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WINTER-QUARTERS OF THE FOURTEENTH MASSACHUSETTS
VOLUNTEERS—GARRISON OF FORTS ALBANY AND RUNYON.
in her eye. Who could tell what
dreadful thoughts were lurking in her poor mind?
Randolph's wild oats seemed to
have rendered the soil of his heart too unfruitful to bear even the commonest
virtues. He was no longer the joyous, bright-faced boy of former years. He even
tired of his young and lovely wife. Long days she sat alone, with Lily and old
Mrs. Fairfax; for Lily was as useful as ever. She seemed to have conquered the
demon of jealousy, which had prompted revengeful feelings, and under the
religious teaching of her mistress she was becoming patient and resigned.
I have mentioned that there was
an ugly fellow, the coachman, who had been gallant, or tried to be, to poor
Lily. Just as she was regaining peace of mind he made new overtures, which she
indignantly rejected. In sheer spite and malicious wickedness he managed to
convey to young Mrs. Fairfax the history of the year previous to her coming to
her Virginia home. It nearly killed
her ; she became very ill.
Randolph sold the man; but now that his secret was out he became more and more
reckless, riding fast and drinking hard—what a changed man he was !
All during young Mrs. Fairfax's
illness Lily had been kept out of the room ; indeed, she knew enough to stay
out, much as she loved the gentle girl who had been so kind to her. She had been
sitting on a fallen tree, just beyond the garden-gate, one day, her child
playing with grass and pebbles, when she saw a horse come clashing up the road.
She seized the child just in time to save him ; but a glance at the empty saddle
was sufficient to confirm her worst fears. Hastily running in the house she told
the news ; the servants started out, but soon returned, bringing the lifeless
body of Randolph Fairfax. He had been thrown, probably while intoxicated, and
instant death must have ensued the blow which his head had received.
Ah, what a scene of misery was
there in that lonely old house in the Virginian forest ! The
rooms were resonant of sobs; the
servants were like children in their unrestrained grief. Old Mrs. Fairfax was
frantic ; and Lily, almost beside herself, was the only one fit to attend to her
young mistress, who had heard the terrible sounds, and insisted upon knowing the
truth. Lily had to break the news, but the shock was too great ; swoon succeeded
swoon in fearful rapidity. Toward midnight she became conscious, but it was
evident she was dying. Calling Lily to her, the sweet young creature put out her
hand to her.
" Come here, Lily, come here ! I
have felt very wrongly toward you."
Lily made no answer ; but on her
knees by the bedside buried her face in the clothes, weeping bitterly.
"We must both forgive him, Lily."
Only a low groan and a quivering
" Lily, look up in my face. I can
not die tranquilly until I know that you will try to feel no bitterness in your
heart, and that you will forgive
my want of charity—for I felt
very wrongly toward you."
Lily looked up in the sweet face,
growing paler, the soft blue eyes, drooping with the sleep which would cease her
sorrow; eagerly she grasped that outstretched, soft, white hand, and bathed it
with her tears and kisses. The blue eyes closed; the faint breath faltered and
ceased ; the glowing hopes of life had taken wing before—with one slight hand,
even heavy with its wedding-ring, lying on her motionless breast, the other in
poor Lily's, that life had ended.
In the room beneath, alone and
stiffened in the rigidity of death, with all his sins upon him, the sins
fostered by indulgence, lay Randolph Fairfax.
I have little more to add; for
Lily and the old lady lived on in that lonely house quietly enough after all
that misery. When old Mrs. Fairfax died she gave Lily free papers for herself
and her son, which, with a small sum of money, enabled them to go to Canada.
CAVALRY CHARGE IN VIRGINIA.