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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 5, 1864

Welcome to our collection of Civil War newspapers. These Harper's Weekly papers were published within days of the battles and events depicted. The wood cut illustrations were created by war correspondents on the front lines, creating eye-witnesses drawings of the critical events of the war.

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Sheridan's Ride

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Ride

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HARPERS WEEKLY.

[NOVEMBER 5, 1864.

710

(Previous Page) fact plainly enough--could imagine the vast amount of business transacted on board of it. Having to do not only the freighting, but what literally amounts to the banking business of the thousands comprising an army, one may suppose is no ordinary labor ; but very few who have not witnessed the modus operandi can realize how immensely that labor is increased by the necessary lack of all those technical facilities by which banking establishments are carried on, and which it is impossible to find at the temporary base of an army constantly in motion. It is an average thing, irrespective of the large amount of freight constantly going to and from the office at City Point, for from 50,000 to 75,000 dollars in money to be daily transmitted, in individual packages, from the soldiers to their friends at home; and there are days when the aggregate can not fall short of 150,000 dollars.

" These packages, after having their contents duly counted and receipted, have to be sealed up with five large impressions of sealing-wax, stamped by the Company's seal, and then read over and tallied—a tedious mechanical labor often reaching far into the night. The whole of the work in this important branch of the Company devolves upon one responsible agent and seven assistants."

THE PRICE OF A KISS.

WHEN I was a boy—a tall, strapping young fellow- of seventeen or eighteen—father was a farmer, and owned that pier of ground yonder. It was a fine farm then, though they've cut a railway through it now, and spoiled it with their improvements. In those days we were content to travel by the stage or on horseback ; and I must confess I don't think we've gained much by the change except ex-plosions, though you mayn't agree with me there —youngsters never do. Just here stood old Wilber Trabb's tavern---the Jolly Farmer. Tavern was no disgrace then, though you'd insult a hotel to call it one now. They hadn't much steady company there ; but folk stopped on the way up by the stage, and drovers and farmers on the way to mark-et took their meals there. Of winter evenings the Squire, and the Doctor, and even the Parson, used to come over to taste old Trabb's ale and have a chat with him. He was a well-educated, light-hearted old man, who had fought when young in the Revolutionary war ; and though past seventy could drink and laugh with fellows young enough to be his grandsons. Such stories as he used to tell of his own bravery and hair-breadth escapes would make your hair stand on end with horror. We youngsters never doubted a word of them then, whatever we may do now at times. With his large balky figure, and red face, and loud voice, he was the strangest contrast to his daughter Mehetabel—Hetty every one called her. She was like some slender white lily in those days, and her voice no louder than some silver bell, and just as musical—a shy little soul just come home from school, and ready to cry with fright at the thought of having to take her place as mistress ; for you see her mother had been dead years and years. The tomb stone in the church yard was just as old as Hetty, and she was the only woman about the house.

In a little while she grew used to it, and less timid; and then from looking at her at a distance I came to speaking to her. The first time was at the great gate that opened upon the road from the back of the house. It was heavy and hard to open, and seeing her little hands busy with it I went across and set it back for her ; and she said, " Thank you —you're very kind to take so much trouble."

"No trouble at all, Miss Hetty," I said ; "it's a pleasure." And then she blushed, and I felt the blood rush into nay face, though I don't suppose she noticed it ; for what with work in the open air, and the sun, and sheepishness, I was about as red as I well could be all the time in those days.

After that we bowed, and smiled, and spoke when we met ; and at last one Sunday evening I mustered up resolution, and dressed myself in my hest, and put a rose in my button-hole, and took a bouquet for her, and went across the fields to Wilber Trabb's. Two or three times I felt like turning back, or running off somewhere ; but I screwed my courage to the sticking point and got to the door. I'm not sure, though, that I'd have made up my mind to go in if she hadn't been sitting there on the porch reading her prayer-book. She put it in her pocket, and looked up and smiled.

"How do you do, Mr. Maffit?" she said. "I'm glad to see you. Walk in." And she took me into the little parlor and handed me a chair.

I can remember that room just as if it was yesterday. There was a home-made carpet, red and yellow stripes, on the floor ; and a mahogany tea-table you could see your face in between the windows; and all about the room was wainscoted and painted blue about as high as your waist. Above that was whitewashed. The mantle-piece was higher than your head, and had plated candlesticks and a tea-caddy on it ; and on the wall were two paper profiles : one of old Wilber, and the other of his wife, cut at a fair when they were sweet-hearts. The chairs had rush bottoms and were painted black, and there were green window-papers tied up with tassels at the windows. Hefty wore a am-bite dress and a check apron, and had a string of coral beads about her little throat. I remember it all like a picture—most of all her pretty eyes. looking down at the stripes in the carpet.

" It's a nice evening. Miss Hetty," I said, to say something, as I ought.

" Very," she answered. "I'm always glad of a bright Sunday. Rain keeps the people from church, and makes it dull besides."

" I saw you in church this morning," I said.

"I saw you too," replied Hetty, and then there was silence. She plaited her apron strings, and I stared at her.

" I see you've plenty of flowers, Miss Hetty," I said ; " but mother has such good luck with her car-nations, I thought I'd bring you a few, if you'd accept them;" and I handed her my nosegay. She smiled and took them.

" They're beautiful," she said. "I'll put them in water ;" and she went out and brought in a clean, polished beer-glass half full of water and set them in it ; and having something to do with her hands and eyes grew less bashful. And we talked about flowers and seeds and gardening for a good while.

When the moon was up we went out on the porch and sat there. And she told me about her city school, and a teacher who was very kind to her, and of her joy that she could be so useful to her father, and that he was so fond of her.

" For you see," she said, " I'd been away so long I knew nothing about home, and not much even about pa."

" I'm sure," said I, "the loss was his, and if you were my daughter I'd not send you to school away from me one day." And then I was so conscious that I'd made a silly speech that I said "good night" in quite a short way, and wished the earth would open and swallow me.

That was my first visit to Hetty, but not the last. Pretty soon I went up to see her every Sun-day night, and waited on her to singing-school, and had got so that I could talk in my natural voice—the first night it was only a queer husky growl—and could express my own ideas, such as they were, in something like comprehensible language.

Hetty had read more than I had ever heard of. She was well educated for a girl in those days, and she made me wonder at her smartness when she was not afraid of talking. She wrote a pretty hand, too, and could sing the sweetest ballad. My only fear was that I was too homely, and rough, and countrified to suit her. Father knew where I went Sunday nights, and laughed about my going sparking; but mother was anxious. She thought that Hetty was not just the girl for a farmer's with, I fancy, and she had made up her mind that I Amid marry my far-away cousin, Ann Dolting. But I took my own way, and grew fonder of dear little Hetty every day. I hoped, too, that she liked me better. At last there had been an apple-paring at neighbor Welcome's ; dancing and games had kept us up all night, so that it was almost dawn when I saw Hefty home. How peaceful the greets fields were in the gray twilight, with the pale moon and stars just fading out of sight, and the dew, like diamonds, on every spear of the long grass ! I had offered Hefty my arm, and the dear little hand lay like a snow-flake on the black cloth. Something —not myself, I'm sure, for I'd not have dared to—made me suddenly stoop nay head and kiss the pretty fingers, and the next minute we were standing face to face quite still, with both her hands in mine.

"Oh, Hetty!" I said, "please don't be angry ; but I love you so—you are so very dear to me. Ever since that first evening I've felt that if you should say I might not have that little hand to keep I should want to die. I don't know what there is in me to like; but, Hetty, for Heaven's sake try to like use enough to be my wife. The best and handsomest fellow in the world couldn't be fonder of you than I am."

She wouldn't look up. She wouldn't speak. I tried to see her face, and it was all wet with tears. But when I put may arm about her she did not seem angry, and I drew her to my heart and held her there long enough to kiss her twenty times; and then we walked on over the fields, and I thanked God for giving me so great a treasure. Old Wilber Trabb was not opposed to the match; but when I talked to him about it as Hefty bade me, he said,

"If the girl has set her heart or it she may marry you, but I can't spare her yet, and you are both young enough to wait a couple of years; so it was settled that we should be married two years from that time on my Hefty's nineteenth birthday. "All the better," said the old folks, and Hetty was content; but I felt anxious to have her all my own. She was so lovely that I fancied every man in the world must envy me.

As for my doing as I did I'd have staked my soul, and that's a pretty heavy stake, that I never could have done it. I was bewitched, I think, or Satan took possession of me. But this is how it happened. We had been engaged a year—Hetty and I—I think, when a pretty Southern girl came to Butler to live. Butler was the next village. She had an opportunity of making a show, for her father owned plenty of darkeys, and gave her all the money she wanted. She dressed elegantly, and gave herself airs, and wondered how any woman could do housework. A great black woman with slipshod shoes came with her to wait on her, and she never poured out the water to wash her own hands. She put silly notions into many a girl's head, but Hetty only laughed at her. Why I never knew, but she took a notion to me—she glanced and smiled—she wasn't troubled by bashfulness ; and after a while I found myself talking to her a great deal, and thinking very often how pretty she was. Once or twice Hefty was silent and a little pale after the parties and husking-frolics where we met Miss Princely; but I never thought of her being jealous, for I loved her better than any living thing, and it seemed to me she must know it.

One day, or evening rather, I had been dancing with this Southern girl, and was about to leave her when she gave a little laugh and said,

" I thought you had staid quite as long as you dared."

" What do you mean?" I asked.

" Oh we all know whose apron-string you are tied to!" she replied. "I only wonder you dare leave her side at all."

" I dare do any thing I choose," said I.

" No," she laughed, " you daren't dance the next three dances with me."

" But I will," said I ; and I sat down beside her. I saw her eyes glitter, and I did not dare to look toward Hetty. Soon the music struck up, and we danced together. Hetty had another partner. I envied him her little white hand, but I could not bring myself to be laughed at, and I danced not only three but four times with Miss Princely.

" You're braver than I thought," she said, when we were through. "Now run away and be forgiven."

' My heart gave a strange little leap as she said those words, but I answered by a laugh and kept close to her all supper time. People were talking about it, I knew, for all were well aware that Hetty and I were engaged to each other ; but that girl's sneer seemed to have made a fool of me, and I determined to show her that T was my own master.

When I left her at last, she said : " I am going away the day after to-morrow for good. If you dare come over and see me to-morrow evening;—"

" I'Il be there," I said, and then I went in search of Hetty. She was not there. Dr. Bray and his wife had gone home early, and she had gone with them in their gig.

I did not stay long after that.

The best part of that night I passed walking up and down before her window. There was a light within, and every now and then a little shadow crossed the curtain. If I could have seen her then all would have been right, butt' it was too late, and I went home just in time to change my dress and be called to breakfast.

The day was a long one. It was a busy time, and I couldn't leave my work ; but I thought of Hetty all the while. What apology could I make ? I could only tell her the truth, and how meanly that sound-ed. "Tied to her apron-string," and she the gentlest thing that ever lived, who never strove to rule me. I almost hated Miss Princely for that speech now.

But Hefty was so good and sweet-tempered she must forgive me. It was the first time I had offended, and I made short work of the mush and milk at supper, and was up stairs and dressed and off in less time than it takes to tell of it.

When I reached the house, old Trabb was taking supper by himself. "Looking for I-Jetty ?" he asked. "She's off spending the afternoon somewhere; took her knitting work and said she'd be out late. Sit by and take a bite."

But I was too restless, and hurt besides. It. was one of may regular evenings, and Hetty must have known I would be there. I thought her very cruel and unkind; and then in a spirit of pique I made up my mind to go to Butler and see Miss Princely at her cousin's.

It was a three-miles' wall:, and was quite dark when I got there. They lived in the only street of Butler, a row of white houses, with their gardens joining, just separated by pretty little hedges. Miss Princely was alone. " So glad to see you," she said. "I staid home on purpose ;" and she smiled, and dimpled, and looked prettier than ever. Then she played to me, for they had a piano, and afterward the colored woman brought in coffee and cakes and cold chicken, and we had a little supper.

I didn't forget Hetty, but I made up my mind to enjoy that evening, and the supper over we walked up and down in the garden. Next door, with the hedge between us, some girls were chatting, but their laughs and voices were the only sounds that disturbed the silence.

"I'm going away to-morrow," said Miss Princely, after a little while.

"I am very sorry to hear it," said T.

" I don't believe you," she said, pouting.

" Why not ?"

" You'd not care if all the world were going," she said. " If you were to hear I were dead tomorrow you'd never grieve."

"Indeed I should."

"Oh, you men !" she said, coquettishly. "But do you know my poor little bones quite long for home again ? It is growing chilly here as autumn advances. My hands are quite chapped, and my lips, just look at them." She pursed them up in a very tempting way and T bent forward.

"I can't see," I said. " It's too dark, I must tell by the sense of touch."

It's strange how such a bashful fellow as I had been could have grown so saucy on a sudden; but I told you before I was bewitched. I had kissed her as I spoke, and she gave me a little soft slap, and said, " Oh, how dare you?" in any thing but an angry voice.

"They're very soft yet for chapped lips," I said; and just then turning, I saw in the moonlight a pale, frightened face looking over the hedge which divided the two gardens. There for a moment stood Hefty looking at us both. The next I saw it sink, and heard some one cry, "Why, what is the matter with Hetty? I think she has fainted."

How much she heard I never knew, but I know she saw me kiss that girl.

The next day a farm-hand brought me a little parcel and a note from Hefty :

"I send hack your presents," she wrote. "I wish you could return all the love I have given you. It is over now, but I am ashamed of ever having cared for one so treacherous and fickle."

Those cold words only. Five hours afterward I had left home and was far away, with only a few dollars in my pocket and a bundle of clothes on a stick over my shoulders.

A vessel was about to sail for England when I reached New York, and I shipped before the mast.

I went half around the world, and went to many a land. I never forgot Hetty; and I knew I never could be happy again ; but I was most like myself in a storm, or when there was any danger that excited me. One thing they thought odd in me—I never cared to look at or speak to a woman when we went ashore ; pretty or ugly, young or old, it was all the same. At last I wrote to mother, but not often, and I never asked a question about Hetty. I didn't care to hear what I supposed I should, that she had married some one else.

When my mother died father was not fond of writing, and I sent him presents instead of letters, and had no chance of hearing.

I'll not make my long story longer by telling of may adventures at sea, or how we came, after I was first mate, to fall in with a pirate on the high seas. We beat him; but I was wounded, and they took me up for dead. I lived, however; and though I had lost a leg, and had a great scar across my cheek, seemed likely to live. I came back to America, and my heart being softened by a long illness, I longed to see home and    my good old father ; so from New

York I traveled to my native place. I was thirty-six years old on the day when I limped through Butler, where the stage stopped, and saw the garden in which I had given Miss Princely that kiss which had cost me so much. My heart was so full that I could have wept. Butler and our place had grown such near neighbors that they were almost one. Only two or three green fields lay between them. A new street had been built, and the tavern now stood on that. It was altered, and had wings and another story, but there was a sign—The Town Hotel, W. Trabb. A boy was lounging at the door.

" Is old Mr. Trabb living yet?" I asked.

"Yes, Sir," said the boy; "and he's right smart, though they say he's over ninety."

"He'll not remember me," I thought. "I'll go in and see him."

I knew the way to the parlor, and I went toward it. The hail was oil-clothed and painted, and when I looked into the room I hardly knew it. Its walls were papered, and it was furnished as modern parlors were. But I did know the form that stood there—the slight, fair woman, with her bands of golden hair—Hetty—older, but not altered — the sweet girl changed to a lovely woman. She bent over the chair in which her old father sat, and, standing there, I heard him speak, his tones thinner than of yore and with a quaver in them.

"My dear, I wish you'd think twice of this. I'm sure John Westbrook would make you a good husband. I'd like to see you married before I die."

" Papa," she answered, "I'm too old to marry. I'm thirty-five."

"A mere child yet," said the old man. " And you might have been married twenty times. I don't want to lose you; but John would take the business, and we'd live together. Make up your mind to marry him."

" I can't, papa ; indeed I can't marry John West-brook. I must live and die an old maid."

"I can't see why you should throw your life away," said the old man.

"Dear papa," she said, "it is not wasting my life to spend it with you. I have never loved any one but poor Arthur Maffit, and it would be very wrong to marry without loving. He has all I ever had to give."

"The sea can not give up its dead," said the old man.

"Amen !" she said, and bent her head upon his shoulder and wept aloud.

Then I crossed the threshold and stood before them.

"Hetty, I am not worthy of your tears," I said. And, with a cry, she turned and fell fainting in my arms.

An hour after we sat alone together, and I said to her:

"Hetty, I have no right., altered as I am after so many years, to come between you and a better man. But I am very selfish. Can you forget the bitterly-repented folly of an hour enough to forgive and bless a man who loves you, and has always loved you, better than his life ? Will you be a crippled sailor's wife, Hetty, or must I take my lonely way again, and bear my punishment until I die?"

I waited for my answer, not daring to look at her until she put her little milk-white woman's hand in my brown, rough palms, and left it there.  

RETALIATION.

IN 1845 I was attached as surgeon-major to the military hospital of Constantine. This hospital rises in the interior of the Kasbah, over a precipice of from three to four hundred feet in height. It commands at once the city, the governor's palace, and the vast plain beyond, as far as the eye can reach. It is at once a comprehensive and a savage scene; from my window, left open to inspire the fresh breezes of the evening, I could see the vultures and ravens soaring around the inaccessible cliffs, before withdrawing for the night into their fissures and crevices. I could easily throw my cigar into the Rummel, which flows along the foot of the giant wall. Not a sound, not a murmur came to trouble the calm of my studies, till the evening bugle and drums, repeated by the echoes of the fortress, called the men to their quarters.

Garrison life had never any charms for use ; I never could accustom myself to absinthe and rum, or to the petit verre de cognac. At the time I am now speaking about that was called wanting in esprit de corps, but my gastric faculties did not permit my having that kind of "esprit." I occupied myself there with visiting my patients, prescribing and dressing, and then I retired to my room to make notes of the cases, to read a book, or sit at the window contemplating the wild, gloomy, savage scene before me.

Every one got accustomed to, and put up with, my retiring habits, save a certain lieutenant of voltigeurs, Castagnac by name, whom I must introduce to you in propria person.

On my first arrival at Constantine, getting down from the carriage, a voice shouted out behind me:

"Tiens! I'll lay a bet that is our surgeon-major."

I turned round and found myself in the presence of an infantry officer, tall, thin, bony, with a red nose and gray mustache, his kepi over his ear, its peak stabbing the sky, his sword between his legs: it was Lieutenant Castagnac, and who has not seen the same military type/

While I was familiarizing my eyes with this strange physiognomy, the Lientenant had seized my hand:

"Welcome, Doctor ! Delighted to make your acquaintance. You are tired, I am sure. Come in, I will introduce you to the 'Cercle.' "

The "Cercle" at Constantine was the restaurant and bar of the officers united. We went in. How was it possible to resist the sympathetic enthusiasm of such a man ? And yet I had read "Gil Bias!"

"Garcon, two glasses. What do you take, Doctor—cognac or rum ?"

" Neither. Curacoa, if you please."

" Curacoa! Why not say `parfait amour' at once? Ah, ah, ah! you have a strange taste.


 

 

  

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