Part 4 out of 6
"This is just where she _does_ belong!" contradicted Jamieson. "If
she has courage to stay here, I want her. I've got to have help.
She'll do her duty, and with one hand tied! Can't you do as much?
Haven't you any idea of duty in the world?"
"Duty!" Dunwody's lips met in a bitter smile.
"Listen here, Mr. Dunwody," began Josephine, "I've seen worse
wounds than that, seen weaker men survive worse than that. There's
a chance perhaps--why don't you take it like a man? I exact it of
you. I demand it! Your duty to me is unpaid. Come. We must
live, all of us, _till all our debts are paid_."
He made no answer at first save to look her straight in the face
for a moment. "Maybe there is such a thing as duty," said he.
"Maybe I do owe it--to you. I've--not yet--paid enough. Very
"Come," cried out Jamieson suddenly, "out you go on the table. Get
a hand under there, girl."
There was no word further spoken. Gently they aided the injured
man to his feet and helped him hobble through the hall and into the
great dining-room beyond, where stood the long table of polished
mahogany. Dunwody, swaying, leaned against it, while Jamieson
hurried to the window and threw up the curtains to admit as much as
possible of the light of late afternoon. Returning, he motioned
Dunwody to remove his coat, which he folded up for a pillow. The
remainder of his preparations necessarily were scant. Hot water,
clean instruments--that was almost all. An anaesthetic was of
course out of the question.
"Dunwody, we're going to hurt you a little," said Jamieson, at
last. "You've got to stand it, that's all. Lie down there on the
table and get ready."
He himself turned his back and was busy near by at a smaller table,
arranging his instruments. "What then represented surgical care
would to-day be called criminal carelessness. Next he went out to
the front door and called aloud for Eleazar.
"Come here, man," commanded Jamieson, after he had the old trapper
in the room. "Take hold of this good leg and hold it still.
Madam, I want you at the foot on the other side. You may get hold
of the edge of the table with your hands, Dunwody, and hold still,
if you can. I won't be very long."
Swiftly the doctor cut away the garments from the wounded limb,
which lay now exposed in all the horrors of its inflammation. . . .
The next instant there was a tense tightening of the muscles of the
man on the table. There was a sigh of deep, intaken breath,
followed, however, by no more than a faint moan as the knife went
at its work. . . .
"I'm not going to do it!" came back from under the surgeon's arm.
"There's half a chance--I'm going to try to save it! Hold on, old
man,--here's the thing to do--we're going to try--"
He went down now into the quivering tissues and laid bare the edge
of the broken bone, deep to the inner lines. Thus the front of the
shattered bone lay exposed. The doctor sighed, as he pushed at
this with a steady finger, his eyes frowning, absorbed. The bullet
wound in the anterior edge was not clean cut. Near it was a long,
heavy splinter of bone, the cause of the inflammation--something
not suspected in the hurried dressing of the wound in the half
darkness at the river edge. This bone end, but loosely attached,
was broken free, thrust down into the angry and irritated flesh.
For an instant Jamieson studied the injury. The silence of death
was in the room. The tense muscles of the patient might have been
those of a lifeless man. Only the horrid sound of the dripping
blood, falling from the table upon the carpet, broke the silence.
"I had a coon dog once," began Doctor Jamieson cheerfully--"I don't
know whether you remember him or not, Dunwody. Sort of a yellow
dog, with long ears and white eye. Just wait a minute." He
hastened over to the side of the table and bent again over his case
"There's been all kinds of coon dogs in these bottoms and hills, I
suppose, ever since white folks came here, but Dunwody, I'm telling
you the truth, that dog of mine--"
By this time he had fished out from his case a slender probe, which
he bent back and forth as he once more approached the table.
"There's wasn't anything he wouldn't run, from deer to catamount;
and, one day, when we were out back here in the hills--I don't know
but Eleazar here might remember something about that himself. . . .
_Hold on, now, old man_!"
The old doctor's forehead for the first time was beaded. He wanted
silver wire. He would have accepted catgut. He had neither. For
one moment, in agony himself, he looked about; then a look of joy
came to his face. An old fiddle was lying in the window. A
moment, and he had ripped off a string. In two strides he was back
at the dripping table, where lay one marble figure, stood a second
figure also of marble.
"We were just trailing along, not paying much attention to
anything, when all at once that _dog_. . ."
Doctor Jamieson's story of his famous coon dog was never entirely
completed. His voice droned away and ceased now, as he bent once
more over his work.
What he did, so far as he in his taciturn way ever would admit, was
in some way to poke the catgut violin string under the bone, with
the end of the probe, and so to pass a ligature around the broken
bone itself. After that, it was easier to fasten the splinter back
in place where it belonged.
Doctor Jamieson used all his violin string. Then he cleaned the
wound thoroughly, and with a frank brutality drenched it with
turpentine, as he would have done with a horse or a dog; for this
burning liquid was the only thing at hand to aid him. His own eyes
grew moist as he saw the twitching of the burned tissues under this
infliction, but his hand was none the less steady. The edge of the
great table was splintered where Dunwody's hands had grasped it.
The flesh on the inside of his fingers was broken loose under his
grip. Blood dripped also from his hands.
"I'm only a backwoods doctor, Dunwody," said Jamieson at length, as
he began rebandaging the limb. "I reckon there's a heap of good
surgeons up North that could make a finer job of this. God knows,
I wish they'd had it, and not me. But with what's at hand, I've
done the best I could. My experience is, it's pretty hard to kill
"Wait now until I get some splints--hold still, can't you! If we
have to cut your leg off after a while, I can do a better job than
this, maybe. But now we have all done the best we could. Young
lady, your arm again, if you please. God bless you!"
The face of Josephine St. Auban was wholly colorless as once more
she assisted the doctor with his patient. They got him upon his
own bed at last. To Dunwody's imagination, although he could never
settle it clearly in his mind, it seemed that a hand had pushed the
hair back from his brow; that some one perhaps had arranged a
pillow for him.
Jamieson left the room and dropped into a chair in the hall, his
face between his hands. "Sally," he whispered after a time,
"whisky--quick!" And when she got the decanter he drank half a
tumblerful without a gasp.
"Fiddle string in his leg!" he grinned to himself at last. "Maybe
it won't make him dance, but I'll bet a thousand dollars he'd never
have danced again without it!"
When at last Josephine found her own room she discovered her maid
Jeanne, waiting for her, fright still in her face.
"Madame!" exclaimed Jeanne, "it is terrible! What horrors there
are in this place. What has been done--is it true that Monsieur
has lost both his legs? But one, perhaps? For the man with one
leg, it is to be said that he is more docile, which is to be
desired. But both legs--"
"It is not true, Jeanne. There has been surgery, but perhaps Mr.
Dunwody will not even be a cripple. He may get well--it is still
"How then was it possible, Madame, for you to endure such sights?
But is it not true, how the _Bon Dieu_ punishes the wicked? For
myself, I was in terror--even though I was some distance away; and
although that young gentleman, Monsieur Hector, was so good as to
hold my hand."
Doctor Jamieson did not at once return to his other duties. He
knew that in this case care and skill would for a time continue in
demand. Little sleep was accorded him during his first night.
Ammonia--whisky--what he had, he used to keep his patient alive;
but morning came, and Dunwody still was living. Morphine now
seemed proper to the backwoods physician; after this had done its
work, so that his patient slept, he left the room and wandered
discontentedly about in the great house, too tired to wake, too
strained to sleep.
"Old--old--it's an old, tumble-down ruin, that's what it is," he
grumbled. "Everything in sixes and sevens--a man like that--and an
ending like this to it all."
He had called several times before he could get any attendance from
the shiftless blacks. These, quick to catch any slackening in the
reins of the governing power which controlled their lives, dropped
back into unreadiness and pretense more and more each hour.
"What it needs here is a woman," grumbled Jamieson to himself.
"All the time, for that matter. But this one's got to stay now, I
don't care who she is. There must be some one here to run things
for a month or two. Besides, she's got his life in her two hands,
some way. If she left now, might as well shoot him at once. Oh,
hell! when I die, I want to go to a womanless world. No I don't,
His decision he at last announced to Josephine herself when finally
the latter appeared to make inquiry regarding the sick master of
"My dear girl," said he, "I am a blunt man, not a very good doctor
maybe, and perhaps not much of a gentleman, I don't know--never
stopped to ask myself about it. But now, anyhow, I don't know how
you happened to be here, or who you are, or when you are going
away, and I'm not going to ask you about any of those things. What
I want to say is this: Mr. Dunwody is going to be a very sick man.
He hasn't got any sort of proper care here, there's no one to run
this place, and I can't stay here all the time myself. Even if I
did stay, all I could do would be to give him a dose of quinine or
calomel once in a while, and that isn't what he needs. He needs
some one to be around and watch after things--this whole place is
sick, as much as the owner of it. I reckon you've got to help me,
She looked at him, her large, dark eyes slightly contracting,
making neither protest nor assent. He drew a long breath of
"Of course you'll stay," he said; "it's the right thing to do, and
we both know it. You don't want to kill a man, no matter how much
he desires or deserves it. Doctors and women--they sometimes are
fatal, but they don't consciously mean to be, now do they? We
don't ask many questions out here in these hills, and I will never
bother you, I feel entirely free to ask you to remain at least for
a few days--or maybe weeks."
[Illustration: Doctors and women--they sometimes are fatal.]
Her eyes still were on his face. It was a face fit for trust.
"Very well," said she at length, quietly. "If you think it is
It was thus that Josephine St. Auban became the head of Tallwoods
household. Not that week did she leave, nor the next, nor the one
thereafter. The winter advanced, it was about to wane, and still
she remained. Slowly, the master advanced toward recovery.
Meantime, under charge of the mistress, the household machine fell
once more into proper ways. The servants learned obedience. The
plans for the work of the spring somehow went on much as formerly.
Everywhere there became manifest the presence of a quiet, strong,
restraining and self-restrained influence.
In time the doctor became lighter in his speech, less frequent in
his visits. "You're not going to lose that musical leg, Dunwody,"
said he. "Old Ma Nature beats all us surgeons. In time she'll
fill you in a nice new bone along there maybe, and if you're
careful you'll have two feet for quite a while yet to come. You've
ruined old Eleazar's fiddle, though, taking that E string! Did I
ever tell you all about that coon dog of mine I had, once?"
Dunwody at last reached the point of his recovery where he could
grin at these remarks; but if anything, he had grown more grim and
silent than before. Once in a while his eyes would linger on the
face of Josephine. Little speech of any kind passed between them.
There were no callers at Tallwoods, no news came, and apparently
none went out from that place. It might have been a fortress, an
island, a hospital, a prison, all in one.
At length Dunwody was able safely to leave his room and to take up
a resting place occasionally in the large library across the hall.
Here one day by accident she met him. He did not at first note her
coming, and she had opportunity now carefully to regard him, as he
stood moodily looking out over the lawn. Always a tall man, and
large, his figure had fined down in the confinement of the last few
weeks. It seemed to her that she saw the tinge of gray crawling a
little higher on his temples. His face was not yet thin, yet in
some way the lines of the mouth and jaw seemed stronger, more
deeply out. It was a face not sullen, yet absorbed, and above all
full, now, of a settled melancholy.
"Good morning," said he, smiling, as he saw her. "Come in. I want
to talk to you. But please don't resume our old argument about the
compromise, and about slavery and the rights of man. You've been
trying--all these weeks when I've been down and helpless and
couldn't either fight or run away--to make me be a Bentonite, or
worse, an abolitionist--trying, haven't you? to make me an
apostate, faithless to my state, my beliefs, my traditions--and I
suppose you'd be shrewd enough to add, faithless to my material
interests. Please don't, this morning. I don't want subjective
thought. I don't want algebra. I don't want history or law, or
medicine. I want--"
She stood near the window, at some distance removed from him, even
as she passed stopping to tidy Up a disarranged article on the
tables here or there. He smiled again at this. "Where is Sally?"
he asked. "And how about your maid?"
"Some one must do these things," she answered. "Your servants need
watching. Sally is never where I can find her. Jeanne I can
always find--but it is with her young man, Hector!"
He shook his head impatiently. "It all comes on you--work like
this. What could I have done without you? But yourself, how are
you coming on? That arm of yours has pained me--"
"It ceased to trouble me some time since. The doctor says, too,
that you'll be quite well, soon. That's fine."
He nodded. "It's wonderful, isn't it?" said he. "You did it.
Without you I'd be out there." He nodded toward the window, beyond
which the grass-grown stones of the little family graveyard might
be seen. "You're wonderful."
He wheeled painfully toward her presently, "Listen. We two are
alone here, in spite of ourselves. Face to face again, in spite of
all, and well enough, now, both of us, to go back to our firing
lines before long. We have come closer together than many men and
women get to be in a good many years; but we're enemies, and apart,
now. At least you have seen me pretty much as I am--a savage--not
much more. I've seen you for what you are--one woman out of
hundreds, of thousands. There isn't going to be any woman in my
life, after you.--Would you mind handing me that paper, please?"
He passed the document to her opened. "Here's what I meant to do
if I didn't come through. It wasn't much. But I am to pay; and if
I had died, that was all I could pay. That's my last will and
testament, my dear girl. I have left you all I have. It is a
legal will. There'll never be any codicil."
She looked at him straight. "It is not valid," she said. "Surely
you are not of sound mind!"
He looked about him at the room, for the first time in his memory
immaculately neat. From a distance there came the sound of a
contented servant's voice. An air of rest and peace seemed in some
way to be all about him. He sighed. "I never will be of sound
mind again, I fear.
"Make this paper valid!" he suddenly demanded. "Give me my sound
mind too. You've given me back my body sound."
Her lips parted in a smile sufficient to show the row of her white
and even teeth, "You are getting well. It is time for me to go.
As to this--" She handed him back the paper folded.
"You think it's only an attempt to heal the soreness of my
conscience, don't you?" he said after a time, shaking his head.
"It was; but it was more. Well, you can't put your image out of my
heart, anyhow. I've got that. So you're going to leave me now?
Soon? Let it be soon. I suppose it has to come."
"My own affairs require me. There is no possible tenure on which I
could stay here much longer. Not even Jeanne--"
"No," said he, at length, again in conviction, shaking his head.
"There isn't any way."
"You make it so hard," said she. "Why are you so stubborn?"
"Listen!" He turned, and again there came back to his face the old
fighting flush. "I faced the loss of a limb and said I couldn't
stand that and live. Now you are going to cut the heart out of me.
You ask me to live in spite of that. How can I? Were you ever
married, Madam?" This last suddenly.
"You may regard it as true," said she slowly, after long
hesitation. "Were you?"
"You may regard that also as true!" He set his jaw, and looked at
her straight. Their eyes met, steadily, seeking, searching. They
now again, opposed, stood on the firing lines as he had said.
"But you told me,--" she began.
"I told you nothing, if you will remember. I only said that, if
you could feel as I did, I'd let the heavens fold as a scroll
before I'd ask a word about your past. I'd begin all the world all
over again, right here. So far as I am concerned, I wouldn't even
care about the law. But you're not so lawless as I am. And
somehow, I've got to thinking--a little--of your side of things."
"The law does not prevent me from doing as I like," she replied.
It was agony that showed on his face at this.
"That demands as much from me, if I play fair with you," he said
slowly. "Suppose there was some sort of law that held me back?"
"I have not observed any vast restraint in you!"
"Not at first. Haven't you gained any better opinion?"
She was one of those able to meet a question with silence. He was
obliged to continue.
"Suppose I should tell you that, all the time I was talking to you
about what I felt, there was a wall, a great wall, for ever between
"In that case, I should regret God had made a man so forgetful of
honor. I should be glad Heaven had left me untouched by anything
such a man could say. Suppose that?--Why, suppose I had cared, and
that I had found after all that there was no hope? There comes in
conscience, Sir, there comes in honor."
"Then, in such case--"
"In such case any woman would hate a man. Stress may win some
women, but deceit never did."
"I have not deceived you."
"Do you wish to do so now?"
"No. It's just the contrary. Haven't I said you must go? But
since you must go, and since I must pay, I'm willing, if you wish,
to bare my life to the very bone, to the heart before you,
She pondered for a moment. "Of course, I knew there was something.
There, in that room--in that wardrobe--those were her garments--of
another--another woman. Who?"
"Wait, now. Go slow, because I'm suffering. Listen. I'll not
hear a word about your own life--I want no secret of you. I'm
content. But I'm willing now, I say, to tell you all about
that--about those things.
"I didn't do that at first, but how could I? There wasn't any
chance. Besides, when I saw you, the rest of the world, the rest
of my life, it was all, all wiped out of my mind, as though some
drug had done it. You came, you were so sweet, my lack was so
horrible, that I took you into my soul, a drug, a balm, an
influence, a wonderful thing.
"Oh, I'm awake now! But I reckon maybe that doesn't mean that I'm
getting out of my dream, but only into it, deeper yet. I was mad
for you then. I could feel the blood sting in my veins, for you.
Life is life after all, and we're made as we are. But later, now,
beside that, on top of that, something else--do you think it's--do
you suppose I'm capable of it, selfish as I am? Do you reckon it's
love, just big, worthy, _decent_ love, better than anything in the
world? Is that--do you reckon, dear girl, that that's why I'm able
now to say good-by? I loved you once so much I could not let you
go. Now I love so much I can not let you stay! I reckon this is
love. I'm not ashamed to tell it. I'm not afraid to justify it.
And I can't help it."
It was any sort of time, a moment, an hour, before there was spoken
speech between them after that. At last they both heard her voice.
"Now, you begin to pay. I am glad. I am glad."
"Then it is your revenge? Very well. You have it."
"No, no! You must not say that. Believe me, I want you to feel
how--how much I admire--no, wait,--how much I admire any man who
could show your courage. It's not revenge, it's not vanity--"
He waited, his soul in his eyes, hoping for more than this; but she
fell silent again.
"Then it is the end," he said.
He held up his fingers, scarred to the bone.
"That's where I bruised my hands when I clenched on the table,
yonder. You wouldn't think it, maybe, but I love pictures. I've
spent a lot of time looking for them and at them. I remember one
collection--many pictures of the martyrs, horrors in art,
nightmares. Here was a man disemboweled--they wound his very
bowels about a windlass, before his eyes, and at each turn--I could
see it written in the picture--they asked him, did he yield at
last, did he agree, did he consent. . . . Then they wound again.
Here another man was on an iron chair, flames under him. Now and
then they asked him. Should they put out the flames and hear him
say he had foresworn his cause? Again, there was a man whom they
had shot full of arrows, one by one, little by little, and they
asked him, now and then, if he foreswore his faith. . . . But I
knew he would not--I knew these had not. . . .
"That's the way it is," he said slowly. "That's what you're seeing
now. These scars on my fingers came cheap. I reckon they've got
to run deeper, clean down into my heart. Yet you're saying that
now I begin to pay. Yes. When I pay, I'm going to _pay_. And I'm
not going to take my martyrdom for immediate sake of any crown,
either. There is none for me. I reckon I sinned too far against
one of God's angels. I reckon it's maybe just lasting hell for me,
and not a martyrdom with an end to it some time. That's how _I've_
got to pay.
"Now, do you want me to tell you all the rest?"
She would not answer, and he resumed.
"Do you want me to tell what you've maybe heard, about this house?
Do you want me to tell whose garments those were that you saw? Do
you want my past? Do you want to see my bowels dragged out before
your eyes? Do you want to turn the wheel with your own hands? Do
you want me to pay, that way?"
She went to him swiftly, put a hand on his arm.
"No!" said she. "What I want you to believe is that it's _life_
makes us pay, that it's _God_ makes us pay.
"I want you to believe, too," she went on after a time, "that we
need neither of us be cheap. I'm not going to ask you one thing,
I'm not going to listen to one word. You must not speak. I must
go. It's just because I must go that I shall not allow you to
"Is my debt to you paid, then?" His voice trembled.
"So far as it runs to me, it is paid."
"Nothing but the debt of yourself to yourself. I'm going to look
back to a strange chapter in my life--a life which has had some
strange ones. I'm not going to be able to forget, of course, what
you've said to me. A woman loves to be loved. When I go, I go;
but I want to look back, now and then, and see you still paying,
and getting richer with each act of courage, when you pay, to
yourself, not me."
"Ah! fanatic. Ah! visionary. Ah! dreamer, dreamer. And you!"
"That is the rest of the debt. Let the wheel turn if need be.
Each of us has suffering. Mine own is for the faith, for the
"For what faith? What cause do you mean?"
"The cause of the world," she answered vaguely. "The cause of
humanity. Oh, the world's so big, and we're so very little. Life
runs away so fast. So many suffer, in the world, so many want! Is
it right for us, more fortunate, to take all, to eat in greed, to
sleep in sloth, to be free from care, when there are thousands, all
over the world, needing food, aid, sympathy, opportunity, the
chance to grow?
"Why," she went on, "I put out little plants, and I love them,
always, because they're going to grow, they're going to live. I
love it--that thought of life, of growth. Well, can I make you
understand, that was what I felt over yonder, in that revolution,
in mid-Europe. I felt it was just like seeing little plants set
out, to grow. Those poor people! Those poor people! They're
coming over here, to grow, here in America, in this great country
out here, in this West. They'll grow, like plants extending, like
grass multiplying, going out, edging westward, all the time. Ah,
thousands of them, millions yet to come, plants, little human
plants, with the right to live born with them. I don't so much
mind about their creed. I don't so much mind about race--their
color, even. But to see them grow--why, I suppose God up in His
Heaven looks down and smiles when He sees that. And we--we who are
here for a little time--we who sometimes are given minds and means
to fall in tune with God's smile--why, when we grow little and
selfish, instead of getting in tune with the wish of God--why, we
fail. Then, indeed, we do not pay--we repudiate our debt to
"You are shaming me," he said slowly. "But I see why they put you
out of Washington."
"But they can not put God out of Heaven! They can not turn back
the stars! They can not stop the rush of those westbound feet, the
spread of the millions, millions of blades of grass edging out, on.
That is what will make you see this 'higher law,' some time. That
is big politics, higher than what you call your traditions. That
will shame little men. Many traditions are only egotism and
selfishness. There is a compromise which will be final--not one
done in a mutual cowardice. It's one done in a mutual largeness
"Oh,"--she beat her hands together, as was sometimes her
way--"America, this great West, this splendid country where the
feet are hurrying on so fast, fast--and the steam now carries men
faster, faster, so that it may be done--it may be done--without
delay--why, all this America must one day give over war and
selfishness--just as we two have tried to give over war and
selfishness, right here, right now. Do you suppose this world was
made just to hold selfishness and unhappiness? Do you think
that's all there ever was to the plan of life? Ah, no! There's
something in living beyond eating and drinking and sleeping and
begetting. Faith--a great faith in something, some plan ahead,
some _purpose_ under you--ah, _that's_ living!"
"But they banished you for that?"
"Yes, that's why they put me out of Washington, I suppose. I've
been twice banished. That is why I came here to this country.
Maybe, Sir, that is why I came to you, here! Who shall say as to
these things? If only I could feel your faith, your beliefs to be
the same as mine, I'd go away happy, for then I'd know it had been
a plan, somehow, somewhere--for us, maybe."
His throat worked strongly. There was some struggle in the man.
At last he spoke, and quietly. "I see what separates us now. It
is the wall of our convictions. You are specifically an
abolitionist, just as you are in general a revolutionist. I'm on
the other side. That's between us, then? An abstraction!"
"I don't think so. There are _three_ walls between us. The first
you put up when you first met me. The second is what you call your
traditions, your belief in wasting human life. The third--it's
this thing of which you must not speak. Why should I ponder as to
that last wall, when two others, insurmountable, lie between?"
"Then let us be concrete if you like. Take the case of the girl
Lily. She was the actual cause of your getting hurt, of many men
being killed. Why?"
"Because she was a runaway slave. The law has to be enforced,
property must be protected, even if it costs life sometimes.
There'd be no government otherwise. We men have to take our
chances in a time like that. The duty is plain."
"How utterly you fail of the truth! That's not why there was blood
spilled over her. Do you know who she is?"
"No," he said.
"She is the daughter of your _friend_, Judge Clayton, of the bench
of justice in your commonwealth. _That_ is why she wants to run
away! Her father does not know he is her father. God has His own
way of righting such things."
"There are things we must not talk about in this slavery question.
Stop! I did not, of course, know this. And Clayton did not know!"
"There are things which ought not to be; but if you vote for
oppression, if you vote yonder in your legislature for the
protection of this institution, if you must some day vote yonder in
Congress for its extension, for the right to carry it into other
lands--the same lands where now the feet of freedom-seekers are
hurrying from all over the world, so strangely, so wonderfully--then
you vote for a compromise that God never intended to go through or
to endure. Is that your vote? Come now, I will tell you something."
"You are telling me much."
"I will tell you--that night, when Carlisle would have killed you
in your room there, when I afterward put you all on parole--"
"I saved you then; and sent them away. Do you know why?"
"I suppose it was horror of more blood."
"I don't think so. I believe it was just for this--for this very
talk I'm having now with you. I saved you then so that some day I
might demand you as hostage.
"I want you to vote with me," she continued, "for the 'higher law.'
I want you to vote with the west-bound wheels, with God's blades of
"God! woman! You have gift of tongues! Now listen to me. Which
shall we train with, among your northern men, John Quincy Adams or
William Lloyd Garrison, with that sane man or the hysterical one?
Is Mr. Beecher a bigger man than Mr. Jefferson was?"
"I know you're honest," she said, frowning, "but let us try to see.
There's Mr. Birney, of Alabama, a Southerner who has gone over,
through all, to the abolitionists as you call them. And would you
call Mr. Clay a fool? Or Mr. Benton, here in your own state, who--"
"Oh, don't mention Benton to me here! He's anathema in this state."
"Yet you might well study Mr. Benton's views. He sees the case of
Lily first, the case of the Constitution afterward. Ah, why can't
_you_? Why, Sir, if I could only get you to think as he does--a
man with your power and influence and faculty for leadership--I'd
call this winter well spent--better spent than if I'd been left in
"Suppose I wanted to change my beliefs, how would I go about it?"
He frowned in his intent effort to follow her, even in her
enthusiasm. "Once I asked a preacher how I could find religion,
and he told me by coming to the Saviour. I told him that was
begging the question, and asked him how I could find the Saviour.
All he could say was to answer once more, 'Come to the Saviour!'
That's reasoning in a circle. Now, if a man hasn't _got_ faith,
how's he going to get it--by what process can he reach out into the
dark and find it? What's the use of his saying he has found faith
when he knows he hasn't? There's a resemblance between clean
religion and honest politics. The abolitionists have never given
us Southerners any answer to this."
"No," said she. "I can not give you any answer. For myself, I
have found that faith."
"You would endure much for your convictions?" he demanded suddenly.
"Very much, Sir."
"Perhaps I have done so."
"Would you suffer more? You undertake the conversion of a sinner
The flame of his eye caught hers in spite of herself. A little
flush came into her cheek.
"Tell me," he demanded imperiously, "on what terms?"
"You do not play the game. You would ask me to preach to you--but
you would come to see the revival, not to listen to grace. It
isn't playing the game."
"But you're seeking converts?"
"I would despise no man in the world so much as a hypocrite, a
turn-coat! You can't purchase faith in the market place, not any
"Any more than you can purchase love? But I've been wanting not
the sermon, but the preacher. You! You! Yes, it is the truth. I
want nothing else in the world so much as you."
"I'd never care for a man who would admit that."
"There never was a woman in the world loved a man who did not."
"Oh, always I try to analyze these things," she went on
desperately, facing him, her eyes somber, her face aglow, her
attitude tense. "I try to look in my mirror and I demand of what I
see there. 'What are you?" I say. 'What is this that I see?'
Why, I can see that a woman might love her own beauty for itself.
Yes, I love my beauty. But I don't see how a woman could care for
a man who only cared for that,--what she saw in her mirror, don't
"Any price, for just that!" he said grimly.
"No, no! You would not. Don't say that! I so much want you to be
bigger than that."
"The woman you see in your mirror would be cheap at any cost."
"But a man even like yourself. Sir, would be very cheap, if his
price was such as you say. No turncoat could win me--I'd love him
more on his own side yonder threefold wall, _with_ his convictions,
than on my side without them. I couldn't be bought cheap as that,
nor by a cheap man. I'd never love a man who held himself cheap.
"But then," she added, casting back at him one of his own earlier
speeches, "if you only thought as I did, what could not we two do
together--for the cause of those human blades of grass--so soon cut
down? Ah, life is so little, so short!"
"No! No! Stop!" he cried out. "Ah, now is the torture--now you
turn the wheel. I can not recant! I can not give up my
convictions, or my love, either one; and yet--I'm not sure I'm
going to have left either one. It's hell, that's what's left for
me. But listen! What for those that grow as flowers, tall,
beautiful, there among the grass that is cut down--should they
perish from the earth? For what were such as they made, tall and
beautiful?--poppies, mystic, drug-like, delirium producing? Is
that it--is that your purpose in life, then, after all? You--what
you see in your mirror there--is it the purpose of _that_ being--so
beautiful, so beautiful--to waste itself, all through life, over
some vague and abstract thing out of which no good can come? Is
that all? My God! Much as I love you, I'd rather see you marry
some other man than think of you never married at all. God never
meant a flower such as you to wither, to die, to be _wasted_. Why,
look at you! Look . . . at . . . you! And you say you are to be
wasted! God never meant it so, you beauty, you wonderful woman!"
Even as she was about to speak, drawn by the passion of him, the
agony of his cry, there came to the ears of both an arresting
sound--one which it seemed to Josephine was not wholly strange to
her ears. It was like the cry of a babe, a child's wail, difficult
to locate, indefinite in distance.
"What was it?" she whispered. "Did you hear?"
He made no answer, except to walk to her straight and take her by
the arms, looking sadly, mournfully into her face.
"Ah, my God! My God! Have I not heard? What else have I heard,
these years? And you're big enough not to ask--
"It can't endure this way," said he, after a time at last. "You
must go. Once in a while I forget. It's got to be good-by between
you and me. We'll set to-morrow morning as the time for you to go.
"As I have a witness," he said at last, "I've paid. Good-by!"
He crushed her to him once, as though she were no more than a
flower, as though he would take the heart of her fragrance. Then,
even as she felt the heave of his great body, panting at the touch
of her, mad at the scent of her hair, he put her back from him with
a sob, a groan. As when the knife had begun its work, his scarred
fingers caught her white arms. He bent over, afraid to look into
her eyes, afraid to ask if her throat panted too, afraid to risk
the red curve of her lips, so close now to his, so sure to ruin
him. He bent and kissed her hands, his lips hot on them; and so
left her trembling.
[Illustration: He bent and kissed her hands.]
THE WAY OF A MAID
It is the blessing of the humble that they have simplicity of
mental processes. Not that Hector himself perhaps would thus have
described himself. The curve of the black crow's wing on his
somewhat retreating forehead, the tilt of his little hat, the swing
of his body above the hips as he walked, all bespoke Hector's
opinion of himself to be a good one. Valiant among men,
irresistible among the women of St. Genevieve, he was not the one
to mitigate his confidence in himself now that he found himself
free from competition and in the presence of a fair one whom in
sudden resolve he established in his affections as quite without
compare. In short, Hector had not tarried a second week at
Tallwoods before offering his hand and his cooper shop to Jeanne.
To the eyes of Jeanne herself, confined as they had been to the
offerings of a somewhat hopeless class of serving persons here or
there, this swaggering young man, with his broad shoulders, his
bulky body, his air of bravado, his easy speech, his ready arm,
offered a personality with which she was not too familiar, and
which did not lack its appeal. With Gallic caution she made
delicate inquiry of Hector's father as to the yearly returns and
probable future of the cooperage business at St. Genevieve, as to
the desirability of the surrounding country upon which the
cooperage business must base its own fortunes. All these matters
met her approval. Wherefore, the air of Jeanne became tinged with
a certain lofty condescension. In her own heart she trembled now,
not so much as to her own wisdom or her own future, but as to the
meeting which must be had between herself and her mistress.
This meeting at last did take place, not by the original motion of
Jeanne herself. The eye of her mistress had not been wholly blind
all these days.
"Jeanne," she demanded one day, "why are you away so much when I
desire you? I have often seen you and that young man yonder in
very close conversation. Since I stand with you as your guardian
and protector, I feel it my duty to inquire, although it is not in
the least my pleasure. You must have a care."
"Madame," expostulated Jeanne, "it is nothing, I assure you. _Rien
du tout--jamais de la vie_, Madame."
"Perhaps, but it is of such nothings that troubles sometimes come.
Tell, me, what has this young man said to you?"
"Tell me. It is quite my right to demand it."
"But he has said many things, Madame."
"As, for instance, that you please him, that you are beautiful,
that you have a voice and hand, a turn of the arm--that you have
the manner Parisienne--Jeanne, is it not so?"
"But, yes, Madame, and indeed more. I find that young man of
excellent judgment, of most discriminating taste."
"And also of sufficient boldness to express the same to you, is it
not so, Jeanne?"
"Madame, the strong are brave. I do not deny. Also he is of an
excellent cooperage business in St. Genevieve yonder. Moreover, I
find the produce of the grape in this country to increase yearly,
so that the business seems to be of a certain future, Madame. His
community is well founded, the oldest in this portion of the
valley. He is young, he has no entanglements--at least, so far as
I discover. He has an excellent home with his old mother. Ah,
well! Madame, one might do worse."
"So, then, a cooperage business so promising as that, Jeanne, seems
more desirable than my own poor employment? You have no regard for
your duty to one who has cared for you, I suppose? You desert me
precisely at the time my own affairs require my presence in
"But, Madame, why Washington? Is that our home? What actual home
has madame on the face of the earth? Ah, Heaven!--were only it
possible that this man were to be considered. This place so large,
so beautiful, so in need of a mistress to control it. Madame says
she was carried away against her will. _Mon Dieu_! All my life
have I dreamed--have I hoped--that some time a man should steal me,
to carry me away to some place such as this! And to make love of
such a warmness! Ah, _Mon Dieu_!
"Behold, Madame," she went on, "France itself is not more beautiful
than this country. There is richness here, large lands. That
young man Hector, he says that none in the country is so rich as
Mr. Dunwodee--he does not know how rich he is himself. And such
"Jeanne, I forbid you to continue!" The eyes of her mistress had a
"I obey, Madame, I am silent. But listen! I have followed the
fortunes of madame quite across the sea. As madame knows, I do not
lack intelligence. I have read--many romances, my heart not
lacking interest. Always I have read, I have dreamed, of some man
who should carry me away, who should oblige me--Ah, Madame! what
girl has not in her soul some hero? Almost I was about to say it
was the sight, the words, of the boldness, the audacity of this
assassin, this brute, who has brought us here by force--the words
of his love so passionate to madame, which stirred in my own heart
the passion! That I might be stolen! It was the dream of my
youth! And now comes this Hector, far more bold and determined
than this Mr. Dunwodee. That assassin, that brute _began_, but
hesitated. Ah, Hector has not hesitated! Seeing that he would in
any case possess myself, would carry me away, I yielded, but with
honor and grace, Madame. As between Monsieur Dunwodee and
Hector--_il y a une difference_, Madame!"
"_Je crois qu' oui_, Jeanne--_Je le crois_! But it comes to the
same thing, eh? You forsake me?"
"Madame, I confess sometimes in my heart there comes a desire for a
home, for a place where one may abide, where one may cease to
Josephine sat silent for a moment. In what direction might she
herself now turn for even the humblest friendship? And where was
any home now for her? The recreant maid saw something of this upon
"Madame," she exclaimed, falling upon her knees in consternation.
"To think I would desert you! In my heart resides nothing but
loyalty for you. How could you doubt?"
But Josephine was wise in her own way. That night Jeanne kissed
her hand dutifully, yet the very next morning she had changed her
mind. With sobs, tears, she admitted that she had decided to leave
service, no longer to be Jeanne, but Madame Hector Fournier. Thus,
at the very time when she most would have needed aid and
attendance, Josephine saw herself about to be left alone.
"But, Madame," said Jeanne, still tearful, returning after brief
absence from the room, "although I leave now for St. Genevieve to
stand before the priest, I shall not see madame left without
attendance. See, I have asked of this Lily person,--_la voici_,
Madame--if she could take service with madame. Madame plans soon
to return to the East. Perhaps this Lily, then--"
"Ma'am, I want to work for you!" broke out Lily suddenly,
stretching out her hands. "I don't want to go back home. I want
to go with you. I cain't go back home--I'd only run away--again.
They'd have to kill me."
Some swift arithmetic was passing through Josephine's mind at the
time. Here, then, was concrete opportunity to set in practice some
of her theories.
"Lily, would you like to come with me as my maid?" she demanded.
"Could you learn, do you think, in case I should need you?"
"Of co'se I could learn, Ma'am. I'd do my very best."
It was thus that it was agreed, with small preliminary, that on the
next morning Tallwoods should lose three of its late tenants.
Josephine ventured to inquire of Dunwody regarding Lily. "Take her
if you like," said he bruskly. "I will arrange the papers for it
with Clayton himself. There will be no expense to you. If he
wants to sell the girl I'll pay him. No, not a cent from you. Go
on, Lily, if you want to. This time you'll get shut of us, I
reckon, and we'll get shut of you. I hope you'll never come back,
this time. You've made trouble enough already."
Thus, then, on the day of departure, Josephine St. Auban found
herself standing before her mirror. It was not an unlovely image
which she saw there. In some woman's fashion, assisted by Jeanne's
last tearful services and the clumsy art of Lily, she had managed a
garbing different from that of her first arrival at this place.
The lines of her excellent figure now were wholly shown in this
costume of golden brown which she had reserved to the last. Her
hair was even glossier than when she first came here to Tallwoods,
her cheek of better color. She was almost disconcerted that the
trials of the winter had wrought no greater ravages; but after all,
a smile was not absent from her lips. Not abolitionist here in the
mirror, but a beautiful young woman. Certainly, whichever or
whoever she was, she made a picture fit wholly to fill the eyes of
the master of Tallwoods when he came to tell her the coach was
ready for the journey to St. Genevieve. But he made no comment,
"See," she said, almost gaily, "I can put on both my gloves." She
held out to him her hands.
"They are very small," he replied studiously. He was calm now.
She saw he had himself well in hand. His face was pale and grave.
"Well," said she finally, as the great coach drove around to the
door, "I suppose I am to say good-by."
"I'll just walk with you down the road," he answered. "We walked
up it, once, together."
They followed on, after the coach had passed down the driveway,
Dunwody now moody and silent, his head dropped, his hands behind
him, until the carriage pulled up and waited at the end of the
shut-in at the lower end of the valley. Josephine herself remained
silent as well, but as the turn of the road approached which would
cut off the view of Tallwoods, she turned impulsively and waved a
hand in farewell at the great mansion house which lay back, silent
and strong, among the hills.
[Illustration: She waved a hand in farewell.]
He caught the gesture and looked at her quickly. "That's nice of
you," said he, "mighty nice."
In some new sort of half-abashment she found no immediate reply.
He left her then, and walked steadily back up the driveway, saying
nothing in farewell, and not once looking back. For a time she
followed him with her gaze, a strange sinking at her heart of which
she was ashamed, which gave her alike surprise and sudden fear.
It was a much abashed and still tearful though not a repentant
Jeanne who embraced her mistress, after the simple little wedding
of Jeanne and Hector, when they had repaired to the wedding feast
at the _maison_ Fournier.
"But come, Madame," said Jeanne. "Behold my new home. Is it not
delightful? This is the mother of Hector, Madame, and this--ah,
this is the home of Hector and myself. To-night also it is yours.
I am rejoiced. Madame," she added, in an aside, while Lily, stupid
and awkward, was for the time out of the way, "I can not bear to
think of your going away with but that impossible niggaire there to
care for you. Almost--were it not for Hector and for this
home--could you take Hector also--I should forget all and go with
you even yet. To-morrow I shall go with you to the boat."
But alas! in the morning Jeanne had again forgotten.
When at last the busy little steamer swung inshore, presently to
churn her way out again into the current, Josephine went aboard
with only the colored girl for her company. Her heart sank
strangely, and she felt more lonely than ever in her life before.
She leaned against the rail for a time, looking at the banks slip
back across the turbid stream. The truth was coming into her heart
that it was not with exultation she now was turning back to the
East to take up her life again. Something was different now--was
it the loss of Jeanne? Again surprise, terror, shame, withal
Meantime, the storm dreaded as so immediate by the administration
at Washington--the organization of a new political party, born of
the unrest over the slavery question--had spent its force, and,
temporarily, long since had muttered away in the distance, leaving
scarce a trace behind it on the political sky. Austria, England,
the Old World creeds of monarchies arrayed against popular
governments, had their way at our capital, where the birth of an
actual democracy impended. Active leadership by revolutionists
trained in Europe was suppressed, removed; as in one instance we
have seen. One abolitionist mass-meeting followed another in those
days, but the results of all were much the same. Protests and
declamation abounded, plan and leadership lacked. The strained
compromise held. Neither war nor a new party came as yet, disunion
was not yet openly attempted. Moreover, there was a deliberate
intent upon an era of good feeling. Whig and Democrat alike forced
themselves to settle down into the belief that peace had come. If
men were slaves, why, let them be slaves. At that time the
national reflex was less sensitive than it later became with
increased telegraphic and news facilities. Washington was not
always promptly and exactly advised of the political situation in
this or that more remote portion of the country. This very fact,
however, meant a greater stability in the political equilibrium.
Upon the western borders the feeling of unrest now became most
marked; and, more swiftly than was generally recognized, important
matters there were going forward; but even in that direction,
declared the prophets of peace, all now was more calm than it had
been for years.
Six years before this time Mr. Wilkins, secretary of war, had
proposed to organize Nebraska Territory and to extend thither the
army posts; and in that same year Stephen A. Douglas, then of the
House, had introduced a bill for the organization of Nebraska; but
neither effort had had result. Two years later, Douglas, then in
the Senate, once more sought to test the Squatter Sovereignty idea
regarding the new western lands, but once more a cold silence met
his attempts. Six months after that time the same bill, with the
intent of attaching Nebraska to the state of Arkansas, was killed
by Congress, because held to be dangerous. A third bill by
Douglas, later in the same year, was also recommitted. The
"Territory of the Platte" was the next attempt to be dropped. All
these crude attempts were merged in the great Compromise of 1850.
The might of party was brought to bear upon all questions of
principle, and the country was commanded to be calm; indeed for a
time was calm. It was the time of manacled hands and of manacled
minds. Our government was not a real democracy. The great West
had not yet raised its voice, augmented by new millions of voices
pealing the paean of liberty and opportunity for man.
In this era of arrested activities, the energies of a restless
people turned otherwhere for interest. To relieve the monotony of
political stagnation, popular attention was now turned toward the
affairs of Hungary. We could not solve our own problems, but we
were as ready to solve those of Europe as Europe was to offer us
aid in ours. Therefore, instant interest attached to the news that
a Hungarian committee of inquiry had landed upon our shores, with
the purpose of investigating a possible invitation from our
republic to the Hungarian patriot, Kossuth, then in exile in Turkey.
The leader of this mission was General Zewlinski, an officer of the
patriot army of Hungary, who brought with him a suite of some dozen
persons. These, late in the winter of 1850-51, arrived at
Washington and found quarters of somewhat magnificent sort in one
of the more prominent hotels of the national capital. At once
political and journalistic Washington was on the _qui vive_. The
Hungarians became the object of a solicitude, not to say a
curiosity, which must at times have tried their souls.
The first formal action of the Hungarian committee took the shape
of a return reception, to be held in the hotel parlors. The
invitations, liberal as they were, were sought for quite in excess
of the supply, and long before the doors were open, it was quite
assured that the affair would be a crush. The administration, for
which Mr. Webster, our secretary of state, had not hesitated to
write in most determined fashion to the attache Hulsemann regarding
the presumptuous Austrian demands upon our government, none the less
was much in a funk regarding "European obligations." Not wishing to
offend the popular fancy, and not daring to take decisive stand, the
usual compromise was made. Although no member of the administration
was sent officially to recognize these unofficial ambassadors, a
long suffering officer of the navy, with his wife and one or two
other ladies, were despatched quasi-officially to lend color to the
Such splendor as could be arranged had been provided for the
setting of this event. A Hungarian orchestra, brought with these
commissioners, discoursed its peculiar music beyond a screen of
palms and flowers. One of the great parlors had been prepared for
those of the young who could not resist the temptation to dance.
At the head of the little line of these visitors, now themselves in
effect hosts, stood the old Hungarian general, Zewlinski, an
officer over six feet in height, with white hair and wide white
mustaches, a distinguished figure in the brilliant Hungarian
uniform. Those of his staff near by added additional vividness to
the picture. The ladies of the party, half of whom spoke English,
were costumed quite in keeping, and endeavored by the graciousness
of their manner to add to the good impression already formed by
their more brilliant companions. Here and there the more sober
uniform of an American army or navy officer might have been seen,
brought thither on demand of his lady. The ladies themselves were
out in force, and in their most brilliant array. The doors had not
been opened for a half hour before all prophecies were more than
fulfilled. The rooms were packed with a struggling mass of
humanity, all eager to grasp the hand of the representative of
Hungary and of the members of his company. Patriotism, liberty,
brotherly love were in the speech of all. Never has our country
been more full of zeal for liberty than then, never more
inconsistent, never more swiftly forgetful.
In these circumstances, the somewhat bewildered commissioners did
what they could graciously to discover to all their friendly
feeling toward this country. For more than an hour they stood in
line, bowing, smiling, accepting hands, offering greetings, a
little wondering perhaps, yet none the less well assured of the
attitude of this people toward their own country, and hoping there
might later be substantial financial proof of its sincerity.
It was at about this time that there entered at the door near the
head of the receiving line a young woman, for the time apparently
quite unattended. She was brilliantly robed, with jewels flashing
at neck and wrists, clad like a queen and looking one. Of good
height and splendid carriage, her dark hair and singularly striking
features might at first have caused the belief that she was one of
this party of foreigners, toward whom she now advanced. A second
glance would have shown her beauty to be of that universal
world-quality which makes its owner difficult to classify, although
assured of approval in any quarter of the world.
[Illustration: Clad like a queen and looking one.]
That this lady was acquainted with social pageants might have been
in the first instant quite evidenced by her comportment here. Many
eyes turned toward her as she approached the head of the line. She
was unconscious of all, lazily, half-insolently observant, yet
wholly unconcerned. Some observers choked back a sudden
exclamation. A hush fell in the great room, then followed a low
buzzing of curious or interested, wise or ignorant human bees.
There were many in Washington social circles who knew by sight or
by reputation Josephine, Countess St. Auban, no longer than six
months ago pronounced by one journal of the capital to be the most
beautiful and the most dangerous woman in Washington. Yet even the
most hostile of these suddenly suspended judgment as they saw her
advance met now by that of the old Hungarian general himself. With
the enthusiasm of a boy he fell upon her, both his hands extended.
"Countess--my dear child--at last you are here!" he exclaimed.
Taking her by the hand he led her back to the line of his official
company, volleying rapid exclamations in his native tongue. Eager
groups fell into line near at hand, seeking to know what was toward.
"You left us!" at length exclaimed the old general, politely
speaking in his best English, since these others were thus bound to
hear. "Where you had gone we did not know. It was as though the
heavens had opened. See then, Sir,"--he addressed the naval
officer who stood near at hand--"the Countess St. Auban was one of
the most important members of our little company--she was to come
in advance of us, who also are in advance of a greater number. For
a time we heard from her, then all was silent! She had
disappeared!--But now, at last, my dear Countess, you are here! We
shall succeed, it is certain; henceforth you will be of our party.
Is it not true?"
Political, social and journalistic Washington then and there begged
a sudden though silent pardon of the Countess St. Auban. A few
journalists left the room quickly. An attache of the Austrian
legation also hurriedly took his leave.
"But where have you been, my dear?" again demanded General
Zewlinski, his hand again affectionately grasping that of Josephine
St. Auban. "We have so missed you."
"I have been visiting some of the more remote parts of this
country," replied she in even tones.
"So, then, you have not forgotten our mission from Hungary! Well,
now we shall surely have the invitation for our Kossuth to come?
Is it not true?"
"Assuredly, my dear General. You will find this country eager to
meet him. But alas! I fear that Kossuth himself will find problems
also in this country."
"Our own problem--our cause, dear Countess?"
"Pardon, General, really it is also the cause of this country. We
think that in Hungary democracy is in peril. It is not less so
"But, my dear child, you would not cast doubt upon our plans,--you
have not become lukewarm to our cause so soon, my dear?"
"No, no, General. But Europe does not understand America. America
does not understand herself. I ask only that the great men of that
country shall see the great problems of this. There we could win
freedom by sword and gun. Here also that must yet be done. The
time for such means has not yet arrived. Yet here also evil cries
aloud. Soon war must come, here also--bloody war. We ask funds
for Hungary. America soon will need funds for herself."
"Ah, you mean this problem of the North and South--of slavery."
The face of the old general became grave. "I have talked with
many," said he. "It seems incapable of solution. But have not
your brilliant faculties, my dear Countess, suggested any solution?
We learned to value your counsel over yonder."
"What could a mere woman do in a matter vast as this? My General,
not all the wisdom of this country has suggested a remedy. I am
but a woman and not wise. He who attempts to solve this slavery
question must do what no statesman in all history has been able to
do, what human wisdom here has failed to do for fifty years or
more. America has spent thirty years of statesmanship on this one
question, and is just where it started. This country, as Thomas
Jefferson said so long ago, still has the wolf by the ear, but has
not killed it and dare not let it go. Out there--where I have
been--in the West--there the new battle must be fought. Now, my
General, what difference, whether America shall help Europe. or
Europe shall help America? The battle for democracy must be
fought, in this generation, perhaps again in the next. What would
be the result of that war, if either section won to the destruction
of this Union? Ah! _there_, my General, is the danger to Hungary,
the danger to Europe, to the cause of freedom and humanity. As I
said, Kossuth will find things here to engage his best attention."
"I know your generosity," said Zewlinski, swiftly leading her apart
and gazing her straight in the face as he spoke, in low tones none
else might hear. "I know how you got your estates yonder--how wide
handed you have been with your revenues. I know your strange,
unhappy life, my dear. But have a care. Do not make that life
more unhappy. Do not let your penitence, your devotion, your
self-abnegation, carry you too far. Listen; times are very
troublous abroad. The nations are banding against us--even France.
He who gives may take. Let me tell you, be careful. Do not
involve yourself. Do not jeopardize the good will of Louis
Napoleon. Do not let your warm heart endanger your own good
She laughed almost gaily. "You suggest an idea, my General!" she
said. "I still am rich. Since I advocate a measure, why should I
not enforce it to the best of my ability? Let Louis Napoleon do as
he likes with the widow of a man he murdered! Bring over our
friend Louis Kossuth, General, as soon as you like! Meantime, I
shall be busy here, seeking to set on foot certain little plans of
"My child, you will be lost! Forget these matters. Come back with
us to our own country. You are young, you are beautiful. You are
a woman. As a patriot we love you, but you are a woman, and we
would not rob you of your life. You are young. You did not love
old St. Auban, who took you from your American mother. You did not
love him--but you will love some other--some young, strong man.
Many have sought your hand, my dear."
"You call me a lost child, General? Ah, you remember the term! At
many battles there is what is known as the forlorn hope--those whom
the French call _Les enfants perdus_--The Lost Children. Perhaps
they perish. But at the next battle, at the crucial time, they
rise again from the dead. Always there is the band of the Lost
Children, ready to do what must be done. And always, at the last
moment, are battles won by those who remain devoted, whatever be
Zewlinski nodded his gray head gravely. "It was thus my own sons
died in battle," said he. "It was as I would have had it. But
you--you are a woman! These things are not for you."
"See," she interrupted, gently tapping his arm with her fan. "We
must not be too much apart. Let us return."
As they turned back toward the head of the line, Josephine gave a
half-exclamation. Two figures were approaching, each of which
seemed to her familiar. An instant later she had recognized the
young northern officer, Carlisle, whom she had met under such
singular conditions. With him stalked the tall young German,
Kammerer. Their eyes lighted suddenly, as they fell upon her, and
both advanced eagerly. There was new dignity in her carriage now,
but she greeted them warmly.
[Illustration: Two figures were approaching.]
"When we may, I shall hope to compare notes with you," she smiled.
"You are still on parole to me."
"But you, Madam--you seem differently situated here. I am very
glad to find it so." Carlisle was eager, flushed, frankly admiring.
"Yes, I scarce know which side the sea I belong. You know, I am
half American, though my people lived abroad, in diplomatic work.
By President Taylor I was chosen as one of the members of the
Hungarian commission sent over by America to look into the cause of
Hungary. In return, last year I had the honor of being asked to
come to this country as one of the commission despatched to America
in the interest of Hungary. I came over a certain time in advance,
for reasons of my own. Meantime, I have had, it seems--well, call
them adventures! I am not eager they should be known here. But if
you like, you may call on me at my hotel--to-morrow?"
Both recognized a slight additional trace of hauteur in the
deportment of the woman whom they now accosted. She herself saw a
sort of hesitation on the part of Carlisle.
"I can't let you make any mistake about me," he began presently.
"How do you mean?"
"You are probably not advised about me. I'm a person of no
"An officer of his country's army can not say that of himself."
"But, I am no longer an officer of any army. I have been
court-martialed--for my conduct there--you know--that fight at St.
Genevieve. My abolitionist tendencies have always made me _persona
non grata_ in my own mess. There's been all sort of pressure
brought on me to drop it. Now the government itself, not wishing
these things to come to a focus, has ordered me to a court-martial.
Very well, I've been sentenced. My parole is ended, for the law
has acted on my conduct. Rather than go back many steps in rank, I
have thrown up my commission. This morning I resigned. I am
wearing my uniform, I don't doubt, for the last time."
"And that, although you fought in the cause of freedom! Although
you have fought honorably in an earlier war! Is it not horrible!"
"I could not do otherwise," said he simply. "I have no regrets."
"But don't you see,"--she turned upon him suddenly--"it only leaves
you all the more free!"
"I can not understand you."
"Will it not give you and your friend, Lieutenant Kammerer here,
precisely the opportunity you've wished?"
"Still I do not follow you."
"My dear Countess," ventured the German, "I'll go anywhere under
your orders. You may be sure of that."
She turned from them. "Come to my hotel, will you not, to-morrow?
I may have something to say to you." Thus she passed back into the
throng, and into the arms of fickle and repentant Washington, which
marveled when she danced, flushed, excited, yet absorbed, with the
gallant old general, himself intoxicated by the music and by all
this warm talk of freedom, of equality, of democracy,--in
IN THE NAME OF ALTRUISM
In her apartments at the hotel the following morning Josephine St.
Auban looked over the journals of the day. There were many columns
of description of the only social event of the previous day thought
worth extended mention. The visitors from Hungary were lauded to
the skies. There did not lack many references to the similarity
between the present struggles of the Hungarian people and those of
our own earlier days. A vast amount of rampant Americanism was
crowded into all these matters.
[Illustration: She looked over the journals of the day.]
Joined to this, there was considerable mention of the reappearance
in Washington society of the beautiful Countess, Josephine St.
Auban, now discovered to have been originally a member of this
Hungarian commission, and recently journeying in the western states
of the republic. This beautiful countess was now invested with a
romantic history. She was a friend and protegee of the old General
Zewlinski, a foreign noblewoman half American by birth, of rank,
wealth and distinction, who had taken a leading part in the cause
of Hungary in her struggle with the oppressing monarchies. Without
any reference to earlier stories not unknown to them, and bolder as
to Austria than those who then dwelt in the White House, the
newspapers now openly and unanswerably welcomed this distinguished
stranger to the heart of Washington. Unknowingly, when they gave
her this publicity, they threw around her also protection, secrecy.
As she read, the Countess St. Auban smiled. She knew that now
there would be no second vehmgerichte. The government now would
What interested her more was the story at that time made current,
of an unsuccessful attempt which had been made by a southern slave
owner to reclaim his property in a northern state. The facts
recounted that a planter of Maryland, with two relatives, had
followed an escaped slave to the settlement of Christianville,
Pennsylvania, where a little colony of fugitives had made common
cause together. In this case, as was prescribed under the law, the
slave owner had called to his aid a United States marshal, who in
turn had summoned a large posse of his own. These had visited the
home of the fugitive and called upon him to surrender himself to
his owner. This the fugitive had refused to do, and he was backed
in this refusal by a considerable party of men of his own race,
some of them free men, and some fugitive slaves, who had assembled
at his house.
"I'll have my property," asserted the slave owner, according to the
report, "or I'll eat my breakfast in hell." One of the Marylanders
had then fired upon the slave, and the fire was returned in general
by the negroes. The old planter, a man of courage, was struck to
the ground, killed by the blacks, his two relatives disabled, and
several other men on both sides were wounded. The fugitive himself
was not taken, and the arresting party was obliged to retire.
Naturally, great exultation prevailed among the triumphant blacks;
and this, so said numerous despatches, was fostered and encouraged
by comment of all the northern abolitionist press.
Josephine St. Auban pondered over this barbarous recountal of an
event which would seem to have been impossible in a civilized
community. "It comes," said she, musing, "it comes! _Ca ira_!
There will be war! Ah, I must hasten."
She turned to other papers, of private nature, in her desk. In a
half hour more, she had gone over the last remittance reports of
the agents of her estates in Europe. She smiled, nodded, as she
tapped a pencil over the very handsome totals. In ten minutes
more, she was ready and awaiting the call of Carlisle and Kammerer
in her reception-room. In her mind was a plan already formulated.
At heart frank and impulsive, and now full of a definite zeal, she
did not long keep them waiting to learn her mind.
"Are you still for the cause of freedom, and can you keep a secret,
or aid in one?" she broke in suddenly, turning toward Carlisle.
Looking at him at first for a time, inscrutably, as though half in
amusement or in recollection, she now regarded him carefully for an
instant, apparently weighing his make-up, estimating his sincerity,
mentally investigating his character, looking at the flame of his
hair, the fanatic fire of his deep set eye.
"I have sometimes done so," he smiled. "Is there anything in which
I can be of service?"
"Time is short," was her answer. "Let us get at once to the point.
I am planning to go into the work long carried on by that
weak-minded Colonization Society; but on certain lines of my own."
"It is my belief that we should deport the blacks from this
country. Very well, I am willing to devote certain moneys and
certain energies to that purpose. Granted I found it advisable and
could obtain proper support, I might perhaps not return to Hungary
for a time."
"Kammerer!" broke in Carlisle suddenly, "Listen! Do you hear?
It's what we've said! It is precisely what you yourself have
"That iss it!--that iss it!" exclaimed the young German. "The
colonization--remoof them from this country to another, where they
shall be by themselves. That only iss wise, yess. Elsewise must
great war come--else must this Union be lost! Ah, Madam; ah,
Madam! How great your heart, your mind. I kiss your hand."
"Listen!" she interrupted. "There are about three and one-third
millions of them now. Say they are worth, old and young, large and
little, one thousand dollars a head--monstrous thing, to put a
price upon a human head, but suppose it. It would amount to but a
few billions of dollars. What would a war cost between these two
sections? Perhaps a million dollars a day! How much cheaper could
these slaves be purchased and deported from these shores! Their
owners regard them as property. The laws protect that belief. The
Constitution establishes the laws. There is no peaceful way to end
the turmoil, save by the purchase of these people. That is a
solution. It will prevent a war. Let them be sent away to a place
where they belong, rather than here."
"My dear Countess," said Carlisle, "you are, as usual, brilliant.
Your imagination vaults--your daring is splendid. But as usual you
are visionary and impractical. Buy them? To do this would require
the credit of a nation! It would be subversive of all peace and
all industry. You do not realize the sums required. You do not
realize how vast are the complications."
She stepped closer to him in her eagerness.
"All it needs is money, and management. A start, and the country
will follow. Mr. Fillmore himself was about to recommend it, in
his last message. Let me furnish the money, and do you attend to
Carlisle rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "It's beautiful; it may be
wise, but it's impossible. It would take a king's credit."
"At least we might begin with such funds as are already at hand,"
smiled the Countess St. Auban. "It might be difficult? I suppose
the building of the pyramids was difficult. Yet they were begun.
Yet they are finished. Yet they stand, complete, to-day."
"It is hardly for me to advise in a case so grave as that," said
Carlisle. "I should not undertake it. Have you really
"I have often followed over the same old course of reasoning, South
against North," she said, smiling at him. "Come now, a
revolutionist and two abolitionists should do much. You still can
fight, though they have taken away your sword."
"Some say that the courts will settle these mooted points,"
Carlisle went on; "others, that Congress must do so. Yet others
are unwilling that even the courts should take it up, and insist
that the Constitution is clear and explicit already. These
Southerners say that Congress should make an end to it, by
specifically declaring that men have a right to take into any new
country what they lawfully own--that is to say, these slaves;
because that territory was bought in common by North and South.
The South is just as honest and sincere as the North is, and to be
fair about it, I don't believe it's right to claim that the South
wants the Union destroyed. A few hotheads talk of that in South
Carolina, in Mississippi, but that is precisely what the sober
judgment of the South doesn't desire. Let us match those
secessionists against the abolitionists," he grinned. "The first
think they have law back of them. The latter know they have none!"
"No," she said, "only the higher law, that of human democracy.
No,--we've nothing concrete--except Lily!"
"Yes, but let me argue you out of this, Countess. Really, I can
see no just reason why the proud and prosperous North should wish
to destroy the proud and prosperous South. If the South remains in
the Union it must be considered a part of the Union. New England
did not believe in taxation without representation. Ought it to
enforce that doctrine on the South?"
"You argue it very well, Sir, as well as any one can. The only
trouble is that you are not convinced, and you do not convince.
You are trying to protect me, that's all. I have no answer--except
Lily! There are some things in the analysis from which you shrink.
Isn't it true?"
"Yes, altogether true. We always come back to the bitter and
brutal part of slavery. But what are we going to do for remedy?
Anarchy doesn't suggest remedy. For my own part, sometimes I think
that Millard Fillmore's idea was right--that the government should
buy these slaves and deport them. That would be, as you say, far
cheaper than a war. It was the North that originally sold most of
the slaves. If they, the South, as half the country, are willing
to pay back their half of the purchase price, ought not the North
to be satisfied with that? That's putting principles to the
hardest test--that of the pocket."
In his excitement he rose and strode about the room, his face
frowning, his slender figure erect, martial even in its civilian
dress. Presently he turned; "But it is noble of you, magnificent,
to think of doing what a government hesitates to do! And a woman!"
"Could it be done?" she demanded. "It would require much money.
But what a noble solution it would be!"
"Precisely. I rejoice to see that your mind is so singularly clear
although your heart is so kind."
"You speak in the voice of New England."
"Yes, yes, I'm a New Englander. She's glorious in her principles,
New England, but she carries her principles in her pocket! I
admire your proposed solution, but that solution I fear you will
never see. It is the fatal test, that of the pocket." But the
idea had hold of him, and would not let him go. He walked up and
down, excited, still arguing against it.
"The South, frankly, has always been juggled out of its rights, all
along the line--through pocket politics--and I'm not sure how much
more it can endure of the same sort of juggling. Why, John Quincy
Adams himself, Northerner that he was, admitted that Missouri had
the right to come in as a slave state, just as much as had Arkansas
and Louisiana. Pocket-politics allowed Congress to trade all of
the Louisiana Purchase south of thirty-six degrees, thirty minutes,
excepting Arkansas, in exchange for the Floridas--and how much
chance, how much lot and part had the Missourians in a country so
far away as Florida? The South led us to war with Mexico in order
to extend our territory, but what did the South get? The North
gets all the great commercial and industrial rights. Just to be
frank and fair about it, although I am a New Englander and don't
believe in slavery, the truth is, the South has paid its share in
blood and risk and money, but it didn't get its share when it came
to the divide; and it never has."
"Precisely, my dear Captain. I delight to see you so broad-minded
and fair. This plan of mine, to have any success, must be carried
out on lines broad-minded and fair."
"But how adjust pocket interests on both sides? You'll see.
You'll be left alone. It is easier to make a speech for liberty
than it is to put the price of one slave in the hat passed for
liberty. New England, all the North, will talk, will hold mass
meetings, will pass resolutions commending resistance to the
law--like this Christianville incident of which there's news this
morning. You'll see the blacks commended for that. But you won't
see much money raised to keep other blacks from being followed by
"Then leave it for those who see duty in more concrete form. Leave
the cost to me. My only answer is--Lily."
And again and again her only answer to them both was--Lily. She
told them her story, produced the girl herself and made her confirm
it, offered her as concrete example to be presented in a platform
campaign which might not end in talk alone--pleaded, argued, and
"Madam, I, too, kiss your hands," said Carlisle at last; and did so.
An hour after that, she had laid out a campaign for her two agents,
and had arranged for the expenditure of an initial hundred thousand
THE ARTFUL GENTLEMAN PROM KENTUCKY
It was dusk. Heavy shadows lay over the trees which lined the
curving walks leading across a little park to the stately white
house beyond. From that direction now appeared several gentlemen,
advancing in scattering groups. They might almost have been made
up of conspirators, so intent they seemed, so apprehensive lest
even their thoughts might be read. Two of them drew apart,--one of
these a slender bony man, the other a tall and dark man. The
latter spoke almost moodily.
"I doubt your ability, my dear sir, to influence so shrewd a man in
any such way as you suggest. Besides, he is not of our party."
"That's all the better. A man of our party might, could, would and
should keep his mouth shut about such a ticklish matter; but
outside our party, any who begins it has got to keep his mouth
"There is no other way," he added, smiling. "It must be done. The
Countess St. Auban is here again! This band of Gipsy heathens from
Hungary is also here. The country is wild over Kossuth. We'll
have to accept this invitation to invite him! But Austria remains
bitter against the countess. What we must do is to have her go
back home with these commissioners from Hungary. There's ugly talk
about the way she's been used. That fellow Carlisle--good riddance
of him from the army--even confessed he engaged in a game of
cards--" their heads bent together--"in short, the devil is to pay
with the administration if this gets out. We can't banish her
again. But how can we with dignity even it with her, so she will
make no talk? If she likes, she can ruin us, because Carlisle
can't be kept silent, now he's out of the army. And he's crazy
over her, anyhow."
"So? I do not blame him."
"Yes. Therefore, since all of us have lacked wisdom in our own
camp, we'd e'en do well to take wisdom where we can find it."
They parted, the last speaker presently to hail the nearest
carriage. The driver a few moments later drew up at the front of a
spacious and dignified brick building, whose reserved look might
have pronounced it a private hotel or a club for gentlemen. The
visitor seemed known, the door swinging open for him.
[Illustration: They parted, the last speaker hailing a carriage.]
"Louis," said he to the attendant, "is Mr. ---- in?" He mentioned a
name which even then was well known in Washington.
"I think you will find him in the reading-room, Sir," was the
The inquirer passed to the right, entering a wide room with tables,
books, heavy chairs, discreetly shaded lamps. At one table, drawn
close to the light and poring over a printed page, sat a gentleman
whose personality was not without distinction. The gray hair
brushed back from a heightening forehead might have proclaimed him
even beyond middle age, and his stature, of about medium height,
acknowledged easy living in its generous habit. The stock and
cravat of an earlier day gave a certain austerity to the shrewd
face, lighted by a pair of keen gray eyes, which now turned to
greet the new-comer. He rose, and both bowed formally before they
advanced to take each other by the hand. They were acquaintances,
if not intimate friends. Evidently this particular club no more
enlisted its members from this or that political party than did
either of the leading parties call upon any certain section for
"I am fortunate to find you here in Washington, my dear Sir," began
the gentleman from Kentucky. "It is something of a surprise."
The wrinkles about the other's eyes deepened in an affable smile.
"True," said he, "in the last twelve years I have three times
sought to get back into Washington! Perhaps it would have been
more seemly for me to remain in the decreed dignified retirement."
They joined in a laugh at this, as they both drew up chairs at the
"You see," resumed the last speaker, "I am not indeed intruding
here in national affairs, but only choose Washington for to-night.
I have been thinking of a pleasure journey into the West, down the
"Will you have snuff?" began his companion. "This is no import, I
assure you, but is made by one of my old darkeys, on my plantation
in Kentucky. He declares he puts nothing into it but straight
"My soul!" exclaimed the other, sneezing violently. "I suspect the
veracity of your darkey. It is red pepper that he uses!"
"All the better, then, to clear our minds, my dear Sir. But let me
first send for another product of my state, to assuage these
pains." He beckoned to a servant, who presently, returned with
tray and glasses.
"And now," he resumed, "what you say of your journey interests me
immensely. No doubt you propose going down the river as far as
Missouri? The interest of the entire country is focused there
to-day. Ah, yonder is the crux of all our compromise! Safe within
the fold herself, that is to say above the fatal line of thirty-six
degrees, thirty minutes, her case is simply irresistible in
interest to-day, both for those who argue for and those who talk
against the extension of slavery into our other territories."
"Yet your administration, to-day, my dear Sir, calls this
'finality.' Believe me, it is no more than a compromise with truth
and justice! The entire North demands that slavery shall halt."
"The entire South refuses it!"
"Then let the South beware!"
"The North also may beware, my dear Sir!"
"We are aware, and we are prepared. Not another inch for slavery!"
"Hush!" said the other, raising a hand. "Not even you and I dare
go into this. The old quarrel is lulled for a time. At last we
have worked these measures through both the House and Senate. In
the House the administration can put through at any time the Wilmot
proviso prohibiting slavery, and although the Senate always has and
always can defeat such a measure, both branches, and the executive
as well, have agreed to put this dog to sleep when possible, and
when found sleeping, to let him lie. My dear friend, it is not a
question of principle, but of policy, to-day."
"Principles should rule policies!" exclaimed the other virtuously.
"Agreed! Agreed! We are perfectly at one as to that. But you know
that Webster himself reiterates again and again that no man should
set up his conscience above the law of his country. Your Free Soil
party means not law, but anarchy,--and worse than that--it means
disunion! Clay, Cass, Webster, Benton, even the hottest of the men
from Mississippi and South Carolina, are agreed on that. My dear
Sir, I say it with solemn conviction, the formation of a new party
of discontent to-day, when everything is already strained to
breaking, will split this country and plunge the divided sections
into a bloody war!"
The other sat gravely for a time before he made reply. "Our people
feel too sternly to be reconciled. We need some new party--"
Again the other raised a warning hand. "_Do not say that word_!
Others have principles as much as you and I. Let us not speak with
recklessness of consequences. But, privately, and without hot
argument, my dear friend, the singular thing to me is that you, an
old leader of the people, with a wide following in the North and
South, should now be entertaining precisely the same principles--
though not expressing them with the same reckless fervor--which are
advanced by the latest and most dangerous abolitionist of the time."
"You do not mean Mr. Garrison? Any of my New York or Boston
"No, I mean a _woman_, here in Washington. You could perhaps guess
The other drew his chair closer. "I presume you mean the lady
reputed to have been connected with President Taylor's commission,
of inquiry into affairs in Hungary--"
"Yes,--the 'most beautiful woman in Washington to-day.' So she is
called by some--'the most dangerous,' by others."
"Has Kentucky forgotten its gallantry so fully as that? Rumor has
reported the young woman to me as a charming young widow, of
beauty, wealth and breeding."
"Yes, manners, and convictions, and courage--abolitionist
tendencies and fighting proclivities. She is a firebrand--a
revolutionist, fresh back from the Old World, and armed with
weapons of whose use we old fogies are utterly ignorant. Having
apparently nothing to lose whose loss she dreads, she is careless
of all consequences. You, my dear Sir, speak of your moral
adherence to some new party. You consider yourself one of the
lamented Free Soil party, and hope a resurrection. This woman does
not pause there--no. She comes here to Washington, at precisely
the time of our final compromise, when all is peaceful, even
slumberous,--and she preaches the crusade of fire and sword. My
dear friend, if you seek a prophet, here is one; and if you want
leadership in your dogma of no slavery north of thirty-six degrees,
thirty minutes, here is prophet and leader in one!--And, believe
me, one with arguments which make her dangerous to one man, two
men, or any collection of men."
The other pondered. "I have never seen the lady," he remarked, at
length. "Is she acquainted among the abolitionists of the North?"
"No. She trains in no one's camp. Indeed, socially she has been
neglected in the North, for reasons said to have been urged in
"Something of an intrigante, eh?"
"At least enough to excite the anger and suspicion of Austria, the
interest of England, the concern of France;--that's all!"
"Of what age is she?"
"Of about that age, my dear Sir, which our children or
grandchildren might claim. I should say, twenty-three,
twenty-four,--not over twenty-six, perhaps. It is difficult to
say. I have met her but rarely."
"You have me at disadvantage, even so," smiled the other. "It is,
however, unnecessary for you to settle your cravat. It is quite
straight; and besides, I think we are quite safe from intrusion of
"You have never met this fair enthusiast? You are behind the
times!" retorted the wily Kentuckian. "Perhaps you would like that
honor? I think it could be arranged. Indeed," he added, after a
moment spent in careful study of his companion's face, "I would
even undertake to arrange it. My dear Sir, with your well known
charm of manner with men, and women as well, you could in that case
win the lasting plaudits of your country, if you but possessed the
"In a cause so noble, I would do what I might! But what is the
cause? And is it proper for one of my place to engage in it?"
"You could, I say, be hailed by the administration in power, not as
the Father of your Country, perhaps, but as its savior. Take this
woman out of our camp, and into your own. Flock your own fowl
together, you Free Soilers! Take her out of Washington, get her
back to Europe--where she belongs,--and, without jesting, my dear
Sir, you shall have the backing next year, two years hence--in
1853,--any time you like--of the men who make this administration,
and of the men behind this compromise. A majority of the House, an
even division of the Senate--Listen, my dear friend, this is not
idle talk, and these are no idle promises! I am serious. I speak
to you in no wise ill-advised. To tell you the truth, we are
frightened. She has stolen all our peace of mind, and stolen also
some of our thunder--some of our cast-off and unthundered thunder."
"In what way?"
"Oh, nothing. It is of very little consequence. It is a
bagatelle. All she proposes to do is to purchase all the slaves in
the United States--out of her own funds--and ship them out of
"Yes. We didn't dare it. She does. We didn't begin. She has
begun. And since it has begun, who knows what army of the
people--what _new party_--may fall in behind her? We want you to
forestall all that. We don't want you to head that new party. We
think you will do better to fall in with us, to accept the
compliment of a European mission--and to take this fair firebrand
with you. We are afraid to have her in Washington."
The other listened with a flicker of the eyelid, which showed his
interest, but feigned lightness in his speech.
"In matters of gallantry, my dear friend, why does Kentucky need a
substitute, or even an ally?"
"Kentucky, in the deference due to so great a man as yourself,
yields to New York! Will you have snuff, Sir?"
"I thank you, I think not. But tell me, what is it that New York
"New York, my dear Sir, must transport, man-handle, murder,
wheedle, bowstring, drown, and permanently lose Josephine, Countess
St. Auban,--herself late back from Missouri, formerly of God knows
where. I promise you, this country is only a tinder box, waiting
for that sort of spark. To-morrow--but you remember, my dear
"But between now and to-morrow is rather a brief period. We have
not yet invented means of traveling through the air. I could not
well carry off this fair lady by main strength. My own plans
unfortunately require some attention. And I think that, even were
the trifling difficulty of the lady's consent overcome, I could not
easily assume the role of savior of my country before the time of
the departure of the next ship for Europe--even granted my enemies,
the Whigs, will give a mission to an ex-Democrat and a Free Soiler
"Not that I should not experience the most pleasureable emotions
both in saving the country, my dear Sir," he saluted with his
glass, "and of saving it in the company of so charming a person as
this young lady is reported to be. The years have laid us under a
certain handicap, my friend. Yet were this lady quite unattached,
or her duena not wholly impossible, one might consider the
distinguished role of disinterestedly saving one's country in the
capacity at least of chaperon."
They looked at each other, and broke into laughter. Yet minds so
keen as theirs long before them had read between lines on the
printed page, under the outward mask of human countenances.
"Stranger things have happened!" said the gentleman from Kentucky.
"My soul and body' My dear Sir, you do not speak seriously?" His
surprise was feigned, and the other knew it.
"I was never so serious in my life. My friend, it seems almost as
though fate had guided me to your side to-night. At this time,
when our diplomacy abroad is none too fortunate, and when our
diplomacy at home is far more delicate and dangerous, you yourself,
known the country over as a man of tact and delicacy, are the one
man in the world to handle this very mission. It is the Old Fox of
the North, after all, Free Soiler or not, who alone can smooth down
matters for us. Our country had supreme confidence in you. This
administration has such confidence still. It will give all that is
seemly for one of your station to accept. It will not ask aught of
party lines, this or that."
"Do you speak with authority other than your own?"
"It is not yet time for me to answer that."
"Yet you dare approach one who is in the opposing camp."
"But one whose camp we either hope to join, or whom we hope later
to have in our own. Who can tell where party lines will fall in
the next three years? All the bars may be down by then, and many a
fence past mending."
"For the sake of harmony, much should be ventured."