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“Thou shalt not kill.”
“Love your enemies.”
“Father, forgive them: they know not what they do.”


The early spring of 1861 brought to bloom, besides
innumerable violets and jessamines, a strange, enormous,
and terrible flower.

This was the blood-red flower of war, which grows
amid thunders; a flower whose freshening dews are
blood and hot tears, whose shadow chills a land, whose
odors strangle a people, whose giant petals droop downward,
and whose roots are in hell.

It is a species of the great genus, sin-flower, which
is so conspicuous in the flora of all ages and all countries,
and whose multifarious leafage and fruitage so
far overgrow a land that the violet, or love-genus, has
often small chance to show its quiet blue.

The cultivation of this plant is an expensive business,
and it is a wonder, from this fact alone, that there
should be so many fanciers of it. A most profuse and
perpetual manuring with human bones is absolutely
necessary to keep it alive, and it is well to have these
powdered, which can be easily done by hoofs of cavalry-horses
and artillery-wheels, not to speak of the usual


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method of mashing with cannon-balls. It will not
grow, either, except in some wet place near a stream
of human blood; and you must be active in collecting
your widows' tears and orphans' tears and mothers'
tears to freshen the petals with in the mornings.

It requires assiduous working; and your labor-hire
will be a large item in the expense, not to speak of the
amount disbursed in preserving the human bones alive
until such time as they may be needed, for, I forgot to
mention, they must be fresh, and young, and newly-killed.

It is, however, a hardy plant, and may be grown in
any climate, from snowy Moscow to hot India.

It blooms usually in the spring, continuing to flower
all summer until the winter rains set in: yet in some
instances it has been known to remain in full bloom
during a whole inclement winter, as was shown in a
fine specimen which I saw the other day, grown in
North America by two wealthy landed proprietors,
who combined all their resources of money, of blood,
of bones, of tears, of sulphur and what not, to make
this the grandest specimen of modern horticulture,
and whose success was evidenced by the pertinacious
blossoms which the plant sent forth even amid the hostile
rigors of snow and ice and furious storms. It is
supposed by some that seed of this American specimen
(now dead) yet remain in the land; but as for this author
(who, with many friends, suffered from the unhealthy
odors of the plant), he could find it in his heart
to wish fervently that these seed, if there be verily any,
might perish in the germ, utterly out of sight and life
and memory and out of the remote hope of resurrection,


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forever and ever, no matter in whose granary they
are cherished!

But, to return.

It is a spreading plant, like the banyan, and continues
to insert new branch-roots into the ground, so
as sometimes to overspread a whole continent. Its
black-shadowed jungles afford fine cover for such wild
beasts as frauds and corruptions and thefts to make
their lair in; from which, often, these issue with ravening
teeth and prey upon the very folk that have planted
and tended and raised their flowery homes!

Now, from time to time, there have appeared certain
individuals (wishing, it may be, to disseminate and
make profit upon other descriptions of plants) who
have protested against the use of this war-flower.

Its users, many of whom are surely excellent men,
contend that they grow it to protect themselves from
oppressive hailstorms, which destroy their houses and

But some say the plant itself is worse than any hailstorm;
that its shades are damp and its odors unhealthy,
and that it spreads so rapidly as to kill out and
uproot all corn and wheat and cotton crops. Which the
plant-users admit; but rejoin that it is cowardly to allow
hailstorms to fall with impunity, and that manhood
demands a struggle against them of some sort.

But the others reply, fortitude is more manly than
bravery, for noble and long endurance wins the shining
love of God; whereas brilliant bravery is momentary,
is easy to the enthusiastic, and only dazzles the
admiration of the weak-eyed since it is as often shown
on one side as the other.


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But then, lastly, the good war-flower cultivators say,
our preachers recommend the use of this plant, and
help us mightily to raise it in resistance to the hailstorms.

And reply, lastly, the interested other-flower men,
that the preachers should preach Christ; that Christ
was worse hailed upon than anybody, before or since;
that he always refused to protect himself, though fully
able to do it, by any war-banyan; and that he did,
upon all occasions, not only discourage the resort to
this measure, but did inveigh against it more earnestly
than any thing else, as the highest and heaviest crime
against Love — the Father of Adam, Christ, and all of

Friends and horticulturists, cry these men, stickling
for the last word, if war was ever right, then
Christ was always wrong; and war-flowers and the
vine of Christ grow different ways, insomuch that no
man may grow with both!




King Henry.
—“How now, good Blunt? Thy looks are full of speed.”

—“So hath the business that I come to speak of.
Lord Mortimer of Scotland hath sent word
That Douglas and the English rebels met,
The eleventh of this month, at Shrewsbury:
A mighty and a fearful head they are,
If promises be kept on every hand,
As ever offered foul play in a state.”

King Henry IV.

But these sentiments, even if anybody could have
been found patient enough to listen to them, would have
been called sentimentalities, or worse, in the spring of
1861, by the inhabitants of any of those States lying between
Maryland and Mexico. An afflatus of war was
breathed upon us. Like a great wind, it drew on and
blew upon men, women, and children. Its sound
mingled with the solemnity of the church-organs and
arose with the earnest words of preachers praying for
guidance in the matter. It sighed in the half-breathed
words of sweethearts conditioning impatient lovers with
war-services. It thundered splendidly in the impassioned
appeals of orators to the people. It whistled
through the streets, it stole in to the firesides, it clinked
glasses in bar-rooms, it lifted the gray hairs of our
wise men in conventions, it thrilled through the lectures
in college halls, it rustled the thumbed book-leaves of
the school-rooms.

This wind blew upon all the vanes of all the


Page 120
churches of the country, and turned them one way —
toward war. It blew, and shook out, as if by magic, a
flag whose device was unknown to soldier or sailor
before, but whose every flap and flutter made the blood
bound in our veins.

Who could have resisted the fair anticipations which
the new war-idea brought? It arrayed the sanctity of
a righteous cause in the brilliant trappings of military
display; pleasing, so, the devout and the flippant which
in various proportions are mixed elements in all men.
It challenged the patriotism of the sober citizen, while
it inflamed the dream of the statesman, ambitious for
his country or for himself. It offered test to all allegiances
and loyalties; of church, of state; of private
loves, of public devotion; of personal consanguinity;
of social ties. To obscurity it held out eminence; to
poverty, wealth; to greed, a gorged maw; to speculation,
legalized gambling; to patriotism, a country; to
statesmanship, a government; to virtue, purity; and to
love, what all love most desires — a field wherein to
assert itself by action.

The author devoutly wishes that some one else had
said what is here to be spoken — and said it better.
That is: if there was guilt in any, there was guilt in
nigh all of us, between Maryland and Mexico; that
Mr. Davis, if he be termed the ringleader of the rebellion,
was so not by virtue of any instigating act of
his, but purely by the unanimous will and appointment
of the Southern people; and that the hearts of the
Southern people bleed to see how their own act has
resulted in the chaining of Mr. Davis, who was as innocent
as they, and in the pardon of those who were as
guilty as he!


Page 121

All of us, if any of us, either for pardon or for punishment:
this is fair, and we are willing.

But the author has nought to do with politics; and
he turns with a pleasure which he hopes is shared by
the Twenty-four-thousand-nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine,
to pursue the adventures of Paul Rübetsahl and
company in




Prince Henry.

—“I have procured thee, Jack, a charge of foot.”


—“I would it had been of horse. Well, God be thanked for these

King Henry IV.

On one of the last days of April, '64, six soldiers in
gray, upon six horses in all colors, were riding down
the road that leads from Surrey Court House toward
the beautiful bay into which the James spreads itself before
it is called Hampton Roads.

It was yet early in the morning. The sun was rejoicing
with a majestic tenderness over his little firstling
— April.

Our six horsemen were in gay conversation; as who
would not be, with a light rifle on his shoulder, with a
good horse bounding along under him, with a fresh
breeze that had in it the vigor of the salt sea and the
caressing sweetness of the spring blowing upon him,
with five friends tried in the tempest of war as well as
by the sterner test of the calm association of inactive
camp-life, and with the world's width about him and
the enchanting vagueness of life yet to be lived — the
delicious change-prospect of futurity — before him?

As they rode on, the beauty of the woods grew, nearing
the river. The road wound about deep glens filled
with ancient beeches and oaks, and carpeted with early
flowers and heart-leaves upon which still dwelt large


Page 123
bulbs of dew; so enchanted with their night's resting-place
that they slept late, loth to expand into vapor and
go back home in the clouds.

Lieutenant Flemington spurred his horse forward
and turned him round full-face to the party.

“Gentlemen, there 's some mistake about all this!”
said he, as the men stopped, laughing at a puzzled expression
which overspread his face: “for whereas, this
honorable company of six has been for three years or
more toilsomely marching on foot with an infantry regiment
— but now rides good horses: and whereas, this
honorable company of six has been for three years feeding
upon hard-tack and bacon which grew continually
harder and also less and wormier — but now devours
Virginia biscuit and spring-chickens and ham and
eggs and — and all the other things that came on, and
went off, the table at mine host's of the Court House
this morning:” —

“Not to speak of the mint-juleps that the big man-slave
brought in on a waiter before we got out o' bed,”
interposed Briggs.

“And whereas, we have hitherto had to fight through
a press of from two to five hundred men to fill our
canteens when we marched by a well — but now do
take our several gentlemanly ease and leisure in doing
that same, as just now when the pretty girl smiled at
us in the big white house yonder, where we

`Went to the well to get some water:'

and whereas, we have hitherto draggled along in pantaloons
that we could put on a dozen ways by as many
holes, have worn coats that afforded no protection to


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anything but the insects congregated in the seams of
the same, have had shirts that — shirts that — that
— at any rate we have had shirts — but now do fare
forth prankt in all manner of gorgeous array such as
gray jackets with fillimagree on the sleeves of 'em,
and hussar-breeches, and cavalry-boots, and O shade of
Jones of Georgia! with spurs to boot and clean white
collars to neck: and whereas, we have been accustomed
to think a mud-hole a luxury in the way of beds, and
have been wont to beg Heaven, as its greatest boon to
man, not to let the cavalry ride over us without waking
us up to see 'em do it — but now do sleep between
white sheets without fear of aught but losing our senses
from sleeping so intensely: and whereas, finally, all
these things are contrary to the ordinary course of
nature and are not known save as dim recollections
of a previous state of existence in itself extremely hypothetical,
therefore, be it resolved and it is hereby resolved”

“Unanimously,” from the five.

“That this — figure — at present on this horse and
clothed with these sumptuous paraphernalia of pompous
war, is not B. Chauncey Flemington, that is to say (to
borrow a term from the German metaphysics) is Not-Me,
that this horse is not my horse, this paraphernalia
not my paraphernalia, that para-ditto not your para-ditto,
that this road is no road, and the whole affair a dream
or phantasmagory sent of the Devil for no purpose but
to embitter the waking from it, and

“Resolved, further, that we now proceed to wake up,
and exorcise this devil. Cain Smallin, of the bony
fingers, will you do me the favor to seize hold of


Page 125
my left ear and twist it? Hard, if you please, Mr.

Cain seized and twisted: whereat went up a villainous
screech from the twistee.

“Mark you, men, how hard the Devil clings to him!”
quoth Briggs.

“Herr Von Hardenberg says, `when we dream
that we dream, we are near awaking,”' said Rübetsahl,
“but I am not awake and I surely dream that I do

“I remember,” said Aubrey, “that Hans Dietrich
did dream, upon a time, that the elf-people showered
gold upon him, but woke in the morning and found his
breeches-pockets full of yellow leaves. À fortiori, this
in my canteen, which I dimly dream was poured in there
for home-made wine by an old lady who stopped me
and blessed me the other side the Court House this
morning — this, I say, in my canteen, should now
be no wine, or at least, if these present events be a
dream, should be sour wine. I will resolve me of this

The canteen rose in air, its round mouth met Aubrey's
round mouth, and a gurgling noise was heard; what
time the five awaited in breathless suspense the result
of the experiment. The gurgling continued.

“I think Mister Aubrey must ha' fell into another
dream, like,” quoth Cain Smallin, “an 's done forgot
he 's drinkin', an' the rest of us is dry!”

“Ah-h-h-h!” observed Aubrey as the canteen at last
came down. “Gentlemen, this is as marvellous like to
good wine of the blackberry as is one blue-coat to another.
Albeit this be but a thin and harmful wine of


Page 126
hallucination, yet — I am a mortal man! at least I
dream I am, wherefore I am fain exclaim with the poet

`Thus let me dream, forever, on!”'

“I think,” modestly interposed Philip Sterling, “that
I might perhaps throw a little light on the subject; at
any rate, the number of experiments will increase the
probability of our conclusions drawn therefrom. Now,
as I passed down the road, in this dream, I observed
a still where they make apple-brandy; and propounding
some questions as to the modus agendi to a benevolent-looking
lady who stood in the house hard by, she,
if I dream not, begged that I would accept this bottle,
which I now uncork, I think, and which, if all end well,
will enable me to say, in the words of the song,

`I see her still in my dreams.'

But if it should be wild-wine of the Devil, or newt's-eye
and frog-toe porridge, or other noxious jigote of
hags and witches — stand around to receive me as I
fall. I waive the politeness which requires I should
offer this bottle first to my fellow-dreamers here, Mr.
Briggs and Mr. Smallin, in consideration that the compound
might kill, and I were loth the country should
lose two such valuable lives. I request that I be decently
buried and news sent home, if it prove fatal, as
I fear. I drink! Friends, adieu, adieu!”

“Why, this,” quoth Briggs, “is surely much adieu
about nothing!”

The bottle went up to the mouth, like its friend the
canteen, and stayed, like its friend. While it hung in
mid-air —

“Good Heavens!” exclaimed Aubrey, “the poison


Page 127
is taking effect! He has not strength to remove it
from his mouth!”

“Gentlemen, all is over!” said Rübetsahl, and
groaned, and, seizing Philip, dragged him to the green
bank of the road, when the draggee fell back in true
stage-fashion, not forgetting to spread his handkerchief
upon the hillock where he laid his dying head: “I
would not die,” muttered he, “with my hair full of

“Danged ef this 'ere ham aint mighty nigh as good
as fresh ven'zun!” quoth sturdy Cain Smallin, who had
dismounted and seated himself on a stump, while his
lower jaw worked like a trip-hammer reversed, to the
great detriment of a huge slice of bread and ham which
he had produced from his capacious haversack. “'Pears
like as if I never was so horngry sence I was froze up
over on old Smoky Mount'n, one Christmas. I b'leeve
I haint done nuthin' but eat sence we was detailed f'om
the rigiment, to'ther side o' Richmond! You better
b'leeve now — Gentlemen!” he exclaimed suddenly,
“look at yan nigger down the road! He travels as
peert as ef he was a-carryin' orders to a rigiment to
come down into the fight double-quick. Hornet must
ha' stung his mule; or sumthin'!”

At this moment a negro dashed up on a mule whose
pace he was accelerating with lusty encouragement of
switch, foot, and voice.

“Halt there, caballero hot with haste and coal-black
with speed!” cried Flemington. “What 's the matter?”

“Good God, Marster, de Yankee niggahs is playin' de
devil wid old Mistis down de road yonder! Dey done
hung old Marster up to a tree-limb to make him tell


Page 128
whah he put de las' year's brandy an' he nuvver tole
em; an' I seed 'em a-histe-in him up agin, an' I run
roun' to de stable an' tuk out ole Becky here an' cum astavin';
an' I 'lowed to myse'f I 'd save one mule for ole
Marster anyhow ef he lives, which I don't b'leeve he 's
agwine to do it nohow; an — ”

“Mount, men!” Flemington jumped into the saddle.
“How far is it to the house? What 's your name?” —
to the negro.

“Name Charles, sah: Charles, de ca'ige - driver.
Hit 's about a half ur three-quarter thar, f'om here.”

“Have they got out a picket; did you see any of them
riding this way while the others were in the house?”

“Yaas, sah; seed one cumin' dis ways as I cum de
back-way, out o' de lot!”

“'T wont do to ride any further, then. Get off your
mule, Charles. Boys, dismount and tie your horses in
the bushes here, off the road. We 'll go round this
back-way. Lead the way; and keep under cover of
the hedge and the fence, yonder, everybody, so they
can't see us.”

While the words were being spoken the command
had been executed, and the party struck into a rapid
walk down a path which led off from the road in the
direction of the river. Presently they crossed a fence;
and stopped to peep through the rails of another, running
perpendicularly to the path. A large house, part
brick, part wooden, embowered in trees, appeared at a
short distance.

“Dat 's de place!” whispered Charles, the carriage-driver.

Flemington had already formed his plans.


Page 129

“Men, they 're all inside the house, except the picket
out in the road yonder. I 'm going to creep up close
to the house just behind that brick garden-wall there,
and see how things look. The rest of you keep down
this side o' the fence, and get just behind the long
cattle-stable in rear of the house. Wait there till you
hear me shoot; then dash up to the house, — 't is n't
twenty yards — and every man for himself! Come with
a yell or two. Cain, you come with me. Here goes
over the fence: quick!”

The minutes and the men crept on, like silent worms.
Flemington and Smallin gained their wall, which ran
within a few feet of the house, unperceived.

“I 'll stop here, Cain. You creep on, close down,
old fellow, until you get to the front fence yonder, and
wait there till I shoot. Then come on like a big rock
tumbling down Old Smoky!”

Under cover of a thick vine which ran along the top
of the wall, Flemington cautiously raised his head and
peeped over.

An old man was lying on the grass-plat, with a rope-noose
still hanging round his neck. Over him bent a
young girl. She was dashing water in his face and
chafing his hands in the endeavor to restore the life
which, by his bloodless face and the blue streak under
his eyes, seemed to have taken its departure forever.
Near them sat a corpulent old lady, on the ground, passive
with grief, rocking herself to and fro, in that most
pathetic gesture of sorrowing age.

Inside the house was Bedlam. Oaths, yells of triumph,
taunts, and menaces mingled with the crash of
breaking crockery and the shuffling of heavy feet.


Page 130

Just as Flemington raised his head above the wall,
four stout negroes staggered through a wide door which
gave upon a balcony of the second story, bearing a
huge old-fashioned wardrobe which they lifted over the
railing and let drop. A wild shout went up as the
wardrobe crashed to the ground and burst open, revealing
a miscellaneous mass of the garments that are
known to the other sex.

“Mo' good clo'es!” cried the four, and dived back
into the door for new plunder.

Through the parlor-window, just opposite Flemington,
appeared a burly black, with rolling eyes and grinning
mouth, seated at the piano. With both fists he
banged the keys, while he sang a ribald song at the top
of a voice rendered hideously husky by frequent potations
from a demijohn that stood on the centre-table.
Suddenly the performer jumped from his seat.

“Damn ef you 'll ever play on dat pianner agin, you
Becky Parven!” said he, and seized an axe and
chopped the instrument in pieces.

The raiders — unauthorized ones, as Flemington
knew — had evidently found the brandy. They were
already infuriated by it. It was with difficulty that
Flemington could refrain from firing long enough to
allow the rest of the party to gain their position.

Suddenly a huge negro, dressed in the tawdriest of
uniforms, which he had just been decorating with all
conceivable ornaments tied to whatever button offered
a support to dangle from, rushed out of the house towards
the group in front, exclaiming, —

“By de livin' God, I 'm de Cap'n and I 'm gwine to
do de kissin' fur de comp'ny! You need n't to shake,


Page 131
old lady Parven, I 'm a'ter dem red lips over yonder!”
— pointing to Rebecca Parven.

Flemington could withhold no longer. He fired;
the black captain fell, an answering yell came from the
stable-yard, he leaped the wall and rushed towards the
house, meeting Aubrey, who exclaimed hurriedly, —
“The rest ran into the back-door, Flem; I ran round
for fear they might be too many for you in front, as
they came out.”

Almost simultaneously three shots were fired inside
the house, and eight or ten negroes in blue uniform
rushed through the front door and down the steps. In
their ardor Flemington and Aubrey gave no ground.
The foremost negro on the steps fell, his companions
tumbled over him, the whole mass precipitated itself
upon Flemington and Aubrey, and bore them to the

At this moment the black commander, whom Flemington's
bullet had merely stunned for a moment,
scrambled to his feet, and seeing the other three of
Flemington's party running down the steps, called out,
“Jump up, boys; de aint but five of 'em, we can whip
de lights out'n 'em, yit!” Brandishing his sabre, he
ran towards Flemington, who was just rising from the

The surprised negroes took heart from the bold tone
and action of their commander, and commenced an active
scramble for whatever offensive weapons lay about.
In the undisciplined haste of plunderers they had
thrown down their arms in various places inside the
house, the necessity of caution being entirely overwhelmed
by the more pressing one of arm-room for the


Page 132
bulky articles which each was piling up for himself.
To prevent them from grasping the axes and farming
implements about the yard, besides two or three guns
and sabres that had been abandoned by the most eager
of the plunderers before entering the house, now required
the most active exertions on the part of the
Confederates whose number was actually reduced to
four, since Flemington was entirely occupied in repelling
the savage onslaught of the colored leader.

To increase their critical situation, nothing was heard
of Cain Smallin; and they could ill afford to lose the
great personal strength, not to speak of the yet unfired
rifle, of the mountaineer, in a contest where the odds
both in numbers and individual power were so much
against them.

Affairs grew serious. Flemington, for ten minutes,
had had arms, legs, and body in unceasing play, to
parry with his short unbayoneted carbine the furious
cuts of his antagonist. He was growing tired; while
his foe, infuriated by brandy and burning for revenge,
seemed to gather strength each moment and to redouble
his blows. The others were too busy to render
any assistance to their lieutenant. John Briggs had
just made a close race with three negroes for an axe that
lay down the avenue, and was now standing over it
endeavoring with desperate whirls of his carbine to defend
at once the front, flank, and rear of his position.

Flemington felt his knees giving way, a faint dizziness
came over him, and in another moment he would
have been cloven from skull to breast-bone, when suddenly
John Briggs called out cheerily, —

“Hurrah, boys! Here 's help!”


Page 133

All the combatants stopped to glance towards the
gate that opened from the main road into the short
avenue leading to the house. True! On the other
side the hedge appeared a cloud of dust, from which
sounded the voices of a dozen men, —

“Give the nigs hell, thar, boys!” shouted a bass-voice.
“Here we come; hold 'em thar, Flem!” came in
treble, as if from a boy-soldier. “You four men on the
right, thar, ride round 'em, cut 'em off from the
back-yard!” commanded the stentorian voice of Cain

The tide of victory turned in an instant, and bore
off, on its ebb, the colored raiders. Their commander
hastily jumped over the garden-wall and made huge
strides towards the woods, his followers scattering in
flight towards the nearest cover.

Too weak to pursue his frightened opponent, Flemington
sat down to rest, gazing curiously towards the
reinforcing voices.

“Open the gate thar, you men in front!” came from
the advancing dust-cloud. The gate flew open; in
rushed a frightened herd of cows, sheep, horses, mules,
hogs, and oxen, in whose midst appeared the tall form
of Cain Smallin. Armed with a huge branch of a
thorn-tree in each hand, he was darting about amongst
the half-wild cattle, belaboring them on all sides, crowding
them together and then scattering the mass, what
time he poured forth a torrent of inspiriting war-cries
in all tones of voice, from basso-profundo to boy-soprano.
On comes he, like an avalanche with a whirlwind
in it, down the avenue, all unconscious of the
success of his stratagem, stretching out his long neck


Page 134
over the cows' backs to observe the situation in his
front, and not ceasing to dart to and fro, to belabor,
and to utter his many-voiced battle-cries.

“'Gad, he don't see a thing!” exclaimed Briggs;
“his eyes are mud-holes of dust and perspiration!
He 'll run over the old gentleman there, boys: let 's get
him into the porch;” and the four had barely lifted
the still unconscious man up the steps when the cattle-cavalry
thundered by, splitting at the house like a
stream on a rock, and flowing tumultuously each side
of it towards the back-yard.

“Hold up, Cain! Hold up, man!” shouted Flemington;
“the enemy 's whipped and gone!”

Mr. Smallin came to a stop in his furious career, and,
covered with the dust and sweat of grimy war, advanced
at a more dignified pace to the steps where his
party were resting.

“You see, boys,” said he, wiping his face with his
coat-sleeve, “I was a right smart time a-comin', but
when I did come, I cum, by the Livin'! Phe-e-e-w!”
continued he, blowing off his excitement. “Reckin you
thought I was a whole brigade, did n't ye? An' I 'm
blasted ef I did n't make mighty nigh as much rumpus
as any common brigade, sure 's you 're born to die!
Ye see, I was creepin' along to'rds the road out yan,
an' I seed all them critters penned up in a little pen
just 'cross the road over aginst yan gate, an' I 'lowed to
myself 'at the niggers had jest marched along the road
an' druv along all the cattle in the country for to carry
'em back across the river. An' so I thought if I
could git them bulls thar — mighty fine bulls they is,
too! — git 'em right mad, an' let the whole kit an' bilin'


Page 135
of 'em in through yan gate down to'rds the house, I
mought skeer somebody mighty bad ef I did n't do
nothin' else; an' so I jest lit in amongst 'em thar,
an' tickled 'em all right smart with yan thorn bushes
till they was tolubble mad, an' then fotch 'em through
the gate a-bilin'! I 've druv cattle afore, gentlemen!”
concluded Mr. Smallin, with a dignity which was also
a generosity, since, while it asserted his own skill, it at
the same time apologized for those who might have
attempted such a feat and failed from want of practice
in driving cattle.




“And if a sigh that speaks regret of happier times appear,
A glimpse of joy that we have met shall shine and dry the tear.”

Quoted by Charles Lamb.

In a battle, as far as concerns the individual combatants,
the laws and observances of civilization are abandoned,
and primitive barbarism is king pro tem. To
kill as many as possible; — this, at the actual shock of
arms, is the whole duty of man. If indeed there be
generals of genius managing the thing behind the lines,
it is not less barbarism, but only more powerful barbarism;
it is genius manœuvring the interests of brute
strength; it is Apollo tending swine.

When the battle is over, to emerge from this temporary
barbarism is difficult and requires a little time.
Kind Heaven! To see a beautiful woman, to hear her
soft tones of voice, to say pleasant things to her, seems
so strange, just after you have uttered those strange,
hoarse cries that men do utter, not knowing why, in
battle; — just after you have killed a man, and perhaps
felt the sickening warmth of his blood, and turned
away from the terrible odor that rises like a curse from
the wound. The young men were all moody, and, in
spite of their exertions to appear unconstrained, continually
relapsed into a half-sullen silence, as they sat
at Mrs. Parven's elaborate dinner.


Page 137

Dinner? So. They had poured some brandy into
the mouth of old Mr. Parven, he had recovered, and,
though he could not speak, had smiled to the good wife
at his bedside to reassure her. Lighter of heart, Mrs.
Parven had instinctively bent herself to hospitable
deeds, had assembled her dusky handmaidens, had
bustled up-stairs and down-stairs and in the kitchen,
had removed the wreck of furniture, had restored order
out of chaos, had, in short, issued commands whose
multitude made Napoleon's feat of three thousand despatches
in an hour sink into pale insignificance.

While they were shaking hands, before mounting to
pursue their journey, a mournful tone pervaded the
forced liveliness of the young men's congratulations to
Mrs. Parven upon the good fate which had brought
them up in time to save the house. And even while
good Mrs. P. was calling out, in her loud, hearty voice,
to the scouts, inviting them to ride up frequently and
dine with her, she was saying to herself, “God help
us! It is but the beginning of the raids; next time, the
raiders will be more infuriated, and we may have no
friends at hand. God help us!”

And Rebecca, smiling upon Aubrey as he rode away,
was moved by those timid apprehensions which love
creates in tender hearts, and said to herself, over and
over again, “When will I ever see him again?”




“Let 's see his pockets. These letters —
May be my friends. He 's dead: I am only sorry
He had no other deaths-man. — Let us see: —
Leave, gentle wax: and, manners, blame us not;
To know our enemies' minds we rip their hearts —
Their papers is more lawful.”

King Lear.

A traveller upon the river-road from Surrey Court-House
to Smithfield, towards the last five or six miles
of his journey, will skirt the beautiful expanse of Burwell's
Bay at two or three hundred yards from the water's
edge. From all points of this stretch the water
is visible, but the view changes frequently, according to
the width and direction of the vistas through the trees
fringing the bold bluff that overhangs the beach.
About midway of this part of his journey he will
meet a road crossing his own at right angles, running
directly to the edge of the bluff. If he canters along
it a few hundred yards he finds it descending the steep
bank, quartering, so as to make the slope gentler. It is
nevertheless steep, and the horse will instinctively turn
back, not believing that his rider is going that way.
Tempted however by the smooth, white shell-beach,
which his eye follows for mile after mile, curving in
and out the green bluff, and whose hard surface is a
delightful contrast to the deep sand through which he
has been plodding; tempted by the cool breeze that
blows in his face (for this is a May-day), of which the


Page 139
trees on the main road deprive him; invited down there
by the freshness of the white foam from a tiny surf that
escalops the beach like a lace edging, changing every
moment its dainty pattern; — he urges his horse to the
descent. With much dubious shaking of his long head,
with a dogged I-told-you-so-if-you-get-your-neck-broken
expression, with much careful and deliberate reaching
out and planting down of the forefoot, the horse will
start, and will arrive upon the beach at the bottom,
with a deprecatory motion of his under lip which
says plainly enough, You need n't say a word about it,
sir, it was my prudence in the forefoot business that
got you down safe; mingled with which comes a sidelong
turn of the large eyes in sheepish acknowledgment
that the thing was n't so very steep after all!

The breeze invigorates horse and rider, the green
waves break and glossy curves glide smoothly up as if
on glass, the traveller bursts into a song and straightens
up in his saddle, the horse feels the reins tighten and
canters off with a swing and a bound, the bluff face
shows a million green mosses and trickling springs,
great oaks hold out their arms from the top in a perpetual
attitude of blessing, the eye ranges freely down
Burwell's Bay, across Hampton Roads, to the Chesapeake,
out between the capes, on, to the broad waters,
— it is charming for a mile or two.

It is the first day of May, 1864, and this hypothetical
course which has just been marked out is being actually
pursued by an ordinary looking traveller upon an
ordinary looking horse. Suddenly he becomes aware
that his horse is sinking over fetlocks in soft sand.
He looks around; the bluff has receded inland, a long


Page 140
marsh is between him and it, full of marsh grass, of
mourning cypresses, of black water and black mud, and,
at the further end of it, the bluff is crowned with
scraggy and desolate pines. The beach is now, for a
few yards, only a narrow strip of sand between the near
end of the marsh and the bay. The horse snorts, his
feet sink deeper; as he draws them up the holes fill
with water and crumble in. But it is no use to turn;
fortunately the tide is out, the quicksand is somewhat
dry; the horse plunges forward, and arrives, covered
with perspiration, and trembling in every nerve, on hard
beach again. The broken line of the bluff now recommences,
with its fringe of oaks. In the face of the
cliff appears an opening filled with undergrowth. A
blind road turns off from the beach into it. The traveller
wishes now to leave the treacherous beach and
regain his main road. He turns into the grassy path,
round an angle of the bluff, and instantly is in a Garden
of Eden.

He finds himself in a small dell which is round as a
basin, two hundred yards in diameter, shut in on all
sides. Beeches, oaks, lithe hickories, straight pines,
roof over this dell with a magnificent boscage. In
the centre of it bubbles a limpid spring. Shy companies
of flowers stand between the long grasses; some
of them show wide startled eyes, many of them have
hidden away in cunning nooks. Over them, regarding
them in silent and passionate tenderness, lean the
ebony-fibred ferns; and the busy mosses do their very
best to hide all rudeness and all decay behind a green
velvet arras. The light does not dare shine very
brightly here; it is soft and sacred, tempered with


Page 141
green leaves, with silence, with odors, with beauties.
Wandering perfumes, restless with happiness, float
about aimlessly; they are the only inhabitants here.

Our traveller has not seen a sign of human life.

Suddenly he stops, recoils, and turns pale with the
surprise of it.

He has seen a sign of human death. A corpse, in
blue uniform, saturated with water, lies before him in
the path. It has evidently been just dragged from the
waves. A line of moisture extends to the water's edge
through the opening in the bluff; it is where the stream
dripped through the wet clothes.

Our traveller gazed around him, he could not see a
man or a trace of one. Good God! Can the spirit
of death inhabit the balm of this May-air in this little
Heaven? Does the Devil dwell also in this rosebud
of little glens? Grave-openers get sometimes, one may
imagine, a mixed odor composed of the death-smell
from inside the grave, mixed with the perfumes of roses
growing on it. Our traveller seemed to inhale this odor.
The air grew thicker, the silence seemed full of noises
as of ghosts flitting about, the horse started at a falling
leaf, our traveller spurred him and cantered off. He
emerged from the dell, followed a path through an old
field, opened a gate, and found himself once more in the
road which he had quitted to ride on the beach.

From the time that this traveller descended to the
beach, until he entered the dell, that is, for a distance
of two miles, an eye was watching him closely and
noting every movement.

Upon the edge of the bluff, a few feet above and beyond
the point where the blind road enters the dell, is


Page 142
a sort of niche or shelf made by the uprooting of a
tree from the face of the cliff. It is thickly covered
with bushes and grasses and trailing vines. In this
niche lies a statue, which has seemingly fallen upon its
face. In front of its eye is a long field telescope, resting
upon two forked twigs driven in the ground. If
we watch this statue, it comes to life. Two hands appear
from beneath it: they lift the glass from its rests,
and place it upon two others, driven so as to point it in
a different direction.

This far-reaching eye was not the only one which had
been watching our traveller. He had only passed the
corpse a few minutes, when a tall form rose from behind
a thick vine near the path. Another clump yielded
another form, and so on until four men had emerged.
They assembled around the corpse.

“Poor Fed,” said Philip Sterling, who, notwithstanding
three years full of battles, could never keep from
being solemn over dead men. “The old remorseless
waves must have been taken with a spasmodic fit of
repentance. It is not usual that the sea is so just.
She renders this time to Cæsar the things that are Cæ
sar's. She floats to the shore its own dust. Let 's
bury him, boys.”

“Wait a while, Phil,” said Rübetsahl, in a sterner
tone. “Let 's see if there are any letters or papers in
the pockets. This is the very officer who commanded
the party that attacked us last night, on the other side.
Do you see that long nail on the little finger of his
right hand? Here 's a sign-manual he made with it on
my neck. I knocked his pistol out of his hand while
we were fighting there in the water; he then gripped


Page 143
my throat, and that nail there kept digging in till I
thought it would cut the artery.”

While he was speaking, Rübetsahl had turned the
pockets inside out. A leathern pocket-book, the inevitable
photograph of wife or sweetheart, and a penknife,
were brought to light.

Rübetsahl opened the pocket-book. It contained a
few dollars in greenbacks, an official order from “H 'd
Q'rs., Newports News,” and a letter, apparently crumpled
and thrust in hastily.

“I 'm wondering,” said Rübetsahl, “how those fellows
got wind of our expedition last night. I 'm going
to read this man's letter, to find out, maybe. I beg
his pardon, and if I don't see any thing to the point in
the first two lines I won't go further.”

Rübetsahl carefully spread out the damp folds. The
letter inclosed a note which ran thus: —

“Lieut. Zimmerman, Com'dg, &c.

“Inclosed is a letter
handed me to-day by a neighbor. He does not wish to be
mixed up in the business and asks my advice. The writer of
the letter is a connection of his. Of course, as a loyal citizen,
I cannot leave this letter and its information to pass unnoticed,
and therefore send it to you immediately.

“Hoping you may capture the troublesome party mentioned,

“I am,” &c.

Rübetsahl raised his brows, and proceeded to read
the letter. It had evidently cost the writer some pains.

“To Mister Jeems Horniddy, My deer Cuzzin Jeems: hope
you air well and these few lines will find you enjoinin the saim.
I lef ole Tennessy some munths ago, I was brought from thar
with mi hands tied as you mought say. The Cornscrip brought


Page 144
me. I was hid whare I thot the Devil hisself couldn find me,
but ole man Sterlin he cum and showed whar I was and they
took me and sent me to the rigiment. He foun out whare I was
hid by a darn ongentlemunly trick, a-peirootin thu the bushes as
he is always a-Dooin. An if I dont root him out for it I hoap
I may go too hell damn him and I have deserted from the rigiment
and cum down hear to smithfield whare thar aint no
cornscrip. Thar is sum scouts down hear and ole Sterlins son
is wun of thum, and so is brother Cain I thot he had moar
sense and I am agwine to fule em to death i am agwine to
make em put me across the river and then see em captivated
every wun of thum brother Cain and all and what did thay
drag me from hoam and fambly for? which I havent been
married to her moar than a year and a rite young babi and
they a starvin and me not thar.

“An so git some yanky soldiers and be reddy at Bullitt Pint
a tooseday nite nex week and that night I 'll git the scouts to
set me over in thar boat an as sune as I jump out on the
beech you can fire into em or what you pleeze.

And as for ole man Sterlin I am gwine to root him out I am
not gwine to leeve enuff of him to sware bi. This confedracy
is gone up and ole Bob Lee he is the King of it and I am tole
many respectubble and wulthy fambilies in Richmound gits the
only meat they do git bi bool-frawgs which they fish for thum in
pawns and they aint no mo Salt Peter and so be reddy a tooseday
night and my love to all which i hoap to see you all in a
short time from

“Your aff. cuzzin

Gorm Smallin.
“n. b. bee reddy.”

“Where 's Cain, this morning,” asked Rübetsahl
when he had finished the letter.

“Gone to the Point, to look after the horses,” replied


Page 145

“Glad he was n't here to hear that letter.”

“He 's got a big heart, and this exposure of his brother's
treachery would break it,” said Aubrey. “But you
boys have n't told me a word about the fight you had on
the other side last night. You all slept so hard this
morning when I came in from picket that I would n't
wake you, until Flem saw this dead man floating out
there in the water and called to me to get you up and
bury it.”

At this moment Flemington came down from his
niche in the bluff, to inspect the dead body.

“Flem, the boys had a little brush last night. Sit
down and let 's hear about it. Phil, you go watch the
glass, as you were there and don't want to hear it told,”
continued Aubrey. “Go on, Briggs.”

“Oh, there is n't much to tell. You know we left you
and Flem on guard about ten o'clock. We had a fine
run across, but just as we got to the other shore, the
wind hauled clear round and blew right out of the
mouth of the creek. We lowered the sail and had just
got out the oars, when a large skiff came dashing out of
the shadow of the trees and bore down on us, aiming
to run us right under. I sounded with my oar, found
the water was n't more than knee-deep, and jumped out
of the boat. The rest followed, and as the skiff came by
somebody knocked over her helmsman with his gun.”

“Modest John!” interposed Rübetsahl. “He did it,
himself, boys, and it was a neat trick too!”

— “Knocked over the helmsman of the skiff. Of
course she came to instantly. Her crew jumped out
and fired a volley at us. We had held our fire, till
then, for fear of alarming the pickets on the shore; but


Page 146
it was n't any use now, so we blazed away and closed
with 'em. Well, we made a very lively little splash in
the water. After a while I looked around and did n't
see anybody but Rübetsahl, Cain, and Phil. I heard
two or three of the enemy, though, come out of the
water and run along the shore. We did n't lose much
time in getting in the boat, I assure you. Wind was
fair for this shore, we put up the sail and came home in
a hurry. Dead and wounded none; missing none; total
none. Enemy routed. Flem, read this document,”
Briggs concluded, all in a blush at talking so long.

“Boys, Cain must n't know this,” said Flemington
when he had hastily glanced over the letter. “It 'll
break his heart!”

“Exactly what I said,” exclaimed Aubrey. “But
how can we manage it? We must certainly capture
this fellow Gorm. It won't do to let him get off, now;
and he can find plenty of boats that he can steal and
go across in, any time.”

“What harm can he do, if he does get across?” said
Briggs. “The enemy already knows that we visit the
shore there, at night. Gorm Smallin can't tell them
any more. He don't know our camp.”

“He suspects it, tho',” said Phil Sterling from the
niche. “You saw the horseman who came by just now,
when we all dodged? That was Gorm Smallin, and he
was taking that ride for no other purpose than to discover
our camp. If I had known as much as I do now,
I would have arrested him: but perhaps it is well
enough we did n't betray our hiding-place.”

At this moment a man who had been crouching beneath
a clump of vines a few yards from the group


Page 147
around the body, stealthily crept to the top of the hill
and walked rapidly away.

“Ye have betrayed yer hidin'-place tho,' and Gorm
Smallin's too smart for any of ye, any day!” said he,
as he moved off.

Gorm Smallin had executed a flank movement upon
the scouts of the Lower James.




“Russet yeas and honest kersey noes.”

Love's Labor's Lost.

Cain Smallin was the most indefatigable of scouts.
He was always moving; the whole country side knew
him. His good-natured face and communicative habits
procured for him a cordial welcome at every house in
that quiet country, where as yet only the distant roar
of the war had been heard, where all was still and
sunny and lonesome, where the household-talk was that
of old men and women, of girls and children, whose sons
and brothers were all away in the midst of that dimly-heard
roaring. In this serene land a soldier's face that
had been in front of cannon and bullets was a thing to
be looked at twice, and a soldier's talk was the rare
treasure of a fireside. The gunboats in the river, upon
which these neighbors looked whenever they walked the
river bank, had ceased to be objects of alarm, or even
of curiosity. They lay there quietly and lazily, day
after day, making no hostile sign; and had lain so since
Norfolk fell. And as for the evening-gun at Fortress
Monroe — that had boomed every sunset for many a
year before the war.

On his way to the Point which terminates between
Burwell's Bay and Smithfield Creek, and which afforded
store of succulent grass and clover for the horses,


Page 149
Cain Smallin passed the house of a neighbor who had
particularly distinguished himself in kindness to our
little party of scouts. The old gentleman was seated
in the open doorway, in midst of a pile of newspapers.

“Good mornin'! Mr. Smallin. Could n't stand it
any longer, you see, so I sent Dick away up to Ivor
yesterday to try and get some papers. Here 's another
stinger in the “Examiner.” Sit down here; I want you
to read it.”

“Thank 'ee, sir, don't care if I do rest a leetle; tollubble
warm walkin' this mornin',” replied the mountaineer,
and fell to reading — a slow operation for him
whose eye was far more accustomed to sighting a rifle
than deciphering letters.

“Massy me!” said he, after some silence, “our men 's
desertin' mighty fast, up yan, f'om the army. Here 's
nigh to a whole column full of `Thirty Dollars Rewards'
for each deserter. Let 's see if I know any of 'em.”

Cain's lip moved busily, in what might well have been
called a spell of silence. Suddenly he dropped the
paper and looked piteously upward.

“May be I spelt it wrong, le'm me look again,” muttered
he, and snatched the paper up to gaze again upon
that dreadful Thirty Dollar column.

It was there.

“Thirty-Dollars Reward.

“Deserted from the — Regiment, — Volunteers, Gorm
who enlisted,” &c., &c.

Cain Smallin dropped his newspaper and strode
hastily out of the door, unheeding the surprise of his

He walked rapidly, and aimlessly. The cruel torture


Page 150
would not permit him to rest; his grief drove him
about; it lashed him with sharp thongs. Across fields
and marshes, through creeks and woods, with bent
head, with hands idly hanging, with unsteady step, he
circled. A tear emerged from his eye. It stopped in
a furrow, and glistened. Occasionally he muttered to

“We was poor. We aint never had much to live on
but our name, which it was good as gold. An' now it
aint no better 'n rusty copper; hit 'll be green an'
pisenous. An' who 's done it? Gorm Smallin! Nobody
but Gorm Smallin! My own brother, Gorm
Smallin! Gorm, — Gorm.” He repeated this name
a hundred times, as if his mind wandered and he
wished to fix it.

The hours passed on and still the mountaineer
walked. His simple mountain-life had known few griefs.
This was worse than any sorrow. It was disgrace. He
knew no sophistries to retire into, in the ostrich-fashion
wherewith men avoid dishonor. He had lost all.
Not only he, but all whom he loved, would suffer.

“What will the Sterlin's say? Old John Sterlin';
him that stuck by us when corn was so scurce in the
Cove? an' Philip! him that I 've hunted with an' fished
with an' camped with, by ourselves, in yan mountains?
And Miss Felix! Miss Felix!”

The man dwelt on this name. His mind became a
blank, except two luminous spots which were rather
feelings than thoughts. These were, a sensation of disgrace
and a sensation of loveliness: the one embodied
in the name Gorm, the other in the name Felix.
He recoiled from one; he felt as if religion demanded


Page 151
that he should also recoil from the other. He suffered
more than if he had committed the crime himself. For
he was innocence, and that is highly tender and sensitive,
being unseared.

At length the gathering twilight attracted his attention.
He looked around, to discover his locality.
Leaping a fence he found himself in the main road, and
a short walk brought him to a low house that stood in
a field on the right. He opened the gate, and knocked
at the door. “Here 's whar he said he 'd stay,” he
muttered. Gorm himself came to the door.

“Put on your hat, Gorm!”

The stern tone of his voice excited his brother's surprise.

“What fur, Cain?”

“I want you to walk with me, a little piece. Hurry!”

Gorm took down his hat and came out.

“Whar to, brother Cain?”

“Follow me,” replied Cain, with a motion of displeasure
at the wheedling tone of his brother.

Leaving the road, he struck into a path leading to
the Point from which he had wandered. As he walked
his pace increased, until it required the most strenuous
exertions on the part of his companion to keep up with
his long and rapid strides.

“Whar the devil air you gwine to, Cain? Don't
walk so fast, anyhow; I 'm a'most out o' breath a'-ready!”

The mountaineer made no reply, but slackened his
pace. He only muttered to himself: “Hits eight mile
across; ye 'll need your strength to git thar, may be.”

The path wound now amongst gloomy pines, for


Page 152
some distance, until suddenly they emerged upon the
open beach. They were upon the extreme end of the
lonely Point. The night was dark; but the sand-beach
glimmered ghastly white through the darkness. Save
the mournful hooting of an owl from his obscure cell
in the woods, the place was silent. Hundreds of huge
tree-stumps, with their roots upturned in the air, lay in
all fantastic positions upon the white sand, as the tide
had deposited them. These straggling clumps had been
polished white by salt air and waves. They seemed
like an agitated convention of skeletons, discussing the
propriety of flesh. A small boat rested on the beach,
with one end secured by a “painter” to a stake driven
in the sand.

“Little did I think, when I found it in the marsh this
mornin' an' brought it thar, thinkin' to git it round to
camp to-night, what use I was gwine to put it to,” said
Cain Smallin to himself.

As he led the way to the boat, suddenly he stopped
and turned face to face with his recreant brother. His
eyes glared into Gorm's. His right hand was raised,
and a pistol-barrel protruded from the long fingers.

“Gorm Smallin,” he said, with grating voice, “have
ye ever know'd me to say I 'd do anything an' then not
to do it?”

“I — I — no, I have n't, Cain,” stuttered the deserter,
cowering with terror and surprise.

“Remember them words. Now answer my questions,
and don't say nothin' outside o' them. Gorm
Smallin, whar was you born?”

“What makes you ax me sich foolish questions,
Cain? I was born in Tennessy, an' you know it!”


Page 153

“Answer my questions, Gorm Smallin! Who raised
you, f'om a little un?”

“Mother an' father, o' course.”

“Who 's your mother and father? what 's ther name?”

“Cain, air you crazy? ther name 's Smallin.”

“Gorm Smallin, did you ever know any o' the Smallins
to cheat a man in a trade?”

“No, Cain; we 've always been honest.”

“Did ye ever know a Smallin to swar to a lie afore
the Jestis?”


“Did ye ever know one to steal another man's horse,
or his rifle, or anything?”


“Did ye ever know one to sneak out f'om a rightful


“Did ye ever know one to” — the words came like
lightning with a zigzag jerk — “to desert f'om his rigiment?”

The flash struck Gorm Smallin. He visibly sank into
himself like a jointed cane. He trembled, and gazed
apprehensively at the pistol in his brother's right hand
which still towered threateningly aloft. He made no

“Ye don't like to say yes this time!” continued Cain.
“Gorm Smallin, altho' I say it which I 'm your brother,
— ye lied every time ye said no, afore. You has
cheated in a dirty trade; you has swore to a lie afore
God that 's better than the Jestis; you has stole what 's
better 'n any rifle or horse; you has sneaked out f'om
the rightfullest fight ye ever was in; you has deserted


Page 154
f'om your rigiment, an' that when yer own brother an'
every friend ye had in the world was fightin' along with

“Gorm Smallin, you has cheated me, an' ole father
an' mother an' all, out of our name which it was all we
had; you has swore to a lie, for you swore to me 'at the
colonel sent you down here to go a-scoutin' amongst the
Yankees; you has stole our honest name, which it is
more than ye can ever make to give to your wife's
baby; you has sneaked out f'om a fight that we was
fightin' to keep what was our'n an' to pertect them that
has been kind to us an' them that raised us; you has
deserted f'om your rigiment which it has fought now
gwine on four year an' fought manful, too, an' never run
a inch.

“Gorm Smallin, you has got your name in the paper
'ith thirty dollars reward over it, in big letters; big letters,
so 'at father's ole eyes can read it 'ithout callin'
sister Ginny to make it out for him. Thar it is, for
every man, woman, and child in the whole Confederacy
to read it, an' by this time they has read it, may be, an'
every man in the rigiment has cussed you for a sneak
an' a scoundrel, an' wonderin' whether Cain Smallin
will do like his brother!

“Gorm Smallin, you has brung me to that, that I
haint no sperrit to fight hearty an' cheerful. Ef ye had
been killed in a fa'r battle, I mought ha' been able to
fight hard enough for both of us, for every time I cried
a-thinkin' of you, I 'd ha' been twice as strong an'
twice as clear-sighted as I was buffore. But — sich
things as these” — the mountaineer wiped off a tear
with his coat-sleeve — “burns me an' weakens me an'


Page 155
hurts my eyes that bad that I kin scarcely look a man
straight forrard in the face. Hit don't make much
diff'ence to me now, whether we whips the Yanks or
they whips us. What good 'll it do ef we conquer 'em?
Everybody 'll be a-shoutin' an' a-hurrahin' an' they 'll
leave us out o' the frolic, for we is kin to a deserter!
An' the women 'll be a-smilin' on them that has lived to
git home, one minute, an' the next they 'll be a-weepin'
for them that 's left dead in Virginy an' Pennsylvany
an' Tennessy, — but you won't git home, an' you won't
be left dead nowher; they cain't neither smile at you
nor cry for you; what 'll they do ef anybody speaks yer
name? Gorm Smallin, they 'll lift their heads high an'
we 'll hang our'n low. They 'll scorn ye an' we 'll blush
for ye.

“Had n't ye better be dead? Had n't I better kill ye
right here an' bury ye whar ye cain't do no more harm
to the fambly name?

“But I cain't shoot ye, hardly. The same uns raised
us an' fed us. I cain't do it; an' I 'm sorry I cain't!

“You air 'most on yer knees, anyhow; git down on
'em all the way. Listen to me. God A'mighty 's a-lookin'
at you out o' the stars yan, an' he 's a listenin' at you
out o' the sand here, an' he won't git tired by mornin'
but he 'll keep a-listenin' an' a-lookin' at ye to-morrow
all day. Now mind ye. I 'm gwine to put ye in this
boat here, an' you can paddle across to yan side the
river, easy. Ef ye 'll keep yer eye on yan bright star
that 's jest a-risin' over Bullitt Pint, ye 'll strike t'other
shore about the right place. Ef ye paddle out o' the
way, the guard on yan gunboat 'll be apt to fire into ye;
keep yer eye on the star. Ye 'll git to the beach on


Page 156
t' other side, an' lay down under a tree an' sleep till
mornin' — ef ye can sleep. In the mornin' ye 'll walk
down the road, an' the Yankee pickets 'll see yer gray
coat an' take ye to Head-quarters. The officer at
Head-quarters 'll examine ye, an' when you tell him
you air a deserter he 'll make ye take the oath, an' ef
he know'd how many oaths ye 've already broke I think
he would 'n' take the trouble! Howsumdever, I 'm
gwine to do the same foolishness, for it 's all I kin do.
Now when ye take the oath the officer 'll likely make
ye sign yer name to it, or write yer name somewhar.
Gorm Smallin, when ye write that name ye shall not
write your own name; ye must write some other name.
Swar to it, now, while ye air kneelin' buffore God
A'mighty! Raise up yer hands, both of 'em; swar to
it, that ye 'll write some other name in the Yankee deserter-book,
or I 'll shoot ye, thar, right down!”

Cain had placed the muzzle of his pistol against his
brother's forehead.

The oath was taken.

“Don't git up yet; kneel thar. Hit would 'n' be right
to put any other man's name in the deserter-book in
place o' yourn, for ye mought be robbin' some other decent
fambly of ther good name. Le' ss see. We must
git some name that nobody ever was named afore. Take
a stick thar an' write it in the sand, so you won't forgit
it. The fust name don't make no diff'ence. Write

It was written in great scrawling letters.

“Now write J, an' call out as you write, so you won't
forgit it. For I 'm gwine to captur' that deserter-book
on' see ef your name 's in it. Write J, an' call out.”


Page 157










“B, agin.”

“B, agin.”

“le, -bul!”

“le, -bul!”

“Sam'l Joxo — Joxy — I cain't call it, but you can
write it — hit 'll do. Git it by heart.”

Cain paused a moment.

“Now git up. Git in the boat. Gorm Smallin, don't
never come back home, don't never come whar I may
be! I cain't shake hands with ye; but I 'll shove ye

Cain loosened the head of the boat from the sand,
turned her round, and gave a mighty push, running with
her till he was waist deep in the water. He came out
dripping, folded his arms, and stood still, watching the
dusky form in the receding boat.

Gorm Smallin was a half-mile from shore. Suddenly
he heard his brother's voice, across the water.



“Joxo — Joxobabbul!” cried Cain Smallin at the
top of his voice, bending down to read the inscription
on the sand.




— “Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?”

— “See! see! They join, embrace, and seem to kiss,
As if they vowed some league inviolable;
Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun?
In this the heaven figures some event.”

King Henry VI.

Prince Henry.

— “Go, Peto; to horse, to horse! for thou and I have thirty
miles to ride ere dinner-time.”

King Henry IV.

At two o'clock on the morning of May 5th, 1864,
Philip Sterling relieved John Briggs on guard. The
morning was clear and still, the Bay was fast asleep,
the stars were in an ecstasy, the enchanted trees seemed
to fear that a stir would insult the night and prevent
the day from coming.

“It 's beautiful, Phil, beautiful, beautif — beaut” —
and John Briggs was asleep. He had accomplished it
in one time and three motions, as the tactics say. He
had spread out a blanket, fallen down on it, and slept.
His comrades were sleeping soundly in all wonderful
attitudes, as they lay under a magnificent oak close to
the edge of the bluff.

The spot was a few yards from the niche which has
been described. The scouts had chosen it as a night-post,
since it offered a fair view of the Bay, and presented
a sward clear of undergrowth, along which the
sentinel could pace and relieve the tedious vigil of the
night. As Philip Sterling walked back and forth, a


Page 159
large and luminous star appeared rising over the low
point at Newport News. He glanced at it and sighed,
and fell to dreaming of another star that had risen upon
him when Ottilie came wounded to Thalberg.

Half an hour later, his attention was suddenly attracted
to this star, he knew not why. He watched it
closely. It had not ascended, but was now shining
between him and the dim line of trees at Newport News.
It had become triple; three stars shone like illuminated
globes in front of a pawnbroker's shop.

Behind these his eye caught another golden light,
then a red one, then golden and red ones, close together
as dots on a page, stretching in a long curve
around Newport News and appearing on the other side
of it, until the land rising inland hid them from sight.
It was as if a glittering crown of stars had fallen down
out of the generous heavens and encircled the dark
land. It was as if an interminable serpent, with golden
and red scales, lay in an infinite coil upon the top of
the sea, and was slowly unwinding his folds and stealthily
ringing himself about the earth.

The fascination of these silent lights which moved so
rapidly yet so insensibly, which shone so serenely in
the tranquil water, which had sprung up so magically
out of the darkness, kept Philip Sterling for some moments
in a dream. Rather by some instinct of a scout,
than with any definite idea, he stooped down over Flemington
and shook him.

“Get up, Flem,” said he. “Queen Mab 's coming
up the river!”

“Ah — ah — ugh — umph!” observed Flemington,
yawning fearfully. “Phil,” he continued, without opening


Page 160
his eyes, “present my complim — that is, if the
enemy 's not within a few inches give him the bayo —
I mean, wait till you can see the white of his — Yes,
Phil, wait till then — I 'm a little sleepy — umph” —
and he fell back and snored.

Philip shook more vigorously.

“Get up, Flem. No fun, boy. The Bay 's full of

Flemington caught the last word and sprang to his
feet. He glanced down the Bay.

“Butler, Phil, by the Rood! Butler at last!” Flemington
could scarcely restrain a shout. Down in the
river, there, silently approached the danger which he
and his men had been sent here to announce.

Cain Smallin's long legs lay extended promiscuously
along the sward. Flemington placed himself between
them, as between the shafts of a wheelbarrow, and, seizing
hold of the feet for knobs, dragged the living machine
furiously round amongst the sleepers, and ran over
and crushed four dainty, childlike dreams. The wheelbarrow

“Thunder and lightnin and — hello!” growled the
mountaineer, sitting upon the sward, breathless, and
gazing with wide eyes at the thousand lights in the
water below. “I thought, Bi 'gemini, a b'ar had me
an' was a-rollin' me down old Smoky Mount'in for pastime!”

“Whillikens!” groaned Aubrey, in a voice that came
as if from afar, he writhing under Rübetsahl and John
Briggs piled across him in a miscellaneous mass of humanity.
“Briggs, which of these numerous legs —
which I don't see, but am conscious of — is mine?


Page 161
Wish you 'd just feel along, old fellow, and find out
which is my leg; one will do — I merely want to use
it to get up with!”

“Phil,” said Flemington, who had been scanning the
line with his glass, and counting the lights, “mount, and
ride to Petersburg in a hurry. I see the signal-men
up the river yonder are sending up the news, but a fog
might stop 'em, or something. It 'll be better to go
yourself. Briggs, ride with him; it 'll be lonesome.
Saddle up, boys; and don't mind about killing your
horses; ride 'em till they drop and then `press' some
more. Tell the general that forty vessels were in sight
when you left, and that I 'll send another courier with
details in the morning, soon as I can see by daylight a
little. The signal-line will be broken up of course, but
I 'll keep him posted with couriers. Wait a minute till
I make another count.” He swept down the line of
lights with his glass. “Forty-five of 'em, now; can't
swear to it, it 's so dark, but one or two monitors, I
think, in front. Off, boys! Good-by, and come back
as quick as you can. We 'll have some lively times
down here!”

In ten minutes Philip Sterling and John Briggs were
spurring lustily towards Petersburg.

The foremost lights had now passed the spot where
Flemington and his comrades lay, and were far on their
way towards a bold bend in the river, fifteen miles
above, which sweeps around the long projection of Hog
Island, and incloses the water-view. Fifteen miles
above and fifteen miles below — there were thirty
miles of lights, and still new ones kept rapidly gliding


Page 162
into view from behind the dim shore-line far down the

“Paul, it looks as if somebody had roused all the Ignes
in the world, and they were all going on a
pilgrimage to some vast marsh in the west,” said Flemington,
meditatively gazing on the slow-passing lights.

“Or like a stately Polonaise, with flames for the
dancers of it,” added Rübetsahl.

“I was just imagining,” said Aubrey, “a hundred
angels, each with his star on forehead, floating in a
wavy file behind General Michael yonder, in front,
triple-starred; executing, perhaps, a brilliant flank
movement on old Lucifer and his army in the black
bend up there!”

“Waal, now,” interposed the sturdy mountaineer,
“I cain't find it in my heart to look on them bloody
Yankee gunboats, an' call 'em angels 'ith stars upon
ther heads. To me, now, hit 'pears more like they was
a hundred devils, an' every man of 'em was totin' a
piece o' brimstone in his hand, ready sot a-fire, for to
blow up Richmond and Petersburg with!”

“You see, Cain,” said Flemington, “if the Yankees,
even in the act of attacking us, show us a pretty sight,
why, in Heaven's name, let 's take it! — even if we don't
say thank 'ee, gentlemen; nor fight any the less for this
unintentional beneficence! Indeed, I don't like the
gift any more than you: `timeo Danaos' — if you 'll
excuse me, but it 's too pat! I fear Beauregard has n't
reached Petersburg yet; likely as not Butler will gobble
it up before he can reach there!”

“Nary time, gobble it up!” sturdily rejoined the


Page 163
mountaineer. “Ef Beauregard don't git thar in time,
God A'mighty will! He 'll hold 'em in check untwell
Beauregard does come up; an 'ith them two together,
hit 'pears to me likely 'at we kin about tan out anything
the Yanks kin bring up Jeems's River!”




— “One that hath been a courtier;
..... And in his brain,
Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
After a voyage, he hath strange places crammed
With observation, the which he vents
In mangled forms. Oh that I were a fool!”

As You Like It.

In the early morning of May 7th, John Briggs and
Philip Sterling lay sleeping peacefully in No. 78 of that
charming old Virginia hotel which stands like a reservoir
to receive the stream of passengers flowing into it
from the great channel of the Petersburg and Weldon

Simultaneously entered into this room two visitors,
one from heaven and the other from the hotel-office.

These were a sun-ray which flashed in through the
window, and a black waiter who opened the door half-way
and inserted his dark and dignified phiz there-through.

The sun-ray, retaining its penchant for windows, continued
its course and entered into Philip Sterling's soul by
the windows of it. It shone on his eyes, passed through,
and produced upon the soul inside some vague impression
that darkness was gone and light was about; under
which impression Philip Sterling threw open the shutters
of his soul-windows. The black waiter, on the
contrary, true to his instincts, retained his penchant for


Page 165
doors, — since, if eyes be the windows, surely ears are
the doors, of the soul.

“Glad to see you sleep so comfuttuble, sah! Compliment
to de house, sah! Bin knockin' ten minutes
or mo', sah! Note for you; gemplim waitin' at de door
on de hoss send compliments, an' tell de boys he in a
hell of a hurry, sah!”

Philip placed his mouth at the ear of John Briggs
and blew strenuously. In his sleep the blowee was
straightway nightmared with the dream that all the
winds of heaven had drawn to a focus in his ear, where
they did yell and hound him on through the world.

“Get up, John. Note from the major. Wants us
to ride with him immediately, before breakfast. Horses
saddled, at the door,” said Philip, reading from the

As John Briggs was pulling on his right sock, his eye
fell on the open note lying on the table.

“I see,” said he, laughing, “the major retains his affectionate
propensity for calling us pet names, Phil.
Did you notice the sweet term of endearment wherewith
he commences his yepistle? `You damned lazy
' quoth he, `I want you!”' &c., &c.

Oh that I had but time, while these boys are dressing,
to submit a little dissertation upon “Individual Character
as displayed in pulling on socks and breeches o' mornings,
together with a View of Humanity at the Moment of
Emergence from the general Couch of Slumber,
” but who
hath time to say aught while a Confederate soldier was
dressing, — a matter of two minutes and less! Moreover
the horses wait down-stairs, and Major M— is
fuming, being the most restless of mortals. Yet, oh
that I had time!


Page 166

“Mount, boys!” cried the major, as the two young
men descended the steps. “Haygood 's out on the railroad,
and he 's going to have a devilish hard time of it
this morning.”

As they rode down the street, John Briggs whistled
long, like a boatswain i' the calm.

“Phe-ee-ee-w!” observed he. “Phil, I 'm hungry!
I could eat dog. I could masticate adamant. I could
deglutite a fortress, or a chain-shot, or the major's conscience,
there, — and I 'll stop, for that 's the hardest
simile extant. Methinks I see the early pies, borne on
the heads of the daughters of Afric. Hast in thy purse,
my friend, aught wherewithal a gentleman might buy —
a pie?”

“That have I,” said Philip proudly, — “and thereby
hangs a tale. I drew two months' wages t' other day.
It was twenty-two dollars. I met three friends, and we
four drank: one gill, of such whiskey, apiece. Four
drinks at five dollars per drink, is twenty dollars. The
residuum and sweet overplus of my two months' wages
thou beholdest there!” he said, and flaunted a two dollar
bill like a triumphal flag upon the breeze.

“Here, Dinah,” quoth Briggs, “give us a pie. Dinah,
these be pale and feeble pies, — how much for one of

“Two dollars, sah!”

“Now an I had had Golconda in my pocket, she had
surely said Golconda was the price of a pie: which is,
in the vernacular, she would `size my pile!' What, Dinah!
This large bill, this most rare and radiant sweet
bill, with the pathetic inscription thereupon! `Six months
after the ratification of a treaty of peace, I promise to pay!


Page 167
quotha! As who should say, ten days after death I will
disburse! — Here, Relentless! receive the pathetic
inscription! and give me a pie: and now my money is
gone, my future is black as thou, Dinah — till pay-day.”

In silence rode they on. “Methinks,” presently said
Briggs, meditatively biting into the last half of his pie,
— “methinks I see within this pie” —

“What is it, John; a fly, or a cockroach?” tenderly
inquired the major.

“Or a lock of hair?” suggested Phil.

“Gentlemen, it is a most monstrous thing, — it is
worse than flies and larger than cockroaches and it
strangleth more chokingly than hair: for it is — the
degeneracy and downfall of my country! Hear me!
Philip Sterling, do you remember, oh, do you remember
how, when we passed herethrough two years ago, you
and I did straggle into Ledbetter's bakery, and sat
down at a marble-topped table and took a pie and a
glass of milk? Compare that time with this! Sir,”
— appealing to the major as he rose into the pathetic-sublime,
— “the crust of that pie (at Ledbetter's two
years ago) was dark with richness! The crust of it
was short, ladies and gentlemen; short as — as the major's
nose, there; short as rations; short as life compared
with eternity; in short, it was as short as pie-crust. It
did melt upon the tongue sweetly; languidly dissolving
into a vague deliciousness, as the sweet day dissolves
into mysterious twilight. Moreover, between these
dainty crusts our am'rous tongues discovered liberal largesse
of th' integrant fruit, — peach, and other the like
confections, sugared and spiced, which with the creamy
milk did mingle and marry-in rarely, patly, like `two


Page 168
souls with but' — and so forth; like `perfect music set
to noble words;' like dreamy star-light shimmering
into dreamy dawn-light i' the early morn. Thinking
of those pies I have much contempt for Apicius, Heliogabalus
& Co.

“But alas, and woe is me, Alhama!

“I contrast this pie with those pies.

“I observe with pain and smearing, that molasses,
otherwise sorghum, hath entirely superseded sugar.

“I observe that this crust hath a weakly-white
and wan aspect, and a familiar tang it leaveth as it departeth,
admonisheth my secret soul of bacon-fat that
went to the making of it, vice lard, deceased.

“And as for the spices, they have shared the doom
of Ilium and of the buried past; fuit; they are not.

“And I do remember that those large pies were
vended to the happy at the rate of twenty-five cents
each, whereas these small pies bring two dollars:
stated generally, the price proceedeth upon the inverse
ratio to the size.

“Sir, and gentlemen of the jury! aside, my lords,
from the moral degradation evinced by this low pass to
which the once pure pie is come, — how can men be
raised to fight upon such villainous coward's-pabulum
as this?

“Is this, O ye delegates of the diet of worms, is
this” — holding up the last ragged mouthful between
finger and thumb — “to be the sweet reward and
guerdon of the battle-grimed veteran, just come from
the big wars? Forbid it, Mars! — which is to say,
cook better ones, mothers!” concluded the speaker, and
meekly, in absence of mind, swallowed the last piece.


Page 169

Eheu, Pius Eneas! I” —

“Hold your gab, boys! Listen!” interposed the

Stopping the horses a moment, they heard the sound
of a cannon booming in the direction of Richmond.
Another and another followed. Presently came a loud
report which seemed to loosen the battle as a loud
thunder-peal releases the rain, and the long musketry-rattle
broke forth.

“Haygood 's having a rough time of it. Let 's get
there, hearties! It 'll be three more of us, anyhow,”
said the major, sticking spurs to his horse.

They approach the outskirts of the storm of battle.

There lies a man, in bloody rags that were gray, with
closed eyes. The first hailstone in the advancing
edge of the storm has stricken down a flower. The
dainty petal of life shrivels, blackens: yet it gives
forth a perfume as it dies; his lips are moving, — he
is praying.

The wounded increase. Here is a musket in the
road: there is the languid hand that dropped it, pressing
its fingers over a blue-edged wound in the breast.
Weary pressure, and vain, — the blood flows steadily.

More muskets, cartridge-boxes, belts, greasy haversacks,
strew the ground.

Here come the stretcher-bearers. They leave a
dripping line of blood. “Walk easy as you kin, boys,”
comes from a blanket which four men are carrying by
the corners. Easy walking is desirable when each
step of your four carriers spurts out the blood afresh,
or grates the rough edges of a shot bone in your


Page 170

The sound of a thousand voices, eager, hoarse, fierce
all speaking together yet differently, comes through
the leaves of the undergrowth. A strange multitudinous
noise accompanies it, — a noise like the tremendous
sibilation of a mile-long wave just before it breaks.
It is the shuffling of two thousand feet as they march
over dead leaves.

“Surely that can't be reserves; Haygood did n't
have enough for his front! They must be falling back:
hark! there 's a Yankee cheer. Good God! Here 's
three muskets on the ground, boys! Come on!” said
the major, and hastily dismounted.

The three plunge through the undergrowth. Waxen
May-leaves sweep their faces; thorns pierce their
hands; the honeysuckles cry “Wait!” with alluring
perfumes; gnarled oak-twigs wound the wide-opened

It is no matter.

They emerge into an open space. A thousand men
are talking, gesticulating, calling to friends, taking
places in rank, abandoning them for others. They are
in gray rags.

“Where 's Haygood?”

He is everywhere! On right flank cheering, on left
flank rallying, in the centre commanding: he is ubiquitous;
he moves upon the low-sweeping wing of a battle
genius: it is supernatural that he should be here
and yonder at once. His voice suddenly rings out, —

“Form, men! We 'll run 'em out o' that in a second.
Reinforcements coming!”

“What 's the matter with the Yanks? Look, Phil!”
says Briggs.


Page 171

The Federals, having driven the small Confederate
force from the railroad, stop in their charge as soon as
they have crossed the track. Behind their first is a
second line. As if on parade this second line advances
to the railroad, and halts. “Ground arms!” Their
muskets fall in a long row, as if in an armory-rack.
The line steps two paces forward. It stoops over the
track. It is a human machine with fifty thousand
clamps, moved by levers infinitely flexible. Fifty thousand
fingers insert themselves beneath the stringers of
the road. All together! They lift, and lay over, bottom
upwards, a mile of railroad.

But, O first line of Federals, you should not have
stopped! The rags have rallied. Their line is formed,
in the centre floats the cross-banner, to right and left
gleam the bayonets like silver flame-jets, unwavering,
deadly; these, with a thousand mute tongues, utter a
silent yet magnificent menace.

“Charge! Steady, men!”

The rags flutter, the cross-flag spreads out and reveals
its symbol, the two thousand sturdy feet in hideous
brogans, or without cover, press forward. At first
it is a slow and stately movement; stately in the mass,
ridiculous if we watch any individual leg, with its knee
perhaps showing through an irregular hole in such pantaloons!

The step grows quicker. A few scattering shots
from the enemy's retiring skirmishers patter like the
first big drops of the shower.

From the right of the ragged line now comes up a
single long cry, as from the leader of a pack of hounds
who has found the game. This cry has in it the uncontrollable


Page 172
eagerness of the sleuth-hound, together
with a dry harsh quality that conveys an uncompromising
hostility. It is the irresistible outflow of some
fierce soul immeasurably enraged, and it is tinged with
a jubilant tone, as if in anticipation of a speedy triumph
and a satisfying revenge. It is a howl, a hoarse battlecry,
a cheer, and a congratulation, all in one.

They take it up in the centre, they echo it on the
left, it swells, it runs along the line as fire leaps along
the rigging of a ship. It is as if some one pulled out in
succession all the stops of the infernal battle-organ, but
only struck one note which they all speak in different

The gray line nears the blue one, rapidly. It is a thin
gray wave, whose flashing foam is the glitter of steel
bayonets. It meets with a swell in the ground, shivers
a moment, then rolls on.

Suddenly thousands of tongues, tipped with red and
issuing from smoke, speak deadly messages from the
blue line. One volley? A thousand would not stop
them now. Even if they were not veterans who know
that it is safer at this crisis to push on than to fall
back, they would still press forward. They have forgotten
safety, they have forgotten life and death: their
thoughts have converged into a focus which is the one
simple idea, — to get to those men in blue, yonder.
Rapid firing from the blue line brings rapid yelling
from the gray.

But look! The blue line, which is like a distant
strip of the sea, curls into little waves; these dash together
in groups, then fly apart. The tempest of panic
has blown upon it. The blue uniforms fly, flames issue


Page 173
from the gray line, it also breaks, the ragged men run,
and the battle has degenerated to a chase.

John Briggs and Philip had started side by side.
But the swaying line, the excitement of the chase in
which the fastest man, either pursuing or pursued, was
the happiest also, had drawn them asunder.

Briggs overtook a color-sergeant.


“B'lieve I will. Got me!”

“Hurr—!” It is probable that John Briggs finished
this exclamation with a sigh of ineffable delight. For
he was at this moment, in the Jean Paul sense, promoted.
A random bullet entered his mouth; and, with
that eagerness to escape which argues the soul's great
contempt for the body, through this small aperture
leaped out John Briggs' ascending spirit. Philip was
not near to congratulate him upon this heavenly brevet,
conferred purely for gallantry on the world's field.
But when the day of separated friends comes, then
what shakings of the hand, then what felicitations
poured on fine John Briggs, that he won his bay so
well and with so much less pain of life than we!

Philip was wild with the fascination of victory. It
was an enchantment that urged him on. He saw nothing,
knew nothing, to right or left; a spell in front drew
him forward. He was far ahead of the line. Something
behind a smoke called out, —


Philip raised his gun. His left arm suddenly felt
paralyzed and he was half-blind with pain. The next
moment a form which loomed before his hot eyes like a
blue mountain, lifted a musket to what seemed an immeasurable


Page 174
height in the sky, which dazzled him like
an infinite diamond. The musket descended with a
sidewise deflection and fell upon his eye as if a meteor
had crashed into it. He felt himself falling, and




“I think there is a fatality in it, — but I rarely arrive at the place I set out


Philip Sterling attempted to open his eyes. One
of them unclosed, but the other refused to do him that
good turn: it had swollen fearfully.

“John,” said he faintly, without turning his head,
“believe I 'm hurt a little.”

“Humph?” replied a gruff voice.

Slowly and wearily, Philip turned upon his side. A
Federal soldier stood near him. Through an opening
he saw strange trees and hills whirling past him in a
wild gigantic dance. As his eye moved from point to
point, his slow ideas gradually shaped themselves into
the conclusion that he was lying upon the deck of a
steamer in rapid motion.

The surprise of this idea stimulated him. He rose
to a sitting posture, remained so a moment, then caught
hold of a stanchion and assisted himself to stand. The
delicious breeze of the May-morning blew upon his
fevered head, cooled him, and strengthened him.

To Philip, a tree was always equal to a dream; a hill
was but a surface that slanted his soul upwards; a dell
was only a vase that brought forth its own flowers, and
every stream held truth, white-bosomed, like a naiad,
in its depths. To-day he had all these. The hours
flew past him as rapidly as the trees on the banks. At
four o'clock they rounded the curve which leads into


Page 176
Burwell's Bay. Philip watched the shore with intense
yet furtive eagerness. He wished to discover some
trace of his comrades; but he feared to attract the attention
of the officers standing about the deck lest they
also should discover some sign of the hostile scouts on
the shore.

Presently the face of the continuous bluff grew familiar
to him. At this moment an officer who had been
also curiously regarding the shore, called out, —

“Lend me your glass a minute, quartermaster!”

The quartermaster aye-aye'd-sir, handed him the
glass, touched his hat, and resumed his beat.

“Thought I saw a man dodging about amongst those
trees over yonder,” said the officer, adjusting the glass
to his eye. He looked steadily towards the shore for
some moments.

“Well, by old Gideon!” exclaimed he, without taking
the glass from his eye; “a cosy spying-nook as ever I
saw, and be damned to 'em!”

“What is it, chief?” inquired several voices.

“A real Johnny Reb over there, stuck in the face o'
the bluff like a sand-martin, bi-God, in a hole! Got
his spy-glass and all, too, and gazing away at us as if he
was reading a newspaper! Let 's give him the news,
what d'ye say?”

He ran to the gun on the starboard quarter.

“Bear a hand; we 'll run her out ourselves. How 's
she charged?”

“Shell, sir; two seconds.”

“Too much. Run in a grape-pill over it. 'T is n't
four hundred yards from here to the impudent rascal
yonder. Now then. Let me aim her. So.”


Page 177


Philip's heart thrilled and sickened.

The channel makes inward at this point. It is not
more than a quarter of a mile from the shore. The
shell and the grape-shot howled and screamed in an
agony of delight, like bloodhounds long held and just
unleashed when a few springs bring them on the victim.

The chief raised his glass.

“Damned if he is n't gone up,” said he, “or gone
down, more likely. Can't see anything of him.”

“Good God!” thought Philip, “who 's killed? Was
it Flem, or Paul Rübetsahl, or honest Cain, or Aubrey?”

Vague ideas ran through his mind. They were something
like this; life — death — friendship — strange —
how does God have the heart to allow it — don't understand
— insane if I think — wait — wait!

The steamer touched at Newport News wharf.
Two passengers came aboard, of whom one was in blue
and the other in dirty gray. This was all that Philip
noticed as he glanced at them and fell back into his
sorrowful reflections. If he had looked more closely,
he would have discovered that the man in gray looked
at him twice, the last time with a grin of triumph
which soon darkened into an expression of hatred and

Philip must needs moralize.

“The skies,” said he to himself, “smile, no matter
who frowns. They are unmindful of men. And so
are the waters. Two years ago these very waves floated
our Merrimac proudly: there are the masts of the
frigate she sunk that day. Now they float, full as
proudly, the hostile keels of our enemies.


Page 178

“Ah, Nature has no politics. She 'll grow a rose as
well for York as Lancaster; and mayhap beat both
down next minute with a storm!

“She has no heart; else she never had rained on
Lear's head.

“She has no eyes; for, seeing, she never could
have drowned that dainty girl, Ophelia.

“She has no ears; or she would hear the wild
Sabian hymns to Night and prayers to Day that men
are uttering evermore.

“O blind, deaf, no-hearted Beauty, we cannot woo
thee, for thou silently contemnest us; we cannot force
thee, for thou art stronger than we; we cannot compromise
with thee, for thou art treacherous as thy seas:
what shall we do, we, unhappy, that love thee, coquette

This inquiry of Philip Sterling's received immediate
answer, — from the lips of a dead man. For at this
moment he heard some one saying in a low voice, —

“Toes up, boys!”

He looked towards the sound. A wounded prisoner
had just died. Philip stepped to his cot.

Winged victory, in the likeness of a smile, dwelt
upon the dead man's face. This still smile contained
the ineffable repose of a marble statue, and something
more, namely, the potential energy and smooth irresistible
activity of a victorious soul. Spiritual force, confident,
calm, untrammelled, — this is the meaning of
such a smile on such a face.

Philip perceived it.

He stood at the bow of the boat looking seaward
until she ran alongside the wharf at Fortress Monroe.




— “Upon thine honor, is he prisoner?”

— “Upon mine honor, he is prisoner.”

King Henry VI.

At a wooden building which bore sign “Provost
Marshal's Office,” our prisoner sat down in midst of
some frightened-looking men, and one or two women,
who seemed to be following similar instructions to those
given to Philip by his guard: —

“Wait here till you hear your name called.”

The guard stepped into a room adjoining the ante-chamber
where the prisoners sat, delivered a written
paper, and retired after a short colloquy with the clerk
at the desk.

Philip was evidently to be shortly disposed of; his
turn came first.

“Philip Sterling!” called out the clerk. Mein
Himmel, Federal conquerors, how greasy, sleek, and
complacent was the voice of this clerk in your provost's
office there! It was the tone of the spider after the
fly has walked into his little parlor.

“That your name?” inquired the greasy voice, as
Philip stood up.


Without further ado, a spruce attendant in citizen's
dress, unarmed, stepped from the next room, politely


Page 180
(aye, politely; he was a good man — that spruce attendant
— let him here receive benedictions!) requested
Philip to walk with him, and led the way
along a plank sidewalk, which divided an irregular,
crooked street from a line of crooked, irregular buildings.
Philip's impression, as he walked, was a miscellaneous
idea of grayish sand, of whitewash, and of the
want of it, of granite bastions, of earthworks of a casemate,—
through whose one embrasure peered a cannon
like an ennuyée prisoner through his window, — of parapets
over which also peeped black cannon-faces, as if
the cannon had climbed there to see over, and were
holding on by their hands and knees, — of a wilderness
of smoke-stacks and masts, — of a strange gassy odor.
He turned once to look back. Chesapeake smiled to
him, like a maiden inviting him to stay. He disregarded
the invitation, as in duty bound, and followed his guide
through a sally-port. They emerged from the inner
mouth of the dark passage into a brick-paved court.
A tall grenadier, in blue with red trimmings, stood at
the angle of the wall, bearing at his belt an immense

With a half-smile, Philip's conductor made a sign
silently. The red-trimmed faced about, turned a key
which was in the lock of a wooden door opening out
from the wall, and disclosed a huge iron grating which
he unfastened with the key at his belt. It creaked
open wide enough to admit a man.

“Step in!” growled the key-bearer.

Philip stepped in.

Instantly the iron grating clanged, the sound reverberated
through the brick-walled court, the wooden


Page 181
door came to with a heavy thud, and Philip found himself
in darkness, amidst a Babel of oaths, songs, groans,
chain-clankings, jars, unmeaning cries, and intermingling

He had closed his eyes in order to accustom them
more quickly to the darkness. When he opened them
he saw at first a semicircular line of sparkles gathered
around him. A moment elapsed before he perceived
that these were human eyes, the shadowy forms of
whose owners he could barely trace at the distance of
a few feet from him. The noises had suddenly ceased.
The occupants of the cell had discovered the new-comer
and were peering curiously into his face.

Suddenly a furious clanking and rolling of heavy
metal issued from a low-arched corridor, which communicated
between the main cell and some subterranean
recess. The dusky crowd around Philip opened.
Through the opening appeared a tall, thin man, with
long hair and beard, and glimmering cat-like eyes. He
was dancing a progressive jig toward Philip; his saltatory
performances being apparently little impeded by a
chain which connected both his legs to a large cannon-ball,
that darted about in all kinds of gyratory
movements by reason of the vigorous and eccentric
jerks of the legs about which its chain was wound. As
he approached, his arms and hands lashed the air with
fierce and threatening gestures.

Suddenly he made a bound which placed him immediately
in front of the new prisoner. Philip was in the
act of drawing back to defend himself, when he saw the
strange dancer place his hand on his heart and bend in
a profound bow, until his peaked face almost touched
the floor.


Page 182

“Sir,” said the shadow, “permit me to inquire if you
intend to remain in this house for some time?”

“I must confess, I think it extremely likely,” replied

“Ah! Then I hope I shall be able to offer you better
accommodations than is possible to-night. You
perceive,” — with a stately apologetic wave of the hand
— “how crowded I am at present. My guests come
faster than they go; but I hope I may do better for you
to-morrow. For this time, at least, allow me to point
out to you what I consider the softest bed in the establishment.
Walk this way, sir!” The host stepped a
pace toward the wall.

“There, sir!” he continued, with a magnificent gesture
of one hand, while he pointed to the dirty bricks
of the floor with the other. “I, myself, having a constitutional
aversion to sleeping with the whole Democratic
party, have retired to an inner apartment. But
you will find these bricks good bricks, soft bricks as
ever you slept on in your life, sir. I have tried them.
You will repose in the honored consciousness of sleeping,
sir, where I have slept!”

In this cell the sweet light was niggard of her cheer.
Day dawned there about noon, glimmered an hour or
two, and the night came on before sunset.

Philip was weary. He stretched himself upon the
soft spot indicated by his singular landlord, and clasped
his hands under his head for a pillow. But he could
not sleep yet. The noises recommenced with their
pristine fury. A man would rise and start across the
floor. Suddenly he would yell like a fiend, and, as if
the inspiration of a howling dervish had rushed upon


Page 183
him, would set up a furious jig in which feet, arms, legs,
and head strove in variety and wild energy of movement.
To this the invariable accompaniment was the
rattle of chains connecting ankles or wrists, or dragging
balls, — sometimes both. A double shuffle and a
terrible oath would complete the performance, and the
man would proceed upon his errand across the room.
It was as if some infernal deity had his altar in the centre
of the floor, at which each must perform his hideous
devotions before he could pass.

Upon each side of Philip a man lay stretched along
the floor. The face of one, in which the eyes rolled
restlessly, was turned towards him.

“Who was the man that danced up to me just now?”
said Philip to the eyes.

“Oh hell! he 's a fellow that 's been in here some

The eyes looked down, and Philip following the direction,
saw two legs elevated at an angle of forty-five
degrees. The ankles were linked together by a chain.

“Them things,” continued Philip's companion, while
the feet dangled to and fro so as to rattle the chain-links,
“is apt to make a feller sorter how-come-you-so
'bout the head, if a feller wears 'em too long. He” —
jerking one foot toward the corridor into which the
host had retired, “he 's dam nigh crazy.”

“You are not Confederate soldiers?”

“No, not much. Yanks, all of us. Don't you see
the blue blouses? But you aint got owl-eyed yet!”

“Why in the world do they confine you so rigidly?
It is worse than their prisoners fare!”

“Oh, we 're extra fellers. Bounty-jumpin', stealin',


Page 184
fightin', murderin', desertin', and so foth! That feller
with the brass buttons there, he 's a paymaster; 'counts
not square, or the like o' that. Jugged him. The feller
inside that skeered you, he 's been waitin' some time
for 'em to take him out and shoot him. Sentenced!”

Philip remained quietly watching the dusky figures
that stormed about the cell. Gradually the noises receded,
the shadows flitted silently, the coarse web of the
darkness lightened into an airy scarf that inclosed him,
and day dawned for Philip in a peaceful dream.

It was about eleven o'clock at night when, oppressed
with a vague sense that some alien earth-light was
struggling through the pure heaven-light of his dream,
Philip turned and sighed and woke. A man was standing
over him with a lighted candle, but quickly passed
on when he saw that he had roused the sleeper.

Philip raised up on his elbow and looked around.
The room was still, except in one spot, where, on a sort
of platform constructed of a couple of planks resting
on two camp-kettles, sat four men, of whom one was
shuffling a pack of cards whose recondite symbols were
nearly obliterated with grease and dirt. On his right
lay two men close together conversing in a low tone.
The card-players talked as the game went on.

“— In that lock-up” was saying one, emphasizing the
“that” by slapping his card on the plank. “Now,
when they do put a gentleman in the lock-up, I say,
treat him like a gentleman!”

“'Xactly so!” chimed another. “Some places, they
does. There 's some lock-ups where they hands your
vittles through the bars o' the gratin', a mou'ful at a
time, and you has to take it with your mouth. I don't


Page 185
call that no decent way to treat a gent'man. I has been
in lock-ups,” continued the `gent'man,' swelling with the
pleasing recollection, “where they brung your vittles to
you reg'lar and handed 'em to you, slice and hunk, and
you could eat 'em then or whenever you dam please!”

At this moment Philip's attention was attracted to
the conversation on his right. It had grown louder:
one of the speakers was talking rapidly and excitedly.

“— An' when I do git thar,” he was saying, “jest let
'em stand f'om under, for I 'm agwine to root 'em out
lively now, sure!”

“But how the devil will you get to Tennessee from
here? You 'll have to go back the way you came,
won't you?”

“Never ye mind about that: I 'll git thar. I mought
ha' forged a pass an' ha' went to Lynchburg, an' f'om
thar I could ha' snaked it thu' the bushes to home,
easy. But I thought to myself I mought make a few
greenbacks afore I started; it's all Yankee-land, you
know, in Tennessy, now. I knowed whar ther was
some scouts on Jeems's River, an' I knowed they was
a-devillin' you folks powerful, an' I thought I 'd come
over an' help you all to ketch 'em; an' I 'lowed 'at your
officers mought gimme a leetle to make it wuth my

“Well; how did you come out?”

“Durned ef they did n't want to shoot me fur a spy,
a'ter I 'd done deserted! Ye see, out o' foolishness, or
somethin' — I — I scarcely knows what made me do
it. — I did n't give 'em my own name when they tuk
me up on this side, thar, at Newport News. 'Stead o'
that, I give 'em some dam rigmarole or other, jest


Page 186
spellin' it to 'em, you know, sorter promiscus like, an'
some of 'em said they be darn ef that was any man's
name on this yeath, an' said I was tryin' to fool 'em;
an' as luck would have it, I seed a man thar 'at I had
knowed in Tennessy afore the war, an' he got 'em to
send me down here untwell he could see the general
an' git me off. Major Cranston, — know him?”

“Yes. He 's on duty here.”

“A clever man, certin! Know'd me in a minit,
an' axed me about a gal in Tennessy, an' shuk hands
an' gimme a drink o' mortial good whiskey, an' said
he 'd see me in the mornin'. An' when he does git
me off, an' I git to the Cove,” continued Gorm Smallin,
rising to a sitting posture in his anger, which seemed
always to become inflamed at this idea, “jest let ole
Sterlin' git up an' git! He holped 'em to send me off
to the army whar I never had no house to keep off the
rain, — an' I be dam ef he shall have ary one! He
holped 'em put me whar the bullets was whizzin';
I 'm gwine to make him hear one whiz, a ole, sneakin',
meddlin',” —

“You infernal scoundrel!” cried Philip, and leapt
like a tiger upon Gorm Smallin, clutching his throat.
His opponent wound his arms about Philip, and endeavored
to turn him under. Like two serpents they
writhed and agonized. Philip's inferiority in strength
was for a time compensated by the indignation which
swelled his veins and corded his muscles.

“Fight! Fight!” cried a voice.

“The four card-players tumbled off their platform
and ran to see the fun, bringing their light. The other
inmates roared and gathered round. It was delightful:


Page 187
it was a godsend to them; they shouted encouragement
to the varying fortunes of the combatants.

“Stick to him, little un!” cried one.

“Why don't you mash his mug?” screamed another.

“Hold yer light higher, I can't see 'em,” plaintively
begged a third.

“Bet rations on the big un!” said a speculator.

“Thump him, bump him. Hoo-oo-oo-ray!” yelled an
ecstatic enthusiast.

Gorm Smallin had the advantage of weight and
muscle. He succeeded in getting his throat loose, and
grasped Philip's with one hand, while he fumbled in
his pocket with the other. He drew out his knife,
caught the blade between his teeth, opened it, and
lifted it high over the powerless boy in his grasp. He
was in the act of striking, — when the butt of a musket
came down heavily upon his uplifted hand, crushing
the fingers and dashing the knife to the floor.
Sickened with pain, Gorm relaxed his grasp, and
Philip staggered to his feet.

“Should think you Confeds had had enough o' fightin',
outside o' here,” growled the corporal, who, with the
sentinel on duty, hearing the commotion in the den,
had rushed in unnoticed by the excited by-standers.
“Sentinel, walk your beat inside for the rest of your
watch, and keep a light burning. If anybody else gets
to fighting, just take a hand yourself with the butt o'
your musket, — or the bullet in it, I don't care much

The prisoners resumed their beds, laughingly discussing
the fight. Philip attempted to pace the floor,


Page 188
but his wearied feet refused and he lay down. In spite
of the restlessness of aroused tenderness, of unappeased
anger, of bitter repining against that most maddening
of all feelings to a man — helplessness, his exhaustion
prevailed and he slept, at first fitfully, at length




Item, A capon  2s. 2d. 
Item, Sauce  4d. 
Item, Sack, two gallons  5s. 8d. 
Item, Anchovies, and sack after supper  2s. 6d. 
Item, Bread  ob.” 
King Henry IV. 

When Philip awoke, the dungeon was as light as it
ever became, with the light of day. His enemy of the
night had fled with it; and for this reason, if no other,
Philip would have hailed the holy light with Miltonic

If he had known the full extent and sincerity of
Gorm Smallin's designs, and how, as they were brooded
over, they grew always more diabolically vindictive,
he would have preferred the presence of the plotter,
since that only disgusted him, to an absence which
menaced the safety of those whom he loved better
than himself.

At this moment, however, Gorm Smallin was as
happy as any Gorm Smallin could be.

Early in the morning a sentry had called his name
at the grated door, and conducted him out of the cell,
where Cranston met him. After witnessing the solemn
ceremony of his taking the oath of allegiance, Cranston
had conveyed him aboard the steamer for Norfolk,
to the narrow streets of which ancient town a short and
pleasant passage quickly brought them.


Page 190

As they stepped upon the wharf, Mr. Smallin threw
his burning soul into one short interrogatory.

“Major,” said he, “whar mought a body git a leetle
mite o' somethin' to eat, here?”

“That 's a fact” said Cranston; “you must be hungry
after living on those slim rations at the fortress.”

“Waal,” replied Mr. Smallin, guardedly, “I don't
mean to say nothin' agin them rations o' yourn back
yan: but I will say, fur I never was one o' them that 's
afeard to speak ther mind, that a leetle mite o' breakfas'
right now 'ud do a body a power o' good!”

“Well, let 's turn across, here. Yonder 's the `United
States Restaurant,' over there. I remember when we
came in here, first, it was the Confederate States Restaurant:
you can still see the C O N under the one coat
of paint with which the proprietor scratched out his
old patriotism.”

“A dam rascal!” observed Mr. Smallin, indignantly.
“Changed his flag, did he?”

“Yes; — or rather his colors, like a chameleon.
While the ground was gray, he was gray; but the
ground changed to blue, and the groundling became a

“A mortial sight o' feed and truck o' one sort and
another thar, in the windows! Hit makes me hongrier
and hongrier the nigher I git to 'em!”

They entered the restaurant, passed through an
anteroom which was fitted up as a bar (so delicately
intimating that drinking comes before eating, as well in
the order of time as of dignity), and approached a long
and indescribably greasy pine-table which ran down the
centre of the eating-room.


Page 191

“Now then, Mr. Smallin!” said Cranston, as they
took their seats on a bench which ran alongside the
table, and which was as like it in all its features (can
grease be called a feature?) as if it were an infant table
nestling by the side of a maternal one, “what 'll you
take to eat?”

Who, with any the slightest knowledge of the habits
of the Confederate army in '64, does not know what
Mr. Smallin took to eat?

“A cup o' kauphy” said he, “fust and fo'most!”

The war disclosed the fact that kauphy (which, with
that independence we have preserved in some matters,
we still call so, though the spelling nowise justifies it)
was more thoroughly interwoven with our existence
than any other institution. Our social life was “like an
island in the sea,” and the sea was a sea of coffee. This
beverage was to us as Malmsey to Clarence, as Falernian
to Horace, as the Pierian Spring to poets. We made
libations to the coming day in coffee, at breakfast; we
sped the parting day with stirrup-cups of it, at supper;
we drowned ourselves in it, in the last full ecstasy of
good dinners.

As heathens worship their grotesque ideals through
grotesque idols of wood and stone, so we, genuine
coffee being invisible as any spirit during the war, made
hideous images of it and paid our devotions to these,
morn, noon, and night. We made decoctions of pease,
of potatoes, of pea-nuts, of meal, of corn, of okra, of butter-beans,
of rice, of acorns, of heaven knows what else.
These we sugared (with sorghum-syrup), and these,
our cows having been slaughtered after the manner of
beef-cattle in the scarcity thereof, we drank milkless,
and called them kauphy.


Page 192

A cup of genuine coffee!

This in the Southern States, in the year 1864, was
alike the Dream of soldiers and of statesmen, of old
men and of matrons, of children and of slaves.

Happy Gorm Smallin! He realized this dream.

The waiter brought in the ideal, on a tray. Mr.
Smallin sugared and stirred and drank.

“What else 'll you have?” said Cranston, quietly
laughing as he saw how the coffee, meandering through
the great desert of Smallin, did forthwith cause the
same to smile and blossom as the rose.

“What — else?” slowly repeated Mr. Smallin. Question
of questions! How should he tell, he, who so long
had wanted everything and had nothing, to eat?

Mr. Smallin would have preferred time to think on
it, but his pent appetite brooked not delay; it rose and
poured over the feeble dam he tried to erect, and he
floated upon the stormful current. He eagerly seized
the first chance to guide himself into a haven.

“Major,” said he with solemnity, as if he were an
acolyte questioning a venerable father upon the sacred
mysteries, “what air you goin' to take?”


Kind Heaven, it was a blow like to the blow wherewith
King Richard did fell the stout friar of the greenwood

It was as if Mr. Smallin's bush, by which he was pulling
in to bank, suddenly gave way by the roots, so that
he floated out again, despairing, into the stream. Nay,
more. That a man, with good serviceable white teeth
gleaming through his moustache, a man with a mouth
and appurtenances thereunto pertaining, a man with


Page 193
the ordinary passions of humanity, — that a man, in the
time of the war, should sit at table, in sight and smell
of the very things, — and take nothing to eat; this
was a trifle too much for Mr. Smallin. His mind recoiled
from the contemplation of such a phenomenon, and he
resolutely closed his eyes upon this “devilish suggestion”
which made his brain reel.

With a tremor, as if the devil had flitted by while his
eyes were shut, he opened them. At which auspicious
moment, sublime luck, even as the goddess in the old
Virgilian battle, arrayed herself on hesitating Smallin's
side. At the other end of the table Mr. Smallin saw a
thrilling sight.

Four rough sailors, not long ashore, sat there making
great ado over their grub. Of these, one's face showed
dim through a cloud of smoke from a hot dish of
stewed oysters, like the face of your future husband in
one of those charming visions conjured up by the
great second-sight necromanceress, Madame — from
Paris; another was attacking, with wild energy and
marvellous sagacity in the avoidance of bones, a plate
of fried hog-fish; a third could not see his plate by
reason of a huge beefsteak thereupon, and was making
successful endeavor to see his plate; and a fourth had
just finished squaring, with great nicety of eye and accuracy
of handling, a slice of ham that had been sent
in circular, and upon which reposed, as yet untouched
by this dallying gourmand, three of those most pitiful
of all flat squelched objects in nature and art — fried

“Here, you!” said Mr. Smallin to the waiter, keeping
his eye fixed upon the other end of the table as if


Page 194
he were reading his Bill of Fare: “Fetch me a dish o'
eysters, hot! an' some fish, some o' them, some —
pirch, hit looks like f'om here; an' some beefsteak,
'ith butter on it, an' pepper a plenty! an' some ham and
eggs, an' saw the ham out 'n bone an' all, like yan slice:
an' — an' — waal, fetch them fust; an' some bread; —
an' some mo' kauphy!” he shouted as the astounded
waiter vanished into the dark regions where the kitchen
lay perdue.

And now again burned the ardent soul of Smallin,
and again, as if to cool it, he plunged it into a question.

“Major,” said he, “how long, mought you think, 'll
take him to git 'em ready?”

Cold, cold indeed, was the water that Cranston

“I should think.” replied he, meditatively, “about
three quarters of an hour!”

An expression overspread the face of Mr. Smallin
which can only be described by a paradox — it was a
visible groan. This, not long lingering, died away and
dissolved into a plaintive look of settled melancholy,
during which Mr. Smallin sat and idly struck his horn-jointed
fingers upon the table, in his abstraction finishing
his kauphy at a draught.

But long-suffering hath and end.

As peace out of grimy war, as sweet spring out from
the Merlin-beard of winter, as Æneas from Avernus'
smoky pit, issued at last the waiter from the dark regions,
bearing gifts which Mr. Smallin did not fear.

Utterly disdaining that his cohorts (Mr. Smallin was
a captain of ten — fingers) were not by any means
gleaming with purple and gold, Mr. Smallin came


Page 195
down like the wolf on the foal, with dire intent to
utterly mangle and crunch the several vivers.

Sternly, single-souledly, Mr. Smallin devoted himself
to the great work before him. He did not, would not,
could not talk.

“How long since you were in Tennessee, Smallin?”
asked Cranston, seeing him fairly started, impatient for
news of those who had made so deep impression on his
life, and full of bitter thoughts, of love which fed on
absence, of half-formed designs.

“Some — time,” chewed out the cormorant, without
looking up.

“Was Mr. Sterling living when you left?”

“Umph, humph.”

“Was Miss — were the two young ladies still at his

“Umph — 'blieve they was.”

“Damned glutton!” ejaculated Cranston.

“Yaas, — umph, humph,” abstractedly remarked Mr.
Smallin, while egg No. 3 ran partly down his chin,
leaving yellow footprints upon that sand, which must
have been anything but heartsome signs to egg
No. 4.

Cranston gave it up, but his tormentor kept at his

Once, and suddenly, the Ravenous surceased a moment.

“Major, hit 's the month of May now, haint it?”


“'Feard it 's too soon for 'em,” said Dalgetty, in a
melancholy soliloquy. “Howsomedever; here, waiter!
Got any chickens: young uns?”


Page 196

Of course the waiter had chickens.

“Fetch one; fry him — in batter,” guzzled the bibulous
voice, resounding sepulchrally from inside the coffee-cup.

But to this trembling soul came its doomsday. At
length Dalgetty could no more.

Cranston saw that this man who had sat down at
table a sour-faced, half-bowed, scowling son of darkness,
arose from it erect, complacent, to all appearance a son
of the morning — if it could be imagined, even by a
poet, that sons of the morning wound up their ambrosial
breakfast with that luxuriant, loud, and resounding
eructation wherewith Mr. Smallin trumpeted the fullness
of his — satisfaction. Who might believe that out
of mere dead flesh of beasts, which hath been also
burned, could arise such moral dignity and sweetness
as Mr. Smallin's face now displayed beamingly? Indeed,
in this moment Mr. Smallin had forgot his revenge.
Such flowers from such decay!

Might not the statistics of crime be also called statistics
of hunger?

True, Falstaff and Fosco had plenty of sack and
plenty of tarts and cream. Yet, the one took purses
from mere dread of thirst, the other lied and apostatized
from dread of hunger.

That the Confederate army starved, and yet was a
confessedly virtuous and patriotic army, — let men give
them credit.

The souls of these men did not reside in the stomachs
thereof. The soul of this deserter did. Cranston had
determined to see Felix Sterling once more. He would
procure leave of absence as a spy in the Confederacy.


Page 197
Mr. Smallin would guide him. To buy Mr. Smallin —
this came first. Cranston made a quick bid.

“Smallin,” said he, when he had gotten that smiling
individual into a room at the hotel, “don't you want to
go home?”

“Thar's jest whar I 'm agwine.”

“How much will you take to get you and me there,
through the Confederacy?”

It was not in the nature of Smallin to bite so quickly
at bids as at bread.

“You want to go thar, too?”


“Waal, Major, I should think 'at about a hundred
dollars in greenbacks mought do a'most any thing now,
in that section!”

“Very good. The money 's yours when we get there.
Make the arrangements. If you betray me, Smallin,”
he coolly continued, “here 's a little dog that 'll trail
you through every ravine in your mountains till he bites
you. Feel his teeth!”

Cranston placed the cold muzzle of a pistol against
Gorm Smallin's forehead.

Which action awoke disagreeable memories, and
spoiled the fine lingering aroma of Mr. Smallin's dinner.
He smiled very faintly, and did not reply.

He muttered to himself something very like, Joxabobble.




“Ef thar is enny gentleman in this bull-pen, he will,” &c., &c.

Extract from Bulletin-board, Point Lookout Prison.

To go into a prison of war is in all respects to be
born over.

For, of the men in all the prisons of the late war,
it might be said, as of births in the ordinary world, —
they came in and went out naked. Into the prison at
Point Lookout, Maryland, were born, at a certain time,
of poor and probably honest parents, twelve thousand
grown men. Their inheritance with which they had to
begin life de novo was the capability of body or soul
wherewith each happened to be endowed at the moment
of this second birth. And so, in this far little world,
which was as much separated from the outer world as
if it had been in the outer confines of space, it was
striking to see how society immediately resolved itself
into those three estates which invariably constitute it

For there were here, first, the aristocrats, who lived
well but did not labor; second, the artisans, who lived
well by laboring; third, the drones, who starved by not
laboring. Moreover one could find here all the subdivisions
of these great classes which occur in the regions


Page 199
of crowded civilization. For instance, of the aristocrats,
there were the true-gentlemanly sort, the insulting-obtrusive
sort, the philanthropic sort, the fast sort; of the
artisans, there were the sober-citizenly sort, the mind-your-own-business-and-I-mine
sort, the gloomy, brooding-over-oppression
sort, the cheerful workers, the geniuses,
together with those whose labor was spiritual, such
as the teachers of French, and arithmetic, and music,
including those who lived by their wits in the bad sense;
and of the drones, the kind who swear that the world
owes them a living, but who are too lazy to collect
the debt; the sentimental-vulgar kind, whose claims are
based upon a well-turned leg or a heavy moustache, and
are consequently not appreciated by a practical world;
the self-deprecatory sort, who swear that Nature has
been unkind in endowing them, and who then must
starve for consistency's sake or forswear themselves;
and lastly, the large class of out-and-out unmitigated
drones, who, some say, serve the mere purpose of inanimate
clay chinked into the cracks of this great log-cabin
which we all inhabit, and who, poor men! must endure
much bad weather on the wrong side of the house.

Was there then no difference between life in the
prison and life in the world?

It is to be answered, — none, generically; the difference
was one of degree merely.

For instance, if our every-day world had a catechism,
its first question, What is the chief end of man? might
be answered, “The chief end of man is either end of
Pennsylvania Avenue.” Whereas this question in the
prison-world catechism would be answered, “The chief
end of man is the West End”; — which at Point Lookout


Page 200
was (for the pleasure of the paradox-loving) at the
eastern extremity of the Peninsula.

In the one case the aim was to be President or Congressman,
with honor and luxury; in the other, the aim
was to get into a cracker-box cabin, where rain and
vermin were not free of the house, as they were in the
tents in which ten out of the twelve thousand resided.

So, the stature of the men and the burning of their
passions remained the same inside the prison as out of
it, only the objects of these passions and exertions were
immeasurably diminished in number and dignity. To
Philip Sterling this was the terrible feature in the
prison-changed behavior of his old army friends. They
did not crowd to shake joyful hands with him and hear
the news from outside, but met him with smiles that
had in them a sort of mournful greasiness, as if to say:
Ah, old boy, mighty poor eating in here! Their handshakes
were not vigorous, their souls did not run down
and meet Philip's at the finger-tips. How could they?
These same souls were too busy in devising ways and
means to quiet the stomachs and intestines, — a set of
dependents who show their born inferiority to the soul
by always crying out to it when they are in distress,
and by always endeavoring to dethrone it when they
have waxed fat on its labor.

Some such thoughts crossed Philip's mind, as on the
loveliest morning of May, a few days after his night in
the cell at Fortress Monroe, he found himself inside
the great gate of the prison at Point Lookout. He had
recognized and spoken to some friends as they passed
by, but had not yet left the rank in which his squad of
seventy fellow-captives had been drawn up after being
marched into the prison.


Page 201

A Federal sergeant told them off into smaller squads.
Philip stood in the last.

— “Four, five, six, seven, eight,” finished the sergeant.
“Plenty o' room in eleventh division. Corporal,

“Here, sir.”

“Here 's your squad. March 'em down.”

“Forward,” said the corporal, placing himself with
the front file.

Passing a row of small A tents presently, the corporal
looked at his book.

“Tent fifteen; think there 's four men in it. Let 's
see.” He thrust his head into the low opening. “How
many in here?”

“'Bout a million, countin' lice and all!” responded a
voice, whose tone blent in itself sorrow, anger, hunger,
and the sardonic fearlessness of desperation.

“Guess they want another man in, if you don't,” said
the corporal, with a pleasant smile. “You, Number
Four, what 's your name?”

“Philip Sterling.”

“Bunk here. Rest, forward,” — and the corporal
passed on with his squad, writing, as he went, the name
in his book.

A long, cadaverous man sat outside the door of Philip's
tent, sunning himself. He was bare to the middle,
but held a ragged shirt on his knees, toward which he
occasionally made gestures very like those of a compositor
setting type.

“'Fords me a leetle amusement,” said he, looking up
with a sickly smile toward Philip. “Jest gittin' well o'
the feever: cain't git about much yet!”


Page 202

Sick at heart, Sterling made no reply, but entered
the tent. Just inside the entrance stood a low bench,
which held a rat-tail file, a beef-bone, a half-dozen gutta
percha buttons, a piece of iron barrel-hoop, two oyster
shells, and a pocket-knife. Cross-legged on the ground
before it, sat a huge individual, who was engaged in
polishing, with a rag and the grease of bacon, a gutta-percha
ring which he held with difficulty on the tip of
his little finger.

For this man's clothes, those three thieves, grease,
dirt, and smoke, had drawn lots; but not content with
the allotment, all three were evidently contending which
should have the whole suit. It appeared likely that
dirt would be the happy thief.

“Wash 'em!” said this man one day when the Federal
corporal had the impudence to refer to the sacred
soil on his clothes — “wash 'em? corp'ral! I 'm bound
to say 'at you 're a dam fool! That mud 's what holds
'em together; sticks 'em fast, — like! Ef you was to
put them clo's in water they 'd go to nothin' jest like a
piece o' salt!”

As inside of these clay-clothes a stalwart frame of a
man lived and worked, so, inside this stalwart clay-frame
lived and worked a fearless soul, which had met
death and laughed at it, from the Seven-days to Gettysburg,
but which was now engaged in superintending a
small manufactory of bone trinkets and gutta-percha
rings, the sale of which brought wherewithal to eke out
the meagre sustenance of the prison ration.

Sterling threw down his blanket.

“This corner occupied?”

“Wa'al — yes, a leetle, you may say. I should


Page 203
judge thar was about some sebben or eight thousand
livin' thar now. You need n't mind them tho'; they
won't keer ef you sleep thar,” observed the huge ring-maker.

“They are very kind, indeed.”

“Sorry I cain't offer you a cheer; jest now loaned out
all the cheers.”

Sterling squatted tailor-wise upon his blanket, placed
his chin in his hand, and prepared to go into a terrible
sentimental review of the utter loneliness of his position.
Suddenly, however, the ludicrous phase of the
situation came over him. He smiled, then chuckled,
and at last burst into a long, uproarious laugh.

The eye of the ring-maker twinkled. His lip quivered.
He thrust his head through the opening of the
tent and ejected from his mouth a surprising quantity of
tobacco-juice. It was his manner of laughing. Beyond
this he made no sign.

“Hello, Sterling, where are you?” shouted a cheery
voice outside.

Philip showed a merry face through the door, and
recognized an old “Ours.”

“By the poker, but you are merry for a man that's
just come to Point Lookout! As a general thing we
may say here,

“My cue is villainous melancholy.”

And of all men in the world you, who were always a
sort of melancholy Jacques! Have you, like him,
heard a fool moralling on the times?” he continued,
shaking Philip's hand, and directing their walk toward
the head of the division.


Page 204

“Aye, that have I,” replied Sterling.

“We must get you out o' that hole in the 11th div.
some way. Let's see; I think I saw an advertisement
yesterday on the bulletin-board yonder, of a
fellow in the 3d that wanted to sell out. Let 's walk
up and see.”

The bulletin-board was surrounded by a thick crowd,
to whom a lucky man on the inside was reading, in a
loud voice, a long list of names from a paper tacked to
the plank.

“Letters from Dixie,” said Sterling's friend.

They placed themselves on the outer edge of the circle,
and gradually moved in toward the centre.

“Do you notice a man over on the other side of the
crowd yonder, pushing and struggling this way, with his
gaze fixed on you?” said Sterling, to his friend. “His
eye has a snaky glare in it. He has n't lost sight of
you for ten minutes. Got something against you, has n't

“He is my Nemesis. Every morning at nine o'clock,
I come to the bulletin-board. Every morning at nine
o'clock he meets me here, and demands of me a” —


“A chew of tobacco! He commenced it two months
ago. He has not missed a morning since. One day I
attempted to dodge him. I sought cover behind every
tent successively in the encampment. My meanderings
must have been between five and ten miles in length.
I thought I had succeeded. Breathless, but with a
proud smile of triumph on my countenance, I walked
slowly down the street, when he emerged dignifiedly
from behind the next tent, and with disdainful composure


Page 205
inquired if I had ary chaw of terbacker about my
clo'es. Since then I have resigned myself. He is a

“The Fates, then, have learned to chew tobacco, also!
eheu! what would Pius Æneas have said to see them
using spittoons in Hades?”

They were now at the board. It was covered with
a thousand strips of paper, bearing in all manner of
chirographies a thousand items of information. Mr.
A. had changed his residence from No. 3, 4th division,
to No. 7, 10th division; Mr. B. had a corner to let in
his shop, “splendid stand for the unwanted bean-soup
trade”; J. Shankins had a blanket “which he would
swop it fur a par of britches, pleese caul at,” &c.; the
negro minstrels, in big red letters, announced “an entire
change of programme, at 5 o'clock, G. M. Admission
ten cents. No Confederate money received at the
door”; L. Crabbe advertised to meet the eye of his
brother, M. Crabbe, who, if in the prison, would call at,
&c.; Jaines Haxley inquired “ef any gentleman in the
64th regiment seed his son with his own eyes killed at
the Sharpsburg fite”; a facetious individual, blushing
to reveal his name, and therefore writing over Anonymous,
perpetrated the enormous joke of “Help wanted,
to assist me in eating my rations. None need apply
except with the most unexceptionable reference”; to
which was appended the replies of a hundred different
applicants for the situation; a sardonic gentleman inquired
“if Dixie and the Yanks was still a-havin' high
words. Let dogs delight,” &c., &c.; J. Shelpole had
drawd a par of shues, but one of thum was number six
an' wun was No. 10, and “wished to know ef enny gentleman


Page 206
had a shue, size number 10, please call at,”
&c., &c.

“Here it is at last!” said Sterling. The legend ran,
“Fur privit reesons,” (— “to wit,” interposed Phil's
companion, “a plug of tobacco, or the equivalent thereof
in bread, bean-soup, cash, or other commodities,”) “the
undersined will swop places, fur a little boot, with eny
gentleman in the 11th division. Pleese call at, &c., 3d
division. Call soon and git a bargin.

“Sined J. Threepits.

“He's your man, Phil. Let's go right up and see

“But how do you do it? when my corporal calls the
roll” —

“All you 've got to do is to answer to the euphonious
appellation of Threepits, while Mr. T. will respond to
the call for Sterling. The corporal won't know the
difference. I can't deny but Mr. Threepits, in the matter
of names, will slightly get the advantage in the
swap. But it's a very good thing here to have two
names; inasmuch as you stand two chances, when the
exchange-lists are read out, to go back to Dixie. You
must take care, however, that both of you don't answer
to the same name, — a circumstance which has several
times occurred, and caused no little pleasure to the
sharp-witted authorities, as affording a pretext to remand
the disappointed prisoner back to his hole.”





— “There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby that will
never please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword and kill himself; which the
ladies cannot abide.”


— “By'r Lakin, a parlous fear!”

Midsummer Night's Dream.

In mid-May, near sunset, as John Cranston and Gorm
Smallin mounted the rocky apex of Chilhowee Mountain,
and turned a corner, so as to overlook Valley Beautiful,
a question occurred to the former of these two individuals,
which might far more appropriately have commenced
his journey than ended it.

“What the devil,” said Cranston, aloud, “have I
come here for?”

He drew rein and sat still on his horse, thoughtfully
gazing downward toward where Thalberg hung on the
slope like a fruit on a tree.

“Danged ef I know, bless your heart!” doggedly remarked
Gorm Smallin.

Cranston had early conceived a half disgust for his
travelling companion, which, in the irritability of a soul
not at ease with itself, had been more than once displayed
amid the frets of their journey. Up to this
time Mr. Smallin had been too much absorbed by the
constant fear of detection and the adoption of precautions
thereagainst, to notice this ill-concealed contempt
of his employer; but now, when he was out of the
long reach of the Confederate provost, when he was
upon his native heath, when he had his hundred dollars


Page 208
in his pocket, and when he was in sight of his triumph,
the mountaineer deemed that the circumstances justified
him in asserting, at least to a prudent degree, the
rights of man.

“Raälly, now,” continued Gorm Smallin, “I cain't see,
come to think of it, what in the name o' sense you air
agwine back thar fur. Ef a man mought judge from
some powerful cur'ous tales that 's come to him, a man
would n't think you 'd be gwine back thar in a hurry.
Seems as if I recomember havin' hearn 'em tell how”
— Gorm Smallin sent a sidelong glance toward Cranston's
face, as a mariner might look into the sky, to find
out if the weather-signs would authorize him to proceed
farther; and apparently satisfied himself of clear weather
— “how a big fellar thar one night slapped you down
in the parlor right afore the women!”

Cranston's treacherous calm, like that of the great
deep, tempted the adventurous Smallin too far.

“An' how,” continued Gorm, “you left thar betwixt
two day-lights, and nervver cum back fur yer trunk,

In a thin, languid, prolonged voice Cranston said
only “Ah-h!” Then, quick as lightning, turned and
struck Smallin on the cheek such a blow as sent that
adventurous individual gyrating to the ground. Cranston's
face was of the livid hue that makes the sea-horizon
seem deadly, just before a storm. He leapt from
his horse, drew his pistol, ran to his prostrate tormentor,
and was in the act of firing right into his face, when,
as if an invisible hand had dealt him a blow on the
forehead, he threw back his head, fired his pistol in the
air, glanced undecidedly about him for a moment, then


Page 209
sprang up the huge boulder that crowns the peak, and
sat down, leaning his back against it, looking westward
straight into the sun.

A dun-blue cloud, that seemed like a huge bruise on
the pearly cheek of the sky, hung over the distant end
of the line of peaks. From behind it, the sun shot
crimson streaks like veins up the sky; but presently
came down out of the cloud, making its edge an insupportable
crimson brilliancy, and like a red, flaming
heart, throbbed out infinite, pulsing floods of glittering
blood-light over world and heaven.

And then the cloud moved down on the sun as he
touched the far summits, and lay over him like an eyelid,
from under which the fierce Polyphemus-eye of the
sun glared back into Cranston's eye along the level

It was like the blood-shotten eye of a wild beast,
scowling vengeance after you have hurt him, as he
retreats to his jungle.

Suddenly, with a great bound, the red sun leapt into
the sea.

Cranston turned and looked into the eastern heaven,
and lo, Brown Dusk, winged o' one side with a sigh and
o' t'other with a smile, and whispering her secret to herself,
came trailing up and lit a star in the east.

And then she floated down and walked airily into the
valleys, like a kindly, smiling nurse, and whispered the
sparrow to sleep on his twig, and put to bed the wren
on her sedgy couch. And then she wandered by a
curving ravine up the mountain, and came and stood
about Cranston on the high rock.

Bad spirits are charming because they are daring. The


Page 210
evil ones in Cranston's soul could not resist the temptation
to show that they were not afraid even in this
exquisite presence of the Dusk. They came out and
showed themselves to Cranston clearly, in his soul.
They hovered before his soul's eye, and flouted their
wickedness in his face. His impurities, his angers, his
weaknesses, his bitter passions, marched past him. It
was like a field-day down Below there, when the Devil
reviews his troops. Their martial music was monotonous.
It was the uttered word “Never.” From somewhere
this word uttered itself in Cranston, — “Never!”
It is impossible that any human soul should confront this
idea calmly. Cranston grew sick-hearted. A cascade
of “Nevers” kept falling, falling in the hearing of his
soul, whose monotony did not lull him but only sated
him. Never — what? Let no man imagine it was the
“conviction of sin” which tortured him. He loved
Felix Sterling; he knew she was pure and high; he
knew he was not. He knew that Felix was queen of
herself. He had not been king of his self. Could he
be king of her?


His infinite yearning was that his life might have
been so white, that he could have stripped the flesh off
his soul, and bared that to the sight of men and angels,
and sworn in their hearing, while he clasped Felix, “I
love her, and I am worth her, and by love! — the deepest
oath — she is mine forever!”

“Never, never!” rhymed the evil spirits.

“Ah, I could not endure now, even if she were mine,
to see her head here” — said Cranston to himself, and
smote his breast — “here, where other heads have lain,


Page 211
and whence they have been pushed away, by wearied
hands. Good God, my soul 's all scarred and dented
and dulled, and her's is smooth and white as her cheek,
and glitters trenchantly as her eye when I played for
her! What for? why is it?

Cranston sprang upon his feet and tossed out his arms
in a wild questioning gesture over the precipice.

“Why,” said he, with upturned face, “you that made
the world and the men in it, whatever they call you, —
God, or Christ, or Jove, or what not, — why have you
made me so? Why did n't you make me strong and
unselfish and white-souled like her? Why did n't you
stretch out your finger and stop me from the acts which
have rendered me incapable of winning this woman, or
even of gaining any thing but the bitterness of self-accusation,
and the consciousness of a foul imposition of
me upon her too worthy — if I could win her? The
world condemned and despised the man who saw his
worst enemy sleeping and would not run to save him
from a serpent that had coiled round his neck. The
serpent was allowed to strike, and the man allowing won
universal obloquy. But you — you, God — you allow
every day your men and women to poison themselves
with poisons that seem to them sunshine-wine. You
stir not to prevent them, and you smile serenely with
your skies and your stars over the convulsions of your
children. Why did n't you keep me clean and pure
like her?”

“Why?” he continued, with a crazied iteration, audibly.

“Why?” shouted he, at the top of his voice, up to
the stars.


Page 212

“Adzactly,” muttered Gorm Smallin to himself. In
view of all the circumstances, Mr. Smallin had concluded
to waive for the present the rights of man in
favor of the mights of man. Pursuing which policy
he had arisen, and taking the bridle of his horse in his
hand, had walked down the steep road descending the
mountain, and was now in a path branching to the right
from the road, some distance below the summit. Indistinctly
he heard the last wild shout of Cranston.
“Adzactly,” said he; “ye may call thar till ye rot, for
all the comin' back I'll do, to show ye the way. I did
think I 'd ride with ye clur to Tolberg, and then come
back to my cabin by myself; but I 'm derned if ye
ha'int saved me the trouble! I 'm glad enough to git
shet of ye any way.” With which consolation Mr.
Smallin pursued his journey in silence and deep meditation.
Through the May woods came upon him, rustling,
sweet home-influences, as he neared the spot where,
some months before the conscription bore him off, he
had cleared some ground, built his cabin, and installed
his young wife mistress. Here, and then, he had felt
his breast expand with that strange responsibility-idea
which crowns us kings when we are young, but bends
us into slaves when we are old. He pictured the opening
door of the cabin when he should knock presently.
Sary, God bless the gal! would rush into his arms.
The clasp, the strain, the thrill, — all these came to him.
They would sit, and give and take the news. With
lordly air he would deposit on the brackets over the
head of his bed the magnificent silver-mounted rifle
which Cranston in a generous burst had given him.
Lord of the place, — this idea made Gorm Smallin


Page 213
straighten up involuntarily, — `King of it, — aye, tittering
ladies and gentlemen, — a mere Hesse Darmstadt
of a kingdom, yet nevertheless a veritable kingdom,
and I, Gorm Smallin, king of it; a mere log-cabin, yet I

“Loved it better than many a better”


Thinking in his ruder dialect some such thoughts,
Gorm Smallin emerged into the small cleared space
that surrounded his cabin.

Emerged, — and stood suddenly still as a gravestone.
No cabin was there. He walked waveringly forward.
A black patch on the ground revealed the spot where
his house had stood. He wandered slowly across this
black blur on the earth. The melancholy crunch of his
feet upon the cinders overcame him. His limbs trembled,
he sat falteringly down upon the charred remains
of his kingdom, and a tear started from each eye.

The Devil, who has tact in these matters, embraced
this weak moment. “What ho, there, Old Revenge, —
old Trusty,” — said the Devil, in endearing terms, to
his grand vizier. “Here 's a heart, with gates unbarred.
Enter and possess it in my name!”

It must be confessed, his Satanic Majesty has also
administrative talent, and inspires his servants with enthusiasm.
The heart was entered and formally possessed.
O lithe Temptation, thou swift tropical tiger of
most rare exquisite spots, thou art never more dangerous
than when thou hast just retired before a human
eye into thy jungle, as if the eye-glance had conquered
thee; for then, when the man hath twice gratulated
himself, and whilst he is stooping to pluck one of thy
jungle-flowers to crown his victory withal, then thou


Page 214

Gorm Smallin on this May night had even reproached
himself for his vengeful feelings against John Sterling,
and abandoned them. To-morrow, other cares and old
John's kind face would have dissipated them forever.
But listen: —

“I heered,” presently he muttered to himself, — “I
heered as the Yanks had been burnin' the houses of
them that went off to the Confed'ate army. An' whose
fault was it I went? John Sterling's! An' he 's got
sons in the Confed'ate army, an' his house is a-standin'
yit, for I seed it from the rock back yan; why did n't
they burn hit? Becase he 's rich, an' I 'm poor.”

Gorm Smallin rose deliberately to his feet, while it
seemed to him as if liquid steel were slowly diffusing
itself through his veins.

“Hit 's been a rich man's war an' a poor man's fight
long enough. A eye fur a eye, an' a tooth fur a tooth,
an' I say a house fur a house, an' a bullet fur a bullet!
John Sterlin' 's got my house burnt, I 'll get his'n burnt.
John Sterlin' 's made me resk bullets, I 'll make him
resk 'em! An' ef I don't may God-a-mighty forgit me
forever and ever, amen!”

Gorm Smallin entered the woods with his face toward
Thalberg, walking slowly at first, as if he meditated,
and gradually increasing his pace, as his plans
grew definite, until his strides were more like long leaps
than steps.

On the top of his rock lay John Cranston like a
chained Prometheus. It was right that vultures should
feed on Cranston's heart, as they were now feeding.
He had stolen the fire of heaven, to kindle his kitchen-fires


Page 215
with. He had stolen a woman's love, — that lambent,
lurid, hot-sweet fire of heaven, — and applied it
to mere fleshy purposes. Now, when again he urged
his daring head up through the sky to steal once more,
in spite of the holier uses he designed for it the flame
rebelled, and shot its fire-barbed arrows, and scorched
and blinded and repelled him. Here was he, a sitter
upon lonely rocks, and a prey to that most terrible vulture,

The top of Chilhowee is a long, narrow plateau, level,
except where the huge rock rises upon which Cranston
sat. Along this plateau, at right-angles to the road
crossing the mountain, runs an old, blind, grassy path,
surrounded by rocks on either side strewn in all fanciful
circles and angles. This path winds about the rock
and gives into the main road suddenly.

In the deep twilight Cranston heard hoofs of horses
coming along this path toward his rock, and presently
began to distinguish the voices of two women in conversation.
They quickly ceased, and the women rode
on in silence until just under the rock. Felix said, —

“What are you thinking of, Liebchen?”

“I was just thinking,” replied Ottilie, “that if we
were in a city, amongst men, riding alone at this hour,
we should be frightened to death; whereas here
amongst rocks and wild beasts, we stray in the night
with the most charming fearlessness. Strange, is n't
it,” she continued, meditating half-aloud, “that men
should be more dangerous to men than all the tigers
and storms?”

“So,” cried Felix, “and women are as dangerous to
women. Look! With your German enthusiasm, and


Page 216
your dear, dainty-hearted German Heine, that you read
to me at the spring yonder, you 've made me leave my
veil and my brooch there. Sit on your horse here, dear,
till I gallop back and get it. 'T won't take me ten minutes.”

“Indeed, I 'd rather go with you,” said Ottilie, half
turning her horse.

“No, you sha'n't. You look pale and tired enough
now. Here! see; I 've tied your horse! Walk up this
winding path to the top of the rock, and see how Valley
Beautiful looks by night. Obey me, my darling
Ottilie!” said Felix, and kissed her, and galloped away.

Ottilie dismounted, and walked up the rocky steps.

Cranston stood erect behind an abruptly rising ledge
of the rock, with folded arms.

It was quite light up there. The white rock reflected
the thousand star-rays that fell upon it; and a faint
halo, which was more a memory of the sun than a light,
yet diffused a mild and mysterious half-twilight around
the mountain-top.

As Ottilie stepped upon a broad, flat plateau, Cranston
advanced a pace to meet her. Oh conventionality!
He was in the act of extending his hand and saying,
“How are you?” when her white face, in which he could
almost see the sweet blue veins that in these days began
to glimmer through the delicate skin, smote upon
him like a sheet of white lightning. In an uncontrollable
agony he threw himself on his face and grovelled
at her feet.

Presently he heard her dress rustling, and the long
train trailing softly over the rock. He raised his head.
Ottilie was standing on the very verge of the ledge,


Page 217
where the sheer precipice sank straight down many
hundred feet, with arms stretched far upward and hands

Fearful that a noise would startle her into destruction,
Cranston crawled like a snake close to where she stood,
and grasped the long train of her thick riding-dress.

“O God!” she said, in a voice ineffably soft, “I
thank thee that this pain in my heart, which so long
hath been dull as ashes and yet burnt like fire, which
so long hath been leaden and yet cut sharp like steel,
which so long hath refused even to throb in its monotonous
ache, — O God, I thank thee for even a small variation
of it which makes it sharper and hotter and
livelier for one moment.”

“O God,” she said in a pathetic inquiring tone that
went jagged into Cranston's heart, — “O God, hath not
sorrow its dandy-moments, hath not sorrow its time
when it would prank itself for a show to others? hath
not sorrow its whim and its caprice? doth not sorrow,
like a maiden, forever regard her image in the clear
pool and take her maidenly pretty attitudes; and wilt
Thou deny sorrow this little comfort ere it drown itself
in the pool of Thine eternity? and have I not yearned
that this man whom thou seest grovelling now on the
rock should be here when I cast myself from this place,
and hast thou not brought him here for this, kind

“O God,” she said, “have I not failed of life, and
art Thou not done with me here, and can I do any good
thing save maybe to die in this man's sight, and so perhaps
strike a new regret into his soul which may save
some other from my wretchedness?”


Page 218

“And yet,” she said, with still softer voice, “perhaps
I wrong him, — I erred too; I will not go, with a wrong
for my last act; I forgive him, and I throw him this kiss
of forgiveness,” and she drew down one hand, kissed it,
and waved it back to where Cranston lay.

“Thou star, there,” suddenly she cried, “in one
second I will be waving my wing in thy sweet fire!”
and threw her hands apart, and sprang.

But Cranston had clasped her about the waist, and in
an instant had borne her back, down the irregular declivity.
She had closed her eyes in a momentary faintness,
but opened them quickly; and, lying in his arms
taunted him, —

“Coward, cruel, cruel coward! how dared you place
your false arm around me again? How” —

“Pity, pity, pity,” said Cranston hoarsely, and a great
shiver went through his frame.

“Who asks me for pity?” She raised herself up and
stood. “You? you? O, —you?

“She is coming. For God's sake collect your strength.
Can you sit your horse?” said Cranston, and lifted
Ottilie into the saddle; “I cannot meet her, now!
He ran back behind an angle of the rock.

For one moment the woman's jealousy rose in Ottilie's
heart. She looked at his retreating form with a
scornful expression, but quickly the tight lip trembled
in a bitter smile. “O Heaven!” she said, “a jest, an
infinite jest: I jealous! I!”

“How the little night - breeze groans sometimes
through these pines!” said Felix as she cantered up.
“I could have sworn I heard a man talking!”

“Yes, yes. Did you find the brooch?”


Page 219

“Oh yes. Let 's go home; and get a good rating
from father for staying so late! But he 'll kiss us
twice when it 's over, and bless us, and put his hand
on our heads; and that 's worth a little scolding. Is n't
it, you dear white flower-petal?” and Felix leaned over
and kissed the cold lips of her friend as they rode off
down towards Thalberg.

Cranston emerged from his hiding-place and followed
them, afar off.

A few yards from the edge of his clearing, Gorm
Smallin stumbled and fell over a small long hillock.
It was a grave, with a plain head-board. The mountaineer
never travels without his tin match-box. He
made a light, and read on the board: —

“S. S.”

“Sary Smallin!” he said to himself. “Wife dead,

He strode on, with unutterable thoughts straining his
soul. Presently Thalberg rose grimly before him. The
house was dark on that side. The negroes were gone
with the Yankees. “They won't bother me,” he said to
himself, as he thought of it. He walked round the
house. One room was lighted, on the other side. He
had but time to jump behind a tree as John Sterling
passed into the house.

“Hear the girls coming down the road, wife!” said
the cheery voice. “Let 's get 'em some supper ready.
They 'll eat like young hyenas!”

Gorm Smallin went back to the dark side. A low
window was open. He pulled off his shoes and climbed
into it. It was the same by which Cranston had left
Thalberg. Disgrace left it; Revenge entered it.


Page 220

Revenge is ingenious. Gorm Smallin dug a hole in
the plastering with his knife, and cut through a half-dozen
laths. In the space between the laths and the
inner wall he deposited a charge of powder, upon
which he carefully rested the corners of two or three
book-leaves which he tore out of Phil Sterling's Carlyle
on the table. Upon the other corners of these
leaves he deposited a pile of paper, and splinters of
laths split off with his knife. He then lit one end of a
twig of rotten-wood and placed it in the opening, the
other end resting on the powder. Deftly and quietly
he locked the door on the inside, and dropped from
the window. No danger of any body's seeing the fire
from outside, — he said to himself, and grinned. He
stole round to the very edge of a lane of light that
shot straight out from the window of the music-room,
among the black tree-trunks. He selected a tree, and
stood behind it: then pointed his gun so that the riflesight
was in the glare and his eye in the shade.
“Mought blind me,” he muttered: “shines the bead
splendid, though. They 'll likely set thar, a'ter the
women's had supper. Hit 'll do!” He took down his
rifle, folded his arms upon the muzzle of it, and stood
still as a statue.

Two hours Gorm Smallin stood. His hope began to
fail him when John Sterling entered the music-room,
Ottilie, Felix, and wife following.

“Well, girls,” said he, “if it is n't too soon after supper,
let 's have some music.”

John Sterling paced about, noiselessly, while they

Gorm Smallin's eyes must needs play unceasingly in


Page 221
all directions. He saw a tall form cross the lane of
light from the other window. It placed itself against a
tree, and fixed eyes upon Ottilie, and stood, statue-like.
It was the poor Indian, Chilhowee, worshipping as he
worshipped nightly. Presently another dusky figure appeared
on the other side of the light-bar, and took stand,
and gazed upon Felix from among the trees. Gorm
made it out to be John Cranston; whereat his soul
shouted with a hellish exultation.

“They 'll all see Gorm Smallin's revenge!” he said
to himself. Nature, probably upon the same principle
that her sharks can't bite without turning over and
giving time, has ordained that the revengeful man, if
deliberate, must always make a little speech, at least
to himself, before he commits the fatal act. Gorm
Smallin began to gloat, and menace, and taunt, and
chuckle, and prematurely triumph.

John Sterling sat between the girls, and his wife
just behind him, with head lovingly over his shoulder.
Alternately his tender hand stroked hair and cheek of
all three.

“Wife and daughters,” he said, “I feel, somehow, as
if the world would end to-night; but I 've often felt so
before, when the music roused me.”

“And so we need n't pack our trunks?” interposed
Felix, with a roguish twinkle of the eyes.

“No. But listen,” continued John with a tender solemnity
— “Listen. God, help us all. Wife and children,
life is Force. Now, Force effects motion and
resistance. Time and space are measures of resistance,
and motion varies inversely to them, so that,


Page 222
resistance being abolished, Force becomes infinite and
time and space nothing. Now, after death they say
time and space are abolished; but as our Force does
not become infinite, therefore resistance continues.
What shall take the place of time and space as its
measures? Your young minds may dream of it.

“Motion is change; science is the observation of the
changes or motions of mind and matter. Art effects
changes or motions of mind and matter. All men
can see, and all men can effect, and therefore all men
are savans and all men are artists. The good savant sees
correctly what is low and what is high, and the good
artist effects higher results from lower ones. There will
come times in your life when you will find this generalization
not wholly unhelpful to you.

“Now passing by the million million savans and
artists that by day and by night through the world are
seeing and doing, I wish to speak to you of some particular

“Seven motions of matter belong to the painter, and
seven motions of matter belong to the musician: these
be the seven colors of the spectrum and the seven
tones of the scale. And as the prism analyzes light into
seven colors, and the string analyzes sound into seven
tones, so life analyzes time into seven days of the week.

“Whereby hangeth a fancy, which being but a fancy,
yet will not hurt you to dream upon it. For inasmuch
as there be living motes that hover in the seven colors
or float in the seven tones; so may we be living motes
that hover and float through the seven days, and these
seven days may be to some higher folk in the universe
but seven colors, and to other higher folk but seven


Page 223
tones. Aye, this present life may be but a wavering
ray, seven-colored, thrown from above. Runs not the
spectrum from red up to violet, which is to say, advances
not life from red Hades up to violet Heaven?

“And this present life may be but a seven-toned
sound, struck from above. Runs not the scale from
Do to Si, — from a groan to a joy-cry?

“So, exeunt fancies, all! Enter facts!

“The facts are: there be five channels through
which the artist receives lower effects, and through
which he returns forth higher ones. These be taste,
touch, smell, sight, and hearing. Now, by common
consent of all men, it is agreed that taste, touch, and
smell, poor devils, shall be forever engaged principally
as scullions and waiters for humanity, since eating,
feeling, and smelling are considered as the (so to
speak) mere domestic necessities of the flesh, and their
pleasures rank as high only as table-pleasures, and vary
according to condiments, sauces, and the quick-waning
activity of the said scullions and waiters.

“But sight and hearing, as they are highest by physical
measurement, are also highest by spiritual rank.
For while, one moment, the eye and the ear with their
less happy brethren, perform the offices of scullions and
waiters, yet the next moment they may be performing
the offices of genii and angels. For these have power
beyond the flesh and the earth, over the spirit of man.

“As, for instance; in a morning, our ear will bring to
us the sound of the breakfast gong, and our eye will
cunningly superintend our steps and show us the way to
the breakfast-room. Base scullions and waiters, so far,
but remarkably useful! Wait, though. We sit at breakfast-table


Page 224
and read the paper. Eye informs us there
will be a concert to-night, and Liszt will play some of
Chopin's best music. Bravo, Eye! thou art advancing
from thy scullionship and art already a private secretary!
And bravo, again; for thou art lending a helping
hand to thy poor brother Ear, and arranging fine
things for him!

“Wait, though.

“Night comes; we go to the concert-room. Liszt
plays; we writhe under the music like the old priestess
under the divine afflatus, so that our souls prophesy
good things; and we shout in glory that the man there
with his piano and his wondrous fingers has made conquest
over the grim kingdom of the unutterable, — has
spoken the otherwise unspeakable; and as we leave
the concert-room, brave Sight flashes up to the skies
and lets down the star-beams, upon which, as upon a
swaying golden ladder, our souls mount up to the
very hem of the garment of God, we hearing, as we
pass, the infinite music of the worlds singing while
they spin the thread of time. And so, bravissimo, O
Eye and Ear! This morning ye were but scullions and
waiters; to-night ye have become fair heavenly friends,
by whose airy guidance we wander through the morning
glades, by the clear rivers, and across the mysterious
wonder-chasms of the super-sensuous Unknown Land!

“This morning ye conducted us to breakfast; to-night
ye have wafted us to heaven!

“And so, dear wife and daughters, eye and ear are
ever willing, either as swineherd or as Apollo, to serve
and befriend the kings that paint and sing.

“But it would seem that there will be some difference


Page 225
of dignity between these two. For surely, the Art of
to-day is music! I cannot now talk of photographs,
which are in omnium manibus. But the art of painting
has not struck its infinite roots into the domestic
every-daynesses of life, as the art of music has. There
are not many homes in the land where one finds a
painter's palette or a camera; but where is the cottage
or hovel in which one will not find either a piano, a
guitar, a flute, a violin, a banjo, a jew's-harp, a whistling
faculty, or a singing faculty? To go to the lowest form
at once, do but look at the ten-year-old negro balancing
his bucket on his head as he carries it home from spring
or pump! Oh never, never would he `tote' it safely,
an he did not whistle all the time! He balanceth his
burden safely, as the circus man his iron balls — to
music. Every man might better balance his burden
wherewith he is laden, if he kept time to music! Is
any here that hath no burden, of water-buckets or of
sins? If any, — forever let him hold his peace, nor
whistle nor sing!”

At this moment a breeze came through the tree-tops,
and swelled, and died away; making noise as if the
maidenly bosom of the night heaved and panted with
some fright of a dream, till the maid woke, and sighed
for satisfaction that it was only a dream-fright, and
rustled her night-drapery and composed herself to
sleep again.

At this moment Cranston in the dark was devouring
with his eyes sweet bending Felix in the light. “My
queen, my queen!” he said, and yielded himself to the
ecstasy of love and the luxury of gazing.

And Gorm Smallin even, after all, was growing softer-hearted


Page 226
each moment, and at the same time nerving
himself, with curses and taunts and broodings upon
ashes and death, to shoot.

And the Indian, gazing upon Ottilie with folded arms,
had now no soul, but only a mist instead, which was
interfused in all its folds with an intense undeveloped
lightning of pure worship.

And the air was full with floating May-balm of buds
and young leaves and mountain-flowers, and every
moment ten thousand May-germs thrilled into life, and
emitted each an odorous sigh in salute to cool bulbous
brethren and grave trees and leafy neighbors.

“And this, dear wife and daughters,” continued John
Sterling, “brings me to the practical application of my
little sermon. Remember now all I have said; especially
that the artist's business is to effect higher
motions from lower ones. Now, Adam the first man,
and Christ the second man, did grieve and grieve. It
is to record this that the Bible comes to us. This is
the one Fact of humanity. My dearies, let us shoot
right up behind the lark, on the brightest morning, and
see what we shall see! The hills and mountains first
flatten and then vanish, in the common level of the
plain; and, exactly so, those moral hills, — political
distinctions, social inequalities, moral superiorities,
ethnical disparities, — all vanish in the common level
of humanity.

“As we go up, first die out the songs of birds and
the murmur of brooks; then the roar of seas, the howl
of great winds, the grind of polar ice-fields, the stound
of earthquakes and volcanoes, faint away into silence;
and, exactly so, the din of battles, the iron clangor of


Page 227
labor, the hum of commerce, the turmoil of life, all
mingle, and we hear them not.

“Let us now leave our lark, whose wings refuse
already to bear him in this thin air to which we are
arrived, and let us ascend to where the atmosphere is
rare enough — rare enough — well, rare enough, my
girls, for the lungs of spirits to inhale.

“Here let us pause and look down.

“Upon the glimmering plain of human life we discern
one huge pyramid which overglooms the whole

“Up from this desert floats to our ears one single

“This pyramid is a fact: it is suffering; and the
sound is a moan!

“Brave Eye and Ear, therefore, withdrawing themselves
to a convenient hearing and seeing point, inform
us of suffering, of suffering, of suffering, alone.

“Now suffering being the result they bring to us, it
is our duty, as good artists, to return forth a higher
result, through eye and ear.


“Leaving aside Eye, for I have not time to talk of
him, specially,— the great part of this suffering which
comes to us is no better than mere physical suffering,
mere sensual pain of appetites and disappointments,
mere regret for a bad conscience whose principal disturbance
is that it keeps us from sleeping well o' nights,
mere dyspepticities and humors. All these base metals,
music, a magic stone, transmutes into pure gold; into
the strange sorrow you spoke of once, Felix. Know
ye not the pain of music? It is composed of all other


Page 228
pains, fused and purified into a great, pure, unanalyzable
yearning after God. This is what music does.


“Well: to make a home out of a household (for
instance), given the raw materials, to wit, wife, children,
a friend or two, and a house — two other things
are necessary. These are, a good fire, and good music.
And inasmuch as we can do without the fire for half the
year, I may say music is the one essential. After the
evening spent round the piano, or the flute, or the
violin, how warm and how chastened is the kiss with
which the family all say good night! Ah, the music
has taken all the day-cares and thrown them into its
terrible alembic, and boiled them and racked them and
cooled them, till they are crystallized into one care,
which is a most sweet and rare desirable sorrow — the
yearning for God. We all, from little toddler to father,
go to bed with so much of heaven in our hearts, at
least, as that we long for it unutterably, and believe it.

“My daughters, ye are both beautiful, and men will
love you, and likely some strong hearts will halve a life
with you. I wish you to show that the artist-life is not
necessarily a Bohemian life, but that it may coincide
with and be the home-life.

“And when ye play to your strong hearts, whether it
be daytime music of wheels, needles, and household
work, or night-music of pianos and voices, play well;
that the listening folk beyond us may detect your note
in the grand tone of the day, and may recognize it as a
full, clear, round tone, well and featly and strongly
struck from life, or from piano, or from voice.

“Amen!” said John Sterling; and fell instantly dead


Page 229
upon his wife's shoulder, who fell instantly dead upon
his shoulder, both slowly sinking to the floor. For
Gorm Smallin's bullet had passed through Sterling's
right eye full into the forehead of his wife, which she
had just laid lovingly against his temple. Terrified at
his own act, Gorm's mind became almost a blank.
There was but one definite idea in it — to keep still.

Cranston and the Indian, hearing the shot and seeing
the deaths, emerged into the light-lanes from the windows
and simultaneously became aware of each other.

“O scoundrel, was it you?” hissed Cranston, and
drew his pistol and fired at the Indian. Poor Chilhowee,
believing in his turn that Cranston had committed
the bloody deed, was in the act of raising his
rifle as he received Cranston's ball in his shoulder. He
dropped the gun, but continued running to the house,
and he and Cranston rushed up the low steps and in at
the open balcony window of the music-room together.

As Cranston, with the Indian just behind, dashed
into the room, he stopped a moment to collect his
thoughts. Felix had thrown herself upon the two
corpses and was alternately pressing the yet-warm lips
of her loved ones convulsively to her own. She raised
her head a moment, and as she saw the haggard countenance
and yet smoking pistol of Cranston, exclaimed,
“O murderer! O my darlings!” and fell back upon
the corpses, mute, with wild kisses.

Ottilie, involuntarily shrinking from the wild-eyed
face which so suddenly appeared, had knelt near the
bodies. She was praying, in a deep, husky voice.
“Liebe Gott, liebe Gott,” said she, “why dost thou
not burn with lightning this fiend who ruins and murders,


Page 230
and then insults with his presence the living form
of the ruined and the dead forms of the murdered?”

These words conveyed their meaning slowly to Cranston's
mind. It was not till he had stooped by the
bodies and placed his hand on the hearts and ascertained
that no throb was in them, that the still-ringing
words of the women flashed upon him the natural mistake
into which they had fallen.

“I left here in disgrace,” thought he rapidly; “they
have not heard from me since; I reappear, at night,
with pistol in hand,” — he dropped it in horror, —
“just after the shot. Ha!” he said aloud in his bitterness,
“just as I am on the verge of repentance, the
merciful God bans me from my love with this hideous
mistake, which every circumstance seems to justify,
and which I cannot possibly disprove!” He staggered
to a chair, and sat, and clinched his burning forehead
in both hands. His reason began to strain and crack;
brilliant sparkles commenced to shoot before his
closed eyes, — sparkles known to the delirious. But
the necessity for action warned him to dismiss the
thoughts that were driving him towards madness.

A similar reflection had already brought Ottilie to
her senses. She was half-aimlessly smoothing the dress
and straightening the arms of the dead, when Cranston
rose from his chair.

“Lend a hand,” said the latter to Chilhowee. “It is
done. Let 's carry them where they can be cared for
as the dead should be.”

Up the broad stairs the bodies were borne, Ottilie
leading the way and Felix following, mute, with stony
eyes, blank-faced, broken-hearted, pathetic in her grief


Page 231
that had grown too scornfully great for demonstration.

Honest Gretchen, busy as any bee all day, had slept
through it all, peacefully. Just as the bodies were
being deposited in the apartment of John Sterling, loud
screams were heard from the other side the passage,
and, a moment afterwards, Gretchen came running in,
heedless of night-dress.

“Thalberg is a-fire!” she said, wringing her hands.
“Thalberg is on fire!”

“Great God, is the whole house doomed? Show me
where! Can it be put out?” exclaimed Cranston, dragging
Gretchen back in the direction from which she
came. A heavy volume of smoke was issuing from the
open door of her room; a tongue of flame occasionally
licked up through the smoke, and quickly the whole
house roared with the angry murmur of the long-smothered

“Down, all!” cried Cranston, darting back to the
death-room. “Can you carry one body, Chilhowee?”

“Up with it then; follow!” With many a stagger
and lurch, they got the dead out, and laid them upon
the turf.

“Where is Felix?” Not doubting but she would follow,
all had hastily descended.

But she had not seemed to hear the commotion.
Seated, with hands patiently folded, she was gazing into
vacancy, when Cranston returned to look for her.

“Come, Felix!”

She remained still as a statue.

There was no time to lose. The pine staircase was
already blazing with frightful violence.


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Cranston clasped the unheeding woman, and rushed,
half-blinded with smoke, down the flaming stairway.
His face was full of a fierce joy. He smiled, tossed
back his long black hair, looked upward as he leapt
along, and strained unconscious Felix to his bosom.
One time, he thought, if never again!

On the way down, he passed Chilhowee, going up.
Practical Gretchen! Just as Cranston had started
back for Felix, Gretchen called Chilhowee.

“You know Ottilie's room?”

Did he not know it? It was his church. He had
spent nights gazing at it.


“Her jewels! She left them to-night on the bureau.
Get them!”

The faithful Indian ran on his mission. As Cranston
deposited Felix in Ottilie's arms, they saw him coming.
As he neared the group, he staggered. Loss of blood
from Cranston's bullet-hole had weakened him. He
barely mustered strength to advance and hand the
jewel-box to Gretchen, when he reeled and fell.
Presently he opened his eyes, and fixed them upon
Ottilie, and lay still. Long ago her woman's heart
had divined his secret. She laid her hand upon his,
and pressed it, in reverence for his long devotion. He
smiled; and, ere long, death made rigid the smiling lips
and glazed the smiling eyes. “Thou faithful heart!”
murmured Ottilie, and leaned over and kissed the dark

Burning Thalberg did not long linger. A neighbor
or two — neighbors were scarce in the Beautiful Valley
— had arrived; but each stood in stupid bewilderment


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as he gazed at the dead on the ground and the fire leaping

The unsparing flames worked their will; and the
mansion was gone.

So, upon the smoke of their home, floated up to
heaven the souls of John Sterling and his wife.

So, in the ashes of this home, fell and was lost
utterly, the Hope of John Cranston.