University of Virginia Library


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“The man I speak of cannot in the world be singly counter-poised.”

A week subsequent to Bessie Lee's arrival at
Barlow's, a violent hallooing and knocking were
heard at the blacksmith's shop; and no answer
being given, Barlow's house-door was soon beset
with impatient knocks and cries of—“Halloo,
blacksmith, you are wanted!”

Barlow rose from the bed, where he had been
laid by a severe attack of intermittent fever, and
answered, that he was utterly unable to go to his
workshop. “What does he say?” asked a young
gentleman in a foreign accent, who with two or
three attendants was impatiently awaiting Barlow's

“He says he cannot come, sir.”

“Cannot! Ce n'est pas le mot d'aujourd'hui.”

“Neither, I think, sir,” replied the first speaker,
is must current in these parts.”

Vous avez raison, mon ami; mais mon Dieu!
What are we to do?”

The gentleman, being very much in the habit of
overcoming other men's impossibilities every day
of his life, dismounted, gave his bridle to an attendant,


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and walked up to the open door of our
friend Barlow, who, on seeing the uniform of an
American general officer, was somewhat abashed,
though its wearer was a fair young man, with a
remarkably gentle and benignant countenance. “If
it were barely possible, sir,” said Barlow, “I should
be happy to serve you; but I am scarcely able to

“Ah, my good friend, I see you are in a bad
position, and your wife too. How long have you
been ill, madame?”

“I have had the fever 'nagur, sir, six weeks, off
and on.”

“Fever 'nagur! Qu'est que c'est?” asked the
gentleman, aside, of his companion.

“Fever and ague.”

“Ah, je comprends! very bad malady, madame,
very bad; you should take every day a little port

Mrs. Barlow smiled. “Dear me! yes, sir, if I
had it.”

“You go or send often to Hartford?” resumed
the stranger, addressing Barlow.

“Almost every day, sir.”

“Ah, very well! I have some port wine there
in a friend's cellar. I will give you an order for a
bottle or two; and I pray you to send for it; and
you and your wife, and these little fellows, who by
their blue lips have the ague too, shall drink to my
health and your own.”


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“Thank you, sir,” said Mrs. Barlow; “a little
port wine is what I have been all along thinking
would cure us—dear me!”

“Is it only one horse, sir, that wants shoeing?”
asked Barlow, tying a handkerchief round his

“Only one, my good friend; my own brave
beast, who has done much good service, and has
much more to do. Pauvre bête! it goes to my
heart to have his hoof broken up.”

Barlow felt as if his strength came with the
sympathy and consideration manifested by the person
who needed it. “I guess, sir,” he said, “I could
stand long enough to do so small a job.”

“Ah, my friend, mille—a thousand thanks; but
spare your strength to do what no one else can
do. Here, orderly, kindle up the blacksmith's fire,
quickly.” While this was in preparation, the
stranger took writing materials from his pocket,
and addressed the following note to a person whose
munificence is still remembered, though he has
long ago gone to the enjoyment of his treasures,
where he was then wisely laying them up.


My dear Wadsworth,

—I have just chanced
to call at a poor blacksmith's, who, with his worthy
family, is at death's door with a protracted intermittent.
It seems to me that port, like that I
drank with you yesterday, might restore them.
As the man looks like too independent an American


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to beg a favour, I have taken the liberty to give
him this order for a bottle or two, telling him, with
a poetic truth, that I had wine in your cellar. It is
your own fault if all your friends feel that they
have a property in your possessions. Adieu.”

Just as the stranger had signed and sealed this
billet, the inner door opened, and Bessie Lee appeared,
her cheeks died with fever, her eyes bright
as gems, her lips of the brightest vermilion, and
her beautiful hair hanging in many a tangled curl
over her face and neck. “Mon Dieu!” exclaimed
the stranger.

“Dear me! my child, go back,” said Mrs. Barlow,
gently repulsing her. Bessie, however, without
heeding her, pressed forward, and addressing
herself to the stranger in an energetic, business
sort of a way, “You are going to New-York?” she

“Not exactly, young lady; but I am going in
that direction.”

“Do go back into the bedroom,—do, husband,
persuade her—”

“No, no, Martha, let her have her own way.”

“Thank you,” said Bessie. “Will you be kind
enough, sir, to step into my room?—this buzzing
confuses me.”

The stranger, with characteristic sagacity, had
already half penetrated the truth. He motioned
to Bessie to precede him, saying in a low voice to


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Mrs. Barlow, “Your husband is right. It is best
your child should have her own way.”

“Dear me, she is not our child, sir!”

“She does not look as if she were,” thought the
stranger; but there was no time for farther explanation.
As soon as they were fairly within the
inner room, Bessie shut the door. She seemed at
first disconcerted; but instantly rallying, she said,
“I am unknown to you, sir, but your face seems to
have that heavenly sentence written on it: `Ask and
it shall be given to you.' ”

“Then why do you hesitate?”

They would think it so strange that I should
be asking such a favour of a stranger—a young

“Who are they?

“My mother and brother.”

“Their names, my friend?”

“I cannot tell their names. My present object
is to get to New-York as soon as possible, where I
have business of the greatest importance. I have
been staying here for some days with very kind
people. I would not wound their feelings on any
account,” she added, in a whisper; “but they are
very weak-minded—no judgment at all; indeed,
there are few people that have, so I do not choose
to confide to them the reason of my actions. All
will be explained and published when I return
from New-York.”

“But, my dear young lady, are you aware that
New-York is in possession of the enemy?”


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“Oh, sir, I have no enemies.”

“Rough soldiers—foreign soldiers, my fair
friend, will make no exception in your favour.”

“You do not know,” she replied, drawing up
her little person with an air of assured but mysterious
superiority, “you do not know that I am one
of those of whom it was said, that `their angels
do always stand before my Father;' and I could tell
you of such difficult passes where invisible spirits
have guided and tended me—so faithfully! but that
at another time. There is not the slightest danger
in my going to New-York—indeed, I have no
choice; I must go.”

“Do you know any one in New-York?”

“Yes, Miss Linwood, the friend to whom I am

“Miss Linwood? Miss Isabella Linwood? Ah,
I have heard of her.”

“She is not my only—” friend, she was going
to say; a shade passed over her countenance, and
she added, “acquaintance in New-York. Now,
sir, all that I am going to ask of you is for liberty
to ride behind you, or one of your attendants, as
far as you go on my way.”

The stranger, compassionate as he felt, could
scarcely forbear a smile. “We should be hardly
a proper escort for you, my fair friend,” he replied.

“Oh, fear not for that; I am so fenced about—
so guarded by unseen and powerful spirits, that it
matters not with whom, if I but get forward.”


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After a moment of anxious thought, “Tell me,
young lady,” he replied, “the name of that brother
of whom you spoke, and on my honour I will do
all in my power for you.”

“No—never—this is a temptation of that evil
one who so long led me astray, to turn me again
from the straight path, to frustrate my purpose. I
do not blame you, sir. He has before, in my
dreams and at other times, whispered to me,
that if I were but to speak my brother's name, I
should be cared for; but this would be trusting to
a human arm. No: his name must not pass my
lips.” If she had then spoken it, how different
would have been the fate of many individuals!

The benevolent stranger perceived that the impressions
(whether illusions or not) from which
Bessie acted were ineffaceable, and that she had
that fixedness of purpose from which it seems impossible,
by reason or art of any sort, to turn an
insane person. He was at an utter loss what to
do or say, and merely murmured, “Would to
Heaven I could serve you!”

“You would and cannot! Indeed, you look to
me like those favourites of Heaven, who both will
and can. Who are you?”

“I am more generous than you, my friend, and
I will tell you. My name is La Fayette.”

La Fayette! Now is it not wonderful,” exclaimed
Bessie, clasping her hands and looking upward,
her whole face bright and rapturous, “Is it


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not wonderful that he who is chosen and set apart
of God for the cause of freedom, the friend of
Washington, the best friend of my struggling
country, should be guided to this little dwelling to
find me out and aid me? You cannot choose but
serve me,” she added, laying her hand on his, and
faintly and wildly laughing.

“And I will serve you, my poor girl, so help
me God!” he replied, kissing her faded, feverish
hand. “Sit you here quietly, and I will see what
can be done.”

“I will wait patiently, but remember, there is
but one thing to be done.”

La Fayette appeared in the outer room: his eyes
were suffused with tears, and for a moment he
found it difficult to command his voice. “You
can make nothing of her,” said Mrs. Barlow, looking
inquiringly. “No? I thought so—she is the
meekest and the beautifullest mortal, the gentlest
and the most obstinate, that ever I came across.”

“Where is your husband, my good friend?”

“Shoeing your horse, sir.”

“Ah, that's very kind, very kind indeed; I will
go and speak with him.” Accordingly, he proceeded
to the workshop, and there received from
Barlow all the particulars he could communicate
of poor Bessie Lee. “It is not only her master
beautiful looks, sir,” said Barlow, in conclusion;
“but she seems so pure in heart, and so well nurtured,
and so pretty spoken. She draws many a


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tear from us—being weak and sick, sir, makes one
easy to cry.”

“The fountain of such tears is a good heart, my
friend; and no one need apologize for letting them
gush out now and then. You say you have made
every effort to find out who the poor girl is?”

“Yes, sir, indeed I have; but it is impossible.
I have thought of advertising the stray lamb,” he
added, with a smile; “but somehow I did not love
to put her in the newspapers.”

“That, perhaps, would have been wisest; but
now I think the best thing that can be done is to
gratify her ruling desire, and get her to New-York
as soon as possible.”

“Ay, indeed, sir; but how get her there now?”

“Why, my friend, you must furnish the way,
and I the means. You know that those of us who
are best off in these times have no superfluity. I
cannot spare more than a guinea from the small
sum I have with me.”

“A guinea is a great sum, sir, in these hard
times; but—”

“But not enough to get the young lady to New-York,
I am aware of that; and therefore, in addition,
I shall give you my watch, which, being fine
gold and a repeater, will enable you to raise enough
for her necessities, and a surplus to make your
family comfortable till you come to the anvil again.”

“This is too much,” replied Barlow, bending
low over the horse's hoof; either his gratitude or


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his sickness making it “easy for him to cry

“Not too much, nor quite enough, my friend.
You will find some worthy man and woman to accompany
her to the American lines; and I will do
what I can to secure her safe conduct. She will
certainly go safely to the British posts, and beyond,
I trust. Surely none of God's creatures, who have
a trace of his image, can be inhuman to her; but
we must take all precautions.”

“Yes, indeed, sir; war, like a slaughter-house,
breeds vermin; and there be those abroad whose
hearts are as hard as my anvil.”

“We will do our best to protect her from such.”

La Fayette then wrote an earnest recommendation
of Bessie to the protection and kindness of all
Americans. He requested the American officer to
forward her under the protection of a flag, and
finally addressed a note to the British commander,
and all his officers and agents, stating the condition
of the young person whom he commended to their
humanity, and praying them to expedite her progress
to New-York, where (as he thought proper
to state, knowing Mr. Linwood to be a tory), the
friend to whose house she was going, Robert Linwood,
Esq., resided. The surprise of Barlow when
he received these notes, and saw the powerful, all-honoured,
and loved name of La Fayette attached
to them, is indescribable. La Fayette gave the
watch into his hands, and without waiting for his


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thanks, he pressed Barlow's hand, mounted his
horse, joined his companions, and rode off at full
speed. Barlow gazed after him till the cavalcade
disappeared; then, after a fervent thanksgiving to
God, he said, looking at the watch, “I must pledge
this; but if Heaven prosper me I will redeem it,
and leave it, as better than all my fast property, to
my children.”

We have graced our page by recording here one
of His unnumbered good deeds, who has filled up
the measure of human benevolence by every manifestation,
from the least to the greatest, of this divine