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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 23, 1862

Welcome to the Civil War Harper's Weekly online newspapers. These newspapers contain rich illustrations and descriptions of the key events of the Civil War. They are a critical resource that can be used to develop an in depth understanding of the key issues of the conflict.

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US Capitol

The US Capitol

Battle of Cedar Mountain

Battle of Cedar Mountain

The Battle of Culpepper

The Battle of Culpepper

Edmund Ruffin House Burned

Edmund Ruffin's House Burned

Ironclad Navy

Ironclad Navy

Cannon

Cannon

Abraham Lincoln Speech

Abraham Lincoln Speech

Edmund Ruffin House Burning

Edmund Ruffin's House Burning

Army of the Potomac at Harrison's Landing

Army of the Potomac Camp at Harrison's Landing

Heron Creek new Harrison's Landing

Heron Creek

Map of Richmond Virginia

Map of Richmond Virginia

Steinway Pianos

Steinway Pianos

Elisha Hinman

Elisha Hinman

Civil War Draft Cartoons

Draft Cartoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST 23, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

539

will consent to join us. We propose leaving Aldborough punctually at eleven o'clock.

"Believe me, dear Sir, your humble servant,

"VIRGINIE LECOUNT."

"Who is the letter from?" asked Magdalen, noticing a change in Captain Wragge's face as he read it. "What do they want with us at Sea-View Cottage?"

"Pardon me," said the captain, gravely, " this requires consideration. Let me have a minute or two to think."

He took a few turns up and down the room—then suddenly stepped aside to a table in a corner, on which his writing materials were placed. "I was not born yesterday, ma'am!" said the captain, speaking jocosely to himself. He winked his brown eye, took up his pen, and wrote the answer.

"Can you speak now?" inquired Magdalen, when the servant had left the room. "What does that letter say, and how have you answered it?"

The captain placed the letter in her hand. "I have accepted the invitation," he replied, quietly.

Magdalen read the letter. "Hidden enmity yesterday," she said, "and open friendship to-day. What does it mean?"

"It means," said Captain Wragge, "that Mrs. Lecount is even sharper than I thought her. She has found you out."

"Impossible!" cried Magdalen. " Quite impossible in the time!"

"I can't say how she has found you out," proceeded the captain, with perfect composure. "She may know more of your voice than we supposed she knew. Or she may have thought us, on reflection, rather a suspicious family; and any thing suspicious, in which a woman was concerned, may have taken her mind back to that morning call of yours in Vauxhall Walk. Whichever way it may be, the meaning of this sudden change is clear enough. She has found you out, and she wants to put her discovery to the proof by slipping in an awkward question or two, under cover of a little friendly talk. My experience of humanity has been a varied one, and Mrs. Lecount is not the first sharp practitioner in petticoats whom I have had to deal with. All the world's a stage, my dear girl, and one of the scenes on our little stage is shut in from this moment."

With those words he took his copy of Joyce's Scientific Dialogues out of his pocket. "You're done with already, my friend!" said the captain, giving his useful information a farewell smack with his hand, and locking it up in the cupboard. "Such is human popularity!" continued the indomitable vagabond, putting the key cheerfully in his pocket. "Yesterday Joyce was my all-in-all. To-day I don't care that for him!" He snapped his fingers and sat down to breakfast.

"I don't understand you," said Magdalen, looking at him angrily. "Are you leaving me to my own resources for the future?"

"My dear girl!" cried Captain Wragge, "can't you accustom yourself to my dash of humor yet? I have done with my ready-made science, simply because I am quite sure that Mrs. Lecount has done believing in me. Haven't I accepted the invitation to Dunwich? Make your mind easy. The help I have given you already counts for nothing compared with the help I am going to give you now. My honor is concerned in bowling out Mrs. Lecount. This last move of hers has made it a personal matter between us. The woman actually thinks she can take me in!!!" cried the captain, striking his knife-handle on the table in a transport of virtuous indignation. "By Heavens, I never was so insulted before in my life! Draw your chair in to the table, my dear, and give me half a minute's attention to what I have to say next."

Magdalen obeyed him. Captain Wragge cautiously lowered his voice before he went on.

"I have told you all along," he said, "the one thing needful is never to let Mrs. Lecount catch you with your wits wool-gathering. I say the same, after what has happened this morning. Let her suspect you! I defy her to find a fragment of foundation for her suspicions unless we help her. We shall see to-day if she has been foolish enough to betray herself to her master before she has any facts to support her. I doubt it. If she has told him, we will rain down proofs of our identity with the Bygraves on his feeble little head till it absolutely aches with conviction. You have two things to do on this excursion. First, to distrust every word Mrs. Lecount says to you. Secondly, to exert all your fascinations, and make sure of Mr. Noel Vanstone, dating from to-day. I will give you the opportunity when we leave the carriage and take our walk at Dunwich. Wear your hat, wear your smile; do your figure justice, lace tight; put on your neatest boots and brightest gloves; tie the miserable little wretch to your apron-string—tie him fast; and leave the whole management of this matter after that to me. Steady! here is Mrs. Wragge: we must be doubly careful in looking after her now. Show me your cap, Mrs. Wragge! show me your shoes! What do I see on your apron? A spot? I won't have spots! Take it off after breakfast and put on another. Pull your chair to the middle of the table—more to the left—more still. Make the breakfast."

At a quarter before eleven Mrs. Wragge (with her own entire concurrence) was dismissed to the back-room, to bewilder herself over the science of dressmaking for the rest of the day. Punctually as the clock struck the hour Mrs. Lecount and her master drove up to the gate of North Shingles, and found Magdalen and Captain Wragge waiting for them in the garden.

On the way to Dunwich nothing occurred to disturb the enjoyment of the drive. Mr. Noel Vanstone was in excellent health and high good-

humor. Lecount had apologized for the little misunderstanding of the previous night; Lecount had petitioned for the excursion as a treat to herself. He thought of these concessions, and looked at Magdalen, and smirked and simpered without intermission. Mrs. Lecount acted her part to perfection. She was motherly with Magdalen, and tenderly attentive to Noel Vanstone. She was deeply interested in Captain Wragge's conversation, and meekly disappointed to find it turn on general subjects to the exclusion of science. Not a word or look escaped her which hinted in the remotest degree at her real purpose. She was dressed with her customary elegance and propriety; and she was the only one of the party on that sultry summer's day who was perfectly cool in the hottest part of the journey.

As they left the carriage on their arrival at Dunwich, the captain seized a moment when Mrs. Lecount's eye was off him and fortified Magdalen by a last warning word.

" 'Ware the cat!" he whispered. "She will show her claws on the way back."

They left the village and walked to the ruins of a convent near at hand—the last relic of the once-populous city of Dunwich which has survived the destruction of the place centuries since by the all-devouring sea. After looking at the ruins they sought the shade of a little wood between the village and the low sand-hills which overlook the German Ocean. Here Captain Wragge manoeuvred so as to let Magdalen and Noel Vanstone advance some distance in front of Mrs. Lecount and himself—took the wrong path, and immediately lost his way with the most consummate dexterity. After a few minutes wandering (in the wrong direction) he reached an open space near the sea, and politely opening his camp-stool for the housekeeper's accommodation, proposed waiting where they were until the missing members of the party came that way and discovered them.

Mrs. Lecount accepted the proposal. She was perfectly well aware that her escort had lost himself on purpose; but that discovery exercised no disturbing influence on the smooth amiability of her manner. Her day of reckoning with the captain had not come yet—she merely added the new item to her list, and availed herself of the camp-stool. Captain Wragge stretched himself in a romantic attitude at her feet; and the two determined enemies (grouped like two lovers in a picture) fell into as easy and pleasant a conversation as if they had been friends of twenty years' standing.

"I know you, ma'am!" thought the captain, while Mrs. Lecount was talking to him. "You would like to catch me tripping in my ready-made science, and you wouldn't object to drown me in the Professor's Tank!"

"You villain with the brown eye and the green!" thought Mrs. Lecount, as the captain caught the ball of conversation in his turn; "thick as your skin is I'll sting you through it yet!" In this frame of mind toward each other, they talked fluently on general subjects, on public affairs, on local scenery, on society in England and society in Switzerland, on health, climate, books, marriage, and money—talked without a moment's pause, without a single misunderstanding on either side for nearly an hour before Magdalen and Noel Vanstone strayed that way and made the party of four complete again.

When they reached the Inn at which the carriage was waiting for them, Captain Wragge left Mrs. Lecount in undisturbed possession of her master and signed to Magdalen to drop back for a moment and speak to him.

"Well?" asked the captain in a whisper; "is he fast to your apron-string?"

She shuddered from head to foot as she answered.

"He has kissed my hand," she said. "Does that tell you enough? Don't let him sit next me on the way home! I have borne all I can bear—spare me for the rest of the day."

"I'll put you on the front seat of the carriage," replied the captain, "side by side with me."

On the journey back Mrs. Lecount verified Captain Wragge's prediction. She showed her claws.

The time could not have been better chosen; the circumstances could hardly have favored her more. Magdalen's spirits were depressed; she was weary in body and mind; and she sat exactly opposite the housekeeper—who had been compelled by the new arrangement to occupy the seat of honor next her master. With every facility for observing the slightest changes that passed over Magdalen's face, Mrs. Lecount tried her first experiment by leading the conversation to the subject of London, and to the relative advantages offered to residents by the various quarters of the metropolis on both sides of the river. The ever-ready Wragge penetrated her intention sooner than she had anticipated, and interposed immediately. "You're coming to Vauxhall Walk, ma'am," thought the captain; "I'll get there before you."

He entered at once into a purely fictitious description of the various quarters of London in which he had himself resided, and adroitly mentioning Vauxhall Walk as one of them, saved Magdalen from the sudden question relating to that very locality with which Mrs. Lecount had proposed startling her to begin with. From his residences he passed smoothly to himself, and poured his whole family history (in the character of Mr. Bygrave) into the housekeeper's ears —not forgetting his brother's grave in Honduras, with the monument by the self-taught negro artist, and his brother's hugely corpulent widow, on the ground-floor of the boarding-house at Cheltenham. As a means of giving Magdalen time to compose herself this outburst of autobiographical information attained its object, but it answered no other purpose. Mrs. Lecount listened, without being imposed on by a

single word the captain said to her. He merely confirmed her conviction of the hopelessness of taking Noel Vanstone into her confidence before she had facts to help her against Captain Wragge's otherwise unassailable position in the identity which he had assumed. She quietly waited until he had done, and then returned to the charge.

"It is a coincidence that your uncle should once have resided in Vauxhall Walk," she said, addressing herself to Magdalen. "My master has a house in the same place; and we lived there before we came to Aldborough. May I inquire, Miss Bygrave, whether you know any thing of a lady named Miss Garth?"

This time she put time question before the captain could interfere. Magdalen ought to have been prepared for it by what had already passed in her presence; but her nerves had been shaken by the earlier events of the day, and she could only answer the question in the negative, after an instant's preliminary pause to control herself. Her hesitation was of too momentary a nature to attract the attention of any unsuspicious person. But it lasted long enough to confirm Mrs. Lecount's private convictions, and to encourage her to advance a little further.

"I only asked," she continued, steadily fixing her eyes on Magdalen, steadily disregarding the efforts which Captain Wragge made to join in the conversation, "because Miss Garth is a stranger to me, and I am curious to find out what I can about her. The day before we left town, Miss Bygrave, a person who presented herself under the name I have mentioned, paid us a visit under very extraordinary circumstances."

With a smooth, ingratiating manner, with a refinement of contempt that was little less than devilish in its ingenious assumption of the language of pity, she now boldly described Magdalen's appearance in disguise, in Magdalen's own presence. She slightingly referred to the master and mistress of Combe-Raven as persons who had always annoyed the elder and more respectable branch of the family; she mourned over the children as following their parents' example, and attempting to take a mercenary advantage of Mr. Noel Vanstone under the protection of a respectable person's character and a respectable person's name. Cleverly including her master in the conversation, so as to prevent the captain from effecting a diversion in that quarter; sparing no petty aggravation, striking at every tender place which the tongue of a spiteful woman can wound, she would, beyond all doubt, have carried her point, and tortured Magdalen into openly betraying herself, if Captain Wragge had not checked her in full career by a loud exclamation of alarm and a sudden clutch at Magdalen's wrist.

"Ten thousand pardons, my dear madam!" cried the captain. "I see in my niece's race, I feel in my niece's pulse, that one of her violent neuralgic attacks has come on again. My dear girl! Why hesitate among friends to confess that you are in pain? What mistimed politeness! Her face shows she is suffering—doesn't it, Mrs. Lecount? Darting pains, Mr. Vanstone, darting pains on the left side of the head. Pull down your veil, my dear, and lean on me. Our friends will excuse you; our excellent friends will excuse you for the rest of the day."

Before Mrs. Lecount could throw an instant's doubt on the genuineness of the neuralgic attack her master's fidgety sympathy declared itself exactly as the captain had anticipated, in the most active manifestations. He stopped the carriage, and insisted on an immediate change in the arrangement of the places—the comfortable back seat for Miss Bygrave and her uncle, the front seat for Lecount and himself. Had Lecount got her smelling-bottle? Excellent creature! Let her give it directly to Miss Bygrave, and let the coachman drive carefully. If the coachman shook Miss Bygrave he should not have a half-penny for himself. Mesmerism was frequently useful in these cases. Mr. Noel Vanstone's father had been the most powerful mesmerist in Europe, and Mr. Noel Vanstone was his father's son. Might he mesmerize? Might he order that infernal coachman to draw up in a shady place adapted for the purpose? Would medical help be preferred? Could medical help be found any nearer than Aldborough? That ass of a coachman didn't know. Stop every respectable man who passed in a gig, and ask him it' he was a doctor! So Mr. Noel Vanstone ran on—with brief intervals for breathing-time—in a continually ascending scale of sympathy and self-importance throughout the drive home.

Mrs. Lecount accepted her defeat without uttering a word. From the moment when Captain Wragge interrupted her her thin lips closed, and opened no more for the remainder of the journey. The warmest expressions of her master's anxiety for the suffering young lady provoked from her no outward manifestations of anger. She took as little notice of him as possible. She paid no attention whatever to the captain, whose exasperating consideration for his vanquished enemy made him more polite to her than ever. The nearer and the nearer they got to Aldborough, the more and more fixedly Mrs. Lecount's hard black eyes looked at Magdalen reclining on the opposite seat, with her eyes closed and her veil down. It was only when the carriage stopped at North Shingles, when Captain Wragge was handing Magdalen out, that the housekeeper at last condescended to notice him. As he smiled and took off his hat at the carriage-door the strong restraint she had laid on herself suddenly gave way, and she flashed one look at him which scorched up the captain's politeness on the spot. He turned at once, with a hasty acknowledgment of Noel Vanstone's last sympathetic inquiries, and took Magdalen into the house.

"I told you she would show her claws," he said. "It is not my fault that she scratched you

before I could stop her. She hasn't hurt you, has she?"

"She has hurt me to some purpose," said Magdalen—"she has given me the courage to go on. Say what must be done to-morrow, and trust me to do it." She sighed heavily as she said those words, and went up to her room.

Captain Wragge walked meditatively into the parlor and sat down to consider. He felt by no means so certain as he could have wished of the next proceeding on the part of the enemy after the defeat of that day. The housekeeper's farewell look had plainly informed him that she was not at the end of her resources yet, and the old militiaman felt the full importance of preparing himself in good time to meet the next step which she took in advance. He lit a cigar, and bent his wary mind on the dangers of the future.

While Captain Wragge was considering in the parlor at North Shingles, Mrs. Lecount was meditating in her bedroom at Sea View. Her exasperation at the failure of her first attempt to expose the conspiracy had not blinded her to the instant necessity of making a second effort before Noel Vanstone's growing infatuation got beyond her control. The snare set for Magdalen having failed, the chance of entrapping Magdalen's sister was the next chance to try. Mrs. Lecount ordered a cup of tea, opened her writing-case, and began the rough draught of a letter to be sent to Miss Vanstone: the elder by the morrow's post.

So the day's skirmish ended. The heat of the battle was yet to come.

"PARVULI."

STREAMETH the sunset through the pane, Glitter the drops of summer-rain,

That, soothing, fall in sparkling shower Upon the couching Passion-flower.

As pensive, but not sad, I muse

Upon—a tiny pair of shoes!

A tiny white-laced frock. Ah ! well,

I love the pretty "bagatelle!"

A cradle-couch beside my knee,

A tiny home of mystery;

The little fingers in their clasp

The coverlet unconscious grasp.

As yet unwaked, the soul within

Her Chrysalis lies slumbering.

The first blush of that opening rose—

Who dreams what in the casket grows?

 

A solemn trust!—and yet how dear!

Ah! but for children blooming here

This earth a joyless earth would be, And life itself a vacancy!

'Tis little fingers mould us all,

'Tis little voices heavenward call,

'Tis little hearts that heaven prepare, And little angels lead us there!

WAR MEETING AT WASHINGTON.

ON page 529 we give an illustration of the GREAT WAR MEETING which was held at Washington on 6th. It was a large and most enthusiastic gathering, and the feeling in favor of the thorough prosecution of the war was unanimous. The President was present, and in compliance with the earnest request of the crowd, made a few remarks as follows:

FELLOW-CITIZENS,—I believe there is no precedent for my appearing before you on this occasion—[applause]—but it is also true that there is no precedent for your being here yourselves—[applause and laughter]—and I offer in justification of myself and of you that, upon examination, I have found nothing in the Constitution against it. [Renewed applause.] I, however, have an impression that there are younger gentleman who will entertain you better—[voices—"No, no: none can do better than yourself; go on!"]—and better address your understanding than I will or could, and therefore I propose but to detain you a moment longer. [Cries—"Go on! Tar and feather the rebels !"] I am very little inclined on any occasion to say any thing unless I hope to produce some good by it. [A voice—"You do that. Go on!"] The only thing I think of just now not likely to be better said by some one else is a matter in which we have heard some other persons blamed for what I did myself. [Voice—"What is it?"] There has been a very wide-spread attempt to have a quarrel between General McClellan and the Secretary of War. Now, I occupy a position that enables me to believe at least these two gentlemen are not nearly so deep in the quarrel as some presuming to be their friends. [Cries of "Good!"] General McClellan's attitude is such that in the very selfishness of his nature he can not but wish to be successful —and I hope he will—and the Secretary of War is precisely in the same situation. If the military commanders in the field can not be successful, not only the Secretary of War, but myself, for the time being the master of them both, can not be but failures. [Laughter and applause.] I know General McClellan wishes to be successful, and I know he does not wish it any more than the Secretary of War for him, and both of them together no more than I wish it. [Applause and cries of "Good!"] Sometimes we have a dispute about how many men General McClellan has had, and those who would disparage him say he has had a very large number, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War insist that General McClellan has had a very small number. The basis for this is, there is always a wider difference, and, on this occasion, perhaps a wide one between the grand total on McClellan's rolls and the men actually fit for duty; and those who would disparage him talk of the grand total on paper, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War talk of those at present fit for duty. General McClellan has sometimes asked for things that the Secretary of War did not give him. General McClellan is not to blame for asking for what he wanted and needed, and the Secretary of War is not to blame for not giving when he had none to give. [Applause, laughter, and cried of "Good, good!"] And I say here, so far as I know, the Secretary of War has withheld no one thing at any time in my power to give him. [Wild applause, and a voice—"Give him enough now!"] I have no accusation against him. I believe he is a brave and able man—[applause]—and I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself what has been charged on the Secretary of War as withholding from him. I have talked longer than I expected to do—[cries of "No," "no;'' "go on!"] and now I avail myself of my privilege of saying no more.


 

 

  

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