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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 2, 1861

This site features readable versions of the original issues of Harper's Weekly newspapers from 1861-1865. You can browse these newspapers by topic, or search on a specific topic using the search box on the bottom of this page. We hope you enjoy reading these old newspapers, and gaining perspective on the important people and places of the Civil War.

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The Merrimac

The Merrimac

Closing the Potomac

Rebels Close Potomac

Bolivar

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Artillery

Geary's Artillery

Army of the Potomac

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Tipton

Tipton Missouri

The Merrimac

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Craney

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Civil War Funeral

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Prison Richmond

The Richmond Prison

Rebel Cartoon

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[NOVEMBER 2, 1861.

698

VAYLE VENTNOR, PRIVATE.

THE music wandered off from Flowtow to nearer home, playing the " Star-Spangled Banner" in bold breezy bursts. The large, long hall was filled with the sweet sharp shocks of the cymbals, the bright blowing of the bugles, and the great drum-beats rolling through.

People let their thoughts flow forth to meet the music, as suited them best, out upon the piazzas, in the parlors, or in the large, long hall.

Walking up and down the latter, a girl voice went singing the first line,

" Oh say, can you see by the dawn's early light ?" then ceasing, beating her palms together in time with the striking cymbals, she says,

" Oh, isn't it lovely ?" lingering in a pretty drawl upon the " lovely."

The gentleman walking beside her looked down, smiling mischief, as he replied,

" Very lovely, Carlotta, sing it again."

"Nonsense! I do not mean my singing. Ah, but you know that I don't!" looking up laughing into the laughing face.

He bent lower, and more meaningly returned, "But I mean the singing. I like it better than the band."

" No, no, don't talk so, but listen—ah, it is divine ! divine ! better than any music in the world. I don't wonder, listening to it, that soldiers realize all the excitement and not the danger when they march to the battle-field to such inspiring strains. Raymond, how did you feel when the men were dropping round you at Manassas ?"

" Oh, as most men feel ; after the first shock and dread passes the nerves grow steady. Thus easily we get careless of human lives."

"Ah no, I do not think it is that; I think the soul rises to the occasion. But will you go again ?"

" If I can get a commission, yes ; if not, no."

" Why will you not go if you do not get a commission ?"

" Well, I don't like the associations generally as private. It's too hard work, and if I risk my life I want to choose the way."

" Yes, I see," she answered, absently, as if she did not half see."

" You would be glad to have me go, Carlotta ?" bending again, with eager interest. She knew what he meant, and a little color of crimson fused into the faint pink cheek, and she unfurled her fan with a quick, nervous slide, as she replied,

"I would be glad for every man to go that can, specially those without wives and children."

"They may have mothers ; you forget that," he said, with an irritated, jeering sort of a laugh.

But she was very serious, almost solemn, as she returned,

"Yes, that is very true ; I didn't forget. My brother went, you know ; and he goes again, with our mother's consent."

"I know." That was all he said, but it was said in softer accents, under conviction.

Then in a moment more he began,

"And the tie of a lover, Carlotta." A little tinkling clash, and the pretty pearl fan was lying broken upon the floor, making grievous interruption. Swinging it to and fro, it had swung far out, and fell at a gentleman's feet who was sitting on one of the side couches. He brought it to her, and received a little airy "Thank you," and a smile of which her companion looked envious.

"I wonder who he is?" she exclaimed, watching the " gentleman" as he returned down the hall. " I've noticed him sitting there all the evening."

"Have you?" with satiric emphasis, to which she paid no attention, but went on heedlessly:

"Yes; and did you see what an air he has—how loftily he carries his head ? Military, too, do you notice ? He must be a new arrival."

" Very likely," was the reply, crossly enough now, and snapping two or three more sticks of the fan he had taken from her. Whereupon such a cunning little smile went flashing whiter pearls than he held into view, and a pair of merry brown eyes dropped their white curtains, for modesty's sake.

The gentleman who had been the innocent cause of all this, from his place on one of the side couches, observed the pantomime of the conversation with an odd senile curling his heavy mustache. It was evident that he understood.

On the next morning Miss Carlotta Delevan-in other words, Miss Charlotte, the sweet Spanish rendering being the work of her Cuban nurse—might have been seen, somewhere after breakfast, when the halls are mostly vacant, running her little finger down the list of arrivals, as she leaned over the office-desk.

There were Smiths, and Smythes, and aristocratic Howards, and Vans, and the Parisian De', but only one military Captain Jones; and following this, making it more noticeable from the sharp contrast of euphony, was one name, the last, Vayle Ventnor.

"Vayle Ventnor!" She ran it over in her mind. The oddest name in the world. But she had found what she sought; her military hero of the lofty carriage was Captain Jones. So, satisfied, she went sauntering out upon the piazza and met the military hero, " Captain Jones," sauntering too. She drooped her pretty head in pretty remembrance, and received a most graceful "reverence" in return; then with gentlemanly courtesy he turned off from his walk, leaving her alone.

So she sauntered slowly, thinking, " There's something fine about the man—not so handsome though as Raymond Mays; horrid name too, 'Jones!' Heigh-ho !" yawning, "I wish I had the morning's paper. Ah ! there comes Raymond ; I'll ask him. Raymond," nodding and smiling her greeting, "is that the paper you have? Yes? Thank you !" nodding again, and dropping into a chair to unfold and look it over, talking meanwhile to Raymond, who seated himself near.

Looking down a list of soldiers, what should she come upon but those two names again. First, among the officers, "Jeremiah Jones, Captain ;" then, lower down, " Vayle Ventnor, Private."

This Captain Jones, how he haunted her. Jeremiah Jones, think of that ! she thought, and laughed outright, a little tinkle of merriment.

"What is it so funny, Carlotta? I couldn't find any thing funny there. You get all the sun-shine of life. What is it ?" bending over.

But Carlotta chose not to tell; so she put a little slim hand between his eyes and the paper, saying, with merry malice, "Curious?"

"No; only interested in what interests you. I want to catch your sunny way. Can't you teach me how ?"

" Yes," demurely, "I'll teach you to catch it," rolling the paper into a ball, and tossing it lightly to him.

He caught the paper and the fun too, tossing it back again softly. And to and fro they kept it going a moment, until, in a backward bend of her head, all laughing and flushed and breeze-ruffled as the head was, she received a glance of admiration from a bearded face looking clown from an upper window upon their laughing play. It was sheer admiration, nothing less, for the girl herself in all her bright momentary abandon. As she met it her color rose naturally; she dropped her eyes to raise them again furtively, but the gazer had withdrawn.

Captain Jones again. It was very funny.

And then there rushed over her mind—" CAPTAIN JEREMIAH JONES !" and another little peal of laughter tinkled forth.

" What does possess you, la Carlotta, this morning ?" young Mays questioned, smilingly.

She drew a long face, and answered,

"Captain Jeremiah Jones possesses me, Raymond!" And flinging down the paper, she ran away, tinkling forth her laugh again to her hearer's utter mystification.

So she ran up the stairs, along the halls and passages, laughing still for the very drollery of the whole thing—laughing, and saying over gleefullv, "Captain Jeremiah Jones, Captain Jeremiah Jones," when Captain Jeremiah Jones, a sudden turn around a corner, nearly ran her down. Off came the plumed hat, and pardon was asked very humbly, with " I hope I haven't hurt you ; it was very awkward of me, but your step was so light, and mine so heavy." She leaned against the wall, not hurt, but so startled that she couldn't speak for a moment.

She was hurt, then, the thought, and very gravely and respectfully he approached to offer some assistance, when she regained herself, and, explaining, sped away. Bursting into her room, the persistent oddity of the affair overcame her again, and she flung herself in another peal of laughter upon the bed. Her mother looked up in amaze, asking Raymond's question : "What does possess you, Carlotta ?" With a little silver shout she answered, "Captain Jeremiah Jones possesses me, mamma;" and as soon as she was able to speak further she gave " mamma" a history of her adventures with the above gentleman. "Mamma" took the sunshine of life like her daughter; so there were a pair of laughers when she had ended.

The unconscious cause of all this, standing at the office lighting a cigar, heard the merriment, and, recognizing one voice, wondered what it was about.

After dinner a servant handed her a card: "Ward Wyman." She ran down gleefully, for Ward Wyman was an old friend, and there she found him in close conversation with Captain Jeremiah Jones, who was for turning away as the lady approached, but staid at the peremptory command of Mr. Wyman, and the words, "I want you two to know each other. Carlotta, this is my friend Ventnor—Vavle Ventnor, Miss Charlotte Delevan." The gentleman bowed lowly, "was very happy, etc.;" but Carlotta was too amazed to say a word, and all the while trying in vain to control the merriment that dimpled round her mouth. Through her mind went running, "Captain Jeremiah Jones!"

That night when Mays, Raymond Mays, came up to their hotel she had to tell him the whole story : it was too funny to keep. How he laughed ! "Why, you little goose, can't you tell an officer's dress frond a private's ?"

"No, indeed: how should I ?" she answered.

"Ventnor? Ventnor?" he repeated. "Ward"-to Wyman, who was just passing-" who is this fellow?"

"What fellow ?"

"This Ventnor?"

Ward Wyman twinkled with suppressed amusement.

"

"This fellow, Mays, is the son of Richmond Ventnor, whose house you visited with me, in Paris, five years ago."

"The dickens it is! What in the world is his son serving merely as a private for."

" You must ask him."

"Why his income must be a small fortune, and his associations and family advantages such that he might have almost any post. What does he mean?"

Thus, in his surprise, Raymond Mays ran on, unconscious that he was adding still more interest to the quondam Captain in the mind of Carlotta.

He saw his mistake by-and-by, when the band struck up "Die Schonbrunner," and passing by, Vayle Ventnor, encouraged by the cordial smile that greeted him from his Carlotta, approached and asked her, "Would she honor him with two or three turns?" adding, apologetically, "that he was scarcely a fit cavalier for a lady in his rough soldier's costume." But Carlotta thought differently, and said something very pretty and patriotic to hint as she accepted the imitation. The fact was, Carlotta was wild with curiosity to know how such a Fortune favorite came to be in his present position, as "Vayle Ventnor, Private;" and so she determined to follow up the acquaintance till she had satisfied her Eve-like propensity. It wasn't a pleasant waltz to one person there. Raymond Mays stood chewing the cud of bitter reflection. Poor Mays ! he thought he was dying for Carlotta Delevan; and perhaps he was, but it would be an easy (Next Page)

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