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MAP OF THE HARBOR OF GALVESTON, NOW IN OUR
"No, it is not at all remarkable,
my dear. A man of Alan's make is not easily contented to stand idly by and watch
others striving for fame without his having a share in the race or in tilt,
"Oh, do you think that his
"Not altogether, perhaps; he has
fine traits, fine ability—Alan's well fitted to succeed. Pity he married so
early, great pity: his wife was not of the right stamp. Hand me the grapes,
dear. Where's Gracie?"
"In the library with Alan; he
came to borrow a book for his mother. I like that devotion of his: he thinks no
woman in the world her equal."
"What all sons ought to believe
"I wish Grace would keep some of
her high-flown ideas a little in check. I am sure she is talking war with all
her might to Alan, and he has been excited enough ever since he came back. Have
you noticed how moody and absorbed he is?"
"That is because his mind is not
fully decided. Then, too, those three months unsettled his business
"These grapes are very fine.
Charles, do you think Alan has any idea of asking us for Gracie?"
There was a slight shrug, a half
anxious smile on the paternal visage as Mr. Redwood responded,
"How can I tell, my love?
Stranger things have happened."
"Fancy Grace a step-mother! I
should not like it at all."
"Ah, it would come home to us!"
said Mr. Redwood, smiling. "No, I have no wish either to be an antiquated
grand-parent quite so suddenly. Besides, Gracie would grace a fortune which Alan
could not give her."
"Oh, as for that, if they loved
"The woman will out," interrupted
Mr. Redwood; "all for love, without a thought of the needful lucre."
"Yes; I have not improved since
my youthful days," said the wife, demurely.
It was getting dusky in the
luxurious parlor; "shadows from the fitful fire-light" were already dancing on
the wall. With twilight comes that dreamy lingering over the past; joys and
sorrows are seen through a mellow mist of indistinctness: and so sat Mr. Redwood
and his wife, quite forgetful of the present, talking of old and happy days
which the wife's light allusion had recalled; forgetful, too, of the two younger
people who, not far off, were quite as pleasantly employed.
The golden autumnal sunset
deepening to crimson was slanting in the library windows, which, open to the
ground, gave glimpses of garden paths brownly matted with fallen leaves. The
faint breath of asters, purple and pink, white and yellow, came in with the
freshening air. Far off, the hills now darkening, at mid-day glowed like a
At a door of the book-cases stood
Grace, her slight, small stature looking slighter and smaller for the athelete
beside her, whose brown face was intent upon a book as he listened to her rapid,
forceful words. Her face was full of verve, life, activity; even her delicate
fingers were busy, and the dark wool with its bright border was fast being
fashioned into something wearable.
"Oh, Alan," she was saying, "it
makes me impatient to hear people sighing over the times! I think this a grand
age, a noble era, when Good and Evil have met, like knights of old, to test the
prowess of their followers. Who can doubt the final triumph? Good must win: this
we all believe."
Her companion assented silently,
not caring to check her flow of thought; and she went on, her whole face
lighting, her proudly curved lips enunciating every word with a clearness which
was musical, like the swift fall of nuts on a still day in the woods.
"If our ancestors could have been
gifted with prescience, I really think they would have been glad to know that
this day was coming; not for the bitter strife, nor for the bloodshed, but for
the grandeur of a people rising in their might to redeem their country from
treachery and error. My ancestors, you know"—and the little pride of accent did
not mar the sweet smile which rose—"were of the best blood; and as I look at
Rufus, I often think my brother a fit representative of a noble race. But had he
shirked his duty at this time, had he not
been so nobly eager for the day
with so earnest a purpose, I could hardly have hidden my scorn." Alan glanced up
quickly as if stung ; unconsciously Grace netted on briskly, her eyes now on her
work. There was a little tinge of sarcasm in Alan's tone as he replied,
"You then would be like the one,
Grace, who, when
" 'Home they brought her warrior
She nor swooned, nor uttered
A shadow crept over Grace's brow,
which in animation had kept true time to her words.
"I don't know—it is a glorious
death," she said, very gently and slowly, Alan's face changing its expression as
she spoke. "I should not regret that he had chosen it; but, Alan, you remember
that at last,
" 'Like summer tempest came her
"And even now I see a glistening
drop. Dear Grace, forgive me—I was cruel; but—I don't know whether you meant it
or not; yet your words seem to reflect on my actions."
The glistening drop was swept
"I know you better, Alan. I am
sure you told me that you wanted to go—that you would go."
"There must be no but in the way,
Alan. Don't you know this is a recruiting station? I have induced a number of
For all her playfulness her
companion still looked serious; he began too to stride slowly up and down the
room with the forgotten book in his hands. Grace looked admiringly at his strong
manly frame; of all her preux chevaliers Alan was her chosen one for dauntless
courage and resolve. She longed to see him still more her hero.
"You told me, Alan, that it would
be no very difficult work for you to raise a regiment; and you know with what
elan men would fight under the command of one so nobly fitted to lead them."
The praise was so gently offered,
with such persuasiveness, that Alan could not resist it. He stopped in his walk,
and faced the winning demoiselle.
"Grace, do you really think all
duties subservient to this of fighting for one's country?"
"Certainly, Alan," answered the
"Can you imagine nothing which
demands a man's life and honor quite as much?"
"Not at this time."
Alan again walked the floor,
speaking as he did so.
"I am so nearly of your mind,
Grace, that I can not conscientiously argue for the other side. Besides— Oh, I
must go! I believe, as you say, that I can have some little influence; and
certainly I owe my share of toil and hardship and danger. I long for it; God
knows it is not a craven spirit which has made me hesitate."
He was roused from his moody
quietude; but Grace did not quail at the fire she had evoked. More than ever she
admired him. Suddenly he turned and said,
"My motherless children, Grace,
who can I leave them with? My mother is too old to be burdened with the care of
them, and if I die—"
Swiftly two hands grasped his in
their firm but velvet touch, and an eager face looked up at him.
"Leave them with me, Alan."
"You, Grace, you?"
"Do you doubt my ability?"
"Are you willing to be a
"Oh, Alan!"—and the hands relaxed
their hold but did not fall, for now Alan had them fast and close—"I did not
"Of course not, Gracie; but that
is what it amounts to. Do not struggle so; your fingers have a way of
restlessness that is not good for them—they will be hurt. Now you must listen.
You have told me my duty, let me tell you yours. I want some one to bid me go
forth and win fame as well as fight bravely. I want some one to be thinking of
me, and praying for me while I am gone. Yes, I am just so selfish; and I want
that person to be one whom I love better than any one in this world or any
"Hush, Alan! you forget you ever
had a wife." "Indeed not, Grace. I remember that four years I was bound to one
who loved me not so much as the poodle she petted in her arms—one who, though
dead, I dare to say was not a true woman. Never let her name again come between
us, Grace. Silence only can heal such painful memories. Grace, are you too proud
to be a poor man's wife?" Alan asked, softly, as she stood with eyes cast down
and wrists still turning uneasily.
"No, Alan, nor—a step-mother, if
in this way I can aid the good cause," she answered, with a half smile.
"But, Grace, is your love to be
the guerdon for only my soldier career?"
"I shall be so proud, Alan, if it
Only half satisfied, he drew her
nearer, nearer. Nor did she shrink away timidly. The spirit of old romance and
days of chivalry shone in the light of her clear eyes. His kisses fell softly on
her brow, "royal with the truth," and, as in a dream, they stood silently
watching the darkening garden paths, not heeding the growing chilliness of the
air or the dead leaves which fluttered in at their feet.
"Now, mother mine, you know all.
How does it please you?" said Alan, drawing his chair close to the one where sat
in rather stately uprightness an old lady, who for nobility of feature matched
the one beside her. But the older voice trembled, the older eyes were dimmer,
and looked farther back than forward.
"Alan, dear, you know that I love
Grace, and that I long to see you happy with one so well fitted to render your
home all that you wish; yet the compact does not please me."
"What compact, mother?"
"It is evident Grace wishes you
to go to the war."
"Certainly; she spurs me on to
what I most desire."
"Have you told her how you are
A darkening shade gathered over
Alan's face as he replied, somewhat impetuously,
"Why should I? She thinks as I
do—that nothing so much demands a man's life and honor as his country."
"Alan, 'they also serve who only
stand and wait.'"
The storm had been brooding all
the afternoon; now it broke angrily; the words came like dashing, driving rain.
"Not those of brawny muscle, and
each nerve strung for action—not men born to do and dare, to lead and fight and
conquer. Mother, why have you so long combated me? I have no right to refuse
this second call. Had the women of the Revolution your spirit where would we
have been now? Did they not urge on their sons and husbands? Look! I am a
soldier, every inch of me. Military science has been my passion for years. I
have influence. I can go into the ranks with twice the power of ordinary men. My
example has some weight; and the cause could not be nobler. Why do you persist
in opposing me?"
"Because, Alan"—and the fragile
form grew more erect, the dim eye calmer, steadier than ever in its gaze upon
her excited son—"because God's hand points to a different path for you. My son,
listen patiently to me. Years ago you spurned my advice, and rushed on
recklessly to sorrow—rushed on to that which now is hindering you at every step.
Listen. Alan, my son, God blessed you with many gifts, with health, strength,
and intellect. Life began for you very auspiciously, but you remember, dear, how
rashly, from one imprudence to another, beginning with your loveless marriage,
from one extravagance to another, you went blindly forward—not blindly either,
but willfully—until you were so involved that there was but one course for you
to pursue, if ever your errors were to be redeemed. Nobly you paused, and
determined to begin anew; unselfishly you bowed to your burden; and, my son, you
have so far retrieved the past as to convince all that your honor is above
reproach. But, Alan, all is not yet accomplished; your debts are yet heavy; it
will take years of hard work for you to redeem your obligations; and the
penalty, though severe, is just. Willful rashness and folly led you to assume
them; willful determination to do your duty must rid you of them. I know you
will cry out at me, but believe me, it is your duty to stay at home and work.
The principle is just as imperative as the country's need, though less heroic in
the world's view."
"And what if all men and all
mothers should think as you?" asked Alan, whose head was bowed between his
"Each must decide for himself,
Alan. The time may come, the peril be so great that I should say even to you,
Go! but it has not yet; men and treasure are pouring forth. Then, Alan, your
children, God gave them to you. My life is not worth much; do they not need you
to guide them, to support and educate them?"
CHART OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC, SHOWING THE COURSE OF
PIRATE "ALABAMA," AND HER STATION WHEN LAST