which he had already expressed to him;
and drawing him aside beyond the irritation of the
major's gibes, he said—“It is impossible, Kisel—
I cannot consent to your going with me.”

“Can't, hey! can't! can't!”—and for a few
moments the poor fellow hung his head, whimpering;
then suddenly elevating it, he cried, “Then
I go 'out consent—I go, anyhow;” and springing
back to the door, he called out—“Miss Lee, hear
me—Miss Bessie, you too, and you, parson Wilson,
for I speak gospel. When I boy, all boys laugh
at me, knock me here, kick there—who took
my part?—Misser Eliot, hey! When they tied
me to old Roan, Beauty's mother, head to tail, who


Page 95
licked the whole tote of 'em?—Misser Eliot. I
sick, nobody care I live or die—Misser Eliot stay
by me all night. When everybody laugh at me,
plague me, hate me, I wish me dead, Misser
Eliot talk to me, make me feel good, glad, make
me warm here.” He laid his hand on his bosom
—“He gone, I can't live!—but I'll follow him—
I'll be his dog, fetch, carry, lay down at his feet.
S'pose he sick, Miss Lee? everybody say I good
in sickness—S'pose, Miss Bessie, he lie on the
ground, bleeding, horses trampling, soldiers flying,
hey!—I bind him up, bring water, carry him in
my arms—if he die, I die too!”

The picture Kisel rudely sketched struck the
imaginations of mother and daughter. They knew
his devotion to Eliot, and that in emergencies he
had gleams of shrewdness that seemed supernatural.
They were too much absorbed in serious emotions
to be susceptible of the ludicrous; and both joined
in earnestly entreating Eliot not to oppose Kisel's
wishes. Dr. Wilson supported their intercession
by remarking, “that it seemed quite providential
he should have been able to prepare for such an
expedition.” The major took off the edge of this
argument by communicating what he had hastily
ascertained, that Kisel had bartered away his patrimony
for “Granny Larkin's” wishing horse, yclept
Beauty; but he added two suggestions that had
much force with Eliot, particularly the last; for if
there was a virtue that had supremacy in his well-ordered


Page 96
character, it was humanity. “The lad,
Mr. Lee,” he said, “may be of use, after all. It
takes a great many sorts of folks to make a world,
and so to make up an army. There's a lack of
hands in camp, and his may come in play. Kisel is
keen at a sudden call—and besides,” he added, in
a lower voice to Eliot, “it's true what the creatur
says, when you are gone he'll be good for nothing—
like a vine when the tree it clung to is removed,
withering on the ground. Say you'll take him, and
we'll rig him out according to Gunter.”

Thus beset, Eliot consented to what half an
hour before had appeared to him absurd; and the
major bestirring himself, from his own and Mrs.
Lee's stores soon rectified Kisel's equipment in all
important particulars, to suit either honourable character
of volunteer soldier or volunteer attendant
on Mr. Eliot Lee. This done, nothing remained
but the customary devotional service, still performed
by the village pastor on all extraordinary
occasions. On this, Doctor Wilson's feelings over-powered
his technicalities. His prayer, sublimed
by the touching language of Scripture, melted the
coldest heart, and raised the most dejected. After
bestowing their farewell blessing the neighbours
withdrew, all treasuring in their hearts some last
word of kindness from Eliot Lee, long remembered,
and often referred to.

The family were now left to a sacred service
more informal, and far more intensely felt. Eliot,


Page 97
locking his mother and sister in his arms, and the
little ones gathered around him, with manly faith
commended them to God their Father; and receiving
their last embraces, sprang on to his horse
conscious of nothing but confused sensations of
grief, till having passed far beyond the bounds of
Westbrook, he heard his companion lightly singing—“I
cries for nobody, and nobody cries for


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