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An Original Belle by E. P. Roe

Part 7 out of 10

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"In a moment, revolver in hand, he was gliding, like a shadow, from
cover to cover, and it was his good fortune to steal up behind the
sleepy sentinel, grasp his musket, and whisper, with his pistol
against his head, 'Not a sound, or you are dead.'

"The man was discreet enough to be utterly silent. In a moment
I was by Rush's side--that was the name of the brave fellow who
accompanied me--and found that he had disarmed his prisoner. I
told Rush to take the rebel's musket and walk up and down the beat,
and especially to show himself in the moonlight. I made the Johnny
give me his word not to escape, telling him that he would be shot
instantly if he did. I gave him the impression that others were
watching him. I then tied his hands behind him and fastened him
to a tree in the shade. Feeling that I had not a moment to lose,
I passed rapidly down through the woods bearing to the left. The
place was only too familiar, and even in the moonlight I could
recognize the still forms of some of my own company. I found two
or three of our regiment still alive, and hushed them as I pressed
water to their lips. I then asked if they knew anything about
Strahan. They did not. Hastening on I reached the spot, by a large
boulder, where I had seen Strahan fall. He was not there, or anywhere
near it. I even turned up the faces of corpses in my wish to assure
myself; for our dead officers had been partially stripped. I called
his name softly, then more distinctly, and at last, forgetful in
my distress, loudly. Then I heard hasty steps, and crouched down
behind a bush, with my hand upon my revolver. But I had been seen.

"A man approached rapidly, and asked, in a gruff voice, 'What the
devil are you doing here?'

"'Looking for a brother who fell hereabouts,' I replied, humbly.

"'You are a--Yankee,' was the harsh reply, 'and a prisoner; I know
your Northern tongue."

"I fired instantly, and wounded him, but not severely, for he fired
in return, and the bullet whizzed by my ear. My next shot brought
him down, and then I started on a dead run for the woods, regained
Rush, and, with our prisoner, we stole swiftly towards our lines.
We were out of sure range before the startled pickets of the enemy
realized what was the matter. A few harmless shots were sent after
us, and then we gained our lines. I am satisfied that the man I shot
was a rebel officer visiting the picket line. Our firing inside
their lines could not be explained until the gap caused by the
missing sentinel we had carried off was discovered.

"Then they knew that 'Yanks,' as they called us, had been within
their lines. Rush, taking the sentinel's place while I was below
the hill, had prevented an untimely discovery of our expedition.
Perhaps it was well that I met the rebel officer, for he was making
directly towards the spot where I had left my companion.

"The poor fellow we had captured was so used up that he could
scarcely keep pace with us. He said he had not had any rest worth
speaking of for forty-eight hours. I passed through our lines, now
alert, and reported at Division Headquarters. The general laughed,
congratulated us, and said he was glad we had not found Strahan among
the dead or seriously wounded, for now there was a good chance of
seeing him again.

"I turned over our prisoner to him, and soon all was quiet again.
Captain Markham, of our regiment, greeted us warmly, but I was
so exhausted that I contented him with a brief outline of what
had occurred, and said I would tell him the rest in the morning.
Satisfied now that Strahan was not crying for water, I was soon
asleep again by the side of Rush, and did not waken till the sun
was well above the horizon.

"I soon learned that the vedettes of the enemy had disappeared from
before our lines, and that our skirmishers were advancing. After a
hasty breakfast I followed them, and soon reached again the ground
I had visited in the night. On the way I met two of our men to whom
I had given water. The other man had meanwhile died. The survivors
told me positively that they had not seen or heard of Strahan after
he had fallen. They also said that they had received a little food
and water from the rebels, or they could not have survived.

"The dead were still unburied, although parties were sent out
within our picket line during the day to perform this sad duty,
and I searched the ground thoroughly for a wide distance, acting
on the possibility that Strahan might have crawled away somewhere.

"I shall not describe the appearance of the field, or speak of my
feelings as I saw the bodies of the brave men and officers of our
regiment who had so long been my companions.

"The rest of my story is soon told. From our surgeon I had positive
assurance that Strahan had not been brought to our corps hospital.
Therefore, I felt driven to one of two conclusions: either he was
in a Confederate hospital on the field beyond our lines, or else
he was a prisoner.

"As usual, the heavy concussion of the artillery produced a rain-storm,
which set in on the afternoon of the 4th, and continued all night.
As the enemy appeared to be intrenching in a strong position, there
seemed no hope of doing any more that day, and I spent the night
in a piece of woods with my men.

"On the dark, dreary morning of the 5th, it was soon discovered
that the Confederate army had disappeared. As the early shades of
the previous stormy evening had settled over the region, its movement
towards Virginia had begun. I became satisfied before night that
Strahan also was southward bound, for, procuring a horse, I rode
all day, visiting the temporary Confederate hospitals. Since they
had left their own severely wounded men, they certainly would not
have taken Union soldiers unable to walk. Not content with my first
search, I spent the next two days in like manner, visiting the
houses in Gettysburg and vicinity, until satisfied that my effort
was useless. Then, availing myself of a brief leave of absence, I
came north."

Blauvelt then gave Merwyn some suggestions, adding: "If you find
no trace of him on the field, I would advise, as your only chance,
that you follow the track of Lee's army, especially the roads on
which their prisoners were taken. Strahan might have given out by
the way, and have been left at some farmhouse or in a village. It
would be hopeless to go beyond the Potomac."

Rising, he concluded: "Mark my words, and see if I am not right.
Strahan is a prisoner, and will be exchanged." Then with a laugh and
a military salute to Marian, he said, "I have finished my report."

"It is accepted with strong commendation and congratulations," she
replied. "I shall recommend you for promotion."

"Good-by, Miss Vosburgh," said Merwyn, gravely. "I shall start in
the morning, and I agree with Captain Blauvelt that my best chance
lies along the line of Lee's retreat."

Again she gave him her hand kindly in farewell; but her thought
was: "How deathly pale he is! This has been a night of horrors
to him,--to me also; yet if I were a man I know I could meet what
other men face."

"She was kind," Merwyn said to himself, as he walked through the
deserted streets; "but I fear it was only the kindness of pitiful
toleration. It is plainer than ever that she adores heroic action,
that her ardor in behalf of the North is scarcely less than that of
my mother for the South, and yet she thinks I am not brave enough
to face a musket What a figure I make beside the men of whom we
have heard to-night! Well, to get away, to be constantly employed,
is my only hope. I believe I should become insane if I brooded much
longer at home."

In spite of his late hours, he ordered an early breakfast, proposing
to start without further delay.

The next morning, as he sat down to the table, the doorbell rang,
there was a hasty step down the hall, and Strahan, pale and gaunt,
with his arm in a sling, burst in upon him, and exclaimed, with
his old sang froid and humor: "Just in time. Yes, thanks; I'll stay
and take a cup of coffee with you."

Merwyn greeted him with mingled wonder and gladness, yet even at
that moment the thought occurred to him: "Thwarted on every side!
I can do absolutely nothing."

After Strahan was seated Merwyn said: "Half an hour later I should
have been off to Gettysburg in search of you. Blauvelt is here, and
says he saw you fall, and since a blank, so far as you are concerned."

"Thank God! He escaped then?"

"Yes; but is wounded slightly. What is the matter with your arm?"

"Only a bullet-hole through it. That's nothing for Gettysburg.
I was captured, and escaped on the first night's march. Dark and
stormy, you know. But it's a long story, and I'm hungry as a wolf.
Where's Blauvelt?"

"He's a guest at Mr. Vosburgh's."

"Lucky fellow!" exclaimed Strahan; and for some reason the edge of
his appetite was gone.

"Yes, he IS a lucky fellow, indeed; and so are you," said Merwyn,
bitterly. "I was there last evening till after midnight;" and
he explained what had occurred, adding, "Blauvelt trumpeted your
praise, and on the night of the 3d he went inside the enemy's picket
line in search of you, at the risk of his life.'

"Heaven bless the fellow! Wait till I spin my yarn. I shall give
him credit for the whole victory."

"Write a note to Miss Vosburgh, and I'll send it right down."

"Confound it, Merwyn! don't you see I'm winged? You will even have
to cut my food for me as if I were a baby."

"Very well, you dictate and I'll write. By the way, I have a note
for you in my pocket."

Strahan seized upon it and forgot his breakfast. Tears suffused
his blue eyes before he finished it, and at last he said, "Well,
if you HAD found me in some hospital this would have cured me, or
else made death easy."

Merwyn's heart grew heavy, in spite of the fact that he had told
himself so often that there was no hope for him, and he thought,
"In the terrible uncertainty of Strahan's fate she found that he
was more to her than she had supposed, and probably revealed as
much in her note, which she feared might reach him only when death
was sure."

The glad intelligence was despatched, and then Merwyn said: "After
you have breakfasted I will send you down in my coupe."

"You will go with me?"

"No. There is no reason why I should be present when Miss Vosburgh
greets her friends. I remained last night by request, that I might
be better informed in prosecuting my search."

Strahan changed the subject, but thought: "She's loyal to her friends.
Merwyn, with all his money, has made no progress. Her choice will
eventually fall on Lane, Blauvelt, or poor little me. Thank Heaven
I gave the Johnnies the slip! The other fellows shall have a fair
field, but I want one, too."

Before they had finished their breakfast Blauvelt came tearing in,
and there was a fire of questions between the brother-officers.

Tears and laughter mingled with their words; but at last they
became grave and quiet as they realized how many brave comrades
would march with them no more.

In a few moments Blauvelt said, "Come; Miss Marian said she would
not take a mouthful of breakfast till you returned with me."

Merwyn saw them drive away, and said, bitterly, "Thanks to my
mother, I shall never have any part in such greetings."

CHAPTER XXXVII.

STRAHAN'S ESCAPE.

AFTER Blauvelt had left Mr. Vosburgh's breakfast-table in obedience
to his own and Marian's wish to see Strahan at once, the young girl
laughed outright--she would laugh easily to-day--and exclaimed:--

"Poor Mr. Merwyn! He is indeed doomed to inglorious inaction. Before
he could even start on his search, Strahan found him. His part in
this iron age will consist only in furnishing the sinews of war
and dispensing canned delicacies in the hospitals. I do feel sorry
for him, for last night he seemed to realize the fact himself. He
looked like a ghost, back in the shadow that he sought when Captain
Blauvelt's story grew tragic. I believe he suffered more in hearing
about the shells than Mr. Blauvelt did in hearing and seeing them."

"It's a curious case," said her father, musingly. "He was and has
been suffering deeply from some cause. I have not fully accepted
your theory yet."

"Since even your sagacity can construct no other, I am satisfied
that I am right. But I have done scoffing at Mr. Merwyn, and should
feel as guilty in doing so as if I had shown contempt for physical
deformity. I have become so convinced that he suffers terribly from
consciousness of his weakness, that I now pity him from the depths
of my heart. Just think of a young fellow of his intelligence
listening to such a story as we heard last night and of the inevitable
contrasts that he must have drawn!"

"Fancy also," said her father, smiling, "a forlorn lover seeing
your cheeks aflame and your eyes suffused with tears of sympathy
for young heroes, one of whom was reciting his epic. Strahan is
soon to repeat his; then Lane will appear and surpass them all."

"Well," cried Marian, laughing, "you'll admit they form a trio to
be proud of."

"Oh, yes, and will have to admit more, I suppose, before long.
Girls never fall in love with trios."

"Nonsense, papa, they are all just like brothers to me." Then there
was a rush of tears to her eyes, and she said, brokenly, "The war
is not over yet, and perhaps not one of them will survive."

"Come, my dear," her father reassured her, gently, "you must imitate
your soldier friends, and take each day as it comes. Remembering
what they have already passed through, I predict that they all
survive. The bravest men are the most apt to escape."

Marian's greeting of Strahan was so full of feeling, and so many
tears suffused her dark blue eyes, that they inspired false hopes
in his breast and unwarranted fears in that of Blauvelt. The heroic
action and tragic experience of the young and boyish Strahan had
touched the tenderest chords in her heart. Indeed, as she stood,
holding his left hand in both her own, they might easily have
been taken for brother and sister. His eyes were almost as blue as
hers, and his brow, where it had not been exposed to the weather,
as fair. She knew of his victory over himself. Almost at the same
time with herself, he had cast behind him a weak, selfish, frivolous
life, assuming a manhood which she understood better than others.
Therefore, she had for him a tenderness, a gentleness of regard,
which her other friends of sterner natures could not inspire. Indeed,
so sisterly was her feeling that she could have put her arms about
his neck and welcomed him with kisses, without one quickening throb
of the pulse. But he did not know this then, and his heart bounded
with baseless hopes.

Poor Blauvelt had never cherished many, and the old career with
which he had tried to be content defined itself anew. He would
fight out the war, and then give himself up to his art.

He could be induced to stay only long enough to finish his breakfast,
and then said: "Strahan can tell me the rest of his story over
the camp-fire before long. My mother has now the first claim, and
I must take a morning train in order to reach home to-night."

"I also must go," exclaimed Mr. Vosburgh, looking at his watch,
"and shall have to hear your story at second hand from Marian. Rest
assured," he added, laughing, "it will lose nothing as she tells
it this evening."

"And I order you, Captain Blauvelt, to make this house your
headquarters when you are in town," said Marian, giving his hand
a warm pressure in parting. Strahan accompanied his friend to the
depot, then sought his family physician and had his wound dressed.

"I advise that you reach your country home soon," said the doctor;
"your pulse is feverish."

The young officer laughed and thought he knew the reason better
than his medical adviser, and was soon at the side of her whom he
believed to be the exciting cause of his febrile symptoms.

"Oh," he exclaimed, throwing himself on a lounge, "isn't this
infinitely better than a stifling Southern prison?" and he looked
around the cool, shadowy drawing-room, and then at the smiling face
of his fair hostess, as if there were nothing left to be desired.

"You have honestly earned this respite and home visit," she said,
taking a low chair beside him, "and now I'm just as eager to hear
your story as I was to listen to that of Captain Blauvelt, last
night."

"No more eager?" he asked, looking wistfully into her face.

"That would not be fair," she replied, gently. "How can I distinguish
between my friends, when each one surpasses even my ideal of manly
action?"

"You will some day," he said, thoughtfully. "You cannot help doing
so. It is the law of nature. I know I can never be the equal of
Lane and Blauvelt."

"Arthur," she said, gravely, taking his hand, "let me be frank with
you. It will be best for us both. I love you too dearly, I admire
and respect you too greatly, to be untrue to your best interests
even for a moment. What's more, I am absolutely sure that you only
wish what is right and best for me. Look into my eyes. Do you not
see that if your name was Arthur Vosburgh, I could scarcely feel
differently? I do love you more than either Mr. Lane or Mr. Blauvelt.
They are my friends in the truest and strongest sense of the word,
but--let me tell you the truth--you have come to seem like a younger
brother. We must be about the same age, but a woman is always older
in her feelings than a man, I think. I don't say this to claim any
superiority, but to explain why I feel as I do. Since I came to
know--to understand you--indeed, I may say, since we both changed
from what we were, my thoughts have followed you in a way that
they would a brother but a year or two younger than myself,--that
is, so far as I can judge, having had no brother. Don't you
understand me?"

"Yes," he replied, laughing a little ruefully, "up to date."

"Very well," she added, with an answering laugh, "let it be then
to date. I shall not tell you that I feel like a sister without
being as frank as one. I have never loved any one in the way--Oh,
well, you know. I don't believe these stern times are conducive to
sentiment. Come, tell me your story."

"But you'll give me an equal chance with the others," he pleaded.

She now laughed outright. "How do I know what I shall do?" she
asked. "I may come to you some day for sympathy and help. According
to the novels, people are stricken down as if by one of your hateful
shells and all broken up. I don't know, but I'm inclined to believe
that while a girl can withhold her love from an unworthy object,
she cannot deliberately give it here or there as she chooses. Now
am I not talking to you like a sister?"

"Yes, too much so--"

"Oh, come, I have favored you more highly than any one."

"Do not misunderstand me," he said, earnestly, "I'm more grateful
than I can tell you, but--"

"But tell me your story. There is one thing I can give you at
once,--the closest attention."

"Very well. I only wish you were like one of the enemy's batteries,
so I could take you by storm. I'd face all the guns that were at
Gettysburg for the chance."

"Arthur, dear Arthur, I do know what you have faced from a simple
sense of duty and patriotism. Blauvelt was a loyal, generous friend,
and he has told us."

"You are wrong. 'The girl I left behind me' was the corps-de-reserve
from which I drew my strength. I believe the same was true of
Blauvelt, and a better, braver fellow never drew breath. He would
make a better officer than I, for he is cooler and has more brains."

"Now see here, Major Strahan," cried Marian, in mock dignity,
"as your superior officer, I am capable of judging of the merits
of you both, and neither of you can change my estimate. You are
insubordinate, and I shall put you under arrest if you don't tell
me how you escaped at once. You have kept a woman's curiosity in
check almost as long as your brave regiment held the enemy, and
that's your greatest achievement thus far. Proceed. Captain Blauvelt
has enabled me to keep an eye on you till you fell and the enemy
charged over you. Now you know just where to begin."

"My prosaic story is soon told. Swords and pike-staffs! what a
little martinet you are! Well, the enemy was almost on me. I could
see their flushed, savage faces. Even in that moment I thought of
you and whispered, 'Good-by,' and a prayer to God for your happiness
flashed through my mind."

"Arthur, don't talk that way. I can't stand it;" and there was a
rush of tears to her eyes.

"I'm beginning just where you told me to. The next second there
was a sting in my right arm, then something knocked me over and I
lost consciousness for a few moments. I am satisfied, also, that
I was grazed by a bullet that tore my scabbard from my side. When
I came to my senses, I crawled behind a rock so as not to be shot
by our own men, and threw away my sword. I didn't want to surrender
it, you know. Soon after a rebel jerked me to my feet.

"'Can you stand?' he asked.

"'I will try,' I answered.

"'Join that squad of prisoners, then, and travel right smart.'

"I staggered away, too dazed for many clear ideas, and with others
was hurried about half a mile away to a place filled with the rebel
wounded. Here a Union soldier, who happened to have some bandages
with him, dressed my arm. The Confederate surgeons had more than
they could do to look after their own men. Just before dark all
the prisoners who were able to walk were led into a large field,
and a strong guard was placed around us.

"Although my wound was painful, I obtained some sleep, and awoke
the next morning with the glad consciousness that life with its
chances was still mine. We had little enough to eat that day, and
insufficient water to drink. This foretaste of the rebel commissariat
was enough for me, and I resolved to escape if it were a possible
thing."

"You wanted to see me a little, too, didn't you? Nevertheless, you
shall have a good lunch before long."

"Such is my fate. First rebel iron and now irony. I began to play
the role of feebleness and exhaustion, and it did not require much
effort. Of course we were all on the qui vive to see what would
happen next, and took an intense interest in the fight of the 3d,
which Blauvelt has described. The scene of the battle was hidden
from us, but we gathered, from the expression of our guards' faces
and the confusion around us, that all had not gone to the enemy's
mind, and so were hopeful. In the evening we were marched to the
outskirts of Gettysburg and kept there till the afternoon of the
4th, when we started towards Virginia. I hung back and dragged myself
along, and so was fortunately placed near the rear of the column,
and we plodded away. I thanked Heaven that the night promised to
be dark and stormy, and was as vigilant as an Indian, looking for
my chance. It seemed long in coming, for at first the guards were
very watchful. At one point I purposely stumbled and fell, hoping
to crawl into the bushes, but a rebel was right on me and helped
me up with his bayonet."

"O Arthur!"

"Yes, the risks were great, for we had been told that the first man
who attempted to leave the line would be shot. I lagged behind as
if I could not keep up, and so my vigilant guard got ahead of me,
and I proposed to try it on with the next fellow. I did not dare
look around, for my only chance was to give the impression that I
fell from utter exhaustion. We were winding around a mountain-side
and I saw some dark bushes just beyond me. I staggered towards them
and fell just beside them, and lay as if I were dead.

"A minute passed, then another, and then there was no other sound
than the tramp and splash in the muddy road. I edged still farther
and farther from this, my head down the steep bank, and soon found
myself completely hidden. The comrade next to me either would not
tell if he understood my ruse, or else was so weary that he had
not noticed me. If the guard saw me, he concluded that I was done
for and not worth further bother.

"After the column had passed, I listened to hear if others were
coming, then stumbled down the mountain, knowing that my best
chance was to strike some stream and follow the current. It would
take me into a valley where I would be apt to find houses. At last
I became so weary that I lay down in a dense thicket and slept till
morning. I awoke as hungry as a famished wolf, and saw nothing
but a dense forest on every side. But the brook murmured that it
would guide me, and I now made much better progress in the daylight.
At last I reached a little clearing and a wood-chopper's cottage.
The man was away, but his wife received me kindly and said I was
welcome to such poor fare and shelter as they had. She gave me
a glass of milk and some fried bacon and corn-bread, and I then
learned all about the nectar and ambrosia of the gods. In the
evening her husband came home and said that Lee had been whipped
by the Yanks, and that he was retreating rapidly, whereon I drank
to the health of my host nearly all the milk given that night by
his lean little cow. He was a good-natured, loutish sort of fellow,
and promised to guide me in a day or two to the west of the line
of retreat. He seemed very tearful of falling in with the rebels,
and I certainly had seen all I wished of them for the present, so
I was as patient as he desired. At last he kept his word and guided
me to a village about six miles away. I learned that Confederate
cavalry had been there within twenty-four hours, and, tired as I
was, I hired a conveyance and was driven to another village farther
to the northwest, for I now had a morbid horror of being recaptured.
After a night's rest in a small hamlet, I was taken in a light wagon
to the nearest railway station, and came on directly, arriving here
about six this morning. Finding our house closed, I made a descent
on Merwyn. I telegraphed mother last evening that I should be home
this afternoon."

"You should have telegraphed me, also," said Marian, reproachfully.
"You would have saved me some very sad hours. I did not sleep much
last night."

"Forgive me. I thoughtlessly wished to give you a surprise, and I
could scarcely believe you cared so much."

"You will always believe it now, Arthur. Merciful Heaven! what
risks you have had!"

"You have repaid me a thousand-fold. Friend, sister, or wife, you
will always be to me my good genius."

"I wish the war was over," she said, sadly. "I have not heard from
Captain Lane for weeks, and after the battle the first tidings
from Blauvelt was that he was wounded and that you were wounded
and missing. I can't tell you how oppressed I was with fear and
foreboding."

"How about Lane?" Strahan asked, with interest.

She told him briefly the story she had heard and of the silence
which had followed.

"He leads us all," was his response. "If he survives the war, he
will win you, Marian."

"You suggest a terrible 'if' and there may be many others. I admit
that he has kindled my imagination more than any man I ever saw, but
you, Arthur, have touched my heart. I could not speak to him, had
he returned, as I am now speaking to you. I have the odd feeling
that you and I are too near of kin to be anything to each other
except just what we are. You are so frank and true to me, that I
can't endure the thought of misleading you, even unintentionally."

"Very well, I'll grow up some day, and as long as you remain free,
I'll not give up hope."

"Foolish boy! Grow up, indeed! Who mounted his horse in that storm
of shells and bullets in spite of friendly remonstrances, and said,
'The men must see us to-day'? What more could any man do? I'm just
as proud of you as if my own brother had spoken the words;" and
she took his hand caressingly, then exclaimed, "You are feverish."

A second later her hand was on his brow, and she sprung up and
said, earnestly, "You should have attention at once."

"I fancy the doctor was right after all," said Strahan, rising
also. "I'll take the one o'clock train and be at home in a couple
of hours."

"I wish you would stay. You can't imagine what a devoted nurse I'll
be."

"Please don't tempt me. It wouldn't be best. Mamma is counting the
minutes before my return now, and it will please her if I come on
an earlier train. Mountain air and rest will soon bring me around,
and I can run down often. I think the fever proceeds simply from
my wound, which hasn't had the best care. I don't feel seriously
ill at all."

She ordered iced lemonade at once, lunch was hastened, and then
she permitted him to depart, with the promise that he would write
a line that very night.

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

A LITTLE REBEL.

THE next day Marian received a note from Strahan saying that some
bad symptoms had developed in connection with his wound, but that
his physician had assured him that if he would keep absolutely quiet
in body and mind for a week or two they would pass away, concluding
with the words: "I have promised mother to obey orders, and she
has said that she would write you from time to time about me. I do
not think I shall be very ill."

"O dear!" exclaimed Marian to her father at dinner, "what times these
are! You barely escape one cause of deep anxiety before there is
another. Now what is troubling you, that your brow also is clouded?"

"Is it not enough that your troubles trouble me?"

"There's something else, papa."

"Well, nothing definite. The draft, you know, begins on Saturday
of this week. I shall not have any rest of mind till this ordeal is
over. Outwardly all is comparatively quiet. So is a powder magazine
till a spark ignites it. This unpopular measure of the draft is to
be enforced while all our militia regiments are away. I know enough
about what is said and thought by thousands to fear the consequences.
I wish you would spend a couple of weeks with your mother in that
quiet New-England village."

"No, papa, not till you tell me that all danger is past. How much
I should have missed during the past few days if I had been away!
But for my feeling that my first duty is to you, I should have
entreated for your permission to become a hospital nurse. Papa,
women should make sacrifices and take risks in these times as well
as men."

"Well, a few more days will tell the story. If the draft passes
off quietly and our regiments return, I shall breathe freely once
more."

A letter was brought in, and she exclaimed, "Captain Lane's
handwriting!" She tore open the envelope and learned little more
at that time than that he had escaped, reached our lines, and gone
to Washington, where he was under the care of a skilful surgeon.
"In escaping, my wound broke out again, but I shall soon be able
to travel, and therefore to see you."

In order to account for Lane's absence and silence we must take
up the thread of his story where Zeb had dropped it. The cavalry
force of which Captain Lane formed a part retired, taking with it
the prisoners and such of the wounded as could bear transportation;
also the captured thief. Lane was prevented by his wound from
carrying out his threat, which his position as chief officer of
an independent command would have entitled him to do. The tides of
war swept away to the north, and he was left with the more seriously
wounded of both parties in charge of the assistant surgeon of his
regiment. As the shades of evening fell, the place that had resounded
with war's loud alarms, and had been the scene of so much bustle and
confusion, resumed much of its old aspect of quiet and seclusion. The
marks of conflict, the evidence of changes, and the new conditions
under which the family would be obliged to live, were only too
apparent. The grass on the lawn was trampled down, and there were
new-made graves in the edge of the grove. Fences were prostrate,
and partly burned. Horses and live stock had disappeared. The
negro quarters were nearly empty, the majority of the slaves having
followed the Union column. Confederate officers, who were welcome,
honored guests but a few hours before, were on their way to
Washington as prisoners. Desperately wounded and dying men were
in the out-buildings, and a Union officer, the one who had led the
attacking party and precipitated these events, had begun his long
fight for life in the mansion itself,--a strange and unexpected
guest.

Mrs. Barkdale, the mistress of the house, could scarcely rally from
her nervous shock or maintain her courage, in view of the havoc made
by the iron heel of war. Miss Roberta's heart was full of bitterness
and impotent revolt. She had the courage and spirit of her race,
but she could not endure defeat, and she chafed in seclusion and
anger while her mother moaned and wept. Miss Suwanee now became
the leading spirit.

"We can't help what's happened, and I don't propose to sit down
and wring my hands or pace my room in useless anger. We were all
for war, and now we know what war means. If I were a man I'd fight;
being only a woman, I shall do what I can to retrieve our losses
and make the most of what's left. After all, we have not suffered
half so much as hundreds of other families. General Lee will soon
give the Northerners some of their own medicine, and before the
summer is over will conquer a peace, and then we shall be proud of
our share in the sacrifices which so many of our people have made."

"I wouldn't mind any sacrifice,--no, not of our home itself,--if
we had won the victory," Roberta replied. "But to have been made
the instrument of our friends' defeat! It's too cruel. And then
to think that the man who wrought all this destruction, loss, and
disgrace is under this very roof, and must stay for weeks, perhaps!"

"Roberta, you are unjust," cried Suwanee. "Captain Lane proved
himself to be a gallant, considerate enemy, and you know it. What
would you have him do? Play into our hands and compass his own
defeat? He only did what our officers would have done. The fact
that a Northern officer could be so brave and considerate was a
revelation to me. We and all our property were in his power, and
his course was full of courtesy toward all except the armed foes
who were seeking to destroy him. The moment that even these became
unarmed prisoners he treated them with great leniency. Because we
had agreed to regard Northerners as cowards and boors evidently
doesn't make them so."

"You seem wonderfully taken with this Captain Lane."

"No," cried the girl, with one of her irresistible laughs; "but our
officer friends would have been taken with him if he had not been
wounded. I'm a genuine Southern girl, so much so that I appreciate
a brave foe and true gentleman. He protected us and our home as
far as he could, and he shall have the best hospitality which this
home can now afford. Am I not right, mamma?"

"Yes, my dear, even our self-respect would not permit us to adopt
any other course."

"You will feel as I do, Roberta, after your natural grief and anger
pass;" and she left the room to see that their wounded guest had
as good a supper as she could produce from diminished resources.

The surgeon, whom she met in the hall, told her that his patient was
feverish and a "little flighty" at times, but that he had expected
this, adding: "The comfort of his room and good food will bring him
around in time. He will owe his life chiefly to your hospitality,
Miss Barkdale, for a little thing would have turned the scale against
him. Chicken broth is all that I wish him to have to-night, thanks."

And so the process of care and nursing began. The Union colonel
had left a good supply of coffee, sugar, and coarse rations for
the wounded men, and Suwanee did her best to supplement these,
accomplishing even more by her kindness, cheerfulness, and winsome
ways than by any other means. She became, in many respects, a
hospital nurse, and visited the wounded men, carrying delicacies
to all alike. She wrote letters for the Confederates and read
the Bible to those willing to listen. Soon all were willing, and
blessed her sweet, sunny face. The wounds of some were incurable,
and, although her lovely face grew pale indeed in the presence of
death, she soothed their last moments with the gentlest ministrations.
There was not a man of the survivors, Union or rebel, but would
have shed his last drop of blood for her. Roberta shared in these
tasks, but it was not in her nature to be so impartial. Even among
her own people she was less popular. Among the soldiers, on both
sides, who did the actual fighting, there was not half the bitterness
that existed generally among non-combatants and those Southern
men who never met the enemy in fair battle; and now there was
a good-natured truce between the brave Confederates and those who
had perhaps wounded them, while all fought a battle with the common
foe,--death. Therefore the haggard faces of all lighted up with
unfeigned pleasure when "Missy S'wanee," as they had learned from
the negroes to call her, appeared among them.

But few slaves were left on the place, and these were old and feeble
ones who had not ventured upon the unknown waters of freedom. The
old cook remained at her post, and an old man and woman divided
their time between the house and the garden, Suwanee's light feet
and quick hands relieving them of the easier labors of the mansion.

Surgeon McAllister was loud in his praises of her general goodness
and her courtesy at the table, to which he was admitted; and Lane,
already predisposed toward a favorable opinion, entertained for her
the deepest respect and gratitude, inspired more by her kindness
to his men than by favors to himself. Yet these were not few, for
she often prepared delicacies with her own hands and brought them
to his door, while nearly every morning she arranged flowers and
sent them to his table.

Thus a week passed away. The little gathering of prostrate men,
left in war's trail, was apparently forgotten except as people from
the surrounding region came to gratify their curiosity.

Lane's feverish symptoms had passed away, but he was exceedingly
weak, and the wound in his shoulder was of a nature to require
almost absolute quiet. One evening, after the surgeon had told him
of Suwanee's ministrations beside a dying Union soldier, he said,
"I must see her and tell her of my gratitude."

On receiving his message she hesitated a single instant, then
came to his bedside. The rays of the setting sun illumined her
reddish-brown hair as she stood before him, and enhanced her beauty
in her simple muslin dress. Her expression towards him, her enemy,
was gentle and sympathetic.

He looked at her a moment in silence, almost as if she were a vision,
then began, slowly and gravely: "Miss Barkdale, what can I say to
you? I'm not strong enough to say very much, yet I could not rest
till you knew. The surgeon here has told me all,--no, not all. Deeds
like yours can be told adequately only in heaven. You are fanning
the spark of life in my own breast. I doubt whether I should have
lived but for your kindness. Still more to me has been your kindness
to my men, the poor fellows that are too often neglected, even
by their friends. You have been like a good angel to them. These
flowers, fragrant and beautiful, interpret you to me. You can't
know what reverence--"

"Please stop, Captain Lane," said Suwanee, beginning to laugh, while
tears stood in her eyes. "Why, I'm only acting as any good-hearted
Southern girl would act. I shall not permit you to think me a saint
when I am not one. I've a little temper of my own, which isn't
always sweet. I like attention and don't mind how many bestow it--in
brief, I am just like other girls, only more so, and if I became
what you say I shouldn't know myself. Now you must not talk any
more. You are still a little out of your head. You can only answer
one question. Is there anything you would like,--anything we can
do for you to help you get well?"

"No; I should be overwhelmed with gratitude if you did anything
more. I am grieved enough now when I think of all the trouble and
loss we have caused you."

"Oh, that's the fortune of war," she said, with a light, deprecatory
gesture. "You couldn't help it any more than we could."

"You are a generous enemy, Miss Barkdale."

"I'm no wounded man's enemy, at least not till he is almost well.
Were I one of my brothers, however, and you were on your horse again
with your old vigor--" and she gave him a little, significant nod.

He now laughed responsively, and said, "I like that." Then he added,
gravely: "Heaven grant I may never meet one of your brothers in
battle. I could not knowingly harm him."

"Thank you for saying that," she said, gently. "Now, tell me truly,
isn't there anything you wish?"

"Yes, I wish to get better, so that I may have a little of your
society. These days of inaction are so interminably long, and you
know I've been leading a very active life."

"I fear you wouldn't enjoy the society of such a hot little rebel
as I am."

"We should differ, of course, on some things, but that would
only give zest to your words. I'm not so stupid and prejudiced,
Miss Barkdale, as to fail to see that you are just as sincere and
patriotic as I am. I have envied the enlisted men when I have heard
of your attentions to them."

"Now," she resumed, laughing, "I've found out that the 'good angel'
is not treating you as well as the common soldiers. Men always let
out the truth sooner or later. If Surgeon McAllister will permit,
I'll read and talk to you also."

"I not only give my permission," said the surgeon, "but also assure
you that such kindness will hasten the captain's recovery, for time
hangs so heavily on his hands that he chafes and worries."

"Very well," with a sprightly nod at the surgeon, "since we've
undertaken to cure the captain, the most sensible thing for us to
do IS to cure him. You shall prescribe when and how the doses of
society are to be administered." Then to Lane, "Not another word;
good-night;" and in a moment she was gone.

Suwanee never forgot that interview, for it was the beginning
of a new and strange experience to her. From the first, her high,
chivalric spirit had been compelled to admire her enemy. The unknown
manner in which he had foiled her sister's strategy showed that
his mind was equal to his courage, while his hot indignation, when
he found them threatened by a midnight marauder, had revealed his
nature. Circumstances had swiftly disarmed her prejudices, and her
warm heart had been full of sympathy for him as he lay close to
the borders of death. All these things tended to throw down the
barriers which would naturally interpose between herself and a
Northern man. When, therefore, out of a full heart, he revealed
his gratitude and homage, she had no shield against the force of
his words and manner, and was deeply touched. She had often received
gallantry, admiration, and even words of love, but never before had
a man looked and acted as if he reverenced her and the womanhood
she represented. It was not a compliment that had been bestowed,
but a recognition of what she herself had not suspected. By her
family or acquaintances she had never been thought or spoken of as
an especially good girl. Hoydenish in early girlhood, leading the
young Southern gallants a chase in later years, ever full of frolic
and mischief, as fond of the dance as a bird of flying, she was
liked by every one, but the graver members of the community were
accustomed to shake their heads and remark, "She is a case; perhaps
she'll sober down some day." She had hailed the war with enthusiasm,
knowing little of its meaning, and sharing abundantly in rural
Virginia's contempt for the North. She had proved even a better
recruiting officer than her stately sister, and no young fellow
dared to approach her until be had donned the gray. When the war
came she met it with her own laughing philosophy and unconquerable
buoyancy, going wild over Southern victories and shrugging her plump
shoulders over defeats, crying: "Better luck next time. The Yankees
probably had a hundred to one. It won't take long for Southerners
to teach Northern abolitionists the difference between us." But
now she had seen Northern soldiers in conflict, had witnessed the
utmost degree of bravery on her side, but had seen it confronted
by equal courage, inspired by a leader who appeared irresistible.

This Northern officer, whose eyes had flashed like his sabre in
battle, whose wit had penetrated and used for his own purpose the
scheme of the enemy, and whose chivalric treatment of women plotting
against him had been knightly,--this man who had won her respect by
storm, as it were, had followed her simple, natural course during
the past week, and had metaphorically bowed his knee to her in
homage. What did it mean? What had she done? Only made the best of
things, and shown a little humanity toward some poor fellows whose
sufferings ought to soften hearts of flint.

Thus the girl reasoned and wondered. She did not belong to that
class who keep an inventory of all their good traits and rate them
high. Moulded in character by surrounding influences and circumstances,
her natural, unperverted womanhood and her simple faith in God
found unconscious expression in the sweet and gracious acts which
Lane had recognized at their true worth. The most exquisite music
is but a little sound; the loveliest and most fragrant flower is
but organized matter. True, she had been engaged in homely
acts,--blessing her enemies as the Bible commanded and her
woman's heart dictated,--but how were those acts performed? In her
unaffected manner and spirit consisted the charm which won the rough
men's adoration and Lane's homage. That which is simple, sincere,
spontaneous, ever attains results beyond all art and calculation.

"Missy S'wanee" couldn't understand it. She had always thought
of herself as "that child,", that hoyden, that frivolous girl
who couldn't help giggling even at a funeral, and now here comes
a Northern man, defeats and captures her most ardent admirer, and
bows down to her as if she were a saint!

"I wish I were what he thinks me to be," she laughed to herself.
"What kind of girls have they in the North, anyway, that he goes
on so? I declare, I've half a mind to try to be good, just for the
novelty of the thing. But what's the use? It wouldn't last with me
till the dew was off the grass in the morning.

"Heigho! I suppose Major Denham is thinking of me and pining in
prison, and I haven't thought so very much about him. That shows
what kind of an 'angel' I am. Now if there were only a chance of
getting him out by tricking his jailers and pulling the wool over
the eyes of some pompous old official, I'd take as great a risk as
any Southern--'Reverence,' indeed! Captain Lane must be cured of
his reverence, whatever becomes of his wound."

CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE CURE OF CAPTAIN LANE.

A DAINTIER bouquet than usual was placed on Lane's table next morning,
and the piece of chicken sent to his breakfast was broiled to the
nicest turn of brown. The old colored cook was friendly to the
"Linkum ossifer," and soon discovered that "Missy S'wanee" was not
averse to a little extra painstaking.

After the surgeon had made his morning rounds the young girl
visited the men also. She found them doing well, and left them doing
better; for, in rallying the wounded, good cheer and hopefulness
can scarcely be over-estimated.

As she was returning the surgeon met her, and said, "Captain Lane
is already better for your first visit and impatient for another."

"Then he's both patient and impatient. A very contradictory and
improper condition to remain in. I can read to him at once, after
I have seen if mamma wishes anything."

"Please do; and with your permission I'll take a little walk, for
I, too, am restless from inaction."

"I don't think it's nice for you to read alone with that officer,"
said Roberta.

"I see no impropriety at all," cried Suwanee. "Yours and mamma's
rooms are but a few yards away, and you can listen to all we say
if you wish. If your colonel was sick and wounded at the North
wouldn't you like some woman to cheer him up?"

"No, not if she were as pretty as you are," replied Roberta,
laughing.

"Nonsense," said Suwanee, flushing. "For all I know this captain
is married and at the head of a large family.

"But I'm going to find out," she assured herself. "I shall investigate
this new species of genus homo who imagines me to be a saint. He
wasn't long in proving that Northern men were not what I supposed.
Now I shall give him the harder task of proving me to be an angel;"
and she walked demurely in, leaving the door open for any espionage
that her mother and sister might deem proper.

Lane's face lighted up the moment he saw her, and he said: "You
have robbed this day of its weariness already. I've had agreeable
anticipations thus far, and I'm sure you will again leave pleasant
memories."

"Then you are better?"

"Yes; thanks to you."

"You are given to compliments, as our Southern men are."

"I should be glad to equal them at anything in your estimation. But
come, such honest enemies as we are should be as sincere as friends.
I have meant every word I have said to you. You are harboring me,
an entire stranger, who presented my credentials at first very
rudely. Now you can ask me any questions you choose. You have
proved yourself to be such a genuine lady that I should be glad to
have you think that I am a gentleman by birth and breeding."

"Oh, I was convinced of that before you put your sabre in its
scabbard on the evening of your most unwelcome arrival, when you
spoiled our supper-party. You have since been confirming first
impressions. I must admit, however, that I scarcely 'reverence'
you yet, nor have I detected anything specially 'angelic.'"

"Your failure in these respects will be the least of my troubles.
I do not take back what I have said, however."

"Wait; perhaps you will. You are very slightly acquainted with me,
sir."

"You are much less so with me, and can't imagine what an obstinate
fellow I am."

"Oh, if I have to contend with obstinacy rather than judgment--"

"Please let us have no contentions whatever. I have often found
that your Southern men out-matched me, and not for the world would
I have a dispute with a woman of your mettle. I give you my parole
to do all that you wish, as far as it is within my power, while I
am helpless on your hands."

"And when I have helped to make you well you will go and fight
against the South again?"

"Yes, Miss Barkdale," gravely, "and so would your officers against
the North."

"Oh, I know it. I sha'n't put any poison in your coffee."

"Nor will you ever put poison in any man's life. The most delightful
thing about you, Miss Barkdale," he continued, laughing, "is that
you are so genuinely good and don't know it."

"Whatever happens," she said, almost irritably, "you must be cured
of that impression. I won't be considered 'good' when I'm not.
Little you know about me, indeed! Good heavens, Captain Lane! what
kind of women have you been accustomed to meet in the North? Would
they put strychnine in a wounded Southerner's food, and give him
heavy bread, more fatal than bullets, and read novels while dying
men were at their very doors?"

"Heaven help them! I fear there are many women the world over who
virtually do just those things."

"They are not in the South," she replied, hotly.

"They are evidently not in this house," he replied, smiling. "You
ask what kind of women I am accustomed to meet. I will show you the
shadow of one of my friends;" and he took from under his pillow a
photograph of Marian.

"Oh, isn't she lovely!" exclaimed the girl.

"Yes, she is as beautiful as you are; she is as brave as you are,
and I've seen you cheering on your friends when even in the excitement
of the fight my heart was filled with dread lest you or your mother
or sister might be shot. She is just as ardent for the North as
you are for the South, and her influence has had much place in the
motives of many who are now in the Union army. If wounded Confederates
were about her door you could only equal--you could not surpass--her
in womanly kindness and sympathy. The same would be true of my
mother and sisters, and millions of others. I know what you think
of us at the North, but you will have to revise your opinions some
day."

Her face was flushed, a frown was upon her brow, a doubtful smile
upon her lips, and her whole manner betokened her intense interest.
"You evidently are seeking to revise them," she said, with a short
laugh, "much as you charged our cavalry the other evening. I think
you are a dangerous man to the South, Captain Lane, and I don't
know whether I should let you get well or not."

He reached out his hand and took hers, as he said, laughingly:
"I should trust you just the same, even though Jeff Davis and the
whole Confederate Congress ordered you to make away with me."

"Don't you call our President 'Jeff,'" she snapped, but did not
withdraw her hand.

"I beg your pardon. That was just as rude in me as if you had called
Mr. Lincoln 'Abe.'"

She now burst out laughing. "Heaven knows we do it often enough,"
she said.

"I was aware of that."

"This won't do at all," she resumed. "Your hand is growing a
little feverish, and if my visits do not make you better I shall
not come. I think we have defined our differences sufficiently. You
must not 'reverence' me any more. I couldn't stand that at all. I
will concede at once that you are a gentleman, and that this lovely
girl is my equal; and when our soldiers have whipped your armies,
and we are free, I shall be magnanimous, and invite you to bring
this girl here to visit us on your wedding trip. What is her name?"

"Marian Vosburgh. But I fear she will never take a wedding trip with
me. If she did I would accept your invitation gratefully after we
had convinced the South that one flag must protect us all."

"We won't talk any more about that. Why won't Miss Vosburgh take
a wedding trip with you?"

"For the best of reasons,--she doesn't love me well enough."

"Stupid! Perhaps she loves some one else?"

"No, I don't think so. She is as true a friend as a woman can be
to a man, but there it ends."

"With her."

"Certainly, with her only. She knows that I would do all that a
man can to win her."

"You are frank."

"Why should I not be with one I trust so absolutely? You think us
Northmen cold, underhanded. I do not intend virtually to take my
life back from your hands, and at the same time to keep that life
aloof from you as if you had nothing to do with it. If I survive
the war, whichever way it turns, I shall always cherish your memory
as one of my ideals, and shall feel honored indeed if I can retain
your friendship. To make and keep such friends is to enrich one's
life. Should I see Miss Vosburgh again I shall tell her about you,
just as I have told you about her."

"You were born on the wrong side of the line, Captain Lane. You
are a Southerner at heart."

"Oh, nonsense! Wait till you visit us at the North. You will find
people to your mind on both sides of the line. When my mother and
sisters have learned how you have treated me and my men they will
welcome you with open arms."

She looked at him earnestly a moment, and then said: "You make me
feel as if the North and South did not understand each other." Then
she added, sadly: "The war is not over. Alas! how much may happen
before it is. My gray-haired father and gallant brothers are marching
with Lee, and while I pray for them night and morning, and often
through the day, I fear--I FEAR inexpressibly,--all the more, now
that I have seen Northern soldiers fight. God only knows what is
in store for us all. Do not think that because I seem light-hearted
I am not conscious of living on the eve of a tragedy all the time.
Tears and laughter are near together in my nature. I can't help
it; I was so made."

"Heaven keep you and yours in safety," said Lane, earnestly; and
she saw that his eyes were moist with feeling.

"This won't answer," she again declared, hastily. "We must have no
more such exciting talks. Shall I read to you a little while, or
go at once?"

"Read to me, by all means, if I am not selfishly keeping you too
long. Your talk has done me good rather than harm, for you are so
vital yourself that you seem to give me a part of your life and
strength. I believe I should have died under the old dull monotony."

"I usually read the Bible to your men," she said, half humorously,
half questioningly.

"Read it to me. I like to think we have the same faith. That book
is the pledge that all differences will pass away from the sincere."

He looked at her wonderingly as she read, in her sweet, girlish
voice, the sacred words familiar since his childhood; and when she
rose and said, "This must do for to-day," his face was eloquent
with his gratitude. He again reached out his hand, and said, gently,
"Miss Suwanee, Heaven keep you and yours from all harm."

"Don't talk to me that way," she said, brusquely. "After all, we
are enemies, you know."

"If you can so bless your enemies, what must be the experience of
your friends, one of whom I intend to be?"

"Roberta must read to you, in order to teach you that the South
cannot be taken by storm."

"I should welcome Miss Roberta cordially. We also shall be good
friends some day."

"We must get you well and pack you off North, or there's no telling
what may happen," she said, with a little tragic gesture. "Good-by."

This was the beginning of many talks, though no other was of so
personal a nature. They felt that they understood each other, that
there was no concealment to create distrust. She artlessly and
unconsciously revealed to him her life and its inspirations, and soon
proved that her mind was as active as her hands. She discovered that
Lane had mines of information at command, and she plied him with
questions about the North, Europe, and such parts of the East as
he had visited. Her father's library was well stored with standard
works, and she made him describe the scenes suggested by her
favorite poets. Life was acquiring for her a zest which it had never
possessed before, and one day she said to him, abruptly, "How you
have broadened my horizon!"

He also improved visibly in her vivacious society, and at last
was able to come down to his meals and sit on the piazza. Mrs.
Barkdale's and Roberta's reserve thawed before his genial courtesy,
and all the more readily since a letter had been received from
Colonel Barkdale containing thanks to Lane for the consideration
that had been shown to his family, and assuring his wife that
the Barkdale mansion must not fail in hospitality either to loyal
friends or to worthy foes.

Roberta was won over more completely than she had believed to be
possible. Her proud, high spirit was pleased with the fact that,
while Lane abated not one jot of his well-defined loyalty to the
North and its aims, he also treated her with respect and evident
admiration in her fearless assertion of her views. She also recognized
his admirable tact in preventing their talk from verging towards a
too-earnest discussion of their differences. Suwanee was delighted
as she saw him disarm her relatives, and was the life of their social
hours. She never wearied in delicately chaffing and bewildering
the good-natured but rather matter-of-fact Surgeon McAllister, and
it often cost Lane much effort to keep from exploding in laughter
as he saw the perplexed and worried expression of his friend. But
before the meal was over she would always reassure her slow-witted
guest by some unexpected burst of sunshine, and he afterwards would
remark, in confidence: "I say, Lane, that little 'Missy S'wanee'
out-generals a fellow every time. She attacks rear, flank, and
front, all at once, and then she takes your sword in such a winsome
way that you are rather glad to surrender."

"Take care, McAllister,--take care, or you may surrender more than
your sword."

"I think you are in the greater danger."

"Oh, no, I'm forearmed, and Miss Suwanee and I understand each
other."

But he did not understand her, nor did she comprehend herself. Her
conversation seemed as open, and often as bright as her Southern
sunshine, and his mind was cheered and delighted with it. He did
not disguise his frank, cordial regard for her, even before her
mother and sister, but it was ever blended with such a sincere
respect that she was touched and surprised by it, and they were
reassured. She had told them of the place possessed by Marian in
his thoughts, and this fact, with his manner, promised immunity
from all tendencies towards sentiment. Indeed, that Suwanee should
bestow anything more upon the Northern officer than kindness, a
certain chivalric hospitality, and some admiration, was among the
impossibilities in their minds.

This, at the time, seemed equally true to the young girl herself.
Not in the least was she on her guard. Her keen enjoyment of his
society awakened no suspicions, for she enjoyed everything keenly.
His persistence in treating her, in spite of all her nonsense and
frolicsomeness, as if she were worthy of the deepest respect and
honor which manhood can pay to womanhood, ever remained a bewildering
truth, and touched the deepest chords in her nature. Sometimes
when they sat in the light of the young moon on the veranda she
revealed thoughts which surprised him, and herself even more. It
appeared to her as if a new and deeper life were awakening in her
heart, full of vague beauty and mystery. She almost believed that
she was becoming good, as he imagined. Why otherwise should she
be so strangely happy and spiritually exalted? He was developing
in her a new self-respect. She now knew that he was familiar with
standards of comparison at the North of which she need not be
ashamed. Even her mother and sister had remarked, in effect, "It is
evident that Captain Lane has been accustomed to the best society."
His esteem was not the gaping admiration of a boor to whom she had
been a revelation.

"No," she said, "he is a revelation to me. I thought my little
prejudices were the boundaries of the world. He, who has seen the
world, walks right over my prejudices as if they were nothing, and
makes me feel that I am his friend and equal, because he fancies I
possess a true, noble womanhood; and now I mean to possess it. He
has made his ideal of me seem worthy and beautiful, and it shall
be my life effort to attain it. He doesn't think me a barbarian
because I am a rebel and believe in slavery. He has said that his
mother and sisters would receive me with open arms. It seems to me
that I have grown years older and wiser during the last few weeks."

She did not know that her vivid, tropical nature was responding to
the influence which is mightiest even in colder climes.

CHAPTER XL.

LOVE'S TRIUMPH.

THE month of June was drawing to a close. Captain Lane, his surgeon,
and a little company of wounded men, equally with the Confederates,
were only apparently forgotten. They were all watched, and their
progress towards health was noted. Any attempt at escape would have
been checked at once. The majority of the Federal soldiers could
now walk about slowly, and were gaining rapidly. Although they were
not aware of the fact, the Confederate wounded, who had progressed
equally far in convalescence, were their guards, and the residents
of the neighborhood were allies in watchfulness. The Southerners
were only awaiting the time, near at hand, when they could proceed
to Richmond with their prisoners. This purpose indicated no deep
hostility on the part of the rebels. Companionship in suffering
had banished this feeling. A sergeant among their number had become
their natural leader, and he was in communication with guerilla
officers and other more regular authorities. They had deemed it
best to let events take their course for a time. Lee's northward
advance absorbed general attention, although little as yet was
known about it on that remote plantation. The Union men were being
healed and fed at no cost to the Confederates, and could be taken
away at the time when their removal could be accomplished with the
least trouble.

Lane himself was the chief cause of delay. He was doing well,
but his wound was of a peculiar nature, and any great exertion or
exposure might yet cause fatal results. This fact had become known
to the rebel sergeant, and since the captain was the principal
prize, and they were all very comfortable, he had advised delay.
It had been thought best not to inform the family as to the state
of affairs, lest it should in some way become known to Lane and
the surgeon, and lead to attempted escape. The Barkdales, moreover,
were high-strung people, and might entertain some chivalric ideas
about turning over their guests to captivity.

"They might have a ridiculous woman's notion about the matter,"
said one of these secret advisers.

Lane and McAllister, however, were becoming exceedingly solicitous
concerning the future. The former did not base much hope on Suwanee's
evident expectation that when he was well enough he would go to
his friends as a matter of course. He knew that he and his men were
in the enemy's hands, and that they would naturally be regarded
as captives. He had a horror of going to a Southern prison and of
enduring weeks and perhaps months of useless inactivity. He and
McAllister began to hold whispered consultations. His mind revolted
at the thought of leaving his men, and of departing stealthily from
the family that had been so kind. And yet if they were all taken to
Richmond he would be separated from the men, and could do nothing
for them. Matter-of-fact McAllister had no doubts or scruples.

"Of course we should escape at once if your wound justified the
attempt"

On the 29th of June Lane and the surgeon walked some little
distance from the house, and became satisfied that they were under
the surveillance of the rebel sergeant and his men. This fact so
troubled Lane that Suwanee noticed his abstraction and asked him
in the evening what was worrying him. The moonlight fell full on
her lovely, sympathetic face.

"Miss Suwanee," he said, gravely, "I've been your guest about a
month. Are you not tired of me yet?"

"That's a roundabout way of saying you are tired of us."

"I beg your pardon: it is not. But, in all sincerity, I should be
getting back to duty, were it possible."

"Your wound is not sufficiently healed," she said, earnestly, wondering
at the chill of fear that his words had caused. "The surgeon says
it is not."

"Don't you know?" he whispered.

"Know what?" she almost gasped.

"That I'm a prisoner."

She sprung to her feet and was about to utter some passionate
exclamation; but he said, hastily, "Oh, hush, or I'm lost. I believe
that eyes are upon me all the time."

"Heigho!" she exclaimed, walking to the edge of the veranda, "I
wish I knew what General Lee was doing. We are expecting to hear
of another great battle every day;" and she swept the vicinity with
a seemingly careless glance, detecting a dark outline behind some
shrubbery not far away. Instantly she sprung down the steps and
confronted the rebel sergeant.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, indignantly.

"My duty," was the stolid reply.

"Find duty elsewhere then," she said, haughtily.

The man slunk away, and she returned to Lane, who remarked,
significantly, "Now you understand me."

It was evident that she was deeply excited, and immediately she began
to speak in a voice that trembled with anger and other emotions.
"This is terrible. I had not thought--indeed it cannot be. My father
would not permit it. The laws of war would apply, I suppose, to
your enlisted men, but that you and Surgeon McAllister, who have
been our guests and have sat at our table, should be taken from our
hospitality into captivity is monstrous. In permitting it, I seem
to share in a mean, dishonorable thing."

"How characteristic your words and actions are!" said Lane, gently.
"It would be easy to calculate your orbit. I fear you cannot help
yourself. You forget, too, that I was the means of sending to prison
even your Major Denham."

"Major Denham is nothing--" she began, impetuously, then hesitated,
and he saw the rich color mantling her face even in the moonlight.
After a second or two she added: "Our officers were captured in
fair fight. That is very different from taking a wounded man and
a guest."

"Not a guest in the ordinary sense of the word. You see I can
be fair to your people, unspeakably as I dread captivity. It will
not be so hard for McAllister, for surgeons are not treated like
ordinary prisoners. His remaining, however, was a brave, unselfish
act;" and Lane spoke in tones of deep regret.

"It must not be," she said, sternly.

"Miss Suwanee,"--and his voice was scarcely audible,--"do you think
we can be overheard?"

"No," she replied, in like tones. "Roberta and mamma are incapable
of listening."

"I was not thinking of them. I must speak quickly. I don't wish to
involve you, but the surgeon and I must try to escape, for I would
almost rather die than be taken prisoner. Deep as is my longing
for liberty I could not leave you without a word, and my trust in
the chivalric feeling that you have just evinced is so deep as to
convince me that I can speak to you safely. I shall not tell you
anything to compromise you. You have only to be blind and deaf if
you see or hear anything."

Her tears were now falling fast, but she did not move, lest observant
eyes should detect her emotion.

"Heaven bless your good, kind heart!" he continued, in a low, earnest
tone. "Whether I live or die, I wish you to know that your memory
will ever be sacred to me, like that of my mother and one other.
Be assured that the life you have done so much to save is always
at your command. Whenever I can serve you or yours you can count
on all that I am or can do. Suwanee, I shall be a better man for
having known you. You don't half appreciate yourself, and every
succeeding day has only proved how true my first impressions were."

She did not answer, and he felt that it would be dangerous to
prolong the interview. They entered the house together. As they
went up the stairs she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes, he
wondering at her silence and emotion. At the landing in the dusky
hall-way he raised her hand to his lips.

There was not a trace of gallantry in the act, and she knew it. It
was only the crowning token of that recognition at which she had
wondered from the first. She realized that it was only the homage
of a knightly man and the final expression of his gratitude; but
it overwhelmed her, and she longed to escape with the terrible
revelation which had come to her at last. She could not repress a
low sob, and, giving his hand a quick, strong pressure, she fled
to her room.

"Can it be possible?" he thought. "Oh! if I have wounded that heart,
however unintentionally, I shall never forgive myself."

"Lane," whispered McAllister, when the former entered his room,
"there are guards about the house."

"I'm not surprised," was the despondent reply. "We are prisoners."

"Does the family know it?"

He told him how Suwanee had detected the espionage of the rebel
sergeant.

"Wouldn't she help us?"

"I shall not ask her to. I shall not compromise her with her people."

"No, by thunder! I'd rather spend my life in prison than harm her.
What shall we do?"

"We must put our light out soon, and take turns in watching for
the slightest opportunity. You lie down first. I do not feel sleepy."

After making some slight preparations the doctor slept, and it was
well on towards morning before Lane's crowding thoughts permitted
him to seek repose. He then wakened McAllister and said, "There has
been a stealthy relief of guards thus far, and I've seen no chance
whatever."

The doctor was equally satisfied that any attempt to escape would
be fruitless.

Suwanee's vigil that night was bitter and terrible, indeed. Her
proud, passionate nature writhed under the truth that she had given
her heart, unsought, to a Northern officer,--to one who had from
the first made it clear that his love had been bestowed on another.
She felt that she could not blame him. His frankness had been almost
equal to that of her own brothers, and he had satisfied her that
they could scarcely be more loyal to her than he would be. She could
detect no flaw in his bearing towards her. He had not disguised
his admiration, his abundant enjoyment of her society, but all
expression of his regard had been tinged with respect and gratitude
rather than gallantry. He perhaps had thought that her knowledge
of his attitude towards Miss Vosburgh was an ample safeguard, if
any were needed. Alas! it had been the chief cause of her fatal
blindness. She had not dreamed of danger for him or herself in
their companionship. Nothing was clearer than that he expected and
wished no such result. It was well for Lane that this was true,
for she would have been a dangerous girl to trifle with.

But she recognized the truth. Before, love had been to her a thing
of poetry, romance, and dreams. Now it was a terrible reality.
Her heart craved with intense longing what she felt it could never
possess.

At last, wearied and exhausted by her deep emotion, she sighed:
"Perhaps it is better as it is. Even if he had been a lover, the
bloody chasm of war would have separated us, but it seems cruel that
God should permit such an overwhelming misfortune to come upon an
unsuspecting, inexperienced girl. Why was I so made that I could,
unconsciously, give my very soul to this stranger? yet he is not a
stranger. Events have made me better acquainted with him than with
any other man. I know that he has kept no secrets from me. There
was nothing to conceal. All has been simple, straightforward, and
honorable. It is to the man himself, in his crystal integrity, that
my heart has bowed, and then--that was his chief power--he made
me feel that I was not unworthy. He taught me to respect my own
nature, and to aspire to all that was good and true.

"After all, perhaps I am condemning myself too harshly,--perhaps
the truth that my heart acknowledged such a man as master is proof
that his estimate of me is not wholly wrong. Were there not some
kinship of spirit between us, this could not be; but the secret
must remain between me and God."

Lane, tormented by the fear suggested by Suwanee's manner on the
previous evening, dreaded to meet her again, but at first he was
reassured. Never had she been more brilliant and frolicsome than at
the breakfast-table that morning. Never had poor McAllister been
more at his wits' end to know how to reply to her bewildering
sallies of good-natured badinage. Every vulnerable point of Northern
character received her delicate satire. Lane himself did not escape
her light shafts. He made no defence, but smiled or laughed at
every palpable hit. The girl's pallor troubled him, and something
in her eyes that suggested suffering. There came a time when he
could scarcely think of that day without tears, believing that no
soldier on either side ever displayed more heroism than did the
wounded girl.

He and the surgeon walked out again, and saw that they were watched.
He found that his men had become aware of the truth and had submitted
to the inevitable. They were far from the Union lines, and not
strong enough to attempt an escape through a hostile country. Lane
virtually gave up, and began to feel that the best course would be
to submit quietly and look forward to a speedy exchange. He longed
for a few more hours with Suwanee, but imagined that she avoided
him. There was no abatement of her cordiality, but she appeared
preoccupied.

After dinner a Confederate officer called and asked for Miss
Roberta, who, after the interview, returned to her mother's room
with a troubled expression. Suwanee was there, calmly plying her
needle. She knew what the call meant.

"I suppose it's all right, and that we can't help ourselves,"
Roberta began, "but it annoys me nevertheless. Lieutenant Macklin,
who has just left, has said that our own men and the Union soldiers
are now well enough to be taken to Richmond, and that he will start
with them to-morrow morning. Of course I have no regrets respecting
the enlisted men, and am glad they are going, for they are proving
a heavy burden to us; but my feelings revolt at the thought that
Captain Lane and the surgeon should be taken to prison from our
home."

"I don't wonder," said Suwanee, indignantly; "but then what's the
use? we can't help ourselves. I suppose it is the law of war."

"Well, I'm glad you are so sensible about it. I feared you would
feel a hundred-fold worse than I, you and the captain have become
such good friends. Indeed, I have even imagined that he was in
danger of becoming something more. I caught him looking at you at
dinner as if you were a saint 'whom infidels might adore.' His homage
to our flirtatious little Suwanee has been a rich joke from the
first. I suppose, however, there may have been a vein of calculation
in it all, for I don't think any Yankee--"

"Hush," said Suwanee, hotly; "Captain Lane is still our guest,
and he is above calculation. I shall not permit him to be insulted
because he has over-estimated me."

"Why, Suwanee, I did not mean to insult him. You have transfixed
him with a dozen shafts of satire to-day, and as for poor Surgeon
McAllister--"

"That was to their faces," interrupted Suwanee, hastily.

"Suwanee is right," said Mrs. Barkdale, smiling. "Captain Lane has
had the sense to see that my little girl is good-hearted in spite
of her nonsense."

The girl's lip was quivering but she concealed the fact by savagely
biting off her thread, and then was impassive again.

"I sincerely regret with you both," resumed their mother, "that
these two gentlemen must go from our home to prison, especially
so since receiving a letter from Captain Lane, couched in terms of
the strongest respect and courtesy, and enclosing a hundred dollars
in Northern money as a slight compensation--so he phrased it--for
what had been done for his men. Of course he meant to include
himself and the surgeon, but had too much delicacy to mention the
fact. He also stated that he would have sent more, but that it was
nearly all they had."

"You did not keep the money!" exclaimed the two girls in the same
breath.

"I do not intend to keep it," said the lady, quietly, "and shall
hand it back to him with suitable acknowledgments. I only mention
the fact to convince Roberta that Captain Lane is not the typical
Yankee, and we have much reason to be thankful that men of a different
stamp were not quartered upon us. And yet," continued the matron,
with a deep sigh, "you little know how sorely we need the money.
Your father's and brothers' pay is losing its purchasing power.
The people about here all profess to be very hot for the South,
but when you come to buy anything from them what they call 'Linkum
money' goes ten times as far. We have never known anything but
profusion, but now we are on the verge of poverty."

"Oh, well," said Suwanee, recklessly, "starving isn't the worst
thing that could happen."

"Alas! my child, you can't realize what poverty means. Your heart
is as free from care as the birds around us, and, like them, you
think you will be provided for."

The girl sprung up with a ringing laugh, and kissed her mother as
she exclaimed, "I'll cut off my hair, put on one of brother Bob's
old suits, and enlist;" and then she left the room.

At supper there was a constraint on all except Suwanee. Mrs. Barkdale
and Roberta felt themselves to be in an embarrassing position. The
men at the table, who had been guests so long, would be marched
away as prisoners from their door in the morning. The usages of
war could not satisfy their womanly and chivalric natures, or make
them forget the courtesy and respect which, in spite of prejudices,
had won so much good-will. Lane scarcely sought to disguise his
perplexity and distress. Honest Surgeon McAllister, who knew that
they all had been an awful burden, was as troubled as some men
are pleased when they get much for nothing. Suwanee appeared in
a somewhat new role. She was the personification of dignity and
courtesy. She acted as if she knew all and was aware that their
guests did. Therefore levity would be in bad taste, and their only
resource was the good breeding which ignores the disagreeable and
the inevitable. Her mother looked on her with pride, and wondered
at so fine an exibition of tact. She did not know that the poor
girl had a new teacher, and that she was like an inexorable general
who, in a desperate fight, summons all his reserve and puts forth
every effort of mind and body.

Lane had not found a chance to say one word to Suwanee in private
during the day, but after supper she went to the piano and began
to play some Southern airs with variations of her own improvising.
He immediately joined her and said, "We shall not attempt to escape;
we are too closely watched."

She did not reply.

"Miss Suwanee," he began again, and distress and sorrow were in his
tones, "I hardly know how to speak to you of what troubles me more
than the thought of captivity. How can I manage with such proud,
chivalric women as you and your mother and sister? But I am not
blind, nor can I ignore the prosaic conditions of our lot. I respect
your pride; but have a little mercy on mine,--nay, let me call it
bare self-respect. We have caused you the loss of your laborers,
your fields are bare, and you have emptied your larder in feeding
my men, yet your mother will not take even partial compensation.
You can't realize how troubled I am."

"You, like ourselves, must submit to the fortunes of war," she
replied, with a sudden gleam of her old mirthfulness.

"A bodily wound would be a trifle compared with this," he resumed,
earnestly. "O Miss Suwanee, have I won no rights as a friend?
rather, let me ask, will you not generously give me some rights?"

"Yes, Captain Lane," she said, gently, "I regard you as a friend,
and I honor you as a true man. Though the war should go on forever
I should not change in these respects unless you keep harping on
this financial question."

"Friends frankly accept gifts from friends; let it be a gift
then, by the aid of which you can keep your mother from privation.
Suwanee, Suwanee, why do you refuse to take this dross from me when
I would give my heart's blood to shield you from harm?"

"You are talking wildly, Captain Lane," she said, with a laugh.
"Your heart belongs to Miss Vosburgh, and therefore all its blood."

"She would be the first to demand and expect that I should risk all
and give all for one to whom I owe so much and who is so deserving."

"I require of her no such sacrifice," Suwanee replied, coldly, "nor
of you either, Captain Lane. Unforeseen circumstances have thrown
us together for a time. We have exchanged all that is possible
between those so divided,--esteem and friendship. If my father
thinks it best he will obtain compensation from our government.
Perhaps, in happier times, we may meet again," she added, her tone
and manner becoming gentle once more; "and then I hope you will
find me a little more like what you have thought me to be."

"God grant that we may meet again. There, I can't trust myself
to speak to you any more. Your unaffected blending of humility
and pride with rare, unconscious nobility touches my very soul.
Our leave-taking in the morning must be formal. Good-by, Suwanee
Barkdale. As sure as there is a God of justice your life will be
filled full with happiness."

Instead of taking his proffered hand, she trembled, turned to the
piano, and said hastily between the notes she played: "Control
yourself and listen. We may be observed. You and the surgeon be
ready to open your door and follow me at any time to-night. Hang
your sword where it may be seen through the open window. I have
contrived a chance--a bare chance--of your escape. Bow and retire."

He did so. She bent her head in a courtly manner towards him, and
then went on with her playing of Southern airs.

A moment later the rebel sergeant disappeared from some shrubbery
a little beyond the parlor window, and chuckled, "The Yankee captain
has found out that he can't make either an ally or a sweetheart
out of a Southern girl; but I suspicioned her a little last night."

At two o'clock that night there was an almost imperceptible tap
at Lane's door. He opened it noiselessly, and saw Suwanee with her
finger on her lips.

"Carry your shoes in your hands," she said, and then led the way
down the stairs to the parlor window. Again she whispered: "The
guard here is bribed,--bribed by kindness. He says I saved his life
when he was wounded. Steal through the shrubbery to the creek-road;
continue down that, and you'll find a guide. Not a word. Good-by."

She gave her hand to the surgeon, whose honest eyes were moist with
feeling, and then he dropped lightly to the ground.

"Suwanee," began Lane.

"Hush! Go."

Again he raised her hand to his lips, again heard that same low,
involuntary sob that had smote his heart the preceding night; and
then followed the surgeon. The guard stood out in the garden with
his back towards them, as, like shadows, they glided away.

On the creek-road the old colored man who worked in the garden
joined them, and led the way rapidly to the creek, where under some
bushes a skiff with oars was moored. Lane slipped twenty dollars into
the old man's hand, and then he and his companion pushed out into
the sluggish current, and the surgeon took the oars and pulled
quietly through the shadows of the overhanging foliage. The continued
quiet proved that their escape had not been discovered. Food had
been placed in the boat. The stream led towards the Potomac. With
the dawn they concealed themselves, and slept during the day, travelling
all the following night. The next day they were so fortunate as
to fall in with a Union scouting party, and so eventually reached
Washington; but the effort in riding produced serious symptoms in
Lane's wound, and he was again doomed to quiet weeks of convalescence,
as has already been intimated to the reader.

When Mrs. Barkdale and Roberta came down the next morning they
found Suwanee in the breakfast room, fuming with apparent irritability.

"Here is that Lieutenant Macklin again," she said, "and he is very
impatient, saying that his orders are imperative, and that he is
needed on some special duty. His orders are to convey the prisoners
to the nearest railroad station, and then report for some active
service. From all I can gather it is feared that the Yankees propose
an attack on Richmond, now that General Lee is away."

"It's strange that Captain Lane and the surgeon don't come down,"
Roberta remarked. "I truly wish, however, that we had not to meet
them again."

"Well, since it must be, the sooner the ordeal is over the better,"
said Suwanee, with increasing irritation. "Captain Lane has sense
enough to know that we are not responsible for his being taken
away."

"Hildy," said Mrs. Barkdale, "go up and tell the gentlemen that
breakfast is ready."

In a few moments the old woman returned in a fluster and said, "I
knock on de doah, and dey ain't no answer."

"What!" exclaimed Suwanee, in the accents of surprise; then, sharply,
"go and knock louder, and wake them up," adding, "it's very strange."

Hildy came back with a scared look, and said, "I knock and knock;
den I open de doah, and der' ain't no one dere."

"They must be out in the grounds for a walk," exclaimed Roberta.
"Haven't you seen them this morning?"

"I ain't seen nuffin' nor heard nuffin'," protested the old woman.

"Girls, this is serious," said Mrs. Barkdale, rising; and she
summoned Lieutenant Macklin, who belonged to a class not received
socially by the family.

"We have but this moment discovered," said the lady, "that Captain
Lane and Surgeon McAllister are not in their room. Therefore we
suppose they are walking in the grounds. Will you please inform
them that breakfast is waiting?"

"Pardon me, madam, they cannot be outside, or I should have been
informed."

"Then you must search for them, sir. The house, grounds, and
buildings are open to you."

The fact of the prisoners' escape soon became evident, and there
were haste, confusion, and running to and fro to no purpose. Suwanee
imitated Roberta so closely that she was not suspected. Lieutenant
Macklin and the rebel sergeant at last returned, giving evidence
of strong vexation.

"We don't understand this," began the lieutenant.

"Neither do we," interrupted Mrs. Barkdale, so haughtily that they
were abashed, although they directed keen glances towards Suwanee,
who met their scrutiny unflinchingly.

The Barkdales were not people to be offended with impunity, and the
lieutenant knew it. He added, apologetically: "You know I must do
my duty, madam. I fear some of your servants are implicated, or
that guards have been tampered with."

"You are at liberty to examine any one you please."

They might as well have examined a carved, wrinkled effigy as old
Cuffy, Lane's midnight guide. "I don' know nuffin' 'tall 'bout it,"
he declared. "My ole woman kin tell yo' dat I went to bed when she
did and got up when she did."

The guard, bought with kindness, was as dense in his ignorance as
any of the others. At last Macklin declared that he would have to
put citizens on the hunt, for his orders admitted of no delay.

The Union prisoners, together with the Confederates, when formed
in line, gave a ringing cheer for "Missy S'wanee and the ladies,"
and then the old mansion was left in more than its former isolation,
and, as the younger girl felt, desolation.

She attended to her duties as usual, and then went to her piano.
The words spoken the previous evening would ever make the place
dear to her. While she was there old Hildy crept in, with her feeble
step, and whispered, "I foun' dis un'er Cap'n Lane's piller."

It was but a scrap of paper, unaddressed; but Suwanee understood
its significance. It contained these words: "I can never repay you,
but to discover some coin which a nature like yours can accept has
become one of my supreme ambitions. If I live, we shall meet again."

Those words formed a glimmering hope which grew fainter and fainter
in the dark years which followed.

She did not have to mask her trouble very long, for another sorrow
came like an avalanche. Close to the Union lines, on Cemetery Ridge,
lay a white-haired colonel and his two tall sons. They were among
the heroes in Pickett's final charge, on the 3d of July. "Missy
S'wanee" laughed no more, even in self-defence.

CHAPTER XLI.

SUNDAY'S LULL AND MONDAY'S STORM.

SUNDAY, the 12th of July, proved a long, restful sabbath to Marian
and her father, and they spent most of its hours together. The
great tension and strain of the past weeks appeared to be over for
a time. The magnificent Union victories had brought gladness and
hopefulness to Mr. Vosburgh, and the return of her friends had
relieved his daughter's mind. He now thought he saw the end clearly.
He believed that hereafter the tide of rebellion would ebb southward
until all the land should be free.

"This day has been a godsend to us both," he said to Marian, as
they sat together in the library before retiring. "The draft has
begun quietly, and no disturbances have followed. I scarcely remember
an evening when the murmur of the city was so faint and suggestive
of repose. I think we can both go to the country soon, with
minds comparatively at rest. I must admit that I expected no such
experience as has blessed us to-day. We needed it. Not until this
respite came did I realize how exhausted from labor and especially
anxiety I had become. You, too, my little girl, are not the blooming
lassie you were a year ago."

"Yet I think I'm stronger in some respects, papa."

"Yes, in many respects. Thank God for the past year. Your sympathy
and companionship have made it a new era in my life. You have
influenced other lives, also, as events have amply proved. Are
you not satisfied now that you can be unconventional without being
queer? You have not been a colorless reflection of some social
set; neither have you left your home for some startling public
career; and yet you have achieved the distinct individuality which
truthfulness to nature imparts. You have simply been developing
your better self naturally, and you have helped fine fellows to
make the best of themselves."

"Your encouragement is very sweet, papa. I'm not complacent over
myself, however; and I've failed so signally in one instance that
I'm vexed and almost saddened. You know what I mean."

"Yes, I know," with a slight laugh. "Merwyn is still your unsolved
problem, and he worries you."

"Not because he is unsolved, but rather that the solution has proved
so disappointing and unexpected. He baffles me with a trait which
I recognize, but can't understand, and only admit in wonder and
angry protest. Indeed, from the beginning of our acquaintance he
has reversed my usual experiences. His first approaches incensed
me beyond measure,--all the more, I suppose, because I saw in
him an odious reflection of my old spirit. But, papa, when to his
condescending offer I answered from the full bitterness of my heart,
he looked and acted as if I had struck him with a knife."

Her father again laughed, as he said: "You truly used heroic surgery,
and to excellent purpose. Has he shown any conceit, complacency,
or patronizing airs since?"

"No, I admit that, at least."

"In destroying some of his meaner traits by one keen thrust, you
did him a world of good. Of course he suffered under such a surgical
operation, but he has had better moral health ever since."

"Oh, yes," she burst out, "he has become an eminently respectable
and patriotic millionnaire, giving of his abundance to save the
nation's life, living in a palace meanwhile. What did he mean by
his passionate words, 'I shall measure everything hereafter by the
breadth of your woman's soul'? What have the words amounted to? You
know, papa, that nothing but my duty and devotion to you keeps me
from taking an active part in this struggle, even though a woman.
Indeed, the feeling is growing upon me that I must spend part
of my time in some hospital. A woman can't help having an intense
conviction of what she would do were she a man, and you know what
I would have done, and he knows it also. Therefore he has not kept
his word, for he fails at the vital point in reaching my standard.
I have no right to judge men in Mr. Merwyn's position because
they do not go to the front. Let them do what they think wise and
prudent; let them also keep among their own kind. I protest against
their coming to me for what I give to friends who have already
proved themselves heroes. But there, I forgot. He looks so like a
man that I can't help thinking that he is one,--that he could come
up to my standard if he chose to. He still seeks me--"

"No, he has not been here since he heard Blauvelt's story."

"He passed the house once, hesitated, and did not enter. Papa,
he has not changed, and you know it. He has plainly asked for a
gift only second to what I can give to God. With a tenacity which
nothing but his will can account for, perhaps, he seeks it still.
Do you think his distant manner deceives me for a moment? Nor has
my coldness any influence on him. Yet it has not been the coldness

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