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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."
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
" 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,"
" 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
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,"
" I don't believe you," she said,
" 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
"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
"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
" Is old Mr. Trabb living yet?" I
"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
" 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.
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
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
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
"Garcon, two glasses. What do you
take, Doctor—cognac or rum ?"
" Neither. Curacoa, if you
" Curacoa! Why not say `parfait
amour' at once? Ah, ah, ah! you have a strange taste.