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he is just as much addicted to it
as I am. Wasn't it good? And more," she added, "he was actually so kind as to
bring me in the materials by stealth. Wasn't it good of him?"
"Excellent," I said, bitterly.
"Only yesterday," she added,
"such a delicate little surprise as he gave me—only think, knowing my taste, a
"Of the materials, I suppose," I
"Yes," she said, "of the very
newest kind. Wasn't it considerate of him? I must show them to you."
She went to a little cupboard and
brought out a small chest, opened it, and took out one by one—Goodness! what a
mystery was here! A light began to break in on me.
"Look," she said, "two gymnastic
clubs, just my weight and size; and, look here, a set of dumb-bells, beautifully
finished— ain't it charming!—a balance rope; a portable pole, jointed so as to
be carried about; a patent chest-expander; a—"
I saw it all, and put forward my
hand to stop her.
"I used to practice with them at
night up in my room. When papa and mamma were gone to bed I would sit up till
all hours. Nothing like practice. See how I twist them about!"
She flourished the club over her
head, twirled it, twisted it, and then held it out in the air steadily for many
moments. It was on a line with her mouth.
I saw the whole picture of that
fatal night before me, with only the addition of the blind drawn up, and how the
fatal shadow became projected.
THIRTY years ago my father, a
half-pay captain, emigrated to Lower Canada. He bought a farm in the vicinity of
Stanstead, where he settled with a family of three boys and as many girls. There
were too many of us for his means in England, where boys often cost more than
they are worth—and possibly this is sometimes true of girls. Brother Ben was
nineteen when we went into the bush: a brave boy, and a good leader for his
younger brothers, and a good protector for his sisters, who were younger still.
We had a log-house, as most
settlers had then, to begin with. It was quite an aristocratic edifice for that
region, having three large rooms, while most log-houses had but two rooms, and
many but one. It was ceiled with hemlock bark, smooth side toward the rooms, for
we were to spend one winter in it. We moved to our "opening the 1st of May, and
had the summer before us. We were full of spirit and hope. A new country and a
new life, with all before you to conquer, and the consciousness of strength to
make the conquest, is a constant inspiration.
Ben's bear was his first winning
in the game which he had set himself to play with the wild nature of the woods.
I was then ten years old, and that bear is the one thing that stands out most
clearly in the dim distance of thirty years ago. Ben had shot the mother bear,
and the same ball that killed her killed one of her cubs; the other he brought
home in his bosom. "Poor little fellow!" he said, "he is too young to mourn for
his mother, and I intend to be a mother to him." And he kept his word.
The small beast slept with Ben,
always laying its nose over Ben's shoulder. He grew apace; I used to think we
could see him grow. He was very fond of milk and butter, and he ate bread and
milk, and mush and milk with avidity. During the first winter his was a numbed
sort of half life. In the early spring he was a happy bear, going every where
with his master, and only miserable if he lost sight of him. He was entirely
obedient to my brother, and always woke him in the morning. As my father was
about to build a frame-house, he sent Ben to buy material of a man who had a
saw-mill in the next town. This was Bruin's first affliction, for he could not
accompany his master. Ben stole away from him, and when the bear knew that he
was gone he began a search for him. He went to my brother's bed, and, beginning
at the head, inserted his nose under the sheets and blankets, and came out at
the foot; then he turned, and reversed the process. This strange search he would
keep up by the hour, if he were not shut out of the room. He took possession of
his master's clothes and other belongings, and used them so roughly, still
seeking for their owner—inserting himself into legs of trowsers and sleeves of
coats—that my mother locked every thing in a wardrobe. Nothing of Ben's was left
out, except a large folio Bible, which rested on the top of the wardrobe, six or
seven feet from the floor. Up this the bear contrived to climb, and taking the
Bible in a tender embrace, he curled himself up and dropped to the floor with
it. My mother attempted to take it from him, but for the first time he showed
fight. Many blows from the broomstick were administered, but the bear held fast
to the book, and my mother came off second best from the contest. This was fatal
to her authority, as we discovered afterward.
When Ben came back the bear's joy
knew no bounds. He lost his love for the sacred volume, and had no care what
became of it. He showed his disrespect for my mother by taking the butter from
the tea-table and eating it before her eyes. Ben gave him a drubbing for the
robbery, and he submitted to Ben's authority, but butter and honey, and sweets
of all kinds, were appropriated if Ben were not at hand to enforce good
behavior. My mother was very unhappy, between her love for Ben and her fear for
Bruin. She grew miserably afraid of the bear, and, what was worse, the bear knew
it. She complained to Ben; but he only said, "Mother, you have only to be
resolute with him. Ellen can drive him away from the table, because she is not
afraid of him."
"But I am afraid of him," said my
mother, "and I think he will do me harm yet."
"Give him a taste of a hot poker,
mother, and I'll answer for him afterward."
"I would not try it for the
world," said my mother.
The bear had his own way very
completely, till a circumstance occurred which resulted more favorably for the
peace of the family than my mother's mild remonstrances. We had a neighbor, a
Mr. Bennett, who had a very lovely daughter of seventeen. Ben fell in love with
her, as in duty bound, she being the prettiest girl in the New World. He had
been unable to get any clew to her sentiments toward him. She had spent a
considerable portion of the past year with a married sister in Stanstead, and
Ben and the brother-in-law being friends, it was there my brother had seen her.
Her coolness toward him was a great torment to an impulsive lover. I believe Ben
would have served seven years merely to know how she regarded him. At last he
lapsed into a state so unhappy and anxious that even his bear could not comfort
him. About this time Alice Bennett came home to remain, and, in neighborly
kindness, she and a younger sister came to visit us. She had never seen Ben's
bear, and did not even know of its existence. Ben shut Bruin into his bedroom in
compliment to our guests, and the afternoon passed pleasantly to all but the
prisoner. When the time came for Alice and her sister to go home, my brother and
I prepared to bear them company through the woods to their opening. Ben
incautiously opened his bedroom for his hat, never thinking of Bruin, and came
running to catch us. The liberated bear ran after his master, and jumped for joy
upon him, hugging him after the manner of bears. Alice turned and saw Ben in the
(to her) terrible embrace. She shrieked as a girl with a good voice only can
shriek, but instead of running away, she rushed up to my brother and tried to
help him like a brave girl, crying, "Dear, dear Ben, you will be killed!"
My brother threw off the beast,
and caught the fainting Alice to his glad heart, saying, "Dear Alice, he is a
tame bear; do not be afraid."
The poor girl looked like a
broken white lily, she was so frightened at herself and the bear. She could
hardly realize that the bear was harmless, and she was ashamed of having been
betrayed into an avowal of a tenderness for Ben. When she recovered her wits she
said, "Oh, I'll never come here again."
"Indeed you will," said Ben.
"I'll banish Bruin, or imprison him, or do any thing you wish."
It was surprising how
clear-sighted Ben became regarding faults on the bear's part that he had
heretofore made light of. My mother had no need to complain of stolen butter, or
a highway robbery of honey on its way from the pantry to the tea-table. Ben
suddenly discovered that his pet was a nuisance. "I don't see how you have borne
with him so long, mother," he said, in the most considerate manner, when he had
taken a plum-pudding from a plate in my mother's hands, and had made his way to
the woods with it.
"I am glad you saw him take it,"
said my mother.
"He must have a prison," said
And so it came to pass that the
poor bear was chained in the centre of the space that had been cleared and
leveled for our new house, with the light surveyor's chain used to measure land.
The bear immediately described a circle, limited by the length of his chain,
which he walked over, turning a somersault always at one point, and only
stopping to eat, or pay attention to Ben if he came in his vicinity. Why he
inaugurated this particular and peculiar exercise I am unable to say, but I have
often noticed a tame bear keep up the circle and the somersault hour after hour,
and day after day. He did not tug at his chain, nor quarrel with it, as we poor
mortals do with chains, but apparently accepted it as a provision of Ben's
superior wisdom. This view of the case, if he took it, was sure to be abandoned
at bedtime, when he would inevitably break his chain to get into his master's
bedroom. His indomitable desire to lie on the foot of Ben's bed, or to hug an
old vest under it, was sure to make him break away from any breakable restraint.
Therefore a prison was made for him. It was made of small logs "cobbed up;" that
is, the ends notched with an axe, and the end of a log fitted into each notch.
The roof was of boards destined for the new house, held in place by heavy
stones. The first night the poor beast occupied his new den he raised the boards
in his struggle to get out, impelled by the desire to seek his master. He got
his head out, and then hung by his neck, and so was choked to death. I shed some
tears for him, and my mother rejoiced. I think Ben was not very sorry. Under
other circumstances he would have mourned for the loss of his sublimely-ugly
pet; but he had a new and life-long pet in prospect—perhaps many other pets
after that—and he had no need of, and no place for, a bear.
HOSPITAL AND CAMP INCIDENTS.
SANITARY COMMISSION AMONG THE SOLDIERS.
PROBABLY in no department of the
work of the
Sanitary Commission have more significant
results been achieved than in that of Special Relief, organized for the relief
and care of discharged soldiers. By its various agencies the Commission has in
this department made itself the guardian of thousands of our defenders,
protecting them in their rights, providing lodging-houses and food, rescuing
them from the hands of thieves and sharpers, collecting pensions and pay,
correcting their defective papers, giving them medical treatment, and nursing
when occasion demanded; in a word, seeing that all immediate needs growing out
of their disabled condition are met by corresponding provision for temporary
supply and relief.
The arrangements for this special
relief are organized upon a thorough and constantly-enlarging system, having its
centre at Washington, and thence radiating to every important field of the war.
Washington, a principal feature is the "Home,"
where food, care, and assistance are given to men who are honorably discharged,
and whence they are sent by railroad in the care of special agents to their
destination. At this "Home," also, relief is administered
to men from battle-fields and
hospitals; as many as five hundred a day have sometimes been received and cared
for; and from December, 1862, to October, 1863, 7187 persons were there
entertained. Since it opened 86,986 nights' lodgings have been furnished, and
331,315 meals provided. "Homes" of the same description are maintained by the
Commission at Boston,
Louisville, Cleveland, and
Cincinnati. In and about Washington there are
also "Lodges," maintained in the vicinity of railroads, all of which have
rendered most important aid in improving the sanitary condition of our troops.
One of these Lodges is immediately connected with the Paymaster's Department,
and has in connection with it a Pension Agency, which has been in operation for
nearly a year with branches in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Louisville, and
Cincinnati. This latter Agency has saved to the soldiers already an aggregate
expense of from eight to ten thousand dollars, while at the same time rescuing
them from imposition and a "world of trouble" and anxiety.
Another service rendered to the
soldier is the collection of his back pay. It was found that many men in
hospital, with families sorely in need of as much as they could give them, were
unable to obtain what was due them, or that at least it was so hedged about by
"regulations" as to be beyond their power to collect it. An agent of the
Commission entered on the work of investigation and the removal of difficulties,
and, as an evidence of his success, it is stated that in one week the pay of
fifty-six men thus procured amounted to over three thousand dollars, almost
every dime of which was sent to the suffering families at home. Thus, far and
wide, the work of the Commission bears its beneficent fruits.
Still another branch of Special
Relief is the "Nurses Home," of which there is one in Washington and one in
Annapolis, where sick and weary women-nurses may rest and recuperate their
wasted energies. These houses have become lodges for the wives and mothers of
men in hospital who flock to those points to aid in the care of wounded sons and
Some of the records of the lodges
about Washington, though brief and abrupt, are full of eloquence as to the good
work they have performed. Thus: "A man shoeless, shirtless, and stockingless,
feet frost-bitten and mind deranged, was brought to our Lodge as the only refuge
for the wanderer. We kept him nine days, ascertained his regiment, and returned
him for discharge." The story of a life saved, perhaps of a family reunited,
lies in this short record. And here is another: "A soldier picked up—typhoid
fever—flighty. With the best of care he died the next day;" yet, doubtless, some
heart was cheered by knowing that the dead soldier had tender hands to minister
unto him in his last hours as he journeyed home to the camping-ground beyond the
river. Another case still is that of a soldier who had suffered an amputation,
and who seemed dying, but who, under the care of his nurse, rallied, and the
second day, looking into her eyes, said, in a voice quivering with emotion, "You
have saved my life for my wife."
Such are some of the conspicuous
features of the work of the Sanitary Commission among the soldiers. The
enumeration of its works might be indefinitely extended; but sufficient facts
have been presented to justify the reputation it enjoys, and its claim to a
still more cordial appreciation at the hands of the people. It only remains to
exhibit, from its records, some of the evidences it has accumulated as to the
character, temperament, and habits of the soldiers among whom it has carried
forward its sublime work.
And first, next to their courage,
the uncomplaining temper of our troops and their cheerful acquiescence in the
hardships and most serious calamities of war, are conspicuously exhibited by the
testimony of these Commission records. "Well, Charley," said a
Chattanooga, dressing a wound as he talked,
"what's the matter?" "Oh, not much, doctor; only a hand off!" He had hoped,
maybe, with that good right hand to carve his way to some of the world's highest
places, but it was gone now, lay bleeding and torn on the altar of his country,
and he counted it a little thing. But had he not reached already an exalted
place, higher and nobler than any, except the truly brave, with the soul of
heroism burning in them, ever attain? So it was every where on that field. "Only
once," reports one who passed through all its horrors, "did we hear either
whimper or plaint. An Illinois lieutenant, as brave a fellow as ever drew a
sword, had been shot through and through the thighs—fairly impaled by the
bullet. His wounds were angry with fever; every motion was torture; the men were
lifting him as tenderly as they could, but they let him slip, and he fell
perhaps six inches. But it was like a dash from a precipice to him, and he
wailed out like a little child; tears wet his pale, thin face, and he only said,
"My poor child, how will they tell her?" It was only for a moment; his spirit
and his frame stiffened up together, and, with a half smile, he said, "Don't
tell any body, boys, that I made a fool of myself!"
A soldier, fairly riddled with
bullets, lay on a blanket gasping for breath. ";Jemmy," said a comrade, with one
arm swung up in a sling, and who was going home on a furlough—"Jemmy, what shall
I tell them at home for you?" "Tell them," said he, "that there's hardly enough
left of me to say 'I;' but hold down here a minute, tell Kate there is enough of
me left to love her till I die."
No thought or word of complaint,
only cheerful resignation and patience; content even in the face of death. And
what wonder, since death comes to all who "nobly do and die" with crowns and
honors, leading the tired feet over paths strewn with garlands to the
summer-land lying so close to the borders of this chillier clime!
The tenderness and generosity of
the soldier is another point clearly illustrated by the records of the
Commission. However stern in the battle's front, in the hour of suffering he is
kind, gentle, full of sympathy and compassion. The Wisconsin State agents were
one day distributing relief to the
Wisconsin soldiers in a Western
hospital. One of them, lying seriously wounded, received some of it, but
presently said: "I didn't like it; it made me feel bad to have things given to
me and not to the boy lying next to me. But I made it all right; for I divided
battle of Perryville a Federal soldier
wandering over the field found a rebel, wounded and helpless, lying exposed to a
cold and pelting rain. The Federal asked the sufferer a few questions, and
seeing how much he suffered, took off his coat and put it over the wounded man.
Some days after the rebel was brought in a prisoner, with the Union coat in his
possession, and in reply to a question as to where he got it, told the story of
the Federal soldier's kindness, adding, "I shall never shoot that man, any how."
The rebels, it has been observed,
do not bear up as well under disaster as our own men. There is not only more
whimpering, but more fretfulness and bitterness of spirit evinced, chiefly in
want of regard one for another. But there are exceptions even in this. Among the
sick and wounded who were one night taken on board a Sanitary transport in the
James River were several rebels. One who was
near death said, gently, to the nurse: "God forgive me, honey, if it was wrong.
I thought it was right, but I don't like it; that's the truth. I would rather
have died for the old flag; but I thought it was right. There, let them bury
that with me," showing a bracelet of hair on his arm. "It's my wife's, honey; it
is. My watch you may keep;" and so the poor fellow ran on—patience mellowing all
his speech and marking all his action until, at the roll-call of the Recording
Angel, he answered "Here!" and was gone.
One other characteristic of the
Northern soldier must be mentioned, as unmistakably attested by the experience
of the Commission agents. He is a believer in God, understands his own
accountability, and is not ashamed to stand up for the honor of His name. In
hundreds of camps prayer-meetings are held daily; and thousands of stern,
determined veterans, who have gone through the battle's tempest time and time
again, are found weeping before the altar, lifting their hearts to Him who is
over all, the Great Captain of our salvation. Surely there is encouragement in a
fact like this; and whatever agency tends to develop and sustain this religious
feeling deserves the support of all right-thinking men.
Providence—it is no irreverence
to say—works with and blesses this Commission. In many cases results have
sustained such marked relations to their causes; gifts have found their way by
such wonderful chances to the precise objects which the givers would have chosen
above all others to benefit; difficulties that seemed insurmountable have so
melted away; and embarrassments that threatened irremediable disasters have been
so overcome, that the blindest eye could not fail to discern, and the coldest
heart to acknowledge, the presence of an enlightened controlling Influence,
whose sympathies and energies were altogether in co-operation with this great
patriotic charity. There is consolation for the future in this thought. It helps
us to look beyond the fogs that lie on the lowlands of our selfishness and
unbelief, and to see the shining heights where God is, and victory awaits the
True and Just. Especially does this thought stimulate continued effort in behalf
of this Commission. We are workers with the Infinite One in every endeavor
expended in this cause.
Sometimes, dear Madam, you wonder
what becomes of your gifts; whether they are wisely and faithfully appropriated;
whether, in hospital or field, the pillow you have made rests any tired head,
the dressing-gown your fingers embroidered wraps any wasted, fading form;
whether the slippers your needle worked ease any weary, blistered foot? Go to
the records of this Commission and you have your answer. On every field your
labor bears precious fruit. It is as if you had planted trees of Paradise, under
which all weary, suffering ones might find shelter and rest. In every tent,
lodge, and hospital you will find blossoms from those trees of yours lying,
fragrant and beautiful, in their pale hands, on peaceful, pulseless breasts. The
soldiers, women of the North, are blessed by your work, and they appreciate it
as true men should. Be encouraged: the Father takes care of your gifts, and
sends them where you would have them go. "What do the women say about us boys at
home?" slowly asked a poor wreck of a lad of one who sat at his side. That brow
of his ached for the ouch of a loving hand. He had walked through rough, stony
places; temptation, sin, folly had beset him on the right hand and the left; but
he felt still a mother's influence on his soul, leading him into the June paths
of old. At the very moment he asked the question "What do the women say of us at
home?" he was turning over a little silken needle-book that some laughing girl
had some day made and sent to the Sanitary Commission, working on its cover the
words, playfully perhaps, "My bold soldier-boy." The friend sitting by simply
pointed to that legend. The reply struck home to his heart, and he burst into
tears. They were not bitter tears, but tears of joy. His question was answered;
the evidence of woman's interest was before his eyes, and he was content. His
eyelids closed down, his breathing grew calm, and soon sleep touched him, and he
was dreaming. It was your hand that touched him and brought that benign peace to
After the battle of Hanover Court
House there was great suffering among the wounded for want of blankets and
medical stores. Even the necessaries of life were scarcely to be had. Finally,
however, an army surgeon forced his way to White House. There he found the
Sanitary Commission and told them the story of the soldiers' sufferings. At once
clean sheets, blankets, bedsacks, and pillows, were packed, and, with boxes of
condensed milk, farina, tea, coffee, sugar, oranges, and lemons, were sent off
to the hospitals. "When I departed," says the surgeon, "there was not a State
represented in my
hospital but found some article bearing the marks of home. As
I led one poor fellow from Pennsylvania to his bed, and he saw (Next