Part 5 out of 6
There's the trouble with this town. Many a fellow is pretending to
be what he isn t. A man cannot be strong unless he is genuine.
One of his children - a little girl - came and stood close to him as
he spoke. He put his big arm around her and that gentle, permanent
smile of his broadened as he kissed her and patted her red cheek.
'Anything new in the South?'Mrs Greeley enquired.
'Worse and worse every day,'he said. 'Serious trouble comingl The
Charleston dinner yesterday was a feast of treason and a flow of
criminal rhetoric. The Union was the chief dish. Everybody
slashed it with his knife and jabbed it with his fork. It was
slaughtered, roasted, made into mincemeat and devoured. One
orator spoke of "rolling back the tide of fanaticism that finds its
root in the conscience of the people." Their metaphors are as bad
as their morals.
He laughed heartily at this example of fervid eloquence, and then
we rose from the table. He had to go to the office that evening, and
I came away soon after dinner. I had nothing to do and went home
reflecting upon all the great man had said.
I began shortly to see the truth of what he had told me - men
licking the hand of riches with the tongue of flattery men so
stricken with the itch of vanity that they grovelled for the touch of
praise; men even who would do perjury for applause. I do not say
that most of the men I saw were of that ilk, but enough to show the
tendency of life in a great town.
1 was filled with wonder at first by meeting so many who had been
everywhere and seen everything, who had mastered all sciences
and all philosophies and endured many perils on land and sea. I
had met liars before - it was no Eden there in the north country -
and some of them had attained a good degree of efficiency, but
they lacked the candour and finish of the metropolitan school. I
confess they were all too much for me at first. They borrowed my
cash, they shared my confidence, they taxed my credulity, and I
saw the truth at last.
'Tom's breaking down,'said a co4abourer on the staff one day.
'How is that?'I enquired.
'Served me a mean irick.
'Deceived me,'said he sorrowfully.
'Lied, I suppose?
'No. He told the truth, as God's my witness.
Tom had been absolutely reliable up to that time.
Those were great days in mid autumn. The Republic was in grave
peril of dissolution. Liberty that had hymned her birth in the last
century now hymned her destiny in the voices of bard and orator.
Crowds of men gathered in public squares, at bulletin boards, on
street corners arguing, gesticulating, exclaiming and cursing.
Cheering multitudes went up and down the city by night, with
bands and torches, and there was such a howl of oratory and
applause on the lower half of Manhattan Island that it gave the
reporter no rest. William H. Seward, Charles Sumner, John A. Dix,
Henry Ward Beecher and Charles O Connor were the giants of the
stump. There was more violence and religious fervour in the
political feeling of that time than had been mingled since '76. A
sense of outrage was in the hearts of men. 'Honest Abe'Lincoln
stood, as they took it, for their homes and their country, for human
liberty and even for their God.
I remember coming into the counting-room late one evening. Loud
voices had halted me as I passed the door. Mr Greeley stood back
of the counter; a rather tall, wiry grey-headed man before it. Each
was shaking a right fist under the other's nose. They were shouting
loudly as they argued. The stranger was for war; Mr Greeley for
waiting. The publisher of the Tribune stood beside the latter,
smoking a pipe; a small man leaned over the counter at the
stranger's elbow, putting in a word here and there; half a dozen
people stood by, listening. Mr Greeley turned to his publisher in a
'Rhoades,'said he, 'I wish ye d put these men out. They holler 'n
yell, so I can't hear myself think.
Then there was a general laugh.
I learned to my surprise, when they had gone, that the tall man was
William H. Seward, the other John A. DiL
Then one of those fevered days came the Prince of Wales - a
Godsend, to allay passion with curiosity.
It was my duty to handle some of 'the latest news by magnetic
telegraph , and help to get the plans and progress of the campaign
at headquarters. The Printer, as they called Mr Greeley, was at his
desk when I came in at noon, never leaving the office but for
dinner, until past midnight, those days. And he made the Tribune a
mighty power in the state. His faith in its efficacy was sublime,
and every line went under his eye before it went to his readers. I
remember a night when he called me to his office about twelve o
clock. He was up to his knees in the rubbish of the day-newspapers
that he had read and thrown upon the floor; his desk was littered
'Go an'see the Prince o'Wales,'he said. (That interesting young
man had arrived on the Harriet Lane that morning and ridden up
Broadway between cheering hosts.) 'I've got a sketch of him here
an'it's all twaddle. Tell us something new about him. If he's got a
hole in his sock we ought to know it.
Mr Dana came in to see him while I was there.
'Look here, Dana,'said the Printer, in a rasping humour. 'By the
gods of war! here's two colunms about that perfonnance at the
Academy and only two sticks of the speech of Seward at St Paul. I
ll have to get someone if go an'burn that theatre an'send the bill
In the morning Mayor Wood introduced me to the Duke of
Newcastle, who in turn presented me to the Prince of Wales - then
a slim, blue-yed youngster of nineteen, as gentle mannered as any I
have ever met. It was my unpleasant duty to keep as near as
possible to the royal party in all the festivities of that week.
The ball, in the Prince's honour, at the Academy of Music, was
one of the great social events of the century. No fair of vanity in
the western hemisphere ever quite equalled it. The fashions of the
French Court had taken the city, as had the Prince, by
unconditional surrender. Not in the palace of Versailles could one
have seen a more generous exposure of the charms of fair women.
None were admitted without a low-cut bodice, and many came that
had not the proper accessories. But it was the most brilliant
company New York had ever seen.
Too many tickets had been distributed and soon 'there was an
elbow on every rib and a heel on every toe , as Mr Greeley put it.
Every miss and her mamma tiptoed for a view of the Prince and
his party, who came in at ten, taking their seats on a dais at one
side of the crowded floor. The Prince sat with his hands folded
before him, like one in a reverie. Beside him were the Duke of
Newcastle, a big, stern man, with an aggressive red beard; the
blithe and sparkling Earl of St Germans, then Steward of the Royal
Household; the curly Major Teasdale; the gay Bruce, a
major-general, who behaved himself always like a lady. Suddenly
the floor sank beneath the crowd of people, who retired in some
disorder. Such a compression of crinoline was never seen as at that
moment, when periphery pressed upon periphery, and held many a
man captive in the cold embrace of steel and whalebone. The royal
party retired to its rooms again and carpenters came in with saws
and hammers. The floor repaired, an area was roped off for
dancing - as much as could be spared. The Prince opened the
dance with Mrs Governor Morgan, after which other ladies were
honoured with his gallantry.
I saw Mrs Fuller in one of the boxes and made haste to speak with
her. She had just landed, having left Hope to study a time in the
Conservatory of Leipzig.
'Mrs Livingstone is with her,'said she, 'and they will return
'Mrs Fuller, did she send any word to me?'I enquired anxiously.
'Did she give you no message?
'None,'she said coldly, 'except one to her mother and father, which
I have sent in a letter to them.
I left her heavy hearted, went to the reporter's table and wrote my
story, very badly I must admit, for I was cut deep with sadness.
Then I came away and walked for hours, not caring whither. A
great homesickness had come over me. I felt as if a talk with Uncle
Eb or Elizabeth
Brower would have given me the comfort I needed. I walked
rapidly through dark, deserted streets. A steeple clock was striking
two, when I heard someone coming hurriedly on the walk behind
me. I looked over my shoulder, but could not make him out in the
darkness, and yet there was something familiar in the step. As he
came near I felt his hand upon my shoulder.
'Better go home, Brower,'he said, as I recognised the voice of
Trumbull. 'You ve been out a long time. Passed you before tonight.
'Why didn't you speak?
'You were preoccupied.
'Not keeping good hours yourself,'I said.
'Rather late,'he answered, 'but I am a walker, and I love the night.
It is so still in this part of the town.
We were passing the Five Points.
'When do you sleep,'I enquired.
'Never sleep at night,'he said, 'unless uncommonly tired. Out every
night more or less. Sleep two hours in the morning and two in the
afternoon - that's all I require. Seen the hands o'that clock yonder
on every hour of the night.
He pointed to a lighted dial in a near tower.
Stopping presently he looked down at a little waif asleep in a
doorway, a bundle of evening papers under his arm. He lifted him
'Here, boy,'he said, dropping corns in the pocket of the ragged
little coat, 'I ll take those papers - you go home now.
We walked to the river, passing few save members of 'the force ,
who always gave Trumbull a cheery 'hello, Cap!'We passed
wharves where the great sea horses lay stalled, with harnesses
hung high above them, their noses nodding over our heads; we
stood awhile looking up at the looming masts, the lights of the
'Guess I've done some good,'said he turning into Peck Slip. 'Saved
two young women. Took 'em off the streets. Fine women now both
of them - respectable, prosperous, and one is beautiful. Man who s
got a mother, or a sister, can't help feeling sorry for such people.
We came up Frankfort to William Street where we shook hands
and parted and I turned up Monkey Hill. I had made unexpected
progress with Trumbull that night. He had never talked to me so
freely before and somehow he had let me come nearer to hun than
I had ever hoped to be. His company had lifted me out of the
slough a little and my mind was on a better footing as I neared the
Riggs's shop was lighted - an unusual thing at so late an hour.
Peering through the window I saw Riggs sleeping at his desk An
old tin lantern sat near, its candle burning low, with a flaring
flame, that threw a spray of light upon him as it rose and fell. Far
back in the shop another light was burning dimly. I lifted the big
iron latch and pushed the door open. Riggs did not move. I closed
the door softly and went back into the gloom. The boy was also
sound asleep in his chair. The lantern light flared and fell again as
water leaps in a stopping fountain. As it dashed upon the face of
Riggs I saw his eyes half-open. I went close to his chair. As I did
so the light went out and smoke rose above the lantern with a rank
'Riggs!'I called but he sat motionless and made no answer.
The moonlight came through the dusty window lighting his face
and beard. I put my hand upon his brow and withdrew it quicidy. I
was in the presence of death. I opened the door and called the
sleeping boy. He rose out of his chair and came toward me rubbing
'Your master is dead,'I whispered, 'go and call an officer.
Riggs's dream was over - he had waked at last. He was in port and
I doubt not Annie and his mother were hailing him on the shore,
for I knew now they had both died far back in that long dream of
the old sailor.
My story of Riggs was now complete. It soon found a publisher
because it was true.
'All good things are true in literature,'said the editor after he had
read it. 'Be a servant of Truth always and you will be successful.'
As soon as Lincoln was elected the attitude of the South showed
clearly that 'the irrepressible conffict , of Mr Seward's naming, had
only just begun. The Herald gave columns every day to the news of
'the coming Revolution , as it was pleased to call it. There was
loud talk of war at and after the great Pine Street meeting of
December 15. South Carolina seceded, five days later, and then we
knew what was coming, albeit, we saw only the dim shadow of
that mighty struggle that was to shake the earth for nearly five
years. The Printer grew highly irritable those days and spoke of
Buchanan and Davis and Toombs in language so violent it could
never have been confined in type. But while a bitter foe none was
more generous than he and, when the war was over, his money
went to bail the very man he had most roundly damned.
I remember that one day, when he was sunk deep in composition, a
negro came and began with grand airs to make a request as
delegate from his campaign club. The Printer sat still, his eyes
close to the paper, his pen flying at high speed. The coloured
orator went on lifting his voice in a set petition. Mr Greeley bent to
his work as the man waxed eloquent. A nervous movement now
and then betrayed the Printer's irritation. He looked up, shortly, his
face kindling with anger.
'Help! For God's sake!'he shrilled impatiently, his hands flying in
the air. The Printer seemed to be gasping for breath.
'Go and stick your head out of the window and get through,'he
shouted hotly to the man.
He turned to his writing - a thing dearer to him than a new bone to
a hungry dog.
'Then you may come and tell me what you want,'he added in a
Those were days when men said what they meant and their
meaning had more fight in it than was really polite or necessary.
Fight was in the air and before I knew it there was a wild,
devastating spirit in my own bosom, insomuch that I made haste to
join a local regiment. It grew apace but not until I saw the first
troops on their way to the war was I fully determined to go and
give battle with my regiment.
The town was afire with patriotism. Sumter had fallen; Lincoln
had issued his first call. The sound of the fife and drum rang in the
streets. Men gave up work to talk and listen or go into the sterner
business of war. Then one night in April, a regiment came out of
New England, on its way to the front. It lodged at the Astor House
to leave at nine in the morning. Long before that hour the building
was flanked and fronted with tens of thousands, crowding
Broadway for three blocks, stuffing the wide mouth of Park Row
and braced into Vesey and Barday Streets. My editor assigned me
to this interesting event. I stood in the crowd, that morning, and
saw what was really the beginning of the war in New York. There
was no babble of voices, no impatient call, no sound of idle jeering
such as one is apt to hear in a waiting crowd. It stood silent, each
man busy with the rising current of his own emotions, solemnified
by the faces all around him. The soldiers ified out upon the
pavement, the police having kept a way clear for them, Still there
was silence in the crowd save that near me I could hear a man
sobbing. A trumpeter lifted his bugle and sounded a bar of the
reveille. The clear notes clove the silent air, flooding every street
about us with their silver sound. Suddenly the band began playing.
The tune was Yankee Doodle. A wild, dismal, tremulous cry came
out of a throat near me. It grew arid spread to a mighty roar and
then such a shout went up to Heaven, as I had never heard, and as I
know full well I shall never hear again. It was like the riving of
thunderbolts above the roar of floods - elemental, prophetic,
threatening, ungovernable. It did seem to me that the holy wrath of
God Almighty was in that cry of the people. It was a signal. It
declared that they were ready to give all that a man may give for
that he loves - his life and things far dearer to him than his life.
After that, they and their sons begged for a chance to throw
themselves into the hideous ruin of war.
I walked slowly back to the office and wrote my article. When. the
Printer came in at twelve I went to his room before he had had
time to begin work
'Mr Greeley,'I said, 'here is my resignation. I am going to the war.
His habitual smile gave way to a sober look as he turned to me, his
big white coat on his arm. He pursed his lips and blew
thoughtfully. Then he threw his coat in a chair and wiped his eyes
with his handkerchief.
'Well! God bless you, my boy,'he said. 'I wish I could go, too.
I worked some weeks before my regiment was sent forward. I
planned to be at home for a day, but they needed me on the staff,
and I dreaded the pain of a parting, the gravity of which my return
would serve only to accentuate. So I wrote them a cheerful letter,
and kept at work. It was my duty to interview some of the great
men of that day as to the course of the government. I remember
Commodore Vanderbilt came down to see me in shirt-sleeves and
slippers that afternoon, with a handkerchief tied about his neck in
place of a collar - a blunt man, of simple manners and a big heart,
one who spoke his mind in good, plain talk, and, I suppose, he got
along with as little profanity as possible, considering his many
cares. He called me 'boy'and spoke of a certain public man as a
'big sucker . I soon learned that to him a 'sucker'was the lowest
and meanest thing in the world. He sent me away with nothing but
a great admiration of him. As a rule, the giants of that day were
plain men of the people, with no frills upon them, and with a way
of hitting from the shoulder. They said what they meant and meant
it hard. I have heard Lincoln talk when his words had the whiz of a
bullet and his arm the jerk of a piston.
John Trumbull invited McClingan, of whom I had told him much,
and myself to dine with him an evening that week. I went in my
new dress suit - that mark of sinful extravagance for which Fate
had brought me down to the pounding of rocks under Boss
McCormick. Trumbull's rooms were a feast for the eye - aglow
with red roses. He introduced me to Margaret Hull and her mother,
who were there to dine with us. She was a slight woman of thirty
then, with a face of no striking beauty, but of singular sweetness.
Her dark eyes had a mild and tender light in them; her voice a
plaintive, gentle tone, the like of which one may hear rarely if
ever. For years she had been a night worker in the missions of the
lower city, and many an unfortunate had been turned from the way
of evil by her good offices. I sat beside her at the table, and she
told me of her work and how often she had met Trumbull in his
'Found me a hopeless heathen,'he remarked.
'To save him I had to consent to marry him,'she said, laughing.
'"Who hath found love is already in Heaven,"'said McClingan. 'I
have not found it and I am in'' he hesitated, as if searching for a
'A boarding house on William Street,'he added.
The remarkable thing about Margaret Hull was her simple faith. It
looked to no glittering generality for its reward, such as the soul s
'highest good much talked of in the philosophy of that time. She
believed that, for every soul she saved, one jewel would be added
to her crown in Heaven. And yet she wore no jewel upon her
person. Her black costume was beautifully fitted to her fine form,
but was almost severely plain. It occurred to me that she did not
quite understand her own heart, and, for that matter, who does?
But she had somewhat in her soul that passeth all understanding - I
shall not try to say what, with so little knowledge of those high
things, save that I know it was of God. To what patience and
unwearying effort she had schooled herself I was soon to know.
'Can you not find anyone to love you?'she said, turning to
McClingan. 'You know the Bible says it is not good for man to live
'It does, Madame,'said he, 'but I have a mighty fear in me,
remembering the twenty-fourth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of
Proverbs: "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetops than
with a brawling woman in a wide house." We cannot all be so
fortunate as our friend Trumbull. But I have felt the great passion.
He smiled at her faintly as he spoke in a quiet manner, his r s
coming off his tongue with a stately roll. His environment and the
company had given him a fair degree of stimulation. There was a
fine dignity in his deep voice, and his body bristled with it, from
his stiff and heavy shock of blonde hair parted carefully on the left
side, to his high-heeled boots. The few light hairs that stood in
lonely abandonment on his upper lip, the rest of his lean visage
always well shorn, had no small part in the grand effect of
'A love story!'said Miss Hull. 'I do wish I had your confidence. I
like a real, true love story.
'A simple stawry it is,'said McClingan, 'and Jam proud of my part
in it. I shall be glad to tell the stawry if you are to hear it.
We assured him of our interest.
'Well,'said he, 'there was one Tom Douglass at Edinburgh who
was my friend and dassmate. We were together a good bit of the
time, and when we had come to the end of our course we both
went to engage in journalism at Glasgow. We had a mighty conceit
of ourselves - you know how it is, Brower, with a green lad - but
we were a mind to be modest, with all our learning, so we made an
agreement: I would blaw his horn and he would blaw mine. We
were not to lack appreciation. He was on one paper and I on
another, and every time he wrote an article I went up and down the
office praising him for a man o'mighty skill, and he did the same
for me. If anyone spoke of him in my hearing I said every word of
flattery at my command. "What Tom Douglass?" I would say, "the
man o'the Herald that's written those wonderful articles from the
law court? A genius, sir! an absolute genius!" Well, we were
rapidly gaining reputation. One of those days I found myself in
love with as comely a lass as ever a man courted. Her mother had a
proper curiosity as to my character. I referred them to Tom
Douglass of the Herald - he was the only man there who had
known me well. The girl and her mother both went to him.
"Your friend was just here," said the young lady, when I called
again. "He is a very handsome man."
'"And a noble man!" I said.
"And didn t I hear you say that he was a very skilful man, too?"
'"A genius!" I answered, "an absolute genius!"
McClingan stopped and laughed heartily as he took a sip of water.
'What happened then?'said Miss I-lull.
'She took him on my recommendation,'he answered. 'She said
that, while he had the handsomer face, I had the more eloquent
tongue. And they both won for him. And, upon me honour as a
gentleman, it was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, for
she became a brawler and a scold. My mother says there is "no the
like o'her in Scotland".
I shall never forget how fondly Margaret Hull patted the brown
cheek of Trumbull with her delicate white band, as we rose.
'We all have our love stawries,'said McClingan.
'Mine is better than yours,'she answered, 'but it shall never be told.
'Except one little part if it,'said Trumbull, as he put his hands
upon her shoulders, and looked down into her face. 'It is the only
thing that has made my life worth living.
Then she made us to know many odd things about her work for the
children of misfortune - inviting us to come and see it for
ourselves. We were to go the next evening.
I finished my work at nine that night and then we walked through
noisome streets and alleys - New York was then far from being so
clean a city as now - to the big mission house. As we came in at
the door we saw a group of women kneeling before the altar at the
far end of the room, and heard the voice of Margaret Hull praying'
a voice so sweet and tender that we bowed our heads at once, and
listened while it quickened the life in us. She plead for the poor
creatures about her, to whom Christ gave always the most
abundant pity, seeing they were more sinned against than sinning.
There was not a word of cant in her petition. It was full of a
simple, unconscious eloquence, a higher feeling than I dare try to
define. And when it was over she had won'their love and
confidence so that they clung to her hands and kissed them and
wet them with their tears. She came and spoke to us presently, in
the same sweet manner that had charmed us the night before'
there was no change in it We offered to walk home with her, but
she said Trumbull was coming at twelve.
'So that is "The Little Mother" of whom I have heard so often,'said
McClingan, as we came away.
'What do you think of her?'I enquired.
'Wonderful woman!'he said. 'I never heard such a voice. It gives
me visions. Every other is as the crackling of thorns under a pot
I came back to the office and went into Mr Greeley's room to bid
him goodbye. He stood by the gas jet, in a fine new suit of clothes,
reading a paper, while a boy was blacking one of his boots. I sat
down, awaiting a more favourable moment. A very young man had
come into the room and stood timidly holding his hat.
'I wish to see Mr Greeley,'he said.
'There he is,'I answered, 'go and speak to him.
'Mr Greeley,'said he, 'I have called to see if you can'take me on
The Printer continued reading as if he were the only man in the
The young man looked at him and then at me - with an expression
that moved me to a fellow feeling. He was a country boy, more
green and timid even than I had been.
'He did not hear you - try again,'I said.
'Mr Greeley,'said he, louder than before, 'I have called to see if
you can'take me on the Tribune.
The editor's eyes glanced off at the boy and returned to their
'No, boy, I can't,'he drawled, shifting his eyes to another article.
And the boy, who was called to the service of the paper in time,
but not until after his pen had made him famous, went away with a
look of bitter disappointment.
In his attire Mr Greeley wore always the best material, that soon
took on a friendless and dejected look. The famous white overcoat
had been bought for five dollars of a man who had come by chance
to the office of the New Yorker, years before, and who considered
its purchase a great favour. That was a time when the price of a
coat was a thing of no little importance to the Printer. Tonight
there was about him a great glow, such as comes of fine tailoring
and new linen.
He was so preoccupied with his paper that I went out into the big
room and sat down, awaiting a better time.
'The Printer's going to Washington to talk with the president,'said
Just then Mr Greeley went running hurriedly up the spiral stair on
his way to the typeroom. Three or four compositors had gone up
ahead of him. He had risen out of sight when we heard a
tremendous uproar above stairs. I ran up, two steps at a time, while
the high voice of Mr Greeley came pouring down upon me like a
flood. It had a wild, fleering tone. He stood near the landing,
swinging his arms and swearing like a boy just learning how. In
the middle of the once immaculate shirt bosom was a big, yellow
splash. Something had fallen on him and spattered as it struck We
stood well out of range, looking at it, undeniably the stain of
nicotine. In a voice that was no encouragement to confession he
dared 'the drooling idiot'to declare himself. In a moment he
opened his waistcoat and surveyed the damage.
'Look at that!'he went on, complainingly. 'Ugh! The reeking,
filthy, slobbering idiot! I d rather be slain with the jaw bone of an
'You ll have to get another shirt,'said the pressman, who stood
near. 'You can't go to Washington with such a breast pin.
'I'd breast pin him if I knew who he was,'said the editor.'
A number of us followed him downstairs and a young man went
up the Bowery for a new shirt. When it came the Printer took off
the soiled gannent, flinging it into a corner, and I helped him to put
himself in proper fettle again. This finished, he ran away,
hurriedly, with his carpet-bag, and I missed the opportunity I
wanted for a brief talk with him.
My regiment left New York by night in a flare of torch and rocket.
The streets were lined with crowds now hardened to the sound of
fife and drum and the pomp of military preparation. I had a very
high and mighty feeling in me that wore away in the discomfort of
travel. For hours after the train started we sang and told stories,
and ate peanuts and pulled and hauled at each other in a cloud of
tobacco smoke. The train was sidetracked here and there, and
dragged along at a slow pace.
Young men with no appreciation, as it seemed to me, of the sad
business we were off upon, went roistering up and down the aisles,
drinking out of bottles and chasing around the train as it halted.
These revellers grew quiet as the night wore on. The boys began to
dose their eyes and lie back for rest. Some lay in the aisle. their
heads upon their knapsacks. The air grew chilly and soon I could
hear them snoring all about me and the chatter of frogs in the near
marshes. I closed my eyes and vainly courted sleep. A great
sadness had lain hold of me. I had already given up my life for my
country - I was only going away now to get as dear a price for it as
possible in the hood of its enemies. When and where would it be
taken? I wondered. The fear had mostly gone out of me in days and
nights of solemn thinking. The feeling I had, with its flavour of
religion, is what has made the volunteer the mighty soldier he has
ever been, I take it, since Naseby and Marston Moor. The soul is
the great Captain, and with a just quarrel it will warm its sword in
the enemy, however he may be trained to thrust and parry. In my
sacrifice there was but one reservation - I hoped I should not be
horribly cut with a sword or a bayonet. I had written a long letter
to Hope, who was yet at Leipzig. I wondered if she would care
what became of me. I got a sense of comfort thinking I would
show her that I was no coward, with all my littleness. I had not
been able to write to Uncle Eb or to my father or mother in any
serious tone of my feeling in this enterprise. I had treated it as a
kind of holiday from which I should return shortly to visit them.
All about me seemed to be sleeping - some of them were talking in
their dreams. As it grew light, one after another rose and stretched
himself, rousing his seat companion. The train halted, a man shot
a musket voice in at the car door. It was loaded with the many
syllables of 'Annapolis Junction . We were pouring out of the train
shortly, to bivouac for breakfastin the depot yard. So I began the
life of a soldier, and how it ended with me many have read in
better books than this, but my story of it is here and only here.
We went into camp there on the lonely flats of east Maryland for a
day or two, as we supposed, but really for quite two weeks. In the
long delay that followed, my way traversed the dead levels of
routine. When Southern sympathy had ceased to wreak its wrath
upon the railroads about Baltimore we pushed on to Washington.
There I got letters from Uncle Eb and Elizabeth Brower. The
former I have now in my box of treasures - a torn and faded
remnant of that dark period.
DEAR SIR'pen in hand to hat you know that we are all wel. also
that we was sorry you could not come horn. They took on terribul.
Hope she wrote a letter. Said she had not herd from you. also that
somebody wrote to her you was goin to be married. You had
oughter write her a letter, Bill. Looks to me so you hain't used her
right. Shes a comm horn in July. Sowed corn to day in the gardin.
David is off byin catul. I hope God will take care uv you, boy, so
goodbye from yours truly
I wrote immediately to Unde Eb and told him of the letters I had
sent to Hope, and of my effort to see her.
Late in May, after Virginia had seceded, some thirty thousand of
us were sent over to the south side of the Potomac, where for
weeks we tore the flowery fields, lining the shore with long
Meantime I wrote three letters to Mr Greeley, and had the
satisfaction of seeing them in the Tribune. I took much interest in
the camp drill, and before we crossed the river I had been raised to
the rank of first lieutenant. Every day we were looking for the big
army of Beauregard, camping below Centreville, some thirty miles
Almost every night a nervous picket set the camp in uproar by
challenging a phantom of his imagination. We were all impatient
as hounds in leash. Since they would not come up and give us
battle we wanted to be off and have it out with them. And the
people were tired of delay. The cry of 'ste'boy!'was ringing all
over the north. They wanted to cut us loose and be through with
Well, one night the order came; we were to go south in the
morning - thirty thousand of us, and put an end to the war. We did
not get away until afternoon - it was the 6th of July. When we
were off, horse and foot, so that I could see miles of the blue
column before and behind me, I felt sorry for the mistaken South.
On the evening of the i8th our camp-fires on either side of the pike
at Centreville glowed like the lights of a city. We knew the enemy
was near, and began to feel a tightening of the nerves. I wrote a
letter to the folks at home for post mortem delivery, and put it into
my trousers'pocket. A friend in my company called me aside after
'Feel of that,'he said, laying his hand on a full breast.
'Feathers!'he whispered significantly. 'Balls can't go through 'em,
ye know. Better n a steel breastplate! Want some?
'Don't know but I do,'said I.
We went into his tent, where he had a little sack full, and put a
good wad of them between my two shirts.
'I hate the idee o'bein'hit 'n the heart,'he said. 'That's too awful.
I nodded my assent.
'Shouldn't like t'have a ball in my lungs, either,'he added. ' 'Tain't
necessary fer a man t'die if he can only breathe. If a man gits his
leg shot off an'don't lose his head an'keeps drawin'his breath
right along smooth an even, I don't see why he can't live.
Taps sounded. We went asleep with our boots on, but nothing
Three days and nights we waited. Some called it a farce, some
swore, some talked of going home. I went about quietly, my bosom
under its pad of feathers. The third day an order came from
headquarters. We were to break camp at one-thirty in the morning
and go down the pike after Beauregard. In the dead of the night the
drums sounded. I rose, half-asleep, and heard the long roll far and
near. I shivered in the cold night air as I made ready, the boys
about me buckled on knapsacks, shouldered their rifles, and fell
into line. Muffled in darkness there was an odd silence in the great
caravan forming rapidly and waiting for the word to move. At each
command to move forward I could hear only the rub of leather, the
click, click of rifle rings, the stir of the stubble, the snorting of
horses. When we had marched an hour or so I could hear the faint
rumble of wagons far in the rear. As I came high on a hill top, in
the bending column, the moonlight fell upon a league of bayonets
shining above a cloud of dust in the valley - a splendid picture,
fading into darkness and mystery. At dawn we passed a bridge and
halted some three minutes for a bite. After a little march we left
the turnpike, with Hunter's column bearing westward on a
crossroad that led us into thick woods. As the sunlight sank in the
high tree-tops the first great battle of the war began. Away to the
left of us a cannon shook the earth, hurling its boom into the still
air. The sound rushed over us, rattling in the timber like a fall of
rocks. Something went quivering in me. It seemed as if my vitals
had gone into a big lump of jelly that trembled every step I took.
We quickened our pace; we fretted, we complained. The weariness
went out of our legs; some wanted to run. Before and behind us
men were shouting hotly, 'Run, boys! run!'The cannon roar was
now continuous. We could feel the quake of it. When we came
over a low ridge, in the open, we could see the smoke of battle in
the valley. Flashes of fire and hoods of smoke leaped out of the far
thickets, left of us, as cannon roared. Going at double quick we
began loosening blankets and haversacks, tossing them into heaps
along the line of march, without halting. In half an hour we stood
waiting in battalions, the left flank of the enemy in front. We were
to charge at a run. Half-way across the valley we were to break
into companies and, advancing, spread into platoons and squads,
and at last into line of skirmishers, lying down for cover between
'Forward!'was the order, and we were off, cheering as we ran. O, it
was a grand sight! our colours flying, our whole front moving, like
a blue wave on a green, immeasurable sea. And it had a voice like
that of many waters. Out of the woods ahead of us came a
lightning flash. A ring of smoke reeled upward. Then came a
deafening crash of thunders - one upon another, and the scream of
shells overhead. Something stabbed into our column right beside
me. Many went headlong, crying out as they fell. Suddenly the
colours seemed to halt and sway like a tree-top in the wind. Then
down they went! - squad and colours - and we spread to pass them.
At the order we halted and laid down and fired volley after volley
at the grey coats in the edge of the thicket A bullet struck in the
grass ahead of me, throwing a bit of dirt into my eyes. Another
brushed my hat off and I heard a wailing death yell behind me. The
colonel rode up waving a sword.
'Get up an' charge!'he shouted.
On we went, cheering loudly, firing as we ran, Bullets went by me
hissing in my ears, and I kept trying to dodge them. We dropped
again flat on our faces.
A squadron of black-horse cavalry came rushing out of the woods
at us, the riders yelling as they waved their swords. Fortunately we
had not time to rise. A man near me tried to get up.
'Stay down!'I shouted.
In a moment I learned something new about horses. They went
over us like a flash. I do not think a man was trampled. Our own
cavalry kept them busy as soon as they had passed.
Of the many who had started there was only a ragged remnant near
me. We fired a dozen volleys lying there. The man at my elbow
rolled upon me, writhing like a worm in the fire.
'We shall all be killed!'a man shouted. 'Where is the colonel?
'Better retreat,'said a third.
'Charge!'I shouted as loudly as ever I could, jumping to my feet
and waving my sabre as I rushed forward. 'Charge!
It was the one thing needed - they followed me. In a moment we
had hurled ourselves upon the grey line thrusting with sword and
They broke before us - some running, some fighting desperately.
A man threw a long knife at inc out of a sling. Instinctively I
caught the weapon as if it had been a ball hot off the bat. In doing
so I dropped my sabre and was cut across the fingers. He came at
me fiercely, clubbing his gun - a raw-boned, swarthy giant, broad
as a barn door. I caught the barrel as it came down. He tried to
wrench it away, but I held firmly. Then he began to push up to me.
I let him come, and in a moment we were grappling hip and thigh.
He was a powerful man, but that was my kind of warfare. It gave
me comfort when I felt the grip of his hands. I let him tug a jiffy,
and then caught him with the old hiplock, and he went under me
so hard I could hear the crack of his bones. Our support came then.
We made him prisoner, with some two hundred other men.
Reserves came also and took away the captured guns. My
comrades gathered about me, cheering, but I had no suspicion of
what they meant. I thought it a tribute to my wrestling. Men lay
thick there back of the guns - some dead, some caffing faintly for
help. The red puddles about them were covered with ffies; ants
were crawling over their faces. I felt a kind of sickness and turned
What was left of my regiment formed in fours to join the
advancing column. Horses were galloping riderless, rein and
stirrup flying, some horribly wounded. One hobbled near me, a
front leg gone at the knee.
Shells were flying overhead; cannonballs were ricocheting over the
level valley, throwing turf in the air, tossing the dead and wounded
that lay thick and helpless.
Some were crumpled like a rag, as if the pain of death had
withered them in their clothes; some swollen to the girth of horses;
some bent backward, with anns outreaching like one trying an odd
trick, some lay as if listening eagerly, an ear close to the ground;
some like a sleeper, their heads upon their arms; one shrieked
loudly, gesturing with bloody hands, 'Lord God Almighty, have
mercy on me!
I had come suddenly to a new world, where the lives of men were
cheaper than blind puppies. I was a new sort of creature, and
reckless of what came, careless of all I saw and heard.
A staff officer stepped up to me as we joined the main body.
'You ve been shot, young man,'he said, pointing to my left hand.
Before he could turn I felt a rush of air and saw him fly into
pieces, some of which hit me as I fell backward. I did not know
what had happened; I know not now more than that I have written.
I remember feeling something under me, like a stick of wood,
bearing hard upon my ribs. I tried to roll off it, but somehow, it
was tied to me and kept hurting. I put my hand over my hip and
felt it there behind me - my own arm! The hand was like that of a
dead man - cold and senseless. I pulled it from under me and it lay
helpless; it could not lift itself. I knew now that I, too, had become
one of the bloody horrors of the battle.
I struggled to my feet, weak and trembling, and sick with nausea. I
must have been lying there a long time. The firing was now at a
distance: the sun had gone half down the sky. They were picking
up the wounded in the near field. A man stood looking at me.
'Good God!'he shouted, and then ran away like one afraid. There
was a great mass of our men back of me some twenty rods. I
staggered toward them, my knees quivering.
'I can never get there,'I heard myself whisper.
I thought of my little flask of whiskey, and, pulling the cork with
my teeth, drank the half of it. That steadied me and I made better
headway. I could hear the soldiers talking as I neared them.
'Look a there!'I heard many saying. 'See 'em come! My God! Look
at 'em on the hill there!
The words went quicidy from mouth to mouth. In a moment I
could hear the murmur of thousands. I turned to see what they
were looking at. Across the valley there was a long ridge, and back
of it the main position of the Southern army. A grey host was
pouring over it - thousand upon thousand - in close order,
debouching into the valley.
A big force of our men lay between us and them. As I looked I
could see a mighty stir in it. Every man of them seemed to be
jumping up in the air. From afar came the sound of bugles calling
'retreat , the shouting of men, the rumbling of wagons. It grew
louder. An officer rode by me hatless, and halted, shading his eyes.
Then he rode back hurriedly.
'Hell has broke loose!'he shouted, as he passed me.
The blue-coated host was rushing towards us like a flood'
artillery, cavalry, infantry, wagon train. There was a mighty uproar
in the men behind me - a quick stir of feet. Terror spread over
them like the travelling of fire. It shook their tongues. The crowd
began caving at the edge and jamming at the centre. Then it spread
like a swarm of bees shaken off a bush.
'Run! Run for your lives!'was a cry that rose to heaven.
'Halt, you cowards!'an officer shouted.
It was now past three o clock.
The raw army had been on its feet since midnight. For hours it had
been fighting hunger, a pain in the legs, a quivering sickness at the
stomach, a stubborn foe. It had turned the flank of Beauregard;
victory was in sight. But lo! a new enemy was coming to the fray,
innumerable, unwearied, eager for battle. The long slope bristled
with his bayonets. Our army looked and cursed and began letting
go. The men near me were pausing on the brink of awful rout In a
moment they were off, pell-mell, like a flock of sheep. The earth
shook under them. Officers rode around them, cursing,
gesticulating, threatening, but nothing could stop them. Half a
dozen trees had stood in the centre of the roaring mass. Now a few
men clung to them - a remnant of the monster that had torn away.
But the greater host was now coming. The thunder of its many feet
was near me; a cloud of dust hung over it. A squadron of cavalry
came rushing by and broke into the fleeing mass. Heavy horses,
cut free from artillery, came galloping after them, straps flying
over foamy flanks. Two riders clung to the back of each, lashing
with whip and rein. The nick of wagons came after them, wheels
rattling, horses running, voices shrilling in a wild hoot of terror. It
makes me tremble even now, as I think of it, though it is muffled
under the cover of nearly forty years! I saw they would go over me.
Reeling as if drunk, I ran to save myself. Zigzagging over the field
I came upon a grey-bearded soldier lying in the grass and fell
headlong. I struggled madly, but could not rise to my feet. I lay,
my face upon the ground, weeping like a woman. Save I be lost in
hell, I shall never know again the bitter pang of that moment. I
thought of my country. I saw its splendid capital in ruins; its
people surrendered to God's enemies.
The rout of wagons had gone by I could now hear the heavy tramp
of thousands passing me, the shrill voices of terror. I worked to a
sitting posture somehow - the effort nearly smothered me. A mass
of cavalry was bearing down upon me. They were coming so thick
I saw they would trample me into jelly. In a flash I thought of what
Uncle Eb had told me once. I took my hat and covered my face
quiddy, and then uncovered it as they came near. They sheared
away as I felt the foam of their nostrils. I had split them as a rock
may split the torrent. The last of them went over me - their tails
whipping my face. I shall not soon forget the look of their bellies
or the smell of their wet flanks. They had no sooner passed than I
fell back and rolled half over like a log. I could feel a warm flow
of blood trickling down my left arm. A shell, shot at the retreating
army, passed high above me, whining as it flew. Then my mind
went free of its trouble. The rain brought me to as it came pelting
down upon the side of my face. I wondered what it might be, for I
knew not where I had come. I lifted my head and looked to see a
new dawn - possibly the city of God itself. It was dark - so dark I
felt as if I had no eyes. Away in the distance I could hear the
beating of a drum. It rang in a great silence - I have never known
the like of it. I could hear the fall and trickle of the rain, but it
seemed only to deepen the silence. I felt the wet grass under my
face and hands. Then I knew it was night and the battlefield where
I had fallen. I was alive and might see another day - thank God! I
felt something move under my feet I heard a whisper at my
'Thought you were dead long ago,'it said.
'No, no,'I answered, 'I m alive - I know I m alive - this is the
''Fraid I ain't goin't'live,'he said. 'Got a terrible wound. Wish it
'Dark long?'I asked.
'For hours,'he answered. 'Dunno how many.
He began to groan and utter short prayers.
'O, my soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the
morning,'I heard him cry in a loud, despairing voice.
Then there was a bit of silence, in which I could hear him
whispering of his home and people.
Presently he began to sing:
'Guide me, O thou great Jehovah! Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak but thou art mighty'
Ills voice broke and trembled and sank into silence.
I had business of my own to look after - perhaps I had no time to
lose - and I went about it calmly. I had no strength to move and
began to feel the nearing of my time. The rain was falling faster. It
chilled me to the marrow as I felt it trickling over my back. I
called to the man who lay beside me - again and again I called to
him - but got no answer. Then I knew that he was dead and I alone.
Long after that in the far distance I heard a voice calling. It rang
like a trumpet in the still air. It grew plainer as I listened. My own
name! William Brower? It was certainly calling to me, and I
answered with a feeble cry. In a moment I could hear the tramp of
someone coming. He was sitting beside me presently, whoever it
might be. I could not see him for the dark. His tongue went
clucking as if he pitied me.
'Who are you?'I remember asking, but got no answer.
At first I was glad, then I began to feel a mighty horror of him.
In a moment he had picked me up and was making off. The jolt of
his step seemed to be breaking my arms at the shoulder. As I
groaned he ran. I could see nothing in the darkness, but he went
ahead, never stopping, save for a moment, now and then, to rest I
wondered where he was taking me and what it all meant. I called
again, 'Who are you?
but he seemed not to hear me. 'My God!'I whispered to myself,
'this is no man - this is Death severing the soul from the body. The
voice was that of the good God.'Then I heard a man hailing near
'Help, Help!'I shouted faintly.
'Where are you?'caine the answer, now further away. 'Can't see
you.'My mysterious bearer was now running. My heels were
dragging upon the ground; my hands were brushing the grass tops.
I groaned with pain.
'Halt! Who comes there?'a picket called. Then I could hear voices.
'Did you hear that noise?'said one. 'Somebody passed me. So dark
can't see my hand before me.
'Darker than hell!'said another voice.
It must be a giant, I thought, who can pick me up and carry me as
if I were no bigger than a house cat. That was what I was thinking
when I swooned.
From then till I came to myself in the little church at Centreville I
remember nothing. Groaning men lay all about me; others stood
between them with lanterns. A woman was bending over me. I felt
the gentle touch of her hand upon my face and heard her speak to
me so tenderly I cannot think of it, even now, without thanking
God for good women. I clung to her hand, clung with the energy of
one drowning, while I suffered the merciful torture of the probe,
the knife and the needle. And when it was all over and the lantern
lights grew pale in the dawn I fell asleep.
But enough of blood and horror. War is no holiday, my merry
people, who know not the mighty blessing of peace. Counting the
cost, let us have war, if necessary, but peace, peace if possible.
But now I have better things to write of'things that have some
relish of good in them. I was very weak and low from loss of blood
for days, and, suddenly, the tide turned. I had won recognition for
distinguished gallantry they told me - that day they took me to
Washington. I lay three weeks there in the hospital. As soon as
they heard of my misfortune at home Uncle Eb wrote he was
coming to see me. I stopped him by a telegram, assuring him that I
was nearly well and would be home shortly.
My term of enlistment had expired when they let me out a fine day
in mid August. I was going home for a visit as sound as any man
but, in the horse talk of Faraway, I had a little 'blemish'on the left
shoulder. Uncle Eb was to meet me at the jersey City depot.
Before going I, with others who had been complimented for
bravery, went to see the president. There were some twenty of us
summoned to meet him that day. It was warm and the great
Lincoln sat in his shirt-sleeves at a desk in the middle of his big
office. He wore a pair of brown carpet slippers, the rolling collar
and black stock now made so familiar in print. His hair was
tumbled. He was writing hurriedly when we came in. He laid his
pen away and turned to us without speaking. There was a careworn
look upon his solemn face.
'Mr President,'said the general, who had come with us, 'here are
some of the brave men of our army, whom you wished to see.
He came and shook hands with each and thanked us in the name of
the republic, for the example of courage and patriotism we and
many others had given to the army. He had a lean, tall, ungraceful
figure and he spoke his mind without any frill or flourish. He said
only a few words of good plain talk and was done with us.
'Which is Brower?'he enquired presently.
I came forward more scared than ever I had been before.
'My son,'he said, taking my hand in his, 'why didn t you run?'
'Didn't dare,'I answered. 'I knew it was more dangerous to run
away than to go forward.'
'Reminds me of a story,'said he smiling. 'Years ago there was a
bully in Sangamon County, Illinois, that had the reputation of
running faster and fighting harder than any man there. Everybody
thought he was a terrible fighter. He d always get a man on the
run; then he d ketch up and give him a licking. One day he tadded
a lame man. The lame man licked him in a minute.
'"Why didn't ye run?" somebody asked the victor.
'"Didn't dast," said he. "Run once when he tackled me an I've been
lame ever since."
"How did ye manage to lick him?" said the other.
'"Wall," said he, "I hed to, an'I done it easy."
'That's the way it goes,'said the immortal president, 'ye do it easy
if ye have to.
He reminded me in and out of Horace Greeley, although they
looked no more alike than a hawk and a handsaw. But they had a
like habit of forgetting themselves and of saying neither more nor
less than they meant. They both had the strength of an ox and as
little vanity. Mr Greeley used to say that no man could amount to
anything who worried much about the fit of his trousers; neither of
them ever encountered that obstacle.
Early next morning I took a train for home. I was in soldier clothes
I had with me no others - and all in my car came to talk with me
about the now famous battle of Bull Run.
The big platform atjersey City was crowded with many people as
we got off the train. There were other returning soldiers - some
with crutches, some with empty sleeves.
A band at the further end of the platform was playing and those
near me were singing the familiar music,
'John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave.
Somebody shouted my name. Then there rose a cry of three cheers
for Brower. It's some of the boys of the Tribune, I thought - I
could see a number of them in the crowd. One brought me a basket
of flowers. I thought they were trying to have fun with me.
'Thank you!'said I, 'but what is the joke?'
'No joke,'he said. 'It's to honour a hero.'
'Oh, you wish me to give it to somebody.'
I was warming with embarrassment
'We wish you to keep it,'he answered.
In accounts of the battle I had seen some notice of my leading a
charge but my fame had gone farther - much farther indeed - than I
knew. I stood a moment laughing - an odd sort of laugh it was that
had in it the salt of tears - and waving my hand to the many who
were now calling my name.
In the uproar of cheers and waving of handkerchiefs I could not
find Uncle Eb for a moment. When I saw him in the breaking
crowd he was cheering lustily and waving his hat above his head.
His enthusiasm increased when I stood before him. As 1 was
greeting him I heard a lively rustle of skirts. Two dainty, gloved
hands laid hold of mine; a sweet voice spoke my name. There,
beside me, stood the tall, erect figure of Hope. Our eyes met and,
before there was any thinking of propriety, I had her in my arms
and was kissing her and she was kissing me.
It thrilled me to see the splendour of her beauty that day; her eyes
wet with feeling as they looked up at me; to feel again the
trembling touch of her lips. In a moment I turned to Uncle Eb.
'Boy,'he said, 'I thought you'' and then he stopped and began
brushing his coat sleeve.
'Come on now,'he added as he took my grip away from me. 'We re
goin't'hey a gran'good time. I ll take ye all to a splendid tavern
somewheres. An'I ain't goin'if count the cost nuther.
He was determined to carry my grip for me. Hope had a friend
with her who was going north in the morning on our boat. We
crossed the ferry and took a Broadway omnibus, while query
'Makes me feel like a flapjack t'ride 'n them things,'said Unde Eb
as we got out.
He hired a parlour and two bedrooms for us all at the St Nicholas.
'Purty middlin'steep!'he said to me as we left the office. 'It is,
sartin! but I don't care - not a bit. When folks has if hey a good
time they ve got t'hey it.
We were soon seated in our little parlour. There was a great glow
of health and beauty in Hope's face. It was a bit fuller but had
nobler outlines and a colouring as delicate as ever. She wore a
plain grey gown admirably fitted to her plump figure. There was a
new and splendid 'dignity in her carriage, her big blue eyes, her
nose with its little upward slant. She was now the well groomed
young woman of society in the full glory of her youth.
Uncle Eb who sat between us pinched her cheek playfully. A little
spot of white showed a moment where his fingers had been. Then
the pink flooded over it.
'Never see a girl git such a smack as you did,'he said laughing.
'Well,'said she, snling, 'I guess I gave as good as I got.
'Served him right,'he said. 'You kissed back good 'n hard. Gran
sport!'he added turning to me.
'Best I ever had,'was my humble acknowledgement.
'Seldom ever see a girl kissed so powerful,'he said as he took Hope
hand in his. 'Now if the Bible said when a body kissed ye on one
cheek ye mus'turn if other I wouldn t find no fault. But ther's a
heap o differ nce 'tween a whack an'a smack.
When we had come back from dinner Uncle Lb drew off his boots
and sat comfortably in his stocking feet while Hope told of her
travels and I of my soldiering. She had been at the Conservatory,
nearly the whole period of her absence, and hastened home when
she learned of the battle and of my wound. She had landed two
Hope's friend and Unde Lb went away to their rooms in good
season. Then I came and sat beside Hope on the sofa.
'Let's have a good talk,'I said.
There was an awkward bit of silence.
'Well,'said she, her fan upon her lips, 'tell me more about the war.
'Tired of war,'I answered; 'love is a better subject.
She rose and walked up and down the room, a troubled look in her
face. I thought I had never seen a woman who could carry her head
'I don't thinkyou are very familiar with it,'said she presently.
'I ought to be,'I answered, 'having loved you all these years.
'But you told me that - that you loved another girl,'she said, her
elbow leaning on the mantel, her eyes looking down soberly.
'When? Where?'I asked.
'In Mrs Fuller's parlour.'
'Hope,'I said, 'you misunderstood me; I meant you.
She came toward me, then, looking up into my eyes. I started to
embrace her but she caught my hands and held them apart and
came close to me.
'Did you say that you meant me?'she asked in a whisper.
'Why did you not tell me that night?
'Because you would not listen to me and we were interrupted.
'Well if I loved a girl,'she said, 'I d make her listen.'
'I would have done that but Mrs Fuller saved you.'
'You might have written,'she suggested in a tone of injury.
'And the letter never came - just as I feared.'
She looked very sober and thoughtful then.
'You know our understanding that day in the garden,'she added. 'If
you did not ask me again I was to know you - you did not love me
any longer. That was long, long ago.
'I never loved any girl but you,'I said. 'I love you now, Hope, and
that is enough - I love you so there is nothing else for me. You are
dearer than my life. It was the thought of you that made me brave
in battle. I wish I could be as brave here. But I demand your
surrender - I shall give you no quarter now.
'I wish I knew,'she said, 'whether - whether you really love me or
'Don't you believe me, Hope?
'Yes, I believe you,'she said, 'but - but you might not know your
'It longs for you,'I said, 'it keeps me thinking of you always. Once
it was so easy to be happy; since you have been away it has
seemed as if there were no longer any light in the world or any
pleasure. It has made me a slave. I did not know that love was such
a mighty thing.
'Love is no Cupid - he is a giant,'she said, her voice trembling with
emotion as mine had trembled. 'I tried to forget and he crushed me
under his feet as if to punish me.
She was near to crying now, but she shut her lips firmly and kept
back the tears. God grant me I may never forget the look in her
eyes that moment. She came closer to me. Our lips touched; my
arms held her tightly.
'I have waited long for this,'I said - 'the happiest moment of my
lif& I thought! had lost you.
'What a foolish man,'she whispered. 'I have loved you for years
and years and you - you could not see it. I believe now''
She hesitated a moment, her eyes so close to my cheek I could feel
the beat of their long lashes.
'That God made you for me,'she added.
'Love is God's helper,'I said. 'He made us for each other.
'I thank Him for it - I do love you so,'she whispered.
The rest is the old, old story. They that have not lived it are to be
When we sat down at length she told me what I had long
suspected, that Mrs Fuller wished her to marry young Livingstone.
'But for Unde Eb,'she added, 'I think I should have done so - for I
had given up all hope of you.
'Good old Uncle Eb!'I said. 'Let's go and tell him.
He was sound asleep when we entered his room but woke as I lit
'What's the matter?'he whispered, lifting his head.
'Congratulate us,'I said. 'We re engaged.
'Hey ye conquered her?'he enquired smiling.
'Love has conquered us both,'I said.
'Wall, I swan! is thet so?'he answered. 'Guess I won't fool away
any more time here n bed. If you childem ll go in t'other room I ll
slip into my trousers an'then ye ll hear me talk some conversation.
'Beats the world!'he continued, coming in presently, buttoning his
suspenders. 'I thought mos'likely ye d hitch up t gether sometime.
'Tain't often ye can find a pair s'well matched. The same style an
gaited jest about alike. When ye goin't'git married?
'She hasn t named the day,'I said.
'Sooner the better,'said JJncle Eb as he drew on his coat and sat
down. 'Used if be so t'when a young couple hed set up n held each
other's han's a few nights they was ready fer the minister. Wish t
ye could lix it fer 'bout Crissmus time, by jingo! They's other
things goin'if happen then.'s pose yer s'happy now ye can stan'a
little bad news. I've got if tell ye - David's been losin'money. Hain
t never wrote ye 'bout it - not a word - 'cause I didn t know how
'How did he lose it?'I enquired.
'Wall ye know that Ow Barker - runs a hardware store in
Migleyville - he sold him a patent right. Figgered an'argued night
an'day fer more n three weeks. It was a new fangled wash biler.
David he thought he see a chance if put out agents an'make a
great deal o'money. It did look jest as easy as slidin'downhill but
when we come slide - wall, we found out we was at the bottom o
the hill 'stid o'the top an'it wan t reel good slidin . He paid five
thousan'dollars fer the right o'ten counties. Then bym bye Barker
he wanted him t'go security fer fifteen hunderd bilers thet he was
hevin'made. I to!'David he hedn t better go in no deeper but
Barker, he promised big things an'seemed if be sech a nice man 'at
fln ly David he up 'n done it. Wall he's hed 'em t'pay fer an'the
fact is it costs s'much if sell 'em it eats up all the profits.
'Looks like a swindle,'I said indignantly.
'No,'said Uncle El, "tain't no swindle. Barker thought he hed a
gran'good thing. He got fooled an'the fool complaint is very
ketchin . Got it myself years ago an'I've been doctorin'fer it ever
The story of David's undoing hurt us sorely. He had gone the way
of most men who left the farm late in life with unsatisfied
'They shall never want for anything, so long as I have my health,'I
'I have four hundred dollars in the bank,'said Hope, 'and shall give
them every cent of it.
'Tam'nuthin'if worry over,'said Uncle Eb. 'If I don'never lose
more n a little money I shan t feel terrible bad. We re all young yit.
Got more n a million dollars wuth o'good health right here 'n this
room. So well, I m 'shamed uv it! Man's more decent if he's a
leetle bit sickly. An'thet there girl Bill's agreed t'marry ye! Why!
'Druther hey her 'n this hull cityo'New York.
'So had I,'was my answer.
'Wall, you am'no luckier 'n she is - not a bit,'he added. 'A good
man's better 'n a gol'mine ev ry time.
'Who knows,'said Hope. 'He may be president someday.
'Ther's one thing I hate,'Uncle El continued. 'That's the idee o
hevin'the woodshed an'barn an'garret full o'them infernal wash
bilers. Ye can't take no decent care uv a hoss there 'n the stable'
they re so piled up. One uv 'em tumbled down top o'me t other
day. 'Druther 'twould a been a panther. Made me s'mad I took a
club an'knocked that biler into a cocked hat. 'Tain't right! I m sick
o'the sight uv 'em.
'They ll make a good bonfire someday,'said Hope.
'Don't believe they d burn,'he answered sorrowfully, 'they re tin.
'Couldn't we bury 'em?'I suggested.
'Be a purty costly funeral,'he answered thoughtfully. 'Ye d hey if
dig a hole deeper n Tupper's dingle.
'Couldn't you give them away?'I enquired.
'Wall,'said he, helping himself to a chew of tobacco, 'we ve tried
thet. Gin 'em t'everybody we know but there ain't folks enough'
there's such a slew o'them bilers. We could give one if ev ry man,
woman an'child in Faraway an'hex enough left t'fill an acre lot.
Dan Perry druv in t other day with a double buggy. We gin him
one fer his own fam ly. It was heavy t'carry an'he didn t seem t
like the looks uv it someway. Then I asked him if he wouldn t like
one fer his girl. "She ain't married," says he. "She will be some
time," says I, "take it along," so he put in another. "You ve got a
sister over on the turnpike hain't ye?" says I. "Yes," says he.
"Wall," I says, "don'want a hex her feel slighted." "She won't
know 'bout my hevin''em," says he, lookin''s if he d hed enough.
"Yis she will," I says, 'she ll hear uv it an'mebbe make a fuss."
Then we piled in another. "Look here," I says after that, "there s
yer brother Bill up there 'bove you. Take one along fer him." "No,"
says he, "I don'tell ev ry body, but Bill an'I ain't on good terms.
We ain't spoke fer more n a year."
'Knew he was lyin ,'Uncle Eb added with a laugh, 'I d seen him
talkin'with Bill a day er two before.
'Whew!'he whistled as he looked at his big silver watch. 'I declare
it's mos'one o clock They's jes'one other piece o'business if
come before this meetin . Double or single, want ye if both
promise me t'be. hum Crissmus.
'Now childern,'said he.''S time if go if bed. B lieve ye d stan
there swappin'kisses 'till ye was knee sprung if I didn t tell yet
Hope came and put her arms about his neck, fondly, and kissed
'Did Bill prance right up like a man?'he asked, his hand upon her
'Did very well,'said she, smiling, 'for a man with a wooden leg.
Unde Eb sank into a chair, laughing heartily, and pounding his
knee. It seemed he had told her that I was coming home with a
wooden leg! 'That is the reason I held your arm,'she said. 'I was
expecting to hear it squeak every moment as we left the depot. But
when I saw that you walked so naturally I knew Uncle Eb had been
trying to fool me.
'Purty good sort uv a lover, ain't he?'said he after we were done
'He wouldn t take no for an answer,'she answered.
'He was aiwuss a gritty cuss,'said Uncle Eb, wiping his eyes with a
big red handkerchief as he rose to go. 'Ye d oughter be mighty
happy an'ye will, too - their am'no doubt uv it - not a bit. Trouble
with most young folks is they wan'if fly tew high, these days. If
they d only fly clus enough t'the ground so the could aiwuss touch
one foot, they d be all right. Glad ye ain't thet kind.
We were off early on the boat - as fine a summer morning as ever
dawned. What with the grandeur of the scenery and the sublimity
of our happiness it was a delightful journey we had that day. I felt
the peace and beauty of the fields, the majesty of the mirrored
cliffs and mountains, but the fair face of her I loved was enough
for me. Most of the day Uncle Eb sat near us and I remember a
woman evangelist came and took a seat beside him, awhile,
talking volubly of the scene.
'My friend,'said she presently, 'are you a Christian?
''Fore I answer I ll hex if tell ye a story,'said Uncle Eb. 'I recollec
a man by the name o'Ranney over n Vermont - he was a pious
man. Got into an argyment an'a feller slapped him in the face.
Ranney turned t other side an'then t other an'the feller kep'a
slappin'hot 'n heavy. It was jes'like strappin'a razor fer haifa
minnit. Then Ranney sailed in - gin him the wust lickin'he ever
'"I declare," says another man, after 'twas all over, "I thought you
was a Christian."
"Am up to a cert in p int," says he. "Can't go tew fur not 'n these
parts - men are tew powerful. 'Twon't do 'less ye wan'if die
sudden. When he begun poundin'uv me I see I wan t eggzac ly
''Fraid 's a good deal thet way with most uv us. We re Christians up
to a cert in p int. Fer one thing, I think if a rnan ll stan'still an'see
himself knocked into the nex'world he's a leetle tew good fer this.
The good lady began to preach and argue. For an hour Uncle Eb
sat listening unable to get in a word. When, at last, she left him he
came to us a look of relief in his face.
'I b'lieve,'said he, 'if Balaam's ass hed been rode by a woman he
never 'd hey spoke.
'Why not?'I enquired.
'Never'd hey hed a chance,'Unde Eb added.
We were two weeks at home with mother and father and Uncle Eb.
It was a delightful season of rest in which Hope and I went over
the sloping roads of Faraway and walked in the fields and saw the
harvesting. She had appointed Christmas Day for our wedding and
I was not to go again to the war, for now my first duty was to my
own people. If God prospered me they were all to come to live
with us in town and, though slow to promise, I could see it gave
them comfort to know we were to be for them ever a staff and
And the evening before we came back to townJed Feary was with
us and Uncle Eb played his flute and sang the songs that had been
the delight of our childhood.
The old poet read these lines written in memory of old times in
Faraway and of Hope's girlhood.
'The red was in the clover an'the blue was in the sky:
There was music in the meadow, there was dancing in the rye;
An'I heard a voice a calling to the flocks o'Faraway
An'its echo in the wooded hills - Co'day! Go'day! Go'day!
O fair was she - my lady love - an'lithe as the willow tree,
An'aye my heart remembers well her parting words t'me.
An'I was sad as a beggar-man but she was blithe an'gay
An'I think o'her as I call the flocks Go'day! Go'day! Go'day!
Her cheeks they stole the dover's red, her lips the odoured air,
An'the glow o'the morning sunlight she took away in her hair;
Her voice had the meadow music, her form an'her laughing eye
Have taken the blue o'the heavens an'the grace o'the bending
My love has robbed the summer day - the field, the sky, the dell,
She has taken their treasures with her, she has taken my heart as
An'if ever, in the further fields, her feet should go astray
May she hear the good God calling her Co'day! Go'day! Go'day!
I got a warm welcome on Monkey Hill. John Trumbull came to
dine with us at the chalet the evening of my arrival. McGlingan
had become editor-in-chief of a new daily newspaper. Since the
war began Mr Force had found ample and remunerative
occupation writing the 'Obituaries of Distinguished Persons . He
sat between Trumbull and McGlingan at table and told again of the
time he had introduced the late Daniel Webster to the people of his
Reciting a passage of the immortal Senator he tipped his beer into
the lap of McClingan. He ceased talking and sought pardon.
'It is nothing, Force - nothing,'said the Scotchman, with great
dignity, as he wiped his coat and trousers. 'You will pardon me if I
say that I had rather be drenched in beer than soaked in
'That's all right,'said Mr Opper, handing him a new napkin. 'Yes,
in the midst of such affliction I should call it excellent fun,
McClingan added. 'If you ever die, Force, I will preach the sermon
'On what text?'the obituary editor enquired.
'"There remaineth therefore, a rest for the people of God,"'quoth
McClingan solemnly. 'Hebrews, fourth chapter and ninth verse.
'If I continue to live with you I shall need it,'said Force.
'And if I endure to the end,'said McClingan, 'I shall have excellent
Christian discipline; I shall feel like opening my mouth and
making a loud noise.
McGlingan changed his garments and then came into my room and
sat with us awhile after dinner.
'One needs ear lappers and a rubber coat at that table,'said he.
'And a chest protector,'I suggested, remembering the finger of
'I shall be leaving here soon, Brower,'said McGlingan as he lit a
'Where shall you go?'I asked.
'To my own house.
'Going to hire a housekeeper?
'Going to marry one,'said he.
'That's funny,'I said. We re all to be married - every man of us.
'By Jove!'said McClingan, 'this is a time for congratulation. God
save us and grant for us all the best woman in the world.
For every man he knew and loved Mr Greeley had a kindness that
filled him to the fingertips. When I returned he smote me on the
breast - an unfailing mark of his favour - and doubled my salary.
'If he ever smites you on the breast,'McClingan had once said to
'turn the other side, for, man, your fortune is made.
And there was some truth in the warning.
He was writing when I came in. A woman sat beside him talking.
An immense ham lay on the marble top of the steam radiator; a
basket of eggs sat on the floor near Mr Greeley's desk All sorts of
merchandise were sent to the Tribune those days, for notice, and
sold at auction, to members of the staff, by Mr Dana.
'Yes, yes, Madame, go on, I hear you,'said the great editor, as his
pen flew across the white page.
She asked him then for a loan of money. He continued writing but,
presently, his left hand dove into his trousers pocket coming up
full of bills.
'Take what you want,'said he, holding it toward her, 'and please go
for I am very busy.'Whereupon she helped herself liberally and
Seeing me, Mr Greeley came and shook my hand warmly and
praised me fer a good soldier.
'Going down town,'he said in a moment, drawing on his big white
overcoat, 'walk along with me - won't you?
We crossed the park, he leading me with long strides. As we
walked he told how he had been suffering from brain fever.
Passing St Paul's churchyard he brushed the iron pickets with his
hand as if to try the feel of them. Many turned to stare at him
curiously. He asked me, soon, if I would care to do a certain thing
for the Tribune, stopping, to look in at a shop window, as I
answered him. I waited while he did his errand at a Broadway
shop; then we came back to the office. The publisher was in Mr
'Where's my ham, Dave?'said the editor as he looked at the slab of
marble where the ham had lain.
'Don't know for sure,'said the publisher, 'it's probably up at the
house of the - editor by this time.
'What did you go 'n give it to him for?'drawled Mr Greeley in a
tone of irreparable injury. 'I wanted that ham for myself.
'I didn t give it to him,'said the publisher. 'He came and helped
himself. Said he supposed it was sent in for notice.
'The infernal thief!'Mr Greeley piped with a violent gesture. 'I ll
swear! if I didn t keep my shirt buttoned tight they d have that, too.
The ham was a serious obstacle in the way of my business and it
went over until evening. But that and like incidents made me to
know the man as I have never seen him pictured - a boy grown old
and grey, pushing the power of manhood with the ardours of
I resumed work on the Tribune that week. My first assignment was
a mass meeting in a big temporary structure - then called a
wigwam - over in Brooklyn. My political life began that day and
all by an odd chance. The wigwam was crowded to the doors. The
audience bad been waiting half an hour for the speaker. The
chairman had been doing his best to kill time but had run out of
ammunition. He had sat down to wait, an awkward silence had
begun. The crowd was stamping and whistling and clapping with
impatience. As I walked down the centre aisle, to the reporter s
table, they seemed to mistake me for the speaker. Instantly a great
uproar began. It grew louder every step I took. I began to wonder
and then to fear the truth. As I neared the stage the chairman came
forward beckoning to me. I went to the ffight of steps leading up to
that higher level of distinguished citizens and halted, not knowing
just what to do. He came and leaned over and whispered down at
me. I remember he was red in the face and damp with perspiration.
'What is your name?'he enquired.
'Brower,'said I in a whisper.
A look of relief came into his face and I am sure a look of anxiety
came into mine. He had taken the centre of the stage before I could
'Lathes and gentlemen,'said he, 'I am glad to inform you that
General Brower has at last arrived.
I remembered then there was a General Brower in the army who
was also a power in politics.
In the storm of applause that followed this announcement, I
beckoned him to the edge of the platform again. I was nearer a
condition of mental panic than I have ever known since that day.
'I am not General Brower,'I whispered.
'What!'said he in amazement.
'I am not General Brower,'I said.
'Great heavens!'he whispered, covering his mouth with his band
and looking very thoughtful. 'You ll have to make a speech,
anyway - there's no escape.
I could see no way out of it and, after a moment's hesitation,
ascended the platform took off my overcoat and made a speech.
Fortunately the issue was one with which I had been long familiar.
I told them how I had been trapped. The story put the audience in
good humour and they helped me along with very generous
applause. And so began my career in politics which has brought
me more honour than I deserved although I know it has not been
wholly without value to my country. It enabled me to repay in part
the kindness of my former chief at a time when he was sadly in
need of friends. I remember meeting him in Washington a day of
that exciting campaign of 72. I was then in Congress.
'I thank you for what you have done, Brower,'said he, 'but I tell
you I am licked. I shall not carry a single state. I am going to be
He had read his fate and better than he knew. In politics he was a
The north country lay buried in the snow that Christmastime. Here
and there the steam plough had thrown its furrows, on either side
of the railroad, high above the window line. The fences were
muffled in long ridges of snow, their stakes showing like pins in a
cushion of white velvet. Some of the small trees on the edge of the
big timber stood overdrifted to their boughs. I have never seen
such a glory of the morning as when the sun came up, that day we
were nearing home, and lit the splendour of the hills, there in the
land I love. The frosty nap of the snow glowed far and near with
pulsing glints of pale sapphire.
We came into Hillsborough at noon the day before Christmas.
Father and Uncle Eb met us at the depot and mother stood waving
her handkerchief at the door as we drove up. And when we were
done with our greetings and were standing, damp eyed, to warm
ourselves at the fire, Uncle Eb brought his palms together with a
loud whack and said:
'Look here, Liz beth Brower! I want if hey ye tell me if ye ever see
a likelier pair o'colts.
She laughed as she looked at us. In a moment she ran her hand
down the side of Hope's gown. Then she lifted a fold of the cloth
and felt of it thoughtfully.
'How much was that a yard?'she asked a dreamy look in her eyes.
'Wy! w'y!'she continued as Hope told her the sum. 'Terrible steep!
but it does fit splendid! Oughter wear well too! Wish ye d put that
on if ye go t'church nex'Sunday.
'O mother!'said Hope, laughing, 'I ll wear my blue silk.
'Come boys 'n girls,'said Elizabeth suddenly, 'dinner's all ready in
the other room.
'Beats the world!'said Uncle Eb, as we sat down at the table. 'Ye
do look gran'if me - ree-markable gran , both uv ye. Tek a
premium at any fair - ye would sartin.
'Has he won yer affections?'said David laughing as he looked over
'He has,'said she solemnly.
'Affections are a sing lar kind o'prop ty,'said Uncle Eb. 'Hain't
good fer nuthin''iii ye ve gin em away. Then, like as not, they git
'Good deal that way with money too,'said Elizabeth Brower.
'I recollec'when Hope was a leetle bit uv a girl'said Uncle Eb, 'she
used if say 'et when she got married she was goin'if hev her
husban'rub my back fer me when it was lame.
'I haven t forgotten it,'said Hope, 'and if you will all come you will
make us happier.
'Good many mouths if feed!'Uncle Ebb remarked.
'I could take in sewing and help some,'said Elizabeth Brower, as
she sipped her tea.
There was a little quiver in David's under lip as he looked over at
her. 'You ain't able t'do hard work any more, mother,'said he.
'She won't never hey to nuther,'said Uncle Eb. 'Don't never pay if
go bookin'fer trouble - it stew easy if find. There ain'no sech
thing 's trouble 'n this world 'less ye look for it. Happiness won't
hey nuthin if dew with a man thet likes trouble. Minnit a man stops
lookin'fer trouble happiness 'II look fer him. Things came puny
nigh's ye like 'em here 'n this world - hot er cold er only middlin .
Ye can either laugh er cry er fight er fish er go if meetin . If ye
don't like erry one you can fin fault. I m on the lookout fer
happiness - suits me best, someway, an don't hurt my feelin's a bit.
'Ev'ry day's a kind uv a circus day with you, Holden,'said David
Brower. 'Alwuss hevin'a good time. Ye can hey more fun with
yerseif 'n any man I ever see.'
'If I hey as much hereafter es I've hed here, I ain't a goin'if fin'no
fault,'said Uncle Eb. ''S a reel, splendid world. God's fixed it up so
ev ry body can hey a good time if they ll only hey it. Once I heard
uv a poor man 'at hed a bushel o'corn give tew him. He looked up
kind o'sad an'ast if they wouldn t please shell it. Then they tuk it
away. God's gin us happiness in the ear, but He ain't a goin't'shell
it fer us. You n 'Lizabeth oughter be very happy. Look a'them tew
There came a rap at the door then. David put on his cap and went
out with Uncle Eb.
'It's somebody for more money,'Elizabeth whispered, her eyes
filling. 'I know 'tis, or he would have asked him in. We re goin't
lose our home.
Her lips quivered; she covered her eyes a moment.
'David ain't well,'she continued. 'Worries night 'n day over money
matters. Don't say much, but I can see it's alwuss on his mind.
Woke up in the middle o'the night awhile ago. Found him sittm
by the stove. "Mother," he said, "we can't never go back to farmin .
I've ploughed furrows enough if go 'round the world. Couldn't
never go through it ag in." "Well," said I, "if you think best we
could start over see how we git along. I m willin'if try it." "No, we
re too old," he says. "Thet's out o'the question. I've been
thinkin'what'll we do there with Bill 'n Hope if we go t'live with
'em? Don't suppose they ll hey any hosses if take care uv er any
wood if chop. What we'll hey if do is more n I can make out. We
can't do nuthin; we've never learnt how."
'We ve thought that all over,'I said. 'We may have a place in the
country with a big garden.
'Well,'said she, 'I m very well if I am over sixty. I can cook an
wash an'mend an'iron just as well as I ever could.
Uncle Eb came to the door then.
'Bill,'he said, 'I want you 'n Hope if come out here 'n look at this
young colt o'mine. He's playful 's a kitten.
We put on our wraps and went to the stable. Uncle Eb was there
'If ye brought any Cnssmus presents,'he whispered, 'slip 'em into
my han s. I m goin'if run the cirkis t'morrow an'if we don't hev
fun a plenty I'll miss my guess.
'I ll lay them out in my room,'said Hope.
'Be sure 'n put the names on 'em,'Uncle Eb whispered, as Hope
'What have ye done with the "bilers"?'I enquired.
'Sold 'em,'said he, laughing. 'Barker never kep'his promise. Heard
they d gone over t'the 'Burg an'was tryin't'sell more territory. I
says if Dave, "You let me manage 'em an'I ll put 'em out o
business here 'n this part o'the country." So I writ out an
advertisement fer the paper. Read about this way: "Fer sale.
Twelve hunderd patented suction Wash B ilers. Anyone at can't
stan'prosperity an'is learnin'if swear ll find 'em a great help. If he
don't he's a bigger fool 'n I am. Nuthin'in 'em but tin - that's wuth
somethin . Warranted t'hold water."
'Wall ye know how that editor talks? 'Twant a day 'fore the head
man o'the b iler business come 'n bought 'em. An'the
advertisement was never put in. Guess he wan t hankerin'if hey
his business sp ilt.
Uncle Eb was not at the supper table that evening.
'Where's Holden?'said Elizabeth Brower.
'Dunno,'said David. 'Goin'after Santa Claus he tol'me.
'Never see the beat o'that man!'was the remark of Elizabeth, as
she poured the tea. 'Jes'like a boy ev ry Crissmus time. Been so
excited fer a week couldn't hardly contain himself.
'Ketched him out 'n the barn if other day laffin'like a fool,'said
David. 'Thought he was crazy.
We sat by the fire after the supper dishes were put away, talking of
all the Christmas Days we could remember. Hope and I thought
our last in Faraway best of all and no wonder, for we had got then
the first promise of the great gift that now made us happy.
Elizabeth, sitting in her easy-chair, told of Christmas in the olden
time when her father had gone to the war with the British.
David sat near me, his face in the firelight - the broad brow
wrinkled into furrows and framed in locks of iron-grey. He was
looking thoughtfully at the fire. Uncle Eb came soon, stamping
and shaking the snow out of his great fur coat.
'Col'night,'he said, warming his hands.
Then he carried his coat and cap away, returning shortly, with a
little box in his hand.
'Jes'thought I d buy this fer fun,'said he, holding it down to the
firelight. 'Dummed if I ever see the like uv it. Whoa!'he shouted,
as the cover flew open, releasing a jumping-jack. 'Quicker n a
grasshopper! D ye ever see sech a sassy little critter?
Then he handed it to Elizabeth.
'Wish ye Merry Christmas, Dave Brower!'said he.
'Ain't as merry as I might be,'said David.
'Know what's the matter with ye,'said Unde Eb. 'Searchin'after
trouble - thet's what ye re doin . Findin'lots uv it right there 'n the
fire. Trouble 's goiti't'git mighty scurce 'round here this very
selfsame night. Ain't goin't'be nobody lookin'fer it - thet's why.
Fer years ye ve been takin'care o'somebody et 'II take care 'o you,
long's ye live - sartin sure. Folks they said ye was fools when ye
took 'em in. Man said I was a fool once. Aiwuss hed a purty fair
idee o'myself sence then. When some folks call ye a fool 's a
ruther good sign ye ain't Ye ve waited a long time fer yer pay - ain
t much longer if wait now.
There was a little quaver in his voice, We all looked at him in
silence. Uncle Eb drew out his wallet with trembling hands, his
fine old face lit with a deep emotion. David looked up at him as
iihe wondered what joke was coming, until he saw his excitement.
'Here's twenty thousan'dollars,'said Unde Eb, 'a reel, genuwine
bank check!'jist as good as gold. Here 'tis! A Crissmus present fer
you 'n Elizabeth. An'may God bless ye both!
David looked up incredulously. Then he took the bit of paper. A
big tear rolled down his cheek.
'Why, Holden! Whatdoes this mean?'he asked.
''At the Lord pays Flis debts,'said Uncle Eb. 'Read it.
Hope had lighted the lamp.
David rose and put on his spectacles. One eyebrow had lifted