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Previous Page)promenaders. The Fort itself is
one of the largest in the United States, being one mile in circumference. It has
lately been the scene of much activity. The garrison has been strengthened, and
new guns mounted; so that now the Fort is in a condition of defense.
WE publish on
page 89 a view of
the city of
Vicksburg, Mississippi, where a battery was recently erected by the
Mississippians, with a view to prevent the navigation of the Mississippi by
vessels carrying United States troops. Vicksburg is a pretty town of some 5000
inhabitants; it is 400 miles front
New Orleans, and is the seat of a flourishing
When the battery was first
erected it was placed above the city ; but the position was afterward changed,
as we learn from the following paragraph in the Vicksburg Whig of 16th :
"The position of the military
companies having been changed to below the steamboat landing, down-stream boats
will not be required to step above the city. Captains should bear in mind that
they will not be permitted to pass down without making a landing here, and not
get below the wharf-boat with their boats before indicating their intention of
stopping. As boats seldom pass here without landing, they will find no trouble
in complying with the above."
The people of the West, who were
not a little concerned at this interference with the navigation of their great
river, were probably somewhat relieved by the following passage in the last
Message of Governor Pettus, of Mississippi :
" I further recommend that the
most prompt and efficient measures be adopted to make known to the people of the
Northwestern States that peaceful commerce on the Mississippi River will be
neither interrupted or annoyed by the authorities or people of Mississippi.
This, in my opinion, will materially aid in preserving peace between the
Northwestern and the
Southern States, if it can be preserved."
THE GRAY WOMAN.
THE blacksmith's forge was in a
shed beside the house, and fronting the road. I heard the hammers stop plying
their continual rhythmical beat. She had seen Why they ceased. A rider had come
up to the forge and dismounted, leading his horse in to be re-shod. The broad
red light of the forge-fire had revealed the face of the rider to Amante, and
she apprehended the consequence that really ensued.
The rider, after some words with
the blacksmith, was ushered in by him into the house-place w here we sat.
" Here, good wife, a cup of wine
and some galette for this gentleman !"
"Any thing, any thing, Madame,
that I can eat and drink in my hand while my horse is being shod. I am in haste,
and must get on to Forbach to-night."
The blacksmith's wife lighted her
lamp ; Amante had asked her for it five minutes before. How thankful we were
that she had not more speedily complied with our request ! As it was, we sat in
dusk shadow, pretending to stitch away, but scarcely able to see. The lamp was
placed on the stove, near which my husband, for it was he, stood and warmed
himself. By-and-by he turned round and looked all over the room, taking us in
with about the same degree of interest as the inanimate furniture. Amante,
cross-legged, fronting him, stooped over her work, whistling softly all the
while. He turned again to the stove, impatiently rubbing his hands. He had
finished his wine and galette, and wanted to be off.
"I ant in haste, my good woman.
Ask thy husband to get on more quickly. I will pay him double if he makes
The woman went out to do his
bidding, and he once more turned round to face us. Amante went on to the second
part of the tune. He took it up, whistled a second for an instant or so, and
then the blacksmith's wife re-entering he moved toward her, as if to receive her
answer the more speedily.
" One moment, Monsieur—only one
moment. There was a nail out of the off fore-shoe which my husband is replacing
; it would delay Monsieur again if that shoe also came off."
" Madame is right," said he, "
but my haste is urgent. If Madame knew my reasons she would pardon my
impatience. Once a happy husband, now a deserted and betrayed man, I pursue a
wife on whom I lavished all my love, but who has abused my confidence, and fled
from my house, doubtless to some paramour, carrying off with her all the jewels
and money on which she could lay her hands. It is possible Madame may have heard
or seen something of her; she was accompanied in her flight by a base,
profligate woman from Paris, whom I, unhappy man, had myself engaged for my
wife's waiting-maid, little dreaming what corruption I was bringing into my
"Is it possible ?" said the good
woman, throwing up her hands.
Amante went on whistling a little
lower, out of respect to the conversation.
"However, I am tracing the wicked
fugitives; I am on their track" (and the handsome effeminate face looked as
ferocious as any demon's). " They will not escape me ; but every minute is a
minute of misery to me till I meet may wife. Madame has sympathy, has she not?"
He drew his face into a hard,
unnatural smile, and then both went out to the forge, as if once more to hasten
the blacksmith over his work.
Amante stopped her whistling for
"Go on as you are, without change
of an eye-lid even; in a few minutes he will be gone, and it will be over !"
It was a necessary caution, for I
was on the point of giving way, and throwing myself weakly upon her neck. We
went on ; she whistling and stitching, I making semblance to sew. And it was
well we did so; for almost directly he came
back for his whip, which he had
laid down and for-gotten ; and again I felt one of those sharp, quick-scanning
glances sent all round the room, and taking in all.
Then we heard him ride away ; and
then—it had been long too dark to see well—I dropped my work and gave way to my
trembling and shuddering. The blacksmith's wife returned. She was a good
creature. Amante told her I was cold and weary, and she insisted on my stopping
my work and going to sit near the stove. To cover my agitation Amante stopped
her whistling and began to talk; and by the time the blacksmith came in she and
the good woman of the house were in full flow. He began at once upon the
handsome gentleman who had paid him so well; all his sympathy was with him, and
both he and his wife only wished he might over-take his wicked wife, and punish
her as site deserved. And then the conversation took a turn not uncommon to
those whose lives are quiet and monotonous ; every one seemed to vie with each
other in telling about some horror ; and the savage and mysterious baud of
robbers called the Chauffeurs, who infested all the roads leading to the Rhine,
with Schinderhannes at their head, furnished many a tale which made the very
marrow of my bones run cold, and quenched even Amante's power of talking. Her
eyes grew large and wild, her cheeks blanched, and for once she sought by her
looks help front me. The new call upon me roused me. I rose and said, with their
permission my husband and I would seek our bed, for that we had traveled far and
were early risers. I added that we would get up betimes, and finish our piece of
work. The blacksmith said we should be early birds if we rose before him ; and
the good wife seconded my proposal with kindly bustle. One other such story as
those they had been relating, and I do believe Amante would have fainted.
As it was, a night's rest set her
up; we arose and finished our work betimes, and shared the plentiful breakfast
of the family. Then we had to set forth again. We came one night to a small
town, with a good large rambling inn in the very centre of the principal street.
We took our supper in the darkest corner of the salle-a-manger, having
previously bargained for a small bedroom across the court, and over the stables.
Just in the middle of our meal the public diligence drove lumbering up under the
porte cochere, and disgorged its passengers. Most of them turned into the room
where we sat cowering and fearful. Among the passengers came in a young
fair-haired lady, attended by an elderly French maid. The poor young creature
tossed her head, and shrank away from the common room, full of evil smells and
promiscuous company, and demanded in German French to be taken to some private
apartment. We heard that she and her maid had come in the coupe, and probably
from pride, poor young lady! she had avoided all association with her
fellow-passengers, thereby exciting their dislike and ridicule. All these little
pieces of hearsay had a significance to us afterward, though at the time the
only remark made that bore upon the future was Amante's whisper to me that the
young lady's hair was exactly the color of mine, which she had cut off and
burned in the stove in the miller's kitchen in one of her descents from our
hiding-place in the loft.
As soon as we could we -struck
round in the shadow, leaving the boisterous and merry fellow-passengers to their
supper. We crossed the court, borrowed a lantern from the hostler, and
scram-bled up the rude steps to our chamber above the stable. There was no door
into it ; the entrance was the hole into which the ladder fitted. The window
looked into the court. We were tired and soon fell asleep. I was wakened by a
noise in the stable below. One instant of listening, and I awakened Amante,
placing my hand on her mouth, to prevent any exclamation in her half-roused
state. We heard my husband speaking about his horse to the hostler. It was his
voice. I am sure of it. Amante said so too. We durst not move to rise and
satisfy ourselves. For five minutes or so he went on giving directions. Then he
left the stable, and softly stealing to our window we saw him cross the court
and re-enter the inn. We consulted as to what we should do. We feared to excite
remark or suspicion by descending and leaving our chamber, or else immediate
escape was our strongest idea. Then the hostler left the stable, locking the
door on the outside.
" We must try and drop through
the window—if, indeed, it is well to go at all," said Amante.
With reflection came wisdom. We
should ex-cite suspicion by leaving without paying our bill. We were on foot,
and might easily be pursued. So we sat on our bed's edge, talking and shivering,
while from across the court the laughter rang merrily, and the company slowly
dispersed one by one, their lights flitting past the windows as they went up
stairs, and settled each one to their rest.
In the dead of night we heard a
soft, cautious step crossing the yard. Amante looked out, but dared not speak a
word. We heard the great door into the street open—a pause for mounting, and the
horse's footsteps were lost in distance.
After that we fell sound asleep.
We slept long and late. We were wakened by many hurrying feet and many confused
voices ; all the world seemed awake and astir. We rose and dressed ourselves,
and coining down we looked around among the crowd collected in the court-yard,
in order to as-sure ourselves lie was not there before we left the shelter of
The instant we were seen two or
three people rushed to us.
" Have you heard ?—Do you know
?—That poor young lady—oh, come and see !" and so we were hurried, almost in
spite of ourselves, across the court and up the great open stairs of the main
building of the inn, into a bedchamber, where lay the beautiful young German
lady, so full of graceful pride the night before, now white and still in death.
By her stood the French maid, crying and gesticulating.
" Oh, Madame ! if you had but
suffered me to stay with yowl Oh ! the baron—what will he
say ?" and so she went on. Her
state had but just been discovered; it had been supposed that she was fatigued,
and was sleeping late, until a few minutes before. The surgeon of the town had
been sent for, and the landlord of the inn was trying vainly to enforce order
until he came, and from time to time drinking little cups of brandy, and
offering them to the guests, who were all assembled there, pretty much as the
servants were doing in the court-yard.
At last the surgeon came. All
fell back, and hung on the words that were to fall from his lips.
"See!" said the landlord. "This
lady came last night by the diligence with her maid. Doubtless a great. lady,
for she must have a private sitting-room—"
"She was Madame the Baroness de
Reeder," said the French maid.
—" And was difficult to please in
the matter of supper, and a sleeping-room. She went to bed well, though
fatigued. Her maid left her—"
" I begged to be allowed to sleep
in her room, as we were in a strange inn, of the character of which we knew
nothing; but she would not let me, my mistress was such a great lady."
—" And slept with my servants,"
continued the landlord. "This morning we thought Madame was still slumbering;
but when eight, nine, ten, and near eleven o'clock came, I bade her maid use my
pass-key and enter her room—"
"The door was not locked, only
closed. And here she was found—dead, is she not, Monsieur?—with her face down on
her pillow, and her beautiful hair all scattered wild ; she never would let me
tie it up, saying it made her head ache. Such hair!" said the waiting-maid,
lifting up a long golden tress and letting it fall again.
I remembered Amante's words the
night before, and crept close up to her.
Meanwhile the doctor was
examining the body underneath the bed-clothes, which the landlord, until now,
had not allowed to be disarranged. The surgeon drew out his hand all bathed and
stained with blood, and holding up a short sharp knife, with a piece of paper
fastened round it.
" Here has been foul play," he
said. " The de-ceased lady has been murdered. 'This dagger was aimed straight at
her heart." Then, putting on his spectacles, he read the writing on the bloody
paper, dimmed and horribly obscured as it was :
Ainsi lee Chauffeurs se vengent.
" Let us go !" said I to Amante.
"Oh, let us leave this horrible place!"
"Wait a little," said she. "Only
a few minutes more. It will be better."
Immediately the voices of all
proclaimed their suspicions of the cavalier who had arrived last the night
before. He had, they said, made so many inquiries about the young lady, whose
supercilious conduct all in the salle-a-manger had been discussing on his
entrance. They were talking about her as we left the room ; he must have come in
directly afterward ; and not until he had learned all about her had he spoken of
the business which necessitated his departure at dawn of day, and made his
arrangements with both landlord and hostler for the possession of the keys of
the stable and porte cochere. In short, there was no doubt as to the murderer,
even before the arrival of the legal functionary who had been sent for by the
surgeon ; but the words on the paper chilled every one with terror. Les
Chauffeurs, who were they? No one knew; some of the gang might even then be in
the room, overhearing, and noting down fresh objects for vengeance. In Germany I
had heard little of this terrible gang, and I had paid no greater heed to the
stories related once or twice about them in Carlsruhe than one does to tales
about ogres. But here in their very haunts I learned the full amount of the
terror they inspired. No one would be legally responsible for any evidence
criminating the murderer. The public prosecutor shrank from the duties of his
office. What do I say ? Neither Amante nor I, knowing far more of the actual
guilt of the man who had killed that poor sleeping young lady, durst breathe a
word. We appeared to be wholly ignorant of every thing : we, who might have told
so much. But lime could we? we were broken down with terrific anxiety and
fatigue, with the knowledge that we, above all, were doomed victims ; and that
the blood heavily dripping from the bed-clothes on to the floor, was dripping
thus out of the poor dead body because when living she had been mistaken for me.
At length Amante went up to the
landlord and asked permission to leave his inn, doing all openly and humbly, so
as to excite neither ill-will nor suspicion. Indeed, suspicion was otherwise
directed, and he willingly gave its leave to depart. A few days afterward we
were across the Rhine, in Germany, making our way toward Frankfort, but still
keeping our disguises, and Amante still working at her trade.
On the way we met a young man, a
wandering journeyman from Heidelberg. I knew him, al-though I did not choose
that he should know me. Amante questioned him about my brother and his wife. Of
course they lived on at the mill ; but the man said (with what truth I know not,
but I believed it firmly at the time) that Babette had completely got the upper
hand of my brother, who only saw through her eyes and heard with her ears. That
there had been much Heidelberg gossip of late days about her sudden intimacy
with a grand French gentleman who had appeared at the mill—a relation by
marriage—married, in fact, to the miller's sister, who, by all accounts, had
behaved abominably and ungratefully. But that was no reason for Babette's
extreme and sudden intimacy with him, going about every where with the French
gentleman ; and since he left (as the Hieidelberger said he knew for a fact)
corresponding with him constantly. Yet her husband saw no harm in it all
seemingly; though, to be sure, he was so out of spirits, what with his father's
death and the news of his sister's infamy, that he hardly knew how to hold up
" Now," said Amante, " all this
proves that M.
de la Tourelle has suspected that
you would go back to the nest in which you were reared, and that he has been
there, and found that you have not yet returned; but probably he still imagines
that you will do so, and has accordingly engaged your sister-in-law as a kind of
informant. Madame has said that her sister-in-law bore her no extreme good-will
; and the defamatory story he has got the start of us in spreading will not tend
to in-crease the favor in which your sister-in-law holds you. No doubt the
assassin was retracing his steps when we met him near Forbach, and having heard
of the poor German lady, with her French maid and her pretty blonde complexion,
he followed her. If Madame will still be guided by me—and, my child, I beg of
you still to trust me," said Amante, breaking out of her respectful formality
into the way of talking more natural to those who had shared and escaped from
common dangers—more natural, too, where the speaker was conscious of a power of
protection which the other did not possess —" we will go on to Frankfort, and
lose ourselves, for a time, at least, in the numbers of people who throng a
great town; and you have told me that Frankfort is a great town. We will still
be husband and wife ; we will take a small lodging, and you shall housekeep and
live in-doors. I, as the rougher and the more alert, will continue my father's
trade, and seek work at the tailors' shops."
I could think of no better plan,
so we followed this out. In a back street at Frankfort we found two furnished
rooms to let on a sixth story. I never stirred abroad, and saw no one, and
Amante's want of knowledge of German kept her in it state of comparative
At length may child was born—my
poor worse than fatherless child. It was a girl, as I had prayed for. I had
feared lest a boy might have something of the tiger nature of its father, but a
girl seemed all my own. And yet not all my own, for the faithful Amante's
delight and glory in-the babe almost exceeded mine; in outward show it certainly
We had not been able to afford
any attendance beyond what a neighboring sage-femme could give, and site came
frequently, bringing in with her a little store of gossip, and wonderful tales
culled out of her own experience, every time. One day she began to tell me about
a great lady in whose service her daughter had lived as scullion, or some such
thing. Such a beautiful lady! with such a hand-some husband ! But grief comes to
the palace as well as to the garret, and why or wherefore no one knew, but
somehow the Baron de Roeder must have incurred the vengeance of the terrible
Chauffeurs; for not many months ago, as Madame was going to see her relations in
Alsace, she was stabbed dead as she lay in bed at some hotel on the road. Had I
not seen it in the Gazette? Had I not heard? Why, she had been told that as far
off as Lyons there were placards offering a heavy reward on the part of the
Baron tie Roeder for information respecting the murderer of his wife. But no one
could help ]him, for all who could bear evidence were in such terror of the
Chauffeurs, there were hundreds of them she had been told, rich and poor, great
gentlemen and peasants, all leagued together by most frightful oaths to hunt to
the death any one who bore witness against them ; so that even they who survived
the tortures to which the Chauffeurs subjected many of the people whom they
plundered dared not to recognize them again, would not dare, even did they see
them at the bar of a court of justice ; for, if one were condemned, were there
not hundreds sworn to avenge his death ?"
I told all this to Amante, and we
began to fear that if M. de la Tourelle, or Lefebvre, or any of the gang at Les
Rochers, had seen these placards, they would know that the poor lady stabbed by
the former was the Baroness the Roeder, and that they would set forth again in
search of time.
This fresh apprehension told on
my health and impeded my recovery. We had so little money we could not call in a
physician, at least not one in established practice. But Amante found out a
young doctor for whom, indeed, she had sometimes worked; and offering to pay him
in kind, she brought him to see me, her sick wife. He was very gentle and
thoughtful, though, like ourselves, very poor. But he gave much time and
consideration to the case, saying once to Amante that he saw my constitution had
experienced some severe shock from which it was probable that my nerves would
never entirely recover. 13y-and-by I shall name this doctor, and then you will
know, better than I can describe, his character.
I grew strong in time—stronger,
at least. I was able to work a little at home, and to sun myself and may baby at
the garret-window in the roof. It was all the air I dared to take.
One day Amante returned from her
work, full of news: she had that day met the traveling jeweler to whom she and I
had sold my ring. It was rather a peculiar one, given to me by my husband ; we
had felt at the time that it might be the means of tracing us, but we were
penniless and starving, and what else could we do? She had seen that this
Frenchman had recognized her at the same instant that site did him, and site
thought at the same time that there was a gleam of more than common intelligence
on his face as he did so. This idea had been confirmed by his following her for
some way on the other side of the street; but she had evaded him with her better
knowledge of the town, and the increasing darkness of the night. Still it was
well that she was going to such a distance from our dwelling on the next day;
and she had brought me in a stock of provisions, begging me to keep within
doors, with a strange kind of fearful oblivion of the fact that 1 had never set
foot beyond the threshold of the house since I had first entered it—scarce ever
ventured down the stairs. But although my poor, my dear, very faithful Amante
was like one possessed that last night., she spoke continually of the dead,
which is a bad sign for the living. She kissed you—yes! it was you, my daughter,
my darling, whom I bore beneath may bosom away from the fearful castle of your
father—I call hint so for the first time, I must call