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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 22, 1862

This site features online versions of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the day, and we are making this incredible resource available for your study and perusal.

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Fort Henry

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Skating

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P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum Advertisement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY 22, 1862.]

123

"If you wish it, grandfather," she said, rather mournfully.

"The old man laid a trembling hand upon her shoulder, and said, in a low, moved voice:

"They want you to love them more than me, Patty! They want to take away your love from me, Patty. Don't let them; don't, there's a dear lamb! I'm a very old man, Patty, and troublesome, very likely, and hard to please sometimes; but I'm your grandfather—I'm your poor mother's father—and they're strangers, quite strangers. They're not blood-kin to you in any way, my dear. Don't get to love them more than me—don't, Patty. I want all your love, every bit, my child. You must love no one else—nothing else—only me, Patty !"

She looked into his face in a strange, scared way. For a moment there was the gleam as of tears in her eyes. Then she let fall the rose, and they went on again.

" Who's that coming along behind us, Patty?" asked Mr. Bryce.

Patty turned. She saw a young man following them, who stopped when he came to where she had dropped Farmer Barford's rose. Could she be mistaken? It seemed to her that he picked up the fallen flower, and thrust it into his breast-pocket. Again Patty blushed. She was rather given to blushing; and there was a slight falter in her voice as she said,

"It's the young man lodging at Todd's the wheel-wright's."

"Do you know his name, my dear?"

"I think it's Becket; at least, so Mr. Barford said."

What a splendid color adorned Patty's cheeks! The old man muttered something, It sounded very like "Bother Mr. Barford!" Perhaps it was even a more forcible expression. Probably the army at Seringapatam was accustomed to hear and to use rather strong language. I can find no other excuse for him.

II.

WAS it from pure chance only that there came that beautiful glow on Patty's face—that brilliant gleam in Patty's eyes—when she mentioned the name of the young man lodging "over at Todd's the wheel-wright's?"

Mrs. Barford was right. Certainly Mr. Becket -"stoodent chap," as she called him—looked "poorly like;" had "a sickerly sort o' look," according to Mr. Barford. It was a very white face that had appeared over the chancel-pew door every now and then, during the morning ministration of the Rev. Morris Baldersby, for it was occasionally only that the members of his flock were visible to each other, the partitions between them were so high. During the Litany, for instance, the whole congregation were lost to view—secreted at the bottom of their pews—like solitary half-pence in separate money-boxes. But during the singing of the Psalms, pale Mr. Becket could be seen by all. He owned a handsome face, though it was so white. A little too womanly and delicate, perhaps, and wanned by illness apparently—yet certainly handsome, if only from its refinement and expression. Fair hair, a slender figure, and thin, white, nervous hands that matched the clergyman's, only they were without their tremor. Mrs. Barford had quick eyes. Did she notice that when Patty's singing from her seat near the communion-table drew Mr. Bryce's approving gaze upon her, that Mr. Becket's eyes also turned in the same direction—with looks of admiration of a very ardent kind indeed! But, perhaps, Mrs. Barford was a woman of discretion. It is as well not to see too much. It is as well to let some events occur without comment.

III.

WHO was Mr. Becket? He had come down from London in bad health; he had taken lodgings at Todd's; he was studying law.

Looking from the window at the back of Todd's house, it was not possible not to see ex-Sergeant-Major Bryce's garden; still less was it possible not to see Patty Dean if she happened to be in her grandfather's garden—and she was there very often.

The student sat at his window poring over a thick book—an ugly-looking book—bound in what is known as law calf, with the name on a red label at the back. He leaned his head upon his hand, clutching a handful of his long, light hair, and frowning as he read, curving his back and twisting his legs together after the usual inevitable unwise manner of students. It was very still. The soft-scented air blowing gently in at the open casement, fanning the student's white face—only the noise of the stray jasmine branch, that would tap now and then upon the panes, or the buzzing of the loaded bee bungling at the glass striving to burst his way through and make free with the flowers inside the room; or now and then the glad notes of that intrepid aeronaut, the lark, high up above—a musical rocket—raining down sparks of song upon the world. It would be very pleasant to be atop of the purple hill at the back of the cottage, breathing the air at very first hand, as it were—while it was yet virginal and new—untaxed and unsoiled; or to be on one's back in the shade, watching the little Trill, enjoying its sparkling wrestle with its rushes! So the student thought, perhaps, as he glanced up at the sky—out at the hills—and then turned again to his law calf-bound book, and sighed. And this time thrust both hands into his tangled hair.

"An agreement by a feme covert, having separate estate, for the purchase of property, has been enforced against the seller upon the ground that she may contract as if she were a feme sole for the purchase of an estate, and that her property will be bound by the contract, although she do not refer to it. But in a case before Sir J. Leach—"

Three times did the student stagger through this interesting paragraph, struggling to take it into his intelligence. But he couldn't. It was not the sky, nor the hill, nor the lark, nor the bee, nor the Trill that hindered him. Somehow he felt—there was as much feeling as seeing in the case—the presence of some one in Sergeant Bryce's garden. The next moment, and he encountered the exquisite

blue eyes of Patty Dean! Of course each looked away instantly—he steadily at the sky, she intently on the ground. But the mischief was done. It was as though they were at the ends of a chain which love had electrified all ready for them. They had touched the wire—only with the very tips of their fingers—in the slightest way possible. It was enough.

Is love often so instantaneous as this? I don't know; I am only stating a single case, not laying down a general rule founded upon many facts. Certainly when Patty read in the student's rapt glance, "I love you!" she hung out signals in her eyes that expressed, as plainly as though she had spoken the words, "Thank you; I love you!"

Could he go on reading after that? Was it possible to chain himself to that ugly law book longer? No! "She may contract as if she were a feme sole,!" What did the author mean? Would he dare to call that angel in Sergeant Bryce's garden—would he dare to speak of her as a feme sole? What an infamy! A feme sole! Ha! ha! Why not a fried sole? It was just as reasonable, quite as fit, That darling a feme sole! Great Heaven! And he kicked the book into a corner.

He strode about the room. There was a smile upon his lips now, and light in his eyes, and color in his cheeks. He looked already a hundred per cent. better. He seemed to grow quite healthy, muscular, and athletic all of a sudden. He gave the book another kick when he came into its neighborhood; he squared pugilistically at an imaginary foe, and hit out at him. Suddenly he stopped.

He looked again from the window, and devoted himself to watching Patty Dean's movements in Sergeant Bryce's garden. Hers was a simple occupation enough. A cord ran from the big apple-tree I in the centre of the garden to the lime close to the house. On this cord Patty was engaged in hanging " the things" to dry. It was certainly interesting to the spectator was this employment. There was an element of chance about it. Now she was quite hidden behind a turbulent swelling sheet; when would she emerge? What a time she kept out of sight! There she was! Ah! gone again in a second. It was like a game of peep-bo! and every time their eyes met how they blushed, Patty and the student, and yet they enjoyed their own and each other's diffidence. They were quite children at the game—the game of love, I mean this time, and not peep-bo-but they played at it very creditably indeed for beginners. And the student grew desperately bad. He longed to sally forth and leap the little boundary hedge that sundered the domains of Mr. Bryce and Mr. Todd, and crown Patty with a wreath of apple-blossom; it was the most perfect decoration at hand, and very pretty would the white pink-tinted flowers have looked, starring Patty's clouds of chestnut hair, and setting off to perfection her blue eyes and her red lips, and the beautiful bloom of her cheeks; and then fall at her feet, and do fealty to her as the lawful queen of his heart.

Altogether, perhaps, it was no wonder that he looked at her so earnestly from the chancel-pew, or that she blushed when she saw him pick up and treasure the rose Farmer Barford had given her, and Sergeant Bryce had begged her to discard.

What would grandfather say if he were to know all this? What, indeed! But then he didn't know it. All things considered, it may be that it was quite as well he didn't.

IV.

SERGEANT BRYCE sat in his garden smoking a long clay pipe. On the rustic table before him rested a handsome wire cage, containing a canary bird with the brightest black eyes and the gayest yellow plumage that ever were seen. Bird and cage had been presented to Patty, some months before, by Miss Ada Morris, the rector's grand-niece, who had been charmed by the way Mr. Bryce's granddaughter had distinguished herself in the school, and by her singing in church. The bird hopped from perch to perch of his cage in the most sprightly manner, and tilted his head to and fro the better to eye old Mr. Bryce and his proceedings. A preliminary note or two, and the bird treated himself to quite a scena of song, full of difficulties, admirably executed. The merits of the performance, however, were lost on Mr. Bryce. He simply scowled at the bird; if it had been a little bigger I think he would have liked to have used his rattan to it.

"Little beast!" he muttered, "how I hate that bird! I wish Patty wouldn't bring it out here, parading it about enough to make one sick. She's allays pampering of it, and a-smartening up of its cage, and a-talking to it, and a-singing and a-whistling, and making it peck sugar from 'twixt her lips. I can't think what makes her so fond of it. I can't see nothing in it. Ugly little devil I call it."

And he looked round cautiously to see if he were watched, and then puffed a cloud of tobacco-smoke into the cage. The poor bird looked very dismal indeed under this violent change of atmosphere.

"I wish that girl up at Rectory had kept the bird to herself," the old man went on, regardless of the canary's aspect of astonishment and distress. "Patty thinks of nothing now but this bird, I declare. All day long, from morning till night, there's no comfort in the house now—none. She's too fond of it, that's what she is; it isn't right. I hate to see her so fond of it; she used to care a bit for me once; but now—"

Suddenly the old man stopped, and put down his pipe; a strange eager look came into his face; then he scrutinized the cage with great care. He took off his oilskin cap, and wiped his forehead.

"Why, the door isn't fastened," he said; "the slightest touch would open it. It would hardly be my doing, supposing—supposing the door was to open and the bird to hop out—hardly my doing; she ought to have seen that it was secure, of course she ought; it would be her own fault if the bird were to get away—entirely her own fault."

He thought over the matter a little. He took a puff or two at his pipe.

" Why, I believe a breath of wind even would do it. A breath—"

He stooped over the cage and blew in another

cloud of smoke from the side of the cage opposite to that he had operated upon before. The door opened a little, a very little only, so he helped it by means of his pipe. The bird, puzzled by the smoke, hopped down to inhale the fresh air coming in at the door, now wide open; hopped on to the frame of the door, peered round cautiously. The sergeant held his breath; the bird was out—on the table—on the ground—away—over the hedge!

The deed was done. Of course he was sorry for it the moment after; shocked at his meanness, ashamed of his jealousy, trembling all over, his hand shook so he could not hold his pipe, and it fell and broke, and he stood pale, cowed, and guiltylooking—before his grandchild!

" Oh, my poor birdie! my dear, darling, little birdie!" and Patty was in agony of sorrow.

" I couldn't help it—indeed I couldn't!" he faltered. "You left the cage open, and the bird got out. I couldn't stop him—indeed I couldn't! You left the cage open."

"Poor, poor dickey!" Patty hid her face in her hands.

"Don't cry," said a voice they had neither of them heard before. Some one jumped over the hedge from the next garden. Patty looked up, and her eyes met the student's.

"It's quite safe," he said; "it flew straight to me, straight to my heart."

And he restored to her the little, warm, throbbing canary. In doing this their hands met for the first time. It seemed to be quite difficult to part them again. It was quite a long business, that passing the bird from his keeping to hers.

"How can I ever thank you enough," said Patty; "my darling! my darling!"

Of course these terms of endearment were intended for the bird; but somehow the student seemed to derive a sort of reflected tenderness from them.

"I am very glad," he said, "that I was able to secure it. But, indeed, I could hardly help it, for it flew straight to my heart."

He seemed to attach importance to that phrase —he dwelt upon it so. He turned to the old man:

" I saw how it escaped," he said, steadily.

The Sergeant-Major of the 140th Regiment quailed before the student.

V.

THE hedge once leaped, words interchanged, hands met, and there was not now one wire only bringing Patty and the student en rapport, there was a whole electric coil; they were knit together now in quite a tangle of love. Could it be long before the story of the student's passion found its way from his heart to his lips? One delicious moonlight night Patty was in the garden, quite accidentally of course, and in a moment there was the student on his knees before her, telling her what she must have known perfectly well, and which yet she trembled to hear. How her heart beat, and her voice fled from her! No; she couldn't speak. Poor Patty! The tears came into her eyes, and she stooped down and kissed her lover. Perhaps the action was more eloquent than speech, after all. Poor Patty!

A hoarse, harsh shout startled them. It was like a cracked gong breaking in upon a pastoral symphony. Sergeant-Major Bryce, with fury in his face, was sundering the lovers; driving angrily one into his cottage, menacing the other with a feeble fist.

VI.

"I'D never have believed it of you; never, Patty, never! To think you should come to this; tricking, and lying, and cheating your poor old grandfather, as has been so kind to you. No," he screamed, passionately," crying ain't no use, not a bit; you bad, wicked, heartless girl, you. You've no more feeling than a stone, you know you haven't. I, that has loved you so much, and hoped that you'd love only me—only me—a poor old man of eighty-seven. You might have waited a bit, Patty. I sha'n't be here long to trouble you. You might have waited till they took me to the church-yard, Patty. But you've no heart, no feelin', no thought but for your own wicked, worthless self. You bad girl, you—you," etc., etc.

So the old man rained down words that were blows upon poor Patty's devoted head.

"Don't speak so to me, grandfather, don't; you'll kill me."

And she went to him to kiss him. He thrust her from him rudely, fiercely even.

"Get away; I want no viper's kisses, I don't. You're no grandchild of mine no more. You're not my Patty. You're not—"

But he stopped. Her face was so white that it frightened him, even in his senseless anger.

"Will you give him up, Patty?" he asked.

"Any thing, any thing!" she cried, in a strange, broken voice, "only don't, don't, for God's sake, speak to me like that!" and she fell fainting into his arms.

VII.

"OH, no; never, never; it can never be!" she said to her lover, at a last stolen interview; "have pity on me. Don't think unkindly of me, Henry. I do love you—indeed I do; but we must never meet again. I dare not see you any more; I hardly dare to think of you. My life belongs to him. Forgive me, Henry—and yet, no, no, please don't forget me."

What could he do? What but strain her to his heart, press his lips on her white face, swear that he would love her always, murmur "God bless you, Patty!" and then turn his back upon Oak-mere St. Mary's. Forever?

VIII.

MONTHS went by. Autumn mists brooded over the village green, almost obscured the pump. The landscape wore a threadbare look, like an old coat. The foliage waned and faded. The trees were losing flesh, as it were, and fast becoming skeletons. The cold winds had commenced already to whistle through their naked branches. The flowers were

gone, and with them the roses from Patty's cheeks. She was very pale now, and so thin and weak that any effort seemed to fatigue and pain her. She could sing no more in church now. She had tried, but her voice gave way. She burst into tears, and nearly swooned in front of the chancel pew.

And no news of the student? None. He had gone, and left no trace—save the sorrow in Patty's heart and eyes. One thing to mark his visit: the ugly law book, with the name of "Henry Becket" and a London address written on the fly-leaf—he had left that behind him. Todd the wheel-wright —perhaps he could make a guess as to what had happened, he was a kind-hearted man, and very fond of his little neighbor Patty—Todd asked her if she would mind taking charge of the book until his lodger came or sent for it. Poor Patty! how she hugged it to her heart, and kissed it, and cried over it. It was a strange use to put a legal authority to. I don't think the learned author ever contemplated a feme sole conducting herself so curiously over his work.

" She'll go jist like her mother did afore her," so the old folks said up the village. "She fell sickerly, and got pale and agerish; and Muster Bryce, he ain't the man he were. Can't look after the boys in church as he used. He's ageing fast: and he be that deaf now—"

There were no more boasts about "eighty-seven and all his faculties." He was very feeble and peevish, and his voice was now quite a whine.

IX.

THERE had been sickness at Farmer Barford's house. Little Amos had been bad with the measles, and Dr. Gregor had been constantly in attendance. The sufferer, however, was convalescent now, and Mrs. Barford was able to talk to the Doctor upon other subjects than her sick child. One morning she had a very long conversation indeed with him. I think she was putting him in possession of the history of Oakmere St. Mary's during the past six months.

"He's a confounded old fool," said the Doctor, when she had finished. "I am going on to Hensingham Priory. I'll call on him as I come back."

Some hours later, and the Doctor returned through Oakmere St. Mary's.

"Is your neighbor in?" he asked of Todd, the wheel-wright. Todd nodded in reply.

"Then I'm going to bully him well," said the Doctor.

"Tew can play at that," Todd answered with a grin. (Todd came from Devonshire originally.) And he chuckled to himself. "Bully old Bryce! That's something like a joke. The hardest-mouthed old man about these parts."

The Doctor made his way into Bryce's cottage.

"You're a wicked old man," cried the Doctor.

He paused, expecting a violent outburst in reply. Mr. Bryce shuffled his feet and moved uneasily in his chair.

"I know I am," he said, humbly.

"You've made yourself miserable—"

"I have."

"And you're breaking your grandchild's heart."

"Don't say that," and the old man held up his hands imploringly. The Doctor had expected a fierce battle. But the foe surrendered without striking a blow.

"Don't you say she is going like her mother. I've heard them say so up the village. Any thing but that. Don't you say it."

"Send for him then," said the Doctor.

"I've thought of it often. I've been wrong and foolish, but I'm eighty-seven, you see. I'd have sent for him long ago, but—"

"But what?"

"I never knew his name, not to recollect it, much less his address."

Just then Patty entered with the law calf-bound book. When she pointed to the writing on the fly-leaf there was more color in her face than had been seen there for months.

"There's just half an hour to catch the London post," said the Doctor, looking at his watch.

X.

IT was not very long after this that the Rev. Morris Baldersby was busy with the Marriage Service. "I Henry, take thee, Patty," etc., etc. (She was christened Patty, it appeared.)

Did Mr. Henry Becket's friends speak of a mesalliance ever ? None who ever knew his wife. Indeed she should have been accounted a good match. Her heart was of gold.

Mrs. Barford provided a superb cake.

"Will you have it all," whispered the Doctor to Sergeant Bryce, "or will a slice do? A slice? Very good. Eighty-seven, and all your faculties; and, listen: perhaps when you are eighty-eight, or a little better, a great-grandfather—think of that! But shall you want all your great grand-child's love? Won't a slice of it do? Yes, so I should think."

Patty's grandfather was convinced. He shook hands with the Doctor, next with the bridegroom, then with every body else in the room. He was perfectly happy and comfortable. And to demonstrate his possession of his faculties, and especially to delight Farmer Barford, he straightway struck up and sang twice through his favorite song, "Jemmy-linkum-feedle."

FRESHET AT CINCINNATI.

WE are indebted to an old correspondent, Mr. George M. Finch, of Cincinnati, for the picture which we reproduce on page 124, illustrating the recent FRESHET IN THE OHIO. Mr. Finch writes :

CINCINNATI, Jan. 25, 1862.

Inclosed I send a sketch of the Maysville packet landing during the great freshet in the Ohio River, now at its height. It is taken at the corner of Walnut and Water streets. As floods in the Ohio only occur about once in 15 years--and when they do, cause immense damage, as this one has done, the whole river-front of the city being inundated—I thought it might be of sufficient interest to your readers to publish a sketch.


 

 

  

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