You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 2) Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-230-31280747v2 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 2) Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. C. Scribner's sons, New York : 1906-18. 18 v. : ill., (part col.) col. plates, ports., maps (part folded) ; 20 cm. Coleman I. In ole Virginia ; II. The burial of the guns ; III. On Newfound River ; IV-V. Red Rock; a chronicle of reconstruction ; VI-VII. Gordon Keith ; VIII. The old gentleman of the black stock. Santa Claus's partner ; IX. Bred in the bone ; X. Pastime stories. Poems ; XI. Two little Confederates. Among the camps. Two prisoners ; XII. The old South; essays social and political ; XIII. The Old Dominion, her making and her manners ; XIV. Under the crust. Tommy Trot's visit to Santa Claus ; XV-XVI. John Marvel, assistant ; XVII-XVIII. Robert E. Lee, man and soldier. Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 3 microfilm reels ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04803-4805 KUK) Printing Master B92-230. Reel 4803 (v. 1-6) ; reel 4804 (v. 7-12) ; reel 4805 (v. 13-18) IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. The Colonel simply turned away his face. This page in the original text is blank. This page in the original text is blank. , THE NOVELS, STORIES, SKETCHES AND POEMS OF THOMAS NELSON PAGE 4 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS NEWYORK, 4 4 4 1906 Copyright, 1892, 1904, 1903i, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS All Rights Reserved TO MY WIFE This page in the original text is blank. CONTENTS THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS .. ....... PAGMk . 3 LITTLE DARBY ............... . 49 "RUN TO SEED" .............. . 137 MY COUSIN FANNY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 THE GRAY JACKET OF "No. 4 ...... . . . . 213 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL ... . . 245 P'LASKI'S TUNAMENT . . .................. 313 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES .... . . . . . . . 343 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS ... . . 371 In this volume are included " Run to Seed,-" ' . George Washington's Last Duel," and " P'laski's Tunamnent," heretofore published in the volume entitled " Elsket and Other Stories." This page in the original text is blank. ILLUSTRATIONS "THE COLONEL SIMPLY TURNED AWAY HIS FACE' Frontispiece Drawn by Alonzo Kimball. FACING PAGE "'A WHAT' HE ASKED, AGHAST. HIS BRAIN NOT WHOLLY TAKING IN HER WORDS" ....... . . . . 109 Drawn by Clara D. Davidson. MARGARET AND THE MAJOR ... . . . ....... 308 Drawn by Alonzo Kimball xi This page in the original text is blank. THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS This page in the original text is blank. THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS L EE surrendered the remnant of his army at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, and yet a couple of days later the old Colonel's battery lay intrenched right in the mountain-pass where it had halted three days before. Two weeks previously it had been detailed with a light di- vision sent to meet and repel a force which it was understood was coming in by way of the southwest valley to strike Lee in the rear of his long line from Richmond to Petersburg. It had done its work. The mountain-pass had been seized and held, and the Federal force had not gotten by that road within the blue rampart which guarded on that side the heart of Vir- ginia. This pass, which was the key to the main line of passage over the mountains, had been assigned by the commander of the division to the old Colonel and his old battery, and they had held it. The position taken by the battery 3 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS had been chosen with a soldier's eye. A better place could not have been selected to hold the pass. It was its highest point, just where the road crawled over the shoulder of the mountain along the limestone cliff, a hundred feet sheer above the deep river, where its waters had cut their way in ages past, and now lay deep and silent, as if resting after their arduous toil before they began to boil over the great bowl- ders which filled the bed a hundred or more yards below. The little plateau at the top guarded the de- scending road on either side for nearly a mile, and the mountain on the other side of the river was the centre of a clump of rocky, heavily timbered spurs, so inaccessible that no feet but those of wild animals or the hardiest hunter had ever climbed it. On the side of the river on which the road lay, the only path out over the mountain except the road itself was a char- coal-burner 's track, dwindling at times to a footway known only to the mountain-folk, which a picket at the top could hold against an army. The position, well defended, was im- pregnable, and it was well defended. This the general of the division knew when he de- tailed the old Colonel and gave him his order 4 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS to hold the pass until relieved, and not let his guns fall into the hands of the enemy. He knew both the Colonel and his battery. The battery was one of the oldest in the army. It had been in the service since April, 1861, and its commander had come to be known as "The Wheel Horse of his division." He was, per- haps, the oldest officer of his rank in his branch of the service. Although he had bitterly op- posed secession, and was many years past the age of service when the war came on, yet as soon as the President called on the State for her quota of troops to coerce South Carolina, lie had raised and uniformed an artillery company, and offered it, not to the President of the United States, but to the Governor of Virginia. It is just at this point that he suddenly looms up to ne as a soldier; the relation he never wholly lost to me afterward, though I knew him for many, many years of peace. His gray coat with the red facing and the bars on the collar; bis military cap; his gray flannel shirt-it was the first time I ever saw him wear anything but immaculate linen-his high boots; his horse caparisoned with a black, high-peaked saddle, with crupper and breast-girth, instead of the light English hunting-saddle to which I had 5 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS been accustomed, all come before me now as if it were but the other day. I remember but little beyond it, yet I remember, as if it were yesterday, his leaving home, and the scenes which immediately preceded it; the excitement created by the news of the President's call for troops; the unanimous judgment that it meant war; the immediate determination of the old Colonel, who had hitherto opposed secession, that it must be met; the suppressed agitation on the plantation, attendant upon the tender of his services and the Governor's acceptance of them. The prompt and continuous work inci- dent to the enlistment of the men, the bustle of preparation, and all the scenes of that time, come before me now. It turned the calm cur- rent of the life of an old and placid country neighborhood, far from any city or centre, and stirred it into a boiling torrent, strong enough, or fierce enough to cut its way and join the gen- eral torrent which was bearing down and sweep- ing everything before it. It seemed but a min- ute before the quiet old plantation, in which the harvest, the corn-shucking, and the Christ- mas holidays alone marked the passage of the quiet seasons, and where a strange carriage or a single horseman coming down the big road 6 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS was an event in life, was turned into a depot of war-supplies, and the neighborhood became a parade-ground. The old Colonel, not a colonel yet, nor even a captain, except by brevet, was on his horse by daybreak and off on his rounds through the plantations and the pines enlisting his company. The office in the yard, hereto- fore one in name only, became one now in re- ality, and a table was set out piled with papers, pens, ink, books of tactics and regulation, at which men were accepted and enrolled. Soldiers seemed to spring from the ground, as they did from the sowing of the dragon's teeth in the days of Cadmus. Men came up the high road or down the paths across the fields, some- times singly, but oftener in little parties of two or three, and, asking for the Captain, entered the office as private citizens and came out sol- diers enlisted for the war. There was nothing heard of on the plantation except fighting; white and black, all were at work, and all were eager; the servants contending for the honor of going with their master; the women flocked to the house to assist in the work of prepa- ration, cutting out and making under-clothes, knitting socks, picking lint, preparing ban- dages, and sewing on uniforms; for many of the 7 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS men who had enlisted were of the poorest class, far too poor to furnish anything themselves, and their equipment had to be contributed mainly by wealthier neighbors. The work was carried on at night as well as by day, for the occasion was urgent. Meantime the men were being drilled by the Captain and his lieuten- ants, who had been militia officers of old. We were carried to see the drill at the cross-roads, and a brave sight it seemed to us: the lines marching and countermarching in the field, with the horses galloping as they wheeled amid clouds of dust, at the hoarse commands of the excited officers, and the roadside lined with spectators of every age and condition,. I recall the arrival of the messenger one night, with the telegraphic order to the Captain to report with his company at "Camp Lee" imme- diately; the hush in the parlor that attended its reading; then the forced beginning of the conversation afterwards in a somewhat strained and unnatural key, and the Captain's quick and decisive outlining of his plans. Within the hour a. dozen messengers were on their way in various directions to notify the members of the command of the summons, and to deliver the order for their attendance at a 8 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS given point next day. It seemed that a sudden and great change had come. It was the actual appearance of what had hitherto only been theoretical-war. The next morning the Cap- tain, in full uniform, took leave of the assembled plantation, with a few solemn words commend- ing all he left behind to God, and galloped away up the big road to join and lead his battery to the war, and to be gone just four years. Within a month lie was on "the Peninsula" with Magruder, guarding Virginia on the east against the first attack. His camp was first at Yorktown and then on Jamestown Island, the honor having been assigned his battery of guarding the oldest cradle of the race on this continent. It was at "Little Bethel" that his guns were first trained on the enemy, and that the battery first saw what they had to do, and from this time until the middle of April, 1865, they were in service, and no battery saw more service or suffered more in it. Its story was a part of the story of the Southern Army in Vir- ginia. The Captain was a rigid disciplinarian, and his company had more work to do than most new companies. A pious churchman, of the old puritanical type not uncommon to Vir- 9 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ginia, he looked after the spiritual as well as the physical welfare of his men, and his chap- lain or he read prayers at the head of his com- pany every morning during the war. At first he was not popular with the men, he made the duties of camp life so onerous to them, it was " nothing but drilling and praying all the time, " they said. But he had not commanded very long before they came to know the stuff that was in him. He had not been in service a year before he had had four horses shot under him, and when later he was offered the command of a battalion, the old company petitioned to be one of his batteries, and still remained under his command. Before the first year was out the battery had, through its own elements, and discipline of the Captain, become a cohesive force, and a distinct integer in the Army of Northern Virginia. Young farmer recruits knew of its prestige and expressed preference for it of many batteries of rapidly growing or grown reputation. Owing to its high stand, the old and clumsy guns with which it bad started out were taken from it, and in their place was presented a battery of four fine, brass, twelve-pound Napoleons of the newest and most approved kind, and two three-inch 10 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Parrots, all captured. The men were as pleased with them as children with new tovs. The care and attention needed to keep them in prime order broke the monotony of camp life. They soon had abundant opportunities to test their power. They worked admirably, carried far, and were extraordinarily accurate in their aim. The men from admiration of their guns grew to have first a pride in, and then an affection for, them, and gave them nicknames as they did their comrades; the four Napoleons being dubbed, "The Evangelists," and the two rifles being "The Eagle," because of its scream and force, and "The Cat," because when it became hot from rapid firing "It jumped," they said, " like a cat. " From many a hill-top in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania " The Evange- lists" spoke their hoarse message of battle and death, "The Eagle" screamed her terrible note, and "The Cat" jumped as she spat her deadly shot from her hot throat. In the Valley of Virginia; on the levels of Henrico and Han- over; on the slopes of Manassas; in the woods of Clhancellorsville; on the heights of Freder- icksburg; at Antietam and Gettysburg; in the Spottsylvania wilderness, and again on the Han- over levels and on the lines before Petersburg, 11 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS the old guns through nearly four years roared from fiery throats their deadly messages. The history of the battery was bound up with the history of Lee's army. A rivalry sprang up among the detachments of the different guns, and their several records were jealously kept. The number of duels each gun was in was care- fully counted, every scar got in battle was treasured, and the men around their camp-fires, at their scanty messes, or on the march, bragged of them among themselves and avouched them as witnesses. New recruits coming in to fill the gaps made by the killed and disabled, read- ily fell in with the common mood and caught the spirit like a contagion. It was not an un- common thing for a wheel to be smashed in by a shell, but if it happened to one gun oftener than to another there was envy. Two of the Evangelists seemed to be especially favored in this line, while the Cat was so exempt as to be- come the subject of some derision. The men stood by the guns till they were knocked to pieces, and when the fortune of the day went against them, had with their own hands oftener than once saved them after most of their horses were killed. This had happened in turn to every gun, the 12 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS men at times working like beavers in mud up to their thighs and under a murderous fire to get their guns out. Many a man had been killed tugging at trail or wheel when the day was against them; but not a gun had ever been lost. At last the evil day arrived. At Win- chester a sudden and impetuous charge for a while swept everything before it, and carried the knoll where the old battery was posted; but all the guns were got out by the toiling and rapidly dropping men, except the Cat, which was captured with its entire detachment work- ing at it until they were surrounded and knocked from the piece by cavalrymen. Most of the men who were not killed were retaken before the day was over, with many guns; but the Cat was lost. She remained in the enemy's hands and probably was being turned against her old com- rades and lovers. The company was inconsol- able. The death of comrades was too natural and common a thing to depress the men beyond what such occurrences necessarily did; but to lose a gun! It was like losing the old Colonel: it was worse: a gun was ranked as a brigadier; and the Cat was equal to a major-general. The other guns seemed lost without her; the Eagle especially, which generally went next to her, 13 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS appeared to the men to have a lonely and sub- dued air. The battery was no longer the same: it seemed broken and depleted, shrunken to a mere section. It was worse than Cold Harbor, where over half the men were killed or wounded. The old Captain, now Colonel of the battalion, appreciated the loss and apprehended its effect on the men, as much as they themselves did, and application was made for a gun to take the place of the lost piece; but there was none to be had, as the men said they had known all along. It was added-perhaps by a department clerk- that if they wanted a gun to take the place of the one they had lost, they had better capture it. "By , we will," they said-adding epi- thets, intended for the department clerk in his "bomb-proof," not to be printed in this record -and they did. For some time afterwards in every engagement into which they got there used to be speculation among them as to whether the Cat were not there on the other side; some of the men swearing they could tell her report, and even going to the rash length of offering bets on her presence. By one of those curious coincidences, as strange as anything in fiction, a new general had, in 1864, come down across the Rapidan 14 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS to take Richmond, and the old battery had found a hill-top in the line in which Lee's army lay stretched across "the Wilderness" country to stop him. The day, though early in May, was a hot one, and the old battery, like most others, had suffered fearfully. Two of the guns had had wheels cut down by shells and the men had been badly cut up; but the fortune of the day had been with Lee, and a little before night- fall, after a terrible fight, there was a rapid advance, Lee's infantry sweeping everything before it, and the artillery, after opening the way for the charge, pushing along with it; now unlimbering as some vantage-ground was gained, and using canister with deadly effect; now driving ahead again so rapidly that it was mixed up with the muskets when the long line of breastworks was carried with a rush, and a line of guns were caught still hot from their rapid work. As the old battery, with lathered horses and smoke-grimed men, swung up the crest and unlimbered on the captured breast- work, a cheer went up which was heard even above the long general yell of the advancing line, and for a moment half the men in the bat- tery crowded together around some object on the edge of the redoubt, yelling like madmen. 15 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS The next instant they divided, and there was the Cat, smoke-grimed and blood-stained and still sweating hot from her last fire, being dragged from her muddy ditch by as many men as could get hold of trail-rope or wheel, and rushed into her old place beside the Eagle, in time to be double-shotted with canister to the muzzle, and to pour it from among her old com- rades into her now retiring former masters. Still, she had a new carriage, and her record was lost, while those of the other guns had been faithfully kept by the men. This made a differ- ence in her position for which even the bullets in her wheels did not wholly atone; even Harris, the sergeant of her detachment, felt that. It was only a few days later, however, that abundant atonement was made. The new gen- eral did not retire across the Rapidan after his first defeat, and a new battle had to be fought: a battle, if anything, more furious, more ter- rible than the first, when the dead filled the trenches and covered the fields. He simply marched by the left flank, and Lee marching by the right flank to head him, flung himself upon him again at Spottsylvania Court-House. That day the Cat, standing in her place behind the new and temporary breastwork thrown up 16 THE BURIAL OF THE GUINS when the battery was posted, had the felloes of her wheels, which showed above the top of the bank, entirely cut away by Minie-bullets, so that when she jumped in the recoil her wheels smashed and let her down. This covered all old scores. The other guns had been cut down by shells or solid shot; but never before had one been gnawed down by musket-balls. From this time all through the campaign the Cat held her own beside her brazen and bloody sisters, and in the cold trenches before Petersburg that win- ter, when the new general-Starvation-had joined the one already there, she made her bloody mark as often as any gun on the long lines. Thus the old battery had come to be known, as its old commander, now colonel of a bat- talion, had come to be known by those in yet higher command. And when in the opening spring of 1865 it became apparent to the lead- ers of both armies that the long line could not longer be held if a force should enter behind it, and, sweeping the one partially unswept portion of Virginia, cut the railways in the southwest, and a man was wanted to command the artillery in the expedition sent to meet this force, it was iLot remarkable that the old Colonel and his 17 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS battalion should be selected for the work. The force sent out was small; for the long line was worn to a thin one in those days, and great changes were taking place, the consequences of which were known only to the commanders. In a few days the commander of the expedition found that he must divide his small force for a time at least, to accomplish his purpose, and sending the old Colonel with one battery of artillery to guard one pass, must push on over the mountain by another way to meet the ex- pected force, if possible, and repel it before it crossed the farther range. Thus the old bat- tery, on an April evening of 1865, found it- self toiling alone up the steep mountain road which leads above the river to the gap, which formed the chief pass in that part of the Blue Ridge. Both men and horses looked, in the dim and waning light of the gray April day, rather like shadows of the beings they repre- sented than the actual beings themselves. And anyone seeing them as they toiled painfully up, the thin horses floundering in the mud, and the men, often up to their knees tugging at the sinking wheels, now stopping to rest, and al- ways moving so slowly that they seemed scarcely to advance at all, might have thought 18 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS them the ghosts of some old battery lost from some long gone and forgotten war on that deep and desolate mountain road. Often, when they stopped, the blowing of the horses and the murmuring of the river in its bed below were the only sounds heard, and the tired voices of the men when they spoke among themselves seemed hardly more ar- ticulate sounds than they. Then the voice of the mounted figure on the roan horse half hidden in the mist would cut in, clear and inspiring, in a tone of encouragement more fhan of command, and everything would wake up: the drivers would shout and crack their whips; the horses would bend themselves on the collars and flounder in the mud; the men would spring once more to the mud- clogged wheels, and the slow ascent would begin again. The orders of the Colonel, as has been said, were brief: To hold the pass until he received further instructions, and not to lose his guns. To be ordered, with him, was to obey. The last streak of twilight brought them to the top of the pass; his soldier's instinct and a brief reconnaissance made earlier in the day told him that this was his place, and before daybreak 19 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS next morning the point was as well fortified as a night's work by weary and supperless men could make it. A prettier spot could not have been found for the purpose; a, small plateau, something over an acre in extent, where a char- coal-burner's hut had once stood, lay right at the top of the pass. It was a little higher on either side than in the middle, where a small brook, along which the charcoal-burner's track was yet visible, came down from the wooded mountain above, thus giving a natural crest to aid the fortification on either side, with open space for the guns, while the edge of the wood coming down from the mountain afforded shel- ter for the camp. As the battery was unsupported it had to rely on itself for everything, a condition which most soldiers by this time were accustomed to. A dozen or so of rifles were in the camp, and with these pickets were armed and posted. The pass had been seized none too soon; a scout brought in the information before nightfall that the invading force had crossed the farther range before that sent to meet it could get there, and taking the nearest road had avoided the main body opposing it, and been met only by a rapidly moving detachment, nothing more 20 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS than a scouting party, and were now advancing rapidly on the road on which they were posted, evidently meaning to seize the pass and cross the mountain at this point. The day was Sun- day; a beautiful Spring Sunday; but it was no Sabbath for the old battery. All day the men worked making and strengthening their re- doubt to guard the pass, and by the next morn- ing, with the old battery at the top, it was im- pregnable. They were just in time. Before noon their vedettes brought in word that the enemy was ascending the mountain, and the sun had hardly turned when the advance guard rode up, came within range of the picket, and were fired on. It was apparent that they supposed the force there only a small one, for they retired and soon came up again reinforced in some num- bers, and a sharp little skirmish ensued, hot enough to make them more prudent afterwards, though the picket retired up the mountain. This gave them encouragement and probably misled them, for they now advanced boldily. They saw the redoubt on the crest as they came on, and unlimbering a section or two, flung a few shells up at it, which either fell short or passed over without doing material damage. 21 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS None of the guns was allowed to respond, as the distance was too great with the ammu- nition the battery had, and, indifferent as it was, it was too precious to be wasted in a duel at an ineffectual range. Doubtless deceived by this, the enemy came on in force, being obliged by the character of the ground to keep almost entirely to the road, which really made them advance in column. The battery waited. Un- der orders of the Colonel the guns standing in line were double-shotted with canister, and, loaded to the muzzle, were trained down to sweep the road at from four to five hundred yards' distance. And when the column reached this point the six guns, aimed by old and skil- ful gunners, at a given word swept road and mountain-side with a storm of leaden hail. It was a fire no mortal man could stand up against, and the practiced gunners rammed their pieces full again, and before the smoke had cleared or the reverberation had died away among the mountains, had fired the guns again and yet again. The road was cleared of living things when the draught setting down the river drew the smoke away; but it was no discredit to the other force; for no army that was ever uniformed could stand against that battery 22 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS in that pass. Again and again the attempt was made to get a body of men up under cover of the woods and rocks on the mountain-side, while the guns below utilized their better ammunition from longer range; but it was useless. Although one of the lieutenants and several men were killed in the skirmish, and a number more were wounded, though not se- yerely, the old battery commanded the mioun- tain-side, and its skilful gunners swept it at every point the foot of man could scale. The sun went down flinging his last flame on a victorious battery still crowning the mountain pass. The dead were buried by night in a corner of the little plateau, borne to their last bivouac on the old gun-carriages which they had stood by so often-which the men said would "sort of ease their minds." The next day the fight was renewed, and with the same result. The old battery in its position was unconquerable. Only one fear now faced them; their ammunition was getting as low as their rations; another such day or half-day would exhaust it. A sergeant was sent back down the mountain to try to get more, or, if not, to get tidings. The next day it was supposed the fight would be renewed; 23 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS and the men waited, alert, eager, vigilant, their spirits high, their appetite for victory whetted by success. The men were at their breakfast, or what went for breakfast, scanty at all times, now doubly so, hardly deserving the title of a meal, so poor and small were the portions of corn- meal, cooked in their frying-pans, which went for their rations, when the sound of artillery below broke on the quiet air. They were on their feet in an instant and at the guns, crowd- ing upon the breastwork to look or to listen; for the road, as far as could be seen down the mountain, was empty except for their own picket, and lay as quiet as if sleeping in the balmy air. And yet volley after volley of ar- tillery came rolling up the mountain. What could it mean That the rest of their force had come up and was engaged with that at the foot of the mountain The Colonel decided to be ready to go and help them; to fall on the enemy in the rear; perhaps they might capture the entire force. It seemed the natural thing to do, and the guns were limbered up in an incredibly short time, and a roadway made through the intrenchment, the men working like beavers under the excitement. Before they had left the redoubt, however, the vedettes 24 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS sent out returned and reported that there was no engagement going on, and the firing be- low seemed to be only practising. There was quite a stir in the camp below; but they had not even broken camp. This was mysterious. Perhaps it meant that they had received rein- forcements, but it was a queer way of showing it. The old Colonel sighed as lie thought of the good ammunition they could throw away down there, and of his empty limber-chests. It was necessary to be on the alert, however; the guns were run back into their old places, and the horses picketed once more back among the trees. Meantime he sent another messen- ger back, this time a courier, for he had but one commissioned officer left, and the picket below was strengthened. The morning passed and no one came; the day wore on and still no advance was made by the force below. It was suggested that the enemy had left; he had, at least, gotten enough of that battery. A reconnoissance, however, showed that he was still encamped at the foot of the mountain. It was conjectured that he was trying to find a way around to take them in the rear, or to cross the ridge by the foot- path. Preparation was made to guard more 25 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS closely the mountain-path across the spur, and a detachment was sent up to strengthen the picket there. The waiting told on the men and they grew bored and restless. They gathered about the guns in groups and talked; talked of etch piece some, but not with the old spirit and vim; the loneliness of the mountain seemed to oppress them; the mountains stretch- ing up so brown and gray on one side of them, and so brown and gray on the other, with their bare, dark forests soughing from time to time as the wind swept up the pass. The minds of the men seemed to go back to the time when they were not so alone, but were part of a great and busy army, and some of them fell to talk- ing of the past, and the battles they had figured in, and of the comrades they had lost. They told them off in a slow and colorless way, as if it were all part of the great past as much as the dead they named. One hundred and nine- teen times they had been in action. Only seven- teen men were left of the eighty odd who had first enlisted in the battery, and of these four were at home crippled for life. Two of the old- est men had been among the half-dozen who had fallen in the skirmish just the day before. It looked tolerably hard to be killed that way after 26 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS passing for four years through such battles as they had been in; and both had wives and chil- dren at home, too, and not a cent to leave them to their names. They agreed calmly that they 'd have to "sort of look after them a little" if they ever got home. These were some of the things they talked about as they pulled their old worn coats about them, stuffed their thin, weather- stained hands in their ragged pockets to warm them, and squatted down under the breastwork to keep a little out of the wind. One thing they talked about a good deal was something to eat. They described meals they had had at one time or another as personal adventures, and dis- cussed the chances of securing others in the future as if they were prizes of fortune. One listening and seeing their thin, worn faces and their wasted frames might have supposed they were starving, and they were, but they did not say so. Towards the middle of the afternoon there was a sudden excitement in the camp. A dozen men saw them at the same time: a squad of three men down the road at the farthest turn, past their picket; but an advancing column could not have created as much excitement, for the middle man carried a white flag. In a minute 27 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS every man in the battery was on the breastwork. What could it mean! It was a long way off, nearly half a mile, and the flag was small: possibly only a pocket-handkerchief or a.napkin; but it was held aloft as a flag unmistakably. A hundred conjectures were indulged in. Was it a summons to surrender A request for an armistice for some purpose Or was it a trick to ascertain their number and position Some held one view, some another. Some extreme ones thought a shot ought to be fired over them to warn them not to come on; no flags of truce were wanted. The old Colonel, who had walked to the edge of the plateau outside the redoubt and taken his position where he could study the advancing figures with his field-glass, had not spoken. The lieutenant who was next in com- mand to him had walked out after him, and stood near him, from time to time. dropping a word or two of conjecture in a half-audible tone; but the Colonel had not answered a word; perhaps none was expected. Suddenly he took his glass down, and gave an order to the lieu- tenant: "Take two men and meet them at the turn yonder; learn their business; and act as your best judgment advises. If necessary to bring the messenger farther, bring only the 28 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS officer who has the flag, and halt him at that rock yonder, where I will join him.' The tone was as placid as if such an occurrence came every day. Two minutes later the lieutenant was on his way down the mountain and the Colonel had the men in the ranks. His face was as grave and his manner as quiet as usual, neither more nor less so. Thd men were in a state of suppressed excitement. Having put them in charge of the second sergeant the Colonel returned to the breastwork. The two officers were slowly ascending the hill, side by side, the bearer of the flag, now easily distin- guishable in his jaunty uniform as a captain of cavalry, talking, and the lieutenant in faded gray faced with yet more faded red, walking beside him with a face white even at that dis- tance, and lips shut as though they would never open again. They halted at the big bowlder which the Colonel had indicated, and the lieu- tenant, having saluted ceremoniously, turned to come up to the camp; the Colonel, however, went down to meet him. The two men met, but there was no spoken question; if the Colo- nel inquired it was only with the eyes. The lieutenant spoke, however. "He says," he began and stopped, then began again- "he 29 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS says, General Lee-" again he choked, then blurted out, "I believe it is all a lie-a damned lie. " " Not dead Not killed " said the Colonel, quickly. "No, not so bad as that; surrendered: sur- rendered his entire army at Appomattox day before yesterday. I believe it is all a damned lie," he broke out again, as if the hot denial relieved him. The Colonel simply turned away his face and stepped a pace or two off, and the two men stood motionless back to back for more than a minute. Then the Colonel stirred. "Shall I go back with you" the lieutenant asked, huskily. The Colonel did not answer immediately. Then he said: "No, go back to camp and await my return." He said nothing about not speak- ing of the report. He knew it was not needed. Then he went down the hill slowly alone, while the lieutenant went up. to the camp. The interview between the two officers beside the bowlder was not a long one. It consisted of a brief statement by the Federal envoy o! the fact of Lee 's surrender two days be- fore near Appomattox Court-House, with the sources of his information, coupled with a for- 30 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS mal demand on the Colonel for his surrender. To this the Colonel replied that he had been detached and put under command of another officer for a specific purpose, and that his orders were to hold that pass, which he should do until he was instructed otherwise by his supe- rior in command. With that they parted, cere- moniously, the Federal captain returning to where lie had left his horse in charge of his companions a little below, and the old Colonel coming slowly up the hill to camp. The men were at once set to work to meet any attack which might be made. They knew that the mes- sage was of grave import, but not cf how grave. They thought it meant that another attack would be made immediately, and they sprang to their work with renewed vigor, and a zeal as fresh as if it were but the beginning and not the end. The time wore on, however, and there was no demonstration below, though hour after hour it was expected and even hoped for. Just as the sun sank into a bed of blue cloud a horse- man was seen coming up the darkened moun- tain from the eastward side, and in a little while practised eyes reported him one of their own men-the sergeant who had been sent back 31 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS the day before for ammunition. He was alone, and had something white before him on his horse-it could not be the ammunition; but per- haps that might be coining on behind. Every step of his jaded horse was anxiously watched, As he drew near, the lieutenant, after a word with the Colonel, walked down to meet him, and there was a short colloquy in the muddy road; then they came back together and slowly entered the camp, the sergeant handing down a bag of corn which he had got somewhere be- low, with the grim remark to his comrades, "There 's your rations," and going at once to the Colonel 's camp-fire, a little to one side among the trees, where the Colonel awaited him. A long conference was held, and then the sergeant left to take his luck with his mess, who were already parching the corn he had brought for their supper, while the lieutenant made the round of the camp; leaving the Colonel seated alone on a log by his camp-fire. He sat without moving, hardly stirring until the lieutenant re- turned from his round. A minute later the men were called from the guns and made to fall into line. They were silent, tremulous with sup- pressed excitement; the most sun-burned and weather-stained of them a little pale; the mean- 32 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS est, raggedest, and most insignificant not un- impressive in the deep and solemn silence with which they stood, their eyes fastened on the Colonel, waiting for him to speak. He stepped out in front of them, slowly ran his eye along the irregular line, up and down, taking in every man in his glance, resting on some longer than on others, the older men, then dropped them to the ground, and then suddenly, as if with an effort, began to speak. His voice had a some- what metallic sound, as if it were restrained; but it was otherwise the ordinary tone of com- mand. It was not much that he said: simply that it had become his duty to acquaint them with the information which he had received: that General Lee had surrendered two days before at Appomattox Court-House, vielding to overwhelming numbers; that this afternoon when he had first heard the report he had ques- tioned its truth. but that it had been confirmed by one of their own men, and no longer admitted of doubt; that the rest of their own force, it was learned, had been captured, or had dis- banded, and the enemy was now on both sides of the mountain; that a demand had been made on him that morning to surrender too; but that he had orders which he felt held good until 33 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS they were countermanded, and he had declined. Later intelligence satisfied him that to attempt to hold out further would be useless, and would involve needless waste of life; he had deter- mined, therefore, not to attempt to hold their position longer; but to lead them out, if possible, so as to avoid being made prisoners and enable them to reach home sooner and aid their fain- ilies. His orders were not to let his guns fall into the enemy's hands, and he should take the only step possible to prevent it. In fifty minutes he should call the battery into line once more. and roll the guns over the cliff into the river, and immediately afterwards, leaving the wag- ons there, he would try to lead them across the mountain, and as far as they could go in a body without being liable to capture, and then he should disband them, and his responsibility for them would end. As it was necessary to make some preparations he would now dismiss them to prepare any rations they might have and get ready to march. All this was in the formal manner of a com- mon order of the day; and the old Colonel had spoken in measured sentences, with little feeling in his voice. Not a man in the line had uttered a word after the first sound, half exclamation, 34 THE BUIRIAL OF THE GUNS half groan, which had burst from them at the announcement of Lee's surrender. After that they had stood in their tracks like rooted trees, as motionless as those on the mountain behind them, their eyes fixed on their commander, and only the quick heaving up and down the dark line, as of horses overlaboring, told of the emo- tion which was shaking them. The Colonel, as lie ended, half-turned to his subordinate officer at the end of the dim line, as though he were about to turn the company over to him to be dismissed; then faced the line again, and taking a step nearer, with a sudden movement of his hands towards the men as though he would have stretched them out to them, began again: "Men," he said, and his voice changed at the word, and sounded like a father's or a brother's, " My men, I cannot let you go so. We were neighbors when the war began-many of us, and some not here to-night; we have been more since then-comrades, brothers in arms; we have all stood for one thing-for Virginia and the South; we have all done our duty-tried to do our duty; we have fought a good fight, and now it seems to be over, and we have beein overwhelmed by numbers, not whipped-and we are going home. We have the future before 35 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS us-we don't know just what it will bring, but we can stand a good deal. We have proved it. Upon us depends the South in the future as in the past. You have done your duty in the past, you will not fail in the future. Go home and be honest, brave, self-sacrificing, God-fear- ing citizens, as you have been soldiers, and you need not fear for Virginia and the South. The war may be over; but you will ever be ready to serve your country. The end may not be as we wanted it, prayed for it, fought for it; but we can trust God; the end in the end will be the best that could be; even if the South is not free she will be better and stronger that she fought as she did. Go home and bring up your children to love her, and though you may have nothing else to leave them, you can leave them the heritage that they are sons of men who were in Lee's army." He stopped, looked up and down the ranks again, which had instinctively crowded together and drawn around him in a half-circle; made a sign to the lieutenant to take charge, and turned abruptly on his heel to walk away. But as he did so, the long pent-up emotion burst forth. With a wild cheer the men seized him, crowding around and hugging him, as with protestations, 36 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS prayers, sobs, oaths-broken, incoherent, inar- ticulate-they swore to be faithful, to live loyal forever to the South, to him, to Lee. Many of them cried like children; others offered to go down and have one more battle on the plain. The old Colonel soothed them, and quieted their excitement, and then gave a command about the preparations to be made. This called them to order at once; and in a few minutes the camp was as orderly and quiet as usual: the fires were replenished; the scanty stores were being overhauled; the place was selected, and being got ready to roll the guns over the cliff; the camp was being ransacked for such articles as could be carried, and all prepara- tions were being hastily made for their march. The old Colonel having completed his ar- rangements sat down by his camp-fire with pa- per and pencil, and began to write; and as the men finished their work they gath-red about in groups, at first around their, camp-fires, but shortly strolled over to where the guns still stood at the breastwork, black and vague in the darkness. Soon they were all assembled about the guns. One after another they visited, clos- ing around it and handling it from muzzle to trail as a man might a horse to try its sinew 37 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS and bone, or a child to feel its fineness and warmth. They were for the most part silent, and when any sound came through the dusk from them to the officers at their fire, it was murmurous and fitful as of men speaking low and brokenly. There was no sound of the noisy controversy which was generally heard, the give-and-take of the camp-fire, the firing back- wards and forwards that went on on the march; if a compliment was paid a gun by one of its special detachment, it was accepted by the others; in fact, those who had generally run it down now seemed most anxious to accord the piece praise. Presently a small number of the men returned to a camp-fire, and, building it up, seated themselves about it, gathering closer and closer together until they were in a little knot. One of them appeared to be writing, while two or three took up flaming chunks from the fire and held them as torches for him to see by. In time the entire company assembled about them, standing in respectful silence, broken only occasionally by a reply from one or another to some question from the scribe. After a little there was a sound of a roll-call, and reading and a short colloquy followed, and then two men, one with a paper in his hand, 38 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS approached the fire beside which the officer sat still engaged. "What is it, Harris " said the Colonel to the man with the paper, who bore remnants of the chevrons of a sergeant on his stained and faded jacket. "If you please, sir," he said, with a salute, "we have been talking it over, and we 'd like this paper to go in along with that you 're writ- ing. " He held it out to the lieutenant, who was the nearer and had reached forward to take it. "We s'pose you 're agoin' to bury it with the guns, " he said, hesitatingly, as he handed it over. "What is it." asked the Colonel, shading his eyes with his hands. "It 's just a little list we made out in and among us," he said, "with a few things we 'd like to put in, so 's if anyone ever hauls 'em out they '11 find it there to tell what the old battery was, and if they don't, it '11 be in one of 'em down thar 'til judgment, an' it '11 sort of ease our minds a bit. " He stopped and waited as a man who had delivered his message. The old Colonel had risen and taken the paper, and now held it with a firm grasp, as if it might blow away with the rising wind. He did not 39 THE BURIAL OF TIlE GUNS say a word, but his hand shook a little as be proceeded to fold it carefully, and there was a burning gleam in his deep-set eyes, back under his bushy, gray brows. " Will you sort of look over it, sir, if you think it 's worth while We was in a sort of hurry and we had to put it down just as we come to it; we did n't have time to pick our ammunition; and it ain't written the best in the world, nohow." He waited again, and the Colonel opened the paper and glanced down at it mechanically. It contained first a roster, headed by the list of six guns, named by name: " Matthew, " " Mark, " " Luke, " and " John, " " The Eagle, " and " The Cat"; then of the men, beginning with the heading: "THOSE KILLED" Then had followed "Those wounded," but this was marked out. Then came a roster of the company when it first entered service; then of those who had joined afterward; then of those who were present now. At the end of all there was this statement, not very well written, nor wholly accurately spelt: "To whom it may concern: We, the above 40 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS members of the old battery known, etc., of six guns, named, etc., commanded by the said Col. etc., left on the 11th day of April, 1865, have made out this roll of the battery, them as is gone and them as is left, to bury with the guns which the same we bury this night. We 'ra all volunteers, every man; we joined the army at the beginning of the war, and we 've stuck through to the end; sometimes we ain't had much to eat, and sometimes we ain't had nothin', but we 've fought the best we could 119 battles and skirmishes as near as we can make out in four years, and never lost a gun. Now we 're agoin' home. We aint surrendered; just disbanded, and we pledges ourselves to teach our children to love the South and General Lee; and to come when we 're called anywheres an' anytime, so help uas God." There was a dead silence whilst the Colonel read. " 'T ain't entirely accurite, sir, in one par- ticular, " said the sergeant, apologetically; "but we thought it would be playin' it sort o' low down on the Cat if we was to say we lost her unless we could tell about gittin' of her back, and the way she done since, and we did n't have time to do all that." He looked around 41 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS as if to receive the corroboration of the other men, which they signified by nods and shuf- fling. The Colonel said it was all right, and the paper should go into the guns. "If you please, sir, the guns are all loaded," said the sergeant; "in and about our last charge, too; and we'd like to fire 'em off once more, jist for old times' sake to remember 'em by, if you don't think no harm could come of it " The Colonel reflected a moment and said it might be done; they might fire each gun separately as they rolled it over, or might get all ready and fire together, and then roll them over, whichever they wished. This was satis- factory. The men were then ordered to prepare to march immediately, and withdrew for the pur- pose. The pickets were called in. In a short time they were ready, horses and all, just as they would have been to march ordinarily, ex- cept that the wagons and caissons were packed over in one corner of the camp with the harness hung on poles beside them, and the guns stood in their old places at the breastwork ready to defend the pass. The embers of the sinking camp-fires threw a faint light on them standing 42 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS so still and silent. The old Colonel took his place, and at a command from him in a some- what low voice, the men, except a detail left to hold the horses, moved into company-front fac- ing the guns. Not a word was spoken, except the words of command. At the order each de- tachment went to its gun; the guns were run back and the men with their own hands ran them up on the edge of the perpendicular bluff above the river, where, sheer below, its waters washed its base, as if to face an enemy on the black mountain the other side. The pieces stood ranged in the order in which they had so often stood in battle, and the gray, thin fog rising slowly and silently from the river deep down between the cliffs, and wreathing the mountain-side above, might have been the smoke from some unearthly battle fought in the dim pass by ghostly guns, yet posted there in the darkness, manned by phantom gunners, while phantom horses stood behind, lit vaguely up by phantom camp-fires. At the given word the laniards were pulled together, and together as one the six black guns, belching flame and lead, roared their last challenge on the misty night, sending a deadly hail of shot and shell, tearing the trees and splintering rocks of the 43 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS farther side, and sending the thunder reverber- ating through the pass and down the mountain, startling from its slumber the sleeping camp on the hills below, and driving the browsing deer and the prowling mountain-fox in terror up the mountain. There was silence among the men about the guns for one brief instant and then such a cheer burst forth as had never broken from them even in battle: cheer on cheer, the long, wild, old familiar rebel yell for the guns they had. fought with and loved. The noise had not died away and the men behind were still trying to quiet the frightened horses when the sergeant, the same who had written, received from the hand of the Colonel a long package or roll which contained the records of the battery furnished by the men and by the Colonel himself, securely wrapped to make them water-tight, and it was rammed down the yet warm throat of the nearest gun, the Cat, and then the gun was tamped to the muzzle to make her water-tight, and, like her sisters, was spiked, and her vent tamped tight. All this took but a minute, and the next instant the guns were run up once more to the edge of the cliff; and the men stood by them with their 44 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS hands still on them. A deadly silence fell on the men, and even the horses behind seemed to feel the spell. There was a long pause, in which not a breath was heard from any man, and the soughing of the tree-tops above and the rushing of the rapids below were the only sounds. They seemed to come from far, very far away. Then the Colonel said, quietly, "Let them go, and God be our helper, Amen. " There was the noise in the darkness of tramp- ling and scraping on the cliff-top for a second; the sound as of men straining hard together, and then with a pant it ceased all at once, and the men held their breath to hear. One second of utter silence; then one prolonged, deep, re- sounding splash sending up a great mass of white foam as the brass-pieces together plunged into the water below, and then the sough- ing of the trees and the murmur of the river caine again with painful distinctness. It was full ten minutes before the Colonel spoke, though there were other sounds enough in the darkness, and some of the men, as the dark, out- stretched bodies showed, were lying on the ground flat on their faces. Then the Colonel gave the command to fall in in the same quiet, grave tone he had used all night. The line 45 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS fell in, the men getting to their horses and mounting in silence; the Colonel put himself at their head and gave the order of march, and the dark line turned in the darkness, crossed the little plateau between the smouldering camp-fires and the spectral caissons with the harness hanging beside them, and slowly en- tered the dim. charcoal-burner's track. Not a word was spoken as they moved off. They might all have been phantoms. Only, the sergeant in the rear, as he crossed the little breastwork which ran along the upper side and marked the boundary of the little camp, half turned and glanced at the dying fires, the low, newly made mounds in the corner, the abandoned caissons, and the empty redoubt, and said, slowly, in a low voice to himself, "Well, by Godl" 46 LITTLE DARBY This page in the original text is blank. LITTLE DARBY I THE County had been settled as a "fron- tier" in early colonial days, and when it ceased to be frontier, settlement had taken a jump beyond it, and in a certain sense over it, to the richer lands or the Piedmont. When. later on, steam came, the railway simply cut across it at its narrowest part, and then skirted along just inside its border on the bank of the little river which bounded it on the north, as if it intentionally left it to one side. Thus, mod- ern progress had not greatly interfered with it either for good or bad, and its development was entirely natural. It was divided into "neighborhoods," a name in itself implying something both of its age and origin; for the population was old, and the cus- toms of life and speech were old likewise. This chronicle, however, is not of the "neigh- 49 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS borhoods," for they were known, or may be known by any who will take the trouble to plunge boldly in and throw themselves on the hospitality of any of the dwellers therein. It is rather of the unknown tract, which lay vague and undefined in between the several neighbor- hoods of the upper end. The history of the former is known both in peace and in war: in the pleasant homesteads which lie on the hills above the little rivers which make down through the county to join the great river below, and in the long list of those who fell in battle, and whose names are recorded on the slabs set up by their comrades on the walls of the old Court House. The history of the latter, however, is unrecorded. The lands were in the main very poor and grown up in pine, or else, where the head-waters of a little stream made down in a number of "branches," were swampy and malarial. Possibly it was this poverty of the soil or unwholesomeness of their location, which more than anything else kept the people of this district somewhat distinct from others around them, however poor they might be. They dwelt in their little cabins among their pines, or down on the edges of the swampy district, distinct both from the gentlemen on their old planta- 50 LITTLE DARBY tions and from the sturdy farmer-folk who owlned the smaller places. What title they had to their lands originally, or how they traced it back, or where they had come from, no one knew. They had been there from time imme- morial, as long or longer, if anything, than the owners of the plantations about them; and in- significant as they were, they were not the kind to attempt to question, even had anyone been inclined to do so, which no one was. They had the names of the old English gen- try, and were a clean-limbed, blond, blue-eyed people. When they were growing to middle age, their life told on them and made them weather- beaten, and not infrequently hard-visaged; but when they were young there were often among them straight, supple young fellows with clear- cut features, and lithe, willowy-looking girls, with pink faces and blue, or brown, or hazel eyes, and a mien which one might have expected to find in a hall rather than in a cabin. Darby Stanley and Cove Mills (short for Coverley) were the leaders of the rival factions of the district. They lived as their fathers had lived before them, on opposite sides of the little stream, the branches of which crept through 51 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS the alder and gum thickets between them, and contributed to make the district almost as fin- penetrable to the uninitiated as a mountain fastness. The long log-cabin of the Cove Millses, where room had been added to room in a straight line, until it looked like the side of a log fort, peeped from its pines across at the clearing where the hardly more pretentious home of Darby Stanley was set back amid a little orchard of ragged peach-trees, and half hidden under a great wistaria vine. But though the two places lay within rifle shot of each other, they were almost as completely divided as if the big river below had rolled betWeen them. Since the great fight between old Dar- by and Cove Mills over Henry Clay, there had rarely been an election in which some members of the two families had not had a "clinch." They had to be thrown together sometimes "at meeting," and their children now and then met down on the river fishing, or at "the wash- ing hole," as the deep place in the little stream below where the branches ran together, was called; but they held themselves as much aloof from each other as their higher neighbors, the Hampdens and the Douwills, did on their plan- tations. The children, of course, would "run together," nor did the parents take steps to 52 LITTLE DARBY prevent them, sure that they would, as they grew up, take their own sides as naturally as they themselves had done in their day. Mean- time "children were children," and they need not be worried with things like grown-up folk. When Aaron Hall died and left his little farm and all his small belongings to educate free the children of his poor neighbors, the farmers about availed themselves of his bene- faction, and the children for six miles around used to attend the little school which was started in the large hewn-log school-house on the road- side known as "Hall's Free School. " Few people knew the plain, homely, hard-working man, or wholly understood hint. Some thought him stingy, some weak-minded, some only queer, and at first his benefaction was hardly compre- hended; but in time quite a little oasis began about the little fountain, which the poor farm- er's bequest had opened under the big oaks by the wayside, and gradually its borders extended, until finally it penetrated as far as the district, and Cove Mills's children appeared one morn- ing at the door of the little school-house, and, with sheepish faces and timid voices, informed the teacher that their father had sent them to school. At first there was some debate over at Darby 53 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Stanley's place, whether they should show their contempt for the new departure of the Millses, by standing out against them, or should follow their example. It was hard for a Stanley to have to follow a Mills in anything. So they stood out for a year. As it seemed, however, that the Millses were getting something to which the Stanleys were as much entitled as they, one morning little Darby Stanley walked in at the door, and without taking his hat off, announced that he had come to go to school. He was about fifteen at the time, but he must have been nearly six feet (his sobriquet being wholly due to the fact that Big Darby was older, not taller), and though he was spare, there was something about his face as he stoo(l in the open door, or his eye as it rested de- fiantly on the teacher's face, which prevented more than a general buzz of surprise. "Take off your hat," said the teacher, and he took it off slowly. " I suppose you can read " was the first question. "No. " A snicker ran around the room, and little Darby's brow clouded. As he not only could not read, but could not even spell, and in fact did not know his letters, 54 LITTLE DARBY he was put into the alphabet class, the class of the smallest children in the school. Little Darbv walked over to the corner indi- cated with his head up, his hands in his pockets, and a roll in his gait full of defiance, and took his seat on the end of the bench and looked straight before him. He could hear the tittei- around him, and a lowering look came into his blue eyes. He glanced sideways down the bench opposite. It happened that the next seat to his was that of Vashti Mills, who was at that time just nine. She was not laughing, but was looking at Darby earnestly, and as he caught her eye she nodded to him, "Good-mornin'." It was the first greeting the boy had received, and though he returned it sullenly, it warned him, and the cloud passed from his brow and presently lie looked at her again. She handed him a book. He took it and looked at it as if it were something that might explode. He was not an apt scholar; perhaps he had begun too late; perhaps there was some other cause; but though he could swim better, climb better, and run faster than any bov in the school, or, for that matter, in the county, and knew the habits of every bird that flitted through the woods and of every animal that 55 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS lived in the district, he was not good at his books. His mind was on other things. When he had spent a week over the alphabet, he did know a letter as such, but only by the places on the page they were on, and gave up when "big A" was shown him on another page, only ask- ing how in the dickens "big A" got over there. He pulled off his coat silently whenever or- dered and took his whippings like a lamb, with- out a murmur and almost without flinching, but every boy in the school learned that it was dan- gerous to laugh at him; and though he could not learn to read fluently or to train his fingers to guide a pen, he could climb the tallest pine in the district to get a young crow for Vashti, and could fashion all sorts of curious whistles, snares, and other contrivances with his long fingers. He did not court popularity, was rather cold and unapproachable, and Vashti Mills was about the only other scholar with whom he seemed to be on warm terms. Many a time when the tall boy stood up before the thin teacher, helpless and dumb over some question which almost anyone in the school could answer, the little girl, twisting her fingers in an ecstasy of anxiety, whispered to him the answer in the 56 LITTLE DARBY face of almost certain detection and of abso- lutely certain punishment. In return, lie wor- shipped the ground she walked on, and which- ever side Vashti was on, Darby was sure to be on it too. He climbed the tallest trees to get her nuts; waded into the miriest swamps to find her more brilliant nosegays of flowers than the other girls had; spent hours to gather rarer birds' eggs than they had, and was everywhere and always her silent worshipper and faithful champion. They soon learned that the way to secure his help in anything was to get Vashti Mills to ask it, and the little girl quickly dis- covered her power and used it as remorse- lessly over her tall slave as any other despot ever did. They were to be seen any day trail- ing along the plantation paths which the school- children took from the district, the others in a clump, and the tall boy and little calico-clad girl, who seemed in summer manily sun-bonnet and bare legs, either following or going before the others at some distance. The death of Darby-of old Darby, as lie had begun to be called-eut off Little Darby from his " schoolin ',I' in the middle of his tlhirdI year, and before he had learned more than to read and cipher a little and to write in a scrawl- 57 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS fashion; for he had been rather irregular in his attendance at all times. He now stopped altogether, giving the teacher as his reason, with characteristic brevity: "Got to work." Perhaps no one at the school mourned the long-legged boy's departure except his little friend Vashti, now a well-grown girl of twelve, very straight and slim and with big dark eyes. She gave him when he went away the little Testament she had gotten as a prize, and which was one of her most cherished possessions. Other boys found the first honor as climber, run- ner, rock-flinger, wrestler, swimmer, and fighter open once more to them, and were free from the silent and somewhat contemptuous gaze of him who, however they looked down on him, was a sort of silent power among them. Vashti alone felt a void and found by its sudden ab- sence how great a force was the steady back- ing of one who could always be counted on to take one's side without question. She had to bear the gibes of the school as "Miss Darby," and though her two brothers were ready enough to fight for her if boys pushed. her too hardly, they could do nothing against girls, and the girls were her worst tormentors. The name was fastened on her, and it clung 58 LITTLE DARBY to her until, as time went on, she came to al- most hate the poor innocent cause of it. Meantime Darby, beginning to fill out and take on the shoulders and form of a man, began to fill also the place of the man in his little home. This among other things meant opposi- tion, if not hostility, to everything on Cove Mills's side. When old Darby died the Millses all went to the funeral, of course; but that did not prevent their having the same feeling to- ward Little Darby afterward, and the breach continued. At first he used to go over occasionally to see Vashti and carry her little presents, as he had done at school; but he soon found that it was not the same thing. He was always received ccolly, and shortly he was given to understand that he was not wanted there, and in time Vashti herself showed that she was not the same she had been to him before. Thus the young fellow was thrown back on himself, and the hos- tility between the two cabins was as great as ever. He spent much of his time in the woods, for the Stanley place was small at best, only a score or so of acres, and mostly covered with pines, and little Darby was but a poor hand at work- 59 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ing with a hoe-their only farm implement. He was, however, an unerring shot, with an eye like a hawk to find a squirrel flat on top of the grayest limb of the tallest hickory in the woods, or a hare in her bed among the brownest broomsedge in the county, and he knew the habits of fish and bird and animal as if he had created them; and though he could not or would not handle a hoe, he was the best hand at an axe "in the stump," in the district, and MArs. Stanley was kept in game if not in ineal The Millses dilated on his worthlessness, and Vashti, grown to be a slender slip of a girl with very bright eyes and a little nose, was loudest against him in public; though rumor said she had fallen afoul of her youngest brother and boxed his jaws for seconding something she had said of him. The Mills 's enmity was well understood, and there were not wanting those to take Darby's side. He had grown to be the likeliest young man in the district, tall, and straight as a sap- ling, and though Vashti flaunted her hate of him and turned up her little nose more than it was already turned up at his name, there were many other girls in the pines who looked at him languishingly from under their long sun-bon- 60 LITTLE DARUBY nets, and thought he was worth both the Mills boys and Vashti to boot. So when at a fish-fry the two Mills boys attacked him and he whipped them both together, some said it served them right, while others declared they did just what they ought to have done, and intimated that Darby was less anxious to meet their father than he was them, who were nothing more than boys to him. These asked in proof of their view why he had declined to fight when Old Cove had abused him so to his face. This was met by the fact that he "could not have been so mighty afeared," for he had jumped in and saved Chris. Mills's life ten minutes afterward, when he got beyond his depth in the pond and had already sunk twice. But, then, to be sure, it had to be admitted that he was the best swim- mer on the ground, and that any man there would have gone in to save his worst enemy if he had been drowning. This must have been the view that Vashti Mills took of the case; for one day not long afterward, having met Darby at the Cross-roads store where she was looking at some pink calico, and where he had come to get some duck-shot and waterproof caps, she turned on him publicly, and with flashing eyes and mantling cheeks, gave him to understand 61 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS that if she were a man he "would not have had to fight two boys," and he would not have come off so well either. If anything, this attack brought Darby friends, for he not only had whipped the Mills boys fairly, and had fought only when they pressed him, but had, as has been said, declined to fight old man Mills un- der gross provocation; and besides, though they ,were younger than he, the Mills boys were seventeen and eighteen, and "not such babies either; if they insisted on fighting they had to take what they got and not send their sister to talk and abuse a man about it afterward. " And the weight of opinion was that, "that Vasbti Mills was gettin' too airified and set up any- ways. " All this reached Mrs. Stanley, and was no doubt sweet to her ears. She related it in her drawling voice to Darby as he sat in the door one evening, but it did not seem to have much effect on him; he never stirred or showed by word or sign that he even heard her, and fin- ally, without speaking, he rose and lounged away into the woods. The old woman gazed after him silently until he disappeared, and then gave a look across to where the Mills cabin peeped from among the pines, which was full of hate. 62 LITTLE DARBY THE fish-fry at which Darby Stanley had first fought the Mills boys and then pulled one of them out of the river, had been given by one of the county candidates for election as dele- gate to a convention which was to be held at the capital, and possibly the division of senti- ment in the district between the Millses and Little Darby was as much due to political as to personal feeling; for the sides were grow- ing more and more tightly drawn, and the Millses, as usual, were on one side and Little Darby on the other; and both sides had strong adherents. The question was on one side, Se- cession, with probable war; and on the other, the Union a-s it was. The Millses were for the candidate who advocated the latter, and Lit- tle Darby was for him who wanted secession. Both candidates were men of position and pop- ularity, the one a young man and the other older, and both were neighbors. The older man was elected, and shortly the question became imminent, and all the talk about the Cross-roads was of war. As time had worn on, Little Darby, always silent, had be- come more and more so, and seemed to be grow- ing morose. He spent more and more of his timne in the woods or about the Cross-roads, the only store and post-office near the district 63 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS where the little tides of the quiet life around used to meet. At length Mrs. Stanley consid- ered it so serious that she took it upon herself to go over and talk to her neighbor, Mrs. Dow- will, as she generally did on matters too in- tricate and grave for the experience of the dis- trict. She found Mrs. Douwill, as always, sympathetic and kind, and though she took back with her not much enlightenment as to the cause of her son's trouble or its cure, she went home in a measure comforted with the assur- ance of the sympathy of one stronger than she. She had found out that her neighbor, power- ful and rich as she seemed to her to be, had her own troubles and sorrows; she heard from her of the danger of war breaking out at any time, and her husband would enlist among the first. Little Darby did not say much when his mother told of her visit; but his usually down- cast eyes had a new light in them, and he began to visit the Cross-roads oftener. At last one day the news that came to the Cross-roads was that there was to be war. It had been in the air for some time, but now it was undoubted. It came in the presence of AMr. Douwill himself, who had come the night be- fore and was commissioned by the Governor to 64 LITTLE DARBY raise a company. There were a number of people there-quite a crowd for the Cross-roads -for the stir had been growing day by day, and excitement and anxiety were on the increase. The papers had been full of secession, firing on flags, raising troops, and everything; but that was far off. When Mr. Douwill appeared in person it came nearer, though still few, if any, quite took it in that it could be actual and im- mediate. Among those at the Cross-roads that day were the Millses, father and sons, who looked a little critically at the speaker as one who had always been on the other side. Little Darby was also there, silent as usual, but with a light burning in his blue eyes. That evening, when Little Darby reached home, which he did somewhat earlier tlhn usual, he announced to his mother that he had enlisted as a soldier. The old woman was standing before her fireplace when he told her, and she leaned against it quite still for a mo- ment; then she sat down, stumbling a little on the rough hearth as she made her way to her little broken chair. Darby got up and found her a better one, which she took without a word. Whatever entered into her soul in the little cabin that night, when she went among her 65 THE BPURIAL OF THE GUNS neighbors she was a soldier's mother. She even -went over to Cove Mills's on some pretext con- nected with Darby's going. Vashti was not at home, but Mrs. Mills was, and she felt a sudden loss, as if somehow the Millses had fallen be- low the Stanleys. She talked of it for several days; she could not make out entirely what it was. Vashti's black eyes flashed. The next day Darby went to the Cross-roads to drill; there was,. besides the recruits, who were of every class, quite a little crowd there to look at the drill. Among them were two women of the poorest class, one old and faded, rather than gray, the other hardly better dressed, though a slim figure, straight and trim gave her a certain distinction, even had not a few ribbons and a little ornament or two on her pink calico, with a certain air, showed that she was accustomed to being admired. The two women found themselves together once during the day, and their eyes met. It was just as the line of soldiers passed. Those of the elder lighted with a sudden spark of mingled triumph and hate, those of the younger flashed back for a moment, and then fell be- neath the elder's gaze. There was much en- thusiasm about the war, and among others, 66 LITTLE DARBY both of the Mills boys enlisted before the day was ended, their sister going in with them to the room where their names were entered on the roll, and coming out with flashing eyes and mant- uing cheeks. She left the place earlier than most of the crowd, but not until after the drill was over and some of the young soldiers had gone home. The Mills boys' enlistment was set down in the district to Vashti, and some said it was because she wa.s jealous of Little Darby being at the end of the company, with a new gun and such a fine uniform; for her hatred of Little Darby was well known; anyhow, theih example -was followed, and in a short time nearly all the young men in the district had enlisted. At last one night a summons came for the company to assemble at the Cross-roads next day with arms and equipment. Orders had come for them to report at once at the capital of the State for drill, before being sent into the field to repel a force which, report said, was already on the way to invade the State. There was the greatest excitement and enthusiasm. This was war! And everyone was ready to meet it. The day was given to taking an ini- ventory of arms and equipment, and then there 67 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS was a drill, and then the company was dismissed for the night, as many of them had families of whom they had not taken leave, and as they had not come that day prepared to leave, and were ordered to join the commander next day, prepared to march. Little Darby escorted his mother home, taci- turn as ever. At first there was quite a com- pany; but as they went their several ways to their home, at last Little Darby and his mother were left alone in the piney path, and made the last part of their way alone. Now and then the old woman's eyes were on him, and often his eyes were on her, but they did not speak; they just walked on in silence till they reached home. It was but a poor, little house even when the wistaria vine covered it, wall and roof, and the bees hummed among its clusters of violet blos- soms; but now the wistaria bush was only a tangle of twisted wires hung upon it, and the little weather-stained cabin looked bare and poor enough. As the young fellow stood in the door looking out with the evening light upon him, his tall, straight figure filled it as if it had been a frame. He stood perfectly motionless for some minutes, gazing across the gum thick- ets before him. 68 LITTLE DARBY The sun had set only about a half-hour and the light was still lingering on the under edges of the clouds in the west and made a sort of glow in the little yard before him, as it did ill front of the cabin on the other hill. His eye first swept the well-known horizon, taking in the thickets below him and the heavy pines on either side where it was already dusk, and then rested on the little cabin opposite. Whether he saw it or not, one could hardly have told, for his face wore a reminiscent look. Figures moved backward and forward over there, came out and went in, without his look changing. Even Vashti, faintly distinguishable in her gay dress, came out and passed down the hill alone, without his expression changing. It was, per- haps, fifteen minutes later that he seemed to awake, and after a look over his shoulder stepped from the door into the yard. His mother was cooking, and lie strolled down the path across the little clearing and entered the pines. Insensibly his pace quickened-he strode along the dusky path with as firmi a step as if it were broad daylight. A quarter of a mile below the path crossed the little stream and joined the path from Cove Mills's place, which he used to take when he went to school. He crossed at the old log and turned down the 69 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS path through the little clearing there. The next moment he stood face to face with Vashti Mills. Whether he was surprised or not no one could have told, for he said not a word, and his face was in the shadow, though Vashti's was toward the clearing and the light from the sky was on it. Her hat was in her hand. He stood still, but did not stand aside to let her pass, until she made an imperious little gesture and stepped as if she would have passed around him. Then he stood aside. But she did not appear in a hurry to avail herself of the freedom of- fered, she simply looked at him. He took off his cap sheepishly enough, and said, "Good- evenin'." "Good-evenin'," she said, and then, as the pause became embarrassing, she said, "Hear you 're agoin' away to-morrer" "Yes-to-morrer mornin'. " "When you 're acomin' back" she asked, after a pause in which she had been twisting the pink string of her hat. "Don't know-may be never." Had he been looking at her he might have seen the change which his words brought to her face; she lifted her eyes to his face for the first time since the half defiant glance she had given him when 70 LITTLE DARBY they met, and they had a strange light in them, but at the moment he was looking at a bow on her dress which had been pulled loose. He put out his hand and touched it and said: "You 're a-losin' yer bow," and as she found a pin and fastened it again, he added. "An' I don' know as anybody keers. " An overpowering impulse changed her and forced her to say: "I don't know as anybody does either; I know as I don't." The look on his face smote her, and the spark died out of her eyes as he said, slowly: ' No, I knowed you did n'! I don't know as anybody does, exceptin' my old woman. Maybe she will a little. I jist wanted to tell you that I would n't a' fit them boys if they had n't a' pushed me so hard, and I wan 't afeared to fight your old man, I jist would n't-that 's all." What answer she might have made to this was prevented by him; for he suddenly held out his hand with something in it, saying "Here." She instinctively reached out to take what- ever it was, and he placed in her hand a book which she recognized as the little Testament which she had won as a prize at school and had given him when they went to school together. 71 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS It was the only book she had ever possessed as her very own. "I brought this thinking as how maybe you might 'a'-wanted-me to keep it," he was go- ing to say; but he checked himself and said: "might 'a'-wanted it back." Before she could recover from the surprise of finding the book in her hand her own, he was gone. The words only camne to her clearly as his retreating footsteps grew fainter and his tall figure faded in the darkening light. She made a hasty step or two after him, then checked herself and listened intently to see if he were not returning, and then, as only the katydids answered, threw herself flat on the ground and grovelled in the darkness. There were few houses in the district or in the county where lights did not burn all that night. The gleam of the fire in Mrs. Stanley's little house could be seen all night from the door of the Mills cabin, as the candle by which Mrs. Mills complained while she and Vashti sewed, could be faintly seen fromn Little Darby's house. The two Mills boys slept stretched out on the one bed in the little centre-room. While the women sewed and talked fitfully by the single tallow candle, old Cove dozed 72 LITTLE DARBY in a chair with his long legs stretched out to- ward the fire and the two shining barrels of his sons' muskets resting against his knees, where they had slipped from his hands when he had finished rubbing them. The younger woman did most of the sewing. Her fingers were suppler than her mother's, and she scarcely spoke except to answer the lat- ter's querulous questions. Presently a rooster crowed somewhere in the distance, and almost immediately another crowed in answer closer at hand. "Thar 's the second rooster-crow, it 's gi t- tin' erlong toward the mornin'," said the elder woman. The young girl made no answer, but a moment later rose and, laying aside the thing she was sewing, walked to the low door and stepped out into the night. When she returned and picked up her sewing again, her mother said: "I de-clar, Vashti, you drinks mo' wawter than anybody I ever see." To which she made no answer. "Air they a-stirrin' over at Mis 's Stanley's " asked the mother. "They ain 't a-been to bed," said the girl, quietly; and then, as if a sudden thought had 73 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS struck her, she hitched her chair nearer the door which she had left open, and sat facing it as she sewed on the brown thing she was working on a small bow which she took from her dress. "I de-clar, I don't see what old Mis 's Stanley is actually a-gwine to do," broke out Mrs. Mills, suddenly, and when Vashti did not feel called on to try to enlighten her she added, "Do you" " Same as other folks, I s'pose, " said the girl, quietly. "Other folks has somebody-somebody to take keer on 'em. I 've got your pappy now; bue she ain 't got nobody but Little iDarby- and when he 's gone what will she do" For answer Vashti only hitched her chair a little nearer the door and sewed on almost in darkness. "Not that he was much account to her, ner to anybody else, except for goin' aroun' a-fightin' and a-fussin'. " I "He was account to her," flamed up the girl, suddenly; "he was account to her, to her and to everybody else. He was the fust soldier that 'listed, and he 's account to everybody." The old woman had raised her head in aston- ishment at her daughter's first outbreak, and was evidently about to reply sharply; but the 74 LITTLE DARBY girl's flushed face and flashing eyes awed and silenced her. ,"Well, well, I ain't sayin' nothin' against him," she said, presently. "Yes, you air-you 're always sayin' some- thin' against him-and so is everybody else- and they ain't fitten to tie his shoes. Why don't they say it to his face! There ain't one of -'em as dares it, and he 's the best soldier in the comrrp'ny, an' I 'm jest as proud of it as if he was my own." The old woman was evidently bound to de- fend herself. She said: "It don't lay in your mouth to take up for him, Vashti Mills; for you 're the one as has gone up and down and abused him scandalous." "Yes, and I know I did," said the girl, springing up excitedly and tossing her arms and tearing at her ribbons. "An' I told him to his face too, and that 's the only good thing about it. I knowed it was a lie too, and he knowed I knowed it was a lie-what 's more-and I 'm glad he did-fo' God I 'm glad he did. He could 'a' whipped the whole company an' he jest would n't-an' that 's God's truth-God's fatal truth." The next instant she was on her knees hunt- 75 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ing for something on the floor, in an agony of tears; and as her father, aroused by the noise, rose and asked a question, she sprang up and rushed out of the door. The sound of an axe was already coming through the darkness across the gum thickets from Mrs. Stanley's, telling that preparation was being made for Darby's last breakfast. It might have told more, however, by its long continuance; for it meant that Little Darby was cutting his mother a supply of wood to last till his return. Inside, the old woman, thin and faded, was rubbing his musket. THE sun was just rising above the pines, fill- ing the little bottom between the cabins with a sort of rosy light, and making the dewy bushes and weeds sparkle with jewel-strung gossamer webs, when little Darby, with his musket in his hand, stepped for the last time out of the low door. He had been the first soldier in the district to enlist, he must be on time. He paused just long enough to give one swift glance around the little clearing, and then set out along the path at his old swinging pace. At the edge of the pines he turned and glanced back. His mother was standing in the door, but whether 76 LITTLE DARBY she saw him or not he could not tell. He waved his hand to her, but she did not wave back, her eyes were failing somewhat. The next instant he disappeared in the pines. He had crossed the little stream on the old log and passed the point where he had met Vashti the evening before, when he thought he heard something fall a little ahead of him. It could not have been a squirrel, for it did not move after it fell. His old hunter's instinct caused him to look keenly down the path as he turned the clump of bushes which stopped his view; but he saw no squirrel or other mov- ing thing. The only thing he saw was a little brown something with a curious spot on it lying in the path some little way ahead. As he came nearer it, he saw that it was a small parcel not as big as a man's fist. Someone had evidently dropped it the evening before. He picked it up and examined it as lie strode along. It was a little case or wallet made of some brown stuff, such as women carry needles and thread in, and it was tied up with a bit of red, white and blue string, the Confederate oolors, on the end of which was sewed a small bow of pink ribbon. He untied it. It was what it looked to be: a roughly made little needle-case such as women 77 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS use, tolerably well stocked with sewing mate- rials, and it had something hard and almost square in a separate 'pocket. Darby opened this, and his gun almost slipped from his hand. Inside was the Testament he had given back to Vashti the evening before. He stopped stock- still, and gazed at it in amazement, turning it over in his hand. He recognized the bow of pink ribbon as one like that which she had had on her dress the evening before. She must have dropped it. Then it came to him that she must have given it to one of her brothers, and a pang shot through his heart. But how did it get where lie found it He was too keen a woodsman not to know that no footstep had gone before his on that path that morning. It was a mystery too deep for him, and after puz- zling over it a while he tied the parcel up again as nearly like what it had been before as he could, and determined to give it to one of the Mills boys when he reached the Cross-roads. He unbuttoned his jacket and put it into the little inner pocket, and then rebuttoning it care- fully, stepped out again more briskly than be- fore. It was perhaps an hour later that the Mills boys set out for the Cross-roads. Their father 78 LITTLE DARBY and mother went with them; but Vashti did not go. She had "been out to look for the cow," and got in only just before they left, still clad in her yesterday's finery; but it was wet and bedraggled with the soaking dew. When they were gone she sat down in the door, limp and dejected. More than once during the morning the girl rose and started down the path as if she would follow them and see the company set out on its march, but each time she caine back and sat down again in the door, remaining there for a good while as if in thought. Once she went over almost to Mrs. Stanley's, then turned back and sat down again. So the morning passed, and the first thing she knew, her father and mother had returned. The company had started. They were to march to the bridge that night. She heard them talk- ing over the appearance that they had made; the speech of the captain; the cheers that went up as they marched off-the enthusiasm of the crowd. Her father was in much excitement. Suddenly she seized her sun-bonnet and slipped out of the house and across the clearing, and the next instant she was flying down the path through the pines. She knew the road they had 79 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS taken, and a path that would strike it several miles lower down. She ran like a deer, up hill and down, availing herself of every short cut, until, about an hour after she started, she came out on the road. Fortunately for her, the de- lays incident to getting any body of new troops on the march had detained the company, and a moment's inspection of the road showed her that they had not yet passed. Clambering up a bank, she concealed herself and lay down. In a few moments she heard the noise they made in the distance, and she was still panting from her haste when they came along, the sol- diers marching in order, as if still on parade, and a considerable company of friends attend- ing them. Not a man, however, dreamed that, flat on her face in the bushes, lay a girl peering down at them with her breath held, but with a heart which beat so loud to her own ears that she felt they must hear it. Least of all did Darby Stanley, marching erect and tall in front, for all the sore heart in his bosom, know that her eyes were on him as long as she could see him. When Vashti brought up the cow that night it was later than usual. It perhaps was fortu- nate for her that the change made by the ab- 80 LITTLE DARBY sence of the boys prevented any questioning. After all the excitement her mother was in a fit of despondency. Her father sat in the door looking straight before him, as silent as the pine on which his vacant gaze was fixed. Even when the little cooking they had was through with and his supper was offered him, he never spoke. He ate in silence and then took his seat again. Even Mrs. Mills 's complaining about the cow straying so far brought no word from him any more than from Vashti. He sat silent as before, his long legs stretched out toward the fire. The glow of the embers fell on the rough, thin face and lit it up, bringing out the features and making them suddenly clear-cut and strong. It might have been only the fire, but there seemed the glow of something more, and the eyes burnt back under the shaggy brows. The two women likewise were silent, the elder now and then casting a glance at her husband. She offered him his pipe, but he said nothing, and silence fell as before. Presently she could stand it no longer. "[ de-clar, Vashti," she said, "I believe your pappy takes it most. harder than I does." The girl made some answer about the boys. It was hardly intended for him to hear, but he 81 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS rose suddenly, and walking to the door, took down from the two dogwood forks above it his old, long, single-barrelled gun, and turning to his wife said, "Git me my coat, old woman; by Gawd, I 'm a-gwine. " The two women were both on their feet in a second. Their faces were white and their hands were clenched under the sudden stress, their breath came fast. The older woman was the first to speak. "What in the wor' ken you do, Cove Mills, ole an' puny as you is, an' got the rheumatiz all the time, too" "I ken pint a gun," said the old man, dog- gedly, " an ' I 'm a-gwine. " "An' what in the worl' is a-goin' to become of us, an' that cow got to runnin' away so, I 'm afeared all the time she '11 git in the mash" Her tone was querulous, but it was not posi- tive, and when her husband said again, "I 'in a-gwine," she said no more, and all the time she was getting together the few things which Cove would take. As for Vashti, she seemed suddenly revivi- fled; she moved about with a new step, swift, supple, silent, her head up, a new light in her face, and her eyes, as they turned now and then on her father, filled with a new fire. She did 82 LITTLE DARBY not talk much. "I '11 a-teck care o' us all," she said once; and once again, when her mother gave something like a moan, she supported her with a word about " the only ones as gives three from one family." It was a word in sea- son, for the mother caught the spirit, and a moment later declared, with a new tone in her voice, that that was better than Mrs. Stanley, and still they were better off than she, for they still had two left to help each other, while she had not a soul. "I '11 teck care 'o us all," repeated the girl once more. It was only a few things that Cove Mills took with him that morning, when he set out in the darkness to overtake the company before they should break camp-hardly his old game-bag half full; for the equipment of the boys had stripped the little cabin of everything that could be of use. He might only have seemed to be going hunting, as he slung down the path with his old long-barrelled gun in his hand and his game-bag over his shoulder, and disappeared in the darkness from the eyes of the two women standing in the cabin door. The next morning Mrs. Mills paid Mrs. Stan- ley the first visit she had paid on that side the 83 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS branch since the day, three years before, when Cove and the boys had the row with Little Darby. It might have seemed accidental, but Mrs. Stanley was the first person in the district to know that all the Mills men were gone to the army. She went over again, from time to time, for it was not a period to keep up open hostil- ities, and she was younger than Mrs. Stanley and better off; but Vashti never went, and Mrs. Stanley never asked after her or came. II THE company in which Little Darby and the Millses had enlisted was one of the many hundred infantry companies which joined and were merged in the Confederate army. It was in no way particularly signalized by any- thing that it did. It was commanded by the gentlemen who did most toward getting it up; and the officers were gentlemen. The seventy odd men who made the rank and file were of all classes, from the sons of the oldest and wealthiest planters in the neighborhood to Little Darby and the dwellers in the district. The war was very different from what those 84 LITTLE DARBY who went into it expected it to be. Until it had gone on some time it seemed mainly marching and camping and staying in camp, quite use- lessly as seemed to many, and drilling and do- ing nothing. Much of the time-especially later on-was given to marching and getting food; but drilling and camp duties at first took up most of it. This was especially hard on the poorer men, no one knew what it was to them. Some moped, some fell sick. Of the former class was Little Darby. He was too strong to be sickly as one of the Mills boys was, who died of fever in the hospital only three months after they went in, and too silent to be as the other, who was jolly and could dance and sing a good song and was very popular in the Company; more popular even than Old Cove, who was popular in several rights, as being about the oldest man in the company and as having a sort of dry wit when he was in a good humor, which he generally was. Little Darby was hardly dis- tinguished at all, unless by the fact that he was somewhat taller than most of his comrades and somewhat more taciturn. He was only a common soldier of a common class in an ordi- nary infantry company, such a company as was common in the army. He still had the little 85 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS wallet which he had picked up in the path that morning he left home. He had asked both of the Mills boys vaguely if they ever had owned such a piece of property, but they had not, and when Old Cove told him that he had not either, he had contented himself and carried it about with him somewhat elaborately wrapped up and tied in an old piece of oilcloth and in his inside pocket for safety, with a vague feeling that some day he might find the owner or re- turn it. He was never on specially good terms with the Millses. Indeed, there was always a trace of coolness between them and him. He could not give it up to them. Now and then he untied and unwrapped it in a secret place and read a little in the Testament, but that was all. He never touched a needle or so much as a pin, and when he untied the parcel he generally counted them to see that they were all there. So the war went on, with battles coming a little oftener and food growing ever a little scarcer; but the company was about as before, nothing particular-what with killing and fever a little thinned, a good deal faded; and Little Darby just one in a crowd, marching with the rest, sleeping with the rest, fighting with the rest, starving with the rest. He was hardly 86 LITTLE DARBY known for a long time, except for his silence, outside of his mess. Men were fighting and get- ting killed or wounded constantly; as for him, he was never touched; and as he did what he was ordered silently and was silent when he got through, there was no one to sing his praise. Even when he was sent out on the skirmish line as a sharp-shooter, if he did anything no one knew it. He would disappear over a crest, or in a wood, and reappear as silent as if he were hunting in the swamps of the district; clean his gun; cut up wood; eat what he could get, and sit by the fire and listen to the talk, as silent awake as asleep. One other thing distinguished him, he could handle an axe better than any man in the com- pany; but no one thought much of that-least of all, Little Darby; it only brought him a little more work occasionally. One day, in the heat of a battle which the men knew was being won, if shooting and cheer- ing and rapid advancing could tell anything, the advance which had been going on with spirit was suddenly checked by a murderous artillery fire which swept the top of the slope, along the crest of which ran a road a little raised between two deep ditches topped by the 87 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS remains of heavy fences. The infantry, after a gallant and hopeless charge, were ordered to lie down in the ditch behind the pike, and were sheltered fromn the leaden sleet which swept the crest. Artillery was needed to clear the field beyond, by silencing the batteries which swept it, but no artillery could get into position for the ditches, and the day seemed about to be lost. The only way was up the pike, and the only break was a gate opening into the field right on top of the hill. The gate was gone, but two huge wooden gate-posts, each a tree-trunk, still stood and barred the way. No cannon had room to turn in between them; a battery had tried and a pile of dead men, horses, and debris marked its failure. A general officer galloped up with two or three of his staff to try to start the advance again. He saw the impossibility. "If we could get a couple of batteries into that field for three minutes," he said, "it would do the work, but in ten minutes it will be too late. " The company from the old county was lying behind the bank almost exactly opposite the gate, and every word could be heard. Where the axe came from no one knew; but a minute later a man slung himself across the 88 LITTLE DARBY road, and the next second the sharp, steady blows of an axe were ringing on the pike. The axeman had cut a wide cleft in the brown wood, and big chips were flying before his act was quite taken in, and then a cheer went up from the line. It was no time to cheer, however; other chips were flying than those from the cutter's axe, and the bullets hissed by him like bees, splintering the hard post and knocking the dust from the road about his feet; but he took no notice of them, his axe plied as steadily as if I ) had been cutting a tree in the woods of the district, and when he had cut one side, he turned as deliberately and cut the other; then placing his hand high up, he flung his weight against the post and it went down. A great cheer went up aid the axeman swung back across the road just as two batteries of ar- tillery tore through the opening he had made. Few men outside of his company knew who the man was, and few had time to ask; for the battle was on again and the infantry pushed forward. As for Little Darby himself, the only thing he said was, "I knowed I could cut it down in ten minutes." He had nine bullet holes through his clothes that night, but Little Darby thought nothing of it, and neither did others; 89 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS many others had bullet holes through their bod- ies that night. It happened not long afterward that the general was talking of the battle to an English gentleman who had come over to see something of the war and was visiting him in his camp, and he mentioned the incident of a battle won by an axeman's coolness, but did not know the name of the man who cut the post away; the captain of the company, however, was the gen- eral's cousin and was dining with his guest that day, and he said with pride that he knew the man, that he was in his company, and he gave the name. "It is a fine old name," said the visitor. "And he is a fine man," said the captain; but none of this was ever known by Darby. He was not mentioned in the gazette, because there was no gazette. The confederate soldiery had no honors save the approval of their own consciences and the love of their own people. It was not even mentioned in the dis- trict; or, if it was, it was only that lie had cut down a post; other men were being shot to pieces all the time and the district had other things to think of. Poor at all times, the people of the district were now absolutely without means of subsist- 90 LITTLE DARBY ence. Fortunately for them, they were inured to hardship; and their men being all gone to the war, the women made such shift as they could and lived as they might. They hoed their little patches, fished the streams, and trapped in the woods. But it was poor enough at best, and the weak went down and only the strong survived. Mrs. Mills was better off than most, she had a cow-at first, and she had Vashti. Vashti turned ont to be a tower of strength. She trapped more game than any- one in the district; caught more fish with lines and traps-she went miles to fish below the forks where the fish were bigger than above; she learned to shoot with her father's old gun, which had been sent back when he got a musket, shot like a man and better than most men; she hoed the patch, she tended the cow till it was lost, and then she did many other things. Her mother declared that when Chris died (Chris was the boy who died of fever), but for Vashti she could not have got along at all, and there were many other women in the pines who felt the same thing. When the news came that Bob Askew was killed, Vashti was one of the first who got to Bob's wife; and when Billy Luck disapppeared 91 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS in a battle, Vashti gave the best reasons for thinking he had been taken prisoner; and many a string of fish and many a squirrel and hare found their way into the empty cabins because Vashti "happened to pass by." From having been rather stigmatized as "that Vashti Mills" she came to be relied on, and "Vashti" was consulted and quoted as an authority. One cabin alone she never visited. The house of old Mrs. Stanley, now almost completely buried under its unpruned wisteria vine, she never entered. Her mother, as has been said, sometimes went across the bottom, and now and then took with her a hare or a, bird or a string of fish-on condition from Vashti that it should not be known she had caught them; but Vashti never went, and Mrs. Mills found herself sometimes put to it to explain to others her un- neighborliness. The best she could make of it was to say that "Vashti, she always do do her own way. " How Mrs. Stanley's wood-pile was kept up nobody knew, if, indeed, it could be called a wood-pile, when it was only a recurring supply of dry-wood thrown as if accidently just at the edge of the clearing. Mrs. Stanley was not of 92 LITTLE DARBY an imaginative turn, even of enough to explain how it came that so much dry-wood came to be there broken up just the right length; and Mrs. Mills knew no more than that "that cow was al- ways a-goin' off and a-keepin' Vashti a-huntin' everv-wheres in the worl'." All said, however, the women of the district had a hungry time, and the war bore on them heavily as on everyone else, and as it went on they suffered more and more. Many a woman went day after day and week after week with- out even the small portion of coarse corn-bread which was ordinarily her common fare. They called oftener and oftener at the houses of their neighbors who owned the plantations near them, and always received something; but as time went on the plantations themselves were stripped; the little things they could take with them when they went, such as eggs, honey, etc., were wanting, and to go too often without any- thing to give might make them seem like beg- gars, and that they were not. Their husbands anLd sons were in the army fighting for the South, as well as those from the plantations, and they stood by this fact on the same level. The arrogant looks of the negroes were un- Vleasant, and in marked contrast to the univer- 93 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS sal graciousness of their owners, but they were slaves and they could afford to despise them. Only they must uphold their independence. Thus no one outside knew what the women of the district went through. When they wrote to their husbands or sons that they were in straits, it meant that they were starving. Such a letter meant all the more because they were used to hunger, but not to writing, and a letter meant perhaps days of thought and enterprise and hours of labor. As the war went on the hardships everywhere grew heavier and heavier; the letters from home came oftener and oftener. Many of the men got furloughs when they were in winter quarters, and sometimes in summer, too, from wounds, and went home to see their families. Little Darby never went; he sent his mother his pay, and wrote to her, but he did not even apply for a furlough, and he had never been touched except for a couple of flesh wounds which were barely skin-deep. When he heard from his mother she was always cheerful; and as he knew Vashti had never even visited her, there was no other reason for his going home. It was in the late part of the third campaign of the war that he began to think of going. 94 LITTLE DARBY When Cove Mills got a letter from his wife and told Little Darby how "ailin' " and "'puny" his mother was getting, Darby knew that the letter was written by Vashti, and he felt that it meant a great deal. He applied for a furlough, but was told that no furloughs would be granted then-which then meant that work was expected. It came shortly afterward, and Little Darby and the company were in it. Battle followed battle. A good many men in the company were killed, but, as it happened, not one of the men from the district was among them, until one day when the company after a fierce charge found itself hugging the ground in a wide field, on the far side of which the enemy-infantry and artillery-was posted in force. Lying down they were pretty well protected by the conformation of the ground from the artillery; and lying down, the infan- try generally, even with their better guns, could not hurt them to a great extent; but a line of sharp-shooters, well placed behind a cover of scattered rocks on the far side of the field, could reach them with their long-range rifles, and galled them with their dropping fire, picking off man after man. A line of sharp- shooters was thrown forward to drive them in; 95 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS but their guns were not as good and the cover was inferior, and it was only after numerous losses that they succeeded in silencing most of them. They still left several men up among the rocks, who from time to time sent a bullet into the line with deadly effect. One man, in partic- ular, ensconced behind a rock on the hill-side, picked off the men with unerring accuracy. Shot after shot was sent at him. At last he was quiet for so long that it seemed he must have been silenced, and they began to hope; Ad Mills rose to his knees and in sheer bravado waved his hat in triumph. Just as he did so a puff of white came from the rock, and Ad Mills threw up his hands and fell on his back, like a log, stone dead. A groan of mingled rage and dismay went along the line. Poor old Cove crept over and fell on the boy's body with a flesh wound in his own arm. Fifty shots were sent at the rock, but a puff of smoke from it afterward and a hissing bullet showed that the marksman was untouched. It was apparent that he was secure behind his rock bulwark and had some opening through which he could fire at his leisure. It was also apparent that he must be dislodged if possible; but how to do it was the question; no one could reach him. The 96 LITTLE DARBY slope down and the slope up to the group of rocks behind which he lay were both in plain view, and any man would be riddled who at- tempted to cross it. A bit of woods reached some distance up on one side, but not far enough to give a shot at one behind the rock; and though the ground in that direction dipped a little, there was one little ridge in full view of both lines and perfectly bare, except for a num- ber of bodies of skirmishers who had fallen earlier in the day. It was discussed in the line; but everyone knew that no man could get across the ridge alive. While they were talking of it Little Darby, who, with a white face, had helped old Cove to get his boy's body back out of fire, slipped off to one side, rifle in hand, and disappeared in the wood. They were still talking of the impossibility of dislodging the sharp-shooter when a man appeared on the edge of the wood. He moved swiftly across the sheltered ground, stooping low until he reached the edge of the exposed place, where he straightened up and made a dash across it. THe was recognized instantly by some of the men of his company as Little l)arby, and a buzz of astonishment went along the line. What could he mean, it was sheer 97 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS madness; the line of white smoke along the wood and the puffs of dust about his feet showed that bullets were raining around him. The next second he stopped dead-still, threw up his arms, and fell prone on his face in full view of both lines. A groan went up from his com- rades; the whole company knew he was dead, and on the instant a puff of white from the rock and a hissing bullet told that the sharp- shooter there was still intrenched in his co- vert. The men were discussing Little Darby, when someone cried out and pointed to him. He was still alive, and not only alive, but was moving-moving slowly but steadily up the ridge and nearer on a line with the sha.rp- shooter, as flat on the ground as any of the motionless bodies about him. A strange thrill of excitement went through the company as the dark object dragged itself nearer to the rock, and it was not allayed when the whack of a bullet and the well-known white puff of smoke recalled them to the sharp-shooter's dangerous aim; for the next second the creeping figure sprang erect and made a dash for the spot. He had almost reached it when the sharp-shooter discovered him, and the men knew that Little Darby had underestimated the quickness of 98 LITTLE DARBY his hand and aim; for at the same moment the figure of the man behind the rock appeared for a second as lie sprang erect; there was a puff of white and Little Darby stopped and staggered and sank to his knees. The next second, how- ever, there was a puff from where he knelt, and then he sank flat once more, and a moment later rolled over on his face on the near side of the rock and just at its foot. There were n omore bullets sent from that rock that day-at least, against the Confederates-and that night Little Darby walked into his company's bivouac, dusty from head to foot and with a bullet-hole in his clothes not far from his heart; but he said it was only a spent bullet and had just knocked the breath out of him. He was pretty sore from it for a time, but was able to help old Cove to get his boy's body off and see him start; for the old man's wound, though not dangerous, was enough to disable him and get him a furlough, and he determined to take his son's body home which the captain's influence enabled him to do. Between his wound and his grief the old man was nearly helpless, and accepted Darby's silent assistance with mute gratitude. Darby asked him to tell his mother that he was getting on well, and sent her what money he had-his 99 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS last two months' pay-not enough to have bought her a pair of stockings or a pound of sugar. The only other message he sent was given at the station just as Cove set out. He said: "Tell Vashti as I got him as done it." Old Cove grasped his hand tremulously and faltered his promise to do so, and the next mo- ment the train crawled away and left Darby to plod back to camp in the rain, vague and lonely in the remnant of what had once been a gray uniform. If there was one thing that troubled him it was that he could not return Vashti the needle-case until he replaced the broken needles -and there were so many of them broken. After this Darby was in some sort known, and was put pretty constantly on sharp-shooter service. The men went into winter quarters before Darby heard anything from home. It came one day in the shape of a letter in the only hand in the world he knew-Vashti's. What it could mean he could not divine-was his mother dead This was the principal thing that occurred to him. He studied the outside. It had been on the way a month by the postmark, for letters travelled slowly in those days, and a private 100 LITTLE DARBY soldier in an infantry company was hard to find unless the address was pretty clear, which this was not. He did not open it im-mediately. His mother must be dead, and this he could not face. Nothing else would have made Vashti write. At last he went off alone and opened it, and read it, spelling it out with some pains. It began without an address, with the simple statement that her father had arrived with Ad's body and that it had been buried, and that his wound was right bad and her mother was might- ily cut up with her trouble. Then it mentioned his mother and said she had come to Ad's fun- eral, though she could not walk much now and had never been over to their side since the day after he-Darby-lad enlisted; but her father had told her as how he had killed the man as shot Ad, and so she made out to come that far. Then the letter broke off from giving news, and as if under stress of feelings long pent up, sud- denly broke loose: she declared that she loved him; that she had always loved him-always-- ever since he had been so good to her-a great big boy to a little bit of a girl-at school, and that she did not know why she had been so mean to him; for when she had treated him worst she had loved him most; that she had 101 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS gone down the path that night when they had met, for the purpose of meeting him and of let- ting him know she loved him; but something had made her treat him as she did, and all the time she could have let him kill her for love of him. She said she had told her mother and father she loved him and she had tried to tell his mother, but she could not, for she was afraid of her; but she wanted him to tell her when he came; and she had tried to help her and keep her in wood ever since he went away, for his sake. Then the letter told how poorly his mother was and how she had failed of late, and she said she thought he ought to get a furlough and come home, and when he did she would marry him. It was not very well written, nor wholly coherent; at least it took some time to sink fully into Darby's somewhat dazed intel- lect; but in time he took it in, and when he did he sat like a man overwhelmed. At the end of the letter, as if possibly she thought, in the greatness of her relief at her confession, that the temptation she held out might prove too great even for him, or possibly only because she was a woman, there was a postscript scrawled across the coarse, blue Confederate paper: "Don 't come without a furlough; for 102 LITTLE DARBY if you don't come honorable I won't marry you." This, however, Darby scarcely read. His being was in the letter. It was only later that the picture of his mother ill and failing came to him, and it smote him in the midst of his happiness and clung to him afterward like a nightmare. It haunted him. She was dying. He applied for a furlough; but furloughs were hard to get then and he could not hear from it; and when a letter came in his mother's name in a lady's hand which he did not know, telling him of his mother's poverty and sick- ness and asking him if he could get off to come and see her, it seemed to him that she was dy- ing, and he did not wait for the furlough. He was only a few days' march from home and he felt that he could see her and get back before he was wanted. So one dav he set out in the rain. It was a scene of desolation that he passed through, for the country was the seat of war; fences were gone, woods burnt, and fields cut up and bare; and it rained all the time. A little before morning, on the night of the third day, he reached the edge of the district and plunged into its well-known pines, and just as day broke he entered the old path which led up the little hill to his mother's cabin. All 103 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS during his journey he had been picturing the meeting with some one else besides his mother, and if Vashti had stood before him as lie crossed the old log he would hardly have been surprised. Now, however, he had other thoughts; as he reached the old clearing he was surprised to find it grown up in small pines already almost as high as his head, and tall weeds filled the rows among the old peach-trees and grew up to the very door. He had been struck by the desolation all the way as he came along; but it had not occurred to him that there must be a change at his own home; he had always pic- tured it as he left it, as he had always thought of Vashti in her pink calico, with her hat in her hand and her heavy hair almost falling down over her neck. Now a great horror seized him. The door was wet and black. His mother must be dead. He stopped and peered through the darkness at the dim little structure. There was a little smoke coming out of the chimney, and the next instant he strode up to the door. It was shut, but the string was hanging out and he pulled it and pushed the door open. A thin figure seated in the small splint-bottomed chair on the hearth, hovering as close as possible over the fire, straightened up and turned slowly as 104 LITTLE DARBY he stepped into the room, and he recognized his mother-but how changed! She was quite white and little more than a skeleton. At sight of the figure behind her she pulled herself to her feet, and peered at him through the gloom. "Mother!" he said. "Darby!" She reached her arms toward him, but tottered so that she would have fallen. had he not caught her and eased her down into her chair. As she became a little stronger she made him tell her about the battles he was in. Mr. Mills had come to tell her that he had killed the man who killed Ad. Darby was not a good narra- tor, however, and what he had to tell was told in a few words. The old woman revived under it, however, and her eyes had a brighter light in them. Darby was too much engrossed in taking care of his mother that day to have any thought of any one else. He was used to a soldier's scant fare, but had never quite taken in the fact that his mother and the women at home had less even than they in the field. He had never seen, even in their poorest days after his father's death, not only the house absolutely empty, but without any means of getting any- 105 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS thing outside. It gave him a thrill to think what she must have endured without letting him know. As soon as he could leave her, he went into the woods with his old gun, and shortly returned with a few squirrels which he cooked for her; the first meat, she told him, that she had tasted for weeks. On hearing it his heart grew hot. Why had not Vashti come and seen about her She explained it partly, however, when she told him that every one had been sick at Cove Mills's, and old Cove him- self had come near dying. No doctor could be got to see them, as there was none left in the neighborhood, and but for Mrs. Douwill she did not know what they would have done. But Mrs. Douwill was down herself now. The young man wanted to know about Vashti, but all he could manage to make his tongue ask was, " Vashti0" She could not tell him, she did not know any- thing about Vashti. Mrs. Mills used to bring her things sometimes, till she was taken down, but Vashti had never come to see her; all she knew was that she had been sick with the others. That she had been sick awoke in the young 106 LITTLE DARBY man a new tenderness, the deeper because he had done her an injustice; and he was seized with a great longing to see her. All his old love seemed suddenly accumulated in his heart, and he determined to go and see her at once, as he had not long to stay. He set about his little preparations forthwith, putting on his old clothes which his mother had kept ever since lie went away, as being more presentable than the old worn and muddy, threadbare uniform, and brushing his long yellow hair and beard into something like order. He changed from one coat to the other the little package which he always carried, thinking that he would show it to her with the hole in it, which the sharp- shooter's bullet had made that day, and he put her letter into the same pocket; his heart beat- ing at the sight of her hand and the memory of the words she had written, and then he set out. It was already late in the evening, and after the rain the air was soft and balmy, though the western sky was becoming overcast again by a cloud, which low down on the horizon was piling up mountain on mountain of vapor, as if it might rain again by night. Darby, how- ever, having dressed, crossed the flat without much trouble, only getting a little wet in some 107 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS places where the logs were gone. As he turned into the path up the hill, he stood face to face with Vashti. She was standing by a little spring which came from under an old oak, the only one on the hill-side of pines, and was in a faded black calico. He scarcely took in at first that it was Vashti, she was so changed. He had always thought of her as he last saw her that evening in pink, with her white throat and her scornful eyes. She was older now than she was then; looked more a woman and taller: and her throat if anything was whiter than ever against her black dress; her face was whiter too, and her eyes darker and larger. At least, they opened wide when Darby appeared in the path. Her hands went up to her throat as if she suddenly wanted breath. All of the young man's heart went out to her, and the next mo- ment he was within arm's length of her. Her one word was in his ears: "IDarby! " He was about to catch her in his arms when a gesture restrained him, and her look turned him to stone. "Yer uniform" she gasped, stepping back. Darby was not quick always, and he looked down at his clothes and then at her again, his dazed brain wondering. "VWbar's yer uniform " she asked. 108 This page in the original text is blank. if: It f: "A what!" he asked aghast, his brain not wholly taLking in her words. This page in the original text is blank. This page in the original text is blank. LITTLE DARBY At home," he said, quietly, still wondering She seemed to catch some hope. "Yer got a furlough " she said, more quietly, coming a little nearer to him, and her eyes growing softer. "Got a furlough" he repeated to gain time for thought. " I-I " He had never thought of it before; the words in her letter flashed into his mind, and he felt his face flush. He would not tell her a lie. "No, I ain't got no furlough," he said, and paused whilst he tried to get his words together to explain. But she did not give him time. "What you doin' with them clo'se on" she asked again. " I-I " he began, stammering as her sus- picion dawned on him. "You 're a deserter!" she said, coldly, lean- ing forward, her hands clenched, her face white, her eyes contracted. "A what!" he asked aghast, his brain not wholly taking in her words. "iYou 're a deserter!" she said again-" and -a coward!" All the blood in him seemed to surge to his head and leave his heart like ice. He seized her arm with a grip like steel. "Vashti Mills," he said, with his face white, 109 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "don't you say that to me-if yer were a man I 'd kill yer right here where yer stan'!" He tossed her hand from him, and turned on his heel. The next instant she was standing alone, and when she reached the point in the path where she could see the crossing, Darby was already on the other side of the swamp, striding knee- deep through the water as if he were on dry land. She could not have made him hear if she had wished it; for on a sudden a great rushing wind swept through the pines, bending them down like grass and blowing the water in the bottom into white waves, and the thunder which had been rumbling in the distance sud- denly broke with a great peal just overhead. In a few minutes the rain came; but the girl did not mind it. She stood looking across the bottom until it came in sheets, wetting her to the skin and shutting out every thing a few yards away. The thunder-storm passed, but all that night the rain came down, and all the next day, and when it held up a little in the evening the bot- tom was a sea. The rain had not prevented Darby from go- ing out-he was used to it; and he spent most 110 THE BURIAL OF1' THE GUNS of the day away from home. When he returned he brought his mother a few provisions, as much meal perhaps as a child might carry, and spent the rest of the evening sitting before the fire, silent and motionless, a flame burning back deep in his eyes and a cloud fixed on his brow. He was in his uniform, which he had put on again the night before as soon as he got home, and the steam rose from it as he sat. The other clothes were in a bundle on the floor where he had tossed them the evening before. He never moved except when his mother now and then spoke, and then sat down again as before. Presently he rose and said lie must be going; but as he rose to his feet, a pain shot through him like a knife; everything turned black before him and he staggered and fell full length on the floor. He was still on the floor next morning, for his mother had not been able to get him to the bed, or to leave to get any help; but she had made him a pallet, and he was as comfortable as a man might be with a raging fever. Feeble as she was, the sudden demand on her had awakened the old woman 's faculties and she was stronger than might have seemed possible. One thing puzzled her: in his incoherent mutter- lit THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ings, Darby constantly referred to a furlough and a deserter. She knew that he had a fur- lough, of course; but it puzzled her to hear him constantly repeating the words. So the day passed and then, Darby's delirium still continu- ing, she made out to get to a neighbor's to ask help. The neighbor had to go to Mrs. Dou- will's as the only place where there was a chance of getting any medicine, and it hap- pened that on the way back she fell in with a couple of soldiers, on horseback, who asked her a few questions. They were members of a home and conscript guard just formed, and when she left them they had learned her errand. Fortunately, Darby's illness took a better turn nesxt day, and by sunset he was free from delirium. Things had not fared well over at Cove Mills 's during these days any more than at Mrs. Stanley's. Vashti was in a state of mind which made her mother wonder if she were not going crazy. She set it down to the storm she had been out in that evening, for Vashti had not mentioned Darby's name. She kept his pres- ence to herself, thinking that-thinking so many things that she could not speak or cat. Her heart was like lead within her; but she 112 LITTLE DARBY could not rid herself of the thought of Darby. She could have torn it out for hate of herself; and to all her mother's questioning glances she turned the face of a sphinx. For two days she neither ate nor spoke. She watched the op- posite hill through the rain which still kept up -something was going on over there, but what it was she could not tell. At last, on the even- ing of the third day, she; could stand it no longer, and she set out from home to learn something; she could not have gone to Mrs. Stanley's, even if she had wished to do so; for the bottom was still a sea extending from side to side, and it was over her head in the current. She set off, therefore, up the stream on her own side, thinking to learn something up that way. She met the woman who had taken the medi- cine to Darby that evening, and she told her all she knew, mentioning among other things the men of the conscript guard she had seen. Vashti's heart gave a sudden bound up into her throat. As she was so near she went on up to the Cross-roads; but just as she stepped out into the road before she reached there, she came on a small squad of horsemen riding slowly along. She stood aside to let them pass; but they drew in and began to question her as to the 113 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS roads about them. They were in long cloaks and overcoats, and she thought they were the conscript guard, especially as there was a negro with them who seemed to know the roads and to be showing them the way. Her one thought was of Darby; he would be arrested and shot. When they questioned her, therefore, she told them of the roads leading to the big river around the fork and quite away from the district. Whilst they were still talking, more riders came around the curve, and the next instant Vashti was in the midst of a column of cavalry, and she knew that they were the Federals. She had one moment of terror for herself as the restive horses trampled around her, and the calls and noises of a body of cav- alry moving dinned in her ears; but the next moment, when the others gave way and a man whom she knew to be the commander pressed forward and began to question her, she forgot her own terror in fear for her cause. She had all her wits about her instantly; and under a pretence of repeating what she had already told the first men, she gave them such a mixture of descriptions that the negro was called up to un- ravel it. She made out that they were trying to reach the big river by a certain road, and 114 LITTLE DARBY marched in the night as well as in the day. She admitted that she had never been on that road but once. And when she was taken along with them a mile or two to the place where they went into bivouac until the moon should rise, she soon gave such. an impression of her dense- ness and ignorance that, after a little more questioning, she was told that she might go home if she could find her way, and was sent by the commander out of the camp. She was no sooner out of hearing of her captors than she began to run with all her speed. Her chief thought was of Darby. Deserter as he was, and dead to her, he was a man, and could ad- vise her, help her. She tore through the woods the nearest way, unheeding the branches which caught and tore her clothes; the stream, even where she struck it, was out of its banks; but she did not heed. it-she waded through, it reaching about to her waist, and struck out again at the top of her speed. It must have been a little before midnight when she emerged from the pines in front of the Stanley cabin. The latch-string was out, and she knocked and pushed open the door almost simultaneously. All she could make out to say was, "Darby." The old woman was on her 115 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS feet, and the young man was sitting up in the bed, by the time she entered. Darby was the first to speak. "What do you want here'" he asked, sternly. "Darby-the Yankees-all around," she gasped-" out on the road yonder." " What! " A minute later the young man, white as a ghost, was getting on his jacket while she told her story, beginning with what the woman she had met had told her of the two men she had seen. The presence of a soldier had given her confidence, and having delivered her message both women left everything else to him. His experience or his soldier's instinct told him what they were doing and also how to act. They were a raid which had gotten around the body of the army and were striking for the capital; and from their position, unless they could be delayed they might surprise it, In the face of the emergency a sudden genius seemed to illuminate the young man's mind. By the time he was dressed he was ready with his plan -Did Vashti know where any of the conscript guard stayed Yes, down the road at a certain place. Good; 116 LITTLE DARBY it was on the way. Then he gave her his or- ders. She was to go to this place and rouse any one she might find there and tell them to send a messenger to the city with all speed to warn them, and were to be themselves if pos- sible at a certain point on the road by which the raiders were travelling, where a little stream crossed it in a low place in a heavy piece of swampy woods. They would find a barricade there and a small force might possibly keep them back. Then she was to go on down and have the bridge, ten or twelve miles below on the road between the forks burned, and if necessary was to burn it herself; and it must be done by sunrise. But they were on the other road, outside of the forks, the girl explained, to which Darby only said, he knew that, but they would come back and try the bridge road. "And you burn the bridge if you have to do it with your own hand, you hear-and now go," he said. "Yes-I '11 do it," said the girl obediently and turned to the door. The next instant she turned back to him: he had his gun and was getting his axe. "And, Darby-" she began falteringly, her heart in her eyes. 117 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "Go," said the young soldier, pointing to the door, and she went just as he took up his old rifle and stepped over to where his mother sat white and dumb. As she turned at the edge of the clearing and looked back up the path over the pine-bushes she saw him step out of the door with his gun in one hand and his axe in the other. An hour later Darby, with the fever still hot on him, was cutting down trees in the darkness on the bank of a marshy little stream, and throwing them into the water on top of one an- other across the road, in a way to block it beyond a dozen axemen 's work for several hours; and Vashti was trudging through the darkness miles away to give the warning. Ev- ery now and then the axeman stopped cutting and listened, and then went on again. He had cut down a half-dozen trees and formed a barri- cade which it would take hours to clear away be- fore cavalry could pass, when, stopping to listen, he heard a sound that caused him to put down his axe: the sound of horses splashing along through the mud. His practised ear told him that there were only three or four of them, and he took up his gun and climbed up on the barricade and waited. Presently 118 LITTLE DARBY the little squad of horsemen came in sight, a mere black group in the road. They saw the dark mass lying across the road and reined in; then after a colloquy came on dowit slowly. l)arby waited until they were within fifty yards of his barricade, and then fired at the nearest one. A horse wheeled, plunged, and then galloped away in the darkness, and several rounds from pistols were fired toward him, whilst something went on the ground. Before he could finish reloading, how- ever, the men had turned around and were out of sight. In a minute Darby climbed over the barricade and strode up the road after them. He paused where the man he had shot had fal- len. The place in the mud was plain; but his comrades had taken him up and carried him off. Darby hurried along after them. Day was just breaking, and the body of cavalry were prepar- ing to leave their bivouac when a man emerged from the darkness on the opposite side of the camp from that where Little Darby had been felling trees, and walked up to the picket. He was halted and brought up where the fire-light could shine on him, and was roughly questioned -a tall young countryman, very pale and thin, with an old ragged slouched hat pulled over his 119 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS eyes, and an old patched uniform on his gaunt frame. He did not seem at all disturbed by the pistols displayed around him, but seated himself at the fire and looked about in a dull kind of way. "What do you want" they asked him, see- ing how cool he was. "Don't you want a guide " he asked, drawlingly. "Who are you" inquired the corporal in charge. He paused. "Some calls me a d'serter," he said, slowly. The men all looked at him curiously. "Well, what do you want" "Br thought maybe as you wanted a guide," he said, quietly. " We don't want you. We 've got all the guide we want, " answered the corporal, roughly, " and we don 't want any spies around here either, you understand" "Does he know the way All the creeks is up now, an' it 's sort o' hard to git erlong through down yonder way if you don't know the wav toller'ble well" "Yes, he knows the way too-every foot of it-and a good deal more than you '11 see of it if you don't look out." 120 LITTLE DARBY "Oh! That road down that way is sort o' stopped up," said the man, as if he were carry- ing on a connected narrative and had not heard him. "They 's soldiers on it too a little fur'er down, and they 's got word you 're acomin' that a-way." "What 's that they asked, sharply. "Leastways it 's stopped up, and 1 knows a way down this a-way in and about as nigh as that," went on the speaker, in the same level voice. "Where do you live" they asked him. "I lives back in the pines here a piece.'" "How long have you lived here " "About twenty-three years, I b'leeves; 'ats what my mother says." "You know all the country about here" " Ought to. " " Been in the army" " Ahn-hahn. ' "What did you desert for" Darby looked at him leisurely. " 'D you ever know a man as 'lowed he 'd deserted I never did." A faint smile flick- ered on his pale face. He was taken to the camp before the com- mander, a dark, self-contained looking man 121 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS with a piercing eye and a close mouth, and there closely questioned as to the roads, and he gave the same account he had already given. The negro guide was brought up aud his infor- mation tallied with the new-comer's as far as he knew it, though he knew well only the road which they were on and which Darby said was stopped up. He knew, too, that a road such as Darby offered to take them by ran some- where down that way and joined the road they were on a good distance below; but he thought it was a good deal longer way and they had to cross a fork of the river. There was a short consultation between the commander and one or two other officers, and then the commander turned to Darby, and said: "What you say about the road's being ob- structed this way is partly true; do you guaran- tee that the other road is clear" I)arby paused and reflected. "I 'II guide you," he said, slowly. " Do you guarantee that the bridge on the river is standing and that we can get across" "Hit 's standing now, fur as I know." "Do you understand that you are taking your life in your hand" Darby looked at him coolly. 122 LITTLE DARBY "And that if you take us that way and for any cause-for any cause whatsoever we fail to get through safe, we will hang you to the nearest tree " Darby waited as if in deep reflection. "I understand," he said. "I '11 guide you." The silence that followed seemed to extend all over the camp. The commander was re- flecting and the others had their eyes fastened on Darby. As for him, he sat as unmoved as if le had been in the woods. "All right," said the leader, suddenly, "it 's a bargain: we '11 take your road. What do you want" " Could you gi' me a cup o' coffee It 's been somne little time since I had anything to eat, an' I been sort o' sick." " You shall have 'em, " said the officer, "and good pay besides, if you lead us straight; if not, a limb and a halter rein; you under- stand " A quarter of an hour later they were on the march, and Darby trudging in front down the middle of the muddy road between two of the advance guard, whose carbines were conven- iently carried to insure his fidelity. What he thought of, who might know-plain; poor; 123 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ignorant; unknown; marching every step vol- untarily nearer to certain and ignominious death for the sake of his cause. As day broke they saw a few people who lived near the road, and some of them recog- nized Darby and looked their astonishment to see him guiding them. One or two of the women broke out at him for a traitor and a dog, to which he said nothing; but only looked a little defiant with two red spots burning in his thin cheeks, and trudged on as before; now and then answering a question; but for the most part silent. He must have thought of his mother, old and by herself in her cabin! but she would not live long; and of Vashti some. She had called him a deserter, as the other women had done. A verse from the Testament she gave him may have come into his mind; he had never quite understood it: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile ye." Was this what it meant This and another one seemed to come together. It was something about enduring hardship like a good soldier," he could not remember it ex.- actly. Yes, he could do that. But Vashti had called him a deserter. Maybe now though she would not; and the words in the letter she had 124 LITTLE DARBY written him came to him, and the little package in his old jacket pocket made a warm place there; and he felt a little fresher than before. The sun came up and warmed him as he trudged along, and the country grew flatter and flatter, and the road deeper and deeper. They were passing down into the bottom. On either side of them were white oak swamps, so that they could not see a hundred yards ahead; but for several miles Darby had been watching for the smoke of the burning bridge, and as they neared the river his heart began to sink. There was one point on the brow of a hill before descend- ing to the bottom, where a sudden bend of the road and curve of the river two or three miles; below gave a sight of the bridge. Darby waited for this, and when he reached it and saw the bridge still standing his heart sank like lead. Other eyes saw it too, and a score of glasses were levelled at it, and a cheer went up. "Why don't you cheer, too" asked an officer. "You have more to make or lose than anyone else." "We ain't there yit," said Darby. Once he thought he had seen a little smoke but it had passed away, and now they were within three miles of the bridge and there was 125 TIP'I BURIAL OFl THE GUNS nothing. What if, after all, Vashti had failed and the bridge was still standing! He would really have brought the raiders by the best way and have helped them. His heart at the thought came up into his throat. He stopped and began to look about as if lie doubted the road. When the main body came up, however, the com- mander was in no doubt, and a pistol stuck against his head gave him to understand that no fooling would be stood. So he had to go on. As to Vashti, she had covered the fifteen miles which lay between the district and the fork-road; and had found and sent a messenger to give warning in the city; but not finding any of the homeguard where she thought they were, she had borrowed some matches and had trudged on herself to execute the rest of Darby 's commands. The branches were high fronm the backwater of the fork, and she had often to wade up to her waist, but she kept on, and a little after day- light she came to the river. Ordinarily, it was not a large stream; a boy could chuck a stone across it, and there was a ford above the bridge not very deep in dry weather, which people sometimes took to water their horses, or be- cause they preferred to ride through the water 126 LITTLE DARBY to crossing the steep and somewhat ricklety old bridge. Now, however, the water was far out in the woods, and long before the girl got in sight of the bridge she was wading up to liet knees. When she reached the point where she could see it, her heart for a moment failed her; the whole flat was under water. She remem- bered Darby's command, however, and her courage came back to her. She knew that it could not be as deep as it looked between her and the bridge, for the messenger had gone be- fore her that way, and a moment later she had gone back and collected a bundle of "dry- wood," and with a long pole to feel her way she waded carefully in. As it grew deeper and deeper until it reached her breast, she took the matches out and held them in her teeth, hold- ing her bundle above her head. It was hard work to keep her footing this way, however, and once she stepped into a hole and went under to her chin, having a narrow escape from falling into a place which her pole could not fathom; but she recovered herself and at last was on the bridge. When she tried to light a fire, how- ever, her matches would not strike. They as well as the wood had gotten wet when she slipped, and not one would light. She might 127 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS as well have been at her home in the district. When every match had been tried and tried again on a dry stone, only to leave a white streak of smoking sulphur on it, she sat down and cried. For the first time she felt cold and weary. The rays of the sun fell on her and warmed her a little, and she wiped her eyes on her sleeve and looked up. The sun had just come up over the hill. It gave her courage. She turned and looked the other way from which she had come-nothing but a waste of water and woods. Suddenly, from a point up over the nearer woods a little sparkle caught her eye; there must be a house there, she thought; they might have matches, and she would go back and get some. But there it was again-it moved. There was another-another -and something black moving. She sprang to her feet and strained her eyes. Good God! they were coming! In a second she had turned the other way, rushed across the bridge, and was dashing through the water to her waist. The water was not wide that way. The hill rose almost abruptly on that side, and up it she dashed, and along the road. A faint curl of smoke caught her eye and she made for it through the field. 128 LITTLE DARBY It was a small cabin, and the woman in it had just gotten her fire well started for the morning, when a girl bare-headed and bare- footed dripping wet to the skin, her danmp hair hanging down her back, her face white and her eyes like coals, rushed in almost without knocking and asked for a chunk of fire. The woman had no time to refuse (she told of it afterward when she described the burning of the bridge); for without waiting for answer and before she really took in that it was not a ghost, the girl had seized the biggest chunk on the hearth and was running with it across the field. In fact, the woman rather thought she was an evil spirit; for she saw her seize a whole panel of fence-more rails than she could have carried to save her life, she said, and dashed with them over the hill. In Vashti's mind, indeed, it was no time to waste words, she was back on the bridge with the chunk of fire and an armful of rails before the woman recovered from her astonishment, and was down on her knees blowing her chunk to rekindle it. The rails, however, like every- thing else, were wet and would not light, and she was in despair. At last she got a little blaze started, but it would not burn fast; it 129 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS simply smoked. She expected the soldiers to come out of the woods every minute, and every second she was looking up to see if they were in sight. What would Darby think What would happen if she failed She sprang up to look around: the old rail of the bridge caught her eye; it was rotted, but what remained was heart and would burn like light-wood. She tore a piece of it down and stuck one end in the fire: it caught and sputtered and suddenly flamed up; the next second she was tearing the rail down all along and piling it on the blaze, and as it caught she dashed back through the water and up the hill, and brought another arm- ful of rails. Back and forth she waded several times and piled on rails until she got a stack of them-two stacks, and the bridge floor dried and caught and began to blaze; and when she brought her last armful it was burning all across. She had been so busy bringing wood that she had forgotten to look across to the other side for some time, and was only reminded of it as she was wading back with her last armful of rails by something buzzing by her ear, and the second after the crack of a half-dozen guns fol- lowed from the edge of the wood the other side. She could not see them well for the burden in 130 LITTLE DARBIY her arms, but she made out a number of horses dashing into the water on the little flat, and saw some puffs of smoke about their heads. She was bound to put her wood on, however, so she pushed ahead, went up on the bridge through the smoke as far as she could go, and flung her rails on the now devouring fire. A sudden veer of the wind blew the smoke behind her and bent the flames aside, and she could see clear across the fire to the other bank. She saw a great number of men on horses at the edge of the woods, in a sort of mass; and a half-dozen or so in the water riding up to their saddle- skirts half-way to the bridge, and between the first two, wading in water to his waist, Darby. He was bare-headed and he waved his hat to her, and she heard a single cheer. She waved her hand to him, and there was a little puff of smoke and something occurred in the water among the horses. The smoke from the fire suddenly closed around her and shut out everything from her eyes, and when it blew away again one of the horses had thrown his rider in the water. There was a lot of firing both from the edge of the wood and from the horsemen in the water, and Darby had disappeared. She made her way back to the bank and 131 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS plunged into a clump of bushes, where she was hidden and watched the raiders. She saw sev- eral of them try to ford the river, one got across but swam back, the others were swept down by the current, and the horse of one got out below without his rider. The other she did not see again. Soon after their comrade had rejoined them, the men on the edge of the wood turned around and disappeared, and a half-hour later she saw the glint of the sun on their arms and accoutre- ments as they crossed over the top of the hill returning two miles above. THIS is the story of the frustration of the raid upon which so much hope was built by some in high position at Washington. A day was lost, and warning was given to the Confederate Gov- ernment, and the bold plan of the commander of the raiding party was defeated. As to Little Darby, the furlough he had ap- plied for came, but too late and was returned. For a time some said he was a deserter; but two women knew differently. A Federal soldier who was taken prisoner gave an account of the raid. Hie said that a contraband had come from Washington and 132 LITTLE DARBY undertaken to lead them across the country, and that he had brought them around the head of the streams, when one night a rebel deserter came into camp and undertook to show them a better way by a road which ran between the rivers, but crossed lower down by a bridge; that they had told him that, if for any reason they failed to get through by his road they would hang him, a bargain which he had accepted. That he had led them straight, but when they had got to the bridge it had been set on fire and was burning at that moment; that a half-dozen men, of whoml he, the narrator, was one, rode in, taking the guide along with them, to see if they could not put the fire out, or, failing that, find the ford; and when they were about half-way across the little flat they saw the person on the bridge in the very act of burning it, and waving his hand in triumph; and the man who was riding abreast of him in front fired his carbine at him. As he did so the deserter wheeled on him, and said, "God d-n you-don't you know that 's a woman," and springing on him like a tiger tore him from his horse; and, before their very eyes, flung both of them into a place where the current was running, and they had disappeared. They had seen the deserter's head once in the 133 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS stream lower down, and had fired at him, and he thought had hit him, as he went down imme- diately and they did not see him again. This wa.s all that was known of Little Darby, except that a year or more afterward, and nearly a year after Mrs. Stanley 's death, a pack- age with an old needle-case in it and a stained little Testament with a bullet hole through it, was left at the Cross-roads, with a message that a man who had died at the house of the person who left it a.s he was trying to make his way back to his command, asked to have that sent to Vashti Mills. 134 "RUN TO SEED" This page in the original text is blank. "RUN TO SEED"' JM'S father died at Gettysburg; up against the Stone Fence; went to heaven in a char- iot of fire on that fateful day when the issue between the two parts of the country was decided: when the slaughter on the Confederate side was such that after the battle a lieutenant was in charge of a regiment, and a major com- manded a brigade. This fact was much to Jim, though no one knew it: it tempered his mind: ruled his life. He never remembered the time when he did not know the story his mother, in her worn black dress and with her pale face, used to tell him of the bullet-dented sword and faded red sash which hung on the chamber wall. They were the poorest people in the neiglh- borhood. Everybody was poor; for the county lay in the track of the armies, and the war had swept the country as clean as a floor. But the Uptons were the poorest even in that com- munity. Others recuperated, pulled themselves I From " Elsket and Other Stories, " copyright 1891, by Charles Scribner's Sons THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS together, and began after a time to get up. The Uptons got flatter than they were before. The fences (the few that were left) rotted; the fields grew up in sassafras and pines; the barns blew down; the houses decayed; the ditches filled; the chills came. "They 're the shiftlesses' people in the worl'," said Mrs. Wagoner with a shade of asperity in her voice (or was it satisfaction). Mrs. Wagoner's husband had been in a bomb- proof during the war, when Jim Upton (Jim's father) was with his company. He had man- aged to keep his teams from the quartermasters, and had turned up after the war the richest man in the neighborhood. He lived on old Colonel Duval's place, which he had bought for Confederate money. " They 're the shiftlesses' people in the worl', " said Mrs. Wagoner. " Mrs. Upton ain't got any spirit: she jus' sets still and cries her eyes out." This was true, every word of it. And so was something else that Mrs. Wagoner said in a tone of reprobation, about "people who made their beds having to lay on them"; this process of incubation being too well known to require further discussion. 138 "RUN TO SEED." But what could Mrs. Upton do She could not change the course of Destiny. One-es- pecially if she is a widow with bad eyes, and in feeble health, living on the poorest place in the State-cannot stop the stars in their courses. She could not blot out the past, nor undo what she had done. She would not if she could. She could not undo what she had done when she ran away with Jim and married him. Slie would not if she could. At least, the memory of those three years was hers, and nothing could take it from her-not debts, nor courts, nor anything. She knew he was wild when she married him. Certainly Mrs. Wagoner had been careful enough to tell her so, and to tell every one else so too. She would never forget the things she had said. Mrs. Wagoner never forgot the things the young girl said either- though it was more the way she had looked than what she had said. And when Mrs. Wag- oner descanted on the poverty of the Uptons she used to end with the declaration: "Well, it ain't any fault of mine: she can 't blame me, for Heaven knows I warned her: I did kny duty!" Which was true. Warning others was a duty Mrs. Wagoner seldom omitted. Mrs. Upton never thought of blaming her, or any 139 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS one else. Not all her poverty ever drew one complaint from her sad lips. She simply sat down under it, that was all. She did not expect anything else. She had given her Jim to the South as gladly as any woman ever gave her heart to her love. She would not undo it if she could-not even to have him back, and God knew how much she wanted him. Was not his death glorious-his name a heritage for his son She could not undo the debts which en- cumbered the land; nor the interest which swal- lowed it up; nor the suit which took it from her -that is, all but the old house and the two poor worn old fields which were her dower. She would have given up those too if it had not been for her children, Jim and Kitty, and for the little old enclosure on the hill under the big thorn-trees where they had laid hin when they brought him back in the broken pine box from Gettysburg. No, she could not undo the past nor alter the present, nor change the future. So what could she do In her heart Mrs. Wagoner was glad of the poverty of the Uptons; not merely glad in the general negative way which warms the bosoms of most of us as we consider how much better off we are than our neighbors-the "Lord-I- 140 " RUN TO SEED" thank-thee-that-.I-am-not-as-other-men-are " way -but Mrs. Wagoner was glad positively. She was glad that any of the Uptons and the Duvals were poor. One of her grandfathers had been what Mrs. Wagoner (when she mentioned the matter at all) called " Manager" for one of the Duvals. She was aware that nwst people did not accept that term. She remembered old Colonel Duval-the old Colonel-tall, thin, white, grave. She had been dreadfully afraid of him. She had had a feeling of satisfaction at his funeral. It was like the feeling she had when she learned that Colonel Duval had not forgiven Betty nor left her a cent. Mrs. Wagoner used to go to see Mrs. Upton -she went frequently. It was "her duty" she said. She carried her things-especially advice. There are people whose visits are like spells of illness. It took Mrs. Upton a fort- night to get over one of these visits-to con- valesce. 1Irs. Wagoner was a "mother to her": at least, Mrs. Wagoner herself said so. In some respects it was rather akin to the substance of that name which forms in vinegar It was hard to swallow: it galled. Even Mrs. Upton's gentleness was overtaxed-and rebelled. She had stood all the homilies-all the advice. But 141 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS when Mrs. Wagoner, with her lips drawn in, after wringing her heart, recalled to her the warning she had given her before she married, she stopped standing it. She did not say much; but it was enough to make Mrs. Wagoner's stiff bonnet-bows tremble. Mrs. Wagoner walked out feeling chills down her spine, as if Colonel Duval were at her heels. She had "meant to talk about sending Jim to school": at least she said so. She condoled with every one in the neighborhood on the "wretched ignorance" in which Jim was growing up, "working like a common negro." She called him "that ugly boy. " Jim was ugly-Mrs. Wagoner said, very ugly. He was slim, red-headed, freckle-faced, weak- eyed; he stooped and he stammered. Yet there was something about him, with his thin features, which made one look twice. Mrs. Wagoner used to say she did not know where that boy got all his ugliness from, for she must admit his father was rather good-looking before he became so bloated, and Betty Duval would have been ' passable" if she had had any "vivacity." There were people who said Betty Duval had been a beauty. She was careful in her limita- tions, Mrs. Wagoner was. Some women will 142 "RUN TO SEED " not admit others are pretty, no matter what the difference in their ages: they feel as if they were making admissions against themselves. Once when Jim was a boy Mrs. Wagoner had the good taste to refer in his presence to his "'homeliness," a term with which she sugar- coated her insult. Jim grinned and shuffled his feet, and then said, "Kitty 's pretty.' It was true: Kitty was pretty: she had eyes and hair. You could not look at her without seeing them-big brown eyes, and brown tumbled hair. Kitty was fifteen-two years younger than Jim in 187-. Jim never went to school.. They were too poor. All he knew his mother taught him and lie got out of the few old books in the book-case left by the war,-odd volumes of the Waverley novels, and the Spectator, "Don Quixote," and a few others, stained and battered. He could not bave gone to school if there had been a school to go to: he had to work: work, as Mrs. Wagoner had truthfully said, "like a common nigger." He did not mind it; a bird born in a cage cannot mind it much. The pitiful part is, it does not know anything else. Jim did not know anything else. He did not mind anything much-except chills. He even got used to them; 143 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS would just lie down and shake for an hour and then go to ploughing again as soon as the ague was over with the fever on him. He had to plough; for corn was necessary. He had this compensation: he was worshipped by two peo- ple-his mother and Kitty. If other people thought him ugly, they thought him beautiful. If others thought him dull, they thought him wonderfully clever; if others thought him ig- norant, they knew how wise he was. Mrs. Upton's eyes were bad; but she saw enough to see Jim: the light came into the house with him; Kitty sat and gazed at him with speechless admiration; hung on his words, which were few; watched for his smile, which was rare. He repaid it to her by being-Jim. He slaved for her; waited for her (when a boy waits for his little sister it is something) ; played with her when he had time (this also was some- thing); made traps for her; caught her young squirrels,-was at once her slave and her idol. As he grew up he did not have time to play. He had to plough: "just like a common nig- ger," Mrs. Wagoner said with an unclouded face. In this she spoke the truth. It is a curious thing that farming paid better shortly after the war than it did later. Lands 144 " RUN TO SEED " fell. Times grew harder. They were always growing harder with Jim. The land was worked out. Guano was necessary to make anything grow. Guano was bought on credit. The crops would not pay. Several summers there was drouth; crops failed. One of the two old mules that he had died; Jim ploughed with one. Then he broke his leg. When he got about again he was lame: the leg had short- ened. "They 're the shiftlesses' folks in the worl'," said Mrs. Wagoner; "they can't blame me. Heaven knows I told " etc. Which was true-more than true. Jim ploughed on, only slower than ever, thinner than ever, sleepier than ever. One day something happened which waked him up. It was a Sunday. They went to church; they always went to church-old St. Ann's-whenever there was service. There was service there since the war only every first and third Sunday and every other fifth Sunday. The Uptons and the Diivals had been vestrymen from the time they had brought the bricks over from England, generations ago. They had sat, one family in one of the front semicircular pews on one side of the chancel, the other family in the other. Mrs. Upton, after the war, had her choice 14.5 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS of the pews; for all had gone but herself, Jim, and Kitty. She had changed, the Sunday after her marriage, to the Upton side, and she clung loyally to it ever after. Mrs Wagoner had taken the other pew-a cold, she explained at first, had made her deaf. She always spoke of it after- ward as "our pew." (The Billings, from which Mrs. Wagoner came, had not been Episcopalians until Mrs. Wagoner married.) Carry Wag- oner, who was a year older than Kitty, used to sit by her mother, with her big hat and brown hair. Jim, in right of his sex, sat in the end of his pew. On this Sunday in question Jim drove his mother and Kitty to church in the horse cart. The old carriage was a wreck, slowly dropping to pieces. The chickens roosted in it. The cart was the only vehicle remaining which had two sound wheels, and even one of these "wabbled" a good deal, and the cart was "'shackling." But straw placed in the bottom made it fairly comfortable. Jim always had clean straw in it for his mother and sister. His mother and Kitty remarked on it. Kitty looked so well. They reached church. The day was warm, Mr. Bickersteth was dry. Jim went to sleep dur- ing the sermon. He frequently did this. He 146 "RUN TO SEED" had been up since four. AWhen service was over he partially waked-about half-waked. He was standing in the aisle moving toward the door with the rest of the congregation. A voice be- hind caught his ear. "What a lovely girl Kitty Upton is." It was Mrs. Harrison, who lived at the other end of the parish. Jim knew the voice. Another voice replied: "If she only were not always so shabby!" Jim knew this voice also. It was Mrs. Wag- oner's. Jim waked. "Yes, but even her old darned dress cannot hide her. She reminds me of " Jim did not know what it was to which Mrs. Harrison likened her. But he knew it was something beautiful. " Yes, " said Mrs. Wagoner; then added, "Poor thing, she 's got no education, and never will have. To think that old Colonel Duval's fam'bly's come to this! Well, they can't blame me. They 're clean run to seed." Jim got out into the air. He felt sick. He had been hit vitally. That was what people thought! and it was true. They were " clean run to seed." He went to get his cart. (He did not speak to Kitty.) His home came before his eyes like a photograph: fences down, gates gone, 147 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS houses ruinous, fields barren. It came to him as if stamped on the retina by a lightning- flash. He had worked-worked hard. But it was no use. It was true: they were "clean run to seed." He helped his mother and Kitty into the cart silently-doggedly. Kitty smiled at him. It hurt him like a blow. He saw every worn place, every darn in her old dress, and little, faded jacket. Mrs. Wagoner drove past them in her carriage, leaning out of the window and calling that she took the liberty of passing as she drove faster than they. Jim gave his old mule a jerk which made himn throw up his head and wince with pain. He was sorry for it. But he had been jerked up short himself. He was quivering too. ON the following Friday the President of one of the great railway lines which cross Virginia was in his office when the door opened after a gentle knock and some one entered. (The offices of presidents of railroads had not then become the secret and mysterious sanctums which they have since become.) The President was busily en- gaged with two or three of the Directors, 148 "RUN TO SEED" wealthy capitalists from the North, who had come down on important business. He was very much engrossed; and he did not look up im- mediately. When he did so he saw standing inside the door a queer figure,-long, slim, an- gular,-a man who looked like a boy, or a boy who looked like a man-red-headed, freckle- faced, bashful,--in a coat too tight even for his thin figure, breeches too short for his long legs; his hat was old and brown; his shirt was clean. "Well, what do you want" The President was busy. It was Jim. His face twitched several times before any sound came: - - I-w-w-w- want t-t-t- to ge-get a place." "This is not the place to get it. I have no place for you." The President turned back to his friends. At the end of ten minutes, seeing one of his visitors look toward the door, he stopped in the middle of a sentence and glanced around. The figure was still there-motionless. The President thought he had been out and come back. He had not. "Well " His key was high. "- - - - I-I- w- w- want to- to get a place." "I told you I had no place for you. Go to the Superintendent. 149 THE BURIAL OF TL'E GUNS - --I- I 've b- b- b- been to him." "Well, what did he sayil" " S- s- s- says he ain't got any place." "Well, I have n't any. Go to Mr. Blake." "-- -I 'v e b- been to him.'' "Well, go to- to-" The President was looking for a paper. It occupied his mind. He did not think any further of Jim. But Jim was there. "- - Go- go where" "Oh, I don't know-go anywhere-go out of here." Jim's face worked. He turned and went slowly out. As he reached the door he said: " Go- go- good-evening g- gentlemen." The President's heart relented: "Go to the Superintendent," he called. Next day he was engaged with his Directors when the door opened and the same apparition stepped within-tall, slim, red-haired, with his little tight coat, short trousers, and clean shirt. The President frowned. "Well, what is it" " -- - I- I- I w- w- w- went to- to the S- S- Supedintendent." "Well, what about it" "Y- y- you told me to- to go- go to him. 150 "RUN TO SEED" H- e- e ain't got any place." The Directors smiled. One of them leaned back in his chair, took out a cigar and prepared to cut the end. "Well, I can't help it. I have n't anything for you. I told you that yesterday. You must not come here bothering me; get out." Jim stood perfectly still-perfectly motion- less. He looked as if he had been there always -would be there always. The Director with the cigar, having cut it, took out a gold match- box, and opened it slowly, looking at Jim with an amused smile. The President frowned and opened his mouth to order him out. He changed his mind. "What is your name' "J- J- James Upton." "Where from' Jim told him. "Whose son are you" "C- C- C- Captain J- J- James Upton's." "What! You don't look much like him!" Jim shuffled one foot. One corner of his mouth twitched up curiously. It might have been a smile. He looked straight at the blank wall before him. "You are not much like your mother either -T used to know her as a girl. How 's that!h" 151 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Jim shuffled the other foot a little. "R- r- run to seed, I reckon." The President was a farmer-prided him- self on it. The reply pleased him. He touched a bell. A clerk entered. "Ask Mr. Wake to come here." "Can you carry a barrel of flour " he asked Jim. "I- I '11 get it there," said Jim. He leaned a little forward. His eyes opened. "Or a sack of salt They are right heavy." " I- I- I '11 get it there, " said Jim. His form straightened. Mr. Wake appeared. "Write Mr. Day to give this man a place as brakeman. " "Yes, sir. Come this way." This to Jim. Jim electrified them all by suddenly burst- ing out crying. The tension had given way. He walked up to the wall and leaned his head against it with his face on his arm, shaking from head to foot, sobbing aloud. "Thank you, I-I 'm ever so much obliged to you," he sobbed. The President rose and walked rapidly about the room. 152 " RUN TO SEED " Suddenly Jim turned and, with his arm over his eyes, held out his hand to the President. " Good-by. " Then he went out. There was a curious smile on the faces of the Directors as the door closed. "Well, I never saw anything like that be- fore, " said one of them. The President said nothing. ' 'Run to seed,' " quoted the oldest of the Di- rectors, "rather good expression !" "Damned good seed, gentlemen," said the President, a little shortly. "Duval and Upton. -That fellow's father was in mv command. Died at Gettysburg. He 'd fight hell." Jim got a place-brakeman on a freight train. That night Jim wrote a letter home. You 'd have thought he had been elected President. It was a hard life: harder than most. The work was hard; the fare was hard; the life was hard. Standing on top of rattling cars as they rushed along in the night around curves, over bridges, through tunnels, with the rain and snow pelting in your face, and the tops as slip- pery as ice. There was excitement about it, too: a sense of risk and danger. Jim did not mind it much. He thought of his mother and Kitty. There was a freemasonry among the men. 153 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS All knew each other; hated or liked each other; nothing negative about it. It was a bad road. Worse than the average. Twice the amount of traffic was done on the single track that should have been done. Result was men were ground up-more than on most roads. More men were killed in proportion to the number employed than were killed in ser- vice during the war. The esprit de corps was strong. Men stood by their trains and by each other. When a man left his engine in sight of trouble, the authorities might not know about it, but the men did. Unless there was cause he had to leave. Sam Wray left his engine in sight of a broken bridge after he reversed. The engine stopped on the track. The officers never knew of it; but Wray and his fireman both changed to another road. When a man even got shaky and began to run easy, the super- intendent might not mind it; but the men did: he had to go. A man had to have not only cour- age but nerve. Jim was not especially popular among men. He was reserved, slow, awkward. He was " pious " (that is, did not swear). He was " stuck up " (did not tell " funny things, " by which was meant vulgar stories; nor laugh at 154 " RUN TO SEED" them either). And according to Dick Rail, he was "stingy as h-l." These things were not calculated to make him popular, and he was not. He was a sort of butt for the free and easy men who lived in their cabs and cabooses, obeyed their "orders," and owned nothing but their overalls and their shiny Sunday clothes. He was good-tempered, though. Took all their gibes and "dev'ling" quietly, and for the most part silently. So, few actually disliked him. Dick Rail, the engineer of his crew, was one of those few. Dick "dee- spised" him. Dick was big, brawny, coarse: coarse in looks, coarse in talk, coarse in every way, and when he had liquor in him he was mean. Jim "bothered" him, he said. He made Jim's life a burden to him. He laid himself out to do it. It became his occupation. He thought about it when Jim was not present; laid plans for it. There was something about Jim that was different from most others. When Jim did not laugh at a "hard story," but just sat still, some men would stop; Dick always told another harder yet, and called attention to Jim's looks. His stock was inexhaustible. His mind was like a spring which ran muddy water; its flow was perpetual. The men thought Jim did not mind. 155 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS He lost three pounds; which for a man who was six feet (and would have been six feet two if he had been straight) and who weighed 122, was considerable. It is astonishing how one man can create a public sentiment. One woman can ruin a repu- tation as effectually as a churchful. One bullet can kill a man as dead as a bushel, if it hits him right. So Dick Rail injured Jim. For Dick was an authority. He swore the biggest oaths, wore the largest watch-chain, knew his engine better and sat it steadier than any man on the road. He had had a passenger train again and again, but he was too fond of whiskey. It was too risky. Dick affected Jim 's standing: told stories about him: made his life a burden to him. " He shan't stay on the road," he used to say. "He 's stingier 'n ! Carries his victuals about with him-I b 'lieve he sleeps with one o' them I-talians in a goods box." This was true -at least, about carrying his food with him. (The rest was Dick's humor.) Messing cost too much. The first two months' pay went to settle an old guano-bill; but the third month's pay was Jim's. The day he drew that he fattened a good deal. At least, he looked so. It was eighty-two dollars (for Jim ran extra 156 " RUN TO SEED " runs;-made double time whenever he could). Jim had never had so much money in his life; had hardly ever seen it. He walked about the streets that night till nearly midnight, feeling the wad of notes in his breast-pocket. Next day a box went down the country, and a letter with it, and that night Jim could not have bought a chew of tobacco. The next letter he got from home was heavy. Jim smiled over it a good deal, and cried a little too. He wondered how Kitty looked in her new dress, and if the barrel of flour made good bread; and if his mother's shawl was warm. One day he was changed to the passenger service, the express. It was a promotion, paid more, and relieved him from Dick Rail. He had some queer experiences being ordered around, but he swallowed them all. He had not been there three weeks when Mrs. Wagoner was a passenger on the train. Carry was with her. They had moved to town. (Mr. Wagoner was interested in railroad development.) Mrs. Wagoner called him to her seat, and talked to him-in a loud voice. Mrs. Wagoner had a loud voice. It had the "carrying" quality. She did niot shake hands; Carry did and said she was so -lad to see him: she had been down home the 157 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS week before-had seen his mother and Kitty. Mrs Wagoner said, "We still keep our planta- tion as a country place." Carry said Kitty looked so well now; her new dress was lovely. Mrs. Wagoner said his mother's eyes were worse. She and Kitty had walked over to see them, to show Kitty's new dress. She had prom- ised that Mr. Wagoner would do what he could for him (Jim) on the road. Next month Jim went back to the freight ser- vice. He preferred Dick Rail to Mrs. Wagoner. He got him. Dick was worse than ever, his ap- petite was whetted by abstinence; he returned to his attack with renewed zest. He never tired- never flagged. He was perpetual: he was re- morseless. He made Jim's life a wilderness. Jim said nothing, just slouched along si- lenter than ever, quieter than ever, closer than ever. He took to going on Sunday to another church than the one he had at- tended, a more fashionable one than that. The Wagoners went there. Jim sat far back in the gallery, very far back, where he could just see the top of Carry's head, her big hat and her face, and could not see Mrs. Wagoner, who sat nearer the gallery. It had a curious effect on him; he never went to sleep there. He took to 158 "RUN TO SEED" going up-town walking by the stores-looking in at the windows of tailors and clothiers. Once he actually went into a shop and asked the price of a new suit of clothes. (He needed them badly.) The tailor unfolded many rolls of cloth and talked volubly; talked himn dizzy. J i looked wistfully at them, rubbed his hand ovei them softly, felt the money in his pocket; and caine out. He said he thought he might come in again. Next day lie did not have the money. Kitty wrote him she could not leave home to go to school on their mother's account, but she would buy books, and she was learning; she would learn fast, her mother was teaching her; and he was the best brother in the world, the whole world; and they had a secret, but he must wait. One day Jim got a big bundle from down the country. It was a new suit of clothes. On top was a letter from Kitty. This was the secret. She and her mother had sent for the cloth and had made them; they hoped they would fit. They had cried over them. Jim cried a little too. He put them on. They did not fit, were much too large. Under Dick Rail's fire Jim had grown even thinner than before. But he wore them to church. He felt that it would have 159 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS been untrue to his mother and Kitty not to wear them. He was sorry to meet Dick Rail on the street. Dick had on a black broadcloth coat, a velvet vest, and large-checked trousers. Dick looked Jim over. Jim winced, flushed a little: he was not so sunburned now. Dick saw it. Next week Dick caught Jim in a crowd in the "yard" waiting for their train. He told about the meeting. He made a double shot. He said, "Boys, Jim 's in love, he 's got new clothes! you ought to see 'em! " Dick was graphic; he wound up: " They hung on him like breechin' on his old mule. By -! b 'lieve he was too - - stingy to buy 'em and made 'em himself." There was a shout from the crowd. Jim's face worked. He jumped for him. There was a handspike lying near and he seized it. Some one grabbed him, but he shook him off as if he had been a child. Why he did not kill Dick no one ever knew. He meant to do it. For some time they thought he was dead. He laid off for over a month. After that Jim wore what clothes he chose: no one ever troubled him. So he went on in the same way: slow, sleepy, stuttering, thin, stingy, ill-dressed, lame. He was made a fireman; preferred it to being a conductor, it led to being an engineer, which 160 " RUN TO SEED " paid more. lie ran extra trips whenever he could, up and double straight back. Hle could stand an immense amount of work. If he got sleepy he put tobacco in his eyes to keep them open. It was bad for the eyes, but waked him up. Kitty was going to take music next year, and that cost money. He had not been home for several months, but was going at Christmas. They did not have any sight tests then. But the new Directory ineant to be thorough. AIr. Wagoner had become a Director, had his eye on the presidency. Jim was one day sent for, and was asked about his eyes. They were bad. There was not a doubt about it. They were in- flamed; he could not see a hundred yards. He did not tell them about the extra trips and put- ting the tobacco in them. Dick Rail must have told about him. They said he must go. Jim turned white. He went to his little room, close up under the roof of a little dingy house in a back street, and sat down in the dark; thought about his mother and Kitty, and dimly about some one else; wrote his mother and Kitty a letter; said he was coming home-called it "a visit"; cried over the letter, but was careful not to cry on it. He was a real cry-baby-Jim was. "Just run to seed," he said to himself, bit- 161 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS terly, over and over; "just run to seed.'" Then he went to sleep. The following day he went down to the rail- road. That was the last day. Next day he would be "off." The train-master saw him and called him. A special was just going out. The Directors were going over the road in the officers' car. Dick Rail was the engineer, and his fireman had been taken sick. Jim must take the place. Jim had a mind not to do it. He hated Dick. He thought of how he had pursued him. But he heard a voice behind him and turned. Carry was standing down the platform, talking with some elderly gentlemen. She had on a traveling cap and ulster. She saw him and came forward-a step: " How do you do" she held out her little gloved hand. She was going out over the road with her father. Jim took off his hat and shook hands with her. Dick Rail saw him, walked round the other side of the engine, and tried to take off his hat like that. It was not a suc- cess; Dick knew it. Jim went. "Who was that" one of the elderly gentle- men asked Carry. 162 " RUN TO SEED " "An old friend of mine-a gentleman," she said. "Rather run to seed-hey" the old fellow quoted, without knowing exactly why; for he only half recognized Jim, if he recognized him at all. They started. It was a bad trip. The weather was bad, the road was bad, the engine bad; Dick bad-worse than all. Jim had a bad time: he was to be off when he got home. What would his mother and Kitty do Once Carry came (brought by the President) and rode in the engine for a little while. Jim helped her up and spread his coat for her to sit on, put his overcoat under her feet; his heart was in it. Dick was sullen, and Jim had to show her about the engine. When she got down to go back to the car she thanked him-she "had en- joyed it greatly "-she "would like to try it again." Jim smiled. He was almost good- looking when he smiled. Dick was meaner than ever after that, sneered at Jim-swore; but Jim didn't mind it. He was thinking of some one else, and of the rain which would prevent her coming again. 163 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS They were on the return trip, and were half- way home when the accident happened. It was just "good dusk," and it had been raining all night and all day, and the road was as rotten as mud. The special was behind and was mak- ing up. She had the right of way, and she was flying. She rounded a curve just above a small "fill," under which was a little stream, nothing but a mere " branch. " Tn good weather it would never be noticed. The gay party behind were at dinner. The first thing they knew was the sud- den jerk which came from reversing the engine at full speed, and the grind as the wheels slid along under the brakes. Then they stopped with a bump which jerked them out of their seats, set the lamps to swinging, and sent the things on the table crashing on the floor. No one was hurt, only shaken, and they crowded out of the car to learn the cause. They found it. The en- gine was half buried in wet earth on the other side of the little washout, with the tender jammed up into the cab. The whole was wrapped in a dense cloud of escaping steam. The roar was terrific. The big engineer, bare- headed and covered with mud, and with his face deadly white, was trying to get down to the en- gine. Some one was in there. 164 "RUN TO SEED" They got him out after a while (but it took some time), and laid him on the ground, while a mattress was got. It was Jim. Carry had been weeping and praying. She sat down and took his head in her lap, and with her lace handkerchief wiped his blackened and bleeding face, and smoothed his wet hair. THE newspaper accounts, which are always reflections of what public sentiment is, or should be, spoke of it-some, as "a providential "- others, as "a miraculous"-and yet others as "a fortunate" escape on the part of the Presi- dent and the Directors of the road, according to the tendencies, religious or otherwise, of their paragraphists. They mentioned casually that "only one per- son was hurt-an employee, name not ascer- tained." And one or two had some gush about the devotion of the beautiful young lady, the daughter of one of the directors of the road, who happened to be on the train, and who, "like a ministering angel, held the head of the wounded man in her lap after he was taken from the wreck." A good deal was made of this picture, which was extensively copied. Dick Rail's account, after he had come back 165 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS from carrying the broken body down to the old Upton place in the country, and helping to lay it away in the old enclosure under the big trees on the hill, was this: "By -!" he said, when he stood in the yard, with a solemn-faced group around him, "we were late, and I was just shaking 'em up. I had been meaner 'n hell to Jim all the trip (I didn't know him, and you all didn't neither), and I was workin' him for all he was worth: I did n 't give him a minute. The sweat was rolling off him, an I was damnin' him with every shovel- ful. We was runnin' under orders to make up, and we was just rounding the curve this side of Ridge Hill, when Jim hollered. He saw it as he raised up with the shovel in his hand to wipe the sweat off his face, and he hollered to me, 'My God! Look, Dick! Jump!' "I looked and Hell was right there. He caught the lever and reversed, and put on the air and sand before I saw it, and then grabbed me, and flung me clean out of the cab: 'Jump!' he says, as he give me a swing. I jumped, ex- pectin' of course he was comin' too; and as I lit, I saw Irim turn and catch the lever. The old engine was jumpin' nigh off the track. But she was too near. In she went, and the tender right on her. You may talk about his eyes bein' 166 "RUN TO SEED" bad; but by ! when he gave me that swing, they looked to me like coals of fire. When we got him out 't warn't Jim. He warn't nothin' but mud and ashes. He warn't quite dead; opened his eyes, and breathed onct or twict; but I don't think he knew anything, he was so mashed up. We laid him out on the grass, and that young lady took his head in her lap and cried over him (she had come and seed Lim in the engine), and said she knew his mother and sister down in the country (she used to live down there); they was gentlefolks; that Jim was all they had. And when one of them old director- fellows who had been swilling himself behind there come aroun', with his kid gloves on and his hands in his great-coat pockets, lookin' down, and sayin' something about, 'Poor fellow, couldn't he 'a jumped e Why did n 't he jump 1' I let him have it; I said, 'Yes, and if it had n't been for him, you and I 'd both been frizzin' in h-I this minute.' And the President standin' there said to some of them, 'That was the same young fellow who came into my office to get a place last year when you were down, and said fie had "run to seed." 'But,' he says, 'Gentle- men, it was d---d good seed!' " How good it was no one knew but two weeping women in a lonely house. 167 This page in the original text is blank. MY COUSIN FANNY This page in the original text is blank. MY COUSIN FANNY W \7E do not keep Christmas now as we used T T to do in old Hanover. We have not time for it, and it does not seem like the same thing. Christmas, however, always brings up to me my cousin Fanny; I suppose because she always was so foolish about Christmas. My cousin Fanny was an old maid; indeed, to follow St. Paul's turn of phrase, she was an old maid of the old maids. No one who saw her a moment could have doubted it. Old maids have from most people a feeling rather akin to pity-a hard heritage. They very often have this feeling from the young. This must be the hardest part of all-to see around theIn friends, each "a happy mother of children," little ones responding to affection with the sweet caresses of childhood, whilst any ad- vances that they, their aunts or cousins, may make are met with indifference or condescen- sion. My cousin Fanny was no exception. 171 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS She was as proud as Lucifer; yet she went through life-the part that I knew of-bearing the pity of the great majority of the people who knew her. She lived at an old place called "Wood- side," which had been in the family for a great many years; indeed, ever since before the Revo- lution. The neighborhood dated back to the time of the colony, and Woodside was one of the old places. My cousin Fanny 's grand- mother had stood in the door of her chamber with her large scissors in her hand, and defied Tarleton 's red-coated troopers to touch the basket of old communion-plate which she had hung on her arm. The house was a large brick edifice, with a pyramidal roof, covered with moss, small win- dows, porticos with pillars somewhat out of repair, a big, high hall, and a staircase wide enough to drive a gig up it if it could have turned the corners. A grove of great forest oaks and poplars densely shaded it, and made it look rather gloomy; and the garden, with the old graveyard covered with periwinkle at one end, was almost in front, while the side of the wood-a primeval forest, from which the place took its name-came up so close as to 172 MY COUSIN FANNY form a strong, dark background. During the war the place, like most others i. that neigh- borhood, suffered greatly, and only a sudden exhibition of spirit on Cousin Fanny's part saved it from a worse fate. After the war it went down; the fields were poor, and grew up in briers and sassafras, and the house was too large and out of repair to keep from decay, the ownership of it being divided between Cousin Fanny and other members of the family. Cousin Fanny had no means whatever, so that it soon was in bad condition. The rest of the family, as it grew up, went off, compelled by necessity to seek some means of livelihood; and would have taken Cousin Fanny too if she would have gone; but she would not go. They did all they could for her, but she pre- ferred to hang around the old place, and to do what she could with her "mammy," and "old Stephen," her mammy 's husband, who alone remained in the quarters. She lived in a part of the house, locking up the rest, and from time to time visited among her friends and rela- tives, who always received her hospitably. She had an old piece of a mare (which I think she had bought from Stephen), with one eye, three legs, and no mane or tail to speak of, and on 173 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS which she lavished, without the least perceptible result, care enough to have kept a stable in con- dition. In a freak of humor she named this animal "Fashion," after a noted racer of the old times, which had been raised in the county, and had beaten the famous Boston in a great race. She always spoke of "Fash" with a tone of real tenderness in her voice, and looked after her, and discussed her ailments, which were always numerous, as if she had been a delicate child. Mounted on this beast, with her bags and bundles, and shawls and umbrella, and a long stick or pole, she used occasionally to make the tour of the neighborhood, and was always really welcomed; because, notwithstanding the trouble she gave, she always stirred things up. As was said once, you could no more have remained dull where she was than you could have dozed with a chinkapin-burr down your back. Her retort was that a chinkapin-burr might be used to rouse people from a leth- argy (she had an old maid's tongue). By the younger members of the family she was always welcomed, because she furnished so much fun. She nearly always fetched some little thing to her host--not her hostess-a fowl, or a pat of butter from her one old cow, or something of 174 MY COUSIN FANNY the kind, because, she said, "Abigail had estab- lished the precedent, and she was 'a woman of good understanding'-she understood that feed- ing and flattery were the way to win men." She would sometimes have a chicken in a basket hung on the off pommel of her old saddle, be- cause at times she fancied she could not eat anything but chicken soup, and she did "not wish to give trouble." She used to give trouble enough; for it generally turned out that she had heard some one was sick in the neighbor- hood, and she wanted the soup carried to her. I remember how mad Joe got because she made him go with her to carry a bucket of soup to old Mrs. Rionquist. Cousin Fanny had the marks of an old maid. She was thin ("scrawny" we used to call her, though I remember now she was quite erect until she grew feeble) ; her features were fine; her nose was very straight; her hair was brown; and her eyes, which were dark, were weak, so that she had often to wear a green shade. She used to say herself that they were "bad eyes." They had been so ever since the time when she was a young girl, and there had been a very bad attack of scarlet fever at her home, and she had caught it. I think she 175 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS caught a bad cold with it-sitting up nursing some of the younger children, perhaps-and it had settled in her eyes. She was always very liable to cold. I believe she had a lover then or about that time; but her mother had died not long before, and she had some notion of duty to the chil- dren, and so discarded him. Of course, as every one said, she'd much better have married him. I do not suppose he ever could have addressed her. She never would admit that he did, which did not look much like it. She was once spoken of in my presence as ''a sore-eyed old maid "-I have forgotten who said it. Yet I can now recall occasions when her eyes, being "better," appeared unusually soft, and, had she not been an old maid, would sometimes have been beautiful-as, for instance, occasionally, when she was playing at the piano in the evenings before the candles were lighted. I recollect particularly once when she was sing- ing an old French love-song. Another time was when on a certain occasion some one was talking about marriages and the reasons which led to or prevented them. She sat quite still and silent, looking out of the window, with her thin hands resting in her lap. Her head was 176 MY COUSIN FANNY turned away trom most of the people, but I was sitting where I could see her, and the light of the evening sky was on her face. It made her look very soft. She lifted up her eyes, and looked far off toward the horizon. I remember it recalled to me, young as I was, the speech I had heard some one once make when I was a little boy, and which I had thought so ridiculous, that "when she was young, before she caught that cold, she was almost beautiful." There was an expression on her face that made me think she ought always to sit looking out of the window at the evening sky. I believe she had brought me some apples that day when she came, and that made me feel kindly toward her. The light on her hair gave it a reddish look, quite auburn. Presently, she withdrew her eyes from the sky, and let them fall into her lap with a sort of long, sighing breath, and slowly interlaced her fingers. The next second some one jocularly fired this question at her: "Well, Cousin Fanny, give us your views," and her expression changed back to that which she ordinarily wore. "Oh, my views, like other people's, vary from my practice," she said. "It is not views, but experiences, which are valuable in life. 177 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS When I shall have been married twice I will tell you. " "While there's life there's hope, eh" haz- arded some one; for teasing an old maid, in any way, was held perfectly legitimate. "Yes, indeed," and she left the room, smiling, and went up-stairs. This was one of the occasions when her eyes looked well. There were others that I remem- ber, as sometimes when she was in church; sometimes when she was playing with little children; and now and then when, as on that evening, she was sitting still, gazing out of the window. But usually her eyes were weak, and she wore the green shade, which gave her face a peculiar pallor, making her look old, and giving her a pained, invalid expression. Her dress was one of her peculiarities. Per- haps it was because she made her clothes her- self, without being able to see very well. I suppose she did not have much to dress on. I know she used to turn her dresses, and change them around several times. When she had any money she used to squander it, buying dresses for Scroggs's girls or for some one else. She was always scrupulously neat, being quite old- maidish. She said that cleanliness was next to 178 MY COUSIN FANNY godliness in a man, and in a woman it was on a par with it. I remember once seeing a picture of her as a young girl, as young as Kitty, dressed in a soft white dress, with her hair down over her ears, and some flowers in her dress-that is, it was said to be she; but I did not believe it. To be sure, the flowers looked like it. She always would stick flowers or leaves in her dress, which was thought quite ridiculous. The idea of associating flowers with an old maid! It was as hard as believing she ever was the young girl. It was not, how- ever, her dress, old and often queer and ill- made as it used to be, that was the chief griev- ance against her. There was a much stronger ground of complaint; she had nerves! The word used to be strung out in pronouncing it, with a curve of the lips, as "ner-erves." I don't remember that she herself ever mentioned them; that was the exasperating part of it. She would never say a word; she would just close her thin lips tight, and wear a sort of ill look, as if she were in actual pain. She used to go up-stairs, and shut the door and windows tight, and go to bed, and have mustard pilasters on her temples and the back of her neck; and when she came down, after a d-ay or two, she 179 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS would have bright red spots burnt on her tern- ples and neck, and would look ill. Of course it was very hard not to be exasperated at this. Then she would creep about as if merely step- ping jarred her; would put on a heavy blue veil, and wrap her head up in a towel, and feel along by the chairs until she got to a seat, and drop back in it, gasping. Why, I have even seen her sit in the room, all swathed up, and with an old parasol over her head to keep out the light, or some such nonsense, as we used to think. It was too ridiculous to us, and we boys used to walk heavily and stumble over chairs-" accidentally," of course-just to make her jump. Sometimes she would even start up and cry out. We had the incontest- able proof that it was all "put on;" for if you began to talk to her, and got her interested, she would forget all about her ailments, and would run on and talk and laugh for an hour, until she suddenly remembered, and sank back again in her shawls and pains. She knew a great deal. In fact, I recall now that she seemed to know more than any woman I have ever been thrown with, and if she had not been an old maid, I am bound to admit that her conversation would have been the most 180 MY COUSIN FANNY entertaining I ever knew. She lived in a sort of atmosphere of romance and literature; the old writers and their characters were as real to her as we were, and she used to talk about them to us whenever we would let her. Of course, when it came from an old maid, it made a dif- ference. She was not only easily the best French scholar in our region, where the ladies all knew more or less of French, but she was an excellent Latin scholar, which was much less common. I have often lain down before the fire when I was learning my Latin lesson, and read to her, line by line, Cosar or Ovid or Cicero, as the book might be, and had her render it into English almost as fast as I read. Indeed, I have even seen Horace read to her as she sat in the old rocking-chair after one of her head- aches, with her eyes bandaged, and her head swathed in veils and shawls, and she would turn it into not only proper English, but English with a glow and color and rhythm that gave the very life of the odes. That was an exercise we boys all liked and often engaged in-Frank, and Joe, and Doug, and I, and even old Blinky-for, as she used to admit herself, she was always worrying us to read to her (I believe I read all of Scott's novels to her). Of course 181 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS this translation helped us as well as gratified her. I do not remember that she was ever too unwell to help us in this way except when she was actually in bed. She was very fond of us boys, and was always ready to take our side and to further our plans in any way whatever. We would get her to steal off with us, and translate our Latin for us by the fire. This, of course, made us rather fond of her. She was so much inclined to take our part and to help us that I remember it used to be said of her as a sort of reproach, "Cousin Fanny always sides with the boys. " She used to say it was because she knew how worthless women were. She would say this sort of thing herself, but she was very touchy about women, and never would allow any one else to say anything about them. She had an old maid's temper. I remember that she took Doug up short once for talking about "old maids." She said that for her part she did not mind it the least bit; but she would not allow him to speak so of a large class of her sex which contained some of the best women in the world; that many of them performed work and made sacrifices that the rest of the world knew nothing about. She said the true word for them was the old Saxon term "spinster;" 182 MY COUSIN FANNY that it proved that they performed the work of the house, and that it was a term of honor of which she was proud. She said that Christ had humbled himself to be born of a Virgin, and that every woman had this honor to sustain. Of course such lectures as these made us call her an old maid all the more. Still, I don't think that being mischievous or teasing her made anll difference with her. Frank used to worry her more than any one else, even than Joe, and I am sure she liked him best of all. That may perhaps have been because he was the best-look- ing of us. She said once that he reminded her of some one she used to know a long time be- fore, when she was young. That must have been a long time before, indeed. He used to tease the life out of her. She was extraordinarily credulous - would believe anything on earth anyone told her, because, although she had plenty of humor, she herself never would deviate from the abso- lute truth a moment, even in jest. I do not think she would have told an untruth to save her life. Well, of course we used to play on her to tease her. Frank would tell her the most unbelievable and impossible lies: such as that he thought he saw a mouse yesterday on 183 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS the back of the sofa she was lying on (this would make her bounce up like a ball), or that he believed he heard-he was not sure-that Mr. Scroggs (the man who had rented her old home) had cut down all the old trees in the yard, and pulled down the house because he wanted the bricks to make brick ovens. This would worry her excessively (she loved every brick in the old house, and often said she would rather live in the kitchen there than in a palace anywhere else), and she would get into such a state of depression that Frank would finally have to tell her that he was just "fooling her." She used to make him do a good deal of waiting on her in return, and he was the one she used to get to dress old Fashion's back when it was raw, and to put drops in her eyes. He got quite expert at it. She said it was a penalty for his worrying her so. She was the great musician of the connection. This is in itself no mean praise; for it was the fashion for every musical gift among the girls to be cultivated, and every girl played or sang more or less, some of them very well. Put Cousin Fanny was not only this. She had a way of playing that used to make the old piano sound different from itself; and her voice was 184 MY COUSIN FANNY almost the sweetest I ever heard except one or two on the stage. It was particularly sweet in the evenings, when she sat down at the piano and played. She would not always do it; she either felt "not in the mood," or "not symnpa- thetic," or some such thing. None of the others were that way; the rest could play just as well in the glare of day as in the twilight, and before one person as another; it was, we all knew, just one of Cousin Fanny's old-maid crotchets. When she sat down at the piano and played, her fussiness was all forgotten; her first notes used to be recognized through the house, and people used to stop what they were doing, and come in. Even the children would leave off playing, and come straggling in, tip- toeing as they crossed the floor. Some of the other performers used to play a great deal louder, but we never tiptoed when they played. Cousin Fanny would sit at the piano looking either up or right straight ahead of her, or often with her eves closed (she never looked at the keys), and the sound used to rise from under her long, thin fingers, sometimes rushing and pouring forth like a deep roar, sometimes ring- ing out clear like a band of bugles, making the hair move on the head and giving strange ting- 185 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS lings down the back. Then we boys wanted to go forth in the world on fiery, black chargers, like the olden knights, and fight giants and rescue beautiful ladies and poor women. Then again, with her eyes shut, the sound would al- most die away, and her fingers would move softly and lingeringly as if they loved the touch of the keys, and hated to leave them; and the sound would come from away far off, and every- thing would grow quiet and subdued, and the perfume of the roses out of doors would steal in on the air, and the soft breezes would stir the trees, and we were all in love, and wanted to see somebody that we didn 't see. And Cousin Fanny was not herself any longer, but we imagined some one else was there. Some- times she suddenly began to sing (she sang old songs, English or French); her voice might be weak (it all depended on her whimns; she said, on her health), in that case she always stopped and left the piano; or it might be "in condition." When it was, it was as velvety and mellow as a bell far off, and the old ballads and chansons used to fill the twilight. We used even to forget then that she was an old maid. Now and then she sang songs that no one else had ever heard. They were her own; she had 186 MY COUSIN FANNY composed both the words and the air. At other times she sang the songs of others to her own airs. I remember the first time I ever heard of Tennyson was when, one evening in the twilight, she sang his echo song from "The Princess." The air was her own, and in the refrain you heard perfectly the notes of the bugle, and the echoes answering, "Dying, dying, dying." Boy as I was, I was entranced, and she answered my enthusiasm by turning and repeating the poem. I have often thought since how musical her voice was as she re- peated Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow forever and forever. She had a peculiarly sentimental tempera- ment. As I look back at it all now, she was much given to dwelling upon old-time poems and romances, which we thought very ridic- ulous in any one, especially in a spinster of forty odd. She would stop and talk about the branch of a tree with the leaves all turning red or yellow or purple in the common way in which, as everyone knows, leaves always turn in the fall; or even about a tangle of briers, 187 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS scarlet with frost, in a corner of an old worm- fence, keeping us waiting while she fooled around a brier patch with old Blinky, who would just as lief have been in one place as another, so it was out of doors; and even when she reached the house she would still carry on about it, worrying us by telling over again just how the boughs and leaves looked massed against the old gray fence, which she could do till you could see them precisely as they were. She was very aggravating in this way. Some- times she would even take a pencil or pen and a sheet of paper for old Blinky, and reproduce it. She could not draw, of course, for she was not a painter; all she could do was to make anything look almost just like it was. There was one thing about her which excited much talk; I suppose it was only a piece of old-maidism. Of course she was religious. She was really very good. She was considered very high church. I do not think, from my recollec- tion of her, that she really was, or, indeed, that she could have been; but she used to talk that way, and it was said that she was. In fact, it used to be whispered that she was in danger of becoming a Catholic. I believe she had an aunt that was one, and she had visited several 188 MY COUSIN FANNY times in Norfolk and Baltimore, where it was said there were a good many. I remember she used to defend them, and say she knew a great many very devout ones. And she admitted that she sometimes went to the Catholic church, and found it devotional; the choral service, she said, satisfied something in her soul. It happened to be in the evening that she was talking about this. She sat down at the piano, and played some of the Gregorian chants she had heard, and it had a soothing influence on everyone. Even Joe, the fidgetiest of all, sat quite still through it. She said that some one had heard it was the music that the angels sing in heaven around the great white throne, and there was no other sacred music like it. But she played another thing that evening which she said was worthy to be played with it. It had some chords in it that I remembered long afterward. Years afterward I heard it played the same way in the twilight by one who is a blessed saint in heaven, and may be playing it there now. It was from Chopin. She even said that evening, under the impulse of her enthusiasm, that she did not see, except that it might be abused, why the crucifix should Iiot be retained by all Christian churches, as it 189 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS enabled some persons not gifted with strong imaginations to have a more vivid realization of the crucified Saviour. This, of course, was going too far, and it created considerable ex- citement in the family, and led to some very serious talk being given her, in which the second commandment figured largely. It was con- sidered as carrying old-maidism to an extreme length. For some time afterward she was rather discountenanced. In reality, I think what some said was true: it was simply that she was emo- tional, as old maids are apt to be. She once said that many women have the nun's instinct largely developed, and sigh for the peace of the cloister. She seemed to be very fond of artists. She had the queerest tastes, and had, or had had when she was young, one or two friends who, I believe, claimed to be something of that kind; she used to talk about them to old Blinky. But it seemed to us from what she said that artists never did any work; just spent their time loung- ing around, doing nothing, and daubing paint on their canvas with brushes like a painter, or chiseling and chopping rocks like a mason. One of these friends of hers was a young man from Norfolk who had made a good many 190 MY COUSIN FANNY things. He was killed or died in the war; so he had not been quite ruined; was worth some- thing anyhow as a soldier. One of his things was a Psyche, and Cousin Fanny used to talk a good deal about it; she said it was file, was a work of genius. She had even, written some verses about it. She repeated them to me once. and I wrote them down. Here they are: TO GALT'S PSYCHE Well art thou called the soul; For as I gaze on thee, Mly spirit, past control, Springs up in ecstasy. Thou canst not be dead stone; For o'er thy lovely face, Softer than music's tone, I see the spirit's grace. The wild oeolian lyre Is but a silken string, Till summer winds inspire, And softest music bring. Psyche, thou wast but stone Till his inspiring came: The sculptor's hand alone Made not that soul-touched frame. 191 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS They have lain by me for years, and are pretty good for one who did n't write. I think, how- ever, she was young when she addressed them to the "soul-touched" work of the young sculptor, who laid his genius and everything at Virginia's feet. They were friends, I believe, when she was a girl, before she caught that cold, and her eyes got bad. Among her eccentricities was her absurd cowardice. She was afraid of cows, afraid of horses, afraid even of sheep. And bugs, and anything that crawled, used to give her a fit. If we drove her anywhere, and the horses cut up the least bit, she would jump out and walk, even in the mud; and I remember once seeing her cross the yard, where a young cow that had a calf asleep in the weeds, over in a corner beyond her, started toward it at a little trot with a whimper of motherly solicitude. Cousin Fanny took it into her head that the cow was coming at her, and just screamed, and sat down flat on the ground, carrying on as if she were a baby. Of course, we boys used to tease her, and tell her the cows were coming after her. You could not help teasing anybody like that. I do not see how she managed to do what 192 MY COUSIN FANNY she did when the enemy got to Woodside in the war. That was quite remarkable, consid- ering what a coward she was. During 1864 the Yankees on a raid got to her house one evening in the summer. As it happened, a young soldier, one of her cousins (she had no end of cousins), had got a leave of absence, and had come there sick with fever just the day before (the house was always a sort of hospital). He was in the boys' room in bed when the Yankees arrived, and they were all around the house before she knew it. She went down- stairs to meet them. They had been informed by one of the negroes that Cousin Charlie was there, and they told her that they wanted him. She told them they could not get him. They asked her, "WNhy Is he not there" (I heard her tell of it once.) She said: "You know, I thought when I told them they could not get him that they would go away, but when they asked me if he was not there, of course I could not tell them a story; so I said I declined to answer impertinent questions. You know poor Charlie was at that moment lying curled up under the bed in the boys' room with a roll of carpet a foot thick around him, and it was as hot as an oven. 193 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Well, they insisted on going through the house, and I let them go all through the lower stories; but when they started up the staircase I was ready for them. I had always kept, you know, one of papa's old horse-pistols as a protection. Of course, it was not loaded. I would not have had it loaded for anything in the world. I always kept it safely locked up, and I was dreadfully afraid of it even then. But you have no idea what a moral support it gave me, and I used to unlock the drawer every afternoon to see if it was still there all right, and then lock it again, and put the key away carefully. Well, as it happened, I had just been looking at it- which I called 'inspecting my garrison.' I used to feel just like Lady Margaret in Tillietudlam Castle. Well, I had just been looking at it that afternoon when I heard the Yankees were com- ing, and by a sudden inspiration-I cannot tell for my life how I did it-I seized the pistol, and hid it under my apron. I held on to it with both hands, I was so afraid of it, and all the time those wretches were going through the rooms down-stairs I was quaking with terror. But when they started up the stairs I had a new feeling. I knew they were bound to get poor Charlie if lie had not melted and run away,- 194 MY COUSIN FANNY no, he would never have run away; I moeai evaporated,-and I suddenly ran up the stair- way a few steps before them, and, hauling out my big pistol, pointed it at them, and told them that if they came one step higher I would cer- tainly pull the trigger. I could not say I would shoot, for it was not loaded. Well, do you know, they stopped! They stopped dead still. I declare I was so afraid the old pistol would go off, though, of course, I knew it was not loaded, that I was just quaking. But as soon as they stopped, I began to attack. I remem- bered my old grandmother and her scissors, and, like General Jackson, I followed up my advantage. I descended the steps, brandishing my pistol with both hands, and abusing them with all my might. I was so afraid they might ask if it was loaded. But they really thought I would shoot them (you know men have not liked to be slain by a woman since the time of Abimelech), and they actually ran down the steps, with me after them, and I got them all out of the house. Then I locked the door and barred it, and ran up-stairs and had such a cry over Charlie. [That was like an old maid.] Afterwards they were going to burn the house, but I got hold of their colonel, who was not 195 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS there at first, and made him really ashamed of himself; for I told him we were nothing but a lot of poor defenseless women and a sick boy. He said he thought I was right well defended, as I had held a company at bay. He finally promised that if I would give him some music he would not go up-stairs. So I paid that for my ransom, and a bitter ransom it was too, I can tell you, singing for a Yankee! But I gave him a dose of Confederate songs, I promise you. He asked me to sing the 'Star Spangled Ban- ner;' but I told him I would not do it if he burnt the house down with me in it--though it was inspired by my cousin, Armistead. Then he asked me to sing 'Home, Sweet Home,' and I did that, and he actually had tears in his eyes- the hypocrite! He had very fine eyes, too. I think I did sing it well, though. I cried a little myself, thinking of the old house being so nearly burnt. There was a young doctor there, a surgeon, a really nice-looking fellow for a Yankee; I made him feel ashamed of himself, I tell you. I told him I had no doubt he had a good mother and sister up at home, and to think of his coming and war- ring on poor women. And they really placed a guard over the house for me while they were there." 196 MY COUSIN FANNY This she actually did. With her old empty horse-pistol she cleared the house of the mob, and then vowed that if they burned the house she would burn up in it, and finally saved it by singing "Home, Sweet Home," for the colonel. She could not have done much better even if she had not been an old maid. I did not see much of her after I grew up. I moved away from the old county. Most others did the same. It had been desolated by the war, and got poorer and poorer. With an old maid's usual crankiness and inability to adapt herself to the order of things, Cousin Fanny remained behind. She refused to come away; said, I believe, she had to look after the old place, mammy, and Fash, or some such non- sense. I think she had some idea that the church would go down, or that the poor people around would miss her, or something equally unpractical. Anyhow, she stayed behind, and lived for quite a while the last of her connec- tion in the county. Of course all did the best they could for her, and had she gone to live around with her relatives, as they wished her to do, they would have borne with her and sup- ported her. But she said no; that a single woman ought never to live in any house but her father's or her own; and we could not do any- 197 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS thing with her. She was so proud she would not take money as a gift from anyone, not even from her nearest relatives. Her health got rather poor-not unnatural- ly, considering the way she divided her time between doctoring herself and fussing after sick people in all sorts of weather. With the fancifulness of her kind, she finally took it into her head that she must consult a doctor in New York. Of course, no one but an old maid would have done this; the home doctors were good enough for everyone else. Nothing would do, however, but she must go to New York; so, against the advice of everyone, she wrote to a cousin who was living there to meet her, and with her old wraps, and cap, and bags, andl bundles, and stick, and umbrella, she started. The lady met her; that is, went to meet her, but failed to find her at the station, and supposing that she had not come, or had taken some other railroad, which she was likely to do, returned home, to find her in bed, with her "things" piled up on the floor. Some gen- tleman had come across her ;u Washington, holding the right train while she insisted on taking the wrong route, and had taken com- passion on her, and not only escorted her to 198 MY COUSIN FANNY New York, but had taken her and all her par- cels and brought her to her destination, where she had at once retired. "He was a most charming man, my dear," she said to her cousin, who told me of it after- ward in narrating her eccentricities; "and to think of it, I don't believe I had looked in a glass all day, and when I got here, my cap had somehow got twisted around and was perched right over my left ear, making me look a per- fect fright. He told me his name, but I have forgotten it, of course. But he was such a gentleman, and to think of his being a Yankee! I told him I hated all Yankees, and he just laughed, and did not mind my stick, nor old umbrella, nor bundles, a bit. You 'd have thought my old cap was a Parisian bonnet. I will not believe he was a Yankee. I Well, she went to see the doctor, the most celebrated in New York-at the infirmary, of course, for she was too poor to go to his office; one consultation would have taken every cent she had-her cousin went with her, and told me of it. She said that when she came down- stairs to go she never saw such a sight. On her head she had her blue cap, and her green shade and her veil, and her shawl; and she had the 199 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS old umbrella and long stick, which she had brought from the country, and a large pillow under her arm, because she "knew she was go- ing to faint." So they started out, but it was a slow procession. The noise and bustle of the street dazed her, her cousin fancied, and every now and then she would clutch her companion and declare she must go back or she should faint. At every street-crossing she insisted upon having a policeman to help her over, or, in default of that, she would stop some man and ask him to escort her across, which, of course, he would do, thinking her crazy. Finally they reached the infirmary, where there were already a large number of patients, and many more came in afterwards. Here she shortly established an acquaintance with several strangers. She had to wait an hour or more for her turn, and then insisted that several who had come in after her should go in before her, because she said the poor things looked so tired. This would have gone on indefinitely, her cousin said, if she had not finally dragged her into the doctor's room. There the first thing that she did was to insist that she must lie down, she was so faint, and her pillow was brought into requisition. Her friend started to 200 MY COUSIN FANNY tell him about her, but the doctor said, "I pre- fer to have her tell me herself." She presently began to tell, the doctor sitting quietly by lis- tening and seeming to be much interested. He gave her some prescription, and told her to come again next day, and when she went he sent for her ahead of her turn, and after that made her come to his office at his private house, instead of to the infirmary, as at first. He turned out to be the surgeon who had been at her house with the Yankees during the war. He was very kind to her. I suppose he had never seen anyone like her. She used to go every day, and soon dispensed with her friend 's escort, finding no difficulty in getting about. Indeed, she came to be known on the streets she passed through, and on the cars she travelled by, and people guided her. Several times as she was taking the wrong car men stopped her, and said, to her, " Madam, yours is the red car." She said, sure enough it was, but she never could divine how they knew. She ad- dressed the conductors as "My dear sir," and made them help her not only off, but quite to the sidewalk, when she thanked them, and said "Good-by," as if she had been at home. She said she did this on principle, for it was such 201 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS a good thing to teach them to help a feeble woman. Next time they would expect to do it, and after a while it would become a habit. She said no one knew what terror women had of being run over and trampled on. She was, as I have said, an awful coward. She used to stand still on the edge of the street and look up and down both ways ever so long, then go out in the street and stand still, look both ways and then run back; or as like as not start on and turn and run back after she was more than half way across, and so get into real danger. One day, as she was passing along, a driver had in his cart an old bag-of-bones of a horse, which he was beating to make him pull up the hill, and Cousin Fanny, with an old maid's meddlesomeness, pushed out into the street and caught hold of him and made him stop, which of course collected a crowd, and just as she was coming back a little cart came rattling along, and though she was in no earthly danger, she ran so to get out of the way of the horse that she tripped and fell down in the street and hurt herself. So much for cowardice. The doctor finally told her that she had nothing the matter with her, except something with her nerves and, I believe, her spine, and 202 MY COUSIN FANNY that she wanted company (you see she was a good deal alone). He said it was the first law of health ever laid down, that it was not good for man to be alone; that loneliness is a spe- cific disease. He said she wanted occupation, some sort of work to interest her, and make her forget her aches and ailments. He sug- gested missionary work of some kind. This was one of the worst things he could have told her, for there was no missionary work to be had where she lived. Besides, she could not have done missionary work; she had never done anything in her life; she was always wasting her time pottering about the country on her old horse, seeing sick old darkies or poor people in the pines. No matter how bad the weather was, nor how deep the roads, she would go prowling around to see some old "aunty" o1 " uncle," in their out-of-the-way cabins, or somebody's sick child. I have met her on old Fashion in the rain, toiling along in roads that were knee-deep, to get the doctor to come to see some sick person, or to get a dose of physic from the depot. How could she have done any missionary work I believe she repaid the doctor for his care of her by sending him a charity patient to look 203 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS after-Scroggs's eldest girl, who was bedridden or something. Cousin Fanny had a fancy that she was musical. I never knew how it was arranged. I think the doctor sent the money down to have the child brought on to New York for him to see. I suppose Cousin Fanny turned beggar, and asked him. I know she told him the child was the daughter of a "friend" of hers (a curious sort of friend Scroggs was, a drunken creature, who had done everything he could to pain her), and she took a great deal of trouble to get her to the train, lending old Fashion to haul her, which was a great deal more than lending herself; and the doctor treated her in New York for three months with- out any charge, till, I believe, the child got better. Old maids do not mind giving people trouble. She hung on at the old place as long as she could, but it had to be sold, and finally she had to leave it; though, I believe, even after it was sold she tried boarding for a while with Scroggs, the former tenant, who had )ought it. He treated her so badly that finally she had to leave, and boarded around. I believe the real cause was she caught him ploughing with old Fashion. 204 MY COUSIN FANNY After that I do not know exactly what she did. I heard that though the parish was vacant she had a Sunday-school at the old church, and so kept the church open; and that she used to play the wheezy old organ and teach the poor children the chants; but as they grew up they all joined another Church; they had a new organ there. I do not know just how she got on. I was surprised to hear finally that she was dead-had been dead since Christmas. It had never occurred to me that she would die. She had been dying so long that I had almost come to regard her as immortal, and as a necessary part of the old county and its associations. I fell in some time afterwards with a young doctor from the old county, who, I found, had attended her, and I made some inquiries about her. He told me that she died Christmas night. She came to his house on her old mare, in the rain and snow the night before, to get him to go to see someone, some "friend" of hers who was sick. He said she had more sick friends than anyone he ever knew; he told her that he was sick himself and could not go; but she was so importunate that he promised to go next morning (she was always very worrying). He said she was wet and shivering then (she never 205 THE BURIAL 01 THE GUNS had any idea about really protecting herself), and that she appeared to have a wretched cold. She had been riding all day seeing about a Christmas-tree for the poor children. He urged her to stop and spend the night, but she insisted that she must go on, though it was nearly dark and raining hard, and the roads would have mired a cat (she was always self-willed). Next day he went to see the sick woman, and when le arrived he found her in one bed and Cousin Fanny in another, in the same room. When he had examined the patient, he turned and asked Cousin Fanny what was the matter with her. "Oh, just a little cold, a little trouble in the chest, as Theodore Hook said," she replied. "But I know how to doctor myself." Some- thing about her voice struck him. He went over to her and looked at her, and found her suffering from acute pneumonia. He at once set to work on her. He took the other patient up in his arms and carried her into another room, where he told her that Cousin Fanny was a desperately ill woman. "SLe was actually dying then, sir," he said to me, "and she died that night. When she arrived at the place the night before, which was not until after nine o'clock, she had gone to the stable herself to 206 MY COUSIN FANNY put up her old mare, or rather to see that she was fed-she always did that-so when she got into the house she was wet and chilled through, and she had to go to bed. She must have had on wet clothes, " he said. I asked him if she knew she was going to die. He said lie did not think she did; that he did not tell her, and she talked about noth- ing except her Christmnas-tree and the people she wanted to see. le heard her praying in the night, "and, by the way," he said, "she mentioned you. She shortly became rather de- lirious, and wandered a good deal, talking of things that must have happened when she was young; spoke of going to see her mother some- where. The last thing she ever said was some- thing about fashion, which," he said, "showed how ingrained is vanity in the female mind." The doctor knows something of human nature. He concluded what lie had to say with, "She was in some respects a very remarkable woman -if she had not been an old maid. I do not suppose that she ever drew a well breath in her life. Not that I think old maids cannot be very acceptable women, " he apologized. " They are sometimes very useful." The doctor was a rather enlightened man. 207 THE BITURIAL OF THE GUNS Some of her relatives got there in time for the funeral, and a good many of the poor people came; and she was carried in a little old spring wagon, drawn by Fashion, through the snow, to the old home place, where Scroggs very kindly let them dig the grave, and was buried there in the old graveyard in the garden, in a vacant space just beside her mother, with the children around her. I really miss her a great deal. The other boys say they do the same. I suppose it is the trouble she used to give us. The old set are all doing well. Doug is a professor. He says the word "spinster" gave him a twist to philology. Old Blinky is in Paris. He had a picture in the salon last year, an autumn landscape, called "Le C6t6 du Bois. " I believe the translation of that is "The Wood- side." His coloring is said to be nature itself. To think of old Blinky being a great artist! Little Kitty is now a big girl, and is doing finely at school. I have told her she must not be an old maid. Joe is a peeacher with a church in the purlieus of a large city. I was there not long ago. lie had a choral service. The Gregorian music carried me back to old times. He preached on the text, "I was sick, and ye visited me." It was such a fine sermon, 208 MY COUSIN FANNY and he had such a large congregation, that I asked why he did not go to a finer church. He said he was "carrying soup to Mrs. Ronquist." By the way, his organist was a splendid mu- sician. She introduced herself to me. It was Scroggs's daughter. She is married, and can walk as well as I can. She had a little girl with her that I think she called "Fanny." I do not think that was Mrs. Scroggs's name. Frank is now a doctor, or rather a surgeon, in the same city with Joe, and becoming very distinguished. The other day he performed a great operation, saving a woman's life, which was in all the papers. He said to an inter- viewer that he became a surgeon from dressing a sore on an old mare's back. I wonder what he was talking about He is about to start a woman's hospital for poor women. Cousin Fanny would have been glad of that; she was always proud of Frank. She would as likely as not have quoted that verse from Tennyson's song about the echoes. She sleeps now under the myrtle at Scroggs's. I have often thought of what that doctor said about her: that she would have been a very remarkable woman, if she had not been an old maid-I mean, a spinster. 209 This page in the original text is blank. THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO 4" This page in the original text is blank. THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" M Y meeting with him was accidental. I A1came across him passing through "the square." I had seen him once or twice on the street, each time lurching along so drunk that he could scarcely stagger, so that I was sur- prised to hear what he said about the war. He was talking to someone who evidently had been in the army himself, but on the other side-a gentleman with the loyal-legion button in his coat, and with a beautiful star, a saber-cut across his face. HIe was telling of a charge in some battle or skirmish in which, he declared, his company, not himself-for I remember lie said he was "No. 4," and was generally told off to hold the horses; and that that day lie had had the ill luck to lose his horse and get a little scratch himself, so he was not in the 213 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS charge-did the finest work he ever saw, and really (so he claimed) saved the day. It was this self-abnegation that first arrested my at- tention, for I had been accustomed all my life to hear the war talked of; it was one of the inspiring influences in my humdrum exist- ence. But the speakers, although they generally boasted of their commands, never of themselves individually, usually admitted that they them- selves had been in the active force, and thus tacitly shared in the credit. "No. 4," how- ever, expressly disclaimed that he was entitled to any of the praise, declaring that he was safe behind the crest of the hill (which he said he "hugged mighty close"), and claimed the glory for the rest of the command. "It happened just as I have told you here," he said, in closing. "Old Joe saw the point as soon as the battery went to work, and sent Binford Terrell to the colonel to ask him to let him go over there and take it; and when Joe gave the word the boys went. They did n't go at a walk either, I tell you; it was u 't any prom- enade: they went clipping. At first the guns shot over 'em; didn't catch 'em till the third fire; then they played the devil with 'em: but the boys were up there right in 'em before they 214 THE GRAY JACKET OF "ANO. 4" could do much. They turned the guns on 'em as they went down the hill (oh, our boys could handle the tubes then as well as the artillery themselves), and in a little while the rest of the line came up, and we formed a line of battle right there on that crest, and held it till nearly night. That's when I got jabbed. I picked up another horse, and with my foolishness went over there. That evening, you know, you all charged us-we were dismounted then. We lost more men then than we had done all day; there were forty-seven out of seventy-two killed or wounded. They walked all over us; two of 'em got hold of me (you see, I went to get our old flag some of you had got hold of), but I was too worthless to die. There were lots of 'em did go through, I tell you; old Joe in the lead. Yes, sir; the old company won that day, and old Joe led 'em. There ain't but a few of us left; but when you want us, Colonel, you can get us. We'll stand by you." He paused in deep reflection; his mind evi- dently back with his old company and its gallant commander "old Joe, " whoever he might be, who was remembered so long after he passed away in the wind and smoke of that unnamed evening battle. I took a good look 215 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS at him-at "No. 4," as he called himself. He was tall, but stooped a little; his features were good, at least his nose and brow were; his mouth and chin were weak. His mouth was too stained with the tobacco which he chewed to tell much about it-and his chin was like so many American chins, not strong. His eyes looked weak. His clothes were very much worn, but they had once been good; they formerly had been black, and well made; the buttons were all on. His shirt was clean. I took note of this, for he had a dissipated look, and a rum- pled shirt would have been natural. A man's linen tells on him before his other clothes. His listener had evidently been impressed by him also, for he arose, and said, abruptly, "Let's go and take a drink." To my surprise " No. 4 " declined. " No, I thank you, " he said, with promptness. I instinctively looked at him again to see if I had not misjudged him; but I concluded not, that I was right, and that he was simply "not drinking. " T was flattered at my discrimination when I heard him say that he had "sworn off." His friend said no more, but remained standing while "No. 4 " expa- tiated on the difference between a man who is 216 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" drinking and one who is not. I never heard a more striking exposition of it. He said he wondered that any man could be such a fool as to drink liquor; that he had determined never to touch another drop. He presently relapsed into silence, and the other reached out his hand to say good-by. Suddenly rising, he said: "Well, suppose we go and have just one for old times' sake. Just one now, mind you; for -I have not touched a drop in " He turned away, and I did not catch the length of the time mentioned. But I have reason to believe that "No. 4" overstated it. The next time I saw him was in the police court. I happened to be there when he walked out of the pen among as miscellaneous a lot of chronic drunkards, thieves, and miscreants of both sexes and several colors as were ever gathered together. He still had on his old black suit, buttoned up; but his linen was rumpled and soiled like himself, and he was manifestly just getting over a debauch, the effects of which were still visible on him in every line of his perspiring face and thin figure. He walked with that exaggerated erectness which told his self- deluded state as plainly as if he had pronounced 217 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS it in words. He had evidently been there be- fore, and more than once. The justice nodded to him familiarly: "Here again" he asked, in a tone part pleasantry, part regret. "Yes, your honor. Met an old soldier last night, and took a drop for good fellowship, and before I knew it " A shrug of the shoul- ders completed the sentence, and the shoulders did not straighten any more. The tall officer who had picked him up said something to the justice in a tone too low for me to catch; but "No. 4" heard it-it was evi- dently a statement against him-for he started to speak in a deprecating way. The judge in- terrupted him: "I thought you told me last time that if I let you go you would not take another drink for a year. " " I forgot," said " No. 4, " in a low voice. " This officer says you resisted him " The officer looked stolidly at the prisoner as if it were a matter of not the slightest interest to him personally. "Cursed me and abused me," he said, dropping the words slowly as if lie were checking off a schedule. "I did not, your honor; indeed, I did not," 218 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" said "No. 4," quickly. "I swear I did not; lie is mistaken. Your honor does not believe I would tell you a lie! Surely I have not got so low as that. " The justice turned his pencil in his hand doubtfully, and looked away. "No. 4" took in his position. He began again. "I fell in with an old soldier, and we got to talking about the war-about old times." His voice was very soft. " I will promise your honor that I won't take another drink for a yea r. Here, I '11 take an oath to it. Swear me. " He seized the greasy little Bible on the desk before him, and handed it to the justice. The magis- trate took it doubtfully. He looked down at the prisoner half kindly, half humorously. "You '11 just break it." He started to lay the book down. "No; I want to take the pledge," said "No. 4," eagerly. "Did I ever break a pledge I made to your honor " "Didn't you promise me not to come back here" "I have not been here for nine months. Be- sides, I did not come of my own free will," said "No. 4," with a faint flicker of humor on his perspiring face. 219 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "You were here two months ago, and you promised not to take another drink." "I forgot that. I did not mean to break it; indeed, I did not. I fell in with-" The justice looked away, considered a mo- ment, and ordered him back into the pen with, "Ten days, to cool off." "No. 4" stood quite still till the officer motioned him to the gate, behind which the prisoners sat in stolid rows. Then he walked dejectedly back into the pen, and sat down by another drunkard. His look touched me, and I went around and talked to the magistrate privately. But he was inexorable; he said he knew more of him than I did, and that ten days in jail would "dry him out and be good for him." I told him the story of the battle. He knew it already, and said he knew more than that about him; that he had been one of the bravest soldiers in the whole army; did not know what fear was; had once ridden into the enemy and torn a captured standard from its captors' hands, receiving two desperate bayonet- wounds in doing it; and had done other acts of conspicuous gallantry on many occasions. I pleaded this, but he was obdurate; hard, I thought at the time, and told him so; told him 220 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" he had been a soldier himself, and ought to be easier. He looked troubled, not offended; for we were friends, and I think he liked to see me, who had been a boy during the war, take up for an old soldier on that ground. But he stood firm. I must do him the justice to say that I now think it would not have made any differ- ence if he had done otherwise. He had tried the other course many times. "No. 4" must have heard me trying to help him, for one day, about a month after that, he walked in on me quite sober, and looking somewhat as he did the first day I saw him, thanked me for what I had done for him; de- livered one of the most impressive discourses on intemperance that I ever heard; and asked me to try to help him get work. He was willing to do anything, he said; that is, anything he could do. I got him a place with a friend of mine which he kept a week, then got drunk. We got hold of him, however, and sobered him up, and he escaped the police and the justice 's court. Being out of work, and very firm in his resolution never to drink again, we lent him some money--a very little-with which to keep along a few days, on which he got drunk immediately, and did fall into the hands of the 221 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS police, and was sent to jail as before. This, in fact, was his regular round: into jail, out of jail; a little spell of sobriety, "an accidental fall," which occurred as soon as he could get a drop of liquor, and into jail again for thirty or sixty days, according to the degree of resistance he gave the police-who always, by their own ac- count, simply tried to get him to go home, and, by his, insulted him-and to the violence of the language he applied to them. In this he excelled; for although as quiet as possible when he was sober, when he was drunk lie was a ter- ror, so the police said, and his resources of vituperation were cyclopedic. He possessed in this particular department an eloquence which was incredible. His blasphemy was vast, illim- itable, infinite. He told me once that he could not explain it; that when he was sober he ab- horred profanity, and nevee uttered an oath; when he was in liquor his brain took this turn, and distilled blasphemy in volumes. Hle said that all of his energies were quickened and con- centrated in this direction, and then he took not only pleasure, but pride in it. He told me a good deal of his life. He had got very low at this time, much lower than he had been when I first knew him. He recog- 222 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" nized this himself, and used to analyze and dis- cuss himself in quite an impersonal way. This was when he had come out of jail, and after having the liquor "dried out" of him. In such a state he always referred to his condition in the past as being something that never would or could occur; while on the other hand, if he were just over a drunk, he frankly admitted his absolute slavery to his habit. When he was getting drunk he shamelessly maintained, and was ready to swear on all the Bibles in creation, that he had not touched a drop, and never ex- pected to do so again-indeed, could not be induced to do it-when in fact he would at the very time be reeking with the fumes of liquor, and perhaps had his pocket then bulging with a bottle which he had just emptied, and would willingly have bartered his soul to refill. I never saw such absolute dominion as the love of liquor had over him. He was like a man in chains. He confessed it frankly and calmly. He said he had a disease, and gave me a history of it. It came on him, he said, in spells; that when he was over one he ab- horred it, but when the fit seized him it came suddenly, and he was in absolute slavery to it. He said his father was a gentleman of convivial 223 TilHE BURIAL OF THE GUNS habits (I have heard that he was very dissipated, though not openly so, and "No. 4" never admitted it). He was killed at the battle of Bull Run. His mother-he always spoke of her with unvarying tenderness and reverence-had suffered enough, he said, to canonize her if she were not a saint already; she had brought him up to have a great horror of liquor, and he had never touched it till he went into the army. In the army he was in a convivial crowd, and they had hard marching and poor rations, often none. Liquorwas scarce and was regarded as a luxury; so although he was very much afraid of it, yet for good fellowship's sake, and because it was considered mannish, he used to drink it. Then he got to like it; and then got to feel the need of it, and took it to stimulate him when he was run down. This want brought with it a great depression when he did not have the means to satisfy it. He never liked the actual taste of it; he said few drunkards did. It was the effect that he was always after. This increased on him, he said, until finally it was no longer a desire, but a passion, a necessity; he was obliged to have it. He felt then that he would commit murder for it. "Why, I dream about it," he said. "I will tell you what I have done. I have 224 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" made the most solemn vows, and have gone to bed and gone to sleep, and waked up and dressed and walked miles through the rain and snow to get it. I believe I would have done it if I had known I was going next moment to hell." He said it bad ruined him; said so quite calmly; did not appear to have any special remorse about it; at least, never professed any; said it used to trouble him, but he had got over it now. He had had a plantation-that is, his mother had had-and he had been quite successful for a while; but he said, "A man can't drink liquor and run a farm," and the farm had gone. I asked him how "I sold it,'" he said calmly; "that is, per- suaded my mot-her to sell it. The stock that belonged to me had nearly all gone before. A man who is drinking will sell anything," he said. "I have sold everything in the world I had, or could lay my hands on. I have never got quite so low as to sell my old gray jacket that I used to wear when I rode behind old Joe. I mean to be buried in that-if I can keep it. " He had been engaged to a nice girl; the wedding-day had been fixed; but she had broken off the engagement. She married another inan. "She was a mighty nice girl," 225 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS he said, quietly. "Her people did not like my drinking so much. I passed her not long ago on the street. She did not know me." He glanced down at himself quietly. "She looks older than she did." He said that he had had a place for some time, did not drink a drop for nearly a year, and then got with some of the old fellows, and they per- suaded him to take a little. "I cannot touch it. I have either got to drink or let it alone- one thing or the other," he said. "But I am all right now, " he declared triumphantly, a little of the old fire lighting up in his face. "I never expect to touch a drop again. " He spoke so firmly that I was persuaded to make him a little loan, taking his due-bill for it, which lie always insisted on giving. That evening I saw him being dragged along by three policemen, and he was cursing like a demon. In the course of time he got so low that he spent much more than half his time in jail. He became a perfect vagabond, and with his clothes ragged and dirty might be seen reeling about or standing around the street corners near disreputable bars, waiting for a chance drink, or sitting asleep in doorways of untenanted build- 226 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" ings. His companions would be one or two chronic drunkards like himself, with red noses, bloated faces, dry hair, and filthy clothes. Sometimes I would see him hurrying along with one of these as if they had a piece of the most important business in the world. An idea had struck their addled brains that by some means they could manage to secure a drink. Yet in some wav lie still held himself above these crea- tures, and once or twice I heard of him being under arrest for resenting what he deemed an impertinence from them. Once he came very near being drowned. There was a flood in the river, and a large crowd was watching it from the bridge. Suddenly a little girl's dog fell in. It was pushed inl by a ruffian. The child cried out, and there was a commotion. When it subsided a man was seen swimming for life after the little white head go- ing down the stream. It was " No. 4. " He had slapped the fellow in the face, and then had sprung in after the dog. He caught it, and got out himself, though in too exhausted a state to stand up. When he was praised for it, he said, "A member of old Joe's company who would not have done that could not have ridden behind old Joe. " I had this story from eye-wit- 227 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS nesses, and it was used shortly after with good effect; for he was arrested for burglary, break- ing into a man's house one night. It looked at first like a serious case, for some money had been taken out of a drawer; but when the case was investigated it turned out that the house was a bar-room over which the man lived,-he was the same man who had pitched the dog into the water,-and that "No. 4," after being given whisky enough to make him a madman, had been put out of the place, had broken into the bar during the night to get more, and was found fast asleep in a chair with an empty bot- tle beside him. I think the jury became satis- fied that if any money had been taken the bar- keeper, to make out a case against "No. 4," had taken it himself. But there was a technical breaking, and it had to be got around; so his counsel appealed to the jury, telling them what he knew of "No. 4," together with the story of the child's dog, and "No. 4's" reply. There were one or two old soldiers on the jury, and they acquitted him, on which he somehow managed to get whisky enough to land him back in jail in twenty-four hours. In May, 1890, there was a monument un- 228 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" veiled in Richmond. It was a great occasion, and not only all Virginia, but the whole South, participated in it with great fervor, much en- thlusiasm, and many tears. It was an occasion for sacred memories. The newspapers talked about it for a good while beforehand; prepa- rations were made for it as for the celebration of a great and general ceremony in which the whole South was interested. It was interested, because it was not only the unveiling of a monu- ment for the old commander, the greatest and loftiest Southerner, and, as the South holds, man, of his time; it was an occasion conse- crated to the whole South; it was the embalm.- ing in precious memories, and laying away in the tomb of the Southern Confederacy: the apotheosis of the Southern people. As such all were interested in it, and all prepared for it. It was known that all that remained of the Southern armies would be there: of the armies that fought at Shiloh, and Bull Run, and Fort Republic; at Seven Pines, Gaines 's Mill, and Cold Harbor; at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg; at Frank- lin, Atlanta, Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga, Spottsylvania, the Wilderness, and Petersburg; and the whole South, Union as it is now and 229 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ready to fight the nation's battles, gathered to glorify Lee, the old commander, and to see and glorify the survivors of those and other bloody fields in which the volunteer soldiers of the South had held the world at bay, and added to the glorious history of their race. Men came all the way from Oregon and California to be present. Old one-legged soldiers stumped it from West Virginia. Even "No. 4," though in the gutter, caught the contagion, and shaped up and became sober. He got a good suit of clothes somewhere - not new - and appeared quite respectable. He even got something to do, and, in token of what he had been, was put on one of the many committees having a hand in the entertainment arrangements. I never saw a greater change in anyone. It looked as if there was hope for him yet. He stopped me on the street a day or two before the unveiling and told me he had a piece of good news: the remnant of his old company was to be here; he had got hold of the last one- there were nine of them left-and lie had his old jacket that he had worn in the war, and he was going to wear it on the march. "It 's worn, of course, " he said, "but my mother put some patches over the holes, and except for the stain 230 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4 " on it it 's in good order. I believe I amn the only one of the boys that has his jacket still; my mother kept this for me; I have never got so hard up as to part with it. I'm all right now. I mean to be buried in it." I had never remarked before what a refined face he had; his enthusiasm made him look younger than I had ever seen him. I saw him on the day before the eve of the unveiling; he was as busy as a bee, and looked almost handsome. "The boys are coming in by every train," he said. "Look here." He pulled me aside, and unbuttoned his vest. A piece of faded gray cloth was disclosed. He had the old gray jacket on under his other coat. "I know the boys will like to see it," he said. " I'm going down to the train now to meet one-Binford Terrell. I don't know whether I shall know him. Binford and I used to be much of a size. We did not use to speak at one time; had a falling-out about which one should hold the horses; I made him do it, but I reckon he won't remember it now. I don't. I have not touched a drop. Good-by." He went off. The next night about bedtime I got a mes- sage that a man wanted to see me at the jail 231 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS immediately. It was urgent. Would I come down there at once I had a foreboding, and I went down. It was as I suspected. "No. 4" was there behind the bars. "Drunk again," said the turnkey, laconically, as he let me in. He let me see him. He wanted me to see the judge and get him out. He besought me. He wept. "It was all an accident; " he had "found some of the old boys, and they had got to talking over old times, and just for old times' sake," etc. He was too drunk to stand up; but the terror of being locked up next day had sobered him, and his mind was perfectly clear. He implored me to see the judge and to get him to let him out. "Tell him I will come back here and stay a year if he will let me out to- morrow," he said, brokenly. He showed me the gray jacket under his vest, and was speech- less. Even then he did not ask release on the ground that he was a veteran. I never knew him to urge this reason. Even the officials who must have seen him there fifty times were sym- pathetic; and they told me to see the justice, and they believed he would let him out for next day. I applied to him as they suggested. He said, "Come down to court to-morrow morning." I did so. "No. 4 " was present, pale and 232 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" trembling. As he stood there he made a better defence than any one else could have made for him. He admitted his guilt, and said lie had nothing to say in extenuation except that it was the "old story," he "had not intended it; he deserved it all, but would like to get off that day; had a special reason for it, and would, if necessary, go back to jail that evening and stay there a year, or all his life. " As he stood await- ing sentence, lie looked like a damned soul. His coat was unbuttoned, and his old, faded gray jacket showed under it. The justice, to his honor, let him off: let all offenders off that day. "No. 4" shook hands with him, unable to speak, and turned away. Then he had a strange turn. We had hard work to get him to go into the procession. He positively re- fused; said he was not fit to go, or to live; began to cry, and took off his jacket. He would go back to jail, he said. We finally got himi straight; accepted from him a solemn promise not to touch a drop tihi the celebration was over, so help him God, and sent him off to join his old command at the tobacco-warehouse on the slip where the cavalry rendezvoused. I had some apprehension that he would not turn up in the procession; but I was mistaken. He 233 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS was there with the old cavalry veterans, as sober as a judge, and looking every inch a soldier. It was a strange scene, and an impressive one even to those whose hearts were not in sympathy with it in any respect. Many who had been the hardest fighters against the South were in sympathy with much of it, if not with all. But to those who were of the South, it was sub- lime. It passed beyond mere enthusiasm, how- ever exalted, and rested in the profoundest and most sacred deeps of their being. There were many cheers, but more tears; not tears of regret or mortification, but tears of sym- pathy and hallowed memory. The gaily deco- rated streets, in all the bravery of fluttering ensigns and bunting; the martial music of many bands; the constant tramp of marching troops; the thronged sidewalks, verandas, and roofs; the gleam of polished arms and glittering uni- forms; the flutter of gay garments, and the smiles of beautiful women sweet with sympathy; the long line of old soldiers, faded and broken and gray, yet each self-sustained, and inspired by the life of the South that flowed in their veins, marching under the old Confederate battle-flags that they had borne so often in victory and in de- feat - all contributed to make the outward 234 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" pageant a scene never to be forgotten. But this was merely the outward image; the real fact was the spirit. It was the South. It was the spirit of the South; not of the new South, not yet merely of the old South, but the spirit of the g-reat South. When the young troops from every Southern State marched by in their fresh uniforms, with well-drilled battalions, there were huzzas, much applause and enthusiasm; when the old soldiers came there was a tempest: wild cheers choking with sobs and tears, the well- known, once-heard-never-forgotten cry of the battling South, known in history as "the rebel veil. " Men and women and children joined in it. It began at the first sight of the regular column, swelled up the crowded streets, rose to the thronged housetops, ran along them for squares like a conflagration, and then came roll- ing back in volume only to rise and swell again greater than before. Men wept; children shrilled; women sobbed aloud. What was it! Onlv a thousand or two of old or aging men riding or tramping along through the dust of the street, under some old flags, dirty and ragged and stained. But they represented the spirit of the South; they represented the spirit which when honor was in question never 235 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS counted the cost; the spirit that had stood up for the South against overwhelming odds for four years, and until the South had crumbled and perished under the forces of war; the spirit that is the strongest guaranty to us to-day that the Union is and is to be; the spirit that, glo- rious in victory, had displayed a fortitude yet greater in defeat. They saw in every stain on those tattered standards the blood of their noblest, bravest, and best; in every rent a proof of their glorious courage and sacrifice. They saw in those gray and careworn faces, in those old clothes interspersed now and then with a faded gray uniform, the men who in the ardor of their youth had, for the South, faced death undaunted on a hundred fields, and had never even thought it great; men who had looked imn- mortality in the eyes, yet had been thrown down and trampled underfoot, and who were greater in their overthrow than when glory poured her light upon their upturned faces. Not one of them all but was self-sustaining, sustained by the South, or had ever even for a moment thought in his direst extremity that he would have what was, undone. The crowd was immense; the people on the fashionable streetupwhich the procession passed 236 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" were fortunate; they had the advantage of their yards and porticos, and they threw them open to the public. Still the throng on the side- walks was tremendous, and just before the old veterans came along the crush increased. As it resettled itself I became conscious that a little old woman in a rusty black dress whom I had seen patiently standing alone in the front line on the street corner for an hour had lost her posi- tion, and had been pushed back against the railing, and had an anxious, disappointed look on her face. She had a little, faded knot of Confederate colors fastened in her old dress, and, almost hidden by the crowd, she was looking up and down in some distress to see if she could not again get a place from which she could see. Finally she seemed to give it up, and stood quite still, tiptoeing now and then to try to catch a glimpse. I saw someone about to help her when, from a gay and crowded portico above her, a young and beautiful girl in a white dress, whom I had been observing for some time as the life of a gay party, as she sat in her loveliness, a queen on her throne with her courtiers around her, suddenly arose and ran down into the street. There was a short colloquy. The young beauty was offering something which the old lady was 237 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS declining; but it ended in the young girl leading the older woman gently up onto her veranda and giving her the chair of state. She was hardly seated when the old soldiers began to pass. As the last mounted veterans came by, I re- membered that I had not seen "No. 4;" but as I looked up, he was just coming along. In his hand, with staff resting on his toe, he carried an old standard so torn and tattered and stained that it was scarcely recognizable as a flag. I did not for a moment take in that it was he, for he was not in the gray jacket which I had expected to see. He was busy looking down at the throng on the sidewalk, apparently searching for some one whom he expected to find there. He was in some perplexity, and pulled in his horse, which began to rear. Suddenly the applause from the portico above arrested his attention, and he looked toward it and bowed. As he did so his eye caught that of the old lady seated there. His face lighted up, and, wheeling his prancing horse half around, he dipped the tattered standard, and gave the royal salute as though saluting a queen. The old lady pressed her wrinkled hand over the knot of faded ribbon on her breast, and made a gesture to him, and he 238 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" rode on. He had suddenly grown handsome. I looked at her again; her eyes were closed, her hands were clasped, and her lips were moving. I saw the likeness; she was his mother. As lie passed me I caught his eye. He saw my per- plexity about the jacket, glanced up at the torn colors, and pointed to a figure just beyond him dressed in a short, faded jacket. "No. 4" had been selected, as the highest honor, to carry the old colors which he had once saved; and not to bear off all the honors from his friend, he had with true comradeship made Binford Terrell wear his cherished jacket. He made a brave figure as lie rode away, and my cheer died on my lips as I thought of the sad, old mother in her faded knot, and of the dashing young soldier who had saved the colors in that unnamed fight. After that we got him a place, and he did well for several months. He seemed to be cured. New life and strength appeared to come back to him. But his mother died, and one night shortly afterward he disappeared, and re- mained lost for several days. When we found him he had been brought to jail, and I was sent for to see about him. He was worse than I had ever known him. He was half-naked and little better than a madman. I went to a doc- 239 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS tor about him, an old army surgeon, who saw him, and shook his head. "Mania a potu. Very bad; only a question of time," he said. This was true. "No. 4" was beyond hope. Body and brain were both gone. It got to be only a question of days, if not of hours. Some of his other friends and I determined that he should not die in jail; so we took him out and carried him to a cool, pleasant room looking out on an old garden with trees in it. There in the dreadful terror of raving delirium he passed that night. I with several others sat up with him. I could not have stood many more like it. All night long he raved and tore. His oaths were blood-curdling. He covered every past portion of his life. His army life was mainly in his mind. He fought the whole war over. Sometimes he prayed fervently; prayed against his infirmity; prayed that his chains might be broken. Then he would grow calm for a while. One thing recurred constantly: lie had sold his honor, betrayed his cause. This was the order again and again, and each time the paroxysm of frightful fury came on, and it took all of us to hold him. He was covered with snakes: they were chains on his wrists and around his body. He tried to pull them from 240 THE GRAY JACKET OF "NO. 4" around him. At last, toward morning, came one of those fearful spells, worse than any that had gone before. It passed, and he suddenly seemed to collapse. He sank, and the stimulant administered failed to revive him. " He is going," said the doctor, quietly, across the bed. Whether his dull ear caught the word or not, I cannot say; but lie suddenly roused up, tossed one arm, and said: "Binford, take the horses. I'm going to old Joe, " and sank back. " He's gone, " said the doctor, opening his shirt and placing his ear over his heart. As he rose up I saw two curious scars on "No. 4'sL" emaciated breast. They looked almost like small crosses, about the size of the decorations the European veterans wear. The old doctor bent over and examined them. " Hello! Bayonet-wounds, " he said briefly. A little later I went out to get a breath of fresh morning air to quiet my nerves, which were somewhat unstrung. As I passed by a little second-hand clothing-store of the meanest kind, in a poor back street, I saw hanging up outside an old gray jacket. I stopped to ex- amine it. It was stained behind with mud, and in front with a darker color. An old 241 THlE BURIAL OF THE GUNS patch hid a part of the front; but a close examination showed two holes over the breast. It was "No. 4's" lost jacket. I asked the shopman about it. lIe had bought it, he said, of a pawnbroker, who had got it from some drunkard, who had probably stolen it last year from some old soldier. He readily sold it, and I took it back with me; and the others being gone, an old woman and I cut the patch off it and put "No. 4's" stiffening arms into the sleeves. Word was sent to us during the day to say that the city would bury him in the poor- house grounds. But we told them that ar- rangements had been made; that he would have a soldier's burial. And he had it. 242 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL This page in the original text is blank. "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL1 OF all the places in the country " The Towers" was the favorite with the young people. There even before Margaret was installed the Major kept open house with his majordomo and facto- tum " George Washington "; and when Margaret came from school, of course it was popular. Only one class of persons was excluded. There were few people in the county who did not know of the IMajor's antipathy to "old women," as he called them. Years no more entered into his definition of this class than celibacy did into his idea of an " old bache- lor. " This state of single blessedness con- tinued in the female sex beyond the bloom of youth was in his eyes the sole basis of this unpardonable condition. He made certain concessions to the few individuals amiong his neighbors who had remained in the state of I From " Elsket and Other Stories," copyright 1891, by Charles Seribner's Sons THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS spinsterhood, because, as he declared, neigh- borliness was a greater virtue than consis- tency; but he drew the line at these few, and it was his boast that no old woman had ever been able to get into his Eden. " One of them," he used to say, "would close paradise just as readily now as Eve did six thousand years ago." Thus, although as Margaret grew up she had any other friends she de- sired to visit her as often as she chose, her wish being the supreme law at Rock Towers, she had never even thought of inviting one of the class against whom her uncle's ruddy face was so steadfastly set. The first time it ever occurred to her to invite any one among the proscribed was when she asked Rose Endicott to pay her a visit. Rose, she knew, was living with her old aunt, Miss Jemima Bridges, whom she had once met in R-, and she had some apprehension that in Miss Jemima 's opinion, the condition of the South was so much like that of the Sandwich Islands that the old lady would not permit Rose to come without her personal escort. Accordingly, one evening after tea, when the Major was in a particularly gracious humor, and had told her several of his oldest 246 "'GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL and best stories, Margaret fell upon him unl- awares, and before he had recovered fromn the shock of the encounter, had captured his con- sent. Then, in order to secure the leverage of a dispatched invitation, she had imnmedi- ately written Rose, asking her and her aunt to come and spend a month or two with her, and had without delay handed it to George Wash- ington to deliver to Lazarus to give Luke to carry to the post-office. The next evening, therefore, when the Major, after twenty-four hours of serious apprehension, reopened the matter with a fixed determination to coax or buy her out of the notion, because, as he used to say, "women can't be reasoned out of a thing, sir, not having been reasoned in," AMar- garet was able to meet him with the announee- ment that it was "too late," as the letter had already been mailed. Seated in one of the high-backed arm-chairs, with one white hand shading her laughing eyes from the light, and with her evening dress daintily spread out about her, Margaret was amused at the look of desperation on the old gentleman's ruddy face. He squared his round body before the fire, braced himself with his plump legs well apart, as if he were 247 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS preparing to sustain the shock of a blow, and taking a deep inspiration, gave a loud and pro- longed " Whew! " This was too much for her. Margaret rose, and, going up to him, took his arm and looked into his face cajolingly. " Uncle, I was bound to have Rose, and Miss Jemima would not have let her come alone. " The tone was the low, almost plaintive key, the effectiveness of which Margaret knew so well. " 'Not let her!' " The Major faced her quickly. "Margaret, she is one of those strong- minded women! " Margaret nodded brightly. "I bet my horse she wears iron-gray curls, caught on the side of her head with tucking combs! " " She does," declared Margaret, her eyes dancing. "And has a long nose-red at the end." "Uncle, you have seen her. I know you have seen her," asserted Margaret, laughing up at him. "You have her very picture." The Major groaned, and vowed that lie would never survive it, and that Margaret 248 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL would go down to history as the slayer of her uncle. "I have selected my place in the grave- yard," he said, with a mournful shake of the head. "Put me close to the fence behind the raspberry thicket, where I shall be secure. Tell her there are snakes there. " "But, uncle, she is as good as gold," declared Margaret; " she is always doing good-I believe she thinks it her mission to save the world. " The Major burst out, "That 's part of this modern devilment of substituting humnanita- rianism for Christianity. Next thing they '11 be wanting to abolish hell !" The Major was so impressed with his peril that when Jeff, who had galloped over "for a little while, " entered, announced with great ceremony by George Washington, he poured out all his apprehensions into his sympathetic ear, and it was only when he began to rally Jeff on the chance of his becoming a victim to Miss Endicott's charms, that Margaret in- terfered so far as to say that Rose had any number of lovers, and one of them was "aan awfully nice fellow, handsome and rich and all that." She wished "some one" would invite him down to pay a visit in the neigh- 249 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS borhood, for she was "afraid Rose would find it dreadfully dull in the country." The Major announced that he would himself make love to her; but both Margaret and Jeff declared that Providence manifestly intended him for Miss Jemima. He then suggested that Miss Endi- cott's friend be invited to come with her, but Margaret did not think that would do. "What is the name of this paragon" in- quired Jeff. Margaret gave his name. "Mr. Lawrence- Pickering Lawrence." "Why, I know him, 'Pick Lawrence.' We were college-mates, class-mates. He used to be in love with somebody up at his home then; but I never identified her with your friend. We were great cronies at the Uni- versity. He was going to be a lawyer; but I believe somebody died and lie came into a fortune." This history did not appear to surprise Margaret as much as might have been expected, and she said nothing more about him. About a week later Jeff took occasion to ride over to tea, and announced that his friend Mr. Lawrence had promised to run down and spend a few weeks with him. Margaret looked 250 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL so pleased and dwelt so much on the alleged charms of the expected guest that Jeff, with a pang of jealousy, suddenly asserted that he "did n't think so much of Lawrence," that he was one of those fellows who always pretended to be very much in love with somebody, and was "always changing his clothes." "That 's what girls like," said Margaret, decisively; and that was all the thanks Jeff received. II THERE was immense excitement at The Towers next day when the visitors were expected. The Major took twice his usual period to dress; George Washington with a view to steadying his nerves braced them so tight that he had great difficulty in maintaining his equipoise, and even Margaret herself was in a flutter quite unusual to one so self-possessed as she generally was. When, however, the carriage drove up to the door, the Major, with Margaret a little in advance, met the visitors at the steps in all the glory of new blue broadcloth and flowered velvet. Sir Charles Grandison could not have been more elegant, nor Sir Roger more gra- 251 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS cious. Behind him yet grander stood George- George Washington-his master's facsimile in ebony down to the bandanna handkerchief and the trick of waving the right hand in a flowing curve. It was perhaps this spectacle which saved the Major, for Miss Jemima was so over- whelmed by George Washington's portentous dignity that she exhibited sufficient humility to place the Major immediately at his ease, and from this time Miss Jemima was at a disad- vantage, and the Major felt that he was master of the situation. The old lady had never been in the South before except for a few days on the occasion when Margaret had met her and Rose Endi- cott at the hotel in R-, and she had then seen just enough to excite her inquisitiveness. Her natural curiosity was quite amazing. She was desperately bent on acquiring informa- tion, and whatever she heard she set down in a journal, so as soon as she became sufficiently acquainted with the Major she began to ply him with questions. Her seat at table was at the Major's right, and the questions which she put to him proved so embarrassing that the old gentleman declared to Margaret that if that old woman knew as much as she wanted to know she would with her wisdom eclipse 252 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL Solomon and destroy the value of the Scriptures. He finally hit upon an expedient. He either traversed every proposition she suggested, or else answered every inquiry with a statement which was simply astounding. She had there- fore not been at The Towers a week before she was in the possession of facts furnished by the Major which might have staggered credulity itself. One of the many entries in her journal was to the effect that, according to Major B - it was the custom on many plantations to shoot a slave every year, on the ground that such a sacrifice was generally salutary; that it was an expiation of past derelictions and a deter- rent from repetition. And she added this memorandum: "The most extraordinary and revolting part of it all is that this barbarous custom, which might well have been supposed confined to Dahomey, is justified by such men as Major B3 as a pious act. " She inserted this query, "Can it be true" If she did not wholly believe the Major, she did not altogether disbelieve him. She at least was firmly convinced that it was quite possible. She determined to inquire privately of George Washington. 253 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNNS She might have inquired of one of the nu- merous maids, whose useless presence em- barrassed her; but the Major foreseeing that she might pursue her investigation in other directions, had informed her that the rite was guarded with the greatest care, and that it would be as much as any one 's life were worth to divulge it. Miss Jemima, therefore, was too loyal to expose one of her own sex to such danger; so she was compelled to con- sult George Washington, whom she believed clever enough to take care of himself. She accordingly watched several days for an opportunity to see him alone, but without success. In fact, though she was unaware of it, George Washington had conceived for her a most violent dislike, and carefully avoided her. He had observed with growing suspi- cion Miss Jemima 's investigation of matters relating to the estate, and her persistent pur- suit of knowledge at the table had confirmed him in his idea that she contemplated the capture of his master and himself. Like his master, he had a natural antipathy Lo "old women," and as the Major's threat for years had varied between "setting him free next morning" and giving him "a mistress to make him walk straight," George Wash- 254 " GEORGE WASHINGTON 'S " LAST DUEL ington felt that prudence demanded some vigilance on his part. One day, under cover of the hilarity inci- dent to the presence at dinner of Jeff and of his guest, Mr. Lawrence, Miss Jeminia had pushed her inquisition even further than usual. George Washington watched her with grow- ing suspicion, his head thrown back and his eyes half closed, and so, when, just before dinner was over, he went into the hall to see about the fire, he, after his habit, took occasion to express his opinion of affairs to the sundry members of the family who looked down at him from their dim gilt frames on the wall. "I ain't pleased wid de way things is gwine on heah at all," he declared, poking the fire viciously and addressing his remark more par- ticularly to an old gentleman who in ruffles and red velvet sat with crossed legs in a high- backed chair just over the piano. "lHeah me an' Marse Nat an' Miss Margaret been gittin' 'long all dese years easy an' peaceable, an' Marse Jeff been comin' over sociable all de time, an' d' ain' been no trouble nor nuttin' till now dat ole ooman what ax mo' questions 'n a thousan' folks kin answer got to come heah and set up to Marse Nat, an' talk to him 255 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS so he cyarn hardly eat." He rose from his knees at the hearth, and looking the old gen- tleman over the piano squarely in the face, asserted, "She got her mine sot on bein' my mistis, dat 's what 't is!" This relieved hini so that he returned to his occupation of "chunking" the fire, adding, "When women sets de mines on a thing, you jes ' well gin up !" So intent was he on relieving himself of the burden on his mind that he did not hear the door open softly, and did not know any one had entered until an enthusiastic voice behind him exclaimed: "Oh! what a profound observation!" George Washington started in much confusion; for it was Miss Jemima, who had stolen away from the table to intercept him at his task of "fixing the fires. " She had, however, heard only his concluding sentence, and she now ad- vanced with a beaming smile intended to con- ciliate the old butler. George Washington gave the hearth a final and hasty sweep, and was retiring in a long detour around Miss Jemima when she accosted him. "Uncle George." "Marm. " He stopped and half turned. 256 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL " What a charming old place you have here!" George Washington cast his eye up towards the old gentleman in the high-backed chair, as much as to say, "You see there What did I tell you m" Then he said briefly: "Yes, 'im." "XWhat is its extent How many acres are there in it 7 " George Washington positively stared. He took in several of the family in his glance of warning. "Well, I declare, marm, I don't know," he began; then it occurring to him that the honor of the family was somehow at stake and must be upheld, he added, "A leetle mo' 'n a hundred thousan', marm." His exactness was convincing. Miss Jemima threw up her hands: "Prodigious! How many nee-how many persons of the African blood are there on this vast domain " she inquired, getting nearer to her point. George, observing how much she was im- pressed, eyed her with rising disdain: "Does you mean niggers, m'm 'Bout three thousan', mum.'" Another exclamation of astonishment burst from the old lady's lips. 257 THIE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "If you will permit me to inquire, Uncle George, how old are you" "She warn see if I kin wuck-dat 's what she 's after," said George to himself, with a confidential look at a young gentleman in a hunting dress on the wall between two windows. Then he said: "Well, I declare, mum, you got me dyah. I ixpec' I is mos' ninety years ole, I reckon I 'se ol 'er 'n you is-I reckon I is. " "Oh!" exclaimed Miss Jemima with a little start as if she had pricked her finger with a needle. "Marse Nat kin tell you," continued George; "if you don't know how ole you is, all you got to do is to ax him, an' he kin tell you-he got it all set down in a book-he kin tell how ole you is to a day." "Dear, how frightful !" exclaimed Miss Jemima, just as the Major entered somewhat hastily. "He 's a gone coon," said George Washing- ton through the crack of the door to the old gentleman in ruffles, as he pulled the door slowly to from the outside. The Major had left the young people in the dining-room and had come to get a book to settle a disputed quotation. He had found 258 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL the work and was trying to read it without the ignominy of putting on his glasses, when Miss Jemima accosted him. "Major, your valet appears to be a very intelligent person." The Major turned upon her. "My 'valet!' Madam! I have no valet!" "I mean your body servant, your butler"- explained -Miss Jemimna. "I have been much impressed by him. " "George !-George Washington-you mean George Washington! No, madam, he has not a particle of intelligence. He is grossly and densely stupid. I have never in fifty years been able to get an idea into his head." "Oh, dear! and I thought himn so clever! I was wondering how so intelligent a person, so well informed, could be a slave." The Major faced about. " George! George Washington a slave! Madam, you misapprehend the situation. He is no slave. I am the slave, not only of him but of three hundred more as arrogant and exacting as the Czar, and as lazy as the devil !" Miss Jemima threw up her hands in aston- ishment, and the Major, who was on a favorite theme, proceeded: "Why, madam, the very coat on my back 259 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS belongs to that rascal George Washington, and I do not know when lie may take a fancy to order me out of it. My soul is not my own. He drinks my whisky, steals my tobacco, and takes my clothes before my face. As likely as not he will have on this very waistcoat be- fore the week is out. " The Major stroked his well-filled velvet vest caressingly, as if lie already felt the pangs or the approaching separation. " Oh, dear! You amaze me," began Miss Jemima. "Yes, madam, I should be amazed myself, except that I have stood it so long. Why, I had once an affair with an intimate and valued friend, Judge Carrington. You may have heard of him, a very distinguished man! and I was indiscreet enough to carry that rascal George Washington to the field, thinking, of course, that I ought to go like a gentleman, and although the affair was arranged after we had taken our positions, and I did not have the pleasure of shooting at him-" " Good heavens! " exclaimed Miss Jemima. "The pleasure of shooting at your friend! Monstrous ! " "I say, I did not have that pleasure," cor. 260 "GEORGE AXASHIINGTON'S" LAST DUEL rected the Major, blandly; "the affair was, as I stated, arranged without a shot; yet, do you know that rascal George Washington will not allow that it was so, and I understand lhe recounts with the most harrowing details the manner in which 'he and I,' as he terms it, shot my friend-murdered him." Miss Jemima gave an "Ugh. Horrible! What depravity!" she said, almost under her breath. The Major caught the words. "Yes, madam, it is horrible to think of such depravity. Unquestionably he deserves death; but what can one do! The law, kept feeble by politicians, does not permit one to k-ill them, however worthless they are (he ob- served Miss Jemima's start) -except, of course, by way of example, under certain peculiar cir- cumstances, as I have stated to you. " He bowed blandly. Miss Jemima was speechless, so he pur- sued. "I have sometimes been tempted to make a break for liberty, and have thought that if I could once get the rascal on the field, with my old pistols, I would settle with him which of us is the master." 261 THE BUARIAL OF THE GUNS "Do you mean that you would-would shoot himi" gasped Miss Jemima. "Yes, madam, unless he should be too quick for me," replied the Major, blandly-" or should order ine from the field, which he probably would do." The old lady turned and hastily left the room. TII THOUGH Miss Jemima after this regarded the Major with renewed suspicion, and confided to her niece that she did not feel at all safe with him, the old gentleman was soon on the same terms with Rose that he was on with Margaret herself. He informed her that he was just twentv-five his "last grass," and that he never could, would, or should grow a year older. He notified Jeff and his friend Mr. Lawrence at the table that he regarded himself as a candidate for Miss Endicott 's hand, and had "staked" the ground, and he informed her that as soon as he could bring himself to break an oath which he had made twenty years before, never to ad- dress another woman, he intended to propose 262 -GEORGE WASHINGTON 'S " LAST D)VEL to her. Rose, who had lingered at the table a moment behind the other ladies, assured the old fellow that he need fear no rival, and that if he could not muster courage to propose before she left, as it was leap-year, she would exercise her prerogative and propose herself. The Major, with his hand on his heart as he held the door open for her, vowed as Rose swept past him, her fine eyes dancing, and her face dimpling with fun, that he was ready that moment to throw himself at her feet if it were not for the difficulty of getting up fromn his knees. A little later in the afternoon Margaret was down among the rose-bushes, where Lawrence had joined her, after Rose had executed that inexplicable feminine manceuvre of denying herself to oppose a lover's request. Jeff was leaning against a pillar, pretending to talk to Rose, but listening more to the snatches of song in Margaret's rich voice, or to the laughter which floated up to them from the garden below. Suddenly he said abruptly, "I believe that fellow Lawrence is in love with Margaret." Rose insisted on knowing what ground he had for so peculiar an opinion, on which he incontinently charged his friend with being one 263 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS of "those fellows who falls in love with every pretty girl on whom he lays his eyes, " and declared that he had done nothing but hang around Margaret ever since he had come to the county. What Rose might have replied to this un- expected attack on one whom she reserved for her own especial torture cannot be recorded, for the Major suddenly appeared around the verandah. Both the young people instinctively straightened up. "Ah! you rascals! I catch you!" he cried, his face glowing with jollity. "Jeff, you 'd better look out-honey catches a heap of flies, and sticks mighty hard. Rose, don't show him any mercy-kick him, trample on him. " "I am not honey," said Rose, with a capti- vating look out of her bright eyes. "Yes, you are. If you are not you are the very rose from which it is distilled." "Oh, how charming!" cried the young lady. "How I wish some woman could hear that said to me!" "Don't give him credit before you hear all his proverb," said Jeff. "Do you know what he said in the dining-room I" "Don't credit him at all," replied the Major. 264 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL "Don't believe him-don't listen to him. He is green with envy at my success." And the old fellow shook with amusement. "What did he say Please tell me." She appealed to Jeff, and then as he was about to speak, seeing the Major preparing to run, she caught him. "No, you have to listen. Now tell me, " to Jeff again. "Well, he said honey caught lots of flies, and women lots of fools." Rose fell back, and pointing her tapering finger at the Major, who, with mock humility, was watching her closely, declared that she would "never believe in him again." The old fellow met her with an unblushing denial of ever having made such a statement or held such traitorous sentiments, as it was, he maintained, a well established fact that flies never eat honey at all. From this moment the Major conceived the idea that Jeff had been caught by his fair vis- itor. It had never occurred to him that any one could aspire to Margaret's hand. He had thought at one time that Jeff was in danger of falling a victim to the charms of the pretty daughter of an old friend and neighbor of his, and though it appeared rather a pity for 265 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS a young fellow to fall in love " out of the State, " yet the claims of hospitality, com- bined with the fact that rivalry with Mr. Lawrence, against whom, on account of his foppishness, he had conceived some prejudice, promised a delightful excitement, more than counterbalanced that objectionable feature. He therefore immediately constituted himself Jeff's ardent champion, and always spoke of the latter's guest as "that fellow Lawrence." Accordingly, when, one afternoon, on his return from his ride, he found Jeff, who had ridden over to tea, lounging around alone, in a state of mind as miserable as a man should be who, having come with the expectation of basking in the sunshine of Beauty 's smile, finds that Beauty is out horseback riding with a rival, he was impelled to give him aid, coun- tenance, and advice. He immediately attacked him, therefore, on his forlorn and woebegone expression, and declared that at his age he would have long ago run the game to earth, and have carried her home across his saddle- bow. "You are afraid, sir-afraid," he asserted, hotly. "I don't know what you fellows are coming to." 266 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL Jeff admitted the accusation. "He feared," he said, "that he could not get a girl to have him." He was looking rather red when the Major cut him short. 'Fear,' sir! Fear catches kicks, not kisses. 'Not get a girl to have you!' Well, upon my soul! Why don't you run after her and bawl like a baby for her to stop, whilst you get down on your knees and-get her to have you!" Jeff was too dejected to be stung even by this unexpected attack. He merely said, dolor- ously: "Well, how the deuce can it be done ' "Make her, sir-make her," cried the Major. "Coerce her, sir-compel her." The old fellow was in his element. He shook his grizzled head, and brought his hollowed hands together with sounding emphasis. Jeff suggested that perhaps she might be impregnable, but the old fellow affirmed that no woman was this; that no fortress was too strong to be carried; that it all depended on the assailant and the vehemence of the as- sault; and if one did not succeed, another would. The young man brightened. His men- tor, however, dashed his rising hopes by say- 267 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ing: "But mark this, sir, no coward can succeed. Women are rank cowards themselves, and they demand courage in their conquerors. Do you think a woman will marry a man who trembles before her By Jove, sir! He must make her tremble! " Jeff admitted dubiously that this sounded like wisdom. The Major burst out, "Wisdom, sir! It is the wisdom of Solomon, who had a thousand wives! " From this time the Major constituted him- self Jeff's ally, and was ready to take the field on his behalf against any and all comers. Therefore, when he came into the hall one day when Rose was at the piano, running her fingers idly over the keys, whilst Law- rence was leaning over her talking, he ex- claimed: "Hello! what treason 's this I '11 tell Jeff. He was consulting me only yesterday about-" Lawrence muttered an objurgation; but Rose wheeled around on the piano-stool and faced him. "-Only yesterday about the best mode of winning-" He stopped tantalizingly. "Of winning what I am so interested." 268 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL She rose and stood just before him with a cajol- ing air. The Major shut his mouth tight. "I 'm as dumb as an oyster. Do you think I would betray my friend's confidence -for nothing I 'm as silent as the oracle of Delphi. " Lawrence looked anxious, and Rose followed the old man closely. "I '11 pay you anything." "I demand payment in coin that buys youth from age." He touched his lips, and catching Rose leaned slowly forward and kissed her. "Now, tell me--what did he say A bar- gain's a bargain," she laughed as Lawrence almost ground his teeth. "Well, he said-he said, let me see, what did he say" pattered the Major. "He said he could not get a girl he loved to have him. " "Oh, did he say that" She was so much interested that she just knew that Lawrence half stamped his foot. " Yes, he said just that, and I told him-" "Well-what did you say!" "Oh! I did not bargain to tell what I told him. I received payment only for betraying 269 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS his confidence. If you drive a bargain I will drive one also." Rose declared that he was the greatest old screw she ever knew, but she paid the price, and waited. " Well - " " 'Well' Of course, I told him 'well.' I gave him the best advice a man ever received. A lawyer would have charged him five hun- dred dollars for it. I 'm an oracle on heart- capture. " Rose laughingly declared she would have to consult him herself, and when the Major told her to consult only her mirror, gave him a courtesy and wished he would teach some young then of her acquaintance to make such speeches. The old fellow vowed, however, that they were unteachable; that he would as soon expect to teach young moles. IV IT was not more than half an hour after this when George Washington came in and found 270 " GBF(-)lICGE AVASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL the Major standing before the long mirror, turning around and holding his coat back from his plump sides so as to obtain a fair view of his ample dimensions. " George Washington, " said he. izSuh.l' "I 'm afraid I 'm growing a little too stout." George Washington walked around and looked at him with the critical gaze of a butcher ap- praising a fat ox. "Oh! nor, suh, you ain't, not to say too stout," he finally decided as the result of this inspection, "'you jis gittin' sort o' potely. Hit 's monsus becomin' to you." "Do you think so" The Major was mani- festly flattered. "I was apprehensive that I might be growing a trifle fat"-he turned care- fully around before the mirror-"and from a fat old man and a scrawny old woman, Heaven deliver us, George Washington! " "Nor, sub, you ain' got a ounce too much meat on you, " said George, reassuringly; "how much you weigh, Marse Nat, last time you was on de stilyards!" he inquired with wily interest. The Major faced him. "George Washington, the last time I weighed 271 THE B URIAL OF THE GUNS I tipped the beam at one hundred and forty-three pounds, and I had the waist of a girl." He laid his fat hands with the finger tips touching on his round sides about where the long since reversed curves of the lamented waist once were, and gazed at George with comical melancholy. "Dat 's so," assented the latter, with wonted acquiescence. "I 'members hit well, suh, dat wuz when me and you wuz down in Glouces- ter tryin' to git up spunk to co'te Miss Ailsy Mann. Dat 's mo 'n thirty years ago. " The Major reflected. "It cannot be thirty years !-thir--ty-years, " he mused. "Yes, suh, an ' better, too. 'T wuz befo' we fit de duil wid Jedge Carrington. I know dat, 'cause dat 's what we shoot him 'bout-'cause he co 'te Miss Ailsy an' cut we out. " "Damn your memory! Thirty years! I could dance all night then-every night in the week-and now I can hardly mount my horse without getting the thumps. " George Washington, affected by his reminis- cences, declared that he had heard one of the ladies saying, "just the other day," what "a fine portly gentleman" he was. The Major brightened. "Did you hear that George Washington, 272 'GEOWvA EB AV-SHINGTON'S" LAST )L LEL if you tell me a lie I 'II set you free!" It was his most terrible threat, used only on occasions of exceptional provocation. George vowed that no reward could induce him to be guilty of such an enormity, and fol- lowed it up by so skilful an allusion to the pro- gressing youth of his master that the latter swore he was right, and that he could dance better than he could at thirty, and to prove it executed, with extraordinary agility for a man who rode at twenty stone, a pas seul which made the floor rock and set the windows and orna- nents to rattling as if there had been an earth- quake. Suddenly, with a loud "Whew," he flung himself into an arm-chair, panting and per- spiring. "It 's you, sir," he gasped-"you put me up to it." "Nor, suh; tain me, Marse Nat-I 's tellin' you de truf, " asserted George, moved to defend himself. "You infernal old rascal, it is you," panted the Major, still mopping his face-"you have been running riot so long you need regulation- I '11 tell you what I 'II do--I '11 marry and give you a mistress to manage you-yes, sir, I '11 get married right away. I know the very woman for you -she '11 make you walk chalk!" For thirty years this had been his threat, so 273 THE B URIAL OF THE GUNS George was no more alarmed than he was at the promise of being sold, or turned loose upon the world as a free man. He therefore inquired solemnly, "Marse Nat, le' me ax you one thing-you ain' thinkin' 'bout givin' me that ole one for a mistis, is you" "What old one, fool" The Major stopped panting. George Washington denoted the side of his head where Miss Jemima 's thin curls nestled. "Get out of this room. Tell Dilsy to pack your chest, I '11 send you off to-morrow morn- ing. " George Washington blinked with the gravity of a terrapin. It might have been obtuseness; or it might have been silent but exquisite en- joyment which lay beneath his black skin. "George Washington," said the Major almost in a whisper, '"what made you think that" It was to George Washington 's undying credit that not a gleam flitted across his ebony coun- tenance as he said solemnly, "Marse Nat, I ain say I think nuttin-I jis ax you, Is you-She been meckin mighty par- tic'lar quiration 'bout de plantation and how many niggers we got an' all an' I jis spicionate 274 'GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DU LEL she got her eye sort o' set on you an' me, dat 's all. " The Major bounced to his feet, and seizing his hat and gloves from the table, burst out of the room. A minute later he was shouting for his horse in a voice which might have been heard a mile. V -JEFF laid to heart the Major's wisdom; but when it came to acting upon it the difficulty arose. He often wondered why his tongue became tied and his throat grew dry when he was in Margaret's presence these days and even just thought of saying anything serious to her. He had known Margaret ever since she was a wee bit of a baby, and had often carried her in his arms when she was a little girl and even after she grew up to be "right big." He had thought frequently of late that he would be willing to die if he might but take her in his arms. It was, therefore, with no little disquietude that he observed what he considered his friend's growing fancy for her. By the time Lawrence had taken a few strolls 275 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS in the garden and a horseback ride or two with her Jeff was satisfied that he was in love with her, and before a week was out he was consumed with jealousy. Margaret was not the girl to indulge in repining on account of her lover's unhappiness. If Jeff had had a finger-ache, or had a drop of sorrow but fallen in his cup her eyes would have softened and her face would have shown how fully she felt for him; but this-this was different. To wring his heart was a part of the business of her young ladyhood; it was a healthy process from which would come greater devotion and more loyal constancy. Then, it was so delightful to make one whom she liked as she did Jeff look so miserable. Perhaps some time she would re- ward him-after a long while, though. Thus, poor Jeff spent many a wretched hour cursing his fate and cursing Pick Lawrence. He thought he would create a diversion by paying desperate attention to Margaret's guest; but it resolved itself on the first opportunity into his opening his heart and confiding all his woes to her. In doing this he fell into the greatest contradiction, declaring one moment that no one suspected that he was in love with Margaret, and the next vowing that she had every reason to know he 276 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL1 adored her, as he had been in love with her all her life. It was one afternoon in the draw- ing-room. Rose, with much sapience, assured him that no woman could have but one reason to know it. Jeff dolefully inquired what it was. Rising and walking up to him she said in a mysterious whisper,- "'Tell her.'" Jeff, after insisting that he had'been telling her for years, lapsed into a declaration of helpless perplexity. "How can I tell her mnore than I have been telling her all along" he groaned. Rose said she would show himni. She seated herself on the sofa, spread out her dress and placed him behind her. "Now, do as I tell you-no, not so-so;-now lean over,-put your arm-no, it is not necessary to touch me,'" as Jeff, with prompt ap)reheil- sion, fell into the scheme, and declared that he was all right in a rehearsal, and that it was only in the real drama he failed. "Now say 'I love you.' " Jeff said it. They were in this attitude when the door opened suddenly and Margaret stood facing them, her large eves opened wider than ever. She backed out and shut the door. Jeff sprang up, his face very red. Lawyers know that the actions of a man on 277 THE BURIAL OF THlE GUNS being charged with a crime are by no means infallible. evidence of his guilt-but it is hard to satisfy juries of this fact. If the juries were composed of women perhaps it would be im- possible. The ocular demonstration of a man 's arm around a girl's waist is difficult to explain on more than one hypothesis. After this Margaret treated Jeff with a rigor which came near destroying the friendship of a lifetime; and Jeff became so desperate that inside of a week he had had his first quarrel with Lawrence, who had begun to pay very devoted attention to Margaret, and as that young man was in no mood to lay balm on a bruised wound, mischief might have been done had not the Major arrived opportunely on the scene just as the quarrel came to a white-heat. It was in the hall one morning. There had been a quarrel. Jeff had just demanded satisfaction; Lawrence had just promised to afford him this peculiar happiness, and they were both glaring at each other, when the Major sailed in at the door, ruddy and smiling, and laying his hat on the table and his riding-whip across it, declared that before he would stand such a gloomy atmosphere as that created by a man's glowering looks, 278 I GEO "tGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL when there was so much sunshine just lying around to be basked in, he would agree to be eternally fried in his own fat." "Why, I had expected at least two affairs before this," lhe said jovially, as he pulled off his gloves, "and I ']1 be hanged if I shan't have to court somebody myself to save the honor of the family." Jeff with dignity informed him that an affair was then brewing, and Lawrence intimated that they were both interested, when the Major de- clared that he would "advise the young lady to discard both and accept a soberer and a wiser man." They announced that it was a more serious affair than he had in mind, and let fall a hint of what had occurred. The Major for a moment looked gravely from one to the other, and suggested mutual explanations and re- tractions; but when both young men insisted that they were quite determined, and proposed to liave a meeting at once, he changed. He walked over to the window and looked out for a moment. Then turned and suddenly offered to represent both h)arties. Jeff averred that such a proceed- ing was outside of the Code; this the Major gravely admitted; but declared that the affair even to this point appeared not to have been 279 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS conducted in entire conformity with that in- comparable system of rules, and urged that as Mr. Lawrence was a stranger and as it was desirable to have the affair conducted with as much secrecy and dispatch as possible, it might be well for them to ineet as soon as convenient, and he would attend rather as a witness than as a second. The young men as- sented to this, and the Major, now thoroughly in earnest, with much solemnity, offered the use of his pistols, which was accepted. In the discussion which followed, the Major took the lead, and suggested sunset that after- noon as a suitable time, and the grass-plat between the garden and the graveyard as a convenient and secluded spot. This also was agreed to, though Lawrence's face wore a soberer expression than had before appeared upon it. The Major's entire manner had changed; his levity had suddenly given place to a gravity most unusual to him, and instead of his wonted jollity his face wore an expression of the greatest seriousness. He, after a casual glance at Lawrence, suddenly insisted that it was necessary to exchange a cartel, and open- ing his secretary, with much pomp proceeded to write. "You see-if things were not regular 280 "GEORGE WASHINGTON 'S" LAST 1)UEL it would be butchery, " he explained, consid- erately, to Lawrence, who winced slightly at the word. "I don't want to see you murder each other,'" he went on in a slow comment as lie wrote, "I wish you, since you are determined to shoot-each other--to do it like-gentlemen." lie took a new sheet. Suddenly lie began to shout,- "George-George Washington." There was no answer, so as he wrote on he continued to shout at intervals, "George Washington!" After a sufficient period had elapsed for a servant crossing the yard to call to another, who sent a third to summon George, and for that functionarly to take a hasty potation from a decanter as he passed through the dining- room at his usual stately pace, he appeared at the door. "Did you call, suh" he inquired, with that additional dignity which bespoke his recourse to the sideboard as intelligently as if he had brought the decanters in his hand. "Did I call!" cried the Major, without look- ing up. "Why don't you come when you hear me I'' George Washington steadied himself on his feet, and assumed an aggrieved expression. "Do you suppose I can wait for you to drink 281 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS all the whiskey in my sideboard Are you get- ting deaf-drunk as well as blind-drunk" he asked, still writing industriously. George Washington gazed up at his old master in the picture on the wall, and shook his head sadly. "Nor, suh, Marse Nat. You know I ain' drink none to git drunk. I is a member o' de church. I is full of de sperit. " The Major, as he blotted his paper, assured him that he knew he was much fuller of it than were his decanters, and George Washington was protesting further, when his master rose, and addressing Jeff as the challenger, began to read. He had prepared a formal cartel, and all the subsequent and consequential doc- uments which appear necessary to a well-con- ducted and duly bloodthirsty meeting under the duello, and he read them with an impressiveness which was only equalled by the portentious dig- nity of George Washington. As he stood bal- ancing himself, and took in the solemn signifi- cance of the matter, his whole air changed; he raised his head, struck a new attitude, and imme- diatelv assumed the position of one whose ap- proval of the affair was of the utmost moment. The Major stated that he was glad that they 282 "GEOI'GE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL had decided to use the regular duelling pistols, not only as they were more convenient-he hav- ing a very fine, accurate pair-but as they were smooth bore and carried a good, large ball, which made a clean, pretty hole, without tearing. "Now," be explained kindly to Lawrence, "the ballfromoneoftheseinfernal rifled concerns goes gyrating and tearing its way through you, and makes an orifice like a post ol(e. " He illustrated his meaning with a sweeping spiral motion of his clenched fist. Lawrence grew a shade whiter, and wondered how Jeff felt and looked, whilst Jeff set his teeth more firmly as the Major added blandly that "no gentleman wanted to blow another to pieces like a Sepoy mutineer." George Washington's bow of exaggerated acquiescence drew the Major's attention to him. "George Washington, are my pistols clean" he asked. "Yes, suh, clean as yo' shut-front," replied George Washington, grandly. " Well, clean them again." "Yes, suh," and George was disappearing with ponderous dignity, when the Major called him," George Washington." 283 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "Yes, suh.1" "Tell carpenter William to come to the porch. His services may be needed," he explained to Lawrence, "in case there should be a casualty, you know. " "Yes, suh." George Washington disap- peared. A moment later he re-opened the door. "Marse Nat." " Sir. " "Shall I send de overseer to dig de graves, suh" Lawrence could not help exclaiming, " Good --! " and then checked himself; and Jeff gave a perceptible start. "I will attend to that," said the Major, and George Washington went out with an order from Jeff to take the box to the office. The Major laid the notes on his desk and devoted himself to a brief eulogy on the beau- tiful symmetry of "the Code," illustrating his views by apt references to a number of instances in which its absolute impartiality had been estab- lished by the instant death of both parties. He had just suggested that perhaps the two young men might desire to make some final arrange- ments, when George Washington reappeared, 284 tGEORlGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL drunker and more imposing than before. In place of his ordinary apparel he had substituted a yellowish velvet waistcoat and a blue coat with brass buttons, both of which were several sizes too large for him, as they had for several years been stretched over the Major's ample person. He carried a well-worn beaver hat in his hand, which he never donned except on extraordinary occasions. "De pistils is ready, sub," he said, in a fine voice, which he always employed when he pro- posed to be peculiarly effective. His self-satis- faction was monumental. "Where did you get that coat and waistcoat from, sir" thundered the Major. "Who told you you might have them " George Washington was quite taken aback at the unexpectedness of the assault, and he shuffled one foot uneasily. "Well, you see, suh," he began, vaguely, "I know you warn' never gwine to wear 'em. no mo', and seein' dat dis was a very serious re- casion, an' I wuz rip-ripresentin' Marse Jeff in a jewel, I thought I ought to repear like a gent'- man on dis recasion." "You infernal rascal, did n't I tell you that the next time you took my clothes without ask- 285 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ing my permission, I was going to shoot you " The Major faced his chair around with a jerk, but George Washington had in the in- terim recovered himself. "Yes, suh, I remembers dat," he said, com- placently, "but dat did n't have no recose to dese solemn recasions when I rip-ripresents a gent'man in de Code." " Yes, sir, it did. I had this especially in mind," declared the Major, unblushingly-"I gave you fair notice, and damn me! if I don't do it, too, before I 'm done with you-I 'd sell you to-morrow morning if it would not be a cheat on the man who was fool enough to buy you. My best coat and waistcoat ! "-he looked affectionately at the garments. George Washington evidently knew the way to soothe him-"Who ever heah de beat of dat! " he said in a tone of mild complaint, partly to the young men and partly to his old master in the ruffles and velvet over the piano, " Marse Nat, you reckon I ain't got no better manners 'n to teck you bes' coat and weskit! Dis heah coat and weskit nuver did you no favor anyways-I heah Miss Marg'ret talkin' 'bout it de fust time you ever put 'em on. Dat's de reason I tuck 286 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST 1)U EL 'em." Having found an excuse he was as volu- ble as a river-"I say to myself, I ain' gwine let my young marster wyar dem things no mo' roun' heah wid strange ladies an' gent 'man stayin' in de house, too-an' I so consarned about it, I say, 'George Wash'n'n, you got to git dem things and wyar 'em yo 'self to keep him f 'om doin' it, dat's what you got to do,' I say, and dat 's de reason I tuk 'em." He looked the picture of self-sacrifice. But the Major burst forth on him: "Why, you lying rascal, that's three different reasons you have given in one breath for taking them." At which George Washington shook his woolly head with doleful self-abnegation. "Just look at them!" cried the Major-" My favorite waistcoat! There is not a crack or a brack in them-They look as nice as they did the day they were bought!" This was too much for George Washington. "Dat's the favor, suh, of de pussen what has 'em on," he said, bowing grandly; at which the Major, finding his ire giving way to amuse- ment, drove him from the room, swearing that if he did not shoot him that evening he would set him free to-morrow morning. 287 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS VI As the afternoon had worn away, and whilst the two principals in the affair were arranging their matters, the Major had been taking every precaution to carry out the plan for the meeting. The effect of the approaching duel upon the old gentleman was somewhat remarkable. He was in unusually high spirits; his rosy countenance wore an expression of humorous content; and, from time to time as he bustled about, a smile flitted across his face, or a chuckle sounded from the depths of his satin stock. He fell in with Miss Jemima, and related to her a series of anec- dotes respecting duelling and homicide gener- ally, so lurid in their character that she groaned over the depravity of a region where such barbarity was practiced; but when he solemnly informed her that he felt satisfied from the signs of the time that some one would be shot in the neighborhood before twenty-four hours were over, the old lady determined to return home next day. 288 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL It was not difficult to secure secrecy, as the Major had given directions that no one should be admitted to the garden. For at least an hour before sunset he had been giving directions to George Washington which that dignitary would have found some difficulty in executing, even had he remained sober; but which, in his existing condition, was as impossible as for him to change the kinks in his hair. The Major had solemnly assured him that if he got drunk he would shoot him on the spot, and George Washington had as solemnly consented that he would gladly die if he should be found in this unprecedented con- dition. Immediately succeeding which, how- ever, under the weight of the momentous matters submitted to him, he had. after his habit, sought aid and comfort of his old friends, the Major's decanters, and he was shortly in that condition when he felt that the entire universe depended upon him. He blacked his shoes at least twenty times, and marched back and forth in the yard with such portentous importance that the servants instinctively shrunk away from his august presence. One of the children, in their frolics, ran against him; George Washington 289 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS simply said, "Git out of my way," and without pausing in his gait or deigning to look at him, slapped him completely over. A maid ventured to accost him jocularly to know why he was so finely dressed. George Washington overwhelmed her with a look of such infinite contempt and such withering scorn that all the other servants forthwith fell upon her for "interferin' in Unc' George Wash'n'ton's business." At last the Major entered the garden and bade George Wash- ington follow him; and George Washington having paid his twentieth visit to the dining- room, and had a final interview with the liquor-case, and having polished up his old beaver anew, left the office by the side door, carrying under his arm a mahogany box about two feet long and one foot wide, partially covered with a large linen cloth. His beaver hat was cocked on the side of his head, with an air supposed to be impressive. He wore the Major's coat and flowered velvet waist- coat respecting which he had won so signal a victory in the morning, and he flaunted a large bandanna handkerchief, the ownership of which he had transferred still more recently. The Major's orders to George Washington were 290 "GEORGIE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL to convey the box to the garden in a secret man- ner, but George Washington was far too much impressed with the importance of the part he bore in the affair to lose the opportunity of impressing the other servants. Instead, there- fore, of taking a by-path, he marched ostenta- tiously through the yard with a manner which effected his object, if not his master's, and which struck the entire circle of servants with inex- pressible awe. However, after he gained the garden and reached a spot where he was no longer in danger of being observed by any one, lie adopted a manner of the greatest secrecy, and proceeded to the place selected for the meeting with a degree of caution which could not have been greater had he been covertly steal- ing his way through a band of hostile Indians. The spot chosen for the meeting was a grass plat bounded on three sides by shrubbery and on the fourth by the wall of the little square within which had been laid to rest the mortal remains of some half dozen generations of the Burwells. Though the grass was green and the sky above was of the deep steely hue which the late afternoon brings, yet the thick shrub- bery which secluded the place gave it an air of wildness, and the tops of the tall umonuments 291 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS gleaming white over the old wall against the dark cedars, added an impression of ghostliness which had long caused the locality to be geli- erally avoided by the negroes from the time that the afternoon shadows began to lengthen. George Washington, indeed, as he made his way stealthily down towards the rendezvous, glanced behind him once or twice as if he were not at all certain that some impalpable pursuer were not following him, and he almost jumped out of his shoes when the Major, who had for ten minutes been pacing up and down the grass- plat in a fume of impatience, caught sight of him and suddenly shouted, "Why don't you come on, you-rascal " As soon as George Washington recognized that the voice was not supernatural, he recov- ered hiscourage and at once disarmed the Major, who, watch in hand, was demanding if he sup- posed he had nothing else to do than to wait for him all night, by falling into his vein and acquiescing in all that he said in abuse of the yet absent duellists, or at least of one of them. He spoke in terms of the severest repro- bation of Mr. Lawrence, declaring that he had never had a high opinion of his courage, or, indeed, of any quality which he possessed. He 292 GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL was, perhaps, not quite prepared to join in an attack on Jeff, of whose frequent benefactions he entertained a lively recollection amounting to gratitude, at least in the accepted French idea of that virtue, and as he had constituted himself Jeff's especial representative for this "solemn recasion," he felt a personal interest in de- fending him to some extent. At last the Major ordered him to take out the weapons and some little time was spent in handling them, George Washington exami- ining them with the air of a connoisseur. The Major asserted that he had never seen a prettier spot, and George Washington', imme- diately striking an attitude, echoed the senti- ment. He was, indeed, so transported with its beauty that he declared it reminded him of the duel he and the Major fought with Judge Car- rington, which lie positively declared was "a jewel like you been read about," and lie ended with the emphatic assertion, " Ef dese gent-mens jes plump each urr like we did de Judge dat evelin!--" A wave of the hand completed the period. The Major turned on him with a positive denial that he had ever even shot at the Judge, but George Washington unblushingly insisted 293 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS that they had, and in fact had shot him twice. "We hit him fyah an' squar'." He levelled a pistol at a tree a few yards distant, and strik- ing an attitude, squinted along the barrel with the air of an old hand at the weapon. The Major reiterated his statement and re- called the fact that, as he had told him and others a thousand times, they had shaken hands on the spot, which George Washington with easy adaptability admitted, but claimed that "ef he had n't 'a' shook hands we 'd 'a' shot him, sho! Dis here gent'men ain' gwine git off quite so easy," he declared, having already decided that Lawrence was to experience the deadly ac- curacy of his and Jeff's aim. He ended with an unexpected "Hic!" and gave a little lurch, which betrayed his condition, but immediately gathered himself together again. The Major looked at him quizzically as he stood, pistols in hand, in all the grandeur of his assumed character. The shadow of disap- pointment at the non-appearance of the duellists which had rested on his round face passed away, and he suddenly asked him which way be thought they had better stand. George Washington twisted his head on one side and, after striking a deliberative attitude and looking the plat well over, gave his judgment. 294 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL "Ah-so," said the Major, and bade him step off ten paces. George Washington cocked his hat consid- erably more to one side, and with a wave of his hand, caught from the Major, took ten little mincing steps; and, without turning, glanced back over his shoulder and inquired, "Ain't dat mighty fur apart " The Major stated that it was necessary to give them some chance. And this appeared to satisfy him, for he admitted, "Yas, suh, dat's so, dee 'bleeged to have a chance," and immediately marked a point a yard or more short of that to which he had stepped. The Major then announced that he would load the pistols without waiting for the ad- vent of the other gentlemen, as he " repre- sented both of them." This was too much for so accomplished an adept at the Code as George Washington, and he immediately asserted that such a thing was preposterous, asking with some scorn, as he strutted up and down, "Who ever heah o' one gent'man ripresentin' two in a jewel, Marse Nat " The Major bowed politely. "I was afraid it was a little incompatible, " he said. "Of cose it's incomifatible, " said George 295 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Washington. "I ripresents one and you de t'urr. Dat 's de way! I ripresents Marse Jeff. I know he ain' gwine fly de track. I done know him from a little lad. Dat urr gent 'man I ain' know nuttin' 't all about. You ripresents him." He waved his hand in scorn. "Ah!" said the Major, as he set laboriously about loading the pistols, handling the balls somewhat ostentatiously. George Washington assented, "I b'lieve I know mo' 'bout the Code n' you does, Marse Nat. " The Major looked at him quizzically as he rammed the ball down hard. He was so skilful that George at length added condescendingly, "But I see you ain' forgit how to handle dese things. " The Major modestly admitted, as he put on a cap, that he used to be a pretty fair shot, and George Washington in an attitude as declarative of his pride in the occasion as his inebriated state admitted, was looking on with an expres- sion of supreme complacency, when the Major levelled the weapon and sighted along its barrel. George Washington gave a jump which sent his cherished beaver bouncing twenty feet. "Look out, Marse Nat! Don' handle dat thing so keerless, please, suh. " 296 "GEO1RGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL The Major explained that he was just try- ing its weight, and declared that it "came up beautifully;" to which George Washington after he had regained his damaged helmet assented with a somewhat unsteady voice. The Major looked at his watch and up at the trees, the tops of which were still brightened with the reflection from the sunset sky, and muttered an objurgation at the failure of the principals to appear, vowing that he never before knew of a similar case, and that at least he had not expected Jeff to fail to come to time. George Washington again proudly announced that he represented Jeff and that it was "that urr gent'man what had done fly de track, that urr gent 'man what you ripresents, Marse Nat." He spoke with unveiled contempt. The Major suddenly turned on him. "George Washington !" " Suh! " He faced him. "If my principal fails to appear, I must take his place. The rule is, the second takes the place of his non-appearing principal. " "In cose dat's de rule,I" declared George Washington, as if it were his own suggestion; "de secon' tecks de place o' de non-repearin' sprinciple, and dat 's what inecks me say what I does, dat man is done run away, suh, dat 's 297 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS what 's de motter wid him. He 's jes' natchelly skeered. He couldn't face dem things, suh." He nodded towards the pistols, his thumbs stuck in the armholes of his flowered velvet vest. As the Major bowed George Washington continued with a hiccough, "He ain' like we gent'mens whar 's ust to 'em an' don' mine 'em no loo' 'n pop-crackers. " "George Washington," said the Major, sol- emnly, with his eyes set on George Washington 's velvet waistcoat, "take your choice of these pistols. " The old duellist made his choice with due deliberation. The Major indicated with a wave of his hand one of the spots which George had marked for the expected duellists. "Take your stand there, sir." George Washington marched grandly up and planted himself with overwhelming dignity, whilst the Major, with the other pistol in his hand, quietly took his stand at the other position, facing him. " George, " he said, " George Washington." "Suh." George Washington was never so imposing. "My principal, Mr. Pickering Lawrence, hav- ing failed to appear at the designated time and place to meet his engagement with Mr. Jefferson 298 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL Lewis, I, as his second and representative, offer myself to take his place and assume any and all of his obligations." George Washington bowed grandly. "Yes, suh, of cose-dat is accordin' to de Code, " he said with solemnity befitting the occasion. The Major proceeded. "And your principal, Mr. Jefferson Lewis, having likewise failed to appear at the proper time, you take his place." "Sub," ejaculated George Washington, in sudden astonishment, turning his head slightly as if he were not certain he had heard correctly, "Marse Nat, jis say dat agin, please, suh" The Major elevated his voice and advanced his pistol slightly. "I say, your principal, Mr. Jefferson Lewis, hlaving in like manner failed to put in his appear- ance at the time and place agreed on for the meeting, you as his representative take his place and assume all his obligations." "Oh! nor, suh, I don't!" exclaimed George Washington, shaking his head so violently that the demoralized beaver fell off again and rolled around unheeded. "I ain' bargain for no sich thing as dat. Nor, sub!" 299 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS But the Major was obdurate. " Yes, sir, you do. When you accept the position of second, you assume all the obliga- tions attaching to that position, and " the Major advanced his pistol-"I shall shoot at you." George Washington took a step towards him. "Oh! goodness! Marse Nat, you ain ' gwine do nuttin like dat, is you!" His jaw had fallen, and when the Major bowed with deep solemnity and replied, "Yes, sir, and you can shoot at me," he burst out. " Marse Nat, I don' warn' shoot at you. What I warn' shoot at you for I ain't got nuttin 'ginst you on de fatal uth. You been good master to me all my days an' " The Major cut short this sincere tribute to his vir- tues by saying: "Very well, you can shoot or not, as you please. I shall aim at that waist- coat. " He raised his pistol and partially closed one eye. George Washington dropped on his knees. "Oh, Marse Nat, please, suh. What yor want to shoot me for Po' ole good-for- nuttin George Washington, whar ain' nuver done you no harm" (the Major's eye glances over his blue coat and flowered vest; George 300 "GEORGE AWASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL saw it), "but jes steal you' whisky an' you' clo'es an'-AMarse Nat, ef you le' me off dis time I oon nuver steal no mo' o' you' clo'es, er you' whisky, er nuttin. Marse Nat, you wouldn' shoot po' ole good-for-nuttin George Washington; whar fotch' up wid you " "Yes, sir, I would," declared the Major, sternly. "I am going ta give the word, and-" he raised the pistol once more. George Washington began to creep toward him. "Oh, Lordy! Mlarse Nat, please, suh, don' pint dat thing at me dat away-hit 's loaded! Oh, Lordy!" he shouted. The Major brandished his weapon fiercely. "Stand up, sir, and stop that noise-one-two -three," he counted, but George Washington was flat on the ground. "Oh, Marse Nat, please, sul, don't. I 'se feared o' dem things." A sudden idea struck him. " Marse Nat, you is about to loss a mighty valuable irigger," he pleaded; but the Major simply shouted to him to stand up and not dis- grace the gentleman he represented. George Washington seized on the word; it was his final hope. "Marse Nat, I don't ripresent nobody, suh, nobody at all, suh. I ain' nuttin but a good- 301 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS for-nuttin, wuthless nigger, whar brung de box down heah cuz you tole me to, suh, dat 's all. An' I '11 teck off you' coat an' weskit dis minit ef you '11 jes le' me git up off de groun', suh." Jeff suddenly appeared. George lay spraddled out on the ground as flat as a field lark, but at Jeff's appearance, he sprang behind him. Jeff, in amazement, was inquiring the meaning of all the noise he had heard, when Lawrence ap- peared on -the scene. The Major explained briefly. "It was that redoubtable champion bellow- ing. As our principals failed to appear on time, he being an upholder of the Code, suggested that we were bound to take the places respectively of those we represented--" "Nor, suh, I don' ripresent nobody," inter- rupted George Washington; but at a look from the Major he dodged again behind Jeff. The Major, with his eye on Lawrence, said: "Well, gentlemen, let 's to business. We have but a few minutes of daylight left. I presume you are ready" Both gentlemen bowed, and the Major pro- ceeded to explain that he had. loaded both pistols himself with precisely similar charges, and that they were identical in trigger, sight, 302 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL drift, and weight, and had been tested on a number of occasions, when they had proved to be "excellent weapons and remarkably accu- rate in their fire." The young men bowed silently; but when he turned suddenly and called "George Washington," that individual nearly jumped out of his coat. The Major ordered him to measure ten paces, which, after first giving notice that he "did n't ripresent nobody," he proceeded to do, taking a dozen or more gigantic strides, and hastily retired again behind the safe bulwark of Jeff's back. As he stood there in his shrunken condition, he about as much re- sembled the pompous and arrogant duellist of a half-hour previous as a wet and bedraggled turkey does the strutting, gobbling cock of the flock. The Major, with an objurgation at him for stepping "as if he had on seven league boots," stepped off the distance himself, ex- plaining to Lawrence that ten paces was about the best distance, as it was sufficiently distant to "avoid the unpleasantness of letting a geIl- tleman feel that he was within touching dis- tance," and yet "near enough to avoid useless mutilation. " Taking out a coin, he announced that he would toss up for the choice of position, or rather 303 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS would make a "disinterested person" do so, and, holding out his hand, he called George Wash- ington to toss it up. There was no response until the Major shouted, "George Washington, where are you-you rascal 1 " "Heah me, suh," said George Washington, in a quavering voice, rising from the ground, where he had thrown himself to avoid any stray bullets, and coming slowly forward, with a pitiful, "Please, suh, don' p'int dat thing dis away. " The Major gave him the coin, with an order to toss it up, in a tone so sharp that it made him jump; and he began to turn it over nervously in his hand, which was raised a little above his shoulder. In his manipulation it slipped out of his hand and disappeared. George Washington in a dazed way looked in his hand, and then on the ground. "Hi! whar' hit" he muttered, getting down on his knees and search- ing in the grass. "Dis heah place is evil- sperited. " The Major called to him to hurry up, but he was too intent on solving the problem of the mysterious disappearance of the quarter. "I ain' nuver like dis graveyard bein' right heah," he murmured. " Marse Nat, don' you have no mo' to do wid dis thing." 304 "GEORGE WVASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL The Major 's patience was giving out. "George Washington, you rascal!" he shouted, "do you think I can wait all night for you to pull all the grass in the garden e Take the quar- ter out of your pocket, sir !" 'Tain in my pocket, suh," quavered George Washington, feeling there instinctively, how- ever, when the coin slipped down his sleeve into his hand again. This was too much for him. ."Hi! befo' de king," he exclaimed, "how it git in my pocket I Oh, Marster! de devil is 'bout heah, sho'! Marse Nat, you fling it up, sah. I ai' nuttin but a po' sinful nigger. Oh, Lordy!" And handing over the quarter tremulously, George Washington flung himself flat on the ground and, as a sort of religious incantation, began to chant in a wild, quavering tone the funeral hymn: "Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound." The Major tossed up and posted the duellists, and with much solemnity handed them the pis- tols, which both the young men received quietly. They were pale, but perfectly steady. The Major then asked them, " Gentlemen, are you ready " whilst at the ominous sound George Washington's voice, in a tremulous falsetto, struck in: 305 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "Ye-ee so-ons off meenn co-ome view-ew the-ee groun', Wher-ere you-ou m-uss ' shor-ort-ly lie." They announced themselves ready just as George Washington, looking up from the ground, where he, like the "so-ons off meenn," was lying, discovered that he was not more than thirty yards out of the line of aim, and with a muttered "Lordy!" began to crawl away. There was a confused murmur from the direc- tion of the path which led to the house, and the Major shouted, "Fire-one-two-three." Both young men, facing each other and look- ing steadily in each other's eyes, with simul- taneous action fired their pistols into the air. At the report a series of shrieks rang out from the shrubbery towards the house, whilst George Washington gave a wild yell and began to kick like a wounded bull, bellowing that he was "killed-killed. " The Major had just walked up to the duellists, and, relieving them of their weapons, had with a comprehensive wave of the hand congratulated them on their courage and urged them to shake hands, which they were in the act of doing, when the shrubbery parted and Margaret, followed closely by Rose and by Miss Jemima panting 306 "GEORGE WASHINGTON'S" LAST DUEL behind, rushed in upon them, crying at the tops of their voices, " Stop! Stop !" The two young ladies addressed themselves respectively to Jeff and Lawrence, and both were employing all their eloquence when Miss Jemima appeared. Her eye caught the pros- trate form of George Washington, who lay flat on his face kicking and groaning at intervals. She pounced upon the Major with so much vehe- mence that hie was almost carried away by the sudden onset. "Oh! You wretch! What have you done'" she panted, scarcely able to articulate. "Done, madam" asked the Major, gravely. "Yes; what have you done to that poor miser- able creature-'therc!" She actually seized the Major and whirled him around with one hand, whilst with the other she pointed at the prostrate and now motionless George Washington. " What have I been doing with him " " Yes, with him. Have you been carrying out your barbarous rite on his inoffensive person!" she gasped. The Major's eye lit up. "Yes, madam," he said, taking up one of the pistols, "and I rejoice that you are here to witness its successful termination. George 307 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Washington has been selected as the victim this year; his monstrous lies, his habitual drunken worthlessness, his roguery, culminating in the open theft to-day of my best coat and waistcoat, marked him naturally as the proper sacrifice. I had not the heart to cheat any one by selling him to him. I was therefore constrained to shoot him. He was, with his usual triflingness, not killed at the first fire, although he appears to be dead. I will now finish him by putting a ball into his back; observe the shot." He ad- vanced, and cocking the pistol, "click-click," stuck it carefully in the middle of George Wash- ington 's fat back. Miss Jemima gave a piercing shriek and flung herself on the Major to seize the pistol; but she might have spared herself, for George Washington suddenly bounded from the ground and, with one glance at the levelled weapon, rushed crashing through the shrubbery, followed by the laughter of the young people, the shrieks of Miss Jemima, and the shouts of the Major for him to come back and let him kill him. That evening, when Margaret, seated on the Major's knee, was rummaging in his vest pock- ets for any loose change which might be there 308 This page in the original text is blank. This page in the original text is blank. Margaret and the Major. This page in the original text is blank. " GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL (which by immemorial custom belonged to her), she suddenly pulled out two large, round bullets. The Major seized them; but it was too late. When, however, he finally obtained possession of them he presented them to Miss Jemima, and solemnly requested her to preserve them as mementoes of George Washington's miraculous escape. 309 This page in the original text is blank. P'LASKI'S TUNAMENT This page in the original text is blank. P'LASKI'S TUNAMENT' I HAD the good fortune to come from "the old county of Hanover," as that particular division of the State of Virginia is affection- ately called by nearly all who are so lucky as to have first seen the light amid its broom- straw fields and heavy forests; and to this happy circumstance I owed the honor of a special visit from one of its most loyal citi- zens. Indeed, the glories of his native county were so embalmed in his memory and were so generously and continuously imparted to all his acquaintances, that he was in the county of his adoption universally known after an absence of forty years as "Old Hanover." I had not been long in F- when I was in- formed that I might, in right of the good fortune respecting my birthplace, to which I have re- ferred, expect a visit from my distinguished fellow-countyman, and thus I was not surprised, 1From " Elsket and Other Stories," copyright 1891, by Charles Scribner's Sons THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS when one afternoon a message was brought in that "Ole Hanover was in the yard, and had called to pay his bes' bespecks to de gent'man what hed de honor to come f 'om de ole county. " I immediately went out, followed by my host, to find that the visit was attended with a for- mality which raised it almost to the dignity of a ceremonial. "Old Hanover" was accompanied by his wife, and was attended by quite a number of other negroes, who had followed him either out of curiosity excited by the importance lie had attached to the visit, or else in the desire to shine in reflected glory as his friends. "Old Hanover" himself stood well out in front of the rest, like an old African chief in state with his followers behind him about to receive an embassy. He was arrayed with great care, in a style which I thought at first glance was in- dicative of the clerical calling, but which I soon discovered was intended to be merely symbolical of approximation to the dignity which was sup- posed to pertain to that profession. He wore a very long and baggy coat which had once been black, but was now tanned by exposure to a reddish brown, a vest which looked as if it had been velvet before the years had eaten the nap from it, and changed it into a fabric not un- 314 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMENT like leather. His shirt was obviously newly -washed for the occasion, and his high clean collar fell over an ample and somewhat bulg- ing white cloth, which partook of the qualities of both stock and necktie. His skin was of that lustrous black which shines as if freshly oiled, and his face was closely shaved except for two tufts of short, white hair, one on each side, which shone like snow against his black cheeks. He wore an old and very quaint beaver, and a pair of large, old-fashioned, silver- rimmed spectacles, which gave him an air of portentous dignity. When I first caught sight of him he was lean- ing on a long hickory stick, which might have been his staff of state, and his face was set in an expression of superlative importance. As I appeared, however, he at once removed his hat, and taking a long step forward, made me a profound bow. I was so much impressed by him that I failed to catch the whole of the grandiloquent speech with which he greeted me. I had evidently secured his approval; for he boldly declared that he "would 'a' recognizated me for one of de rail quality ef he had foun' me in a cup-pen." I was immediately conscious of the effect which his endorsement produced oil 315 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS his companions. They regarded me with new interest, if any expression so bovine deserved to be thus characterized. "I tell dese folks up heah dee don't know nuthin ' 'bout rail quality, " he asserted with a contemptuous wave of his arm, which was manifestly intended to embrace the entire sec- tion in its comprehensive sweep. "Dee 'ain' nuver had no 'quaintance wid it," he explained, condescendingly. His friends accepted this criti- cism with proper submissiveness. "De Maconses, de Berkeleyses, de Carterses, de Bassettses, de Wickhamses, de Nelsonses, an' dem! "--(the final ending "es" was plainly supposed to give additional dignity)-"now dee is sho 'nough quality. I know, all 'bout 'em." He paused long enough to permit this to sink in. "I b'longst to Doc' Macon. You know what he wuz" His emphasis compelled me to acknowledge his exalted position or abandon forever all hope of retaining my own; so I immediately assented, and inquired how long he had been in "this country," as he designated his adopted region. He turned with some severity to one of his com- panions, a stout and slatternly woman, very black, and many years his junior. "How long is I been heah, Lucindy" 316 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAM ClENT The woman addressed, by way of arswer, turned half away, and gave a little nervous laugh. "I don't know how long you been heab, you been heah so long; mos' forty years, I reckon." This sally called from her companions a little ripple of amusement. "Dat 's my wife, suh," the old gentleman explained, apologetically. "She 's de one I got now; she come f 'om up heah in dis kentry. " His voice expressed all that the words were in- tended to convey. Lucindy, who appeared ac- customed to such contemptuous reference, merely gave another little explosion which shook her fat shoulders. As, however, I was expected to endorse all his views, I changed the embarrassing subject by inquiring how he had happened to leave the old county. "Ole marster gi' me to Miss Fanny when she ma'yed Marse William Fitzhugh, " he explained. " I wuz ma 'yed den to Marth' Ann; she wuz Ml iss Fanny's maid, an' when she come up healh wid Miss Fanny, I recompany her." He would not admit that his removal was a permanent one. "I al'ays layin' out to go back home, but I 'ain' been vit. Dee's mos'all daid b 'fo' dis, suh " He spoke as if this were a fact, but there was a faint inquiry in his eves if not in his 317 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS tone. I was sorry not to be able to inform him differently, and, to change the subject, I started to ask him a question. "Martha Ann -" I began, and then paused irresolute." "She 's daid, too," he said, simply. "How many children have you 7 " I asked. "I 'ain' got but beah one now, suh, ef 1 got dat one," he replied; " dat 's P 'laski." "How many have you had" "Well, suh, dat 's a partic'lar thing to tell," he said, with a whimsical look on his face. "De Scripturs says you is to multiply an' replanish de uth; but I s'pecks I 's had some several mo'n my relowance; dar 's Jeems, an' Peter, an' Jeremiah, an' Hezekiah, an' Zekyel, Ana- nias an' Malachi, Matthew an' Saint Luke, besides de gals. Dee 's all gone; an' now I 'ain' got but jes dat P'laski. TIe 's de wuthlisses one o' de whole gang. He tecks after his mammy. "' The reference to Pulaski appeared to occasion some amusement among his friends, and I inno- cently inquired if he was Martha Ann's son. "Nor, suh, dat he warn'!" was the vehement and indignant answer. "Ef he had 'a' been, he nuver would 'a' got me into all dat trouble. Dat wuz de mortification o' my life, suh. He got all dat meanness f'om his mammy. Dat ooman 318 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMLN T dyah is his mammy." He indicated the plunmp Lucindy with his long stick, which he poked at her contemptuously. "Dat's what I git for mar 'yin' one o' dese heah up-kentry niggers! " The "up-kentry" spouse was apparently quite accustomed to this characterization, for she sim- ply looked away, rather in embarrassment at my gaze being directed Lo her than under any stronger emotion. Her liege continued: " Lu- cindy warn' quality like me an' Marth' Ann, an' her son tooken after her. What's in de mynah will come out in de colt; an' he is de meanes' chile I uver had. I name de urrs f'om de Scrip- tur, but he come o' a diff 'ent stock, an' I name him arter Mr. P'laski Greener, whar Lucindy use' to b'longst to, an' I reckon maybe dat's de reason he so natchally evil. I had mo' trouble by recount o' dat boy 'n I hed when I los' Marth' Ann. " The old fellow threw back his head and gave a loud "Whew!" actually removing his large spectacles in his desperation at Pulaski's wick- edness. Again there was a suppressed chuckle from his friends; so, seeing that some mystery attached to the matter, I put a question which started him. "Well, I 'II tell you, suh," he began. "Hit 319 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS all growed out of a tunament, suh. You an' I knows all discerning tunaments, 'cuz we come f'om de ole county o' Hanover, whar de raise tunaments"-(he referred to them as if they had been a species of vegetables) - "but we 'ain' nuver hearn de modification of a nigger ridin' in a tunament " I admitted this, and, after first laying his hat carefully on the ground, he proceeded: "Well, you know, suh, dat P'laski got de notionment in he haid dat he wuz to ride in a tunament. He got dat f 'om dat ooman." He turned and pointed a trembling finger at his uncomplaining spouse; and then slowly declared, "Lord! I wuz outdone dat day. " I suggested that possibly he had not followed Solomon 's injunction as rigidly as Pulaski's peculiar traits of character had demanded; but he said promptly: "Yes, sub, I did. I whupped him faithful but he took whuppin' like a ole steer. Hickory didn' 'pear to have no 'feck on him. He did'n had no memory; he like a ole steer: got a thick skin an' a short memory; he wuz what I call one o ' dese disorde'ly boys." He paused long enough to permit this term, 320 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMENT taken from the police court reports, to make a lodgement, and then proceeded: "Tie wuz so wuthless at home, I hired him out to ole Mis' Twine for fo' dollars an' a half a mont'-an' more 'n he wutb, too !-to see ef po' white ooman kin git any wuck out'n him. A po' white ooman kin git wuck out a nigger ef any- body kin, an' 'twuz down dyah that he got dat foolishness lodgicated in he haid. You see, ole Mis' Twine warn' so fur f'om Wash'n'n. Nig- ger think ef lie kin git to Wash'n'n, he done got in heaven. Well, I hire him to ole Mis' Twine, 'cuz I think she '11 keep P'laski straight, an' ef T don' git but one fo ' dollars aln' a half f 'om him, hit 's dat much; but 'pear like he got to runnin' an' consortin' wid some o' dem urr free-issue niggers roun' dyah, an' dee lame him mo' fool- ishness 'n I think dee able; 'cuz a full hawg cyarn drink no mo'. " The old fellow launched out into diatribes against the "free issues," who, he declared. ex- pected to be "better than white folks, like white folks ain' been free sense de wull begin." He, however, shortly returned to his theme. "Well, fust thing I knowed, one Sunday I wuz settin' down in my house, an' heah come 21 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS P'laski all done fixed up wid a high collar on, mos' high as ole master's, an' wid a better breeches on 'n I uver wear in my life, an' wid a creevat! an' a cane! an' wid a seegar! He comes in de do' an hol' he seegar in he han', sort o' so" (illustrating), "an' he teck off he hat kine o' flourishy 'whurr,' an' say, 'Good morn- in', pa an' ma.' He mammy-dat she-monsus pleaged wid dem manners; she ain' know no better; but I ain' nuver like nobody to gobble roun' me, an' I say, 'Look heah, boy, don' fool wid me; I ain' feelin' well to-day, an' ef you fool wid me, when I git done wid you, you oon feel well you'self.' Den lie kine o' let he feath- ers down; an' presney he say he warn me to len' him three dollars an' a half. I ax him what he warn do wid it, 'cuz I know I ain' gwine len' to him-jes well len' money to a mus 'rat hole;- an' he say he warn it for a tunament. 'Ili!' I say, P'laski, what air a tunament' I mecked out, you see, like I ain' recognizated what he meck correspondence to; an' he start to say, 'A tunament, pa-' but I retch for a barrel hoop whar lyin' by kine o' amiable like, an' he stop, like young mule whar see mud-puddle in de road, an, say, 'A tunament-a tunament is whar you 322 P'LASKI'S TUNAMENT gits 'pon a hoss wid a pole, an' rides hard as you kin, an' pokes de pole at a ring, an'-' When he gets right hyah, I interrup's him, an' I say, 'P'laski,' says I, 'I 's raised wid de fust o' folks, 'cuz I 's raised wid de Maconses at Doe' Macon's in Hanover, an' I 's spectated fish fries, an' festibals, an' bobbycues; but I ain' nuv-er witness nuttin' like dat-a nigger ridin' 'pon a hoss hard as he kin stave, an' nominatin' of it a tunament,' I says. ' You 's talkin' 'bout a hoss-race,' I says, "cuz dat's de on'yes' thing,' I says, 'a nigger rides in.' " You know, suh," he broke in suddenly, "you and I's seen many a hoss-race, 'cuz we come f'om hoss ken- try, right down dyah f'om whar Marse Torm Doswell live, an' we done see hoss-races whar wuz hoss-races sho 'nough, at the old Fyarfiel' race-co'se, whar hosses used to run could beat buds flyin' an' so I tole him. I tole him I nuver heah nobody but a po' white folks' nigger call a hoss-race a tunament; an' I tole him I reckon de pole he talkin' 'bout wuz de hick'ry dee used to tune de boys' backs wid recasionally wheii dee did n' ride right. Dat cut him down! might'ly, 'cuz dat ermine him o' de hick'lries I done wyah out 'pon him: but he say, ' Nor, 't is 323 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS a long pole whar you punch th'oo a ring, an' de one whar punch de moes, he crown de queen.' I tole him dat de on 'yes' queen I uver heah 'bout wuz a cow ole master had, whar teck de fust prize at de State fyah in Richmond one year; but he presist dat this wuz a tunament queen, and he warn three dollars an' a half to get him a new shut an' to pay he part ov de supper. Den I tole him ef he think I gwine give him three dollars an' a half for dat foolishness he mus' think I big a fool as he wuz. Wid dat he begin to act kine o' aggervated, which I teck for impidence, 'cuz I nuver could abeah chillern ner women to be sullen roun' me; an' I gi' him de notification dat ef I cotch him foolin' wid any tunament I gwine ride him tell he oon know wherr he ain't a mule hisself; an' I gwine have hick'ry pole dyah too. Den I tolt him he better go 'long back to ole Mis' Twine, whar I done hire him to; an' when he see me pick up de barrel hoop an' start to roll up my sleeve, he went; an' I heah he jine dat Jim Sinkfiel', an' dat's what git me into all dat tribilation." " What got you in " I inquired, in some doubt as to his meaning. "Dat tunament, suh. P laski rid it! An' what 's mo', suh, he won de queen-one o' ole 324 P 'LASKI 'S T UNAMENT man Bob Sibley's impident gals-an' when he come to crown her, lie crown her wid ole Mis' Twine 's weddin '-ring! " There was a subdued murmur of amusement in the group behind him, and I could not but inquire how he came to perform so extraordi- nary a ceremony. " Dat I don' know, suh; but so 'twair. Fust information I had on it wuz when I went down to ole Mis' Twine's to get lie mont's weges. I received de ontelligence on de way dat he had done lef' dyah, an' dat ole Mis' Twine gol' ring had lef ' by de same road at de same time. Dat correspondence mortify me might'ly, cuz I had 'n raised P'laski no sich a way as dat. Ile was dat ooman's son, to be sho', an' I knowed he wuz wuthless, but still I hadn' respect him to steal ole Mis' Twine weddin'-ring, whar she wyah on her finger ev'ry day, an' whar wuz gol' too. I want de infimation 'bout de fo' dollars an' a half, so I went 'long; but soon as ole Mis' Twine see me she began to quoil. I tell her I just come to git de reasonment o' de matter, an' I 'ain' got nuthin' 'tall to say 'bout P'laski. Dat jes like bresh on fire; she wuss 'n befo'. She so savigrous I tolt her I 'ain' nuver had nobody to prevaricate nuttin' 'bout me; dat I 325 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS b'1ongst to Doe' Macon, o' Hanover, an' I ax her ef she knowed de Maconses. She say, nor, she ain' know 'em, nor she ain' nuver hearn on 'em, an' she wished she had 'n nuver hearn on me an' my thievin' boy-dat's P'laski. Well, tell then, I mighty consarned 'bout P'Taski; but when she said she ain ' nuver hearn on the Maconses, I ain' altogether b'lieve P'laski done teck her ring, 'cause I ain' know whether she got any ring; though I know sence the tunament he mean enough for anything; an' I tolt her so, an' I tolt her I wuz raised wid quality-sence she ain' know the Maconses, I ain' tole her no mo' 'bout dem, 'cuz de Bible say you is not fo cast pearls befo' de corn-house keys Ann used to go in ole Mistis herself. cotch me ef she had Marth' Ann's son; conses, an' in cose servants, so she don rar an' she pitch. talk so befo' in yo' hawgs-an' dat I had tote many a time, an' Marth' )le Mistis' trunks same as Right dyah she mought 'a' knowed that P'laski warn' but she ain' know de Ma- she ain' 'quainted wid de know it. Well, suh, she Yo' nuver heah a ooman life; an' fust thing I knew she gone in de house, she say she gwine get a gun an' run me off dat lan'. But Iain' wait for dat: don nobody have to git gun to run me off 326 P'LASKI'S TUNAMENT dee lan'. I jes teck my foot in my han' an' come 'long way by myself, 'cuz I think maybe a ooman 'at could cuss like a man mout shoot like a man, too." "Where did you go and what did you do next" I asked the old fellow as lie paused with a whimsical little nod of satisfaction at his wisdom. "I went home, suh," he said. 'I heah on de way dat P'laski had sho 'nough1 done crownt Bob Sibley's gal, Lizzy Susan, wid de ring, an' dat he wuz gwine to Wash'n'n, but wuz done come home to git some things b'fo' lie went; so-I come straight 'long behinst him jes swif' as my foot could teck me. I did n' was 'e much time," he said, with some pride, " 'cuz he had done mighty nigh come gittin' me shot. I jes stop long 'nough to cut me a, bunch o' right keen hick'ries, an' I jes come 'long shiakin' my foot. When I got to my house I ain' fine nobody dyah but Lucindy-dat ve'Y ooman dyah"-pointing his long stick at her-''an' I lay my hick'ries on de bed, an' ax her is she see P'Iaski. Fust she meek out dat she ain' heah me, she so indus- chus; I nuver see her so indusehus; but whien I meek 'quiration agin she bleeged to answer me, an' she 'spon' dat she 'ain' see him; 'cuz she 327 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS see dat my blood wuz up, an' she know dee wuz trouble 'pendin' for P'laski. Dat worry me might'ly, an' I say, 'Lucindy, ef you is done meek dat boy resent hisself f 'om heah, you is done act like a po' white folks' nigger,' I say, 'an' you 's got to beah depravity o' his trans- gression.' When I tolt her dat she nuver got mad, 'cuz she know she air not quality like me an' Marth' Ann; but she 'pear right smartly disturbed, an' she 'clar' she ain' lay her eyes on P'laski. She done 'clar' so partic'lar I mos' inclin' to b 'lieve her; but all on a suddent I heah some 'n' sneeze, 'Quechew!' De soun' come f'om onder de bed, an' I jes retch over an' gether in my bunch o' hick 'ries, an ' I say, 'Come out!' Lucindy say, 'Dat's a cat'; an' I say, 'Yes,' I say, 'hit's a cat I gwine skin, too.' "I jes stoop down, an' peep onder de bed, an', sho' 'nough, dyah wuz P'laski squinch up onder dyah, cane an' seegar an' all, jes like a ole hyah in a trap. I ketch him by de leg, an' juck him out, an '-don' you know, suh, dat ooman had done put my shut on dat boy, an' wluz gettin' ready to precipitate him in flight! I tolt her it wuz p'intedly oudacious for her an' her son, after he had done stolt ole Mis' Taine 328 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMENT weddin'-ring, to come to my own house an' rob me jes like I wuz a hen-roos'! " "What reply did she make to that" I asked, to facilitate his narrative. "She 'ain' possessed no reply to dat indict- ment," he said, pompously. "She glad by dat time to remit me to terminate my excitement on P'laski, an' so I did. He hollered tell dee say you could heah him two miles; he fyahly lumn- bered. " The old fellow gave a chuckle of satis- faction at the reminiscence, and began to draw figures in the sand with his long stick. Sud- denly, however, he looked up. "Ef I had a-inti- mated how much tribilation dat lumberin' wuz gwine to get me in, he nuver would 'a' hollered. Dat come o' dat chicken-stealin' nigger Jem Sinkfiel '; he cyahed him off." He again became reflective, so I asked, " Have n' t you seen him since " "Oh, yes, suh, I seen him since, " he answered. "I seen him after I come out o' jail; but 'twuz a right close thing. I thought I wuz gone." "Gone! for whipping him" "Nor, suh; 'bout de murder." " Murder " " Yes, suh; murder o' him-o' P'laski." 329 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "But you did not murder him " "Nor, suh; an' dat wuz whar de trouble pre- sisted. Ef I had a-murdered him I'd 'a' knowed whar he wuz when dee wanted him; but, as 'twair, when de time arrove, I wair unable to perduce him: and I come mighty nigh forfeitin' my life. " My exclamation of astonishment manifestly pleased him, and he proceeded with increased gravity and carefulness of dictation: "You see, suh, 'twair dis way." He laid his stick carefully down, and spreading open the yellowish palm of one hand, laid the index finger of the other on it, as if it had been a map. "When I waked up nex' mornin' an' called P'laski, he did not rappear. He had depar- tured; an' so had my shut! Ef 't had n' been for de garment, I would n' 'a' keered so much, for I knowed I 'd git my han's on him some time: hawgs mos 'ly comes up when de acorns all gone! an' I know hick'ries ain't gwine stop growin: but I wuz cawnsiderably tossified decernin' my garment, an' I gin Lucindy a little direction 'bout dat. But I jes went on gittin' my sumac, an ' whenever I come 'cross a right straight hick'ry, I gethered dat, too, an' laid it by, 'cus hick'ries grow mighty fine in ole fiel's whar 330 P 'LASKI 'S TIUNAMENT growin' up like. An' one day I wuz down in de bushes, an' Mr. 'Lias Lumpkins, de constable, come ridin' down dyah whar I wuz, an' ax me whar P 'laski is. Hit come in my mind torectly dat he warn' P'laski 'bout de ring, an' I tell him I air not aware whar P'laski is: an' den he tell me he got warrant for me, and I mus' come on wid him. I still reposed, in co'se, 'twuz 'bout de ring, an' I say I ain' had nuttin' to do wid it. An' he say, 'Wid what' An' I say, 'Wid de ring.' Den he say, 'Oh!' an' he say, ' 'Tain' nuttin' 'bout de ring; 't is for mnurder.' Well, T know I amin' murder nobody, an' I ax him who dee say I done murder; an' he ax me agin, 'Whar air P'laski' I tell him I don' know whar P'laski air: I know I ain' nurder him! Well, suh, hit subsequently re- peared dat dis wuz de wuss thing I could 'a' said, 'cus when de trial come on, Major Torm Woods made mo' o' dat 'n anything else at all; an' hit 'pears like ef you's skused o' murder er stealin', you inus n' say you ain' do it, 'cuz dat 's dangersomer 'n allowing you is do it. "Well, I went 'long wid him. I ax himn to le ' me go by my house; but he say, nor, he 'ain' got time, dat lie done been dyah. An' he teek me 'long to de cote-house, an' lock ane ltp 331 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS in de jail! an' lef me dyah in de dark on de rock flo'! An' dyah I rejourned all night long. An' I might 'a' been dyah now, ef 't had n' been dat de co 'te come on. Nex' mornin' Mr. Landy Wilde come in dyah an' ax me how I gettin' on, an' ef I warn' anything. I tell him I gettin' on toler'ble, an' I ain' warn' nuttin' but a little tobacco. I warn' git out, but I knew I cyarn do dat, 'cuz 't wuz de ambitiouses smellin' place I ever smelt in my life. I tell you, sub, I is done smell all de smells o' mink an' mus' an' puffume, but I ain' nuver smell nuttin' like dat jail. Mr. Landy Wilde had to hole he nose while he in dyah; an' he say he '11 git de ole jedge to come an' ac' as my council. I tell him, 'Nor; Gord put me in dyah, an' I reckon He '11 git me out when He ready.' I tell you, sub, I wair p'int- edly ashamed for de old jedge, whar wuz a gent'man, to come in sich a scand'lous smellin' place as dat. But de ole jedge come; an' he say it wuz a --shame to put a humin in sich place, an' he 'd git me bail; which I mus' say-even ef he is a church member-might be ixcused ef you jes consider dat smell. But when de cote meet, dee would n' gi' me no bail, 'cuz dee say I done commit murder; an' I heah Jim Sinkfiel' an' Mr. Lumpkins an' ole Mis' Twine went in an' 332 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMENT tole de gran' jury I sutney had murder P'laski, an' bury him down in de sumac bushes; an' dee had de gre 't bundle o' switches dee fine in my house, an' dee redite me, an' say ef I 'ain' murder him, why 'n 't I go 'long an' pre- duce him. Dat 's a curisome thing, suh; dee tell you to go 'long and fine anybody, an' den lock you up in jail a insec' could n' get out." I agreed with him as to the apparent incon- sistency of this, and he proceeded: "Well, suh, at las' de trial come on; 't wuz April cote, an' dee had me in the cote-house, an' set me down in de cheer, wid de jury right in front o' me, an' de jedge settin' up in he pul- pit, lookin' mighty aggrevated. Dat wuz de fus' time I 'gin to feel maybe I wuz sort o' forgittin' things, I had done been thinkin' so much lately in jail 'bout de ole doctor-dat 's ole master-an' Marth' Ann, an' all de ole times in Hanover, I wuz sort o' misty as I wuz settin' dyah in de cheer, an' I jes heah sort o' buzzin' roun' me, an' I warn' altogether certified dat I warn' back in ole Hanover. Den I heah 'em say dat de ole jedge wuz tooken down an' wuz ixpected to die, an ' dee ax me don' I want a con- tinuance. I don' know what dat mean, 'sep dee say I have to go back to jail, an' sense I smell 333 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS de fresh air I don' warn' do dat no mo'; so I tell 'em, 'Nor; I ready to die.' An' den dee made me stan' up; an' dee read dat long paper to me 'bout how I done murder P 'laski; dee say I had done whup him to death, an' had done shoot him, an' knock him in de haid, an' kill him mo' ways 'n 't would 'a' teck to kill him ef he had been a cat. Lucindy wuz dyah. I had done had her gwine 'bout right smart meckin' quiration for P 'laski. At least she say she had," he said, with a sudden reservation, and a glance of some suspicion toward his spouse. "An' dee wuz a whole parecel o ' niggers stan 'in' roun' dyah, black as buzzards roun' a ole hoss whar dyin'. An' don' you know, dat Jim Sink- fiel' say he sutney hope dee would hang me, an' all jes 'cuz he owe' me two dollars an' seventy- three cents, whar he ain' warn' pay me! " "Did you not have counsel" I inquired. ' Council " ''Yes-a lawyer." "Oh, nor, suh; dat is, I had council, but not a la 'var, edzactly, " he replied, with careful dis, crimination. "I had a some sort of a la'yer, but not much of a one. I had ixpected ole Jedge Thomas to git me off; 'cuz he knowed me; he wuz a gent'man, like we is; but when he wuz 334 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMENT tooken sick so providential I wouldn' had no urrs; I lef' it to Gord. De jedge ax me at de trial did n' I had no la'yar, and I tell him nor, not dyah; an' he ax me did n' I had no money to get one; an' I erspon' 'Nor, I didn' had none,' although I had at dat time forty-three dollars an' sixty-eight cents in a ole rag in my waistcoat linin', whar I had wid me down in de sumac bushes, an' whar I thought I better hole on to, an' 'ain' made no mention on. So den de jedge ax me would n' I had a young man dyah-a right tall young man; an' I enform him: 'Yes, suh. I did n' reckon 't would hu't none.' So den he come an' set by me an' say he wuz my counsel. " There was such a suggestion of contempt in his tone that I inquired if he had not done very well. "Oh, yes, suh," he drawled, slowly, "he done toler'ble well-considerin'. He do de bes' he kin, I reckon. He holler an' mix me up some right smart; but dee wuz too strong for him; lie warn' no mo' to 'em n' wurrm is to wood- pecker. Major Torm Woods' de common- wealph 's attorney, is a powerful la 'yer; he holler so you kin heah him three mile. An' one Mis' Twine wuz dyah, whar tell all 'bout de 335 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS ring, an' how impident I wuz to her dat day, an' skeer her to death. An' dat Jim Sinkfiel', he wuz dyah, an' tolt 'bout how I beat P'laski, an' how he heah him 'way out in main road, hollerin' 'murder.' An'dee had de gre 't bundle o'hick'- ries dyah, whar dee done fine in my house, an' dee had so much evidence dat presney I 'mos' begin to think maybe I had done kilt P'laski sho 'nough, an' had disermembered it. An' I thought 'bout Marthl' Ann an' all de urr chil 'ern, an' I wondered ef dee wuz to hang me ef I would n' fine her; an' I got so I mos' hoped dee would sen' me. An' den de jury went out, an' stay some time, an' come back an' say I wuz guilty, an' sen' me to de Pen'tentiy for six years. " I had followed him so closely, and been so satisfied of his innocence, that I was surprised into an exclamation of astonishment, at which he was evidently much pleased. " What did your counsel do" I asked. He put his head on one side. "He He jes lean over an' ax did I warn' to repeal. I tell him I didn't know. Den he ax me is I got any money at all. I tell him, nor; ef I had I would 'a' got me a la'yer. " "What happened then" I inquired, laugh- ing at his discomfiting reply. 336 P 'LASKI 'S TUNA MENT "Well, den de jedge tole me to stan' up, an' ax me has I got anything to say. Well, I know dat my las' chance, an' I tell him, 'Yes, suh.' An' he inform me to precede wid de relation, an' so I did. I preceded, an' I tolt 'em dyah in de cote-house ev'y wud jes like I have explainified it heah. I tolt 'em all 'bout Marth' Ann an' de chillern I hed had; I reformed 'em all de- cernin' de Maconses, an' I notified 'em how P'laski wuz dat urr ooman's son, not Marth' Ann's, an' 'bout de tunament an' how I had demonstrated wid him not to ride dyah, an' how he had repudiated my admonition, an' had crown de queen wid ole Mis' Twine weddin'- ring, whar he come nigh gittin' me shot fur; an' how I had presented him de hick'ry, an' 'bout how he had departed de premises while I wuz 'sleep, an' had purloined my garment, an' how I wuz waitin' for him, an' getherin' de hick'ry crap an' all. An' dee wuz all laughin', 'cuz dee know I wuz relatin' de gospel truth, an' jes den I heah some o' de niggers back be- hine call out, 'Hi! heah he now!' an' I look roun ', an ', ef you b 'lieve me, suh, dyah wuz P'laski, jes repeared, all fixed up, wid he cane an' seegar an' all, jes like I had drawed lie resemblance. He had done been to Wash'n'n, an' had done come back to see de hangin'" 337 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS The old fellow broke into such a laugh at the reminiscence that I asked him, "Well, what was the result" "De result, suh, wuz, de jury teck back all dee had say, an' ax me to go down to de tavern an' have much whiskey as I could stan' up to, an' dee 'd p)ay for it; an' de jedge distrusted 'em to tu'n me loose. P'laski, he wuz sort o' both- ered; he ain ' know wherr to be disapp 'inted 'bout de hangin' or pleased wid bein' set up so as de center of distraction, tell ole Mis' Twine begin to talk 'bout 'restin' of him. Dat set him back; but I ax 'em, b'fo' dee 'rest him, couldn' I have jurisdictionment on him for a leetle while. Dee grant my beques', 'cuz dee know I gwine to erward him accordin' to his becessities, an' I jes nod my head to him an' went out. When we got roun' hine de jail, I invite him to perject his coat. He nex' garment wuz my own shut, an' I tolt him to remove dat too; dat I had to get nigh to he backbone, an' I could n 't 'ford to weah out dat shut no mor 'n he had done already weah it. Somebody had done fetch de bunch o' hick'ries whar dee had done fine in my house, an' hit jes like Providence. I lay 'em by me while I put him on de altar. I jes made him wrop he arms roun' a little locus'- 338 P 'LASKI 'S TUNAMENT tree, an' I fasten he wris'es wid he own gal- lowses, 'cuz I did n' warn was 'e dem hick ries; an' all de time I bindin' him I wuz tellin' him 'bout Aberham. Den, when I had him ready, I begin, an' I rehearse de motter wid him f'01 de time he had ax me 'bout de tunament spang tell he come to see me hang, an' wid ev'y wud I gin him de admonishment, tell when I got thoo wid him he would n' 'a' tetch a ring ef he had been in 'em up to he neck; an' as to shuts, he would 'a' gone naked in frost b'fo' lie 'd 'a' put one on. He back gin out b'fo' my hick'ries did; but I didn' wholly lors 'em. I receive de valyation o' dem, too, 'cuz when I let up on P'laski, fust man I see wuz dat Jim Sinkfiel', whar had warn' me hanged 'cuz lie did n 't warn ' pay me two dollars an' seventy-three cents. He wuz standin' dyah lookin' on, 'joyin' hiself. I jes walk up to him an' I tolt him dat he could pay it right den, or recommodate me to teck de res' o' de hick'ries. He try to blunder out o' it, but all de folks know 'bout it an' dee wuz wid me, anl' b'fo' he knowed it some on 'em had he coat off, an' had stretch him roun' de tree, an' tolt me to perceed. An' I per- ceeded. "I hadn't quite wo' out one hick'ry when 339 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS he holler dat he 'd borry de money an' pay it; but I tolt him, nor; hick'ries had riz; dat I had three mo', an' I warn 't show him a man can meek a boy holler 'murder' an' yit not kill him. An' dat I did, too: b'fo' I wuz done he hollered 'murder' jes natchel as P'laski." The old fellow's countenance beamed with satisfaction at the recollection of his revenge. I rewarded his narrative with a donation which he evidently considered liberal; for he not only was profuse in his thanks, but he assured me that the county of Hanover had produced four people of whom he was duly proud-Henry Clay, Doctor Macon, myself, and himself. 340 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES This page in the original text is blank. MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES HENRY FLOYD was a crank, at least so many people said; a few thought he was a wonderful person: these were mostly children, old women, and people not in the directory and persons not in the directory do not count for much. He was in fact a singular fellow. It was all natural enough to him; he was just like what be believed his father had been, his father of whom his mother used to tell him, and whom he remembered so vaguely except when he had suddenly loomed up in his uniform at the head of the company, when they went away on that march from which he had never returned. He meant to be like him, if lie was not, and he remembered all that his mother had told him of his gentleness, his high courtesy, his faithfulness, his devotion to duty, his un- 343 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS selfishness. So it was all natural enough to Floyd to be as he was. But a man can no more tell whether or not he is a crank than he can tell how old he looks. He was, however, without doubt, different in certain ways from most people. This his friends admitted. Some said he was old-fashioned; some that he was " old-timey "; some that he was unpractical, the shades of criticism ranging up to those saying he was a fool. This did not mean intellectually, for none denied his intellect. He drove a virile pen, and had an epigram- matic tongue. He had had a hard time. He had borne the yoke in his youth. This, we have strong authority for saying, is good for a man; but it leaves its mark upon him. He had been desperately poor. He had not minded that except for his mother, and he had approved of her giving up every cent to meet the old security debts. It had cut him off from his college education; but he had worked till he was a better scholar than he might have been had he gone to college. He had kept his mother comfortable as long as she lived, and then had put up a monument over her in the old churchyard, as he had done before to his father's memory. This, everyone said, was foolish, and 344 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES perhaps it was, for it took him at least two years to pay for them, and lie might have laid up the money and got a start, or, as some char- itable persons said, it might have been given to the poor. However, the monuments were -put up, and on them were epitaphs which re- corded at length the virtues of those to whom they were erected, with their descent, and de- clared that they were Christians and Gentle- people. Some one said to Floyd that he might have shortened the epitaphs, and have saved something. "I did not want them shortened," said he. He had borne the yoke otherwise also. One of the first things he had done after starting in life was to fall in love with a beautiful woman. She was very beautiful and a great belle. Every one said it was sheer nonsense for Henry Floyd to expect her to marry him, as poor as he was, which was natural enough. The only thing was that she led Floyd to believe she was going to marry him when she did not intend to do it, and it cost him a great deal of unhappiness. He never said one word against her, not even when she married a man much older than himself, simply, as everyone said, because he was very rich. If Floyd ever thought that she treated 345 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS him badly, no one ever knew it, and when finally she left her husband, no one ever ventured to discuss it before Floyd. Henry Floyd, however, had suffered,-that everyone could see who had eyes; but only he knew how much. Generally grave and dreamy; when quiet as calm as a dove, as fierce as a hawk when aroused; moving always in an ec- centric orbit, which few understood; flashing out now and then gleams which some said were sparks of genius but which most people saidwere mere eccentricity, he had sunk into a recluse. He was in this state when he met HER. He always afterward referred to her so. He was at a reception when he came upon her on a stair- way. A casual word about his life, a smile flashed from her large, dark, luminous eyes, lighting up her face, and Henry Floyd awoke. She had called him from the dead. It was a case of love at first sight. From that time he never had a thought for anyone else, least of all for himself. He lived in her and for her. He blossomed under her sympathy as a tree comes out under the sunshine and soft breath of spring. He grew, he broadened. She was his sun, his breath of life; he worshipped her. Then one day she died-suddenly-sank down and 346 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES died as a butterfly might die, chilled by a blast. With her Henry Floyd buried his youth. For a time people were sympathetic; but they be- gan immediately to speculate about him, then to gossip about him. It made no difference to him or in him. He was like a man that is dead, who felt no more. One thing about a great sorrow is that it destroys all lesser ones. -A man with a crushed body does not feel pin- pricks. Henry Floyd went on his way calmly, doggedly, mechanically. He drifted on and was talked about continually. Gossip would not let him alone, so she did him the honor to connect his name with that of every woman he met. In fact, there was as much reason to mention all as one. He was fond of women, and enjoyed them. Women liked him too. There was a certain gentleness mingled with firmness, a kind of protecting air about him which women admired, and a mystery of im- penetrable sadness which women liked. Every woman who knew him trusted him, and had a right to trust him. To none was he indifferent, but in none was he interested. He was simply cut off. A physician who saw him said, "That mian is dying of loneliness." This went on for some years. At last his friends determined to 347 THE BUTRIAL OF THE GUNS get him back into society. They made plans for him and carried them out to a certain length; there the plans failed. Floyd might be led up to the water, but none could make him drink; there he took the bit in his teeth and went his own way. He would be invited to ineet a girl at a dinner got up for his benefit, that he might meet her, and would spend the evening hanging over a little unheard-of coun- try cousin with a low voice and soft eyes, enter- taining her with stories of his country days or of his wanderings; or he would be put by some belle, and after five minutes' homage spend the time talking to some old lady about her grand- children. "You must marry," they said to him. "When one rises from the dead," he replied. At length, his friends grew tired of helping him and gave him up, and he dropped out and settled down. Commiseration is one of the bitter things of life. But Floyd had what is harder to bear than that. It did not affect his work. It was only his health and his life that suffered. He was like a man who has lost the sense of touch and taste and sight. If he minded it, he did not show it. One can get used to being bedridden. One thing about him was that he always ap- 348 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES peared poor. He began to be known as an inventor and writer. It was known that he received high prices for what he did; but he appeared to be no better off than when he made nothing. Some persons supposed that he gam- bled; others whispered that he spent it in other dissipation. In fact, one lady gave a circum- stantial account of the way he squandered his inoney, and declared herself very glad that lie had never visited her daughters. When this was repeated to Floyd, he said he fortunately did not have to account to her for the way he spent his money. He felt that the woman out under the marble cross knew how his money went, and so did the little cousin who was named after her, and who was at school. He had a letter from her in his pocket at that moment. So he drifted on. At length one evening lie was at a reception in a strange city whither his business had taken him. The rooms were filled with light and beauty. Floyd was standing chatting with a child of ten years, whom he found standing in a corner, gazing out with wide questioning eyes on the throng. They were friends in- stantly, and he was telling her who the guests were, as they came sailing in, giving thei 349 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS fictitious names and titles. " They are all queens, " he told her, at which she laughed. She pointed out a tall and stately woman with a sol- emn face, and with a gleaming bodice on like a cuirass, and her hair up on her head like a casque. "Who is that" " Queen Semiramis. " "'And who is that " It was a stout lady with a tiara of diamonds, a red face, and three feathers. "Queen Victoria, of course." "And who am I" She placed her little hand on her breast with a pretty gesture. "The Queen of Hearts," said Floyd, quickly, at which she laughed outright. "Oh! I must not laugh, " she said, checking herself and glanc- ing around her with a shocked look. " I forgot. " "You shall. If you don't, you sha 'n't know who another queen is." "No, mamma told me I must not make a bit of noise; it is not style, you know, but you must n't be so funny." "Good heavens!" said Floyd. "Oh! who is this coining" A lady richly dressed was making her way toward them. "The Queen of Sheba-coming to see Solo- 350 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES mon," said Floyd, as she came up to him. "Let me introduce you to a beautiful girl, Sarah Dangerlie," she said, and drew him through the throng toward a door, where hie was presented to a tall and strikingly handsome girl and made his bow and a civil speech, to which the young lady responded with one equally polite and important. Other men were pressing around her, to all of whom she made apt and cordial speeches, and Floyd fell back and rejoined his little girl, whose face lit up at his return. "Oh! I was so afraid you were going away with her." "And leave you Never, I 'm not so easily disposed of." "Everyone goes with her. They call her the Queen. " "Do they" "Do you like her" " Yes. " "You don't," she said, looking at him keenly. "Yes, she is beautiful." " Everyone says so." "She isn 't as beautiful as someone else I know," said Floyd, pleasantly. 351 T'HE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "'Isn'tshe Aswhom" Floyd took hold of the child's hand and said, "'Let 's go and get some supper." "I don't like her," said the little girl, posi- tively. "Don't you" said Floyd. He stopped and glanced across the room toward where the girl had stood. He saw only the gleam of her fine shoulders as she disappeared in the crowd sur- rounded by her admirers. A little later Floyd met the young lady on the stairway. He had not recognized her, and was passing on, when she spoke to him. "I saw you talking to a little friend of mine," she began, then-"Over in the corner," she ex- plai-ned. " Oh! yes. She is sweet. They interest me. I always feel when I have talked with a child as if I had got as near to the angels as one can get on earth." "Do you know I was very anxious to meet you, " she said. "Were you Thank you. Why" "Because of a line of yours I once read." "I am pleased to have written only one line that attracted your attention, " said Floyd, bow- ing. 352 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES "No, no-it was this- 'The whitest soul of man or saint is black beside a girl's.'" "Beside a child's," said Floyd, correcting her. " Oh! yes, so it is-'beside a child's. " Her voice was low and musical. Floyd glanced up and caught her look, and the color deepened in her cheek as the young man sud- denly leant a little towards her and gazed ear- nestly into her eyes, which she dropped, but instantly raised again. "Yes-good-night," she held out her hand, with a taking gesture and smile. " Good-night, " said Floyd, and passed on up the stairs to the dressing-room. He got his coat and hat and came down the stairway. A group seized him. "Come to the club, " they said. He de- clined. "Roast oysters and beer," they said. "No, I 'in going home.." "Are you ill" asked a friend. "No, not at all. Why" "You look like a man who has seen a spirit." "Do I I 'in tired, I suppose. Good-night, -good-night, gentlemen," and he passed out. 353 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "Perhaps I have," he said as he went down the cold steps into the frozen street. Floyd went home and tossed about all night. His life was breaking up, he was all at sea. Why had he met her He was losing the anchor that had held him. "They call her the queen," the little girl had said. She must be. He had seen her soul through her eyes. Floyd sent her the poem which contained the line which she had quoted; and she wrote him a note thanking him. It pleased him. It was sympathetic. She invited, him to call. He went to see her. She was fine in grain and in look. A closely fitting dark gown ornamented by a single glorious red rose which might have grown where it lay, and her soft hair coiled on her small head, as she entered tall and straight and calm, made Floyd involuntarily say to himself, "Yes"- " She was right, " he said, half to himself, half aloud, as he stood gazing at her with in- quiring eyes after she had greeted him cordi- ally. "What was right" she asked. "Something a little girl said about you." " What was it " "I will tell you some day, when I know you better." 354 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES "lWas it a compliment " "Yes." "Tell me now." "No, wait." He came to know her better; to know her very well. He did not see her very often, but he thought of her a great deal. He seemed to find in her a sympathy which he needed. It reminded him of the past. He awoke from his lethargy; began to work once more in the old way; mixed among men again; grew brighter. "Henry Floyd is growing younger, instead of older," someone said of him. "His health has been bad," said a doctor. "He is im- proving. I thought at one time he was going to die." "He is getting rich," said a broker, who had been a -schoolmate of his. "I see he has just invented a new something or other to relieve children with hip or ankle-joint dis- ea se. " "Yes, and it is a capital thing, too; it is be- ing taken up by the profession. I use it. It is a curious thing that he should have hit on that when he is not a surgeon. He had studied anatomy as a sort of fad, as he does everything. One of Haile Tabb's boys was bedridden, and hie was a great friend of his, and that set him at it." 355 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "I don't think he 's so much of a crank as he used to be," said someone. The broker who had been his schoolmate met Floyd next day. "I see you have been having a great stroke of luck, " he said. "Have I" "Yes. I see in the papers, that your dis- covery, or invention, or whatever it was, has been taken up." "Oh! yes-that It has." "I congratulate you." " Thank you. " "I would not mind looking into that." " Yes, it is interesting. " " I might take an interest in it." "Yes, I should think so." " How much do you ask for it" " 'Ask for it' Ask for what" "For an interest in it, either a part or the whole " "What" "You ought to make a good thing out of it- out of your patent." "IMy patent! I have n 't any patent." "What! No patent" "No. It 's for the good of people generally." 356 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES "But you got a patent" "No.' "Could n 't you get a patent" "I don't know." "Well, I '11 be bound I 'd have got a patent." "Oh! no, I don 't think so. " "I tell you what, you ought to turn your talents to account," said his friend. "Yes, I know I ought.'" " You could be a rich man." " But I don't care to be rich." "What! Oh! nonsense. Everybody does." "I do not. I want to live." "But you don't live." "Well, maybe I shall some day." "You merely exist." "Why should I want to be rich " "To live-to buy what you want." "I want sympathy, love; can one buy that" "Yes-even that." " No, you cannot. There is only one sort of woman to be bought." "Well, come and see me sometimes, won't you " "Well, no, I 'm very much obliged to you; but I don't think I can." "Why I have lots of rich men come to 357 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS my house. You 'd find it to your advantage if you 'd come. " " Thank you." "We could make big money together if " He paused. Floyd was looking at him. "Could we If-what" "If you would let me use you. " "Thank you," said Floyd. "Perhaps we could. " "Why won't you come" "Well, the fact is, I have n't time. I shall have to wait to get a little richer before I can afford it. Besides, I have a standing engage- ment. " "Oh! no, we won't squeeze you. I tell you what, come up to dinner to-morrow. I 'm going to have a fellow there, an awfully rich fellow- want to interest him in some things, and I 've invited him down. He is young Router, the son of the great Router, you know who he is" "Well, no, I don't believe I do. Good-by. Sorry I can 't come; but I have an engage- ment. " "What is it" "To play mumble-the-peg with some boys: Haile Tabb 's boys. " 358 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES "Oh! hang the boys! Come up to dinner. It is an opportunity you may not have again shortly. Router 's awfully successful, and you can interest him. I tell you what I '11 do- "No, thank you, I '11 keep my engagement. Good-by. " "That fellow 's either a fool or he is crazy," said his friend, gazing after him as lie walked away. "And lie 's got some sense, too. If he 'd let me use him I could make money out of him for both of us." It was not long before Floyd began to be known more widely. He had schemes for the amelioration of the condition of the poor. They were pronounced quixotic; but he kept on. He said he got good out of them if no one else did. He began to go oftener, and oftener down to the City, where Miss Dangerlie lived. He did not see a great deal of her; but he wrote to her. He found in her a ready sympathy with his plans. It was not just as it used to be in his earlier love affair, where he used to find himself uplifted and borne along by the strong spirit which had called him from the dead; but if it was not this that he got, it was what 359 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS contented him. Whatever he suggested, she ac- cepted. He found in her tastes a wonderful similarity with his, and from that he drew strength. Women in talking of him in connection with her said it was a pity; men said he was lucky. One evening, at a reception at her house, he was in the gentlemen's dressing-room. It was evidently a lady's apartment which had been devoted for the occasion as a dressing-room. It was quite full at the time. A man, a large fellow with sleek, short hair, a fat chin, and a dazzling waistcoat, pulled open a lower drawer in a bureau. Articles of a lady's apparel were discovered, spotless and neatly arranged. " Shut that drawer instantly," said Floyd, in a low, imperious tone. "Suppose I don't, what then " "I will pitch you out of that window," said Floyd, quietly, moving a step nearer him. The drawer was closed, and the man turned away. "Do you know who that was " asked someone of Floyd. "No, not the slightest idea." " That was young Router, the son of the great Router. " "Who is the-great-Router 7 360 MISS DANGERLIE 'S ROSES "The great pork man. His son is the one who is so attentive to Miss Dangerlie." " I am glad he closed the drawer, " said Floyd, quietly. "He is said to be engaged to her," said the gentleman. "H 'e is not engaged to her," said Floyd. Later on he was talking to Miss Dangerlie. He had taken her out of the throng. "Do you know who introduced me to you " he asked. " Yes, Mrs. Dorrington." "No, a little girl." "W Iho' Why, don't you remember! I am surprised. It was just in the doorway!" "Oh! yes, I remember well enough. I met a beauty there, but I did not care for her. I met you first on the stairway, and a child intro- duced me. " " Children interest me, they always admire one," she said. "They interest me, I always admire them," he said. "They are true." She was silent, then changed the subject. " A singular little incident befell me this even- ing," she said. "As I was coming home froni a luncheon-party, a wretched woman stopped me and asked me to let her look at me." 361 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS "You did it, of course," he said. She looked at him with her eyes wide open with surprise. " What do you suppose a man said to me upstairs" he asked her. 'What"' "'That you were engaged to someone." "What! That I was engaged! To whom, pray" She looked incredulous. "To a fellow I saw up there-Mr. 'Router,' I think he said was his name. " "The idea! Engaged to Mr. Router! You did not believe him, did you" " No, of course I did not; I trust you en- tirely." She buried her face in the roses she held in her hand, and did not speak. Her other hand rested on the arm of her chair next him. It was fine and white. He laid his on it firmly, and leaning towards her, said, "I beg your pardon for mentioning it. I am not surprised that you are hurt. Forgive me. I could not care for you so much if I did not believe in you. " " It was so kind in you to send me these roses," she said. "Are n 't they beautiful" She turned them round and gazed at them with her face slightly averted. 362 MISS DANGERLIE 'S ROSES "Yes, they are, and yet I hate to see them tied that way; I ordered them sent to you loose. I always like to think of you as arranging roses. " "Yes, I love to arrange them myself," she said. "The fact is, as beautiful as those are, I be- lieve I like better the old-fashioned roses right out of the dew. I suppose it is old association. But I know an old garden up at an old country- place, where my mother used to live as a girl. It used to be filled up with roses, and I always think of the roses there as sweeter than any others in the world." "Yes, I like the old-fashioned roses best, too," she said, with that similarity of taste which al- ways pleased him. "The next time I come to see you I am go- ing to bring you some of those roses," he said. "MY mother used to tell me of my father going out and getting them for her, and I would like von to lhave some of them." " Oh! thank you. How far is it from your home " "Fifteen or twenty miles." "But you cannot get them there." "Oh! yes, T can; the fact is, I own the 363 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS place." She looked interested. " Oh! it is not worth anything as land," he said, "but I love the association. My mother was brought up there, and I keep up the garden just as it was. You shall have the roses. Some day I want to see you among them." Just then there was a step behind him. She rose. "Is it ours" she asked someone over her shoulder. "Yes, come along." Floyd glanced around. It was the "son of the great Router." She turned to Floyd, and said, in an earnest undertone, "I am very sorry; but I had an en- gagement. Good-by." She held out her hand. Floyd took it and pressed it. " Good-by, " he said, tenderly. "That is all right. " She took the-son-of-the-great-Router's arm. ONE afternoon, a month after Miss Dangerlie's reception, Henry Floyd was packing his trunk. He had just looked at his watch, when there was a ring at the bell. He knew it was the post- man, and a soft look came over his face as he reflected that even if he got no letter he would see her within a few hours. A large box 364 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES of glorious old-fashioned roses was on the floor near him, and a roll of money and a timne-table lay beside it. He had ridden thirty miles that morning to get and bring the roses himself for one whom lie always thought of in conneetion with them. A letter was brought in, and a pleased smile lit up the young man's face as he saw the hand- writing. He laid on the side of the trunk a coat that he held, and then sat down on the arm of a chair and opened the letter. His hand stroked it softly as if it were of velvet. He wore a pleased smile as he began to read. Then the smile died away and a startled look took its place. The color faded out of his face, and his mouth closed firmly. When lhe was through lie turned back and read the letter all over again, slowly. It seemed hard to understand; for after a pause he read it over a third time. Then he looked straight before him for a mo- ment, and then slowly tore it up into tiny shreds and crumpled them up in his hand. Ten min- utes later be rose from his seat and dropped the torn pieces into the fireplace. He walked over and put on his hat and coat, and going out, pulled the door firmly to behind hiym. The trunk, partly packed, stood open with the half 365 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS folded coat hanging over its edge and with the roses lying by its side. Flovd walked into the club and, returning quietly the salutations of a group of friends, went over to a rack and drew out a newspaper file, with which he passed into another room. "Announcement of Engagement: Router and Dangerlie," was the heading on which his eye rested. "It is stated," ran the paragraph, "that they have been engaged some time, but no announcement has been made until now, on the eve of the wedding, owing to the young lady's delicacy of feeling." That night Henry Floyd wrote a letter. This was the close of it: "Possibly your reflection may hereafter trouble you. I wish to say that I do not hold you accountable in any way." That night, a wretched creature, half beggar, half worse, was standing on the street under a lamp. A man came along. She glanced at him timidly. He was looking at her, but it would not do to speak to him, he was a gentle- man going somewhere. His hands were full of roses. He posted a letter in the box, then to her astonishment he stopped at her side and spoke to her. 366 MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES " Here are some roses for you," he said, "and here is some money. Go home to-night. " He pushed the roses and money into her hands, and, turning, went back up the dim street. 367 This page in the original text is blank. HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS This page in the original text is blank. HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS T was just a few days before Christmas, and the men around the large fireplace at the club had, not unnaturally, fallen to talking of Christmas. They were all nien in the prime of life, and all or nearly all of them were from other parts of the country; men who had come to the great city to make their way in life, and who had, on the whole, made it in one degree or another, achieving sufficient success in dif- ferent fields to allow of all being called success- ful men. Yet, as the conversation had pro- ceeded, it had taken a reminiscent turn. When it began, only three persons were engaged in it, two of whom, McPheeters and Lesponts, were in lounging-chairs, with their feet stretched out towards the log fire, while the third, Newton, stood with his back to the great hearth, and 371 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS his coat-tails well divided. The other men were scattered about the room, one or two writing at tables, three or four reading the evening papers, and the rest talking and sip- ping whiskey and water, or only talking or only sipping whiskey and water. As the conver- sation proceeded around the fireplace, how- ever, one after another joined the group there, until the circle included every man in the room. It had begun by Lesponts, who had been looking intently at Newton for some moments as he stood before the fire with his legs well apart and his eyes fastened on the carpet, break- ing the silence by asking, suddenly: "Are you going home " "I don't know, " said Newton, doubtfully, recalled from somewhere in dreamland, but so slowly that a part of his thoughts were still lingering there. "I have n 't made up my mind -I 'm not sure that I can go as far as Virginia, and I have an invitation to a delightful place- a house-party near here." "Newton, anybody would know that you were a Virginian," said McPheeters, "by the way you stand before that fire. " Newton said, "Yes," and then, as the half smile the charge had brought up died away, he 372 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS said, slowly, "I was just thinking how good it felt, and I had gone back and was standing in the old parlor at horne the first time I ever noticed my father doing it; I remember get- ting up and standing by him, a little scrap of a fellow, trying to stand just as he did, and I was feeling the fire, just now, just as I did that night. That was-thirty-three years ago," said Newton, slowly, as if he were doling the years from his memory. " Newton, is your father living " asked Lesponts. "No, but my mother is," he said; "she still lives at the old home in the coun- try. " From this the talk had gone on, and nearly all had contributed to it, even the most reti- cent of them, drawn out by the universal sym- pathy which the subject had called forth. The great city, with all its manifold interests, was forgotten, and the men of the world went back to their childhood and early life in little vil- lages or on old plantations, and told incidents of the time when the outer world was unknown, and all things had those strange and large pro- portions which the mind of childhood gives. Old times were ransacked and Christmas expe- riences in them were given without stint, and the season was voted, without dissent, to have 373 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS been far ahead of Christmas now. Presently, one of the party said: "Did any of you ever spend a Christmas on the cars If you have not, thank Heaven, and pray to be preserved from it henceforth, for I 've done it, and I tell you it 's next to purgatory. I spent one once, stuck in a snow-drift, or alhost stuck, for we were ten hours late, and missed all connections, and the Christmas I had expected to spend with friends, I passed in a nasty car with a surly Pullman conductor, an impudent mulatto porter, and a lot of fools, all of whom could have murdered each other, not to speak of a crying baby whose murder was perhaps the only thing all would have united on. " This harsh speech showed that the subject was about exhausted, and someone, a man who had come in only in time to hear the last speaker, had just hazarded the remark, in a faint imitation of an English accent, that the sub-officials in this country were a surly, ill- conditioned lot, anyhow, and always were as rude as they dared to be, when Lesponts, who had looked at the speaker lazily, said: "Yes, I have spent a Christmas on a sleep- ing-car, and, strange to say, I have a most de- lightful recollection of it." 374 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS This was surprising enough to have gained him a hearing anyhow, but the memory of the occasion was evidently sufficiently strong to carry Lesponts over obstacles, and he went ahead. "Has any of you ever taken the night train that goes from here South through the Cumi- berland and Shenandoah Valleys, or fronm Washington to strike that train" No one seemed to have done so, and he went on: "Well, do it, and you can even do it Christ- mas, if you get the right conductor. It 's well worth doing the first chance you get, for it 's almost the prettiest country in the world that you go through; there is nothing that I 'se ever seen lovelier than parts of the Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys, and the New River Valley is just as pretty,-that background of blue beyond those rolling hills, and all,-You know, McPheeters" McPheeters nodded, and he proceeded: "I always go that way now when I go South. Well, I went South one winter just at Christ- mas, and I took that train by accident. I was going to New Orleans to spend Christ- mas, and had expected to have gotten off 375 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS to be there several days beforehand, but an unlooked-for matter had turned up and pre- vented my getting away, and I had given up the idea of going, when I changed my mind: the fact is, I was in a row with a friend of mine there. I decided, on the spur of the moment, to go, anyhow, and thus got off on the after- noon train for Washington, intending to run liy luck for getting a sleeper there. This was the day before Christmas-eve and I was due to arrive in New Orleans Christmas-day, some time. Well, when I got to Washington there was not a berth to be had for love or money, and I was in a pickle. I fumed and fussed; abused the railroad companies and got mad with the ticket agent, who seemed, I thought, to be very indifferent as to whether I went to New Orleans or not, and I had just decided to turn around and come back to New York, when the agent, who was making change for someone else, said: 'I 'm not positive, but I think there 's a train on such and such a road, and you may be able to get a berth on that. It leaves about this time, and if you hurry you may be able to catch it.' He looked at his watch: 'Yes, you 've just about time to stand a chance; everything is late to-day, there are 376 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS such crowds, and the snow and all.' I thanked him, feeling like a dog over my ill-temper and rudeness to him, and decided to try. Any- thing was better than New York, Christmas- day. So I jumped into a carriage and told the driver to drive like the-the wind, and he did. When we arrived at the station the ticket agent could not tell me whether I could get a berth or not, the conductor had the diagram out at the train, but he thought there was not the slightest chance. I had gotten warmed up, however, by my friend's civility at the other station, and I meant to go if there was any way to do it, so I grabbed up my bags and rushed out of the warm depot into the cold air again. I found the car and the conductor standing outside of it by the steps. The first thing that struck me was his appearance. In- stead of being the dapper young naval-officer- ish-looking fellow I was accustomed to, lie was a stout, elderly man, with bushy, gray hair and a heavy, grizzled mustache, who looked like an old field-marshal. He was surrounded by quite a number of people all crowding about him and asking him questions at once, somne of whose questions he was answering slowly as lie pored over his diagram, and others of which he 377 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS seemed to be ignoring. Some were querulous, some good-natured, and all important, but he answered them all with imperturbable good humor. It was very cold, so I pushed my way into the crowd. As I did so I heard him say to someone: ' You asked me if the lower berths were all taken, did you not' 'Yes, five minutes ago!' snapped the fellow, whoin I had already heard swearing, on the edge of the circle. 'Well, they are all taken, just as they were the first time I told you they were, he said, and opened a dispatch given him by his porter, a tall, black, elderly negro with graiy hair. I pushed my way in and asked him, in my most dulcet tone, if I could get an uppei' berth to New Orleans. I called him 'Captain,' thinking him a pompous old fellow. He was just beginning to speak to someone else, but I caught him and he looked across the crowd and said 'New Orleans!' My heart sank at the tone, and he went on talking to some other man. 'I told you that I would give you a lower berth, sir, I can give you one now, I have just got a message that the person who had "lower two" will not want it.' 'Hold on, then, I '11 take that lower,' called the man who had spoken before, over the crowd, 'I spoke for it first.' 378 11OW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS 'No you won't,' said the captain, who went on writing. The man pushed his way in angrily, a big, self-assertive fellow; but he was evidently smarting from his first repulse. 'What 's that' I did, I say. I was here before that man got here, and asked you for a lower berth, and you said they were all taken.' The Captain stopped and looked at him. 'My dear sir, I know you did; but this gentleman has a lady along.' But the fellow was angry. 'I don't care,' he said, 'I engaged the berth and I know my rights; I mean to have that lower berth, or I '11 see which is bigger, you or Mr. Pullman.' Just then a lady, who had come out on the steps, spoke to the captain about her seat in the car. He turned to her: 'My dear madam, you are all right, just go in there and take your seat anywhere; when I come in I will fix every- thing. Go straight into that car and don't come out in this cold air any more.' The lady went back and the old fellow said, 'Nick, go in there and seat that lady, if you have to turn every man out of his seat.' Then, as the por- ter went in, he turned back to his irate friend. 'Now, my dear sir, you don't mean that: you 'd be the first man to give up your berth; this gentleman has his sick wife with him and 379 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS has been ordered to take her South immedi- ately, and she 's going to have a lower berth if I turn every man in that car out, and if you were Mr. Pullman himself I 'd tell you the same thing.' The man fell back, baffled and hum- bled, and we all enjoyed it. Still, I was with- out a berth, so, with some misgiving, I began: 'Captain' He turned to me. 'Oh! you want to go to New Orleans' 'Yes, to spend Christmas; any chance for me' He looked at his watch. 'My dear young sir,' he said, 'go into the car and take a seat, and I '11 do the best I can with you.' I went in, not at all sure that I should get a berth. " This, of course, was only a part of what went on, but the crowd had gotten into a good humor and was joking, and I had fallen into the same spirit. The first person I looked for when I entered the car was, of course, the sick woman. I soon picked her out: a sweet, frail-looking lady, with that fatal, transparent hue of skin and fine complexion. She was all muffled up, al- though the car was very warm. Every seat was either occupied or piled high with bags. Well, the train started, and in a little while the Cap- tain came in, and the way that old fellow straightened things out was a revelation. He 380 11OW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS took charge of the car and ran it as if lie had been the Captain of a boat. At first some of the passengers were inclined to grumble, but in a little while they gave in. As for me, I had got- ten an upper berth and felt satisfied. When I waked up next morning, however, we were only a hundred and fifty miles from Washington, and were standing still. The next day was Christ- mas, and every passenger on the train, except the sick lady and her husband, and the Cap- tain, had an engagement for Christmas dinner somewhere a thousand miles away. There had been an accident on the road. The train which was coming north had jumped the track at a trestle and torn a part of it away. Two or three of the trainmen had been hurt. There was no chance of getting by for several hours more. It was a blue party that assembled in the dressing-room, and more than one cursed his luck. One man was talking of suing the company. I was feeling pretty gloomy myself, when the Captain came in. 'Well, gentlemen, 'Christmas-gift'; it's a fine morning; you must go out and taste it,' he said, in a cheery voice, which made me feel fresher and better at once, and which brought a response from every man in the dressing-room. Someone asked promptly 381 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS how long we should be there. 'I can't tell you, sir, but some little time; several hours.' There was a groan. 'You '11 have time to go over the battle-field,' said the Captain, still cheerily. 'We are close to the field of one of the bitterest battles of the war.' And then he proceeded to tell us about it briefly. He said, in answer to a question, that he had been in it. 'On which side, Captain'' asked someone. 'Sir!' with some surprise in his voice. 'On which side' 'On our side, sir, of course.' We decided to go over the field, and after breakfast we did. " The Captain walked with us over the ground and showed us the lines of attack and defence; pointed out where the heaviest fighting was done, and gave a graphic account of the whole campaign. It was the only battle-field I had ever been over, and I was so much interested that when I got home I read up the campaign and that set me to reading up on the whole subject of the war. We walked back over the hills, and I never enjoyed a walk more. I felt as if I had got new strength from the cold air. The old fellow stopped at a little house on our way back, and went in whilst we waited. When he came out he had a little bouquet of geranium leaves and lenmon verbena which he had got. I had no- 382 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS ticed them in the window as we went by, and when I saw the way the sick lady looked when he gave them to her, I wished I had brought them instead of him. Some one intent on knowledge asked him how much he paid for them "He said, 'Paid for them! Nothing.' " 'Did you know them before' he asked. " 'No, sir.' That was all. "A little while afterwards I saw him asleep in a seat, but when the train started he got up. " The old Captain by this time owned the car. He was not only an official, he was a host, and he did the honors as if he were in his own house and we were his guests; all was done so quietly and unobtrusively, too; he pulled up a blind here, and drew one down there, just a few inches, 'to give you a little more light on your book, sir';-'to shut out a little of the glare, madam-reading on the cars is a little more trying to the eyes than one is apt to fancy.' He stopped to lean over and tell you that if you looked out of your window you could see what he thought one of the prettiest views in the world; or to mention the fact that on the right was one of the most celebrated old places in the State, a plantation which had once belonged to 383 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS Colonel So-and-So, ' one of the most remarkable men of his day, sir.' "His porter, Nicholas, was his admirable sec- ond; not a porter at all, but a body-servant; as different from the ordinary Pullman-car por- ter as light from darkness. In fact, it turned out that he had been an old servant of the Captain's. I happened to speak of him to the Captain, and he said: 'Yes, sir, he 's a very good boy; I raised him, or rather, my father did; he comes of a good stock; plenty of sense and know their places. ANWhen I came on the road they gave me a mulatto fellow, whom I could n 't stand, one of these young, new, "free-issue" some call them, sir, I believe; I couldn't stand him; I got rid of him. I asked him what was the trouble. 'Oh! no trouble at all, sir; he just did n't know his place, and I taught him. He could read and write a little-a negro is very apt to think, sir, that if he can write he is educated-he could write, and thought he was educated; he chewed a toothpick and thought he was a gentleman. I soon taught him better. He was impertinent, and I put him off the train. After that I told them that I must have my own servant if I was to remain with them, and I got Nick. He is an excellent boy (he was about 384 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS fifty-five). The black is a capital servant, sir, when he has sense, far better than the mulatto.' "I became very intimate with the old fellow. You could not help it. He had a way about him that drew you out. I told him I was going to New Orleans to pay a visit to friends there. He said, 'Got a sweetheart there P I was rather taken aback; but I told him, 'Yes.' He said he knew it as soon as I spoke to him on the platform. He asked me who she was, and I told him her name. He said to me, 'Ah! you lucky dog.' I told him I did not know that I was not most unlucky, for I had no reason to think she was going to marry me. He said, 'You tell her I say you '11 be all right.' I felt better, especially when the old chap said, 'I '11 tell her so myself.' He knew her. She always travelled with him when she came North, he said. "I did not know at all that I was all right; in fact, I was rather low down just then about my chances, which was the only reason I was so anxious to go to New Orleans, and I wanted just that encouragement and it helped me mightily. I began to think Christmas on the cars was n 't quite so bad after all. He drew me on, and before I knew it I had told him all 385 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS about myself. It was the queerest thing; I had no idea in the world of talking about my mat- ters. I had hardly ever spoken of her to a soul; but the old chap had a way of making you feel that he would be certain to understand you, and could help you. He told me about his own case, and it was n't so different from mine. He lived in Virginia before the war; came from up near Lynchburg somewhere; belonged to an old family there, and had been in love with his sweetheart for years, but could never make any impression on her. She was a beautiful girl, he said, and the greatest belle in the country round. Her father was one of the big lawyers there, and had a fine old place, and the stable was always full of horses of the young fellows who used to be coming to see her, and 'she used to make me sick, I tell you,' he said; 'I used to hate 'em all; I was n't afraid of 'em; but I used to hate a man to look at her; it seemed so impudent in him; and I 'd have been jealous if she had looked at the sun. Well, I did n 't know what to do. I 'd have been ready to fight 'em all for her, if that would have done any good, but it wouldn't; I did n't have any right to get mad with 'em for loving her, and if I had got into a row she 'd have sent me off in a jiffy. But just then the 386 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS war came on, and it was a Godsend to me. I went in first thing. I made up my mind to go in and fight like five thousand furies, and I thought maybe that would win her, and it did; it worked first-rate. I went in as a private, and I got a bullet through me in about six months, through my right lung, that laid me off for a year or so; then I went back and the boys made me a lieutenant, and when the captain was made a major, I was made captain. I was offered something higher once or twice, but I thought I'd rather stay with my company; I knew the boys, and they knew me, and we had got sort of used to each other-to depending on each other, as it were. The war fixed me all right, though. When I went home that first time my wife had come right around, and as soon as I was well enough we were married. I always said if I could find that Yankee that shot me I 'd like to make him a present. I found out that the great trouble with nie had been that I had not been bold enough; I used to let her go her own way too much, and seemed to be afraid of her. I was afraid of her, too. I bet that's your trouble, sir: are you afraid of her"' I told him I thought I was. 'Well, sir,' he said, 'it will never do; you must n 't let her think 387 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS that-never. You cannot help being afraid of her, for every man is that; but it is fatal to let her know it. Stand up, sir, stand up for your rights. If you are bound to get down on your knees-and every man feels that he is-don't do it; get up and run out and roll in the dust out- side somewhere where she can't see you. Why, sir,' said he, 'it does n 't do to even let her think she 's having her own way; half the time she 's only testing you, and she does n't really want what she pretends to want. Of course, I 'ma speaking of before marriage; after marriage she always wants it, and she 's going to have it, anyway, and the sooner you find that out and give in, the better. You must consider this, however, that her way after marriage is always laid down to her with reference to your good. She thinks about you a great deal more than you do about her, and she 's always working out something that is for your advantage; she ']1 let you do some things as you wish, just to make you believe you are having your own way, but she 's just been pretending to think otherwise, to make you feel good.' " This sounded so much like sense that I asked him how much a man ought to stand from a woman. 'Stand, sir' he said; 'why, every- 388 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS thing, everything that does not take away his self-respect.' I said I believed if he 'd let a woman do it she 'd wipe her shoes on him. 'Why, of course she will,' he said, 'and why should n't she A man is not good enough for a good woman to wipe her shoes on. But if she's the right sort of a woman she won't do it in company, and she won't let others do it at all; she '11 keep you for her own wiping.' " "There 's a lot of sense in that, Lesponts," said one of his auditors, at which there was a universal smile of assent. Lesponts said lie had found it out, and proceeded. "Well, we got to a little town in Virginia, I forget the name of it, where we had to stop a short time. The Captain had told me that his home was not far from there, and his old com- pany was raised around there. Quite a number of the old fellows lived about there yet, lie said, and he saw some of them nearly every time he passed through, as they 'kept the run of him.' He did not know that. he 'd 'find any of thenm out to-day, as it was Christmas, and they would all be at home,' he said. As the train drew up I went out on the platform, however, and there was quite a crowd assembled. I was surprisedl to find it so quiet, for at other places through 389 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS which we had passed they had been having high jinks: firing off crackers and making things lively. Here the crowd seemed to be quiet and solemn, and I heard the Captain's name. Just then he came out on the platform, and someone called out: 'There he is, now!' and in a second such a cheer went up as you never heard. They crowded around the old fellow and shook hands with him and hugged him as if he had been a girl." "I suppose you have reference to the time before you were married," interrupted some- one, but Lesponts did not heed him. He went on: "It seemed the rumor had got out that morn- ing that it was the Captain's train that had gone off the track and that the Captain had been killed in the wreck, and this crowd had assem- bled to meet the body. 'We were going to give you a big funeral, Captain,' said one old fellow; 'they 've got you while you are living, but we claim you when you are dead. We ain 't going to let 'em have you then. We 're going to put you to sleep in old Virginia.' " The old fellow was much affected, and made them a little speech. He introduced us to them all. He said: 'Gentlemen, these are mny boys, my neighbors and family;' and then, 'Boys, 390 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS these are my friends; I don't know all their names yet, but they are my friends.' And we were. He rushed off to send a telegram to his wife in New Orleans, because, as he said after- wards, she, too, might get hold of the report that he had been killed; and a Christmas mes- sage would set her up, anyhow. She 'd be a little low down at his not getting there, lhe said, as he had never missed a Christmas-day at home since '64. "When dinner-time came he was invited in by pretty nearly everyone in the car, but lie declined; he said he had to attend to a mnatter. I was going in with a party, but I thought the old fellow would be lonely, so I waited and in- sisted on his dining with me. I found that it had occurred to him that a bowl of eggnog would make it seem more like Christmas, and he had telegraphed ahead to a friend at a little place to have 'the materials' ready. Well, they were on hand when we got there, and we took them aboard, and the old fellow made one of the finest eggnogs you ever tasted in your life. The rest of the passengers had no idea of what was going on, and when the old chap came in with a big bowl, wreathed in holly, borne by Nick, and the old Captain 391 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS marching behind, there was quite a cheer. It was offered to the ladies first, of course, and then the men assembled in the smoker and the Captain did the honors. He did them hand- somely, too; made us one of the prettiest little speeches you ever heard; said that Christmas was not dependent on the fireplace, however much a roaring fire might contribute to it; that it was in everyone's heart and might be en- joyed as well in a railway-car as in a hall, and that in this time of change and movement it behooved us all to try and keep up what was good and cheerful and bound us together, and to remember that Christmas was not only a time for merry-making, but was the time when the Saviour of the world came among men to bring peace and good-will, and that we should remember all our friends everywhere. 'And, gentlemen,' he said, 'there are two toasts I al- ways like to propose at this time, and which I will ask you to drink. The first is to my wife.' It was drunk, you may believe. And the second is, 'My friends: all mankind.' This, too, was drunk, and just then someone noticed that the old fellow had nothing but a little water in his glass. 'Why, Captain,' lie said, 'you are not drinking! that is not fair.' 'Well, no, sir,' 392 HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHR'ISTMAS said the old fellow, 'I never drink anything on duty; you see, it is one of the regulations, and I subscribed them, and, of course, I could not break my word. Nick, there, will drink my share, however, when you are through; he is n't held up to quite such high accountability.' And sure enough, Nick drained off a glass and made a speech which got him a handful of quarters. Well, of course, the old Captain owned not only the car, but all in it by this time, and we spent one of the jolliest evenings you ever saw. The glum fellow -who had insisted on his rights at Washington made a little speech, and paid the Captain one of the prettiest compliments I ever heard. He said he had discovered that the Captain had given him his own lower berth after he had been so rude to him, and that instead of taking his upper berth, as lie had supposed he would have done, he had given that to another person and had sat up himself all night. That was I. The old fellow had given the grumbler his 'lower' in the smoking-room, and had given me his 'upper.' The fellow made him a very handsome apology before us all, and the Captain had his own berth that night, you may believe. "Well, we were all on the qiti vive to see the Captain's wife when we got to New Orleans. 393 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS The Captain had told us that she always came down to the station to meet him; so we were all on the lookout for her. He told me the first thing that he did was to kiss her, and then lie went and filed his reports, and then they went home together, 'And if you '11 come and dine with me,' he said to me, 'I '11 give you the best dinner you ever had-real old Virginia cooking; Nick's wife is our only servant, and she is an excellent cook.' I promised him to go one day, though I could not go the first day. Well, the meeting between the old fellow and his wife was worth the trip to New Orleans to see. I had formed a picture in my mind of a queenly looking woman, a Southern matron- you know how you do And when we drew into the station I looked around for her. As I did not see her, I watched the Captain. He got off, and I missed him in the crowd. Pres- ently, though, I saw him and I asked him, 'Captain, is she here' 'Yes, sir, she is, she never misses; that 's the sort of a wife to have, sir; come here and let me introduce you.' He pulled me up and introduced me to a sweet little old lady, in an old, threadbare dress and wrap, and a little, faded bonnet, whom I had seen as we came up, watching eagerly for some- 394 1HOW THE CAPTAIN MAI)E CIIRlISTMAS one, but whom I had not thought of as being possibly the Captain's grand-damie. The Cap- tain 's manner, however, was beautiful. 'My dear, this is my friend, MAr. Lesponts, and lie has promised to come and dine with us,' lie said, with the air of a lord, and then lie leaned over and whispered something to her. 'Why, she 's coming to dine with us to-dav,' she said with a very cheery laugh; and then she turned and ga-ve me a look that swept me fromn top to toe, as if she were weighing me to see if I 'd do. I seemed to pass, for she came forward and greeted me with a charmingn cordiality, and in- vited me to dine with them, saying that her husband had told her I knew Miss So-and-So, and she was coming that day, and if I had no other engagement they would be very glad if I would come that day, too. Then she turned to the Captain and said, 'I saved Christmas dinner for you; for when You did n 't come I knew the calendar and all the rest of the world were wrong; so to-day is our Christmas.' -"Well, that 's all," said Lesponts; "I did not mean to talk so much, but the old Captain is such a character, I wish You could know him. You 'd better believe I went, and I never had a nicer time. They were just as 395 THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS poor as they could be, in one way, but in another they were rich. He had a sweet little home in their three rooms. I found that my friend always dined with them one day in the (Thristmas-week, and I happened to hit that day. " He leaned back. " That was the beginning of my good for- tune," he said, slowly, and then stopped. Most of the party knew Lespont's charming wife, so no further explanation was needed. One of them said presently, however, "Lesponts, why did n 't you fellows get him some better place " "He was offered a place," said Lesponts. "The fellow who had made the row about the lower berth turned out to be a great friend of the head of the Pullman Company, and he got him the offer of a place at three times the salary he got, but after consideration, he declined it. He would have had to come North, and he said that he could not do that: his wife 's health was not very robust and he did not know how she could stand the cold climate; then, she had made her friends, and she was too old to try to make a new set; and finally, their little girl was buried there, and they did not want to leave her; so he declined. When she died, he said, or whichever one of them died first, the other 396 HOW THE CAPTAIN MAI)E CHRISTMAS would come back home to the old place in Vir- ginia, and bring the other two with him, so they could all be at home together again. -Meantime, they were very comfortable and well satisfied." There was a pause after Lesponts ended, and then one of the fellows rang the bell and said, '-Let 's drink the old Captain's health," which was unanimously agreed to. Newton walked over to a table and wrote a note, and then slipped out of the club; and when next day I inquired after him of the boy at the door, hle said lie had left word to tell anyone who asked for him, that he would not be back till after Christmas; that he had gone home to Virginia. Several of the other fellows went off home too, myself among them, and I was glad I did, for I heard one of the men say he never knew the club so deserted as it was that Christmas-dav. 397 a' It -4x -C