Part 5 out of 5
life and death with them;" and when I would have qualified the
declaration, he broke in upon me--"Right, Dick, you're right, it _is_
worse; it's a choice between true life and death-in-life; whether
they'll make life's long march in sunshine together or in
Well, of course, it was no such simple question, and never could be
while life held so many values more splendid than any wilfulness could
win. There lay the whole of Charlotte's real difficulty--for she had
made it all hers. But when I tried in some awkward way to say this Harry
cut me short. "Oh, Dick, I--eh--you bother me! I want to tell you
something and if I don't hurry I can't. Something's happened to me, old
fellow, something that's sobered me more than I ever would 'a' thought
anything could. I want to tell you because I can trust you with a
secr'--wh'--what's the matter, did I hurt your wound? Honestly, I want
to tell you because--well--because I've been deceiving you all along:
I've deceived you shamefully, letting on to like this girl more than
that, and so on and so on."
"Yes, you thought you were deceiving me."
"Oh, well, maybe I wasn't, but I want to tell you to-night because I'm
going to camp in the morning. Oh, yes,"--he named the deepest place
known--"the sight of those webfoot boys to-day was too much for me; I'm
going; and Dick, when I told her I was going--"
"Aw, come, now, Dick, you know every bit as well as I know. Well, when I
told her I was going I didn't dream I was going to tell her anything
else; I give you my word! Where in the"--same place again--"I ever got
the courage I'll never tell you, but all of a sudden thinks I, 'I'm
never going to get anything but no, anyhow, and so, Dick, I've been and
gone and done it!"
I leaned on the stair-newel, sorry for the poor fool, but glad of this
chance. "Why, Lieutenant, not many men would have done as well. You felt
honor-bound not to slip away uncommitted, so you took your dose like a
hero and licked the spoon." I felt that I was salting his wound, but we
were soldiers and--I had the salt.
He drew a sigh. "Yes, I took my dose--of astonishment. Dick, she said
yes! Oh, good Lord, Dick, do you reckon they'll ever be such full-blown
idiots as to let me have her?"
I sank upon the steps; every pore in my body was a fountain of cold
sweat: "Have whom?"
"CÚcile." He was going on to declare himself no more fit for her than
for the presidency of the Confederate States, which was perfectly true;
but I sprang up, caught him (on my well side) by one good hand, and had
begun my enthusiastic congratulations, when Charlotte appeared and we
swerved against the rail to let her pass upstairs. In some way as she
went by it was made plain to us that she had said no. "Good-night,"
ventured both of us, timorously.
"Good-night," she responded, very musically, but as if from a great
THE UPPER FORK OF THE ROAD
Ferry, as he passed us, called my name, and I started after him. At
Charlotte's door we heard the greeting of her black maid. The maid's
father, who of late had been nightly dressing Ferry's wound and mine,
came to us in Ferry's room; and there my Captain turned to greet me, his
face white with calamity. He took me caressingly by a button of my
jacket. "Can you have your wound washed to-night before mine?"
"Why, certainly, if it's the least--"
"Yes, thank you. And down here in this room instead of upstairs?"
"Captain Ferry! if you knew how horribly it smells, you--"
"Ah! don't I know?" he said, and as I sat naked from throat to waist
with the old negro laving the sores, Ferry scanned them narrowly. "They
are not so bad, Dick; you think a few hours in the saddle will not make
"Not if they're spent for you, Captain."
"Yes, for me; also for much better. We shall ride for--"
"You ride? Oh, Captain, you are in no condition--"
"Tst!" he laid a finger on my lips; "'twill not be hard; we are not
going on a scout--to jump fences." He began to make actual preparations,
and presently helped me draw my shirt into place again over the clean
bandages, while the old man went out after fresh water. "I am a hundred
times more fit to go than to stay," he suddenly resumed. "I must go. Ah,
idleness, there is nothing like idleness to drive a man mad; I must have
something to do--to-night--at once." I wish I knew how to give the words
with his quiet intensity.
I began to unclothe his wound. "May I ask one thing?"
"Ah! I know you; you want to ask am I taking that upper fork of the
road. I am; 'tis for that I want you; so go you now to the stable,
saddle our horses and bring them."
When I reached the front steps with them Ferry was at the gallery's
edge, Miss Harper, CÚcile and Harry were on three sides of him, and he
was explaining away our astonishing departure. We were going to
Hazlehurst, to issue clothing and shoes to those ragged and barefoot
fellows we had seen that afternoon, and the light of whose tentless camp
was yonder in the sky, now, toward Brookhaven. We were to go that way,
confer with their officers, telegraph from town for authorizations to be
sent to us at Hazlehurst, and then to push on to that place and be ready
to issue the stuff when the trains should come up from Brookhaven
bringing the brigade. While he spoke Camille and Estelle joined us.
"No," he said, "to start any later, 'twould be too late."
To Harry's imploring protest that he, Ferry, was not fit to go to
Hazlehurst horseback, he replied "Well! what we going to do? Those boys
can't go to Big Black swamp bare-foot."
Our dear friends were too well aware of the untold trouble to say a word
about his coming back, but Miss Harper's parting injunction to me was to
The whole night and the following day were a toilsome time for us, but
by fall of the next night the brigade had come in rags and passed newly
clothed and shod, and in a room of the town tavern we dressed each
other's hurts and sank to sleep on one bed. The night was hot, the pain
of my wounds was like a great stone lying on them, and at the tragic
moment of a frightful dream I awoke. "Captain," I murmured.
"Did she give no reason?"
"No." A silence followed; then he said, "You know the reason, I think."
"Yes, I think I do; I think--"
"Well? don't be afraid to say it."
I got the words out in some form, that I believed Charlotte loved him
deeply, as deeply, passionately, exaltedly, as ever a true woman loved
"Ah, me!" he lifted his arms wide and knitted his fingers on his brow.
"And there is the whole trouble," I added. "She will not let you marry
the woman whose--"
"Whose husband I have killed.... Ah, God!... Ah, my God! why was I
chosen to do that?... And you think, Dick, it was not a question of
time; that I did not ask, maybe a little too soon?"
"No, not as between sooner and later; and yet, in another way, possibly,
yes." Without either of us stirring from the pillow I tried to explain.
I pointed out that trait in Charlotte which I called an impulse suddenly
to surrender the key of her situation, the vital point in her
fortunes and fate.
"Yes.... Yes," Ferry kept putting in.
I went on to say that she seemed now to have learned, herself, that it
was on this shoal she grounded at every low water of her physical and
mental powers; as when over-fatigued, for instance; and that I should
not wonder if she had bound herself never again at such a time to let
her judgment follow her impulses. He laid his hand on me: "Stop; stop;
you stab too deep. I thought to take her by surprise at that very point,
and right there she has countermined. My God! can it be that I am served
"No," I replied, although it was a thing I would have said Ned Ferry
would not do, "no, no, it is she who has served both you and herself
cruelly wrong. Captain, I believe that when Miss Harper has talked it
over with her she will see her mistake as we all see it, and will call
"Ah, me! Ah, me! Do you believe that, Dick?"
"I do, Captain; but at the same time--"
"What, what? Speak out, Dick. You blame me some other way?"
"Oh, no, indeed! I am the one to blame, the only one. If you had not,
both of you, been so blameless--so splendidly blameless--I should hardly
have let myself sink so deep into blame; but I knew you would never take
the last glad step until you had seen the last sad proof that you might
take it. Oh, Captain, to-night is the third time that in my dreams I
have seen _that man_ alive."
I do not know how long after that we lay silent, but it seemed an
endless time before he exclaimed at last "My God! Dick, you should
have told me."
"I know it; I know I should! But it was only a dream, and--"
"Ah! 'twas your doubt first and the dream after! But let us think no
more of blame, we must settle the doubt. We shall begin that to-morrow."
On my venturing to say more he interrupted. "Well, we can do nothing
now; at the present, sleep is our first business." However, after a
little, he spoke again, and, I believe, purely in order to soothe me to
slumber, speculated and counselled with me for the better part of an
hour concerning my own poor little love affair.
At breakfast he told me the first step in his further plans would be for
us to take the train for Tangipahoa, with our horses, on our way to our
own camp; but just before the train came the telegraph brought General
Austin's request--which, of course, carried all the weight of an
order--for Ferry to remain here and make ready for further issues of
quartermaster's stores. He turned on his heel and twisted his small
mustache: "That means we are kept here to be kept here, Richard."
It was a mistaken kindness, from our point of view, but it had the merit
that it kept us busy. In two days the post-quartermaster's affairs and
supplies were reduced to perfect order for the first time in their
history. For two days more we ran a construction train and with a swarm
of conscripts repaired two or three miles of road-bed and some
trestle-work in a swamp; and at every respite in our strenuous
activities we discoursed of the girls we'd left behind us; their minds,
their manners, their features, figures, tastes and talents, and their
walk and talk. So came the end of the week, and while the sun was still
above the trees we went on down, inspecting the road beyond our repairs,
on our own hand-car to Brookhaven. With heads bare, jackets in our laps,
and muddy boots dangling over the car's front edge, and with six big
negroes at the levers behind us, we watched the miles glide under our
wheels and grow fewer and fewer between us and the shrine of our hearts.
"Sing, Dick," said Ferry, and we chanted together, as we had done at
every sunset these three days, "O my love is like a red, red rose." We
could not have done it had we known that yonder glorious sun was setting
forever upon the fortunes of our Southern Confederacy. It was the fourth
of July; Lee was in full retreat from Gettysburg, Vicksburg was gone,
Port Hudson was doomed, and all that was left for us now was to
UNDER CHARLOTTE'S WINDOW
At the tavern, where we went to smarten up and to eat, we chanced upon
Gregory. He was very shy of Ferry, because Ferry was a captain, but told
me the latest news from the Wall place, where he had spent the previous
evening. Harry and the surgeon were gone to camp, the Harpers were well,
Charlotte was--better, after a bad turn of several days. We felt in duty
bound to stay within hail of the telegraph office until it should close
for the night; and when the operator was detained in it much beyond the
usual time, Ferry, as we hovered near, said at length, "Well, I'm sorry
for you, Dick; 'tis now too late for you to go yonder--this evening."
"Didn't you intend to call, too?" "No," he said; yet the moment the
operator turned the key in his door we sauntered away from the station,
tavern, town, and out into the rain-famished country. We chose a road on
high ground, under pines; the fact that a few miles of it would bring us
to Squire Wall's was not sufficient reason for us to shun it, and we
loitered on and on, discoursing philosophically on man and woman and the
duties of each to other. Through habit we went softly, and so, in time,
came up past a small garden under the house's southern side. Here
silence was only decorum, for every window in the dark upper rooms was
thrown open to the sultry air. The house's front was away from the
direction of the town, and at a corner of this garden, where the road
entered the open grove, the garden fence turned north at a right angle,
while the road went on through the grove into wide cornfields beyond.
We kept to the garden fence till it brought us along the dooryard front,
facing the house. Thus far the whole place seemed fast asleep. Along the
farthest, the northern, side a line of planted trees ran close to a
narrow wing of but one room on each of its two stories, and the upper of
these two rooms was Charlotte's. Where we paused, at the dooryard gate,
we could not see this wing, but we knew its exterior perfectly; it had a
narrow window in front, looking into the grove, and a broader one at the
rear, that overlooked an open stretch of the Wall plantation. The place
seemed fast asleep, I say, but we had not a doubt we were being
watched--by the two terrible dogs that guarded the house but never
barked. By this time they should have recognized us and ought to be
coming forward and wagging faintly, as who should say "Yes, that's all
right, but we have our orders."
"Ah!"--Ferry guardedly pointed to the ground at the corner of the house
nearest Charlotte's room; there were both the dogs, dim as phantoms and
as silent, standing and peering not toward us but around to the wing
side in a way to make one's blood stop. We drew deeper into the grove
and made a short circuit that brought us in line with Charlotte's two
windows, and there, at the farther one, with her back to us, sat
Charlotte, looking toward Hazlehurst. The bloodthirsty beasts at the
corner of the house were so intently waiting to spring upon something,
somebody, between them and the nearer window, that we were secure from
their notice. We had hardly more than become aware of these things when,
in the line of planted trees, out of the depths of the one nearest the
nearer window, sounded a note that brought Charlotte instantly to her
feet; the same feeble, smothered cry she had heard the night she was
wounded. She crossed to the front window and listened, first standing
erect, and then stooping and leaning out. When we saw her do that we
knew how little she cared for her life; Ferry beckoned me up from behind
him; neither of us needed to say he feared the signal was from Oliver.
"Watch here," he whispered, and keeping the deepest shade, started
eagerly, with drawn revolver, toward the particular tree. I saw the dogs
discover and recognize him and welcome his aid, yet I kept my closest
watch on that tree's boughs and on Charlotte. She was wondering, I
guessed, whether the call was from some messenger of Ferry, or was only
a bird's cry. As if she decided it was the latter, she moved away, and
had nearly re-crossed the room, when the same sad tremolo came searching
the air again. Nevertheless she went on to the farther window and stood
gazing out for the better part of a minute, while in my heart I besought
her not to look behind. For Ferry and the dogs had vanished in shadow,
and outside her nearer window, wavering now above and now below the
sill, I could just descry a small pale object that reminded me of that
missive Coralie Rothvelt had passed up to me outside the window-sill at
old Lucius Oliver's house exactly a month before. From the upper depths
of the nearest tree this small thing was being proffered on the end of a
fishing-rod. Presently the rod must have tapped the sill, with such a
start did she face about. Silently she ran, snatched the dumb messenger,
and drew down the window-shade. A moment later the room glowed with a
candle, while her shadow, falling upon the shade, revealed her scanning
a letter, lifting her arms with emotion, and so passing out of the
line of view.
I waited on. So absorbed was I that I did not hear the coming of a
horseman in the fields beyond the grove, nor the click of a field gate;
but when the strange quietude of Ferry and the dogs had begun to
reassure me I became aware of this new-comer approaching the dooryard.
There he reined in and hallooed. I knew the voice. An answer came from
an upper window. "Is this Squire Wall's?" asked the traveller. "Well,
Squire, I'm from General Austin's headquarters, with orders to
"Captain Ferry ain't stopping with us now, sir, he's 'way up at
"Yes, sir. I didn't know but he might 'a' come down to spend to-morrow
with you, it being the Sabbath. My name's Gholson, sir; I've got letters
for the Miss Harpers; yes, sir; and one for Private Smith, from his
mother, in New Orleans."
"My sakes! yo' pow'ful welcome, Mr. Wholesome; just wait till I call off
my dogs, sir, and I'll let you in."
When the dogs came at the Squire's call I breathed relief. Ferry
appeared behind me and beckoned me deeper into the grove. He sank upon a
stump, whispering "That was worse than ten fights."
"Who was it?" I asked. "Where is he?"
He pointed to the field gate through which Gholson had come. In the
field a small man was re-closing it cautiously, and now he mounted and
rode away; it was Isidore Goldschmidt, of the Plank-road swamp. I was
wondering why he had behaved in this skulking way, when Ferry, as if
reading my thought, said, "Isidore can't afford to be found seventy-five
miles inside our lines with no papers except a letter from a Yankee
officer--and not knowing, himself, what's in it."
"Oh! why should he risk his life to bring such a thing to her?"
"Because three months ago she risked her life to save the life of his
father, and now, since only last week, that Yankee has saved the life of
his mother." I asked who this Yankee might be. "Well, that is yet more
strange; he is the brother of Captain Jewett."
We were moving to the house; at the steps we halted; the place was all
alight and the ladies were arriving in the parlor. A beam of light
touching Ferry's face made his smile haggard. I asked if this Jewett was
another leader of scouts.
"No, he is a high-rank surgeon. Yet I think he must have heard all about
her; he wouldn't send that letter, that way, just for gratitude."
"Yes," I responded, pondering, "he may easily have learned about her,"
and I called to mind that chief-of-staff of whom Charlotte had told us.
Then, remembering her emotional shadow-play on the window-shade, I
added, "He knew at least what would be important news to her--Captain,
I have it!"
He made a motion of pain--"Don't say it!" and we read in each other's
eyes the one conviction that from a surgeon's personal knowledge this
man had written to warn Charlotte that Oliver was alive.
All the glad difference between hope stark drowned and hope sighing back
into life lightened Ferry's heart; he gripped my shoulder--the sound
one, by good luck,--and drew me into the dining-room, where the whole
company were gathered to see Gholson eat. Our entry was a fresh
surprise. As we drank the flatteries of seven lovely welcomes, from
behind Gholson I reconnoitred Charlotte, and the fullest confirmation of
our guess was in the peaceful resolve of her eyes. I noted the Harpers,
all, and dear Mrs. Wall's sweet freckled face, take new gladness of the
happy change, while unable to define its cause.
But now came raptures and rhapsodies over the opened letters. Ferry's
orders had not been expected to reach him to-night, Gholson said, and so
we insisted they and my letter should remain in the saddle-pockets while
Gholson ate, and while the good news, public and personal, of the
Harpers' letters went round.
"But I thought the' was fi-ive letters," said the Squire as we were
about to leave the board; at which Mrs. Wall mumbled to him to "hush
up;" for the fifth was to CÚcile.
"Yes," guilefully said Charlotte, "Richard's letter!" and we all
followed Gholson to where his saddle lay on the gallery. There he handed
out Ferry's document and went on rummaging for mine.
"The two were right here together," he said, "and Mr. Smith's was marked
'valuable' and had something hard in one corner of it." Camille brought a
candle, Estelle another; Gholson rose from his knee: "Smith, it's gone!
I've lost it! And yet"--he slapped his breast-pockets--"no, it's
somewhere in the grove; it's between here and that cornfield gate! I
counted all the papers just this side of that gate, and I must 'a'
dropped yours then!" CÚcile brought a third light and we sallied forth
into the motionless air, Estelle with a candle and Gholson, Camille
with a candle and me, CÚcile with a candle and Mrs. Wall, Miss Harper
and the Squire, and Charlotte and Ferry. In the heart of the grove
Estelle gave a soft cry, sprang, stooped, straightened, and handed me
"Yes," exclaimed Camille as the three candle-bearers gathered close,
"that's your mother's writing," and as we fell into marching order
again, with the lights still in the front files, I opened it. It was
thick and soft with sheet after sheet of thinnest paper. With these was
a sealed letter, unaddressed, containing in one corner what seemed to be
a ring. Around all was a sheet of writing of later date than any other.
Wonderful, my mother's lines declared, was the Providence that had
brought her wounded boy among such priceless friends; and wonderful that
same Providence that now gave her the chance to send three weeks' daily
letters in one, and to send them by a hand so sure that she ventured to
add this other note, a matter so secret that it must be delivered only
by my own hands, or hands which I could trust as my own, to Charlotte
Oliver. We glanced back in search of Charlotte. She and Ferry were well
in the rear of the procession, moving with laggard steps, she lighting
his page with a borrowed candle, and he evidently reading not his
orders, but the Federal surgeon's letter. "Oh, don't speak yet,"
murmured Camille, "let them alone!"
At the garden gate the most of the company passed on into the house,
Gholson among them. His face, as for an instant he turned aside to me,
betrayed a frozen rage; for Ferry and Charlotte tarried just at our
backs, she seated on the "horse-block" and he leaning against it. A stir
of air brought by the rising moon had blown out their light. Gholson
left me, and Camille waited at my side while I tried to read by the
flare of her guttering candle. "Come, my dear," said Miss Harper from
half-way up the walk, but Charlotte called Miss Harper.
"You'd better go in, Camille," insisted the aunt as she passed us, but
Charlotte had just asked for our candle to relight her own, and she said
to Miss Harper, "Let them stay, won't you?" and then to Ferry, "They
might as well, mightn't they? Oh, now,"--as Camille handed her my
mother's letter--"they must!" She toyed with the envelope's thinner edge
without noticing the ring in the corner. "My dears," she said, looking
frail and distressed, yet resolute, "I have positive intelligence--not
through Captain, nor Richard, nor Mr. Gholson,--I'll tell you how some
day--positive intelligence that--the dead--is not dead; the blow,
Richard, glanced. I was foolish never to think of that possibility, it
occurs so often. He was profoundly stunned, so that he didn't come-to
until he was brought to a surgeon. It's from that surgeon I have the
news; here's his letter."
"Charlotte, my dear," interrupted Miss Harper, "tell us the remainder
to-morrow, but now--"
"No, sweetest friend, there will never be another chance like this;
Captain Ferry's orders carry him to Jackson at daylight to-morrow,
and--and we may not meet again for years; let me go on. When the gash
was sewed up, the hand was really the worse hurt of the two, and after
a few days he was sent down on a steamer to New Orleans with a great lot
of other sick and wounded, and with the commanding general's warning not
to come back on peril of his life. 'Tisn't easy to tell this, but you
four have a particular right to know it from me and at once. So let me
say"--she handed Ferry my mother's letter as if it were a burdensome
distraction--"I'm not sorry for the mistake, Richard, which we all so
innocently made; and you mustn't be sorry for me and be saying to
yourselves that my captivity is on me again; for I'm happier tonight
than I've been since the night the mistake was made."
She dropped a hand to Ferry's to receive again the neglected letter, and
chanced to take it by the corner that held the ring. With that she
stared at us, fingered it, rended the envelope, gave one glance to her
own name engraved inside a plain gold ring of the sort New Orleans girls
bestow upon those to whom they are betrothed, and springing to the
ground between our two candles, bent over the open page and cried
through a flood of tears, "Oh, God, have mercy on him, he is gone! He is
gone, Edgard! Oh, Edgard, he is gone at last; gone beyond all doubt, and
our hands--our hands and our hearts are clean!"
Ferry tossed away his candle and turned upon her, but she retreated into
Miss Harper's arms laughing through her tears. "Oh, no, no! we've never
hurried yet, never yet, my master in patience, and we'll not hurry now!
Go and come again. Go, wait, hide your eyes till I cry 'whoop,' and
come again and find me, and, I pledge you before these dear witnesses,
I'll be 'it' for the rest of my life!"
With the letter again held open, and bidding Miss Harper and Camille
read with her, she swept a fleet glance along the close lines that told
how Oliver, half cured of his wounds, had died in a congestive chill, of
swamp-fever, the day he landed in New Orleans. "See, see, Richard, here
your mother has copied the hospital's certificate."
She read on aloud how two private Federal soldiers, hospital
convalescents, had come to my mother telling her of his death, and how
he had named my mother over and over in his delirium, desiring that she
should be given charge of the small effects on his person and that she
would return them to his father in the Confederacy. My mother wrote how
she had been obliged secretly to buy back from the hospital steward a
carte-de-visite photograph of Charlotte, and this ring; how, Oliver not
being a Federal soldier, she had been allowed to assume the expense and
task of his burial; how she had found the body already wrapped and
bound, in the military way, when she first saw it, but heard the two
convalescents praising to each other the strong, hard-used beauty of the
hidden face, and was shown the suit of brown plantation jeans we all
knew so well; and how, lastly, when her overbearing conscience compelled
her to tell them she might find it easier to send the relics to the wife
rather than the father, they had furtively advised her to do as
[Illustration: Springing to the ground between our two candles, she
bent over the open page]
"Charlotte," said Miss Harper, "the thing is an absolute certainty!
Even without your likeness or--"
"Ah, no, no, not without this! the ring, the ring! But with it, yes!
This is the crowning proof! my ring to him! Oh, see my name inside it,
Camille; this little signet is Heaven's own testimony and acquittal!
Look, Richard, look at it now, for no living soul, no light of day,
shall ever see it again--"
"Sweet heart," replied Miss Harper, "very good! very good! but now say
no more of that sort. God bless you, dear, just let yourself be happy.
Good-night--no, no, sit still; stay where you are, love, while Camille
and I go in and Richard steps around to the stable and puts our team
into the road-wagon; for, Captain Ferry, neither you nor he is fit to
walk into Brookhaven; we can bring the rig back when we come from church
"No, Richard," said Charlotte, "get my wagon and the little Mexicans."
Then to Miss Harper and Camille, "Good-night, dears; I'll wait here that
long, if Captain Ferry will allow me." She turned to him with the
moonlight in her eyes, that danced riotously as she said in her softest,
deepest note, "You're afraid!" and I thanked Heaven that Coralie
Rothvelt was still a pulsing reality in the bosom of Charlotte
WHILE DESTINY MOVED ON
Ned Ferry and I never saw Squire Wall's again. When our hand-car the
next morning landed us in Hazlehurst the news of Gettysburg and
Vicksburg was on every tongue, in every face, and a telegram awaited
Ferry which changed his destination to Meridian, a hundred miles farther
to the east. He kept me with him at Hazlehurst for two days, to help him
and the post-quartermaster get everything ready to be moved and saved if
our cavalry should be driven east of the Jackson Railroad. But it was
not, and by and by we were sundered and I went and became at length in
practical and continuous reality one of Ferry's scouts--minus Ferry. Oh,
the long hot toils and pains of those July and August days! the
scorching suns, the stumbling night-marches, the aching knees, the
groaning beasts, the scant, foul rations, the dust and sweat, the blood
and the burials. To be sure, I speak of these hardships far more from
sympathy than from experience, so much above the common lot of the long
dust-choked column was that of our small band of scouts. After July our
brigade operated mainly in the region of the Big Black, endeavoring,
with others, to make the enemy confine his overflow meetings to the
Vicksburg side of that unlovely stream. How busy our small troop was
kept; and what fame we won! On a certain day we came out of a dried
swamp in column and ambled half across a field to see if a brigade
going by us at right angles in the shade of a wood at the field's edge
might be ours. It was not, though they were Confederates; but one of its
captains was sent out toward us with a squadron to see who we might be,
in our puzzling uniform, and when, midway, he made us out and called
back to his commander, "Ferry's scouts!" the whole column cheered us. I
feel the thrill of it to this hour.
How busy we were kept, and how much oftener I wrote to Ferry, and to
Camille, than to my mother. And how much closer I watched the trend of
things that belonged only to this small story than I did that great
theatre of a whole world's fortunes, whose arches spread and resounded
from the city of Washington to the city of Mexico. In mid-August one of
Camille's heartlessly infrequent letters brought me a mint of blithe
news. Harry and CÚcile were really engaged; Major Harper, aunt Martha,
General Austin, Captain Ferry and Charlotte had all written the distant
father in his behalf, and the distant father had capitulated.
Furthermore, Captain Ferry's latest letter to Charlotte had brought word
that in spite of all backsets he was promised by his physician that in
ten days more he could safely take the field again. But, best of all,
Major Harper, having spent a week with his family--not on leave, but on
some mysterious business that somehow included a great train of pontoon
bridges--had been so completely won over to Charlotte by her own sweet
ways that, on his own suggestion to his sister, and their joint
proposition, by correspondence, to Ferry, another group of letters,
from Miss Harper, the Major and the General, had been sent to the
Durands in New Orleans--father, mother, and grandmother--telling them
all about Charlotte; her story, her beauty, her charms of manner, mind,
and heart. And so, wrote my correspondent, the Wall household were
living in confident hope and yet in unbearable suspense; for these
things were now full two weeks old, and would have been told me sooner
only that she, Camille, had promised never to tell them to any one
A week later came another of these heartlessly infrequent letters. Mr.
Gregory, it said,--oh, _hang_ Mr. Gregory!--had called the previous
evening. Then followed the information that poor Mr. Gholson--oh, dear!
the poor we have always with us!--had arrived again from camp so wasted
with ague as to be a sight for tears. He had come consigned to "our
hospital," an establishment which the Harpers, Charlotte and the Walls
had set up in the old "summer-hotel" at Panacea Springs, and had
contrived to get the medical authorities to adopt, officer and--in a
manner--equip. They were giving dances there, to keep the soldiers
cheerful, said the letter, in which its writer took her usual patriotic
part, and Mr. Gregory--oh, save us alive! And now I was to prepare
myself: the Durands had got the bunch of letters and had written a
lovely reply to Captain Ferry, who had sent it to Charlotte, claiming
her hand, and Charlotte had answered yes. If I thought I had ever seen
her beautiful or blithe, or sweet, or happy, I ought to see her now;
while as for the writer herself, nothing in all her life had ever so
filled her with bliss, or ever could again.
Ferry did not arrive, but day by day, night by night, we stalked the
enemy, longing for our Captain to return to us. Quinn was fearless,
daring, indefatigable; but Quinn was not Ferry. Often we talked it over
by twos or fours; the swiftness of Ferry's divinations, the brilliant
celerity with which he followed them out, the kindness of his care;
Quinn's care of us was paternal, Ferry's was brotherly and motherly. We
loved Quinn for the hate and scorn that overflowed from his very gaze
upon everything false or base. But we loved Ferry for loving each and
every one of us beyond his desert, and for a love which went farther
yet, we fancied, when it lived and kept its health in every insalubrious
atmosphere, from the sulphurous breath of old Dismukes to the
carbonic-acid gas of Gholson's cant. We made great parade of recognizing
his defects; it had all the fine show of a motion to reconsider. For
example, we said, his serene obstinacy in small matters was equally
exasperating and ridiculous; or, for another instance,--so and so; but
in summing up we always lumped such failings as "the faults of his
virtues," and neglected to catalogue them. Thinking it all over a
thousand times since, I have concluded that the main source of his
charm, what won our approval for whatever he did, however he did it, was
that he seemed never to regard any one as the mere means to an
If this history were more of war than of love--and really at times I
fear it is--we might fill pages telling of the brigade's September and
early October operations in that long tongue of devastated country which
narrowed from northeast to southwest between Big Black on our front and
the Tallahala and Bayou Pierre behind us. At Baker's Creek it had a
bloody all-day fight, in which we took part after having been driven in
upon the brigade. It was there that at dusk, to the uproarious delight
of half the big camp, and with our Captain once more at our head, for he
had rejoined us that very morning, we came last off the field, singing
"Ned Ferry's a-comin' down de lane."
On a day late in October our company were in bivouac after some hard
night-riding. Some twenty-five miles west of us the brigade had been
resting for several days on the old camp-ground at Gallatin, but now
they were gone to Union Springs. Ferry, with a few men, was scouting
eastward. Quinn awaited only his return in order to take half a dozen or
so of picked fellows down southward and westward about Fayette. Between
ten and eleven that night a corporal of the guard woke me, and as I
flirted on my boots and jacket and saddled up, said Ferry was back and
Quinn gone. I reported to Ferry, who handed me a despatch: "Give that to
General Austin; he has gone back to Gallatin--without the brigade--to
wait--with the others"--his smile broadened.
"Captain,"--I swallowed a lump--"what others?"
"Well,--all the others; Major Harper, Colonel Dismukes, Harry Helm,
Squire Wall, Mrs. Wall, the four Harper ladies, and--eh,--let me see, is
that all?--ah, no, the old black man and his daughter, and--eh,--the
two little mule'! that's all--stop! I was forgetting! What is that
fellow's name we used to know? ah, yes; Charlie Toliver!" In a moment he
sobered: "Yes, all will be yonder, and I wait only for Quinn to get back
in the morning, to come myself." In the fulness of his joy he had to
give my horse a parting slap. "Good-night! good-bye--till to-morrow!"
I galloped away filled with an absurd foreboding that he was too sure,
which may have come wholly from my bad temper at being started too late
to see our ladies before morning. However, at two that night, my saddle
laid under my head, and haversack under the saddle, I fell asleep with
all Gallatin for my bedchamber, the courthouse square for my bed, the
sky for my tester, the pole-star for my taper, hogs for mosquitoes and a
club for a fan.
A TARRYING BRIDEGROOM
Joyous was the dawn. With their places in the hospital filled for the
brief time by Brookhaven friends, here were all our fairs, not to speak
of the General, the Colonel, the Major, idlers of the town and region,
and hospital bummers who had followed up unbidden and glaringly without
wedding-garments. CÚcile, Harry, Camille "and others" prepared the
church. The General kept his tent, the Major rode to Hazlehurst, and the
Colonel, bruised and stiffened by a late fall from his horse, lounged
amiably just beyond talking range of the ladies and grumbled jokes to
Chaplain Roly-poly, whose giggling enjoyment of them made us hope they
were tempered to that clean-shaven lamb.
However, there came a change. By mid-forenoon our gaiety ran on only by
its momentum. The wedding was to be at eleven. At ten the Colonel,
aside, told me, with a ferocious scowl, that my Captain ought to have
arrived. At half-past he told me again, but Major Harper, returning from
Hazlehurst, said, "Oh, any of a hundred trifles might have delayed him a
short time; he would be along." The wedding-hour passed, the
wedding-feast filled the air with good smells. Horsemen ambled a few
miles up the road and came back without tidings. Then a courier, one of
Ferry's scouts, galloped up to the General's tent, and presently the
Major walked from it to the tavern and up to Charlotte's room, to say
that Ferry was only detained by Quinn's non-arrival. "It's all right,"
Another hour wore on, another followed. The General and old Dismukes
played cards and the latter began to smell of his drams, Harry and
CÚcile walked and talked apart, Camille kept me in leash with three
other men, and about two o'clock came another courier with another bit
of Ferry's writing; Quinn had returned. He had had a brush with
jayhawkers in the night, had captured all but their leader, and had sent
his prisoners in to brigade headquarters at Union Church, while he
returned to Ferry's camp bringing with him, mortally wounded--"O--oh!
Oh--oh!" exclaimed Charlotte, gazing at the missive,--"Sergeant
"Does Ned say when he will start?" asked the Colonel, and Charlotte,
reading again, said the sergeant, at the time of the writing, was not
expected to live an hour. Whereupon the word went through town that
Ferry was on his way to us.
"Smith," said the Colonel, just not too full to keep up a majestic
frown, "want to saddle my horse and yours?" and very soon we were off to
meet the tardy bridegroom. The October sunshine was fiery, but the road
led us through our old camp-ground for two or three shady miles before
it forked to the right to cross the Natchez Trace, and to the left on
its way to Union Springs, and at the fork we halted. "Smith, I reckon
we'd best go back." I mentioned his bruises and the torrid sun-glare
before us, but he cursed both with equal contempt; "No, but I must go
back; I--I've left a--oh, I must go back to wet my whistle!"
We had retraced our way but a few steps, when, looking behind me as a
scout's habit is, I saw a horseman coming swiftly on the Union Church
road. "Colonel," I said, "here comes Scott Gholson."
Without pausing or turning an eye my hearer poured out a slow flood of
curses. "If that whelp has come here of his own accord he's come for no
good! Has he seen us?"
Gholson had not seen us; we had been in deep shade when he came into
sight, and happened at that moment to turn an angle that took us out of
his line of view. In a minute or so we were again at the small bridge
over the embowered creek which ran through the camping-ground. The water
was low and clear, and the Colonel turned from the bridge as if to cross
beneath it and let his beast drink, yet motioned back for me to go upon
it. As I reached its middle he came under it in the stream and halted.
Guessing his wish I turned my horse across the bridge and waited.
Gholson was almost within hail before he knew me. He was a heaving lump
of dust, sweat and pain.
"Has Ned Ferry come?" was his first call. I shook my head. "Oh, thank
God!" he cried with a wild gesture and sank low in the saddle; but
instantly he roused again: "Oh, don't stop me, Smith; if I once stop I'm
afraid I'll never get to her!"
I stopped him. "Why, Gholson, you're burning up with fever."
"Yes, I started with a shaking chill. I'm afraid, every minute, I'll go
out of my head. Oh, Smith, Oliver's alive! He's alive, he's alive, and
I've come to save his poor wife from a fate worse than death!"
"Gholson, you are out of your head."
"Oh, yes, yes, yes! and yet I know what I'm saying, I know what I'm
"You do not! Gholson, Oliver's been food for worms these four months. I
know he wasn't dead at Gilmer's; but he died--now, let me tell
"Smith, I know the whole story and you know only half!"
"No, no! I know all and you know only half; I have seen the absolute--"
"Proofs? no! you saw things taken from the body of another man in
Oliver's clothes! Oliver swapped places with him on the boat going down
to the city so's he could come back to these parts without being hung by
the Yankees; swapped with a sick soldier, one of a pair that wanted to
desert; swapped names, clothes, bandages, letters, everything. It was
that soldier that died of the congestive chill and was buried by your
mother with his face in a blanket--as, like enough, mine will be before
another day is done--Oh, Lord, Lord! my head will burst!"
"Gholson, you're mistaken yet! That soldier came to my mother--"
"No, he never! the other one went to her, in cahoots with Oliver, and
worked the thing all through so's to have the news of Oliver's death, so
called, come back here to the Yankees and us; and to his wife, so's she
_would_ marry Ned Ferry to her everlasting shame, and people would say
they was served right when he killed 'em at last! O--oh! Smith,--"
"Listen to me!" I had tried twice to interrupt and now I yelled; "was it
Oliver, and a new gang, that Quinn fought last night, and have you got
him at Union Church?"
"Quinn didn't know it, for Oliver got away, but they got the Yankee
deserter, and brought him in when everybody was asleep but me, and I
cross-examined him. Oh, my friend, God's arm is not shortened that he
cannot save! He maketh the wrath of the wicked to praise him! The man
was dying then, but thank God, I choked the whole truth out of him with
a halter over a limb, and then for three mortal hours I couldn't start
because the squad that took him out to--Who--who is that?"
The Colonel moved from under the bridge, spurred up the bank, and turned
to us with a murderous smile. "Howdy, Gholson." The smile grew. "Had to
stay with the hanging-squad to keep his mouth shut, you was going to
say, wa'n't you? But you knew Captain Ferry would be delayed waiting for
Quinn, too; yes. Does any one know this now besides us three; no! Good,
we're well met! Smith and me are going to Union Church, and you'd better
go with us; I've got a job that God A'mighty just built you two saints
and me for; come, never mind Gallatin, Ferry's not there, and when he
gets there Heaven ain't a-going to stop that wedding, and hell sha'n't."
Gholson had barely caught his breath to demur when old Dismukes, roaring
and snarling like a huge dog, whipped out his revolver, clutched the
sick man's bosom, and hanging over him and bellowing blasphemies, yelled
into his very teeth "Come!"
We galloped. A courier from the brigade-camp met us, and the Colonel
scribbled a purely false explanation of our absence, begging that no
delay be made because of it. As the man left us, who should come up from
behind us but Harry, asking what was the matter. "Matter enough for you
to come along," said the Arkansan, and we went two and two, he and
Gholson, Harry and I. We reached camp at sundown, and stopped to feed
and rest our horses and to catch an hour's sleep. Gholson's fatigue was
pitiful, but he ate like a wolf, slept, and awoke with but little fever.
The Colonel kept him under his eye, forcing on him the honors of his
own board, bed and bottle, and at nine we galloped again.
Between eleven and twelve the Colonel, Harry and I were in a dense wood,
moving noiselessly toward a clearing brilliantly lighted by the moon. I
was guide. A few rods back in the woods Gholson was holding our horses
and with cocked revolver detaining a young mulatto woman from whom the
Colonel had extorted the knowledge which had brought us to this spot.
The clearing was fenced, but was full of autumn weeds. Near the two
sides next us, tilted awry on its high basement pillars, loomed an old
cotton-gin house, its dark shadows falling toward us. A few yards beyond
towered and gleamed a white-boled sycamore, and between the two the
titanic arms of the horse-power press widened broadly downward out of
the still night sky. The tree was the one which old Lucius Oliver had
once pointed out to me at dawn.
SOMETHING I HAVE NEVER TOLD TILL NOW
At the fence I ceased to lead, and we crept near the gin-house from
three sides, warily, though all the chances were that wherever Oliver
lay he was heavy with drink. The Colonel stole in alone. He was lost to
us for, I should say, five minutes; they seemed thirty; then there
pealed upon the stillness an uproarious laugh mingled with oaths and
curses, sounds of a plunge, a struggle, a groan, and old Dismukes
calling "Come, boys, I've got him! Take it easy, take it easy, I've got
him on the floor by the hair of his head; call Gholson!"
Gholson brought the mulatress. In the feeble rays of an old tin lantern,
on some gunny-sacking that lay about the gin-room floor, sat old
Dismukes cross-legged and smiling, with arms folded and revolver
dangling from his right hand, at full cock. On one side crouched Harry
and I, on the other side Gholson and the slave woman. Facing him, half
sat, half knelt Oliver, bound hand and foot, and gagged with his own
knotted handkerchief. The lantern hung from a low beam just above his
face; his eyes blazed across the short interval with the splendor of a
hawk's. The dread issue of the hour seemed all at once to have taken
from his outward aspect the baser signs of his habits and crimes, and I
saw large extenuation for Charlotte's great mistake. From the big
Colonel's face, too, the heaviness of drink was gone, and its smile grew
almost fine as he spoke.
"Ten minutes for prayer is a good while to allow you, my amiable friend;
we ain't heard for our much speaking, are we, Brother Gholson? Still,
we've given you that, and it's half gone. If you don't want the other
half we won't force it on you; we've got that wedding to go to, and I'm
afraid we'll be late."
The bound man sat like a statue. The slave girl went upon her knees and
began to pray for her master,--with whom she had remained after every
other servant on the place had run off to the Federals, supplicating
with a piteous fervor that drew tears down Harry's cheeks. "Humph!" said
the Arkansan, still smiling straight into Oliver's eyes, "she'd better
be thanking God for her freedom, for that's what we're going to give her
to-night; we're going to take her and your poor old crippled father to
the outposts and turn 'em loose, and if either of 'em ever shows up
inside our lines after to-night, we'll hang 'em. You fixed the date of
your death last June, and we're not going to let it be changed; that's
when you died. Ain't it, Gholson? Whoever says it ain't fixes the date
of his own funeral, eh, boys? I take pleasure in telling you we're not
going to hang your father, because I believe in my bones you'd rather
we'd hang him than not. Mr. Gholson, you're our most pious believer in
obedience to orders; well, I'm going to give you one, and if you don't
make a botch of it I sha'n't have to make a botch of you; understand?"
Gholson's lips moved inaudibly, his jaws set hard, and he blanched; but
the Colonel smiled once more: "I've heard that at one time you said, or
implied, that Captain Ferry had betrayed his office, because when he had
a fair chance to shoot this varmint he omitted, for private reasons, to
do it. And I've heard you say, myself, that this isn't your own little
private war. So,--just change seats with me."
They exchanged. The slave girl sank forward upon her face moaning and
sobbing. Harry silently wept. "Now, Gholson, you know me; draw--pistol."
Gholson drew; I grew sick. "Ready,"--Gholson came to a ready and so did
the Colonel; "aim," Gholson slowly aimed, the Colonel kept a ready, and
Oliver, for the first time took his eyes from him and gazed at Gholson.
"Fire!" Gholson fired; Oliver silently fell forward; with a stifled cry
the girl sprang to him and drew his head into her lap, and he softly
straightened out and was still. "Oh, sweet Jesus!" she cried, "Oh,
The amused Colonel held the lantern close down. "He's all right, Brother
Gholson," was his verdict; the ball had gone to the heart. "Still, just
to clinch the thing, we'll calcine him, gin-house and all."
Gin-house and all, we burned him up. On our horses out in the open road
to the house, we sat, the girl perched behind the Colonel, and watched
the fire mount and whirl and crackle behind the awful black arms of the
cotton-press. The Arkansan shook his head: "It's too fine; 'tain't a
dog's death, after all. Lord! why didn't I think of it in time? we'd
ought to 'a' just dropped him alive into that lint-box and turned the
press down onto him with our horses!"
When the pile was in one great flame we rode to the dwelling, and the
girl was sent in to bid old Lucius begone. The doors stood open, a soft
firelight shone from his room. We saw her form darken his chamber
threshold and halt, and then she wailed: "Oh, Lawd God A'mighty! Oh,
Lawd God A'mighty!"
"Stop that noise! Gholson, hold the horses. Come. Lieutenant, come
Smith, maybe he's killed himself, but it seems too good to be true.
Here, girl, go cram what you can get into a pillow-case, and mount
behind my saddle again; be quick, we're going to burn this hornet's
nest too." Harry and I had already run to the old man's room, and, sure
enough, there lay the aged assassin hideous in his fallen bulk, with his
own bullet in his brain.
Once more the Arkansan shook his head at the leaping flames. "Too good,
too good for either of 'em, entirely; we've let 'em settle at five cents
on the dollar. Here girl,"--he reached back and handed her a wad of
greenbacks,--"here's your dividend; you're a preferred creditor." He had
rifled the pockets of both the dead men, and this was their contents.
"Now, boys, we'll dust, or we'll be getting shot at by some fool or
other. We're leaving a fine horse hid away somewhere hereabouts, but we
can't help that; come on."
In due time the Colonel, with the slave girl, and Harry with her
pillow-case of duds, turned toward Fayette, and Gholson and I toward the
brigade, at Union Church. Then, at last, my old friend and
co-religionist let his wrath loose. He began with a flood of curses,
lifting high a loaded carbine which we had found with Oliver and which
he was ordered to turn in. As he gave his ecstasy utterance it grew; he
brandished the weapon like a Bedouin, dug the rowels into his overspent
beast and curbed him back to his haunches, fisted him about the ears,
gnashed with the pain of his own blows, and howled, and stood up in the
stirrups and cursed again. I had heard church-members curse, but they
were new church-members, camp converts, and their curses were an
infant's cooing, to this. Unwittingly he caused his horse to stumble,
and the torrent of his passion gathered force like rain after a peal of
thunder; he clubbed the gun to bring it down upon the beautiful
creature's head, and when I caught it on the rise he wrenched it from me
as if I were a girl, threw it fifty feet away, sprang to the ground and
caught it up, fired it in the air, and with one blow against a tree sent
the stock flying, threw the barrel underfoot, leapt upon it, tore his
hair and his hat, and cursed and champed and howled. I sat holding his
horse and feeling my satisfaction rise like the mercury in a warmed
thermometer. Contrasting this mood with the cold malignancy and resolve
of his temper in the soldiers' room at Sessions's, I saw, to my delight,
that our secret was forever imprisoned in his breast, gagged and chained
down by the iron of his own inextricable infamy. At dawn he awakened me
that he might persuade me to reject the evidences brought against his
character by his doings and endurings of the night, and that he might
rebuild the old house of words in which habitually he found shelter, too
abysmally self-conceited ever to see his own hypocrisy. We breakfasted
with the "attatchays"; after which he had barely secured my final
assurance that our friendship remained unmarred, when old Dismukes and
Harry mounted at the Colonel's tent, and the old brute, as they trotted
out into the Gallatin road, beckoned me to join them.
BY TWOS. MARCH
The Arkansan was happy. "Come up, Legs," he bawled to me as soon as we
were beyond the pickets, "come up from behind there; this ain't no
"Are they married?" I softly asked Harry at the first opportunity, but
he could not tell me. He knew only that Ferry had been expected to
arrive about an hour before midnight; if he arrived later the wedding
would be deferred until to-day. On our whole ride we met no one from
Gallatin until near the edge of the town we passed a smiling rider who
called after us, "You-all a-hurryin' for nothin'!"
We dropped to a more dignified gait and moved gayly in among our
gathering friends, asking if we were in time. "No--o! you're too
late!--but still we've waited for you; couldn't help ourselves; she
wouldn't stir without you."
The happy hubbub was bewildering. "Where's this one?" "Where's that
one?" "See here, I'm looking for you!" "Now, you and I go together--"
"Dick Smith! where's Dick Sm'--Miss Harper wants you, Smith, up at the
bride's door." But Miss Harper only sent me in to Charlotte.
"Richard, tell me," the fair vision began to say, but there the cloud
left her brow. "No," she added, "you couldn't look so happy if there
were the least thing wrong, could you?" Her fathoming eyes filled while
her smile brightened, and meeting them squarely I replied "There's
a-many a thing wrong, but not one for which this wedding need wait
"God bless you, Richard!" she said; "and now _you_ may go tell Edgard I
Old Gallatin is no more. I would not mention without reverence the
perishing of a town however small, though no charm of antiquity, of art
or of nature were lost in its dissolution. Yet it suits my fancy that
old Gallatin has perished. Neither war nor famine, flood nor fever were
the death of it; the railroad and Hazlehurst sapped its life. Some years
ago, on a business trip for our company--not cavalry, insurance,--I went
several miles out of my way to see the spot. Not a timber, not a brick,
of the old county-seat remained. Where the court-house had stood on its
square, the early summer sun drew tonic odor from a field of corn. In
place of the tavern a cotton-field was ablush with blossoms. Shops and
houses had utterly vanished; a solitary "store," as transient as a
toadstool, stood at the cross-roads peddling calico and molasses, shoes
and snuff. But that was the only discord, and by turning my back on it I
easily called up the long past scene: the wedding, the feast, the fiery
punch, the General's toast to the bridal pair, and the heavy-eyed
Colonel's bumper to their posterity! It was hardly drunk when a courier
brought word that the enemy were across Big Black, and the brigade
pressing north to meet them. Charlotte glided away to her room to be
"back in a moment"; into their saddles went the General, the Colonel,
the Major and the aide-de-camp, and thundered off across the bridge in
the woods; Charlotte came back in riding-habit, and here was my horse
with her saddle on him, and the Harpers and Mrs. Wall clasping and
kissing her; and now her foot was in Ferry's hand and up she sprang to
her seat, he vaulted to his, and away they galloped side by side, he for
the uttermost front of reconnoissance and assault, she for the slow but
successful uplifting of Sergeant Jim back to health and into his place
in the train of our hero and hers. In the little leather-curtained
wagon, with the old black man and his daughter, and all her mistress's
small belongings, and with my saddle and bridle, I followed on to the
house where lay the sergeant, and where my horse would be waiting to
bear me on to Ferry's scouts.
I saw the Harpers only twice again before the war was over. Nearly all
winter our soldiering was down in the Felicianas, but by February we
were once more at Big Black when Sherman with ten thousand of his
destroyers swarmed out of Vicksburg on his great raid to Meridian. Three
or four mounted brigades were all that we could gather, and when we had
fought our fiercest we had only fought the tide with a broom; it went
back when it was ready, a month later, leaving what a wake! The Harpers
set up a pretty home in Jackson, where both Harry and Gholson were
occasional visitors, on errands more or less real to department
headquarters in that State capital; yet Harry and CÚcile did not wed
until after the surrender. Gholson's passion far Charlotte really did
half destroy him, while it lasted; nevertheless, one day about a year
after her marriage, when I had the joy of visiting the Harpers, I saw
that Gholson's heart was healed of that wound and had opened in a new
place. That is why Estelle, with that danger-glow of emotion ever
impending on her beautiful cheek, never married. She was of that kind
whose love, once placed, can never remove itself, and she loved Gholson.
Both CÚcile and Camille had some gift to discern character, and some
notion of their own value, and therefore are less to be excused for not
choosing better husbands than they did; but Estelle could never see
beyond the outer label of man, woman or child, and Gholson's label was
his piety. She believed in it as implicitly, as consumingly, as he
believed in it himself; and when her whole kindred spoke as one and said
no, and she sent him away, _she_ knew she was a lifelong widow from that
hour. Gholson found a wife, a rich widow ten years his senior, and so
first of all, since we have reached the page for partings, good-bye
Gholson. "Whom the gods love die young"--you must be sixty years old
now, for they say you're still alive. And good-bye, old Dismukes; the
Colonel made a fortune after the war, as a penitentiary lessee, but they
say he has--how shall we phrase it?--gone to his reward? Let us
But what is this; are we calling the roll after we have broken ranks?
Our rocket has scaled the sky, poised, curved, burst, spread out all its
stars, and dropped its stick. All is done unless we desire to watch the
fading sparks slowly sink and melt into darkness. The General, the
Major, his brother, their sister, my mother, Quinn, Kendall, Sergeant
Jim, the Sessionses, the Walls--do not inquire too closely; some have
vanished already, and soon all will be gone; then--another rocket; it is
the only way, and why is it not a good one? Harry and CÚcile--yes, they
still shine, in "dear old New Orleans." Camille kept me on the
tenter-hooks while she "turned away her eyes" for years; but one evening
when we were reading an ancient book together out dropped those same old
sweet-pea blossoms; whereupon I took her hand and--I have it yet. There,
we have counted the last spark--stop, no! two lights beam out again;
Edgard and Charlotte, our neighbors and dearest friends through all our
life; they glow with nobility and loveliness yet, as they did in those
young days when his sword led our dying fortunes, and she, in her gypsy
wagon, followed them, binding the torn wound, and bathing the aching
bruise and fevered head. Oh, Ned Ferry, my long-loved partner, as dear a
leader still as ever you were in the days of bloody death, life's
choicest gifts be yours, and be hers whose sons and daughters are yours,
and the eldest and tallest of whom is the one you and she have
OTHER BOOKS BY MR. CABLE
There are few living American writers who can reproduce for us more
perfectly than MR. CABLE does, in his best moments, the speech, the
manners, the whole social atmosphere of a remote time and peculiar
people. A delicious flavor of humor permeates his stories.--_The New
"Under the title "_Strong Hearts_," MR. CABLE has grouped three stories
of varying length, which we think must stand as among the most charming
things he has written. Not even in "_Old Creole Days_," is there found
more delicate work, and yet underneath it there is felt the strong grasp
of the master. There is so much delicacy, such a fine touch that one is
wholly captivated by the handiwork until it is realized how much this is
part and parcel of this picture."--_Brooklyn Eagle_.
_A New Edition of Mr. Cable's Romances comprising the following 5 vols.,
printed on deckle-edge paper, gilt top and bound in sateen with full
gilt design. Each 12mo, $1.50. The set, 5 volumes, in a box, $7.50_.
JOHN MARCH SOUTHERNER
"The most careful and thorough going study of the reconstruction period
in the South which has yet been offered in the world of
"In many respects MR. CABLE'S finest work."--_Boston Advertiser_.
A STORY OF CREOLE LIFE
"Such a book goes far towards establishing an epoch in fiction, and it
places it beyond a doubt that we have in MR. CABLE a novelist of
positive originality, and of the very first quality."--_The
+The Grandissimes.+ with 12 full-page illustrations and 8 head and tail
pieces by Albert Herter, all reproduced in photogravure, and with an
original cover design by the same artist. 8vo, $6.00.
A Special limited Edition of 204 numbered copies printed on Japan paper,
OLD CREOLE DAYS
Cameo Edition with an etching by Percy Moran, $1.25
"These charming stories attract attention and commendation by their
quaint delicacy of style, their faithful delineation of Creole
character, and a marked originality."--_The New Orleans Picayune_.
+Old Creole Days.+ _With 8 full-page illustrations and 14 head and tail
pieces by Albert Herter, all reproduced in photogravure, and with an
original cover design by the same artist. 8vo, $6.00.
A Special Limited Edition of 204 numbered copies printed on Japan paper,
A PROSE PASTORAL OF ACADIAN LOUISIANA 12mo, $1.50
"A noble, tender, beautiful tale."--MRS. L. C. MOULTON in _Boston
"MR. CABLE has never produced anything so delightful and so artistic as
"Bonaventure." The charm of the pastoral life of these unlearned,
unsuspicious people in rude homes far away from the stir of modern life
is as novel as it is indescribable."--_North American Review_.
DR. SEVIER 12mo, $1.50
"The story contains a most attractive blending of vivid descriptions of
local scenery, with admirable delineations of personal character."--_The
STRANGE TRUE STORIES OF LOUISIANA
Illustrated. 12mo, $2.00
"What a field of romance, of color, of incident, of delicate feeling,
and unique social conditions these stories show!"--_Hartford Courant_.
"They are tales whose interest and variety seem inexhaustible.--MR.
CABLE has done lasting service to literature in giving us this
remarkable and delightful collection. In themselves they are memorably
16mo, 75 cents
"This is one of the gems of a collection of exquisite stories of the old
Creole days in Louisiana."--_Boston Advertiser_.
Ivory series edition, 16mo, 75c.
THE CREOLES OF LOUISIANA
ILLUSTRATED FROM DRAWINGS BY FENNEL
Square 12mo, $2.50
"As a history of the Louisiana Creoles, it occupies a field in which it
will not find a competitor. Mr. Cable has given us an exceedingly
attractive piece of work."--_The Nation_.
THE SILENT SOUTH
Together with the Freedman's Case in Equity and the Convict Lease
System. _Revised and Enlarged Edition_. With portrait.
"Whatever other literature on these themes may arise Mr. Cable's book
must be a permanent influence impossible for writers on either side to
THE NEGRO QUESTION
"Mr. Cable has the Puritan conscience, the agitator's courage, and the
Anglo-Saxon's fearless adhesion to what he deems right."--_The
THE CABLE STORY BOOK
Selections for School Reading. Edited by Mary E. Burt and Lucy L. Cable.
[_The Scribner Series of School Reading_]. Illustrated. 12mo, _net_ 60c.