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Robert E. Lee Portrait
peace and safety, but the life of
liberty, was at stake in the conflict whose murmurs filled all the air and made
the, land vocal with its cries. Ever since Ned had gone to the field—Ned, the
dear brother who shared with her every confidence, rambled with her in dewy
twilights in the same familiar walks, read with her the same books, and sung the
songs she taught him—her thought had grown constantly more serious and earnest ;
through every scene of gayety her eves looked to fields ghastly and dismal, to
camps crowded with grim paraphernalia of war, to homes with chairs empty and the
feet of orphans pattering on their floors. But society around her was not
touched with this mood: its days were full of merriment ; its nights radiant
with gayeties. Indeed, more than once she had been rebuked for what her
associates termed her " sickly sentimentality," her growing abstraction in the
presence of the grandest social events; and so at last, dissatisfied with
herself, at issue with society about her, she had quitted her home and stolen
down to plain Aunt Debby's, yearning for rest and refuge, longing to study and
enjoy the Real and the True, with her own heart only as interpreter of Nature's
Captain James Hunt, lying at his
tent-door in the June twilight, looking listlessly down upon the Rappahannock-
flowing silently below him, was suddenly saluted with,
" Here's a letter for you,
Captain, right from Riverton."
Captain Hunt was upon his feet in
"A letter for me ! Who can it be
from? I haven't, so far as I know, a correspondent in all the world."
Captain Hunt, let it be stated
here, was an orphan, standing alone in the world, without brother or sister, or
any near kith or kin. From boyhood he had fought his own battle, and had fought
it bravely, with a true manliness of soul. One friend he had, a woman, many
years his senior, who, for his father's sake—who once had been very dear to her
heart—had more than once exhibited a direct interest in his welfare ; but with
all her kindness there was a crust in her character—a brusque, sharp something
he could not define—which had made intimate communion impossible; thus leaving
him, after all, self-dependent. When the war-trumpet was blown over the land he
was a tutor in the village academy, respected by all, but without any close
companionships; and with the first alarm, putting by his books, he went to the
one person whose counsel alone he had ever sought, and said, " The flag, Aunt
Debby—so she was called of all who knew her—" has been insulted; war is upon the
land ; ought I not to go to the field ?" The answer was, "Yes; no true soul will
falter now!" and in a week he was at the Capital, enrolled in the union service,
prepared to do and die in its behalf; more happy than he had ever been before,
because now he felt he had a sublime work to do—an object to accomplish whose
grandeur all history must celebrate.
But this June evening he had been
saying to him-self, "This is a lonely life I am leading, with no intimate
friendships, no close attachments ; with none in whom to confide—it is a very,
very dreary life !"
Just then came the announcement,
"Here's a letter for you, Captain, right from Riverton."
You may be sure his nimble
fingers were not long in clutching the secret of the precious pages.
"I have felt anxious, James"—so
the letter ran —" that you should know I have not forgotten you, though you have
been so long away out of our sight. It has been a joy to me that, thus far, no
harm has touched you. I think of you very often, James, hard as my nature is;
and, in my poor way, pray that you may still be kept from all evil. And thinking
of you so much, my fingers could not keep still, and so I have made you a few
homely handkerchiefs, and the like, which I shall send soon after this. Maybe
you will find them useful in some day to come ; and if they only help you to
remember the lonely `Aunt Debby'—much as it may surprise you to have me say so—I
shall he content."
"The dear, good old soul !" said
Captain James to himself, brushing a tear from his eye, "who would have thought
that, under the rough crust of her demeanor, there was such a wealth of thought-fulness
and love?--But what's this?"
Turning the leaf, Captain James
had discovered at the top of the page this : " P.S. Lucy Larcom, my brother's
child, has just come down from the city to stay with me a while. She bids me
send her `duty'—for every soldier, she says, is her friend."
Captain Hunt folded his letter
and put it away with a puzzled, wistful look in his face.
"Lucy Larcom—I have heard of her.
A hand-some, brilliant girl, rich and cultivated, shining in drawing rooms, at
operas and fetes. And yet"—it seemed please the Captain to add the " and yet" —"
she must have a true woman's heart if, amidst all her gayeties, she has found
time to think of the poor fellows in the field."
The Captain somehow thought very
often that day, and during after-days, of the postscript to Aunt Debby's letter.
Coming just at the moment when a sense of loneliness oppressed and saddened him,
the thought it suggested that mayhap. sometime, he would find comfort and joy in
the love of a true heart, stirred new depths of feeling, started a whole brood
of pleasing fancies, and dissipated all the despondency which was gathering upon
But all these thoughts were put
effectually to flight at. last. Suddenly the intelligence came that Lee's army
had moved into Pennsylvania, and this, almost immediately, was followed by an
order for the whole Federal force to march in pursuit.
Captain Hunt, restless and
uneasy, hailed with delight the prospect of active duty. He might, at least, if
he could do nothing for the cause, escape the troubling thoughts which were
pressing upon him, filling his mind with images that might, after all, prove
only a delusion and a cheat. -
His corps was the first to break
camp. The march was a long and weary one, but it had its glimpses of rest, its
anticipations of battle and victory; and at last, on the morning of the 1st of
July, the corps came in sight of
Gettysburg, around which the enemy were already concentrating.
Soon the battle began, rolling
along the hills in fiery grandeur. Captain Hunt pressed into it with an
enthusiasm amounting to rapture. At first success was ours at every point, the
enemy could not resist the impetuous assaults of our gallant braves, and gave
way in confusion and disorder. But soon reinforcements came upon the scene ; the
enemy hastily reformed their lines, and again met the pursuers with solid front,
slowly driving back our jaded columns toward Seminary Ridge. Captain Hunt,
always the first in assault, was among the last in retiring. Fearless to a
fault, the white heat of battle could never appall him, but the mere thought of
possible defeat was full of pain. So moodily, almost recklessly, he followed the
retreating column, as, sweeping along the plain, it began to climb the height
and take fresh position.
But his mood found complete
change before the crest was finally reached. Trudging forward he suddenly came
upon a lieutenant lying, with a gaping wound in his side, just at the foot of
the hill, and vainly endeavoring to stanch the blood flowing from the hurt. In
the confusion the young officer —he did not seem to be over twenty—had
apparently been forgotten, and was lying just where he fell in the first
advance. There was something in the face of the wounded boy which instantly
attracted Captain Hunt ; and gathering him in his arms, with the aid of a
soldier he carried him at once out of danger, when, leaving the boy in charge of
the other, he hurried away for his regimental surgeon, whom finding, he
dispatched at once to the relief of the stranger.
Meanwhile the battle was growing
hot again. The Eleventh Corps, coming to Reynolds's help, the enemy had again
been pushed backward over the disputed ground, and we held once more the line
first occupied. But the conflict was desperate and terrible. Nor was victory
permanently ours. A second time our line was driven back; Reynolds had fallen;
whole regiments had been swept away in the fiery storm; and so at last,
bleeding, broken, sad, the brave columns again retired, and at four o'clock in
the afternoon found pause and safety in a position whence they could not be
But Captain Hunt not this time
accompany his command. In the eery thick of the conflict, while bravely leading
hi men, he was struck down by a brace of rebel bullet, and for an hour lay
helpless and bleeding where he fell. Then, found by a surgeon who was passing
over the field, he had been carried to a hospital, and there, while his regiment
was establishing itself in the early evening in its new position, was suffering
the amputation of an arm, hopelessly shattered by the bullets which some
unerring sharp-shooter had sent him as an autograph.
The battles of Gettysburg were
ended ; the news of our great victory had flashed over the land like a new
benison on our dear Independence-day; the dead on the battle-field had been
buried, and the wounded gathered up and cared for, and in thousands of homes
waiting hearts, trembling with anxiety and fear, yearned through day and night
for intelligence of absent dear ones, or smitten house-holds, mourning over
heavy losses, yet thanked God that the foe had been vanquished, and his pride
broken in the dust.
In the brown cottage of Aunt
Debby at Riverton, hung as it was with summer bloom, two such waiting hearts
questioned every passing hour for news from the field. Lucy Larcom thought
continually of Ned ; what fate had been his ; was he yet alive, or lying among
the dead on the field, his face ghastly under the bleaching sun and rains ? And
Captain Hunt, Aunt Debby wondered with sad thought, what had been his fate ?
Would he ever come again with his old smile to the brown cottage, or must the
years go on, scattering only on his nameless grave their faded leaves ?
With such thoughts as these, full
of pain, sharper at times than any knife, keener than any sabre-thrust, these
two waiting ones sat through the drifting days.
"Out of the deepest dark rises
the starriest hope." So Lucy's anxiety, almost amounting at last to despair,
found full relief one bright afternoon, when a Lieutenant, with bronzed face and
faded uniform, alighted unexpectedly at Aunt Debby's door, and, walking hastily
up the graveled walk, caught the old lady in his arms, and before she knew it
had half smothered her with kisses.
" Why, Ned!"
That was all the dear woman found
voice, at first, to say in reply to this sudden, full-hearted salutation. She
had been taken completely by surprise, having no pickets out, and could only
look at the captor with astonishment, not unmingled, however, with affection.
Lucy, when she came in from a ramble, in which she had thought only of the
brother absent, was no less surprised and delighted. Ned said he would as soon
face a battery as encounter the fusilade of questions, exclamations, and
interjections which the sister, supported by the inquisitive Aunt Debby, poured
upon him. But he succeeded at last in satisfying all inquiries; and Lucy, with
no shadow now upon her heart, became happy again as a brother's presence could
Ned, so he told them, had been
wounded in the first day's fight; had been carried to a house in Gettysburg,
where, slowly growing in strength, he remained for a fortnight, when he was
permitted to go home. There he spent some days, when, missing Lucy's pleasant
face, he had run down into the country, hoping there to recuperate fully his
wasted energies in the few days that yet remained to him of his furlough.
Happy as Aunt Debby was to have
Ned under her eye, safe from the battle's rage, her anxiety as to Captain Hunt
did not abate. At times she felt inclined, woman as she was, to go in quest of
him; but this, reflection told her, would most probably be a useless labor, and
so she could only wait and watch, hoping that in some way her solicitude would
ultimately find relief, even if the Captain himself should never again be
restored to her sight.
It was Commencement-day at
Riverton Academy. In the old church, poplar-guarded, on the village green a
crowd of anxious fathers, mothers; sisters, and friends were assembled in honor
of the occasion. Lucy Larcom, with brother Ned at her side, was there, scores of
manly eyes fixed upon her pleasant face. The scene was not as brilliant nor the
company as fashionable as at many entertainments Lucy had attended, but she
enjoyed it none the less keenly ; it had the spice of simplicity and novelty;
the people around her were something better than artificial shams; the
inspiration of the place was robust and practical; and, besides, was not Ned
sharing with her the pleasure of the hour ?
The exercises were almost
concluded, when, during a little pause, there was a sudden stir at the door, and
a moment after an officer with a single arm, his face pale, and step weak and
faltering, was seen moving up the aisle, half-supported by the village squire
and a white-haired deacon known to all Riverton. Suddenly, as the pale face came
in full view, a great shout rose from the assembly, and rolling into a cheer,
was again and again repeated, every face brightening, almost every hand
fluttering " a cambric welcome" to the coming one.
For one in that assembly the pale
face of the one-armed officer, standing silent and abashed in the presence of
the tempest of applause, had a peculiar fascination. As Ned Larcom looked upon
that face he remembered, instantaneously, another scene—a scene of carnage and
death, with streams of blood stained litters, crowded with wounded, flowing
through it ; with heaps of dead lying far and near; with the flash of guns
running along the hills, and the roll of drum and bugle throbbing grandly
through the battle-pauses; and chief of all, himself lying helpless with that
face bending over him, and the tongue, that seemed powerless now, whispering
words of cheer and comfort.
He saw in the wounded man whom
all Riverton saluted with applause his deliverer on the field of Gettysburg.
"Who is it, Ned ?" said Lucy
Larcom, when the cheering for a moment ceased.
Ned did not for a moment answer.
Then he said, his eyes resting still on that face,
"I can not tell you his name,
sis, but I can do something better than that : whatever his name, he is the man
who saved your brother's life on that dreadful day."
Ned had told both aunt and sister
the story of his rescue, and Lucy, understanding now Ned's interest in the
stranger, felt her own heart warming to-ward him with gratitude.
Just then a voice was heard in
faint, fluttering accents, speaking words of thanks for the unexpected welcome.
" I left an arm at Gettysburg," the weak voice said, "but this more than
compensates for the loss." And time the voice was still again, but another broke
the silence with, " Let us thank God that Captain Hunt is safe again ;" and then
every head was bowed, and the old clergyman of the village gave voice to the
thanksgiving of every heart.
Captain Hunt ! Here was a
wonderful revelation for Ned and his sister. This brave fellow who had saved his
life was the same about whom good Aunt Debby was so troubling her thought. He
did not wonder now that all Riverton rose to do him honor—he was ready himself
to lie at his feet, the brave, manly, modest hero.
At last the programme was ended;
the crowd slowly drifted away ; and then Ned Larcom, unable longer to restrain
his impatience, pressed impetuously forward, caught the empty sleeve in his
grasp, and, with tears in his eyes, vehemently exclaimed,
" The arm that was in that
sleeve, Captain Hunt, carried me from death unto life ; I am here to offer you
my arm to lean upon, if' need shall be, in life's coming days." Then, in a
moment, in a voice more subdued, " You remember it, Sir?"
Captain Hunt looked into the
eager face ; and he did remember.
How Ned Larcom thereupon narrated
to all with-in hearing the story of his rescue at Gettysburg; how brave Captain
Hunt blushed like a girl at hearing his praises so warmly sounded; how Ned told
him of Aunt Debby's alarm for his safety, and how he carried him away at last to
the brown cottage, supporting him on his stronger arm as he went—all this is
recorded in the history of that day in Riverton chronicles, but need not be
But where, meanwhile, had Lucy
gone? The moment Ned had left her, she had stolen away. with a strange sensation
at her heart, to tell the glad news to Aunt Debby, who was yet in ignorance of
every thing, Captain Hunt having been taken prisoner the moment he arrived in
the village and hurried off by force to the church ; and now as the two
approached, the Captain walking feebly, she met them at the gate with a smile,
hiding under it whatever feeling the events of the day may have stirred in her
"This is my sister, Lucy Larcom,
Captain Hunt." A quick flush crept into the Captain's face at that name. He
remembered the message sent him in that name in Aunt Debby's letter when he was
lying, months before, on the Rappahannock ; remembered what sweet dreams and
ardent hopes that message had excited—how life for the time grew full of promise
and bloom ; and it was with something of the old hope in his eves that he met
the greeting which Ned's "And this, sis, is my preserver, you know !" made
A month had slipped away ;
September had come, trailing her scarlet glories along upland and valley ; but
still Lucy lingered with Aunt Debby. Ned had gone; almost daily letters came,
entreating her to return to her city home; but she thrust them all aside with
indifference and remained. She had grown strangely silent and reserved in the
few weeks gone; her face, indeed, was still bright and fresh, but it wore a more
sober look than aforetime; her manner had become more subdued a word, she seemed
to be hiding her thought within herself; and yet clearly it was a sweet thought
which had no need to fear the eye of the world.
Captain James Hunt, too, seemed
wonderfully changed in these latter days. He came often, it
was true, to the brown cottage on
the village slope. At first, while Ned remained, he had talked freely, as he had
been wont, sometimes sitting for hours in the pleasant parlor, looking by
stealth into Lucy's face ; but of late he had become reticent, sometimes distant
in his manner, Lucy's reserve seeming only to increase his own, and add to the
discomfort he manifestly felt.
But one soft twilight, sitting
with Lucy en the vine-hung piazza, a look of rare resolution came into the
Captain's face. You could see at a glance that some new purpose was nerving his
thought and making him strangely bold.
"I am going away seen, Miss
Lucy---in a week at most."
He said it abruptly, and in the
dim light he saw the girl's face grow white as the answer came, haltingly,
" So soon, Captain Hunt ?"
" But," he continued, as if she
had not spoken, "before I go I have one thing to ask." lie paused a moment, and
then, in a low voice, added, " I have been all alone in the world, Miss Lucy ;
in the het battle-clays, in the silence of the bivouac, on the weary march, no
memory of a love in some home behind me has ever strengthened my soul or lifted
me to lofty deeds for its sake. But these last days in which I have loitered
here away from duty have brought me a Hope. Miss Lucy, which has sung to me in
the night, has brightened may days, and made life dearer than it over seemed
before. One thing only I now lack, and that is the assurance that some day that
Hope may blossom into fulfillment—and you alone can tell me, Lucy, whether it
Lucy Larcom's heart beat sharply,
almost painfully; her face grew luminous, but she did not answer.
" My hope, Lucy, has been only
this : that you might be mine; that when I go away again to the field I may bear
your, love with me as a comforter and friend. Must that hope, Lucy, be in vain
The downcast eves were lifted
now; the white hands, lying so listless before, crept into the waiting palm at
once so tender and so true ; and Lucy Larcom, with a look of love and trust on
her face that made it shine as the sunrise of a great hope, replied,
"You have given one arm, James,
to your country; I shall be proud and full of joy to find shelter and refuge
under the other."
SPIRITS AND ANGELS.
LONELY musing in the twilight,
When the lengthening shadows fall, Spirits bright and holy Angels
Come obedient to my call:
Lost and loved ones gone before
me, Phantoms fair from memory won, Seem to flit before my Fancy,
Midway to the setting sun.
I can see them, robed in Beauty,
Some rejoicing, some forlorn,
Friendly all, and sent to guide me
Out of Darkness into Morn.
On the chimes I hear their voices
Whispering solace from the skies. Holy Angels, hover near me!
Fit my soul for Paradise !
MILITARY BALL AT HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA.
THE view on
page 236 of a ball of
the non-commissioned officers and privates of the Fifteenth Corps at
Alabama, is thus decribed by Mr. Davis, who furnishes the sketch: Since the
occupation of this place by General LOGAN the soldiers have made many friends,
and a few evenings, since they gave a ball, at which a considerable number of
ladies were present. The ball was as well conducted and as full of enjoyment as
any affair of the kind ever given in this place. The soldiers, with their
well-brushed though somewhat worn uniforms, clean white gloves, and bronzed,
happy faces, presented a sight well worth seeing. Their very intimate
acquaintance with balls of a far different nature and mission seemed to have
peculiarly prepared them for enjoying such a gathering. The sketch gives the '
Virginia Reel,' danced with energy, and often performed as many as seven or
eight times during the evening. General LOGAN attended the ball for a short
time, and expressed himself pleased to see the quiet respect that was every
where shown the gentler sex by their brave attendants."
NEGROES LEAVING THEIR
THE view on
page 237 illustrates
a phase of the war which the rebels have found it difficult to contemplate with
any complacency. The exodus of the slaves from the bondage which has so long
oppressed them has been steady and continuous from the moment the first blow was
struck against the national honor, and it still goes on, hundreds and thousands
of the poor, outraged creatures coming weekly into the Union lines at all points
in the field. Our sketch gives an admirable view of the desolation which
surrounds the homes of the negroes, and the heartiness and energy with which
they make their way to freedom upon the slightest opportunity. The Federal
gun-boat, it will be seen, lies far-out at sea, but the sharp eyes of the
waiting, watching bondmen have caught sight of the flag she carries; they know
there is shelter under it for them, and launching their little boat, they
carefully put the aged and infirm, with their few more valuable effects, aboard,
and, with a pang, it may be, at leaving their rude home, but with hope and joy
in their hearts at the prospect of deliverance, pull away from the shore, which
henceforth is to be to them only a dark, dreary line marking a yet darker past.
There is pathos as well as history in the picture.