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Harper's Weekly Newspaper Describing Vicksburg Mississippi

The February 9, 1861 Edition of Harper's Weekly

Biographies of Seceding Alabama Delegation | Civil War News, February 9, 1861 | Captain Foster News Article | Iowa Indian Agency | Secession News | Louisiana Secession | Confederate State House, Montgomery Alabama | Vicksburg During Civil War | Vicksburg, Mississippi Civil War News | Civil War Iron Clads | Civil War Iron Clad Story in Harper's Weekly | Civil War Slave Cartoon

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[FEBRUARY 9, 1861.

90

(Continued from 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.

VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI.

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 cotton trade.

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.

[CONCLUDED.]

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 haste."

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 house !"

"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 one instant.

"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 stable.

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 :

NUMERO UN.

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 his head.

" 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 isolation,

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 did.

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


 

 

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