Part 8 out of 10
of indifference, and he knows that too. He has seen and felt, like
sword-thrusts, my indignation, my contempt. He has said to my face,
'You think me a coward.' He is no fool, and has fully comprehended
the situation. If he had virtually admitted, 'I am a coward, and
therefore can have no place among the friends who are surpassing your
ideal of manly heroism,' and withdrawn to those to whom a million
is more than all heroism, the affair would have ended naturally
long ago. But he persists in bringing me a daily sense of failure
and humiliation. He says: 'My regard for you is so great I can't
give you up, yet not so great as to lead me to do what hundreds
of thousands are doing. I can't face danger for your sake.' I have
tried to make the utmost allowance for his constitutional weakness,
yet it has humiliated me that I had not the power to enable him
to overcome so strange a failing. Why, I could face death for you,
and he can't stand beside one whom he used to sneer at as 'little
Strahan.' Yet, such is his idea of my woman's soul that he still
gives me his thoughts and therefore his hopes;" and she almost
stamped her foot in her irritation.
"Would you truly give your life for me?" he asked, gently.
"Yes, I know I could, and would were there necessity; not in callous
disregard of danger, but because the greater emotion swallows up
the less. Faulty as I am, there would be no bargainings and prudent
reservations in my love. These are not the times for half-way people.
Oh think, papa, while we are here in the midst of every comfort,
how many thousands of mutilated, horribly wounded men are dying in
agony throughout the South! My heart goes out to them in a sympathy
and homage I can't express. Think how Lane and even Strahan may be
suffering to-night, with so much done for them, and then remember
the prisoners of war and the poor unknown enlisted men, often
terribly neglected, I fear. Papa, won't you let me go as a nurse?
The ache would go out of my own heart if I tried to reduce this awful
sum of anguish a little. He whose word and touch always banished
pain and disease would surely shield me in such labors. As soon
as danger no longer threatens you, won't you let me do a little,
although I am only a girl?"
"Yes, Marian," her father replied, gravely; "far be it from me to
repress such heaven-born impulses. You are now attaining the highest
rank reached by humanity. All the avenues of earthly distinction
cannot lead beyond the spirit of self-sacrifice for others. This
places you near the Divine Man, and all grow mean and plebeian to the
degree that they recede from him. You see what comes of developing
your better nature. Selfishness and its twin, cowardice, are crowded
"Please don't praise me any more. I can't stand it," faltered the
girl, tearfully. A moment later her laugh rang out. "Hurrah!" she
cried, "since Mr. Merwyn won't go to the war, I'm going myself."
"To make more wounds than you will heal," her father added.
"Remember the circumstances under which you go will have to receive
very careful consideration, and I shall have to know all about the
matron and nurses with whom you act. Your mother will be horrified,
and so will not a few of your acquaintances. Flirting in shadows
is proper enough, but helping wounded soldiers to live--But we
understand each other, and I can trust you now."
The next morning father and daughter parted with few misgivings,
and the latter promised to go to her mother in a day or two, Mr.
Vosburgh adding that if the week passed quietly he could join them
on Saturday evening.
So they quietly exchanged their good-by kiss on the edge of a
volcano already in eruption.
An early horseback ride in Central Park had become one of Merwyn's
habits of late. At that hour he met comparatively few abroad, and
the desire for solitude was growing upon him. Like Mr. Vosburgh,
he had watched with solicitude the beginning of the draft, feeling
that if it passed quietly his only remaining chance would be to
wring from his mother some form of release from his oath. Indeed,
so unhappy and desperate was he becoming that he had thought
of revealing everything to Mr. Vosburgh. The government officer,
however, might feel it his duty to use the knowledge, should there
come a time when the authorities proceeded against the property
of the disloyal. Moreover, the young man felt that it would be
dishonorable to reveal the secret.
Beyond his loyal impulses he now had little motive for effort.
Marian's prejudices against him had become too deeply rooted, and
her woman's honor for the knightly men her friends had proved too
controlling a principle, ever to give him a chance for anything
better than polite tolerance. He had discovered what this meant
so fully, and in Blauvelt's story had been shown the inevitable
contrast which she must draw so vividly, that he had decided:--
"No more of Marian Vosburgh's society until all is changed. Therefore
no more forever, probably. If my mother proves as obdurate as a
Southern jailer, I suppose I'm held, although I begin to think I
have as good cause to break my chains as any other Union man. She
tricked me into captivity, and holds me remorselessly,--not like a
mother. Miss Vosburgh did show she had a woman's heart, and would
have given me her hand in friendship had I not been compelled to
make her believe that I was a coward. If in some way I can escape
my oath, and my reckless courage at the front proves her mistaken,
I may return to her. Otherwise it is a useless humiliation and pain
to see her any more."
Such had been the nature of his musings throughout the long Sunday
whose quiet had led to the belief that the draft would scarcely create
a ripple of overt hostility. During his ride on Monday morning he
nearly concluded to go to his country place again. He was growing
nervous and restless, and he longed for the steadying influence
of his mountain rambles before meeting his mother and deciding
questions which would involve all their future relations.
As with bowed head, lost in thought, he approached the city by
one of the park entrances, he heard a deep, angry murmur, as if
a storm-vexed tide was coming in. Spurring his horse forward, he
soon discovered, with a feeling like an electric shock, that a tide
was indeed rising. Was it a temporary tidal wave of human passion,
mysterious in its origin, soon to subside, leaving such wreckage
as its senseless fury might have caused? Or was it the beginning
of the revolution so long feared, but not now guarded against?
Converging from different avenues, men, women, and children were
pouring by the thousand into a vacant lot near the park. Their presence
seemed like a dream. Why was this angry multitude gathering here
within a few rods of rural loveliness, their hoarse cries blending
with the songs of robins and thrushes? It had been expected that
the red monster would raise its head, if at all, in some purlieu
of the east side. On the contrary its segregate parts were coming
together at a distance from regions that would naturally generate
them, and were forming under his very eyes the thing of which he
had read, and, of late, had dreamed night and day,--a mob.
To change the figure, the vacant space, unbuilt upon as yet, was
becoming an immense human reservoir, into which turgid streams
with threatening sounds were surging from the south. His eyes could
separate the tumultuous atoms into ragged forms, unkempt heads,
inflamed faces, animated by some powerful destructive impulse. Arms
of every description proved that the purpose of the gathering was
not a peaceful one. But what was the purpose?
Riding closer he sought to question some on the outskirts of the
throng, and so drew attention to himself. Volleys of oaths, stones,
and sticks, were the only answers he received.
"Thank you," Merwyn muttered, as he galloped away. "I begin
to comprehend your meaning, but shall study you awhile before I
take part in the controversy. Then there shall be some knock-down
As he drew rein at a short distance the cry went up that he was a
"spy," and another rush was made for him; but he speedily distanced
his pursuers. To his surprise the great multitude turned southward,
pouring down Fifth and Sixth avenues. After keeping ahead for a
few blocks, he saw that the mob, now numbering many thousands, was
coming down town with some unknown purpose and destination.
Two things were at least clear,--the outbreak was unexpected, and
no preparation had been made for it. As he approached his home on
a sharp trot, a vague air of apprehension and expectation was beginning
to manifest itself, and but little more. Policemen were on their
beats, and the city on the fashionable avenues and cross-streets
wore its midsummer aspect. Before entering his own home he obeyed
an impulse to gallop by the Vosburgh residence. All was still quiet,
and Marian, with surprise, saw him clattering past in a way that
seemed reckless and undignified.
On reaching his home he followed his groom to the stable, and said,
quietly: "You are an old family servant, but you must now give me
positive assurance that I can trust you. There is a riot in the
city, and there is no telling what house will be safe. Will you
mount guard night and day in my absence?"
"Faix, sur, I will. Oi'll sarve ye as I did yer fayther afore ye."
"I believe you, but would shoot you if treacherous. You know I've
been expecting this trouble. Keep the horse saddled. Bar and bolt
everything. I shall be in and out at all hours, but will enter by
the little side-door in the stable. Watch for my signal, and be
ready to open to me only any door, and bolt it instantly after me.
Leave all the weapons about the house just where I have put them.
If any one asks for me, say I'm out and you don't know when I'll
be back. Learn to recognize my voice and signal, no matter how
disguised I am."
The faithful old servant promised everything, and was soon
executing orders. Before their neighbors had taken the alarm, the
heavy shutters were closed, and the unusual precautions that in the
family's absence had been adopted rendered access possible only
to great violence. On reaching his room Merwyn thought for a few
moments. He was intensely excited, and there was a gleam of wild
hope in his eyes, but he felt with proud exultation that in his
manner he was imitating his father. Not a motion was hasty or useless.
Right or wrong, in the solitude of his room or in the midst of the
mob, his brain should direct his hand.
"And now my hand is free!" he exclaimed, aloud; "my oath cannot
shackle it now."
His first conclusion was to mingle with the mob and learn the
nature and objects of the enemy. He believed the information would
be valuable to Mr. Vosburgh and the police authorities. Having
accomplished this purpose he would join any organized resistance he
could find, at the same time always seeking to shield Marian from
the possibility of danger.
He had already been shown that in order to understand the character
and aims of the mob he must appear to be one of them, and he decided
that he could carry off the disguise of a young city mechanic better
than any other.
This plan he carried out by donning from his own wardrobe a plain
dark flannel suit, which, when it had been rolled in dust and oil,
and received a judicious rip here and there, presented the appearance
of a costume of a workman just from his shop. With further injunctions
to Thomas and the old serving-woman, he made his way rapidly to
the north-east, where the smoke of a conflagration proved that the
spirit of mischief was increasing.
One would not have guessed, as he hurried up Third Avenue, that he
was well armed, but there were two small, yet effective revolvers
and a dirk upon his person. As has been related before, he had
practised for this emergency, and could be as quick as a flash with
He had acted with the celerity of youth, guided by definite plans,
and soon began to make his way quietly through the throng that
blocked the avenue, gradually approaching the fire at the corner of
45th Street. At first the crowd was a mystery to him, so orderly,
quiet, and inoffensive did it appear, although composed largely
of the very dregs of the slums. The crackling, roaring flames,
devouring tenement-houses, were equally mysterious. No one was
seeking to extinguish them, although the occupants of the houses
were escaping for their lives, dragging out their humble effects.
The crowd merely looked on with a pleased, satisfied expression.
After a moment's thought Merwyn remembered that the draft had been
begun in one of the burning houses, and was told by a bystander,
"We smashed the ranch and broke some jaws before the bonfire."
That the crowd was only a purring tiger was soon proved, for some
one near said, "There's Kennedy, chief of the cops;" and it seemed
scarcely a moment before the officer was surrounded by an infuriated
throng who were raining curses and blows upon him.
Merwyn made an impulsive spring forward in his defence, but a dozen
forms intervened, and his effort was supposed to be as hostile as
that of the rioters. The very numbers that sought to destroy Kennedy
gave him a chance, for they impeded one another, and, regaining his
feet, he led a wild chase across a vacant lot, pursued by a hooting
mob as if he were a mad dog. The crowd that filled the street
almost as far as eye could reach now began to sway back and forth
as if coming under the influence of some new impulse, and Merwyn
was so wedged in that he had to move with the others. Being tall
he saw that Kennedy, after the most brutal treatment, was rescued
almost by a miracle, apparently more dead than alive. It also
became clear to him that the least suspicion of his character and
purpose would cost him his life instantly. He therefore resolved
on the utmost self-control. He was ready to risk his life, but not
to throw it away uselessly,--not at least till he knew that Marian
was safe. It was his duty now to investigate the mob, not fight
The next excitement was caused by the cry, "The soldiers are coming!"
These proved to be a small detachment of the invalid corps, who
showed their comprehension of affairs by firing over the rioters'
heads, thinking to disperse them by a little noise. The mob settled
the question of noise by howling as if a menagerie had broken loose,
and, rushing upon the handful of men, snatched their muskets, first
pounding the almost paralyzed veterans, and then chasing them as
a wilderness of wolves would pursue a small array of sheep.
As Merwyn stepped down from a dray, whereon he had witnessed the
scene, he muttered, indiscreetly, "What does such nonsense amount
A big hulking fellow, carrying a bar of iron, who had stood beside
him, and who apparently had had his suspicions, asked, fiercely,
"An' what did ye expect it wud amount to? An' what's the nonsense
ye're growlin' at? By the holy poker oi belave you're a spy."
"Yis, prove that, and I'll cut his heart out," cried an inebriated
woman, brandishing a knife a foot long.
"Yes, prove it, you thunderin' fool!" cried Merwyn.
"The cops are comin' now, and you want to begin a fight among
True enough, the cry came ringing up the avenue, "The cops comin.'"
"Oh, an' ye's wan uv us, oi'll stan' by ye; but oi've got me eye
on ye, and 'ud think no more o' brainin' ye than a puppy."
"Try brainin' the cops first, if yer know when yer well off," replied
Merwyn, drawing a pistol. "I didn't come out to fight bullies in
The momentary excitement caused by this altercation was swallowed
up by the advent of a squad of police, which wheeled into the avenue
from 43d Street, and checked the pursuit of the bleeding remnants
of the invalid corps. Those immediately around the young man pressed
forward to see what took place, he following, but edging towards
the sidewalk, with the eager purpose to see the first fight between
the mob and the police.
THAT WORST OF MONSTERS, A MOB.
AFTER reaching the sidewalk Merwyn soon found a chance to mount
a dry-goods box, that he might better observe the action of the
police and form an idea of their numbers. The moment he saw the
insignificant band he felt that they were doomed men, or else the
spirit abroad was not what he thought it to be, and he had been
witnessing some strong indications of its ruthless nature.
It was characteristic of the young fellow that he did not rush to
the aid of the police. He was able, even in that seething flood
of excitement, to reason coolly, and his thoughts were something
to this effect: "I'm not going to throw away my life and all its
chances and duties because the authorities are so ignorant as to
sacrifice a score or two of their men. I shall not fight at all until
I have seen Marian and Mr. Vosburgh. When I have done something to
insure their safety, or at least to prove that I am not a coward,
I shall know better what to do and how to do it. This outbreak is
not an affair of a few hours. She herself may be exposed to the
fury of these fiends, for I believe her father is, or will be, a
Seeing, farther up the avenue, a small balcony as yet unoccupied,
he pushed his way towards it, that he might obtain one more view
of the drift of affairs before taking his course. The hall-door
leading to the second story was open and filled with a crowd of
frightened, unkempt women and children, who gave way before him.
The door of the room opening on the balcony was locked, and, in
response to his repeated knockings, a quavering voice asked what
"You must open instantly," was his reply.
A trembling, gray-haired woman put the door ajar, and he pushed
in at once, saying: "Bolt the door again, madam. I will do you no
harm, and may be able to save you from injury;" and he was out in
the balcony before his assurances were concluded.
"Indeed, sir, I've done no one any wrong, and therefore need no
protection. I only wish to be let alone with my children."
"That you cannot expect with certainty, in view of what is going
on to-day. Do you not know that they are burning houses? As long
as I'm here I'll be a protection. I merely wish the use of this
little outlook for a brief time. So say nothing more, for I must
give my whole attention to the fight."
"Well then, since you are so civil, you can stay; but the street
is full of devils."
He paid no heed to her further lamentations, and looking southward
saw that the police had formed a line across the avenue, and that
such battered remnants of the invalid corps as had escaped were
limping off behind their cover as fast as possible. The presence
of the city's guardians had caused a brief hesitation in the
approaching and broken edge of the rabble. Seeing this the brave
sergeant ordered a charge, which was promptly and swiftly made, the
mob recoiling before it more and more slowly as under pressure it
became denser. There was no more effort to carry out the insane,
rather than humane, tactics of the invalid corps, who had either
fired high or used blank cartridges, for now the police struck
for life with their locust clubs, and the thud of the blows could
often be heard even above the uproar. Every one within reach of
their arms went down, and the majority lay quietly where they fell,
as the devoted little band pressed slowly forward. With regret
Merwyn saw Barney Ghegan among the foremost, his broad red face
streaming with perspiration, and he wielding his club as if it were
the deadliest of shillalahs.
They did indeed strike manfully, and proved what an adequate force
could do. Rioters fell before them on every side. But hopeless
reaping was theirs, with miles of solid, bloodthirsty humanity
before them. Slowly and more falteringly they made their way three
blocks, as far as 46th Street, sustained by the hope of finding
reinforcements there. Instead of these, heavier bodies of the
enemy poured in from the side-streets upon the exhausted men, and
the mob closed behind them from 45th Street, like dark, surging
waves. Then came a mad rush upon the hemmed-in officers, who were
attacked in front and in the rear, with clubs, iron-bars, guns,
and pistols. Tom, bruised, bleeding, the force that had fought so
gallantly broke, each man striking out for his own life. The vast
heterogeneous crowd now afforded their chief chance for escape.
Dodging behind numbers, taking advantage of the wild confusion
of the swaying, trampling masses, and striking down some direct
opponent, a few got off with slight bruises. There were wonderful
instances of escape. The brave sergeant who had led the squad had
his left wrist broken by an iron bar, but, knocking down two other
assailants, he sprung into a house and bolted the door after him.
An heroic German girl, with none of the stolid phlegm attributed
to her race, lifted the upper mattress of her bed. The sergeant
sprung in and was covered up without a word. There was no time then
for plans and explanations. A moment later the door was broken,
and a score of fierce-visaged men streamed in. Now the girl was
"Der cop run out der back door," was all that she could be made to
say in answer to fierce inquiries. Every apartment was examined in
vain, and then the roughs departed in search of other prey. Brave,
simple-hearted girl! She would have been torn to pieces had her
humane strategy been discovered.
But a more memorable act of heroism was reserved for another woman,
Mrs. Eagan, the wife of the man who had rescued Superintendent Kennedy
a short time before. A policeman was knocked down with a hay-bale
rung, and fell at her very feet. In a moment more he would have
been killed, but this woman instantly covered his form with her
own, so that no blow could reach him unless she was first struck.
Then she begged for his life. Even the wild-beast spirit of the mob
was touched, and the pursuers passed on. A monument should have
been built to the woman who, in that pandemonium of passion, could
so risk all for a stranger.
I am not defending Merwyn's course, but sketching a character. His
spirit of strategical observation would have forsaken him had he
witnessed that scene, and indeed it did forsake him as he saw Barney
Ghegan running and making a path for himself by the terrific blows
of his club. Three times he fell but rose again, with the same
indomitable pluck which had won his suit to pretty Sally Maguire.
At last the brave fellow was struck down almost opposite the balcony.
Merwyn knew the man was a favorite of the Vosburghs, and he could
not bear that the brave fellow should be murdered before his very
eyes; yet murdered he apparently was ere Merwyn could reach the
street. Like baffled fiends his pursuers closed upon the unfortunate
man, pounding him and jumping upon him. And almost instantly the
vile hags that followed the marauders like harpies, for the sake
of plunder began stripping his body.
"Stop!" thundered Merwyn, the second he reached the scene, and,
standing over the prostrate form, he levelled a pistol at the throng.
"Now, listen to me," he added. "I don't wish to hurt anybody.
You've killed this man, so let his body alone. I know his wife,
an Irishwoman, and she ought at least to have his body for decent
"Faix, an he's roight," cried one, who seemed a leader. "We've
killed the man. Let his woife have what's left uv 'im;" and the
crowd broke away, following the speaker.
This was one of the early indications of what was proved
afterwards,--that the mob was hydra-headed, following either its
own impulses or leaders that sprung up everywhere.
An abandoned express-wagon stood near, and into this Merwyn, with
the help of a bystander, lifted the insensible man. The young fellow
then drove, as rapidly as the condition of the streets permitted,
to the nearest hospital. A few yards carried him beyond those who
had knowledge of the affair, and after that he was unmolested. It
was the policy of the rioters to have the bodies of their friends
disappear as soon as possible. Poor Ghegan had been stripped to
his shirt and drawers, and so was not recognized as a "cop."
Leaving him at the hospital, with brief explanations, Merwyn was
about to hasten away, when the surgeon remarked, "The man is dead,
"I can't help it," cried Merwyn. "I'll bring his wife as soon as
possible. Of course you will do all in your power;" and he started
away on a run.
A few moments later Barney Ghegan was taken to the dead-house.
MERWYN now felt that he had carried out the first part of his plan.
He had looked into the murderous eyes of the mob, and learned
its spirit and purpose. Already he reproached himself for leaving
Marian alone so long, especially as columns of smoke were rising
throughout the northern part of the city. It seemed an age since
he had seen that first cloud of the storm, as he emerged from the
park after his quiet ride, but it was not yet noon.
As he sped through the streets, running where he dared, and fortunately
having enough of the general aspect of a rioter to be unmolested,
he noticed a new feature in the outbreak, one that soon became
a chief characteristic,--the hatred of negroes and the sanguinary
pursuit of them everywhere.
"Another danger for the Vosburghs," he groaned. "They have a colored
servant, who must be spirited off somewhere instantly."
Avoiding crowds, he soon reached the quiet side-street on which
Marian lived, and was overjoyed to find it almost deserted. Mammy
Borden herself answered his impatient ring, and was about to shut
the door on so disreputable a person as he now appeared to be, when
he shouldered it open, turned, locked and chained it with haste.
"What do you mean, sir? and who are you?" Marian demanded, running
from the parlor on hearing the expostulations of her servant.
"Have patience, Miss Vosburgh."
"Oh, it is you, Mr. Merwyn. Indeed I have need of patience. An
hour ago papa sent a message from down town, saying: 'Don't leave
the house to-day. Serious trouble on foot.' Since then not a word,
only wild-looking people running through the street, the ringing of
fire-bells, and the sounds of some kind of disturbance. What does
it all mean? and why do you bar and bolt everything so timidly?"
and the excited girl poured out her words in a torrent.
Merwyn's first words were exasperating, and the girl had already
passed almost beyond self-control. "Has any one seen your colored
"What if they have? What does your unseemly guise mean? Oh that my
brave friends were here to go out and meet the rabble like soldiers!
There's an outbreak, of course; we've been expecting it; but
certainly MEN should not fear the canaille of the slums. It gives
me a sickening impression, Mr. Merwyn, to see you rush in, almost
force your way in, and disguised too, as if you sought safety by
identifying yourself with those who would quail before a brave,
armed man. Pardon me if I'm severe, but I feel that my father is
in danger, and if I don't hear from him soon I shall take Mammy
Borden as escort and go to his office. Whoever is abroad, they
won't molest women, and I'M NOT AFRAID."
"By so doing you would disobey your father, who has told you not
to leave the house to-day."
"But I can't bear inaction and suspense at such a time."
"You must bear it, Miss Vosburgh. Seeing the mood you are in,
I shall not permit that door to be opened to any one except your
father or some one that you recognize."
"You cannot help yourself," she replied, scornfully, approaching
He was there before her, and, taking out the key, put it in his
"Oh, this is shameful!" she cried, blushing scarlet "Can your fears
carry you so far?"
"Yes, and much farther, if needful," he replied, with a grim laugh.
"When you are calm enough to listen to me, to be sane and just,
I'll explain. Until you are I shall remain master here and protect
you and your home." Then, in a tone of stern authority, he added:
"Mrs. Borden, sit yonder in that darkened parlor, and don't move
unless I tell you to hide. Then hide in earnest, as you value your
"Would you not also like a hiding-place provided, Mr. Merwyn?"
Marian asked, almost beside herself with anger and anxiety.
His reply was to go to the window and look up and down the still
"A respite," he remarked, then turned to the colored woman, and in
a tone which she instantly obeyed, said, "Go to that parlor, where
you cannot be seen from the street." Then to Marian, "I have no
authority over you."
"No, I should hope not. Is there no escape from this intrusion?"
"None for the present," he replied, coldly. "You settled it long
since that I was a coward, and now that I am not a gentleman.
I shall make no self-defence except to your father, whom I expect
momentarily. He cannot leave you alone to-day an instant longer
than is unavoidable. I wish to remind you of one thing, however:
your soldier friends have long been your pride."
"Oh that these friends were here to day!"
"They would be surprised at your lack of quiet fortitude."
"Must I be humiliated in my own home?"
"You are humiliating yourself. Had you treated me with even your
old cool toleration and civility, I would have told you all that
has happened since morning; but you have left me no chance for
anything except to take the precautions heedful to save your home
and yourself. You think I fled here as a disguised fugitive. When
shall I forget this crowning proof of your estimate and esteem?
You see I did not come unarmed," partially drawing a revolver. "I
repeat, you are proud of your soldier friends. You have not learned
that the first duty of a soldier is to obey orders; and you have your
father's orders. Obey them quietly, and you are under no necessity
to speak to me again. When your father comes I will relieve you of
my hated presence. If he wishes it, I will still serve you both for
his sake, for he always kept a little faith and fairness for me.
Now, regard me as a sentinel, a common soldier, to whom you need
not speak until your father comes;" and he turned to the windows
and began fastening them.
He, too, was terribly incensed. He had come to interpose his life
between her and danger, and her words and manner had probed a deep
wound that had long been bleeding. The scenes he had witnessed had
wrought him up to a mood as stern and uncompromising as the death
he soon expected to meet. When utterly off her guard she had shown
him, as he believed, her utter contempt and detestation, and at
that moment there was not a more reckless man in the city.
But his bitter words and indomitable will had quieted her As he
stood motionless upon guard by the window, his was not the attitude
of a cowering fugitive. She now admitted that her wild excitement
and her disposition to rush to her father, contrary to his injunction,
were unworthy of her friends and of herself.
There had been panic that morning in the city, and she had caught
the contagion in a characteristic way. She had had no thought of
hiding and cowering, but she had been on the eve of carrying out
rash impulses. She had given way to uncontrollable excitement; and
if her father should learn all she feared he would send her from
the city as one not to be trusted. What should she think of that
silent, motionless sentinel at the window? Suppose, after all,
she had misunderstood and misjudged him,--suppose he HAD come for
her protection. In view of this possibility which she had now to
entertain, how grossly she had insulted him! If her father came and
approved of his course, how could she ever look one so wronged in
the face again? She must try to soften her words a little. Woman-like,
she believed that she could certainly soothe a man as far as she
deemed it judicious, and then leave the future for further diplomacy.
Coward, or not, he had now made her afraid of him.
"Mr. Merwyn," she began.
He made no response whatever.
Again, in a lower and more timid voice, she repeated his name.
Without turning, he said: "Miss Vosburgh, I'm on guard. You
interfere with my duty. There is no reason for further courtesies
between us. If you are sufficiently calm, aid Mrs. Borden in packing
such belongings as she actually needs. She must leave this house
as soon as possible."
"What!" cried the girl, hotly, "send this faithful old woman out
into the streets? Never."
"I did not say, 'out into the streets.' When your father comes one
of his first efforts will be to send her to a place of safety. No
doubt he has already warned her son to find a hiding-place."
"Great heavens! why don't you explain?"
"What chance have I had to explain? Ah! come here, and all will be
She stood at his side and saw a gang of men and boys' chasing
a colored man, with the spirit of bloodhounds in their tones and
"Now I'se understan', too, Mass'r Merwyn," said the trembling
colored woman, looking over their shoulders.
"Go back," he said, sternly. "If you were seen, that yelling pack
of fiends would break into this house as if it were paste-board.
Obey orders, both of you, and keep out of sight."
Awed, overwhelmed, they stole to the back parlor; but Marian soon
faltered, "O Mr. Merwyn, won't you forgive me?"
He made no reply, and a moment later he stepped to the door. Mr.
Vosburgh hastily entered, and Marian rushed into his arms.
"What, Merwyn! you here? Thank God my darling was not alone! Well,
Merwyn, you've got to play the soldier now, and so have we all."
"I shall not 'play the soldier';" was the reply, in quick, firm
utterance. "But no matter about me, except that my time is limited.
I wish to report to you certain things which I have seen, and leave
it to your decision whether I can serve you somewhat, and whether
Miss Vosburgh should remain in the city. I would also respectfully
suggest that your colored servant be sent out of town at once.
I offer my services to convey her to New Jersey, if you know of a
near refuge there, or else to my place in the country."
"Good God, Merwyn! don't you know that by such an act you take your
life in your hand?"
"I have already taken it in my hand, an open hand at that. It has
become of little value to me. But we have not a second to lose. I
have a very sad duty to perform at once, and only stayed till you
came. If you have learned the spirit abroad to-day, you know that
your household was and is in danger."
"Alas! I know it only too well. The trouble had scarcely begun
before I was using agents and telegraph wires. I have also been
to police headquarters. Only the sternest sense of duty to the
government kept me so long from my child; but a man at Washington
is depending on me for information."
"So I supposed. I may be able to serve you, if you can bring
yourself to employ a coward. I shall be at police headquarters,
and can bring you intelligence. When not on duty you should be in
the streets as little as possible. But, first, I would respectfully
suggest that Miss Vosburgh retire, for I have things to say to you
which she should not hear."
"This to me, who listened to the story of Gettysburg?"
"All was totally different then."
"And I, apparently, was totally different. I deserve your reproach;
I should be sent to the nursery."
"I think you should go and help Mrs. Borden," said Merwyn, quietly.
"It's impossible to send Mammy Borden away just yet,--not till
darkness comes to aid our effort," said Mr. Vosburgh, decisively.
"You can serve me greatly, Merwyn, and your country also, if you
have the nerve. It will require great risks. I tell you so frankly.
This is going to prove worse than open battle. O Marian, would to
God you were with your mother!"
"In that case I would come to you if I had to walk. I have wronged
and insulted you, Mr. Merwyn; I beg your pardon. Now don't waste
another moment on me, for I declare before God I shall remain with
my father unless taken away by force; and you would soon find that
the most fatal course possible."
"Well, these are lurid times. I dreaded the thing enough, but now
that it has come so unexpectedly, it is far worse--But enough of
this. Mr. Merwyn, are you willing to take the risks that I shall?"
"Yes, on condition that I save you unnecessary risks."
"Oh what a fool I've been!" Marian exclaimed, with one of her
"Mr. Vosburgh," said Merwyn, "there is one duty which I feel I ought
to perform first of all. Mrs. Ghegan, your old waitress, should be
taken to her husband."
"What! Barney? What has happened to him?"
"I fear he is dead. I disguised myself as you see--"
"Yes, sensibly. No well-dressed man is safe on some streets."
"Certainly not where I've been. I determined to learn the character
of the mob, and I have mingled among them all the morning. I saw
the invalid corps put to flight instantly, and the fight with a
handful of police that followed. I looked on, for to take part was
to risk life and means of knowledge uselessly. The savage, murderous
spirit shown on every side also proved that your household might
be in danger while you were absent. The police fought bravely
and vainly. They were overpowered as a matter of course, and yet
the police will prove the city's chief defence. When I saw Barney
running and fighting heroically for his life, I couldn't remain
spectator any longer, but before I could reach him he was prostrate,
senseless, and nearly stripped. With my revolver and a little
persuasion I secured his body, and took it to a hospital. A surgeon
thought he was dead. I don't know, but that his wife should be
informed and go to him seems only common humanity."
"Well, Merwyn, I don't know," said Mr. Vosburgh, dubiously; "we
are in the midst of a great battle, and when one is down--Well,
the cause must be first, you know. Whether this is a part of
the rebellion or not, it will soon be utilized by the Confederate
leaders. What I say of Barney I would say of myself and mine,--all
private considerations must give--"
"I understand," interrupted Merwyn, impatiently. "But in taking Mrs.
Ghegan across town I could see and learn as much as if alone, and
she would even be a protection to me. In getting information one
will have to use every subterfuge. I think nothing will be lost by
this act. From the hospital I will go direct to police headquarters,
and stipulate as to my service,--for I shall serve in my own way,--and
then, if there is no pressing duty, I will report to you again."
Mr. Vosburgh sprung up and wrung the young fellow's hand as he
said: "We have done you great wrong. I, too, beg your pardon. But
more than all the city to me is my duty to the general government.
To a certain extent I must keep aloof from the actual scenes
of violence, or I fail my employers and risk vast interests. If
consistently with your ideas of duty you can aid me now, I shall
be more grateful than if you saved my life. Information now may be
vital to the nation's safety. You may find me at police headquarters
an hour or two hence."
"It is settled then, and events will shape future action;" and he
was turning hastily away.
A hand fell upon his arm, and never had he looked upon a face in
which shame and contrition were so blended.
"What will be your future action towards me?" Marian asked, as she
detained him. "Will you have no mercy on the girl who was so weak
as to be almost hysterical?"
"You have redeemed your weakness," he replied, coldly. "You are
your old high-bred, courageous self, and you will probably cease
to think of me as a coward before the day is over. Good-afternoon;"
and in a moment he was gone.
"I have offended him beyond hope," she said, as she turned, drooping,
to her father.
"Never imagine it, darling," her father replied, with a smile. "His
lip quivered as you spoke, and I have learned to read the faintest
signs in a man. You have both been overwrought and in no condition
for calm, natural action. Mervvyn will relent. You lost your poise
through excitement, not cowardice, and he, young and all undisciplined,
has witnessed scenes that might appall a veteran. But now all must
be courage and action. Since you will remain with me you must be a
soldier, and be armed like one. Come with me to my room, and I will
give you a small revolver. I am glad that you have amused yourself
with the dangerous toy, and know how to use it. Then you must help
me plan a disguise which will almost deceive your eyes. Keeping
busy, my dear, will prove the best tonic for your nerves. Mammy
Borden, you must go to your room and stay there till we find a way
of sending you to a place of safety. After you have disappeared
for a time I'll tell the other servant that you have gone away. I
sent your son home before I left the office, and he, no doubt, is
keeping out of harm's way."
The old woman courtesied, but there was a dogged, hunted look in
her eyes as she crept away, muttering, "Dis is what Zeb call de
'lan' ob de free!'"
A WIFE'S EMBRACE.
"O PAPA," cried Marian, after reaching the library, "we let Mr.
Merwyn go without a lunch, and it's nearly two o'clock. Nor do I
believe you have had a mouthful since breakfast, and I've forgotten
all about providing anything. Oh, how signally I have failed on
the first day of battle!"
"You are not the first soldier, by untold millions, who has done
so; but you have not shown the white feather yet."
"When I do that I shall expire from shame. You rummage for a
disguise, and I'll be back soon."
She hastened to the kitchen, and at a glance saw that the Irish
cook had fled, taking not a little with her. The range fire was
out, and the refrigerator and the store-closet had been ravaged.
She first barred and bolted all the doors, and then the best she
could bring her father was crackers and milk and some old Sherry
wine; but she nearly dropped these when she saw a strange man, as
she supposed, emerge from his bedroom.
Mr. Vosburgh's laugh reassured her, and he said: "I fancy I shall
pass among strangers, since you don't know me. Nothing could be
better than the milk and crackers. No wine. My head must be clearer
to-day than it ever was before. So the Irish Biddy has gone with
her plunder? Good riddance to her. She would have been a spy in the
camp. I'll bring home food that won't require cooking, and you'll
have to learn to make coffee, for Merwyn and others will, no doubt,
often come half dead from fatigue. All we can do is to forage
in such shops as are open, and you'll have to take the office of
commissary at once. You must also be my private secretary. As fast
as I write these despatches and letters copy them. I can eat and
write at the same time. In an hour I must go out."
"I won't play the fool again," said the girl, doggedly.
"Drink this glass of milk first, while I run down for more, and
satisfy my mind as to the fastenings, etc."
"Marian," he said, gravely, "you can stay with me only on one
condition: you must obey orders."
"That is what Mr. Merwyn said. Oh what a credit I've been to my
military friends!" and with difficulty she drank the milk.
"You are a promising young recruit," was the smiling reply. "We'll
promote you before the week's out."
In five minutes he was back, cool, yet almost as quick as light in
The despatches she copied were unintelligible to Marian, but the
one to whom they were addressed had the key. The copies of the
letters were placed in a secret drawer.
When their tasks were finished, Mr. Vosburgh looked up and down
the street and was glad to find it comparatively empty. The storm
of passion was raging elsewhere.
He closed all the shutters of the house, giving it a deserted aspect,
then said to his daughter. "You must admit no one in my absence,
and parley with no one who does not give the password, 'Gettysburg
and Little Round Top.' If men should come who say these words, tell
them to linger near without attracting attention, and come again
after I return. Admit Merwyn, of course, for you know his voice.
It is a terrible trial to leave you alone, but there seems to be
no prospect of trouble in this locality. At all events, I must do
my duty, cost what it may. Be vigilant, and do not worry unnecessarily
if I am detained."
"I am bent on retrieving myself, papa; and I'd rather die than be
so weak again."
"That's my brave girl. You won't die. After this venture, which I
must make at once, I shall be able to take greater precautions;"
and with a fond look and kiss, he hastened away through the basement
entrance, Marian fastening it securely after him.
We must now follow Merwyn's fortunes for a time. Rapidly, yet
vigilantly he made his way up town and crossed Third Avenue. He soon
observed that the spirit of lawlessness was increasing. Columns of
smoke were rising from various points, indicating burning buildings,
and in Lexington Avenue he witnessed the unblushing sack of beautiful
homes, from which the inmates had been driven in terror for their
"It will be strange if Mr. Vosburgh's home escapes," he thought.
"Some one must know enough of his calling to bring upon him and
his the vengeance of the mob. I shall do the best I can for him and
his daughter, but to-day has slain the last vestige of hope beyond
that of compelling her respect. Wholly off her guard, she showed
her deep-rooted detestation, and she can never disguise it again.
Regret and mortification at her conduct, a wish to make amends
and to show gratitude for such aid as I may give her father, will
probably lead her to be very gracious; at the same time I shall ever
know that in her heart is a repugnance which she cannot overcome.
A woman can never love a man towards whom she has entertained
thoughts like hers;" and with much bitter musings, added to his
reckless impulses, he made his way to the region in which Mrs.
Ghegan had her rooms.
Finding a livery stable near he hired a hack, securing it by
threats as well as money, and was soon at the door of the tenement
Mrs. Ghegan showed her scared, yet pretty face in response to his
"Ye's brought me bad news," she said, instantly, beginning to sob.
"Yes, Mrs. Ghegan; but if you love your husband you will show it
now. I have come to take you to him. He has been wounded."
"Is it Mr. Merwyn?"
"Yes; I've just come from Mr. Vosburgh, and he will do what he can
for you when he has a chance. They know about your trouble. Now
make haste, for we've not a moment to lose in reaching the hospital."
"The Lord knows I love Barney as me loife, an' that I'd go to him
through fire and blood. Oi'll kape ye no longer than to tie me
bonnet on;" and this she was already doing with trembling fingers.
Locking the door, she took the key with her, and was soon in the
hack. Merwyn mounted the box with the driver, knowing that openness
was the best safeguard against suspicions that might soon prove
fatal. At one point they were surrounded and stopped by the rioters,
who demanded explanations.
"Clear out, ye bloody divils!" cried Sally, who did not count
timidity among her foibles; "wud ye kape a woman from goin' to her
husband, a-dyin' beloikes?"
"Oh, let us pass," said Merwyn, in a loud tone. "A cop knocked her
husband on the head, and we are taking her to him."
"Och! ye are roight, me mon. We'll let onybody pass who spakes in
her swate brogue;" and the crowd parted.
Reaching the hospital, Sally rushed into the office with the
breathless demand, "Where's Barney?"
Merwyn recognized the surgeon he had met before, and said: "You
know the man I brought a few hours since. This is his wife."
The surgeon looked grave and hesitated.
"What have ye done wid him?" Sally almost screamed. "Are ye no
better than the bloody villains in the strates?"
"My good woman," began the surgeon, "you must be more composed and
reasonable. We try to save life when there is life--"
"Where is he?" shrieked the woman.
The surgeon, accustomed to similar scenes, nodded to an attendant,
and said, gravely, "Show her."
Merwyn took the poor woman's hand to restrain as well as to reassure
her, saying, with sympathies deeply touched, "Mrs. Ghegan, remember
you are not friendless, whatever happens."
"Quick! quick!" she said to her guide. "Och! what's a wurld uv
frin's if I lose Barney? Poor man! poor man! He once said I blew
hot and could, but oi'd give him me loife's blood now."
To Merwyn's sorrow they were led to the dead-house, and there lay
the object of their quest, apparently lifeless, his battered face
almost past recognition. But Sally knew him instantly, and stared
for a moment as if turned to stone; then, with a wild cry, she threw
herself upon him, moaning, sobbing, and straining his unconscious
form to her breast.
Merwyn felt that it would be best to let her paroxysm of grief expend
itself unrestrained; but a bitter thought crossed his mind,--"I may
be in as bad a plight as poor Barney before the day closes, yet no
one would grieve for me like that."
Suddenly Mrs. Ghegan became still. In her embrace her hand had
rested over her husband's heart, and had felt a faint pulsation.
A moment later she sprung up and rushed back to the office. Merwyn
thought that she was partially demented, and could scarcely keep
pace with her.
Bursting in at the door, she cried: "Och! ye bloody spalpanes, to
put a loive man where ye did! Come wid me, an' oi'll tache ye that
I knows more than ye all."
"Please satisfy her," said Merwyn to the surgeon, who was inclined
to ignore what he regarded as the wild ravings of a grief-crazed
"Well, well, if it will do any good; but we have too much to do
to-day for those who have a chance--"
"Come on, or oi'll drag ye there," the wife broke in.
"When I've satisfied you, my good woman, you must become quiet and
civil. Other wives have lost their husbands--"
But Sally was already out of hearing. Reaching the supposed corpse,
the deeply excited woman said, with eyes blazing through her tears,
"Put yez hand on his heart."
The surgeon did so, and almost instantly the expression of his face
changed, and he said sharply to the attendant, "Bring a stretcher
with bearers at once." Then to Sally: "You are right; he is alive,
but there was no such pulsation as this when he was brought here.
Now be quiet and cheer up, and we may help you save his life. You
can stay and take care of him."
Merwyn again took the wife's trembling hand and said, earnestly:
"Mrs. Ghegan, obey the surgeon's orders exactly. Be quiet, gentle,
and self-controlled, and Barney may outlive us all."
"Faix, Mr. Merwyn, now that oi've hope I'll be whist as a baby
asleep. Ye knew me onst as a light, giddy gurl, but oi'll watch
over Barney wid such a slapeless eye as wud shame his own mither."
And she kept her word. For days and nights her husband remained
unconscious, wavering between life and death. The faithful woman,
as indifferent to the tumult and havoc in the city as if it were
in another land, sat beside him and furthered all efforts in a
Merwyn saw him in a hospital ward, surrounded by skilful hands,
before he took his leave.
"God bless ye!" Sally began. "If yez hadn't brought me--"
But, pressing her hand warmly, he did not wait to hear her grateful
THE DECISIVE BATTLE.
MERWYN was now very anxious to reach police headquarters in
Mulberry Street, for he felt that the safety of the city, as well
as all personal interests dear to him, depended upon adequate and
The driver, having been promised a handsome reward to remain, still
waited. Indeed, he had gained the impression that Merwyn was in
sympathy with the ruthless forces then in the ascendant, and he
felt safer in his company than if returning alone.
Mounting the box again, Merwyn directed the driver to make his way
through the more open streets to Broadway and 14th Street.
They had not gone far through the disturbed districts when four
rough-looking men stopped them, took possession of the hack, and
insolently required that they should be driven to Union Square. The
last ugly-visaged personage to enter the vehicle paused a moment,
drew a revolver, and said, "An' ye don't 'bey orders, this little
bull-dog will spake to ye next."
The Jehu looked with a pallid face at Merwyn, who said, carelessly:
"It's all right. They are going in my direction."
The quartet within soon began to entertain suspicions of Merwyn,
and the one who had last spoken, apparently the leader, thrust his
head out of the window and shouted: "Shtop! Who the divil is that
chap on the box wid ye?"
"I'll answer for myself," said Merwyn, seeking to employ the
vernacular as well as the appearance of an American mechanic. "The
driver don't know anything about me. A cop knocked a friend of mine
on the head this morning, and I've been taking his wife to him."
The driver now took his cue, and added, "Faix, and a nice, dacent
little Irishwoman she was, bedad."
"Then ye're wan wid us?" cried the leader of the gang.
"It looks mighty like it," was the laughing reply. "This would be
a poor place for me to hang out, if I was afraid of you or your
"Yez may bet your loife on that. How coomes it ye're so hand-and-glove
wid an Irishman, when ye spake no brogue at all?"
"Thunder! man, do you think no one but Irishmen are going to have
a fist in this scrimmage? I'm as ready to fight as you are, and am
only going down town to join my own gang. Why shouldn't I have an
Irishman for a friend, if he's a good fellow, I'd like to know?"
"Beloikes they'll be yez best frin's. All roight. Dhrive on and
moind your eye, or the bull-dog will bark."
They ordered a halt several times, while one and another went to
a saloon for a drink. It was fast becoming evident that, should
there be any want of courage or recklessness, whiskey would supply
Merwyn preserved nonchalant indifference, even when his disreputable
companions were approached by those with whom they were in league,
and information and orders were exchanged which he partially
overheard. Although much was said in a jargon that he scarcely
understood, he gathered that nothing less was on foot than an attack
on police headquarters, in the hope of crushing at the start the
power most feared. Therefore, while he maintained his mask, every
sense was on the alert.
At length they reached Union Square, and the occupants of the
hack alighted. Two went east and one west, while the leader said
to Merwyn, who had also jumped down: "Take me to your gang. We're
afther needing ivery divil's son of 'im widin the next hour or so.
It's a big game we're playin' now, me lad, an' see that ye play
square and thrue, or your swateheart'll miss ye the noight."
"You'll have to have a bigger crowd on Broadway before you'll get
our fellows out," Merwyn replied. "We're not going to face the cops
until there's enough on hand to give us a livin' chance."
"There'll be plenty on hand--more'n ye ever seed in yer loife--before
ye're an hour older. So lead on, and shtop your palaver. I'm not
quite sure on ye yet."
"You soon will be," replied Merwyn, with his reckless and misleading
laugh. "My course is down Broadway to Bleecker Street and then
west. I can show you as pretty a lot of fellows as you'll want to
see, and most of us are armed."
"All roight. Broadway suits me. I want to see if the coast is
"So do I, and what the cops are about in these diggin's. The right
thing to do is for all hands to pitch right on to them in Mulberry
Street, and then the game's in our own hands."
"If that's the lark we have on foot, can ye promise that yer gang'll
"Yes, sir, for we'd know that meant business."
"How many could ye muster?"
"I hardly know. We were a-growin' fast when I left."
"Well, lead on loively. Ivery minute now should give me a dozen
men, an' we want to start the blaze down this way. I tell ye it's
a burning-up town."
"So I should guess from the smoke we see," said Merwyn, with his
old laugh. "Jupiter! there comes a squad of cops."
"Well, what do we care? We're two paceable, dacent citizens,
a-strollin' down Broadway."
"Oh, I'm not afraid," was the careless reply. "I'm going to see
this scrimmage out, and I like the fun. Let's watch the cops cross
the street, and see how they are armed."
As the little squad approached Broadway from a side-street, hastening
to headquarters, the Hibernian firebrand and his supposed ally stood
on the curbstone, A moment later Merwyn struck his companion such
a powerful blow on the temple that he fell in the street, almost
in front of the officers of the law. The young fellow then sprung
upon the stunned and helpless man, and took away his weapons, at
the same time, crying: "Secure him. He's a leader of the mob."
"Yes, and you too, my hard hitter," said the sergeant in command.
"I'll go quietly enough, so long as you take him with me. Be quick
about it, too, for I have news that should be known at headquarters
as soon as possible."
The police now supposed that they recognized one of a band
of detectives, everywhere busy about the city in all kinds of
disguises,--men of wonderful nerve, who rendered the authorities
very important services, and often captured the most dangerous of
the ruffianly leaders.
The fellow in question was hustled to his feet, having discovered
Merwyn's gang sooner than he desired. The squad pushed through the
fast-gathering and bewildered crowd, and soon reached headquarters.
The young fellow told his story in the presence of Mr. Vosburgh, who
evidently had credentials which secured for him absolute confidence
on the part of the authorities.
Merwyn soon learned to recognize in his interlocutor, the
superintendent of the metropolitan police, a man to whose active
brain, iron will, and indomitable courage, the city chiefly owed
its deliverance,--Thomas C. Acton.
Confirmation of the sinister tidings was already coming in fast. The
brutal mob that had sacked and burned the Colored Orphan Asylum was
moving southward, growing with accessions from different quarters,
like a turbulent torrent. Its destination was well understood,
and Acton knew that the crisis had come thus early. He frequently
conferred with Chief Clerk Seth C. Hawley, upon whom, next to
himself, rested the heaviest burdens of those terrific days.
Merwyn offered his services on the force, stipulating, however,
that he might be in a measure his own master, since he had other
duties to perform, at the same time promising to do his share of
Mr. Vosburgh drew Acton to one side, and made a few whispered
explanations. Merwyn's request was granted at once, Acton adding,
"There will be a general call in the morning papers for the enrolment
of citizens as policemen."
The moments were crowded with preparations, counsels, and decisions.
The telegraph wires, concentring there from all parts of the city,
were constantly ticking off direful intelligence; but the most
threatening fact was the movement down Broadway of unknown thousands,
maddened by liquor, and confident from their unchecked excesses
during the day. They knew that they had only to destroy the handful
of men at police headquarters and the city was theirs to plunder
and destroy with hyena-like savagery.
Acton, now cognizant of the worst, went to the police commissioners'
room and said: "Gentlemen, the crisis has come. A battle must be
fought now, and won, too, or all is lost."
None doubted the truth of his word; but who should lead the small
force at hand? Inspector Carpenter's name was suggested, for he was
known to be a man of great resolution and courage, and leadership
naturally fell to him as one of the oldest and most experienced
members of the force. Acton instructed him not only that a battle
must be fought immediately, but also that it MUST be successful.
Carpenter listened quietly, comprehending both the peril and the
necessity; then after a moment's hesitation he rose to his full
height, and with an impressive gesture and a terrible oath said,
"I will go, and I'll win that fight, or Daniel Carpenter will never
come back a live man."
He instantly summoned his insignificant force, and the order, "Fall
in, men," resounded through the street.
Merwyn, with a policeman's coat buttoned over his blouse, avowed
his purpose of going with them; and his exploit of the afternoon,
witnessed and bruited by members of the force, made his presence
It was now between five and six in the evening. The air was hot
and sultry, and in the west lowered heavy clouds, from which the
thunder muttered. Emblematic they seemed to such as heeded them in
the intense excitement.
Few in the great city at that hour were so deeply stirred as Merwyn.
The tremendous excitements of the day, to which his experience at
Mr. Vosburgh's residence had chiefly contributed, were cumulative
in their effect. Now he had reached the goal of his hope, and had
obtained an opportunity, far beyond his wildest dreams, to redeem
his character from the imputation of cowardice. He was part of the
little force which might justly be regarded as a "forlorn hope."
The fate of the city depended upon its desperate valor, and no one
knew this better than he, who, from early morning, had witnessed the
tiger-spirit of the mob. If the thousands, every minute approaching
nearer, should annihilate the handful of men who alone were present
to cope with them, that very night the city would be at the mercy
of the infuriated rioters, and not a home would be secure from
The column of police was formed scarcely two hundred strong.
Merwyn, as a new recruit, was placed in its rear, a position that
he did not mean to keep when the fight should begin. Like the
others, he was armed with a locust-club, but he had two revolvers
on his person, and these he knew how to use with fatal precision.
From an open window Superintendent Acton shouted, "Inspector
Carpenter, my orders are, Make no arrests, bring no prisoners, but
kill--kill every, time."
It was to be a life-and-death struggle. The mob would have no mercy:
the officers of the law were commanded to show none.
As Carpenter went forward to the head of his column, his face as
dark with his sanguinary puipose as the lowering west, Merwyn saw
that Mr. Vosburgh, quiet and observant, was present.
The government officer, with his trained instincts, knew just where
to be, in order to obtain the most vital information. He now joined
Merwyn, and was struck by his extreme pallor, a characteristic of
the young fellow under extreme emotion.
"Mr. Merwyn," he said, hastily, "you have done enough for two
to-day, You need rest. This is going to be a desperate encounter."
"Forward!" shouted Carpenter.
A proud smile lighted up Merwyn's features, as he said: "Good-by.
Thank you for such faith as you have had in me;" and he moved off
with the others.
Mr. Vosburgh muttered, "I shall see this fight, and I shall solve
that embodied mystery whom we have thought a coward;" and he followed
so near as to keep Merwyn under his eye.
A black, sulphurous cloud was rising in the west. This little
dark blue column approaching from the east, marching down Bleecker
Street, was insignificant in comparison, yet it was infinitely the
more dangerous, and charged with forces that would scatter death
and wounds such as the city had never witnessed.
No words were spoken by the resolute men. The stony pavement
echoed their measured, heavy tread. Turning into Broadway they saw
the enemy but a block and a half away, a howling mob, stretching
northward as far as the eye could reach. It was sweeping the
thoroughfare, thousands in line. Pedestrians, stages, vehicles of
all kinds, were vanishing down side-streets. Pallid shopkeepers
were closing their stores as sailors take in sail before a cyclone.
Carpenter halted his command, and sent small detachments up parallel
side-streets, that they might come around and fall upon the flanks
of the mob.
As these men were moving off on the double-quick, Merwyn left his
squad and said to Carpenter: "I am a citizen, and I stipulated that
I should fight as I chose. I choose to fight with you."
"Well, well, so long as you fight," was the hasty answer. "You shall
have plenty of it, if you keep near me." Then he added, sternly:
"Mark you, young fellow, if you show the white feather I'll knock
you over myself. Those devils yonder must be taught that the one
thing this force can't do is run."
"Brain me if I do not do my whole duty," was the firm reply; and
he took his place at the right of the front rank.
A moment later he was startled by Mr. Vosburgh, who seized his hand
and said, earnestly: "Merwyn, no man ever did a braver thing than
you are doing now. I can't forgive myself that I wronged you in my
"You had reason. I'm doing no better than these other men, and I
have a thousand-fold their motive." Then he added, gravely, "I do
not think you ought to be here and your daughter alone."
"I know my duty," was the quiet reply; "and there are those who
must be informed of the issue of this fight as soon as it is over.
Once more, farewell, my brave friend;" and he disappeared.
Carpenter was holding his force until his flanking detachments should
reach their co-operative points. When the mob saw the police, it
advanced more slowly, as if it, too, instinctively recognized that
the supreme crisis was near. In the van of the dense mass a large
board was borne aloft, inscribed with the words, "No Draft!" and
beside it, in mocking irony, floated the stars and stripes.
The hesitation of the rioters was but brief. They mistook the
inaction of the few policemen opposed to them for timidity, and the
immense masses behind pushed them forward. Therefore, with a new
impetus, the howling, yelling throng approached, and Merwyn could
distinguish the features of the liquor-inflamed, maddened faces that
were already becoming familiar to him. In the sultry July evening
the greater part of the rioters were in their shirt-sleeves, and
they were armed with every description of weapon, iron bars, clubs,
pitchforks, barrel-staves, and not a few with guns and pistols.
Carpenter stood out before his men, watching the approach of his
victims with an expression which only the terrible excitement of
battle can produce. His men, behind him, were like statues. Suddenly
his stentorian command rang out,--
"BY THE RIGHT FLANK, COMPANY FRONT! DOUBLE-QUICK! CHARGE!"
As if the lever of a powerful engine had been pressed, all clubs
were raised aloft, and with swift, even tread the trained, powerful
men rushed after their leader, who kept several paces ahead.
When such a disciplined force, with such a leader, have resolved to
fight till they die, their power is not to be estimated by numbers.
They smote the astonished van of the mob like a thunderbolt, Carpenter
leading by several steps, his face aflame with his desperate resolve.
He dealt the first blow, sending down, bleeding and senseless, a
huge ruffian who was rushing upon him with a club. A second later
the impetuous officer was in the midst of the mob, giving deadly
blows right and left.
His men closed up with him instantly, Merwyn being among the first
to reach his side, and for a few moments the thud of clubs on human
skulls was heard above every other sound. Mr. Vosburgh, keeping a
little to the rear on the sidewalk, watched Merwyn, who held his
attention almost equally with the general issues of this decisive
battle. The youth was dealing blows like an athlete, and keeping
pace with the boldest. The windows of the buildings on Broadway
were now crowded by thousands witnessing the conflict, while Mr.
Vosburgh, following closely, heard the ominous "sing" of more than
one bullet. The man who had come that day to the protection of his
home and child should not be left to the mercy of strangers, should
he fall. To his surprise he soon saw that Merwyn had shifted his
club to his left hand, and that he was fighting with a revolver. He
watched the young fellow with renewed interest, and observed that
his aim was as deliberate as it was quick, and that often when he
fired some prominent figure in the mob dropped.
"By all the powers! if he is not coolly shooting the leaders, and
picking out his man every time!" ejaculated the astonished officer.
The police made a clean sweep of the street, and only prostrate
forms were left in their rear. Therefore Mr. Vosburgh could almost
keep pace with Merwyn.
The rioters soon became appalled at their punishment. Like a dark
blue wave, with bloody clubs forming a crimson crest, that unfaltering
rank of men steadily advanced and ingulfed them. All within reach
went down. Those of the police who were wounded still fought on,
or, if disabled, the ranks closed up, and there was no cessation
in the fatal hail of blows. The rioters in front would have given
way, had not the thousands in their rear pressed them forward to
The judicious Carpenter had provided for this feature of the
strife, for now his detachments were smiting both flanks of the
human monster with the same terrific vengeance dealt upon its head.
The undisciplined herd fought desperately for a time, then gave
way to panic and the wild effort to escape. Long since a policeman
had seized the national flag, and bore it triumphantly with his
left hand while he fought with his right. The confusion and uproar
were beyond description. The rioters were yelling their conflicting
views as to what ought to be done, while others were shouting to
those in their rear to cease crowding forward. The pressure down
Broadway now came from a desire to escape the police. In brief,
a large section of the mob was hemmed in, and it surged backwards
and forwards and up against the stores, while hundreds, availing
themselves of the side-streets, ran for their lives. In a very
short time what had been a compact, threatening mass was flying in
fragments, as if disrupted by dynamite, but the pursuing clubs of
Carpenter's men never ceased their levelling blows while a rioter's
head was in reach. Far northward the direful tidings of defeat
spread through the ragged hosts as yet unharmed, and they melted
away, to come together again and again during the lurid days and
nights which followed.
The Gettysburg of the conflict had been fought and won. Unspeakable
outrages and heavy battles were yet to come; but this decisive
victory gave the authorities advantage which they never lost, and
time to organize more effective resistance with the aid of the
military. The police saved the city.
Broadway looked like a battle-field, prostrate forms strewing its
crimsoned pavement throughout the area of the conflict. The majority
were left where they fell, and were carried off by their friends.
As the melee was drawing to a close, Mr. Vosburgh saw Merwyn chasing
a man who apparently had had much influence with his associates,
and had been among the last to yield. After a brief pursuit the
young fellow stopped and fired. The man struggled on a few steps,
then fell. Merwyn, panting, sat down on the curbstone, and here Mr.
Vosburgh joined him with radiant face, exclaiming, as he wrung the
young man's hand: "I've seen it all,--seen how you smote them hip
and thigh. Never has my blood been so stirred. The city is saved.
When a mob is thus dealt with it soon gives up. Come, you have
done more than your part. Go with me, and as soon as I have sent
a despatch about this glorious victory, we'll have supper and a
"Impossible, Mr. Vosburgh. The inspector has heard that the mob
is sacking the mayor's house, and we have orders to march there at
once. I'll get my wind in a moment."
"But you are not under obligations, in view of all you have done."
"I'm going to see this fight out. If the force were ordered back
to headquarters I'd go with you."
"But you will come soon?"
"Yes; when the fighting is over for the night I'll bring the latest
news. There, the men are falling in for their march up Broadway,
and I must go."
"Well, I congratulate you. No soldier ever won greener laurels in
so short a time. What's more, you were cool enough to be one of
the most effective of the force. I saw you picking off the leaders.
Good-by;" and he hastened away, while Merwyn followed Carpenter
and the captured flag to a new scene of battle.
"I HAVE SEEN THAT YOU DETEST ME."
After her father had left her on that eventful afternoon, Marian
felt as if alone in a beleaguered fortress. The familiar streets
in which she had trundled her hoop as a child, and until to-day
walked without fear, were now filled with nameless terrors. She who
had been so bent on going out in the morning would now as readily
stroll in a tiger-infested jungle as to venture from her door. When
men like her father used such language and took such precautions
as she had anxiously noted, she knew that dangers were manifold and
great, that she was in the midst of the most ruthless phase of war.
But her first excitement had passed, and it had brought her such
lessons that now her chief thought was to retrieve herself. The
one who had dwelt in her mind as so weak and unmanly as to be a
constant cause of irritation had shown himself to be her superior,
and might even equal the friends with whom she had been scornfully
contrasting him. That she should have spoken to him and treated
him as she had done produced boundless self-reproach, while her
egregious error in estimating his character was humiliating in the
"Fool! fool!" she said, aloud, "where was your woman's intuition?"
Marian had much warm blood in her veins and fire in her spirit, and
on provocation could become deeply incensed at others, as we have
seen; but so devoid of petty vanity was she that she could be almost
equally angry at herself. She did not share her father's confidence
that Merwyn would relent under a few smiles, for she knew how deeply
she had wounded and wronged him, and she believed that he possessed a
will as steadfast as fate. The desire to test her father's theory,
the hope to atone for her wrong judgment, grew so strong and absorbing
as to make the awful fact of the riot secondary in her thoughts.
To get through the hours she felt that she must keep incessantly
busy. She first went to her own room, packed valuables and jewels
in a convenient form to carry if there should be cause for a hasty
exit, then concealed them. Going to her mother's and father's room,
she acted in view of the same possible necessity, all the while
carrying on the distinct process of thought in regard to Merwyn,
dwelling on their past relations, but above all questioning his
course when they should meet again.
Suddenly she reproached herself with forgetfulness of Mammy Borden.
True, not much time had passed; but the poor creature, after what
she had heard, should be reassured frequently. She went to the attic
room, but it was empty. On inspection it became evident that the
colored woman had made up her little bundle and departed. Calling
as she went down through the house, Marian reached the basement
and saw that its door had been unfastened.
"She has gone to join her son," said the girl, as she hastily
rebolted and barred the door. "Oh what awful imprudence! Perhaps
she also wished to relieve us of the danger of her presence. Well,
I am now alone in very truth. I could now give Mr. Merwyn a very
different reception. He and papa will be here soon perhaps. Oh, I
wish I knew how to make coffee, but I can't even kindle a fire in
the range. I have proved myself to-day a fine subject for a soldier.
My role is to listen, in elegant costume, to heroic deeds, and
to become almost hysterical in the first hour of battle. O 'Missy
S'wanee,' I make a sorry figure beside you, facing actual war and
cheering on your friends!"
Thus she passed the time in varied and bitter soliloquy while
putting the kitchen and closets in order, and in awkward attempts
to remove the debris of the last fire from the range. The gas gave
light for her efforts, for the closed shutters darkened the apartment.
She was startled by a tap at the door.
"Well?" she faltered, after a moment's hesitation.
"'Gettysburg and Little Round Top,'" was the response.
"Mr. Vosburgh is out, and left word that you should linger near
till he returned and then come again."
"I cannot do that. It would not be safe for either him or me. He
does not realize. Can you be trusted?"
"I am his daughter."
"Say, then, terrible work up town. The orphan asylum sacked and
burned. Many private residences also. The mob having its own way.
A crowd is coming, and I must not be seen here. Will be back to-night
if possible;" and the unseen communicator of dismal intelligence
went westward with hasty steps.
Marian trembled as she heard the confused, noisy tread of many feet.
Hastening to the second story, she peeped through the blinds, and
shuddered as she saw a fragment of the mob which had been defeated
on Broadway, returning to their haunts on the west side. Baffled
and infuriated, they made the street echo with their obscene words
and curses. Her heart almost stood still as they approached her
door, and with white, compressed lips she grasped her revolver;
but the rioters passed on like a flock of unclean birds, and the
street became quiet again.
She was now so anxious about her father that she maintained her
position of observation. The coming storm lowering in the west
oppressed her with its terrible symbolism. Already the street was
darkening, while from other parts of the city came strange sounds.
"Oh, if papa should never come back,--if the mob should have its
own way everywhere! To think of staying here alone to-night! Would
HE come again after my treatment this morning?"
She was aroused from her deep and painful revery by a knocking on
the basement door. Hastening down she was overjoyed to hear her
father's voice, and when he entered she clung to him, and kissed him
with such energy that his heavy beard came off, and his disguising
wig was all awry.
"O papa!" she cried, "I'm so glad you are back safe! A body of
rioters passed through the street, and the thought of your falling
into such hands sickened me with fear;" and then she breathlessly
told him of all that had occurred, and of Mammy Borden's disappearance.
He reassured her gently, yet strongly, and her quick ear caught
the ring of truth in his words.
"I, too, have much to tell you," he said, "and much to do; so we
must talk as we work. First help me to unpack and put away these
provisions. This evening I must get a stout German woman that I
know of to help you. You must not be left alone again, and I have
another plan in mind for our safety. I think the worst is over, but
it is best not to entertain a sense of false security for a moment
in these times. The mob has been thoroughly whipped on Broadway.
I'll tell you all about it after we have had a good cup of coffee
and a little supper. Now that there is a respite I find I'm almost
faint myself from reaction and fatigue."
"Have you seen--do you think Mr. Merwyn will be here again?"
"I've seen him, and so have others, to their sorrow. 'Coward,'
indeed!" He threw back his head and laughed. "I only wish I had a
regiment of such cowards, and I could abolish the mob in twenty-four
hours. But I'll tell you the whole story after supper is ready, and
will show how quickly a soldier can get up a meal in an emergency.
You must go into training as a commissary at once."
Her father seemed so genuinely hopeful and elated that Marian caught
his spirit and gave every faculty to the task of aiding him. Now
that he was with her, all fears and forebodings passed; the nearer
roll of the thunder was unheeded except as it called out the remark,
"It will be too bad if Mr. Merwyn is out in the storm."
Again her father laughed, as he said, "All the thunder gusts that
have raged over the city are nothing to the storm which Merwyn has
"O papa, you make me half wild with curiosity and impatience. Must
I wait until the coffee boils?"
"No," was the still laughing reply. "What is more, you shall have
another surprising experience; you shall eat your supper--for the
first time, I imagine--in the kitchen. It will save time and trouble,
and some of my agents may appear soon. Well, well, all has turned
out, so far, better than I ever hoped. I have been able to keep
track of all the most important movements; I have seen a decisive
battle, and have sent intelligence of everything to Washington.
A certain man there cannot say that I have failed in my duty,
unexpected and terrible as has been the emergency. By morning the
military from the forts in the harbor will be on hand. One or two
more such victories, and this dragon of a mob will expire."
"Papa, should not something be done to find and protect Mammy
"Yes, as soon as possible; but we must make sure that the city's
safe, and our own lives secure before looking after one poor creature.
She has undoubtedly gone to her son, as you suggest. After such a
scare as she has had she will keep herself and him out of sight.
They are both shrewd and intelligent for their race, and will, no
doubt, either hide or escape from the city together. Rest assured
she went out heavily veiled and disguised. She would have said
good-by had she not feared you would detain her, and, as you say,
her motive was probably twofold. She saw how she endangered us,
and, mother-like, she was determined to be with her son."
"Come, papa, the coffee's boiled, and supper, such as it is, is on
the table. Hungry as I am, I cannot eat till you have told me all."
"All about the fight?"
"Yes, and--and--Well, what part did Mr. Merwyn take in it?"
"Ah, now I am to recite MY epic. How all is changed since Blauvelt
kindled your eyes and flushed your cheeks with the narration of
heroic deeds! Then we heard of armies whose tread shook the continent,
and whose guns have echoed around the world. Men, already historic
for all time, were the leaders, and your soldier friends were clad
in a uniform which distinguished them as the nation's defenders.
My humble hero had merely an ill-fitting policeman's coat buttoned
over his soiled, ragged blouse. Truly it is fit that I should recite
his deeds in a kitchen and not in a library. When was the heroic
policeman sung in homeric verse before? When--"
"O papa, papa! don't tantalize me. You cannot belittle this struggle
or its consequences. Our enemies are at our very doors, and they
are not soldiers. I would rather face scalping Indians than the
wretches that I saw an hour since. If Merwyn will do a man's part
to quell this mob I shall feel honored by his friendship. But he
never will forgive me, never, never."
"We'll see about that," was Mr. Vosburgh's smiling reply. Then his
face became grave, and he said: "You are right, Marian. The ruffians
who filled the streets to-day, and who even now are plundering and
burning in different parts of the city, are not soldiers. They are
as brutal as they are unscrupulous and merciless. I can only tell
you what has occurred in brief outline, for the moment I am a little
rested and have satisfied hunger I must be at work."
He then rapidly narrated how Merwyn had been brought in at police
headquarters with one of the leaders of the riot whom he had beguiled
and helped to capture. A graphic account of the battle followed,
closing with the fact that he had left the "coward" marching up
Broadway to engage in another fight.
The girl listened with pale cheeks and drooping head.
"He will never forgive me," she murmured; "I've wronged him too
"Be ready to give him a generous cup of coffee and a good supper,"
her father replied. "Men are animals, even when heroes, and Merwyn
will be in a condition to bless the hand that feeds him to-night.
Now I must carry out my plans with despatch. Oh, there is the
rain. Good. Torrents, thunder, and lightning will keep away more
dangerous elements. Although I have but a slight acquaintance
with the Erkmanns, whose yard abuts upon ours, I hope, before the
evening is over, to have a door cut in the fence between us, and
a wire stretched from our rear windows to theirs. It will be for
our mutual safety. If attacked we can escape through their house
or they through ours. I'll put on my rubber suit and shall not be
gone long now at any one time. You can admit Merwyn or any of my
agents who give the password. Keep plenty of coffee and your own
courage at boiling-point. You will next hear from me at our back
In less than half an hour she again admitted her father, who said:
"It's all arranged. I have removed a couple of boards so that they
can be replaced by any one who passes through the opening. I have
some fine wire which I will now stretch from my library to Mr.
When he again entered the house two of his agents whom Marian had
admitted were present, dripping wet, hungry, and weary. They had
come under cover of the storm and darkness. While they gave their
reports Mr. Vosburgh made them take a hearty supper, and Marian
waited on them with a grace that doubled their incentive to serve
their chief. But more than once she sighed, "Merwyn does not come."
Then the thought flashed upon her: "Perhaps he cannot come. He may
be battered and dying in the muddy streets."
The possibility of this made her so ill and faint that she hastily
left the apartment and went up to the darkened drawing-room, where
her father found her a moment later seeking to stifle her sobs.
"Why, Marian, darling, you who have kept up so bravely are not
going to give way now."
"I'm not afraid for myself," she faltered, "but Mr. Merwyn does not
come. You said he was marching to another fight. He may be wounded;
he may be--" her voice fell to a whisper--"he may be dead."
"No, Marian," replied her father, confidently, "that young fellow
has a future. He is one of those rare spirits which a period like
this develops, and he'll take no common part in it. He has probably
gone to see if his own home is safe. Now trust God and be a soldier,
as you promised."
"I couldn't bear to have anything happen to him and I have no chance
to make amends, to show I am not so weak and silly as I appeared
"Then let him find you strong and self-controlled when he appears.
Come down now, for I must question my agents while they are yet at
supper; then I must go out, and I'll leave them for your protection
till I return."
He put his arm about her, and led her to the stairway, meanwhile
thinking, "A spell is working now which she soon will have to
By the time his agents had finished their meal, Mr. Vosburgh had
completed his examination of them and made his notes. He then placed
a box of cigars on the table, instructed them about admitting Merwyn
should he come, and with his daughter went up to the library, where
he wrote another long despatch.
"After sending this," he said, "and getting the woman I spoke of,
I will not leave you again to-night, unless there should be very
urgent necessity. You can sit in the darkened front room, and watch
till either I or Merwyn returns."
This she did and listened breathlessly.
The rain continued to pour in torrents, and the lightning was
still so vivid as to blind her eyes at times, while the crashes of
thunder often drowned the roar of the unquiet city; but undaunted,
tearless, motionless, she watched the deserted street and listened
for the footfall of one whom she had long despised, as she had
An hour passed. The storm was dying away, and still he did not
come. "Alas!" she sighed, "he is wounded; if not by the rabble,
certainly by me. I know now what it has cost him to be thought a
coward for months, and must admit that I don't understand him at
all. How vividly come back the words he spoke last December, 'What
is the storm, and what the danger, to that which I am facing?'
What was he facing? What secret and terrible burden has he carried
patiently through all my coldness and scorn? Oh, why was I such an
idiot as to offend him mortally just as he was about to retrieve
himself and render papa valuable assistance,--worse still, when he
came to my protection!"
The gloomy musings were interrupted by the sound of a carriage
driven rapidly up town in a neighboring street. It stopped at the
corner to the east, and a man alighted and came towards the Vosburgh
residence. A moment later Marian whispered, excitedly, "It's Mr.
He approached slowly and she thought warily, and began mounting
"Is it Mr. Merwyn?;" she called.
"I will admit you at the basement door;" and she hastened down.
She meant to give her hand, to speak in warm eulogy of his action,
but his pale face and cold glance as he entered chilled her. She
felt tongue-tied in the presence of the strangers who sat near the
Merwyn started slightly on seeing them, and then she explained,
hastily, "These gentlemen are assisting my father in a way you
He bowed to them, then sank into a chair, as if too weary to stand.
"Mr. Merwyn," she began, eagerly, "let me make you some fresh coffee.
That on the range is warm, but it has stood some little time."
"Please do not take the slightest trouble," he said, decidedly.
"That now ready will answer. Indeed, I would prefer it to waiting.
I regret exceedingly that Mr. Vosburgh is not at home, for I am
too exhausted to wait for him. Can I not help myself?" and he rose
and approached the range.
"Not with my permission," she replied, with a smile, but he did
not observe it. She stole shy glances at him as she prepared the
coffee. Truly, as he sat, drooping in his chair, wet, ragged, and
begrimed, he presented anything but the aspect of a hero. Yet as
such he appeared in her eyes beyond all other men whom she had ever
She said, gently: "Let me put the coffee on the table, and get you
some supper. You must need it sorely."
"No, I thank you. I could not eat anything to-night;" and he rose
and took the coffee from her hand, and drank it eagerly. He then
said, "I will thank you for a little more."
With sorrow she noted that he did not meet her eyes or relax his
"I wish you could wait until papa returns," she said, almost
entreatingly, as she handed him a second cup.
"I hope Mr. Vosburgh will pardon my seeming lack of courtesy, and
that you will also, gentlemen. It has been a rather long, hard day,
and I find that I have nearly reached the limit of my powers." With
a short, grim laugh, he added: "I certainly am not fit to remain
in the presence of a lady. I suppose, Miss Vosburgh, I may report
what little I have to say in the presence of these gentlemen? I
would write it out if I could, but I cannot to-night."
"I certainly think you may speak freely before these gentlemen,"
was her reply.
"Mr. Vosburgh trusts us implicitly, and I think we are deserving
of it," said one of the agents.
"Why need you go out again when you are so weary?" Marian asked.
"I am expecting papa every moment, and I know he would like you to
stay with him."
"That would be impossible. Besides, I have some curiosity to learn
whether I have a home left. My report in brief amounts to little
more than this. Soon after our return from the mayor's residence on
Broadway we were ordered down to Printing-House Square. Intelligence
that an immense mob was attacking the Tribune Office had been
received. Our hasty march thither, and the free use of the club on
our arrival, must account for my present plight. You see, gentlemen,
that I am not a veteran, only a raw recruit. In a day or two
I shall be more seasoned to the work. You may say to your father,
Miss Vosburgh, that the mob had been broken before we arrived. We
met them on their retreat across City-Hall Park, and nothing was
left for us but the heavy, stupid work of knocking a good many of
the poor wretches on the head. Such fighting makes me sick; yet it
is imperative, no doubt. Inspector Carpenter is at City Hall with
a large force, and the rioters are thoroughly dispersed. I think
the lower part of the city will be quiet for the night."
"You were wise, Mr. Merwyn, to ride up town," said Marian, gravely.
"I know well that you have been taxed to-day beyond the strength
of any veteran."
"How did you know that I rode up town?"
"I was watching for papa, and saw you leave your carriage."
"I could never have reached home had I not secured a cab, and that
reminds me that it is waiting around the corner; at least, the
driver promised to wait. I shall now say good-night. Oh, by the
way, in the press of other things I forgot to say that Mrs. Ghegan
reached her husband, and that her good nursing, with surgical help,
will probably save his life."
Bowing to the agents, who had been listening and watching him with
great curiosity, he turned to the door.
Marian opened it for him, and, stepping out into the dusky area,
said, "I see that you do not forgive me."
"And I have seen, to-day, Miss Vosburgh, that you detest me. You
showed the truth plainly when off your guard. Your own pride and
sense of justice may lead you to seek to make amends for an error
in your estimate of me. Having convinced you that I am not a coward,
I have accomplished all that I can hope for, and I'm in no mood for
hollow courtesies. I shall do everything in my power to aid your
father until the trouble is over or I am disabled, and then will
annoy you no more. Good-night;" and he strode away, with a firm,
rapid step, proving that his pride for a moment had mastered his
almost mortal weariness.
Marian returned to her post in the second story to watch for her
father, her ears tingling, and every faculty confused, while excited,
by the words Merwyn had spoken. He had revealed his attitude towards
her clearly, and, as she grew calmer, she saw it was not a mere
question of the offence she had given him that morning which she had
to face, but rather a deep-rooted conviction that he was personally
"If he knew how far this is from the truth NOW!" she thought, with
Then the query presented itself: "How far is it from the truth? Why
am I thinking more of him than of the riot, our danger, yes, even
In the light of that lurid day much had been revealed to her, and
before her revery ceased she understood her long months of irritation
and anger at Merwyn's course; she saw why she had not dismissed him
from her thoughts with contemptuous indifference and why she had
ingeniously wrought the MacIan theory of constitutional timidity.