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Title: Ten American Girls From History
Author: Sweetser, Kate Dickinson
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Publisher's device]


[Illustration: MOLLY PITCHER]


Copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America
Published October, 1917






FOREWORD                                                         xi


THE FIRST GUN FIRED FOR INDEPENDENCE                             36

MONMOUTH                                                         71


LIFE-SAVER                                                      125


DAYS OF AMERICA                                                 174

LOUISA M. ALCOTT: AUTHOR OF "LITTLE WOMEN"                      207


ANNA DICKINSON: THE GIRL ORATOR                                 271


MOLLY PITCHER                                        _Frontispiece_

POCAHONTAS SAVES CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH                   _Facing p._ 4

THE SECRET ROOM                                           "     108

IDA LEWIS                                                 "     128



The loyalty of Pocahontas, the patriotism of Molly Pitcher and Dorothy
Quincy, the devoted service of Clara Barton, the heroism of Ida Lewis,
the enthusiasm of Anna Dickinson, the fine work of Louisa Alcott--all
challenge the emulation of American girls of to-day. Citizen-soldiers
on a field of service as wide as the world, young America has at this
hour of national crisis its chance to win recognition for fidelity,
for bravery, and for loyal service, with victory for American ideals
as its golden reward, in a world "made safe for democracy."

My first aim in bringing the lives of these ten American girls from
history to the attention of the girls of to-day has been to inspire
them to like deeds of patriotism and courage. Second only to that
purpose is a desire to make young Americans realize as they read these
true stories of achievement along such widely varying lines of work,
that history is more thrilling than fiction, and that if they will
turn from these short sketches to the longer biographies from which
the facts of these stories have been taken, they will find interesting
and absorbing reading.

May the book accomplish its twofold object, and so justify its
publication at this time of the testing of all true Americans.

                                        KATE DICKINSON SWEETSER.

    August 1, 1917.



Sunlight glinting between huge forest trees, and blue skies
over-arching the Indian village of Werewocomoco on the York River in
Virginia, where Powhatan, the mighty "Werowance," or ruler over thirty
tribes, was living.

Through Orapakes and Pamunkey and other forest settlements a long line
of fierce warriors were marching Indian file, on their way to
Werewocomoco, leading a captive white man to Powhatan for inspection
and for sentence. As the warriors passed into the Indian village, they
encountered crowds of dusky braves and tattooed squaws hurrying along
the wood trails, and when they halted at the central clearing of the
village, the crowd closed in around them to get a better view of the
captive. At the same time there rose a wild clamor from the rear of
the throng as a merry group of shrieking, shouting girls and boys
darted forward, jostling their way through the crowd.

Their leader was a slender, straight young girl with laughing eyes
such as are seldom seen among Indians, and hair as black as a crow's
wing blown about her cheeks in wild disorder, while her manner was
that of a happy hearty forest maiden. This was Matoaka, daughter of
the Werowance Powhatan, and although he had many subjects as well as
twenty sons and eleven daughters, not one was ruled so despotically as
was he himself, by this slender girl with laughing eyes, for whom his
pet name was Pocahontas, or in free translation, "little romp."

Having established themselves in the front row of the crowd the girls
and boys stood eagerly staring at the prisoner, for many of them had
never seen a white man before, and as Pocahontas watched, she looked
like a forest flower in her robe of soft deer-skin, with beaded
moccasins on her shapely feet, coral bracelets and anklets vying with
the color in her dark cheeks, while a white plume drooping over her
disordered hair proclaimed her to be the daughter of a great chief. In
her health and happiness she radiated a charm which made her easily
the ruling spirit among her mates, and compelled the gaze of the
captive, whose eyes, looking about for some friendly face among the
savage throng, fastened on the eager little maiden with a feeling of
relief, for her bright glance showed such interest in the prisoner and
such sympathy with him as was to endear her to his race in later

The long line of braves with their heads and shoulders gaily painted
had wound their slow way through forest, field, and meadow to bring
into the presence of the great "Werowance" a no less important captive
than Captain John Smith, leader in the English Colony at Jamestown by
reason of his quick wit and stout heart. The settlers having been
threatened with a famine, the brave Captain had volunteered to go on
an expedition among neighboring Indian villages in search of a supply
of corn. The trip had been full of thrilling adventures for him, and
had ended disastrously in his being taken prisoner by Opechancanough,
the brother of Powhatan. The news of Smith's capture having been
carried to the great Werowance, he commanded that the pale-faced
_Caucarouse_, or Captain, be brought to him for sentence. And that was
why the warriors marched into Werewocomoco, Opechancanough in the
center, with the firearms taken from Captain Smith and his companions
carried before him as trophies. The prisoner followed, gripped by
three stalwart Indians, while six others acted as flank guards to
prevent his escape, and as they passed into Werewocomoco they were
greeted by yelling savages brandishing weapons and surging forward to
get a better glimpse of the white captive. The procession halted for a
few minutes at the village clearing, then moved slowly on to
Powhatan's "Chief Place of Council," a long arbor-like structure where
the great Werowance was waiting to receive Captain Smith.

The crowd of boys and girls followed in the wake of the warriors until
the Council Hall was reached, when they all dropped back except their
leader. Pushing her hair from her low brow, that she might see more
clearly, and walking with the erectness of a Werowance's daughter,
Pocahontas entered the hall and stood near her father where she could
not only watch the white captive, who appealed strongly to her fancy,
but could also note Powhatan's expression as he passed judgment on the

With inscrutable reserve and majestic dignity the great ruler bowed as
the captive was led before his rustic throne, where he reclined in a
gorgeous robe of raccoon-skins. On either side of the Council Hall sat
rows of dusky men and women, with their heads and shoulders painted
red, some of the women wearing garments trimmed with the white down
from birds' breasts, while others wore long chains of white beads
about their necks.

It was a picturesque sight for English eyes, and fearful though he was
of foul play, the Captain could not but appreciate the brilliant
mingling of gay colors and dark faces. As he stood before the Chief,
there was a clapping of hands to call an Indian woman, the Queen of
the Appamattock, who brought water to wash the captive's hands, while
another brought a bunch of feathers to dry them on. "What next?"
Captain Smith wondered as he watched further preparations being made,
evidently for a feast, of which he was soon asked to partake.

Under the circumstances his appetite was not keen, but he felt obliged
to pretend to a relish that he did not feel, and while he was eating
his eyes lighted up with pleasure as he saw by her father's
side--though he did not know then of the relationship--the little
Indian girl whose interest in him had been so apparent when he saw her
in the village. He dared not smile in response to her vivid glance,
but his gaze lingered long on the vision of youth and loveliness, and
he turned back to his meal with a better appetite.

The feast at an end, Powhatan called his councilors to his side, and
while they were in earnest debate Captain Smith knew only too well
that his fate was hanging in the balance. At last a stalwart brave
arose and spoke to the assemblage. The captive, so he said, was known
to be the leading spirit among the white settlers whose colony was too
near the Indians' homes to please them, also in his expedition in
search of corn he had killed four Indian warriors with "mysterious
weapons which spoke with the voice of thunder and breathed the
lightning," and he had been spying on their land, trying to find some
secret means by which to betray them. With him out of the way their
country would be freed from a dangerous menace, therefore he was
condemned to death.

Doomed to die! Although he did not understand their words, there was
no misunderstanding their intention. Immediately two great stones were
rolled into the hall, to the feet of Powhatan, and the Captain was
seized roughly, dragged forward and forced to lie down in such a
position that his head lay across the stones. Life looked sweet to him
as he reviewed it in a moment of quick survey while waiting for the
warriors' clubs to dash out his brains. He closed his eyes. Powhatan
gave the fatal signal--the clubs quivered in the hands of the
executioners. A piercing shriek rang out, as Pocahontas darted from
her father's side, sprang between the uplifted clubs of the savages
and the prostrate Captain, twining her arms around his neck and laying
her own bright head in such a position that to kill the captive would
be to kill the Werowance's dearest daughter.


With horror at this staying of his royal purpose, and at the sight of
his child with her arms around the white man's neck, Powhatan stared
as if at a hideous vision, and closed his ears to the sound of her
voice as her defiant Indian words rang out:

"No! He shall not die!"

The savages stood with upraised weapons; Powhatan sat rigid in the
intensity of his emotion. Watching him closely for some sign of
relenting, Pocahontas, without moving from her position, began to
plead with the stern old Chief,--begged, entreated, prayed--until she
had her desire.

"Let the prisoner go free!"

Through the long Council-room echoed Powhatan's order, and a
perfunctory shout rose from the savage throng, who were always quick
to echo their Chief's commands. Captain Smith, bewildered by the
sudden turn of affairs, was helped to rise, led to the beaming girl,
and told that the condition of his release from death was that he
might "make hatchets and trinkets" for Pocahontas, the Werowance's
dearest daughter. So his deliverer was the daughter of the great
Chief! With the courtly manner which he had brought from his life in
other lands he bent over the warm little hand of the Indian maiden
with such sincere appreciation of her brave deed that she flushed with
happiness, and she ran away with her playmates, singing as merrily as
a forest bird, leaving the pale-faced _Caucarouse_ with her royal
father, that they might become better acquainted. Although she ran off
so gaily with her comrades after having rescued Captain Smith, yet she
was far from heedless of his presence in the village, and soon
deserted her young friends to steal shyly back to the side of the
wonderful white man whose life had been saved that he might serve her.

During the first days of his captivity--for it was that--the Captain
and Powhatan became very friendly, and had many long talks by the
camp-fire, by means of a sign language and such words of the Algonquin
dialect as Captain Smith had learned since coming to Virginia. And
often Pocahontas squatted by her father's side, her eager eyes intent
on the Captain's face as he matched the old ruler's marvelous tales of
hoarded gold possessed by tribes living to the west of Werewocomoco,
with stories of the cities of Europe he had visited, and the strange
peoples he had met in his wanderings. Sometimes as he told his
thrilling tales he would hear the little Indian maid catch her breath
from interest in his narrative, and he would smile responsively into
her upturned face, feeling a real affection for the young girl who had
saved his life.

From his talks with Powhatan the Englishman found out that the great
desire of the savage ruler was to own some of the cannon and
grindstones used by the colonists, and with quick diplomacy he
promised to satisfy this wish if Powhatan would but let him go back to
Jamestown and send with him warriors to carry the coveted articles.
This the wily Indian ruler promised to do, and in return offered him
a tract of land which he did not own, and from which he intended to
push the settlers if they should take possession of it. And Captain
Smith had no intention of giving either cannon or grindstones to
Powhatan, so the shrewd old savage and the quick-witted Captain were
well matched in diplomacy.

Meanwhile, Powhatan's interest in his white captive became so great
that he gave him the freedom he would have accorded one of his own
subjects, even allowing Pocahontas to hunt with him, and when evening
came she would sit by the great fire and listen to her Captain's
stories of his life told with many a graphic gesture which made them
clear to her even though most of his words were unintelligible.

Then came a day when the captive was led to a cabin in the heart of
the forest and seated on a mat before a smoldering fire to await he
knew not what. Suddenly Powhatan appeared before him, fantastically
dressed, followed by two hundred warriors as weirdly decorated as he
was. Rushing in, they surrounded the frightened Captain, but quickly
dispelled his fears by telling him that they were all his friends and
this was only a ceremony to celebrate his speedy return to Jamestown,
for the purpose of sending back cannon and grindstones to their Chief.

This was good news. The Captain showed hearty appreciation of the
favor, and at once said his farewells. Powhatan, the inscrutable, who
bade him a dignified good-by, repeated his promise to give him the
country of the Capahowsick, which he did not own, and said he should
forever honor him as his own son. Then, with an escort of twelve
Indians, Captain Smith set out for Jamestown, and beside him trudged
Pocahontas, looking as resolute as if she were in truth a forest
Princess escorting her chosen cavalier through the wilderness.

As they picked their way along the rough trail, the Captain told her
such tales of the settlement as he could make clear to her and
repeated some simple English words he had been trying to teach her. As
he talked and as she said over and over the words she had learned,
Pocahontas gripped his arm with rapt interest and longed to follow
where he led. But night was coming on, it was unwise for her to go
beyond the last fork of the trail, and so, reluctantly, she parted
from her new and wonderful friend. But before she left him she darted
to the side of a trusty warrior and gave a passionate command, then
started swiftly back on the long wood path leading to Werewocomoco.
The next night no one could make her laugh or join in the dances
around the big fire, nor did she show any likeness to the
light-hearted, romping, singing little tomboy, ringleader among her
playmates. Pocahontas had lost a comrade, and her childish heart was
sore at the loss. But when the warriors returned from Jamestown she
became merry and happy again, for had the _Caucarouse_ not sent her
back strings of beads more beautiful than any she had ever seen
before, such as proved surely that he had not forgotten her?

The truth of the matter was, that on reaching the colony, Captain
Smith showed the Indians a grindstone and told them to carry it back
to Powhatan, but when they tried to lift it and found its great weight
they were utterly disconcerted. Then the wily Captain showed them a
cannon purposely loaded with stones, and had it discharged among the
icicle-laden trees, which so terrified the savages that they ran away
and refused to take another look at it. Then Captain Smith cleverly
suggested that they carry back trinkets in place of the articles which
were so heavy, and the Indians went happily away without the promised
gifts, but bearing many smaller things, some of which the Captain was
thoughtful enough to suggest be given to Pocahontas as a slight token
of his appreciation of her great service to him.

Little he dreamed, man of the world though he was, that the small
courtesy would mean as much to the Indian maiden as it did, nor could
he know that from that hour the dreams of Pocahontas were all to be
built around the daily life of the pale-faced men in the Jamestown
settlement. Even when she joined her playmates in her favorite games
of Gus-ga-e-sa-ta (deer buttons), or Gus-ka-eh (peach-pit), or
even,--tomboy that she was,--when she turned somersaults with her
favorite brother Nantaquaus and his comrades, she was so far from
being her usual lively self that the boys and girls questioned her
about the reason. In reply she only flung back her head with an
indifferent gesture, and walked away from them. Later when the great
fires blazed in Council Hall and Long House, she sought the trusty
warrior who had accompanied Captain Smith to Jamestown, and he gave
her such news of the settlers as he had heard from the Indians who
loafed about Jamestown. They were on friendly terms with the white
men, who let them come and go at will as long as they were peaceful
and did not try to pilfer corn or firearms.

Winter came with its snow and zero weather, and Pocahontas heard of
great hunger and many privations among the colonists. She held a long
secret conversation with the Indian warrior who knew of her interest
in the pale-faced _Caucarouse_, then, at twilight of a bitter cold
day, she stole out from her wigwam, met the warrior at the beginning
of the Jamestown trail, and after carefully examining the store of
provisions which she had commanded him to bring, she plunged into the
gloomy wood trail with her escort, hurrying along the rough path in
the darkness, until she reached the rough stockade guarding the
entrance to the settlement.

The man on watch, who had heard many glowing descriptions of the
maiden who had saved his Captain's life, recognized her at once and
admired her exceedingly as she stood there in her dusky imperiousness,
demanding to see the Captain. Astonished, but pleased at her coming,
Smith quickly came to greet her and was enthusiastic in his thanks for
the provisions she had brought. Then by the flare of a torch he showed
his eager guest as much of their little village as could be seen in
the fast-falling darkness, enjoying her questions and her keen
interest in such buildings and articles as she had never seen before.
She responded to the Englishmen's cordiality with shy, appreciative
glances and would have liked to linger, but it was too late for her to
remain longer, and the colonists crowded around her with expressions
of regret that she must leave and renewed thanks for her gifts. Then
Pocahontas and her Indian escort started back toward Werewocomoco,
taking the trail with flying feet that her absence might not be

From that day she often found her way to Jamestown, carrying stores of
provisions from her father's well-filled larder, sometimes going in
broad daylight, with rosy cheeks and flying hair, after her morning
swim in the river, at other times starting out on her errand of mercy
at twilight, always protected by a faithful warrior who was on terms
of intimacy with the settlers and felt a deep pride in their
admiration for Pocahontas, whom they called "The Little Angel," and
well they might, for they would have gone without food many a time
during that bitter winter but for her visits.

As for Powhatan, he was too well accustomed to the forest excursions
of his "dearest daughter," and to having her roam the neighboring
country at will, to watch her carefully. He knew that his daughter was
safe on Indian territory, never dreaming that she would go beyond it,
and as her guide was loyal, there was no one to prevent her from
following out her heart's desires in taking food to her Captain and
his people.

But as time went on and Powhatan heard more of the wonderful firearms
and useful articles possessed by the white men, he became not only
bitterly jealous of them, but determined to secure their arms and
articles for his own use. "So when the valiant Captain made another
visit to Werewocomoco and tried to barter beads and other trinkets for
corn, the old chief refused to trade except for the coveted firearms,
which the Captain declined to give. But he did give him a boy named
Thomas Salvage, whom Powhatan adopted as his son, and in exchange gave
Smith an Indian boy, Namontack. Then there were three days of feasting
and dancing, but of trading there was none, and Captain Smith was
determined to get corn." He showed Powhatan some blue beads which took
the Indian ruler's fancy and he offered a small amount of corn in
exchange for them, but the Captain laughed scornfully. Those beads
were the favorite possession of Kings and Queens in other countries,
why should they be sold to Powhatan? he asked. Powhatan became
eager--offered more corn. The Captain hesitated, shook his head, and
played his part in the transaction so well that when at last he gave
in, he had secured three hundred bushels of corn for the really
worthless beads!

In the following months the Indians threw off their mask of
friendliness for the colonists and began to steal the firearms so
coveted by Powhatan. For some time the white men were patient under
the annoyance, but when knives and swords began to go, a watch was set
for the thieves, and nine of them were caught and detained at the
Jamestown fort, for Captain Smith suspected treachery on Powhatan's
part and determined to hold them until all the stolen articles were
sent back. In return the Indians captured two straggling Englishmen
and came in a shouting throng to the fort clamoring for the release
of the imprisoned Indians. Out came the bold Captain and demanded the
instant freeing of the settlers. His force and tactics were so
superior to those of the savages that they were obliged to give up
their captives. Then the Captain examined his Indian prisoners and
forced them into a confession of Powhatan's plot to procure all the
weapons possible from the colonists, which were then to be used to
kill their rightful owners. That was all the Captain wanted of the
Indians, but he still kept them imprisoned, to give them a wholesome
fright. Powhatan, enraged at hearing of the failure of his plot
against the white men, determined that his warriors should be freed at
once. He would try another way to gain his end. From his rustic throne
in the Council Hall he sent for Pocahontas. She was playing a game of
Gawàsa (snow-snake) with two of her comrades, but left them instantly
and ran to the Council Hall. Long and earnestly Powhatan talked to
her, and she listened intently. When he had finished a pleased
expression flashed into her black eyes.

"I will do what you wish," she said, then ran back to join in the game
she had left so suddenly.

The next morning she went swiftly along the forest trail now so
familiar to her, and at length approached the settlers' stockade and
demanded audience with the Captain. He was busy chopping trees at the
other end of the settlement, but dropped his ax at the summons and
hurried to bid the little maiden welcome with the courtly deference he
always showed her, whether he really felt it or not. With folded arms
and intent silence he listened to her plea:

For her sake would he not give up the Indians detained in the fort as
prisoners? Powhatan was very anxious that the pleasant relations
between himself and the Englishmen should not be disturbed by such an
unfriendly act as holding his men captive. Would the noble
_Caucarouse_ not free them for the sake of that maiden who had saved
his life?

Captain Smith listened with a set expression and soldierly bearing and
tried to evade glancing into the girl's eager eyes, but found it
impossible. One look broke down his iron determination, and bending
over her hand with his Old World chivalry, he said:

"Your request shall be granted. They shall be freed, but not in
justice, simply as an act of friendship for you, who saved my life."

His intention was clear, though his words were not understood.
Joyfully Pocahontas beamed and blushed her rapturous thanks. Smith,
none too happy over the result of Powhatan's shrewd move, called forth
the sullen warriors from the fort, and sent them on their way back to
Werewocomoco, led by victorious Pocahontas.

But the Indian girl did not spend all of her time in such heroic deeds
as this, nor in dreaming of the pale-faced _Caucarouse_. She was
usually the merry, care-free child of the forest and daily led her
mates in sport and dance. Once when the Captain went to Werewocomoco
to confer with Powhatan on matters concerning neighboring tribes, and
found the great Chief away from home, Pocahontas did the honors of the
village in her father's place. After sending an Indian runner to
request the old ruler to return, she invited Smith and his companions
to be seated in an open space before the huge fire which had been
built for their benefit.

There, with the clear starlit sky over their heads, and the forest on
all sides, they awaited the pleasure of their dusky hostess. But she
remained away from them for so long that they grew uneasy, fearing
some plot against them. While the Captain was wondering what to do in
case of treachery, the woods suddenly resounded with wild shrieks and
hideous yells. All jumped to their feet, but stepped back at sight of
Pocahontas, who darted from the woods to the Captain's side and said
that there was nothing to fear, that she would not allow a hair of the
white men's heads to be injured, but had merely arranged a masquerade
to amuse her guests while they awaited Powhatan's coming. Then she
flitted back into the forest, and presently she danced out, leading a
band of thirty young Indian girls, whose bodies were all stained with
puccoon and painted with gay colors, while such garments as they wore
were made of brilliant green leaves. "Pocahontas, as leader, wore a
head-dress of buck's horns and girdle of otter-skin; across her
shoulder was slung a quiver filled with arrows, and she carried a bow.
Her companions all carried rattles made of dried gourds, or clubs, or
wooden swords as they rushed out of the forest yelling and swaying to
weird music while they formed a ring around the fire. There they
joined hands and kept on dancing and singing in a weird, fantastic way
for an hour, when at a whoop from their leader they all ran into the
forest, but soon came back in their ordinary Indian dress, to spread a
feast before the white men and spend the remainder of the evening in
dancing and revels, after which, by the light of flaming torches, they
escorted their guests to their tents for the night."

The next morning Powhatan came back, and was told Captain Smith's
errand. He had come to invite the old Werowance to visit Jamestown, to
receive gifts which Captain Newport, a colonist who had just come back
from England, had brought from King James. The King had been much
interested in what Newport told him about the Indian ruler, and
thought it would be a fine idea to send him back some presents, also a
crown, which he suggested might be placed on the savage's head with
the ceremonies of a coronation, and the robe thrown over his
shoulders, while he was proclaimed Emperor of his own domains. This
ceremony, King James thought, might bring about a warmer friendship
between the red men and the colonists,--a result much to be desired.
And so Captain Smith gave the invitation while Pocahontas, never far
away when her _Caucarouse_ was at Werewocomoco, listened eagerly for
her father's reply.

Powhatan received the invitation in silence and smoked a long time
before answering. Then he said:

"If your King has sent me presents, I also am a King, and this is my
land. Eight days will I stay to receive them. Your father (Newport) is
to come to me, not I to him, nor yet to your fort."

Wily Powhatan! He had no intention of visiting the white men's
stronghold, when by so doing he might walk into some trap they had
laid for him!

And so Pocahontas was disappointed in her eager hope of going with her
father to the settlement where her white friends lived, and where she
could see her wonderful Captain daily. But there was no help for it.
Powhatan resisted both her pleading and the arguments of the Captain,
who was obliged to carry back the old Werowance's refusal to Captain

"Then we will take the gifts to him!" said Newport, stoutly. "The King
would never forgive me if I did not carry out his wish."

And so to Werewocomoco went the two Captains together, bearing their
offerings to Powhatan, who received them with dignity, and showed a
mild interest when presented with a bedstead and a basin and pitcher
such as the English used. But when Captain Smith tried to throw the
coronation robe over his shoulders he drew away haughtily, wrapped his
own mantle around him, and refused to listen to argument or entreaty.
Namontack hastily assured him that the garments were like those worn
by the English and would do him no harm, and Pocahontas, seeing the
Captain's eagerness to accomplish his end, and also keenly interested
in this new game, begged her father to accept the beautiful gifts. Her
words influenced the old ruler, and, standing as stiff and straight as
a wooden image, he let himself be dressed up in the garb of English
royalty. Then he was told to kneel while the crown was placed on his
head, but this was too much for even Pocahontas to expect of him. He
folded his arms and stood like a pine-tree. In vain Pocahontas urged,
in vain the two white men bent and bowed and knelt before him to show
him what he ought to do.

At last Captain Smith grew impatient and laid a powerful hand on the
Werowance's broad shoulders; unconsciously he stooped. The crown was
hurriedly placed on his head, and a volley of shots was fired to show
that the ceremony was over. At the shots Powhatan sprang free like a
wild creature, sure that he had been trapped, and Captain Smith
appealed to Pocahontas to explain to her terrified father that the
firing was only part of the program. Meanwhile both Captains bowed
ceremoniously before the savage ruler, calling him by his new
title--Emperor--and finally soothed and reassured, he stood as erect
and dignified as of old, and beckoning majestically to Namontack, bade
him bring his old moccasins and mantle to send to King James in return
for the crown and robe!

Much amused, Captain Newport thanked him and received the gift, but
told him that more than moccasins or mantles, the Englishmen desired
his aid in attacking a neighboring and hostile tribe. In this desire,
however, Powhatan showed no interest, and the two Captains were
obliged to leave Werewocomoco without his co-operation, which would
have been of much benefit in subduing the unfriendly tribe. But the
coronation ceremony had been accomplished; that was one thing for
which to be thankful and Captain Newport had for the first time seen
the charming Indian girl who had become such an ally of the settlers,
so he felt well repaid for the visit, although to him Pocahontas
showed none of the spontaneous sympathy which she gave so joyously to
Captain Smith.

And now again came winter and with it privation and hunger for the
colonists. Corn must be procured. There was only one man stout-hearted
enough to venture on another expedition in search of it, and that was
Captain Smith. He decided to go to Werewocomoco once more, and if he
found the new-made Emperor rebellious, to promptly make him prisoner
and carry away his stores of corn by force.

While the Captain and his men were making ready to start on the
expedition, to their great surprise messengers arrived from Powhatan
inviting Captain Smith to visit Werewocomoco again if he would bring
with him men to build a house and give the Emperor a grindstone, fifty
swords, some firearms, a hen and rooster, and much beads and copper,
for which he would be given corn.

Immediately forty-six Englishmen set out on a snowy December day, in
two barges and a pinnace, for Werewocomoco. The first night they spent
at the Indian village of Warrasqueake, where a friendly chief warned
Captain Smith not to go further.

"You shall find Powhatan to use you kindly," he said, "but trust him
not, and be sure he have no opportunity to seize on your arms, for he
hath sent for you only to cut your throats."

On hearing these words many of his comrades would have turned back,
but the Captain spoke to them in such courageous words that in spite
of the warning all continued on their way.

While they were journeying on toward their destination, Pocahontas,
at Werewocomoco, was daily with her father, watching him with alert
ears and eyes, for she saw that the old ruler was brooding over some
matter of grave import, and she drew her own inference. Only when
planning to wage war on an alien tribe or plotting against the
Jamestown settlers did he so mope and muse and fail to respond to her
overtures. Late one evening, when she saw two of his loyal warriors
steal to his side, in order to hear their conversation better she
climbed a near-by tree and listened to their muttered words. Her
suspicions were confirmed. There was need of her intervention again.
From that moment until she had foiled Powhatan's design, she was on
guard day and night watching and waiting for the coming of the
Englishmen, often lying sleepless in her wigwam to listen for some
unwonted noise in the hushed forest.

When the party from Jamestown reached the Indian village the river was
frozen over for a half-mile from shore. With his usual impetuous
courage the Captain broke the ice by jumping into the frozen stream,
and swam ashore, followed by the others, who were ashamed to be less
courageous than he. It was nearly night, and they took possession of a
deserted wigwam in the woods near the shore and sent word to Powhatan
that they were in immediate need of food, as their journey had been a
long one, and asked if he would not send provisions at once. In
response an Indian runner came to their wigwam bearing bread, turkeys,
and venison, much to the delight of the half-starved colonists.
Refreshed by a good meal, they slept heavily in the still forest, and
early the next morning went to pay their respects to Powhatan, who was
in his "Chief Place of Council" awaiting their visit in his gala robe
of luxurious skins and elaborate feather head-dress. His greeting was
courteous, but he at once turned to Captain Smith and asked:

"When are you going away? I did not invite you to come."

Although taken by surprise, quick-witted Captain Smith did not show
his feelings, but pointing to a group of Indian warriors standing
near, he said:

"There are the very men who came to Jamestown to invite us here!"

At this Powhatan gave a guttural laugh and changed the subject at
once, by asking to see the articles which Captain Smith had brought
for exchange. Then began a long and hot discussion in which neither
the Captain nor the wily Emperor gained a point. Powhatan refused to
trade unless the white men left their firearms on their barges and
would barter corn only for the coveted articles. Captain Smith would
not accede to his demands even to get the much-needed corn, and was on
his guard because of the warning he had received, knowing that
Powhatan was only waiting for the right moment to kill him.

The debate went on for hours, during which there had been only one
trade made when Smith exchanged a copper kettle for forty bushels of
corn. Annoyed at this, he determined to take matters into his own
hand. Beckoning to some friendly Indians, he asked them to go to the
river bank and signal to his men on the barges to come ashore with
baskets to take back the corn for which he had traded the kettle.
Meanwhile he kept up a brisk conversation with the old Werowance to
divert his attention, assuring him that on the next day he and his men
would leave their firearms on the ships, trusting to Powhatan's
promise that no harm should come to them.

Powhatan was too clever to be fooled by any such delightful promise;
he knew the quick-witted Captain was probably playing the same game
that he was, and feared lest the white man should be quicker than he
at it. He slyly whispered a command to a young warrior, and at a sign
from him two gaily decorated squaws darted forward and, squatting at
the feet of the Captain, began to sing tribal songs to the beating of
drums and shaking of rattles, and while they sang Powhatan silently
drew his fur robe about him and stole away to a forest retreat long
prepared for an hour of danger. Before him went a supply of
provisions, and with him some women and children, but not Pocahontas.
Meeting her father in his hasty flight, she listened to his request
that she go with him, but with a laughing gesture of refusal she fled
through the woods to the place where the white men were grouped. The
old Chief's power over his daughter had been greatly weakened by the
coming of the colonists to Jamestown, and who knows what a fire of
envy that may have kindled in his heart?

As soon as the Emperor reached his hiding-place, he sent an old Sachem
in war paint and feathers back to Captain Smith, bearing a valuable
bracelet as an offering, and saying that his chief had fled because he
feared the white man's weapons, but if they could be laid aside, he,
Powhatan, would return to give the colonists an abundance of corn.
Captain Smith, with arms folded and flashing eyes, refused the
bracelet and the request, and the Sachem went back to carry the news
to Powhatan.

Pocahontas had watched the interview with breathless interest, and
when she saw the old warrior turn away, and knew that Captain Smith
had foiled her father's intent, she knew that the brave _Caucarouse_
was in great danger. That night, while all the Englishmen except their
leader were out hunting, the Captain sat alone in his wigwam musing on
ways and means to gain his end. There was a sound in the still
forest--a crackling of underbrush--he roused at a light touch on his
arm. Pocahontas stood by his side, alone in the darkness; swiftly she
whispered her message and he understood its gravity only too well.

"My father is going to send you food, and, if you eat it, you will
die," she said. "It is not safe for you to stay here any longer. Oh,
go! I beg you, go!"

She was shivering in her fear for his safety, and the Captain was
deeply moved by her emotion. Raising her hand to his lips in his
wonted fashion, he thanked her and offered her the choicest beads in
his store for a remembrance, but she would not accept them!

"He would want to know where I got them, and then he would kill me,
too," she said, and vanished as silently and swiftly as she had come.

As she had reported, soon there came warriors from Powhatan bearing
huge vessels filled with food, smoking hot. The Chief had returned to
Werewocomoco, they said, and wished to show his good-will to the white
men. Would they partake of a feast which he had sent?

They set down their burden of tempting food, and the Captain's eyes
gleamed; with a profound bow he thanked Powhatan for his courtesy, but
he said:

"When we English make a feast for any one, we ourselves first taste
each dish before we offer it to our guests. If you would have me eat
what you have brought, you must first taste of each dish yourselves."

His manner was defiant as he stood waiting for them to accept his
challenge, and, seeing they made no move to touch what they had
brought, he said, still more defiantly:

"Tell your Chief to come on and attack us. We are ready for you!"

So soldierly was he, that the frightened Indians turned and fled,
while the colonists hastily threw away the food Powhatan had sent. The
old ruler had again been checkmated by his daughter's loyalty to the
white men and the Captain's courage.

Early the next morning, when the tide was right, the white men were
able to leave Werewocomoco, and all on board the barges drew sighs of
relief as they sailed away from the Emperor's stronghold.

While they had been absent from Jamestown a party had set out for a
neighboring island, but a great storm having come up, their boat had
been swamped and all on board drowned. As they were the men who had
been left in charge of the colony during Smith's absence, it was
necessary to send him word immediately, and one of the survivors,
Richard Wyffin, was sent on the errand. When he arrived at
Werewocomoco the colonists had left, and Powhatan was in a sullen fury
against them for having outwitted him. Wyffin's life was in danger,
and he must escape as quickly as possible. Pocahontas hurried to his
rescue and at a moment when there were no Indians to see, she took him
to a forest hiding-place where he could safely spend the night. Later,
under cover of the darkness, she crept to the spot, awakened him and
led him to the edge of the woods, directing him to take the opposite
trail from that on which her father's braves were watching to capture
him. And so he escaped and joined the other colonists at Pamunkey,
where they had gone from Werewocomoco, Captain Smith being determined
either to get corn from Opechancanough or to burn his storehouses, for
he, like Powhatan, had promised to trade with the white men. But he
proved treacherous, too, and Captain Smith, exasperated and desperate,
sprang on him and "in a fierce encounter nearly knocked the breath out
of his huge body, then jammed him up against the wall, placed the
muzzle of his gun at his breast, and, seizing him by his scalp-lock,
dragged him out into full view of his assembled subjects and gave him
the alternative--

"'Your corn or your life!'

"Under the circumstances Opechancanough promptly decided to give the
corn, and with a ship full of the much-needed provisions the settlers
sailed triumphantly back to Jamestown."

When this was reported to Powhatan it greatly increased his respect
for the pale-faced _Caucarouse_, but he was still enraged at the
failure of his plan to kill him, and he commanded his warriors to
capture him as soon as possible; but meanwhile events occurred which
worked for the Captain's good. A Chickahominy Indian had stolen
various articles from the settlers, among them a pistol. He escaped,
but his two brothers, who were known to be his accomplices, were
captured and one held in the Jamestown fort, while the other was told
to go for the pistol, and if he did not return with it in twelve hours
his brother would be hung. Away went the Indian--while the Captain
took pity on the poor naked wretch imprisoned in the cold cell and
sent him some food and charcoal for a fire--the fumes from which
suffocated him. When his brother came back with the pistol he lay
senseless on the ground. Captain Smith at once hurried to the spot and
worked so hard to revive him that he recovered, and the next morning
was well enough to leave the fort with his brother, both of them
having been given substantial presents of copper. The story was told
among the tribe as a miracle, and the belief became current that to
his other virtues the brave Captain added that of being able to raise
men from the dead. Then one of Powhatan's warriors secretly secured a
bag of gunpowder and pretended that he could use it as the English
did. His dusky comrades crowded around to watch him manage the strange
article, but in some way it caught fire, and blew him, with one or two
more, to death. This happening so awed and terrified those Indians who
saw the accident that they began to be superstitious about the
knowledge of the settlers, who could make such powerful things obey
their will. It was better to be a friend than foe of the white man, so
even Powhatan concluded, and warriors from all the neighboring tribes
came to Jamestown bringing presents, also stolen articles, and begging
for friendly relations instead of attempting to capture Captain Smith.

Then came an event which forever changed the life of Pocahontas, the
Captain's staunch admirer. He, after having adventured up the James
River to visit a struggling colony there, was sailing down the river
feeling weary and discouraged, as he had many enemies working against
him at Jamestown, and was so disheartened that he determined to leave
Virginia forever. As he lay musing and trying to sleep in the stern of
the ship, a bag of gunpowder exploded, wounding him so badly that he
leaped into the water to cool the burning agony of his flesh. He was
rescued and the ship sailed for Jamestown with all possible haste. His
wounds were dressed, but he was in a dangerous condition and there was
no skilled surgeon to care for him, so his plight was pitiable. An
Indian carried the sad news to Pocahontas, who at once deserted her
comrades for solitary brooding in the forest. Then she took the long
wood trail to Jamestown. Hours later one of the settlers found her
standing outside the stockade, peering through the cracks between the
logs as though it were some comfort to see into the village where her
Captain lay--that Captain who held her heart in his keeping. She would
have stood there less quietly had she known that an enemy of his had
stolen into his cabin and at that very moment was holding a pistol to
the wounded man's bosom, trying to nerve himself to do a deed he had
been bribed to do! But his courage failed, his hand dropped, and he
crept out into the silent night, leaving the wounded man unharmed.
While Pocahontas stood on tiptoe outside the stockade, straining her
eager eyes for a glimpse of the Captain's cabin, there were footsteps
beside her--a hand was laid on her shoulder, and a voice asked:

"Why are you here at such an hour, Pocahontas?"

It was one of the colonists who was Captain Smith's loyal friend.
Pocahontas turned to him, gripping her slender hands together in an
agony of appeal.

"He is not dead?" she asked. The man shook his head and a glad light
flashed into the girl's eyes.

"He has many enemies," she said. "Can you do nothing to nurse him back
to health?"

Tears stood in her black eyes, and her appeal would have softened a
heart less interested in the Captain's welfare than was her hearer's.
Promising to watch over the brave Captain and care for him as his own
kin, the white man soothed and comforted Pocahontas, and at last
induced her to leave her place at the fort and go back to
Werewocomoco, and never did the Captain know of her long vigil for his
sake that night.

Reaching the Indian village without her absence having been
discovered, she went about her daily routine of work and play as if
nothing had happened, but every sound in the still forest caused her
heart to beat fast, and she was always listening for an approaching
footstep bringing news of her beloved. Then a warrior brought the
tidings--Captain Smith was dead. Dead! She could not, would not
believe it! _Dead!_ He who was so full of life and vigor was not
dead--that was too absurd. And yet even as she reasoned with herself,
she accepted the fact without question with the immobility of her
race; and no one guessed the depth of her wound, even though all the
tribe had known of her devotion to the pale-faced _Caucarouse_ whose
life she had saved.

From that day she went no more to Jamestown, nor asked for news of
the settlers, and soon the gay voice and the laughing eyes of the
"little romp" were missing, too, from Werewocomoco. Pocahontas could
not bear the sights and sounds of that village whose every tree and
trail was dear to her because of its association with her Captain. She
had relatives among the Potomacks, and to them she went for a long
visit, where in different surroundings she could more easily bear the
loneliness which overpowered her, child of a savage and unemotional
race though she was. It may have been also that Powhatan was beginning
to distrust her friendship with the white men. At all events, she, who
was fast blossoming into the most perfect womanhood of her race,
remained away from home for many months. Had she dreamed that Captain
Smith was not dead, but had sailed for England that he might have
proper care for his injury, and also because of the increasing enmity
against him in the colony, she would have gone about her work and play
with a lighter heart. But she thought him dead, and in the mystic
faith of her people saw him living in every tree and cloud and
blossoming thing.

Powhatan had respected Captain Smith, but for the white men as a race
he had more enmity than liking, and now he and his neighbors, the
Chickahominies, again refused to send any provisions to Jamestown, and
again the colonists faced a famine. Captain Argall, in command of an
English ship, suggested once more going to Werewocomoco to force
Powhatan into giving them corn, and soon sailed up the Potomac toward
the Indian village. One night on the way up, while the ship lay at
anchor near shore, an Indian came aboard with the news that the
Emperor's dearest daughter, Pocahontas, was staying among the
Potomacks visiting a chief named Japazaws. The unscrupulous Captain
had an idea. If he could capture Pocahontas and hold her for a ransom
he would surely be able to gain anything he demanded from Powhatan. No
thought of the kindness and loyalty of the Indian maiden to the white
man interfered with his scheming. Corn he must have, and here was a
way to obtain it. He quickly arranged with the Indian for an interview
with the Chief Japazaws, who proved to be quite as unscrupulous as
Captain Argall, and for a copper kettle promised to deliver Pocahontas
into the Captain's hands--in fact, to bring her aboard his vessel on
the following day.

Having taken his wife into his confidence, Japazaws told her in the
presence of Pocahontas that the white Captain had invited her to visit
his ship. She retorted that she would like to accept, but would not go
unless Pocahontas would go too. Japazaws pretended to be very angry at

"I wish you to go," he exclaimed; "if you do not accept I will beat
you until you do."

But the squaw was firm.

"I will not go without Pocahontas," she declared.

Pocahontas was very kind-hearted, as the chief and his wife knew, so
at once she said:

"Stop beating her; I will do as she wishes!"

Captain Argall gave them a cordial greeting and had a lavish feast
prepared in their honor, and while they were talking together he asked
Pocahontas if she would not like to see the gun-room. She assented,
entirely unsuspicious of any treachery, and was horrified when she
heard the door fastened behind her, and knew that for some reason she
was a prisoner. Terror-stricken,--brave girl though she was,--she
pounded violently on the door and cried as she had never cried before
in all her care-free life, begging "Let me out!" but in vain. She
could hear Japazaws and his wife weeping even more violently than she
on the other side of the door, and begging for her release, but it
was only a pretense. The door remained locked, and as soon as the
couple were given the copper kettle and a few trinkets, they left the
ship contentedly. After that there was an ominous silence on the
vessel, except for the sobbing of the Indian girl, who was still more
frightened as she felt the motion of the ship and knew they were
getting under way.

But as they sailed down the river to Jamestown, the captain unlocked
the door and the girl was allowed to come out of her prison. She faced
him with a passionate question:

"What wrong have I done that I should be so treated--I who have been
always the loyal friend of the English?"

So noble was she in her youth and innocence, that the captain was
horrified at the deed he had done and could do no less than tell her
the truth. He assured her that she had done no wrong, that he well
knew that she was the white man's friend, and that no harm should
befall her, but that it was necessary to take firm measures to secure
provisions for the starving colonists. Hearing this, she was less
frightened and became quiet, if not in spirit, at least in manner,
giving no cause for trouble as they entered the harbor. But her heart
was filled with sadness when she again saw that fort to which she had
so often gone with aid for her vanished friend whose name now never
passed her lips.

Indian girls mature rapidly, and the maiden who had first attracted
Captain Smith's attention was no less lovely now, but she was in the
full flower of womanliness and her charm and dignity of carriage
compelled respect from all.

Powhatan was in his Place of Council when a messenger from Jamestown
demanded audience with him and gave his message in quick, jerky

"Your daughter Pocahontas has been taken captive by the Englishmen,"
he said. "She will be held until you send back to Jamestown all the
guns, tools, and men stolen from them by your warriors."

The old chief, terrified, grief-stricken, and in a dilemma, knew not
what to say, for though he loved his daughter, he was determined to
keep the firearms taken from the English. For a long time he was deep
in thought. Finally he replied:

"The white men will not harm my child, who was their very good friend.
They know my wrath will fall on them if they harm a hair of her head.
Let her remain with them until I shall have made my decision."

Not another word would he say, but strode out from the Council Hall
and was lost in the forest.

Three months went by without the Englishmen receiving a word from him,
and Pocahontas meanwhile became their inspiration and joy, giving no
sign that she feared her captors or objected to her captivity. Then
Powhatan sent seven white men who had been held by the Indians to the
settlement, carrying a gun which had been spoiled for use. Their
leader brought this message from the Indian Emperor:

"If you will send back my daughter I will send you five hundred
bushels of corn and be your friend forever. I have no more guns to
return, as the remainder have been lost."

Prompt was the retort:

"Tell your Chief that his daughter will not be restored to him until
our demand has been complied with. We do not believe that the guns
have been lost."

The runner took back the message, and again nothing more was heard
from Powhatan for several months, during which time the colonists
became so deeply attached to the young captive that they dreaded to
think of the settlement without her cheery presence. Especially did
John Rolfe, a young widower, who was by report "an English gentleman
of approved behavior and honest carriage," feel a special interest in
the charming young savage; in fact he fell in love with her, but felt
that he must convert her to the Christian religion before asking her
to become his wife. So he devoted much time to instructing her in the
doctrines of the white man's faith. Pocahontas accepted the new
religion eagerly, and little did John Rolfe guess that to her it was
the religion of Captain John Smith,--a new tie binding her to the man
who she believed had gone forever beyond her sight, but who would be
forever dearest to her loyal heart, untutored girl of the forest
though she was. It is doubtful, too, whether John Rolfe would ever
have made any headway in her affection had she not believed her
beloved Captain to be dead. However that may have been, she became a
convert to Christianity, and John Rolfe asked her to marry him.

When almost a year had gone by with no word from Powhatan, the
colonists were very angry and decided to force the issue. A party in
command of Sir Thomas Dale, who had come from England to be the leader
of the Jamestown settlement, sailed for Werewocomoco, taking
Pocahontas with them, hoping that when Powhatan heard of the presence
of his dearest daughter at his very door he would relent and yield to
their demands.

But Powhatan was not at Werewocomoco. Anticipating just such a visit,
he was in a safe retreat, and his warriors who thronged to the river
bank to meet the white men at once attacked them, and there was lively
skirmishing until two brothers of Pocahontas heard of her arrival.
Hurrying to the river bank, they quelled the turmoil and hastily
paddled out to the ship, where they were soon standing beside their
sister, seeing with joy that despite her captivity she was well and
happy, with the same merry light in her black eyes as she had in her
forest days. Their feeling deepened into awe when with downcast eyes
and flushed cheeks she told them of John Rolfe's love for her and of
her attachment for him. Their sister girl of the forest, kin of the
red men,--going to marry an Englishman from that marvelous land across
the sea, of which one of their tribe who had visited it had brought
back the report: "Count the stars in the sky, the leaves on the trees,
and the sand upon the seashore--such is the number of the people of
England!" Pocahontas, their little sister, going to marry an
Englishman!--the stalwart Indian boys could scarcely believe the tale,
and on leaving the ship they hurried to their father's forest retreat
to tell their wondrous tale. The old Chief listened with inscrutable
reserve, but his eyes gleamed with exultation and in his heart he
rejoiced. His daughter, child of an Indian Werowance, to become wife
of a white man,--the two races to be united? Surely this would be a
greater advantage than all the firearms that could be bought or

But if he expected that the breach between the white men and the red
would be at once healed, he was mistaken. Although Pocahontas greeted
her brothers so cordially, she would have nothing to do with her
father or any of his braves, and when Powhatan desired to see her she
sent back the imperious message:

"Tell him if he had loved his daughter he would not have valued her
less than old swords, pieces, and axes; wherefore will I still dwell
with the Englishmen who love me!"

And back to Jamestown she presently sailed with those men of the race
to which she had been loyal even in her captivity.

That Powhatan did not resent her refusal to see him after his long
silence, but probably admired her for her determination, was soon
shown. Ten days after the party reached Jamestown an Indian warrior,
Opachisco, uncle of Pocahontas, and two of her brothers, arrived
there, sent by Powhatan to show his approval of his daughter's
alliance with an Englishman, although nothing would have induced him
to visit the white man's settlement himself, even to witness the
marriage of his dearest daughter.

Having become a convert to the white man's faith, Pocahontas was
baptized according to the ritual of the Christian church, taking the
name of Rebecca, and as she was the daughter of an Emperor, she was
afterwards called "Lady Rebecca;" but to those who had known her in
childhood she would ever be Pocahontas, the "little romp."

And now the Indian maiden, who by her loyalty to the white race had
changed the course of her life, was about to merge her identity in
that of the colonists:--

"On a balmy April day, with sunshine streaming through the open
windows of the Jamestown chapel, the rude place of worship was filled
to overflowing with colonists, all eagerly interested in the wedding
of John Rolfe with the dusky princess who was the first Christian
Indian in Virginia."

The rustic chapel had been decorated with woodland blossoms, and its
windows garlanded with vines. Its columns were pine-trees cut from the
forest, its rude pews of sweet-smelling cedar, and its simple
Communion table covered with bread made from wheat grown in
neighboring fields, and with wine from the luscious wild grapes picked
in near-by woods.

There, in the beauty and fragrance of the spring day, up the aisle of
the chapel passed the young Indian bride on the arm of John Rolfe, who
looked every inch an English gentleman in his cavalier's costume. And
very lovely was the new-made Lady Rebecca in her gown of white muslin
with its richly embroidered over-dress given by Sir Thomas Dale. Her
head-dress of birds' plumage was banded across her forehead, Indian
fashion, with a jeweled fillet, which also caught her floating veil,
worn in the English way, which emphasized her dark beauty. On her
wrists gleamed many bracelets, and in her deep eyes was the look of
one who glimpses the future and fears it not.

Slowly they advanced up the aisle, and halted before the altar, a
picturesque procession; the grave, dignified Englishman, who now and
again cast adoring glances at his girlish bride, of an alien forest
race; the old Chief of a savage tribe, in his gay ceremonial trappings
and head-dress; the two stalwart, bronzed young braves, keenly
interested in this great event in their sister's life, all in a
strange commingling of Old World and New, auguring good for the future
of both Indians and colonists.

The minister of the colony repeated the simple service, and Lady
Rebecca, in her pretty but imperfect English, repeated her marriage
vows and accepted the wedding-ring of civilized races as calmly as if
she had not been by birth a free forest creature. Then, the service
ended, down the aisle, in the flickering sunlight, passed the
procession, and there at the chapel door, surrounded by the great
forest trees which had been her lifelong comrades, and with the wide
sky spreading over her in blue benediction, we have a last glimpse of
the "little romp," for Pocahontas, the Indian maiden, had become Lady
Rebecca, wife of John Rolfe, the Englishman.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three years later Pocahontas, for so we still find it in our hearts to
call her, visited England with her husband and little son Thomas, to
see with her own eyes that land across the sea where her husband had
been brought up, and of which she had heard such wonderful tales. One
can well imagine the wonder of the girl of the forest when she found
herself out of sight of land, on the uncharted ocean of which she had
only skirted the shores before, and many a night she stole from her
cabin during that long voyage to watch the mysterious sea in its
majestic swell, and the star-sown heavens, as the ship moved slowly on
to its destination.

London, too, was a revelation to her with its big buildings, its
surging crowds of white men, its marks of civilization everywhere,
and, girl of the outdoors that she had ever been, her presentation at
Court, with all that went before and after of the frivolities and
conventionalities of city life, must have been a still greater marvel
to her. But the greatest surprise of all awaited her. One day at a
public reception a new-comer was announced, and without warning she
found herself face to face with that Captain of her heart's youthful
devotion! There was a moment's silence, a strained expression in the
young wife's dark eyes, then Captain John Smith bent over the hand of
John Rolfe's wife with the courtly deference he had given in Virginian
days to the little Indian girl who was his loyal friend.

"They told me you were dead!"

It was Pocahontas who with quivering lips broke the silence, then
without waiting for a reply she left the room and was not seen for
hours. When she again met and talked with the brave Captain, she was
as composed as usual, and no one could say how deeply her heart was
touched to see again the friend of her girlhood days. Perhaps the
unexpected sight of him brought with it a wave of home-sickness for
the land of her birth and days of care-free happiness, perhaps she
felt a stab of pain that the man to whom she had given so much had not
sent her a message on leaving the country, but had let her believe the
rumor of his death--perhaps the heart of Pocahontas was still loyal to
her first love, devoted wife and mother though she was. Whatever may
have been the truth, Lady Rebecca was proud and calm in the presence
of the Captain after that first moment, and had many conversations
with him which increased his admiration for the gracious forest
Princess, now a lady of distinction in his own land.

The climate of England did not agree with Pocahontas, her health
failed rapidly, and in the hope that a return to Virginia would save
her life, her husband took passage for home. But it was too late;
after a sickness of only a few hours, she died, and John Rolfe was
left without the vivid presence which had been his blessing and his

Pocahontas was buried at Gravesend on the 21st of March, 1617, and as
night fell, and John Rolfe tossed on a bed of anguished memories, it
is said that a man muffled in a great cloak stole through the darkness
and knelt beside the new-made grave with bowed head and clasped hands.

It was Captain Smith who came to offer reverent tribute to the girl
who had given him so much, asking nothing in return, a girl of savage
lineage, yet of noble character and great charm, whose blossoming into
the flower of civilization had no parallel. Alone there, in the somber
night, the silent figure knelt--the brave Captain of her loyal
devotion paying tardy homage to Pocahontas, the girl of the Virginia
forest, the white man's steadfast friend.


A small, shapely foot clad in silken hose and satin slipper of palest
gray was thrust from under flowing petticoats of the same pale shade,
as Dorothy Quincy stepped daintily out of church on a Sabbath Day in
June after attending divine service.

John Hancock, also coming from church, noted the small foot with
interest, and his keen eye traveled from the slipper to its owner's
lovely face framed in a gray bonnet, in the depths of which nestled a
bunch of rosebuds. From that moment Hancock's fate as a man was as
surely settled as was his destiny among patriots when the British
seized his sloop, the _Liberty_.

But all that belongs to a later part of our story, and we must first
turn back the pages of history and become better acquainted with that
young person whose slippered foot so diverted a man's thoughts from
the sermon he had heard preached on that Lord's Day in June.

Pretty Dorothy was the youngest daughter of Edmund Quincy, one of a
long line of that same name, who were directly descended from Edmund
Quincy, pioneer, who came to America in 1628. Seven years later the
town of Boston granted him land in the town that was afterward known
as Braintree, Massachusetts, where he built the mansion that became
the home of succeeding generations of Quincys, from whom the North
End of the town was later named.

As his father had been before him, Dorothy's father was a judge, and
he spent a part of each year in his home on Summer Street, Boston,
pursuing his profession. There in the Summer Street home Dorothy was
born on the tenth of May, 1747, the youngest of ten children.
Evidently she was sent to school at an early age, and gave promise of
a quick mind even then, for in a letter written by Judge Quincy, from
Boston to his wife in the country, he writes:

     Daughter Dolly looks very Comfortable, and has gone to
     School, where she seems to be very high in her Mistresses'

But the happiest memories of Dorothy's childhood and early girlhood
were not of Boston, but of months spent in the rambling old mansion at
Quincy, which, although it had been remodeled by her grandfather, yet
retained its quaint charm, and boasted more than one secret passage
and cupboard, as well as a "haunted chamber" without which no house of
the period was complete.

There we find the child romping across velvety lawns, picking posies
in the box-bordered garden, drinking water crystal clear drawn from
the old well, and playing many a prank and game in the big, roomy home
which housed such a lively flock of young people. Being the baby of
the family, it was natural that Dorothy should be a great pet, not
only of her brothers and sisters, but of their friends, especially
those young men--some of whom were later the principal men of the
Province--who were attracted to the old mansion by Judge Quincy's
charming daughters. So persistent was little Dolly's interest in her
sisters' friends, that it became a jest among them that he who would
woo and win fascinating Esther, sparkling Sarah, or the equally lovely
Elizabeth or Katherine Quincy, must first gain the good-will of the
little girl who was so much in evidence, many times when the adoring
swain would have preferred to see his lady love alone. Dorothy used to
tell laughingly in later years of the rides she took on the shoulders
of Jonathan Sewall, who married Esther Quincy, of the many small gifts
and subtle devices used by other would-be suitors as bribes either to
enlist the child's sympathies in gaining their end, or as a reward for
her absence at some interesting and sentimental crisis.

Mrs. Quincy, who before her marriage was Elizabeth Wendall, of New
York, was in full sympathy with her light-hearted, lively family of
boys and girls. Although the household had for its deeper inspiration
those Christian principles which were the governing factors in family
life of the colonists, and prayers were offered morning and night by
the assembled family, while the Sabbath was kept strictly as a day for
church-going and quiet reflection, yet the atmosphere of the home was
one of hospitable welcome. This made it a popular gathering-place not
only for the young people of the neighborhood, but also for more than
one youth who came from the town of Boston, ten miles away, attracted
by the bevy of girls in the old mansion.

Judge Quincy was not only a devout Christian and a respected member of
the community, he was also a fine linguist. He was so well informed on
many subjects that, while he was by birth and tradition a
Conservative, giving absolute loyalty to the mother country, and
desirous of obeying her slightest dictate, yet he was so much more
broad-minded than many of his party that he welcomed in his home even
those admirers of his daughters who were determined to resist what
they termed the unjust commands of the English Government. Among these
patriots-to-be who came often to the Quincy home was John Adams, in
later days the second President of the United States, and who was a
boy of old Braintree and a comrade of John Hancock, whose future
history was to be closely linked with the new and independent America.
Hancock was, at the time of his first visit to the old Quincy mansion,
a brilliant young man, drawn to the Judge's home by an overwhelming
desire to see more of pretty Dorothy, whose slippered foot stepping
from the old meeting-house had roused his interest. Up to the time
when he began to come to the house, little Dorothy was still
considered a child by her brothers and sisters, her aims and ambitions
were laughed at, if she voiced them, and she was treated as the family
pet and plaything rather than a girl rapidly blossoming into very
beautiful womanhood.

As she saw one after another of her sisters become engaged to the man
of her choice, watched the happy bustle of preparation in the
household, then took part in the wedding festivities, and saw the
bride pass out of the old mansion to become mistress of a home of her
own, Dorothy was quick to perceive the important part played by man in
a woman's life, and, young as she was, she felt within herself that
power of fascination which was to be hers to so great a degree in the
coming years. Dorothy had dark eyes which were wells of feeling when
she was deeply moved, her hair was velvet smooth, and also dark, and
the play of feelings grave and gay which lighted up her mobile face
when in conversation was a constant charm to those who knew the
vivacious girl. When she first met John Hancock she had won an
enviable popularity by reason of her beauty and grace, and was admired
and sought after even more than her sisters had been; yet no
compliments or admiration spoiled her sweet naturalness or her charm
of manner.

In those days girls married when they were very young, but Dorothy
withstood all the adoration which was poured at her feet beyond the
time when she might naturally have chosen a husband, because her
standards were so high that not one of her admirers came near to
satisfying them. But in her heart there was an Ideal Man who had come
to occupy the first place in her affection.

As she had sat by her father's side, night after night, listening
while John Adams spoke with hot enthusiasm of his friend John Hancock,
the boy of Braintree, now a rising young citizen of Boston, the
resolute advocate of justice for the colonies, who stood unflinchingly
against the demands of the mother country, where he thought them
unfair,--the conversation had roused her enthusiasm for this unknown
hero, until she silently erected an altar within her heart to this
ideal of manly virtues.

Then John Hancock came to the old mansion to seek the girl who had
attracted his attention on that Sabbath Day in June, little dreaming
that in those conversations which Dorothy had heard between her father
and John Adams she had pieced together a complete biography of her
Hero. She knew that in 1737, when the Reverend John Hancock was
minister of the First Church in the North Precinct of Braintree
(afterward Quincy), he had made the following entry in the parish
register of births:


Dorothy also knew that there in the simple parsonage the minister's
son grew up, and together with his brother and sister enjoyed the
usual life of a child in the country. When he was seven years old his
father died, leaving very little money for the support of the widow
and three children. Thomas Hancock, his uncle, was at that time the
richest merchant in Boston, and had also married a daughter of a
prosperous bookseller who was heir to no small fortune herself. The
couple being childless, at the death of John Hancock's father they
adopted the boy, who was at once taken from the simple parsonage to
Thomas Hancock's mansion on Beacon Hill, which must have seemed like a
fairy palace to the minister's son, as he "climbed the grand steps and
entered the paneled hall with its broad staircase, carved balusters,
and a chiming clock surmounted with carved figures, gilt with
burnished gold." There were also portraits of dignitaries on the walls
of the great drawing-room, which were very impressive in their lace
ruffles and velvet costumes of the period, and many articles of
furniture of which the country boy did not even know the names.

As a matter of course, he was sent to the Boston Public Latin School,
and later to Harvard College, from which he graduated on July 17,
1754, when he was seventeen years old--at a time when pretty Dorothy
Quincy was a child of seven.

From the time of his adoption of his nephew, Thomas Hancock had
determined to have him as his successor in the shipping business he
had so successfully built up, and so, fresh from college, the young
man entered into the business life of Boston, and as the adopted son
of a rich and influential merchant, was sought after by mothers with
marriageable daughters, and by the daughters themselves, to whose
charms he was strangely indifferent.

For six years he worked faithfully and with a good judgment that
pleased his uncle, while at the same time he took part in the
amusements of the young people of Boston who belonged to the wealthy
class, and who copied their diversions from those in vogue among young
folk in London. The brilliant and fine-looking young man was in
constant demand for riding, hunting, and skating parties, or often in
winter for a sleigh-ride to some country tavern, followed by supper
and a dance; or in summer for an excursion down the harbor, a picnic
on the islands, or a tea-party in the country and a homeward drive by
moonlight. Besides these gaieties there were frequent musters of
militia, of which Hancock was a member, and he was very fond of
shooting and fishing; so with work and play he was more than busy
until he was twenty-three years old. Then his uncle sent him to London
to give him the advantages of travel and of mingling with "foreign
lords of trade and finance," and also to gain a knowledge of business
conditions in England. And so, in 1760, young Hancock arrived in
London, where he found "old Europe passing into the modern. Victory
had followed the English flag in every quarter of the globe, and a new
nation was beginning to evolve out of chaos in the American
wilderness, which was at that time England's most valuable

While he was in London George the Second died, and his grandson
succeeded to the throne. The unwonted sight of the pomp and splendor
of a royal funeral was no slight event in the life of the young
colonist, and the keen eyes of John Hancock lost no detail of the
imposing ceremonial. He wrote home:

     I am very busy in getting myself mourning upon the Occasion
     of the Death of his late Majesty King George the 2d, to
     which every person of any Note here Conforms, even to the
     deepest Mourning.... Everything here is now very dull. All
     Plays are stopt and no diversions are going forward, so that
     I am at a loss how to dispose of myself....

A later letter is of interest as it shows something of the habits of a
wealthy young man of the period. "Johnny," as his uncle affectionately
calls him, writes:

     I observe in your Letter you mention a Circumstance in
     Regard to my dress. I hope it did not Arise from your
     hearing I was too Extravagant that way, which I think they
     cant Tax me with. At same time I am not Remarkable for the
     Plainness of my Dress, upon proper Occasions I dress as
     Genteel as anyone, and cant say I am without Lace.... I find
     money some way or other goes very fast, but I think I can
     Reflect it has been spent with Satisfaction, and to my own
     honor.... I endeavor to be in Character in all I do, and in
     all my Expences which are pretty large I have great
     Satisfaction in the Reflection of their being incurred in
     Honorable Company and to my Advantage.

Throughout his life good fortune followed John Hancock in matters
small and great, and it was a piece of characteristic good luck that
he should have been able to remain to see the new King's coronation.
He was also presented at Court, as a representative young colonist of
high social standing, and was given a snuff-box by His Majesty as a
token of his good-will to one of his subjects from across the sea.

Before leaving for home he learned all he could in regard to the
commercial relations between England and her colonies, and after
hearing the great orator Pitt make a stirring speech against unjust
taxation, he realized how much more daring in word and act were some
loyal British subjects than the colonists would have thought possible.
Doubtless to Pitt the young patriot-to-be owed his first inspiration
to serve the colonies, though it bore no fruit for many months.

October of 1761 found young Hancock again in Boston, and a year later
he was taken into partnership with his uncle. This gave him a still
greater vogue among the Boston belles who admired him for his strength
of character and for his fine appearance, as he was noted for being
the best dressed young man in Boston at that time. It is said that
"his taste was correct, his judgment of quality unsurpassed, and his
knowledge of fashions in London aided by recent residence there." We
are told that "a gold-laced coat of broadcloth, red, blue or violet; a
white-satin waistcoat embroidered; velvet breeches, green, lilac or
blue; white-silk stockings and shoes flashing with buckles of silver
or gold; linen trimmed with lace," made the prosperous young merchant
outshine others of his position, "and made it appear that by birth at
least he belonged to the wealthy and fashionably conservative class."

His uncle was indeed such a strong Conservative that he was unwilling
to have his adopted son show any leaning to the radical party. But
when on the first of August, 1764, Thomas Hancock died of apoplexy,
leaving his Beacon Hill mansion and fifty thousand dollars to his
widow, Lydia Hancock, and to John his warehouses, ships, and the
residue of his estate, in the twinkling of an eye the young man became
a prominent factor in the business world of the day, as the sole owner
of an extensive export and import trade. But more important to him
than the fortune which he had inherited was the knowledge that he was
now at liberty to speak and act in accordance with his own feelings in
regard to matters about which his views were slowly but surely

He was now twenty-seven years old, and on paying a flying visit to his
friend John Adams, in the home of his early childhood, attended divine
service in his father's old church, and thrilled at the glimpse he had
of Judge Quincy's youngest daughter, Dorothy, demurely leaving the
meeting-house. Dolly was then seventeen years of age, and as lovely in
her girlish beauty as any rose that ever bloomed, and John Hancock's
feeling of interest in her was far too keen to allow that glimpse to
be his last.

He and John Adams visited the Quincy homestead, and young Hancock
listened respectfully to the Judge's reminiscences of his father; but
at the same time he watched pretty Dorothy, who flitted in and out of
the room, giving no hint of her emotion at having an opportunity to
listen to the deep voice and note the clear-cut features and brilliant
eyes of the Hero of her dreams. She only cast her eyes down demurely,
glancing from under her long lashes now and again, when a remark was
addressed to her. She was quick to see that her father, while as
cordial to his visitor as good breeding demanded, yet wished him to
feel that he was not in sympathy with the radical views now openly
expressed by the young Boston merchant. Judge Quincy, as we have seen,
was a broad-minded, patriotic man, yet being by birth a staunch
Conservative, he felt it his duty to show the younger generation what
real loyalty to the mother country meant, and that it did not include
such rebellion against her commands as they were beginning to express.
However, he chatted pleasantly with Hancock and his friend Adams, and
when they took their leave, Hancock was invited both to call on the
family in Boston and to return to the Quincy homestead. Dorothy
seconded the invitation with a momentary lifting of her eyes to his,
then became demure, but in the glance that passed between them
something was given and taken which was to last for all time, and to
add its deepest joy to the future life of pretty Dorothy.

It was certainly love at first sight for John Hancock, and to the
young girl his love soon became the one worth-while thing in life.

Not many months after that first visit of John Hancock's to Dorothy's
home, he paid Judge Quincy a formal visit in Boston and asked for the
hand of his youngest daughter in marriage. As a matter of course, the
Judge was flattered, for who was a more eligible match than this rich
and handsome young Bostonian? On the other hand, he was sorry to
include one of England's rebellious subjects in his family, and he
declared so plainly. John Hancock was polite but positive, as he was
about everything, and let it be clearly understood that no objection
to his suit would make any difference in its final outcome. He and
Dorothy loved each other--that was all that really mattered. He
sincerely hoped that her father would come to approve of the match,
for he would ever consider, he said, Dorothy's happiness before his
own. But he clearly stated that he should stand by those words and
deeds of the radical party which he believed best for the colonies,
despite any effort which might be made to change any of his opinions;
also he was going to marry Dorothy. Evidently his determination won
the Judge's consent, and in giving it he smothered his objections, for
there was no further opposition to the match, and no courtship ever
gave clearer evidence of an intense devotion on both sides than that
of Hancock and Dorothy, who, being ten years younger than her Hero,
looked up to him as to some great and superior being worthy of her
heart's supreme devotion.

Political events of vital importance to the colonies happened in swift
succession, and Dorothy's Hancock quickly took his place in the front
rank of those who were to be the backbone in the colonies' struggle
for liberty, although at that time his activity against English
injustice was largely due to his wish to protect his own business
interests. In 1765 the Stamp Act was passed, and John Hancock openly
denounced it and declared he would not use the stamps.

"I will not be made a slave without my consent," he said. "Not a man
in England, in proportion to estate, pays the tax that I do."

And he stood by that declaration, becoming generally recognized as a
man of ability and of great power, on whom public duties and
responsibilities could be placed with assurance that they would be
successfully carried out. While he was deeply occupied with colonial
affairs Dorothy Quincy was busy in her home with those duties and
diversions which formed the greater part of a young woman's daily life
in those days, but always in spirit she was with her lover, and she
thrilled with pride at each new proof of his fearlessness and growing

In September, 1768, when it was rumored that troops had been ordered
from Halifax, in an attempt of England to quell the spirit of
independence rife among her colonists, Samuel Adams, John Hancock,
John Adams, and James Otis waited upon the Governor to ask if the
report were true, and to request him to call a special meeting of the
Assembly. He declined to do it, and a meeting of protest was held in
Faneuil Hall, with representatives from ninety-six towns present, at
which meeting it was resolved that "they would peril their lives and
their fortunes to defend their rights:" "That money cannot be granted
nor a standing army kept up in the province but by their own free

The storm was gathering, and ominous clouds hung low over the town of
Boston on a day soon after the meeting in Faneuil Hall, when seven
armed vessels from Halifax brought troops up the harbor to a wharf at
which they landed, and tramped by the sullen crowd of spectators with
colors flying, drums beating--as if entering a conquered city.
Naturally the inhabitants of Boston would give them no aid in securing
quarters, so they were obliged to camp on the Common, near enough to
Dorothy Quincy's home on Summer Street to annoy her by the noise of
their morning drills, and to make her realize in what peril her
lover's life would be if he became more active in public affairs at
this critical period.

If any stimulus to John Hancock's growing patriotism was needed it was
given on the tenth of June, when one of his vessels, a new sloop, the
_Liberty_, arrived in port with a cargo of Madeira wine, the duty on
which was much larger than on other wines. "The collector of the port
was so inquisitive about the cargo, that the crew locked him below
while it was swung ashore and a false bill of entry made out, after an
evasive manner into which importers had fallen of late. Naturally
enough, when the collector was released from the hold, he reported the
outrage to the commander of one of the ships which had brought troops
from Halifax, and he promptly seized the _Liberty_ and moved it under
his ship's guns to prevent its recapture by Bostonians." This was one
of the first acts of violence in the days preceding the struggle for
Independence in Massachusetts.

While John Hancock was so fully occupied with public matters, he yet
found time to see his Dolly frequently, and her sorrow was his when in
1769 Mrs. Quincy died, and Dorothy, after having had her protecting
love and care for twenty-two years, was left motherless. The young
girl was no coward, and her brave acceptance of the sorrow won her
lover even more completely than before, while his Aunt Lydia, who had
become deeply attached to pretty Dorothy, and was eager to have her
adopted son's romance end happily, lavished much care and affection on
the girl and insisted that she visit her home on Beacon Hill
frequently. Possibly, too, Aunt Lydia may have been uneasy lest Judge
Quincy, left without the wise counsels of his wife, might insist that
his daughter sever her connection with such a radical as Hancock had
become. In any case, after her mother's death, Dorothy spent much of
her time with her lover's Aunt Lydia, and Hancock was much envied for
the charms of his vivacious bride-to-be. In fact, it has been said
that "not to have been attracted to Dorothy Quincy would have argued a
heart of steel," of which there are but few. To her lover she was all
and more than woman had ever been before, in charm and grace and
beauty, and he who among men was noted for his stern resolve and
unyielding demeanor was as wax in the hands of the young woman, who
ruled him with gentle tyranny.

To Dorothy her lover was handsome and brilliant beyond even the Hero
of her girlish dreams; her love was too sacred for expression, even to
him who was its rightful possessor. He appealed to her in a hundred
ways, she delighted in his "distinguished presence, his inborn
courtesy, his scrupulous toilets;" she adored him for "his devotion to
those he loved, his unusual generosity to friends and inferiors," and
she thrilled at the thought of his patriotism, his rapid advancement.
And if, as has been said, crowds were swayed by his magnetism, what
wonder that it touched and captivated Dorothy Quincy, the object of
his heart's deepest devotion?

On the fifth of March, 1770, British soldiers fired on a crowd in the
streets of Boston, and the riot that ensued, in which the killing of
six and the injury to a half-dozen more, was dignified by the name of
a "Massacre." Blood was now at boiling-point, and the struggle between
the mother country and her colonists had commenced. Private meetings
were beginning to be held for public action, and John Adams, Samuel
Adams, John Hancock, and Josiah Quincy, a nephew of Dorothy's father,
and an ardent believer in American liberty, were among the leading
spirits who took notice of every infringement of rights on the part of
the government and its agents. In the House of Representatives they
originated almost every measure for the public good, and the people
believed them to be the loyal guardians of their rights and

John Hancock, who at first had stood out against taxation without
representation because of his own business interests, now stood firmly
for American Independence for the good of the majority, with little
left of the self-seeking spirit which had animated his earlier
efforts. Occupied as he now was with the many duties incident on a
public life, it is said he was never too busy to redress a wrong, and
never unwilling to give lavishly where there was need, and Dorothy
Quincy rejoiced as she noted that many measures for the good of the
country were stamped with her lover's name.

On the very day of the so-called "Boston Massacre" Great Britain
repealed an Act recently passed which had placed a heavy duty on many
articles of import. That tax was now lifted from all articles except
tea, on which it was retained, to maintain the right of Parliament to
tax the colonies, and to show the King's determination to have his

"In resistance of this tax the Massachusetts colonists gave up
drinking their favorite beverage and drank coffee in its place. The
King, angry at this rebellion against the dictates of Parliament,
refused to lift the tax, and tea was shipped to America as if there
were no feeling against its acceptance. In New York, Philadelphia, and
Charleston mass-meetings of the people voted that the agents to whom
it had been shipped should be ordered to resign their offices. At
Philadelphia the tea-ship was met and sent back to England without
being allowed to come to anchor. At Charleston the tea was landed, but
as there was no one there to receive it, or pay the duty, it was
thrown into a damp cellar and left there to spoil. In Boston things
were managed differently. When the _Dartmouth_, tea-laden, sailed into
the harbor, the ship, with two others which soon arrived and anchored
near the _Dartmouth_, was not allowed to dock."

A meeting of citizens was hastily called, and a resolution adopted
that "tea on no account should be allowed to land." The tea-ships were
guarded by a committee of Boston patriots who refused to give permits
for the vessels to return to England with their cargoes. Then came
what has been called Boston's "picturesque refusal to pay the tax." As
night fell Samuel Adams rose in a mass-meeting and said, "This
meeting can do nothing more to save the country." As the words fell
from his lips there was a shout in the street and a group of forty men
disguised as "Mohawks" darted past the door and down to the wharves,
followed by the people. Rushing on board the tea-ships, the disguised
citizens set themselves to cleaning the vessels of their cargoes. As
one of them afterward related: "We mounted the ships and _made tea in
a trice_. This done, I mounted my team and went home, as an honest man

Twilight was gathering when the Indian masqueraders began their work,
and it was nearly three hours later when their task was done. Boston
Harbor was a great teapot, with the contents of three hundred and
forty-two chests broken open and their contents scattered on the quiet
water. A sharp watch was kept that none of it should be stolen, but a
few grains were shaken out of a shoe, which may be seen to-day in a
glass jar in Memorial Hall, Boston. And this was the famous "Boston

Men's passions were now aroused to fever heat, and the actions of the
patriots were sharply resented by the conservatives who upheld the
government, while the radicals were fighting for the rights of the
people. In all the acts of overt rebellion with which John Hancock's
name was constantly connected he was loyally and proudly upheld by his
Dorothy, who, despite her inborn coquetry, daily became better fitted
to be the wife of a man such as John Hancock.

But though she stood by him so bravely in all his undertakings, and
would not have had him recede one step from the stand he had taken,
yet there was much to alarm her. Because of his connection with the
Boston Tea-Party, and other acts of rebellion, the soldiers of the
crown had distributed royalist hand-bills broadcast, with this


There followed a list of the authors of the rebellion, among whom
were Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Josiah Quincy. The hand-bill also
announced that "it was probable that the King's standard would soon be
erected," and continued: "The friends of our king and country and of
America hope and expect it from you soldiers the instant rebellion
happens, that you will put the above persons immediately to the sword,
destroy their houses and plunder their effects. It is just they should
be the first victims to the mischiefs they have brought upon us."

Reason enough for Hancock's Dorothy to be apprehensive, beneath her
show of bravery!

In January, 1775, the patriots made an effort to show that they were
still loyal subjects, for they sent a petition from the Continental
Congress to the King, wherein they asked "but for peace, liberty and
safety," and stated that "your royal authority over us, and our
connection with Great Britain, we shall always carefully and zealously
endeavor to support and maintain."

Despite this the oppressions increased, and the persistent roughness
of the British troops continued unchecked. In March an inhabitant of
Billerica, Massachusetts, was tarred and feathered by a party of his
majesty's soldiers. A remonstrance was sent to General Gage, the
king's chosen representative in the colony, in which was this clause:

"We beg, Your Excellency that the breach, now too wide, between Great
Britain and this province may not, by such brutality of the troops,
still be increased.... If it continues, we shall hereafter use a
different style from that of petition and complaint."

In reply from London came the news that seventy-eight thousand guns
and bayonets were on their way to America. Also came a report that
orders had gone out to arrest John Hancock, William Otis, and six
other head men of Boston. The informant, a friend of Hancock's,
added: "My heart aches for Mr. Hancock. Send off expresses immediately
to tell him that they intend to seize his estate, and have his fine
house for General...."

April of 1775 came, and the Provincial Congress met at Concord,
Massachusetts, and took upon itself the power to make and carry out
laws. Immediately General Gage issued a proclamation stating that the
Congress was "an unlawful assembly, tending to subvert government and
to lead directly to sedition, treason, and rebellion.

"And yet even in the face of such an ominous outlook the indefatigable
Massachusetts patriots continued to struggle for their ideal of
independence. John Adams, himself a patriot of the highest class,
asserted that Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and James Otis were the
three most important characters of the day, and Great Britain knew it.
Certainly all four men were feared in the mother country, and
Hancock's independence of the government brought several suits against
him." Like those of his co-workers for freedom from tyranny, his
nerves were now strung to the highest tension, and he spent many a
sleepless night planning how best to achieve his high purposes and
grim resolves, while his love for pretty Dorothy was the one green
spot in the arid desert of colonial strife.

Boston was no longer a safe place for those who could change it for a
more peaceful place of residence. Judge Quincy, who had been keeping a
close watch over his own business affairs, now decided to leave for
Lancaster, where his married daughter, Mrs. Greenleaf, lived. All
homes were completely disorganized, and by the time the Judge decided
to leave most of his friends had already gone, taking their household
goods with them out of harm's way. All social life was ended, and it
was indeed a suitable prelude to a grim period of American history.

When the Judge decided to take refuge in Lancaster, the question was,
should Dorothy go, too? Her lover was in Concord, where the Provincial
Congress was in session. Knowing the condition of affairs in Boston,
he had not returned to his home during the intermissions of the
session, finding it more convenient to stay in Concord and spend his
Sundays in Lexington, where he and John Adams were warmly welcomed at
the home of the Rev. Jonas Clark, a Hancock cousin.

Now, when Hancock heard of Judge Quincy's plan to leave Boston for
Lancaster, he wrote immediately to his Aunt Lydia and made an appeal
calculated to touch a much more stony heart than hers. Would she take
his Dolly under her protection until the state of colonial affairs
should become more peaceful? Boston was no place for a woman who could
be out of it; but on the other hand, neither was a town as far away as
Lancaster a suitable retreat for a girl with a lover who might get
only occasional glimpses of her there. Would his _dear_ aunt please
call on Judge Quincy, and, after putting the matter squarely before
him, try to bring his Dolly away to Lexington with her? The Rev. Mr.
Clark would welcome them as warmly as he and Adams had been received,
and give them a comfortable home as long as necessary. Would his aunt
not do this for him? As a final appeal he added that if General Gage
should carry out his intention of seizing Adams and himself, he might
have a few more chances to see the girl he loved.

Aunt Lydia was quick in her response. Of course she would do as he
wished. It would be far better for the motherless girl to be under her
protection at this time than with any one else, and she could
understand perfectly her nephew's desire to be under the same roof
even for a brief time with his dear Dolly. She would see the Judge

At once her stately coach was ordered out, and soon it rolled up
before the Quincy door to set down Aunt Lydia, intent on achieving her
end. And she did. Although the Judge was not altogether pleased with
the idea of being separated from Dorothy, he saw the wisdom of the
plan and assented to it. Dorothy, with a girl's light-heartedness at
the prospect of a change, especially one which meant seeing her lover,
hastily packed up enough clothing for use during a brief visit. Then
she said an affectionate farewell to her father, little dreaming what
an eventful separation it was to be, and rode away by the side of Aunt
Lydia, who was delighted that she had been able to so successfully
manage the Judge, and that she was to have cheerful Dorothy for a
companion during days of dark depression.

To Lexington they went, and as John Hancock had predicted, the Rev.
Mr. Clark gave them a cordial welcome. Hancock was there to greet
them, and with great satisfaction the elder woman saw the lovers'
rapturous meeting, and knew that her diplomacy had brought this joy to

When the excitement of the meeting had somewhat subsided, they talked
long and earnestly of the critical situation, and Dorothy, with her
hand clasped close in her lover's, heard with sudden terror of a rumor
that General Gage intended to seize Adams and Hancock at the earliest
opportunity. But roses bloomed in her cheeks again as she declared,
proudly: "I have no fear! You will be clever enough to evade them. No
cause as worthy as yours will have as a reward for its champion such a
fate as to be captured!"

Seeing her flashing eyes and courageous thrusting aside of
possibilities, that he might not count her a coward, John Hancock
loved her better than before, and tenderly raised her hand to his lips
with a simple: "God bless you, dear. I hope you may be right!"

And now, in quiet Lexington, Dorothy and Aunt Lydia occupied
themselves with such daily tasks as they were able to accomplish in
the minister's home, and the girl was bewildering in her varied charms
as John Hancock saw them displayed in daily life during their brief
but precious meetings. Dorothy enjoyed an occasional letter from a
cousin, Helena Bayard, who was still in Boston, and who gave lively
accounts of what was happening there.

As Mrs. Bayard lived in a boarding-house, she saw many persons who
knew nothing of her relatives, and one day, after returning from a
visit, she found the parlor full of boarders, who eagerly asked her if
she had heard the news. She said she had not, and in a letter to
Dorothy later, she gives this spicy account of what she heard:

     I was told that Linsee was coming, and ten thousand troops,
     which was glorious news for the Congress. Mr. Hancock was
     next brought on the carpet, and as the company did not
     suspect I had the least acquaintance with him, I can't think
     they meant to affront me.

     However, as Mr. Hancock has an elegant house and well
     situated, and this will always be a garrison town, it will
     do exceedingly well for a fort, ... "I wonder how Miss ...
     will stand affected? I think he defers marrying until he
     returns from England." At this speech I saw a wink given,
     and all was hush!--myself as hush as the grave, for reasons.
     "Mr. Hancock has a number of horses. Perhaps he would be
     glad to dispose of them, as the officers are buying up the
     best horses in town"--Mrs. Bayard, don't look so dull! You
     will be taken the greatest care of! Thought I,--if you knew
     my heart, you would have the most reason to look dull.
     However, a little time will decide that.

     I am, you will say, wicked, but I wish the small-pox would
     spread. Dolly, I could swell my letter into a balloon, but
     lest I should tire you, I will beg my sincere regards to Mr.
     Hancock, and beg the favor of a line from my dear Dolly,

                    Your affectionate Coz

                                        HELENA BAYARD.

Dorothy's eyes flashed as she read this, and laying it down she
exclaimed: "We will see whether the British come off victorious or
not! If I mistake not, there is more ability in the finger-tip of
John Hancock than in those of all the generals in the English army.
You will be taken the greatest care of, indeed--We shall see what we
shall see!" with which sage remark pretty Dolly, head held high,
walked out of the room and gave vent to her feelings in vigorous

The issue was to be confronted sooner than they knew, and it was
peaceful Lexington where the first alarm of war sounded.

According to advice, a messenger had been sent to Concord to warn
Hancock of his possible danger, but neither he nor Adams attached much
importance to the report, after their first alarm was over, and they
were enjoying the quiet village life of Lexington with the two women
guests at the parsonage, when on the eighteenth of April, General Gage
really did order a force to march on Concord, not so much to seize the
few military supplies stored there, as to capture the rebellious
enemies of the crown.

Just how a small group of men in Boston, calling themselves the "Sons
of Liberty," who had constituted themselves a volunteer committee to
watch over the movements of the enemy, knew of the plan of the British
to march to Concord, and on the way to arrest Hancock and Samuel
Adams, will never be known. It is enough to know that they had
received the information, and knew that the British were determined
not to have a report of the march reach the enemy until it had been
successfully accomplished. The question was how to carry the news to
Lexington and Concord ahead of the British troops. There was no time
to waste in lengthy discussions, and in a very short time Paul Revere
was ready for his historic ride. The signals agreed on before affairs
had reached this climax were: if the British went out by water, _two_
lanterns would be swung in the North Church steeple; if they went by
land, _one_ would be shown, and a friend of Paul Revere's had been
chosen as the man to set the signal.

Now, on the night of the eighteenth of April, 1775, _two_ lanterns
swung high in the historic steeple, and off started Paul Revere on the
most famous ride in American history. As Longfellow has so vividly
expressed it:

    A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
    A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
    And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
    Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
    That was all! And yet through the gloom and the light
    The fate of a nation was riding that night;
    And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
    Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

With clank of spur and brave use of whip, on he dashed, to waken the
country and rouse it to instant action--and as he passed through every
hamlet heavy sleepers woke at the sound of his ringing shout:

"The Regulars are coming!"

Then on clattered horse and rider, scattering stones and dirt, as the
horse's hoofs tore into the ground and his flanks were flecked with
foam. Midnight had struck when the dripping steed and his breathless
rider drew up before the parsonage where unsuspecting Dorothy and Aunt
Lydia were sheltered, as well as the two patriots. The house was
guarded by eight men when Paul Revere dashed up to the door, and they
cautioned him not to make a noise.

"Noise!" exclaimed Revere. "You'll have noise enough before long. The
Regulars are coming out!"

John Hancock, ever on the alert for any unwonted sounds, heard the
commotion and recognizing Revere's voice opened a window and said:

"Courier Revere, we are not afraid of you!"

Revere repeated his startling news.

"Ring the Bell!" commanded Hancock. In a few moments the church bell
began to peal, according to pre-arranged signal, to call men of the
town together. All night the tones of the clanging bell rang out on
the clear air and before daylight one hundred and fifty men had
mustered for defense, strong in their desire for resistance and
confident of the justice of it.

John Hancock was determined to fight with the men who had come
together so hurriedly and were so poorly equipped for the combat. With
a firm hand he cleaned his gun and sword and put his accoutrements in
order, refusing to listen to the plea of Adams that it was not their
duty to fight, that theirs it was, rather, to safeguard their lives
for the sake of that cause to which they were so important at this
critical time. Hancock was deaf to all appeals, until Dorothy grasped
his hands in hers and forced him to look into her eyes:--

"I have lost my mother," she said; "to lose you, too, would be more
than I could bear, unless I were giving you for my country's good. But
you can serve best by living rather than by courting danger. You must
go, and go now!"

And Hancock went.

Meanwhile a British officer had been sent in advance of the troops to
inquire for "Clark's parsonage." By mistake he asked for Clark's
tavern, which news was brought to Hancock as he was debating whether
to take Dorothy's advice or not. He waited no longer. With Adams he
immediately took refuge in a thickly wooded hill back of the
parsonage. An hour later Paul Revere returned to the house to report
that after he left there, with two others, he had been captured by
British officers. Having answered their questions evasively about the
whereabouts of the patriots, he finally said: "Gentlemen, you have
missed your aim; the bell's ringing, the town's alarmed. You are all
dead men!" This so terrified the officers that, not one hundred yards
further on, one of them mounted Revere's horse and rode off at top
speed to give warning to the on-coming troops, while Revere went back
to report to Hancock and Adams.

It was evidently unsafe for them to remain so near the scene of the
struggle, and at daylight they were ready to start for the home of the
Rev. Mr. Marrett in Woburn. Dorothy and Aunt Lydia were to remain in
Lexington, and although they had kept well in the background through
all the excitement of the fateful night, Aunt Lydia now went down to
the door, not only to see the last of her beloved nephew, but to try
to speak to some one who could give her more definite news of the
seven hundred British soldiers who had arrived in town and were drawn
up in formidable array against the motley company of colonists. The
British officers at once commanded the colonists to lay down their
arms and disperse. Not a single man obeyed. All stood in silent
defiance of the order. Then the British regulars poured into the
"minute-men" a fatal volley of shots; and about that time Aunt Lydia
descended to the parsonage door, and excited Dorothy threw open her
window that she might wave to her lover until he was out of sight. As
she drew back, she saw something whiz through the air past her aunt's
head, striking the barn door beyond, and heard her aunt exclaim:

"What was that?"

It was a British bullet, and no mistake! As Dorothy told later: "The
next thing I knew, two men were being brought into the house, one,
whose head had been grazed by a bullet, insisted that he was dead; but
the other, who was shot in the arm, behaved better."

Dorothy Quincy had seen the first shot fired for independence!

Never was there a more gallant resistance of a large and
well-disciplined enemy force than that shown by the minute-men on that
day at Lexington, and when at last the British retreated under a hot
fire from the provincials at whom they had sneered, they had lost two
hundred and seventy-three, killed, wounded, and missing, while the
American force had lost only ninety-three.

As soon as the troops were marching on their way to Concord, a
messenger brought Dorothy a penciled note from Hancock: "Would she and
his aunt come to their hiding-place for dinner, and would they bring
with them the fine salmon which was to have been cooked for dinner at
the parsonage?" Of course they would--only too eagerly did they make
ready and allow the messenger to guide them to the patriot's place of
concealment. There, while the lovers enjoyed a tête-à-tête, Adams and
Aunt Lydia made the feast ready, and they were all about to enjoy it,
when a man rushed in crying out wildly:

"The British are coming! The British are coming! My wife's in eternity

This was grim news, and there was no more thought of feasting.
Hurriedly Mr. Marrett made ready and took the patriots to a safer
hiding-place, in Amos Wyman's house in Billerica. There, later in the
day, they satisfied their appetites as best they could with cold pork
and potatoes in place of the princely salmon, while Dorothy and Aunt
Lydia, after eating what they had heart to consume of the feast,
returned to Parson Clark's home, where they waited as quietly as
possible until the retreat of the British troops. Then Dorothy had the
joy of being again clasped in her lover's arms--and as he looked
questioningly into her dear eyes, he could see lines of suffering and
of new womanliness carved on her face by the anxiety she had
experienced during the last twenty-four hours. Then, at a moment when
both were seemingly happiest at being together, came their first
lovers' quarrel.

When she had somewhat recovered from the fear of not seeing Hancock
again, Dorothy announced that she was going to Boston on the following
day--that she was worried about her father, who had not yet been able
to leave the city, that she must see him. Hancock listened with set
lips and grim determination:

"No, madam," he said, "you shall not return as long as there is a
British bayonet in Boston."

Quick came the characteristic reply: "Recollect, Mr. Hancock, I am not
under your control yet! I shall go to my father to-morrow."

Her determination matched his own, and Hancock saw no way to achieve
his end, yet he had not thought of yielding. As usual, he turned to
Aunt Lydia for advice. She wisely suggested retiring, without settling
the mooted question, as they were all too tired for sensible
reflection on any subject. Then, after defiant Dorothy had gone to her
room, the older woman stole to the girl's bedside, not to advise,--oh
no!--merely to suggest that there was more than one girl waiting to
step into Dorothy's place should she flout the handsome young patriot.
Also, she suggested, how terrible it would be if Hancock should be
killed, or even captured while the girl he worshiped was away from his
side! There was no reply, and the older woman stole from the room
without any evidence that she had succeeded in her mission. But she
smiled to herself the next morning when Dorothy announced that she had
never had any real intention of leaving for Boston, and gracefully
acknowledged to an entranced lover that _he_ had been right, after

The next question was, where should the women take refuge until the
cloud of war should have passed over sufficiently to make it safe for
them to return to their homes? Hancock advised Fairfield, Connecticut,
a beautiful town where there would be small chance of any danger or
discomfort. His suggestion met with approval, and Mrs. Hancock and her
pretty ward at once set off for the Connecticut town, while Adams and
Hancock journeyed cautiously toward Worcester, where they were to meet
and go with other delegates to the Continental Congress at
Philadelphia. They were detained at Worcester three days, which gave
Hancock a chance to see his Dorothy again on her way to the new place
of refuge. Theirs was a rapturous though a brief visit together; then
the patriots went on toward New York, and Dorothy and Aunt Lydia
proceeded to Fairfield, where they were received in the home of Mr.
Thaddeus Burr, an intimate friend of the Hancocks, and a leading
citizen, whose fine colonial house was a landmark in the village.

Judge Quincy, meanwhile, had at last been able to take flight from
Boston, and after a long, uncomfortable trip, had arrived at his
daughter's home in Lancaster, where he heard that "Daughter Dolly and
Hancock had taken dinner ten days before, having driven over from
Shirley for the purpose." He writes to his son Henry of this, and
adds, "As I hear, she proceeded with Mrs. Hancock to Fairfield; I
don't expect to see her till peaceable times are restored."

The two patriots reached New York safely, and Hancock at once wrote to

                              NEW YORK, _Sabbath Even'g, May 7, 1775_.


     I Arrived well, tho' fatigued, at King's Bridge at Fifty
     Minute after Two o'clock yesterday, where I found the
     Delegates of Massachusetts and Connect' with a number of
     Gentlemen from New York, and a Guard of the Troop. I dined
     and then set out in the Procession for New York,--the
     Carriage of your Humble servant being first in the
     procession (of course). When we Arrived within three Miles
     of the City, we were Met by the Grenadier Company and
     Regiment of the City Militia under Arms,--Gentlemen in
     Carriages and on Horseback, and many thousand of Persons on
     foot, the roads fill'd with people, and the greatest cloud
     of dust I ever saw. In this Situation we Entered the City,
     and passing thro' the Principal Streets of New York amidst
     the Acclamations of Thousands were set down at Mr.
     Francis's. After Entering the House three Huzzas were Given,
     and the people by degrees dispersed.

     When I got within a mile of the City my Carriage was stopt,
     and Persons appearing with proper Harnesses insisted upon
     Taking out my Horses and Dragging me into and through the
     City, a Circumstance I would not have Taken place on any
     consideration, not being fond of such Parade.

     I beg'd and entreated that they would suspend the Design,
     and they were at last prevail'd upon and I proceeded....

     After having Rode so fast and so many Miles, you may well
     think I was much fatigued, but no sooner had I got into the
     Room of the House we were Visited by a great number of
     Gentlemen of the first Character of the City, who took up
     the Evening.

     About 10 o'clock I Sat down to Supper of Fried Oysters &, at
     11 o'clock went to Capt Sear's and Lod'g. Arose at 5
     o'clock, went to the House first mentioned, Breakfasted,
     Dress'd and went to Meeting, where I heard a most excellent

     The Grenadier Company of the City is to continue under Arms
     during our stay here and we have a guard of them at our
     Doors Night and Day. This is a sad mortification for the
     Tories. Things look well here.... I beg you will write me.
     Do acquaint me every Circumstance Relative to that Dear Aunt
     of Mine; write Lengthy and often.... People move slowly out,
     they tell me, from Boston.... Is your Father out? As soon as
     you know, do acquaint me, and send me the letters and I will
     then write him. Pray let me hear from you by every post. God
     bless you, my Dr. Girl, and believe me most Sincerely

                    Yours most affectionately

                                        JOHN HANCOCK.

One can fancy the flutter of pride in Dorothy's heart at the reading
of such honors to her lover, and she settled down to await the turn of
events with a lighter heart, while Hancock and Adams, with the other
delegates, went on toward Philadelphia, their trip being a triumphal
progress from start to finish.

On the ninth of May they arrived at their destination, and on the
following day the Continental Congress met, when John Hancock was
unanimously elected President of the Congress.

While her lover was occupied with matters of such vital importance, he
always found time to pour out his hopes and fears and doings in bulky
letters which reached his lady love by coach, every fortnight, and
which--"shortened absence" to her impatient desire for the one man in
the world who meant all to her. But even where Dorothy's heart was so
seriously engaged, she could no more help showering coquettish smiles
and pretty speeches on those residents of Fairfield whom she came to
know, than she could help bewitching them by her charm and beauty. The
more sober-minded men of the town were delighted by her conversation,
which was sparkling, and by her keen comment on public affairs--comment
far beyond the capability of most of her sex and age, while it became
the fashion to pay court to vivacious Dorothy, but the moment an adorer
attempted to express his sentimental feelings he found himself
checkmated by a haughty reserve that commanded admiration, but forced
an understanding that Mistress Dolly wished no such attentions.

Of this John Hancock knew nothing, as Dolly was the most tantalizingly
discreet of correspondents, and poor Hancock looked and longed in vain
for written evidence of her devotion, despite which, however, he
continued to write long letters to her:

In one, written on June 10, 1775, he says pathetically:

     I am almost prevailed on to think that my letters to my aunt
     and you are not read, for I cannot obtain a reply. I have
     asked a million questions and not an answer to one.... I
     really take it extremely unkind. Pray, my dear, use not so
     much ceremony and reservedness.... I want long letters.... I
     beg my dear Dolly, you will write me often and long letters.
     I will forgive the past if you will mend in future. Do ask
     my aunt to make me up and send me a watch-string, and do you
     make up another. I want something of your doing....

     I have sent you in a paper Box directed to you, the
     following things for your acceptance & which I do insist you
     wear, if you do not, I shall think the Donor is the

     2 pair white silk, 4 pair white thread stockings which I
     think will fit you, 1 pr Black Satin Shoes, 1 pr Black Calem
     Do, the other shall be sent when done, 1 very pretty light
     Hat, 1 neat airy Summer Cloak ... 2 caps, 1 Fann.

     I wish these may please you, I shall be gratified if they
     do, pray write me, I will attent to all your Commands.

     Adieu my Dr. Girl, and believe me with great Esteem and

                    Yours without Reserve

                                        JOHN HANCOCK.

Surely such an appeal could not have failed of its purpose, and we can
imagine Dorothy in the pretty garments of a lover's choosing, and her
pride and pleasure in wearing them. But little coquette that she was,
she failed to properly transmit her appreciation to the man who was so
eager for it, and at that particular time her attention was entirely
taken up by other diversions, of which, had Hancock known, he would
have considered them far more important than colonial affairs.

To the Fairfield mansion, where Dolly and her aunt were staying, had
come a visitor, young Aaron Burr, a relative of Thaddeus Burr, a
brilliant and fascinating young man, whose cleverness and charming
personality made him very acceptable to the young girl, whose presence
in the house added much zest to his visit, and to whom he paid instant
and marked attention. This roused Aunt Lydia to alarm and
apprehension, for she knew Dorothy's firmness when she made up her
mind on any subject, and feared that the tide of her affection might
turn to this fascinating youth, for Dorothy made no secret of her
enjoyment of his attentions. This should not be, Aunt Lydia decided.

With determination, thinly veiled by courtesy, she walked and talked
and drove and sat with the pair, never leaving them alone together for
one moment, which strict chaperonage Dolly resented, and complained
of to a friend with as much of petulancy as she ever showed, tossing
her pretty head with an air of defiance as she told of Aunt Lydia's
foolishness, and spoke of her new friend as a "handsome young man with
a pretty property."

The more devoted young Burr became to her charming ward, the more
determined became Aunt Lydia that John Hancock should not lose what
was dearer to him than his own life. With the clever diplomacy of
which she was evidently past mistress, she managed to so mold affairs
to her liking that Aaron Burr's visit at Fairfield came to an
unexpectedly speedy end, and, although John Hancock's letters to his
aunt show no trace that he knew of a dangerous rival, yet he seems to
have suddenly decided that if he were to wed the fair Dolly it were
well to do it quickly. And evidently he was still the one enshrined in
her heart, for in the recess of Congress between August first and
September fifth, John Hancock dropped the affairs of the colony
momentarily, and journeyed to Fairfield, never again to be separated
from her who was ever his ideal of womanhood.

On the 28th day of August, 1775, Dorothy Quincy and the patriot, John
Hancock, were married, as was chronicled in the _New York Gazette_ of
September 4th:

     This evening was married at the seat of Thaddeus Burr, at
     Fairfield, Conn., by the Reverend Mr. Eliot, the Hon. John
     Hancock, Esq., President of the Continental Congress, to
     Miss Dorothy Quincy, daughter of Edmund Quincy, Esq., of
     Boston. Florus informs us that "in the second Punic War when
     Hannibal besieged Rome and was very near making himself
     master of it, a field upon which part of his army lay, was
     offered for sale, and was immediately purchased by a Roman,
     in a strong assurance that the Roman valor and courage would
     soon raise the siege." Equal to the conduct of that
     illustrious citizen was the marriage of the Honorable John
     Hancock, Esq., who, with his amiable lady, has paid as great
     a compliment to American valor by marrying now while all the
     colonies are as much convulsed as Rome was when Hannibal was
     at her gates.

The _New York Post_ also gave a detailed account of the wedding, and
of the brilliant gathering of the "blue blood" of the aristocratic old
town as well as of the colonies. Had the ceremony taken place in the
old Quincy home, as had originally been intended, in a room which had
been specially paneled with flowers and cupids for the auspicious
event, it would doubtless have been a more homelike affair, especially
to the bride, but it would have lacked the dignified elegance to which
the stately Burr mansion lent itself so admirably.

Pretty Dorothy a bride! Mrs. John Hancock at her gallant husband's
side, receiving congratulations, with joy shining in her dark eyes,
which were lifted now and again to her husband, only to be answered by
a responsive glance of love and loyalty. They were a handsome and a
happy pair, to whom for a few hours the strife of the colonies had
become a dream--to whom, despite the turbulent struggle in which
Hancock must soon again play such a prominent part, the future looked
rose color, because now nothing but death could part them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Vivacious Dorothy had not only now become Mrs. John Hancock, but she
was also called _Madam_ Hancock! Oh, the bliss of the dignified title
to its youthful owner! She read with girlish satisfaction the item in
a New York paper of September 4th, which reported, "Saturday last, the
Honorable John Hancock and his Lady arrived here, and immediately set
out for Philadelphia." With still greater pleasure a few days later
she set herself to the establishing of a home in that city which was
to be her first residence as a married woman. And well did she carry
out her design to make John Hancock a worthy comrade, for besides
accomplishing all the necessary duties of a housekeeper, she quickly
acquired the dignity and reserve needed for the wife of a man filling
such a prominent position in the colonies during the war for
Independence. There was much lavish living and extravagant elegance of
dressing, with which she was obliged to vie, even in the town where
the Quakers were so much in evidence; and meeting, as she did, many
persons of social and political importance, it was impossible for
pretty Dorothy to be as care-free and merry now as she had been in the
days when no heavy responsibilities rested on her shoulders.

So well did she fill her position as Madam Hancock that she won golden
opinions from the many distinguished men and women who came together
under Hancock's hospitable roof-tree; her husband noting with ever
increasing pride that his Dolly was more deeply and truly an American
woman in her flowering than ever he could have dreamed she would
become when he fell in love with her on that Sunday in June. And
loyally did he give to her credit for such inspiration as helped to
mold him into the man who received the greatest honors in the power of
the colonists to bestow.

With the later life of Dorothy Hancock we are not concerned; our rose
had bloomed. It matters not to us that Madam Hancock was one of the
most notable women of the Revolution, who had known and talked with
George Washington, that she and Martha Washington had actually
discussed their husbands together. To Dorothy's great pride Mrs.
Washington had spoken enthusiastically of Hancock's high position,
while at that time her husband was but a general. Then, too, pretty
Madam Hancock had known the noble Lafayette--had met in intimate
surroundings all those great and patriotic men who had devoted their
best endeavors to the establishment of a free and independent America.
All that is no concern of ours in this brief story of the girl,
Dorothy, nor is it ours to mourn with the mother over the death or
her two children, nor ours to wonder why, three years after the death
of her beloved husband, a man who had made his mark in the history of
his country, she should have married again.

Ours only it is to admire Hancock's Dolly as we see her in her girlish
beauty, as we follow her through the black days of fear and of tension
preceding the outbreak of that war in which her lover played such a
prominent part; ours to enjoy her charming manner and sparkling wit,
and to respect with deep admiring a brave girl of the Massachusetts
colony who watched a great nation in its birth-throes, and whose name
is written in history not alone as Madam Hancock, but as Dorothy
Quincy, the girl who saw the first gun fired for Independence.

An inspiration and an example for the girls of to-day, at a time when
all good Americans are united in a firm determination to make the
world safe for democracy.


"Oh, but I would like to be a soldier!"

The exclamation did not come from a man or boy as might have been
expected, but from Mary Ludwig, a young, blue-eyed, freckled,
red-haired serving-maid in the employ of General Irving's family, of
Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Molly, as they called her, had a decided
ability to do well and quickly whatever she attempted, and her eyes of
Irish blue and her sense of humor must have been handed down to her
somewhere along the line of descent, although her father, John George
Ludwig, was a German who had come to America with the Palatines.

Having been born in 1754 on a small dairy farm lying between Princeton
and Trenton, New Jersey, Molly's early life was the usual happy one of
a child who lived in the fields and made comrades of all the animals,
especially of the cows which quite often she milked and drove to
pasture. Like other children of her parentage she was early taught to
work hard, to obey without question, and never to waste a moment of
valuable time. In rain or shine she was to be found on the farm,
digging, or among the live stock, in her blue-and-white cotton skirt
and plain-blue upper garment, and she was so strong, it was said, that
she could carry a three-bushel bag of wheat on her shoulder to the
upper room of the granary. This strength made her very helpful in more
than one way on the farm, and her parents objected strongly when she
announced her determination to leave home and earn her living in a
broader sphere of usefulness, but their objections were without avail.

The wife of General Irving, of French and Indian war fame, came to
Trenton to make a visit. She wished to take a young girl back to
Carlisle with her to assist in the work of her household, and a friend
told her of Molly Ludwig. At once Mrs. Irving saw and liked the buxom,
honest-faced country girl, and Molly being willing, she was taken back
to the Irvings' home. There she became a much respected member of the
family, as well as a valuable assistant, for Molly liked to work hard.
She could turn her hand to anything, from fine sewing, which she
detested, to scrubbing floors and scouring pots and pans, which she
greatly enjoyed, being most at home when doing something which gave
her violent exercise. Meals could have been served off a floor which
she had scrubbed, and her knocker and door-knobs were always in a high
state of polish.

But though she liked the housework which fell to her lot, it was
forgotten if by any chance the General began to talk of his
experiences on the battle-field. One day, when passing a dish of
potatoes at the noon meal, the thrilling account of a young
artilleryman's brave deed so stirred Molly's patriotic spirit that she
stood at breathless attention, the dish of potatoes poised on her hand
in mid-air until the last detail of the story had been told, then with
a prodigious sigh she proclaimed her fervent desire to be a soldier.

The General's family were not conventional and there was a hearty
laugh at the expense of the serving-maid's ambition, in which Molly
good-naturedly joined. Little did she dream that in coming days her
wish was to be fulfilled, and her name to be as widely known for deeds
of valor as that of the artilleryman who had so roused her enthusiasm.

So wholesome and energetic in appearance was Molly that she had many
admirers, some of them fired with a degree of practical purpose,
beyond their sentimental avowals. Molly treated them one and all with
indifference except as comrades until John Hays, the handsome young
barber of the town, much sought after by the girls of Carlisle, began
to pay her attention, which was an entirely different matter. Molly
grew serious-minded, moped as long as it was possible for one of her
rollicking nature to mope--even lost her appetite temporarily--then
she married the adoring and ecstatic Hays, and gave her husband a
heart's loyal devotion.

Of a sudden the peaceful Pennsylvania village was stirred to its quiet
center by echoes of the battle of Lexington, and no other subject was
thought of or talked about. All men with a drop of red blood in their
veins were roused to action, and Hays was no slacker. One morning he
spoke gently to his wife, with intent to hurt her as little as

"I am going, Molly," he said; "I've joined the Continental army."

Then he waited to see the effect of his words. Although he knew that
his wife was patriotic, he was utterly unprepared for the response
that flamed in her eager eyes as she spoke.

"God bless you!" she exclaimed; "I am proud to be a soldier's wife.
Count on me to stand by you."

And stand by she did, letting no tears mar the last hours with him,
and waving as cheerful a farewell when he left her as though he were
merely going for a day's pleasuring. From the firing of the first gun
in the cause of freedom her soul had been filled with patriotic zeal,
and now she rejoiced in honoring her country by cheerfully giving the
man she loved to its service, although she privately echoed her wish
of long ago when she had exclaimed, "Oh, how I wish I could be a

Like a brave and sensible young woman, Molly stayed on with the
Irvings, where she scrubbed and scoured and baked and brewed and spun
and washed as vigorously as before, smiling proudly with no sharp
retort when her friends laughingly predicted that she "had lost her
pretty barber, and would never set eyes on him again." She was too
glad to have him serving his country, and too sure of his devotion, to
be annoyed by any such remarks, and kept quietly on with her work as
though it were her sole interest in life.

Months went by, and hot July blazed its trail of parched ground and
wilted humanity. One morning, as usual, Molly hung her wash on the
lines, then she took a pail and went to gather blackberries on a
near-by hillside. As she came back later with a full pail, she saw a
horseman, as she afterward said, "riding like lightning up to General
Irving's house." Perhaps he had brought news from her husband, was her
instant thought, and she broke into a run, for she had received no
tidings from him for a long time, and was eager to know where he was
and how he fared. She had been right in her instinct, the messenger
had brought a letter from John Hays, and it contained great news
indeed, for he wrote:

"When this reaches you, take horse with bearer, who will go with you
to your father's home. I have been to the farm and seen your parents,
who wish you to be with them now. And if you are there, I shall be
able to see you sometimes, as we are encamped in the vicinity."

Molly might have objected to such a peremptory command, but the last
sentence broke down any resistance she might have shown. Hastily she
told Mrs. Irving of the letter and its tidings, and although that lady
was more than sorry to lose Molly at such short notice, she not only
made no objections to her departure, but helped her with her hurried
preparations and wished her all possible good fortune. In less time
than it takes to tell it, Molly had "unpegged her own clothing from
the lines," then seeing they were still wet, she made the articles
into a tight bundle which she tied to the pommel, the messenger sprang
into the saddle, with Molly behind him, and off they started from the
house which had been Molly's home for so long, journeying to the farm
of her childhood's memories.

Although she missed the kind-hearted Irving family who had been so
good to her, it was a pleasure to be with her parents again, and Molly
put on her rough farm garments once more, and early and late was out
among the cattle, or working in the fields. And she had a joyful
surprise when her husband paid her a flying visit a few days later.
After that, he came quite frequently, though always unexpectedly, and
if proof was wanting that she was the kind of a wife that John Hays
was proud to have his fellow-soldiers see, it lies in the fact that he
allowed Molly to visit him in camp more than once. She saw him at
Trenton, and at Princeton, before the Continental army routed the
British there, on January 3, 1777.

In order to surprise the three British regiments which were at
Princeton at that time, General Washington, Commander-in-chief of the
Continental force, quietly left Trenton with his troops, and crept up
behind the unsuspecting British at Princeton, killing about one
hundred men and taking three hundred prisoners, while his own losses
were only thirty men. Then, anxious to get away before Lord Cornwallis
could arrive with reinforcements for the British, he slipped away with
his men to Morristown, New Jersey, while the cannon were still booming
on the battle-field, their noise being mistaken in Trenton for
thunder. With the Continental troops went John Hays, gunner, and as
soon as Molly heard of the engagement, and the retirement of General
Washington's troops, she hastened to the field of action to seek out
any wounded men whom she could care for or comfort in their last
hours. Picking her way across the littered field, she brought a drink
of water here, lifted an aching head there, and covered the faces of
those who had seen their last battle. As she passed slowly on, she saw
a friend of her husband's, Dilwyn by name, lying half buried under a
pile of debris. She would have passed him by but for a feeble movement
of his hand under the rubbish, seeing which, she stooped down, pushed
aside his covering, and felt for his pulse to see whether he were
still alive. As she bent down her quick eye saw a cannon near where
the wounded man lay, a heavy, cumbersome gun which the Continentals
had evidently left behind as being of a type too heavy to drag with
them on their hasty march to Morristown. Beside the cannon Molly also
saw a lighted fuse slowly burning down at one end. She had a
temptation as she looked at the piece of rope soaked in some
combustible, lying there ready to achieve its purpose. She stooped
over Dilwyn again, then she rose and went to the cannon, fuse in hand.
In a half-second the booming of the great gun shook the
battle-field--Molly had touched it off, and at exactly the right
moment, for even then the advance guard of Lord Cornwallis and his men
was within range!

At the sound of the cannon they halted abruptly, in alarm. The foe
must be lurking in ambush dangerously near them, for who else would
have set off the gun? They spent an hour hunting for the concealed
Continentals, while Molly picked Dilwyn up and laid him across her
shoulder as she had carried the wheat-bags in childhood, and coolly
walked past the British, who by that time were swarming across the
battle-field, paying no attention to the red-headed young woman
carrying a wounded soldier off the field, for what could she have to
do with discharging a gun!

Molly meanwhile bore her heavy burden across the fields for two miles
until she reached the farm, where she laid the wounded man gently down
on a bed which was blissfully soft to his aching bones, and where he
was cared for and nursed as if he had been Molly's own kin. When at
last he was well again and able to ride away from the farm, he
expressed his admiration for his nurse in no measured terms, and there
came to her a few days later a box of fine dress goods with the
warmest regards of "one whose life you saved." As she looked at the
rich material, Molly smoothed it appreciatively with roughened hand,
then she laid the bundle away among her most cherished possessions,
but making use of it never entered her mind--it was much too handsome
for that!

Every hour the British troops were delayed at Princeton was of great
advantage to the Continental forces, and by midnight they had come to
the end of their eighteen-mile march, to their great rejoicing, as it
had been a terrible walk over snow and ice and in such bitter cold
that many a finger and ear were frozen, and all had suffered severely.
The men had not had a meal for twenty-four hours, had made the long
march on top of heavy fighting, and when they reached their
destination they were so exhausted that the moment they halted they
dropped and fell into a heavy sleep.

While they were marching toward Morristown, Lord Cornwallis was
rushing his troops on to New Brunswick to save the supplies which the
British had stored there. To his great relief he found them untouched,
so he gave up the pursuit of Washington's fleeing forces, and the
Continental army, without resistance, went into winter quarters at
Morristown, as their Commander had planned to do. While John Hays,
with the American army, was following his Commander, Molly, at the
farm, had become the proud mother of a son, who was named John Hays,
Jr., and who became Molly's greatest comfort in the long months when
she had no glimpse or tidings of her husband. Then came news--General
Washington's troops were again on the march, passing through New
Jersey toward New York. There would be a chance to see her husband,
and Molly determined to take it, whatever risk or hardship it might
entail, for not only did she long to see Hays, but she could not wait
longer to tell him of the perfections of their son. And so Molly went
to the scene of the battle of Monmouth.

It was Sunday, the 28th of June, 1778, a day which has come down in
history, not only because of the battle which marks its date, but
because of its scorching heat. The mercury stood near the 100 mark,
and man and beast were well-nigh overcome.

History tells us that the British had remained at Philadelphia until
early in June, when they had evacuated that city and crossed the
Delaware River on June the eighteenth, with an intention to march
across New Jersey to New York. Having heard of this movement of the
British, General Washington, with a force nearly equal to that of the
enemy, also crossed into New Jersey, with the purpose of retarding the
British march and, if opportunity offered, bring on a general
engagement. By the 22d of June the whole of the American force was
massed on the east bank of the Delaware in a condition and position to
give the enemy battle. Despite some opposition on the part of General
Lee and other officers, Lafayette and Greene agreed with General
Washington in his opinion that the time to strike had come, and soon
orders were given which led to the battle of Monmouth.

Lafayette was detached with a strong body of troops to follow up the
British rear and act, if occasion presented. Other riflemen and
militia were in advance of him and on his flanks, making a strong body
of picked troops. To protect his twelve-mile baggage-train from these
troops, Sir Henry Clinton placed them with a large escort under
Knyphausen, while he united the rest of his force in the rear to check
the enemy, if they came too close. The distance between Knyphausen's
force and that which brought up the rear suggested the idea to
Washington to concentrate his assault on the rear force, and to hasten
the attack before the British should reach the high ground of
Middletown, about twelve miles away, where they would be comparatively

At once General Lee was sent forward to join Lafayette, with
instructions to engage the enemy in such action as was possible until
the remainder of the troops should arrive. Lee carried out his part of
the command in such a half-hearted way as to bring severe censure on
him later, and when General Greene arrived on the scene of action, Lee
and his men were in retreat.

A sharp reproof from General Washington brought Lee partially to his
senses; he turned about and engaged in a short, sharp conflict with
the enemy, and retired from the field in good order. At that time
Greene's column arrived, and as a movement of the British threatened
Washington's right wing, he ordered Greene to file off from the road
to Monmouth and, while the rest of the army pushed forward, to fight
his way into the wood at the rear of Monmouth Court-House. Greene was
obeying orders when, foreseeing that by the flight of Lee Washington
would be exposed to the whole weight of the enemy's attack, he
suddenly wheeled about and took an advantageous position near the
British left wing.

As he hoped, this diverted the enemy's attention from the fire of the
American army. A furious attack followed, but was met by a cool
resistance which was the result of the army's discipline at Valley

The artillery of Greene's division, well posted on a commanding
position, was in charge of General Knox, and poured a most destructive
fire on the enemy, seconded by the infantry, who steadily held their
ground. Repeated efforts of the British only increased their losses.

Colonel Monckton's grenadiers, attempting to drive back the American
forces, were repulsed by General Knox's artillery with great
slaughter. A second attempt was made, and a third, when Colonel
Monckton received his death-blow and fell from his horse. General
Wayne then came up with a force of farmers, their sleeves rolled up as
if harvesting, and they forced the British back still farther, leaving
the bodies of their wounded and dead comrades on the field.

Through the long hours of the desperate fighting on that June day, the
mercury rose higher and higher, and many of the men's tongues were so
swollen with the heat that they could not speak, and they fell
exhausted at their posts. Seeing this, Molly, who was with her husband
on the field of battle, discovered a bubbling spring of water in the
west ravine, and spent her time through the long hours of blistering
heat tramping back and forth carrying water for the thirsty men, and
also for her husband's cannon. She used for her purpose "the cannon's
bucket," which was a fixture of the gun of that time, and she told
afterward how every time she came back with a brimming bucket of the
sparkling water, the men would call out:

"Here comes Molly with her pitcher!"

As the battle grew fiercer and her trips to the spring became more
frequent, the call was abbreviated into, "Molly Pitcher!" by which
name she was so generally known from that day that her own name has
been almost forgotten.

Higher and higher rose the sun in a cloudless sky, and up mounted the
mercury until the suffering of the soldiers in both armies was
unspeakable, although the British were in a worse state than the
Americans, because of their woolen uniforms, knapsacks, and
accoutrements, while the Continental army had no packs and had laid
off all unnecessary clothing. Even so, many of both forces died of
prostration, despite Molly's cooling drinks which she brought to as
many men as possible. John Hays worked his cannon bravely, while
perspiration streamed down his face and heat blurred his vision.
Suddenly all went black before him--the rammer dropped from his
nerveless hand, and he fell beside his gun. Quickly to his side Molly
darted, put a handkerchief wet with spring water on his hot brow, laid
her head on his heart to see whether it was still beating. He was
alive! Beckoning to two of his comrades, Molly commanded them to carry
him to the shade of a near-by tree. And soon she had the satisfaction
of seeing a faint smile flicker over his face as she bent above him.
At that moment her keen ears heard General Knox give a command.

"Remove the cannon!" he said. "We have no gunner brave enough to fill
Hays's place!"

"No!" said Molly, hastening to the General's side and facing him with
a glint of triumph in her blue eyes. "The cannon shall not be taken
away! Since my brave husband is not able to work it, I will do my best
to serve in his place!"

Picking up the rammer, she began to load and fire with the courage and
decision of a seasoned gunner, standing at her post through long hours
of heat and exhaustion. When at a late hour the enemy had finally been
driven back with great loss, and Washington saw the uselessness of any
renewal of the assault, General Greene strode over to the place where
Molly Pitcher was still manfully loading the cannon, and gripped her
hand with a hearty:

"I thank you in the name of the American army!"

One can fancy how Molly's heart throbbed with pride at such
commendation, as she picked her way over the bodies of the dead and
wounded to the spot where her husband was propped up against a tree,
slowly recovering from his prostration, but able to express his
admiration for a wife who had been able to take a gunner's place at a
moment's notice and help to rout the British.

"That night the American army slept upon their arms; Greene, like his
Commander, taking his repose without couch or pillow, on the naked
ground, and with no other shelter than a tree beneath the broad canopy
of heaven. But this shelter was not sought, nor sleep desired, until
every wounded and hungry soldier had been cared for and fed with the
best food the camp could supply. Rising at dawn, Washington found the
enemy gone! They had stolen silently away with such rapidity as would,
when their flight became known, put them beyond the chance of
pursuit--and so the American army had been victorious at Monmouth, and
Molly Pitcher had played an important part in that victory."

She, too, had slept that night under the stars, and when morning came
she was still in the dusty, torn, powder-stained clothing she had worn
as cannonier, and afterward while working over the wounded. Her
predicament was a bad one when a messenger arrived from General
Washington requesting an interview with her. She, Molly Pitcher, to be
received by the Commander-in-chief of the American forces in such a
garb as that! How could she make herself presentable for the
interview? With her usual quick wit, Molly borrowed an artilleryman's
coat, which in some measure hid her grimy and torn garments. In this
coat over her own petticoats, and a cocked hat with a feather,
doubtless plucked from a straying hen, she made no further ado, but
presented herself to Washington as requested, and from the fact that
she wore such a costume on that June day has come the oft-repeated
and untrue story that she wore a man's clothing on the battle-field.

General Washington's eyes lighted with pleasure at the sight of such a
brave woman, and he received her with such honor as he would have
awarded one of his gallant men. Molly was almost overcome with his
words of praise, and still more so when he conferred on her the brevet
of Captain, from which came the title, "Captain Molly," which she was
called by the soldiers from that day. General Washington also
recommended that she be given a soldier's half-pay for life, as a
reward for her faithful performance of a man's duty at the battle of

That was enough to make John Hays, now completely recovered from his
prostration, the proudest man in the army; but added to that he had
the satisfaction of seeing Molly given a tremendous ovation by the
soldiers, who cheered her to the echo when they first saw her after
that fateful night. To cap the climax, the great French General
Lafayette showed his appreciation of her courage by asking Washington
if his men "might have the pleasure of giving Madame a trifle."

Then those French officers who were among the American regiments
formed in two long lines, between which Captain Molly passed in her
artilleryman's coat, cocked hat in hand, and while lusty cheers rang
out, the hat was filled to overflowing with gold crowns.

And so it was that Molly Pitcher, a country girl of New Jersey, played
a prominent part in the battle of Monmouth and won for herself an
enviable place in American history.

It is of little importance to us that when the war was over, Molly
with her husband and child lived quietly in Carlisle, John Hays going
back to his trade, Molly doing washing and enjoying her annuity of
forty dollars a year from the government.

After John Hays's death Molly married again, an Irishman named
McCauley, and it would have been far better for her to have remained a
widow, for her life was unhappy from that time until her death in
1833, at the age of seventy-nine.

But that does not interest us. Ours it is to admire the heroic deeds
of Molly Pitcher on the battle-field, to thrill that there was one
woman of our country whose achievements have inspired poets and
sculptors in the long years since she was seen

    loading, firing that six-pounder,--

when, as a poet has said,

    Tho' like tigers fierce they fought us, to such zeal had Molly brought
    That tho' struck with heat and thirsting, yet of drink we felt no lack;
    There she stood amid the clamor, swiftly handling sponge and rammer
    While we swept with wrath condign, on their line.[1]

At Freehold, New Jersey, at the base of the great Monmouth battle
monument are five bronze tablets, each five feet high by six in width,
commemorating scenes of that memorable battle. One of these shafts is
called the "Molly Pitcher," and shows Mary Hays using that
six-pounder; her husband lies exhausted at her feet, and General Knox
is seen directing the artillery. Also forty-three years after her
death, on July 4, 1876, the citizens of Cumberland County,
Pennsylvania, placed a handsome slab of Italian marble over her grave,
inscribed with the date of her death and stating that she was the
heroine of Monmouth.

In this, our day, we stand at the place where the old and the new in
civilization and in humanity stand face to face. Shall the young woman
of to-day, with new inspiration, fresh courage, and desire to better
the world by her existence, face backward or forward in the spirit of
patriotism which animated Molly Pitcher on the battle-field of
Monmouth? Ours "not to reason why," ours "but to do and die," not as
women, simply, but as citizen-soldiers on a battle-field where
democracy is the golden reward, where in standing by our guns we stand
shoulder to shoulder with the inspired spirits of the world.

Molly Pitcher stood by her gun in 1778--our chance has come in 1917.
Let us not falter or fail in expressing the best in achievement and in


[1] Thomas Dunn English.



It was the winter of 1835. Study hour was just over in one of
Philadelphia's most famous "finishing schools" of that day, and half a
dozen girls were still grouped around the big center-table piling
their books up preparatory to going to their rooms for the night.
Suddenly Catherine Holloway spoke.

"Listen, girls," she said; "Miss Smith says we are to have a real
Debating Club, with officers and regular club nights, and all sorts of
interesting subjects. Won't it be fun? And what do you suppose the
first topic is to be?"

Books were dropped on the table, and several voices exclaimed in eager
question, "What?"

"'Resolved: That Slavery be abolished.' And Betty Van Lew is to take
the negative side!"

There was a chorus of suppressed "Oh-h-hs!" around the table, then
some one asked, "Who is going to take the other side?"

The speaker shook her head. "I don't know," she said. "I hope it will
be me. My, but it would be exciting to debate that question against

"You would get the worst of it," said a positive voice. "There isn't a
girl in school who knows what she thinks on any subject as clearly as
Betty knows what she believes about slavery."

The speaker tossed her head. "You don't know much about it, if you
think that!" she declared. "We Massachusetts colonists are just as
sure on our side as she is on hers--and you all ought to be if you are
not! Father says it is only in the cotton-raising States that they
think the way Betty does, and we Northerners must stand firm against
having human beings bought and sold like merchandise. I just hope I
will be chosen on that debate against Betty."

She was, but she came off vanquished by the verbal gymnastics of her
opponent, to whom the arguments in favor of slavery were as familiar
as the principles of arithmetic, for Betty had heard the subject
discussed by eloquent and interested men ever since she was able to
understand what they were talking about.

Never did two opponents argue with greater fire and determination for
a cause than did those two school-girls, pitted against each other in
a discussion of a subject far beyond their understanding. So cleverly
did the Virginia girl hold up her end of the debate against her New
England opponent, and so shrewdly did she repeat all the arguments she
had heard fall from Southern lips, that she sat down amid a burst of
applause, having won her case, proudly sure that from that moment
there would be no more argument against slavery among her schoolmates,
for who could know more about it than the daughter of one of
Richmond's leading inhabitants? And who could appreciate the great
advantages of slavery to the slaves themselves better than one who
owned them?

But Betty had not reckoned with the strength of the feeling among
those Northerners with whose children she was associated. They had
also heard many telling arguments at home on the side against that
which Betty had won because she had complied so fully with the rules
of debate; and she had by no means won her friends over to her way of
thinking. Many a heated argument was carried on later in the Quaker
City school over that question which was becoming a matter of serious
difference between the North and the South.

Before the war for Independence slavery existed in all the States of
the Union. After the war was over some of the States abolished
slavery, and others would have followed their example had it not been
for the invention of the cotton-gin, which made the owning of slaves
much more valuable in the cotton-growing States. East of the
Mississippi River slavery was allowed in the new States lying south of
the Ohio, but forbidden in the territory north of the Ohio. When
Missouri applied for admission into the Union, the question of slavery
west of the Mississippi was discussed and finally settled by what was
afterward called "The Missouri Compromise of 1820."

In 1818, two years before this Compromise was agreed upon, Elizabeth
Van Lew was born in Richmond. As we have already seen, when she was
seventeen, she was in the North at school. Doubtless Philadelphia had
been chosen not only because of the excellence of the school to which
she was sent, but also because the Quaker City was her mother's
childhood home, which fact is one to be kept clearly in mind as one
follows Betty Van Lew's later life in all its thrilling details.

For many months after her victory as a debater Betty's convictions did
not waver--she was still a firm believer that slavery was right and
best for all. Then she spent a vacation with a schoolmate who lived in
a New England village, in whose home she heard arguments fully as
convincing in their appeal to her reason as those to which she had
listened at home from earliest childhood. John Van Lew, Betty's
father, had ever been one of those Southerners who argued that in
slavery lay the great protection for the negro--in Massachusetts
Betty heard impassioned appeals for the freedom of the individual, of
whatever race, and to those appeals her nature slowly responded as a
result partly of her inheritance from her mother's Northern blood, and
partly as a result of that keen sense of justice which was always one
of her marked traits.

At the end of her school days in the North, Betty's viewpoint had so
completely changed that she went back to her Richmond home an
unwavering abolitionist, who was to give her all for a cause which
became more sacred to her than possessions or life itself.

Soon after her return to Virginia she was visited by the New England
friend in whose home she had been a guest, and to the Massachusetts
girl, fresh from the rugged hills and more severe life of New England,
Richmond was a fascinating spot, and the stately old mansion, which
John Van Lew had recently bought, was a revelation of classic beauty
which enchanted her.

The old mansion stood on Church Hill, the highest of Richmond's seven
hills. "Across the way was St. John's, in the shadow of whose walls
Elizabeth Van Lew grew from childhood. St. John's, which christened
her and confirmed her, and later barred its doors against her." Behind
the house at the foot of the hill stood "The Libby," which in years to
come was to be her special care.... But this is anticipating our
story. Betty Van Lew, full of the charm and enthusiasm of youth, had
just come home from school, and with her had come the Northern friend,
to whom the Southern city with its languorous beauty and warm
hospitality was a wonder and a delight.

The old mansion stood close to the street, and "from the pavement two
steep, curving flights of stone steps, banistered by curious old iron
railings, ascended to either end of the square, white-pillared portico
which formed the entrance to the stately Van Lew home with its
impressive hall and great high-ceilinged rooms. And, oh! the beauty of
the garden at its rear!"

Betty's friend reveled in its depths of tangled color and fragrance,
as arm in arm the girls wandered down broad, box-bordered walks, from
terrace to terrace by way of moss-grown stone stairs, deep sunk in the
grassy lawn, and now and again the New England girl would exclaim:

"Oh, Betty, I can't breathe, it is all so beautiful!"

And indeed it was. "There were fig-trees, persimmons, mock orange, and
shrubs ablaze with blossoms. The air was heavy with the sweetness of
the magnolias, loud with the mocking-birds in the thickets, and the
drone of insects in the hot, dry grass. And through the branches of
the trees on the lower terrace one could get frequent glimpses of the
James River, thickly studded with black rocks and tiny green islands."
No wonder that the girl from the bleak North found it in her heart to
thrill at the beauty of such a gem from Nature's jewel-casket as was
that garden of the Van Lews'!

And other things were as interesting to her in a different way as the
garden was beautiful. Many guests went to and from the hospitable
mansion, and the little Northerner saw beautiful women and heard
brilliant men talk intelligently on many subjects of vital import,
especially on the all-important subject of slavery; of the men who
upheld it, of its result to the Union. But more interesting to her
than anything else were the slaves themselves, of whom the Van Lews
had many, and who were treated with the kindness and consideration of
children in a family.

"Of course, it is better for them!" declared Betty. "Everybody who
has grown up with them knows that they simply _can't_ take
responsibility,--and yet!" There was a long pause, then Betty added,
softly: "And yet, all human beings have a right to be free; I know
it; and all the States of the Union must agree on that before there
is any kind of a bond between them."

She spoke like an old lady, her arm leaning on the window-sill, with
her dimpled chin resting in her hand, and as the moonlight gleamed
across the window-sill, young as she was, in Betty Van Lew's face
there was a gleam of that purpose which in coming years was to be her
consecration and her baptism of fire, although a moment later the
conversation of the girls had drifted into more frivolous channels,
and a coming dance was the all-important topic.

As we know, when Missouri applied for admission into the Union, the
slavery question was discussed and finally settled by the so-called
"Missouri Compromise" in 1820. Now, in 1849, a new question began to
agitate both North and South. Before that time the debate had been as
to the abolishing of slavery, but the question now changed to "Shall
slavery be extended? Shall it be allowed in the country purchased from
Mexico?" As this land had been made free soil by Mexico, many people
in the North insisted that it should remain free. The South insisted
that the newly acquired country was the common property of the States,
that any citizen might go there with his slaves, and that Congress had
no power to prevent them. Besides this, the South also insisted that
there ought to be as many slave States as free States. At that time
the numbers were equal--fifteen slave States and fifteen free. Some
threats were made that the slaveholding States would leave the Union
if Congress sought to shut out slavery in the territory gained from

That a State might secede, or withdraw from the Union, had long been
claimed by a party led by John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina. Daniel
Webster had always opposed this doctrine and stood as the
representative of those who held that the Union could not be broken.
Now, in 1850, Henry Clay undertook to end the quarrel between the
States, and as a result there was a famous debate between the most
notable living orators, Webster, Calhoun, and Clay, and a new
compromise was made. It was called the Compromise of 1850, and it was
confidently hoped would be a final settlement of all the troubles
growing out of slavery. But it was not. With slow and increasing
bitterness the feeling rose in both North and South over the mooted
question, and slowly but surely events moved on toward the great
crisis of 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the
United States.

"The Southern States had been hoping that this might be prevented, for
they knew that Lincoln stood firmly for the abolition of slavery in
every State in the Union, and that he was not a man to compromise or
falter when he believed in a principle. So as soon as he was elected
the Southern States began to withdraw from the Union, known as the
United States of America. First went South Carolina, then Georgia,
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Then delegates from
these States met in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed a new Union which
they called the 'Confederate States of America,' with Jefferson Davis
as its President. Then Texas joined the Confederacy, and events were
shaping themselves rapidly for an inevitable culmination.

"When South Carolina withdrew there was within her boundary much
property belonging to the United States, such as lighthouses,
court-houses, post-offices, custom-houses, and two important forts,
Moultrie and Sumter, which guarded the entrance to Charleston harbor,
and were held by a small band of United States troops under the
command of Major Robert Anderson.

"As soon as the States seceded a demand was made on the United States
for a surrender of this property. The partnership called the Union,
having been dissolved by the secession of South Carolina, the land on
which the buildings stood belonged to the State, but the buildings
themselves, being the property of the United States, should be paid
for by the State, and an agent was sent to Washington to arrange for
the purchase.

"Meanwhile, scenting grave trouble, troops were being enlisted and
drilled, and Major Anderson, fearing that if the agent did not succeed
in making the purchase the forts would be taken by force, cut down the
flagstaff and spiked the guns at Fort Moultrie, and moved his men to
Fort Sumter, which stood on an island in the harbor and could be more
easily defended, and so the matter stood when Mr. Lincoln was
inaugurated, March 4, 1861."

Fort Sumter was now in a state of siege. Anderson and his men could
get no food from Charleston, while the troops of the Confederacy had
planted cannon with which they could at any time fire on the fort.
Either the troops must very soon go away or food must be sent them.
Mr. Lincoln decided to send food. But when the vessels with food, men
and supplies reached Charleston, they found that the Confederates had
already begun to fire on Fort Sumter. Then, as Major Anderson related:
"Having defended the Fort for thirty-four hours, until the quarters
were entirely burned, the main gates destroyed by fire ... the
magazine surrounded by flame, and its doors closed from the effects of
heat, four barrels and three cartridges only being available, and no
provisions remaining but pork, I accepted terms of evacuation offered
by General Beauregard ... and marched out of the Fort, Sunday the 14th
instant, with colors flying and drums beating."

When the news of the fall of Sumter reached the North, the people knew
that all hope of a peaceable settlement of the dispute with the South
was gone. Mr. Lincoln at once called for 75,000 soldiers to serve for
three months, and the first gun of the Civil War had been fired.

While these momentous events were stirring both North and South, Betty
Van Lew, in her Richmond home, was experiencing the delights of young
womanhood in a city celebrated for its gaiety of social life. "There
were balls and receptions in the great house, garden-parties in the
wonderful garden, journeyings to the White Sulphur Springs, and other
resorts of the day, in the coach drawn by six snowy horses," and all
sorts of festivities for the young and light-hearted. Even in a city
as noted for charming women as was Richmond, Betty Van Lew enjoyed an
enviable popularity. To be invited to the mansion on the hill was the
great delight of her many acquaintances, while more than one ardent
lover laid his heart at her feet; but her pleasure was in the many
rather than in the one, and she remained heart-whole while most of her
intimate friends married and went to homes of their own. It is said
that as she grew to womanhood, she was "of delicate physique and a
small but commanding figure, brilliant, accomplished and resolute,
with great personality and of infinite charm." At first no one took
her fearless expression of opinion in regard to the slavery question
seriously, coming as it did from the lips of such a charming young
woman, but as time went on and she became more outspoken and more
diligent in her efforts to uplift and educate the negroes, she began
to be less popular, and to be spoken of as "queer and eccentric" by
those who did not sympathize with her views.

Nevertheless, Richmond's first families still eagerly accepted
invitations to the Van Lew mansion, and it was in its big parlor that
Edgar Allan Poe read his poem, "The Raven," to a picked audience of
Richmond's elect, there Jenny Lind sang at the height of her fame,
and there as a guest came the Swedish novelist, Fredrika Bremer, and
in later years came Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, whose admiration of
Elizabeth Van Lew was unbounded because of her service to the Union.

Betty's father having died soon after she came from school, and her
brother John being of a retiring disposition, Mrs. Van Lew and Betty
did the honors of the stately house on the hill in a manner worthy of
Southern society women, and as years went by and Betty became a woman,
always when they had brilliant guests she listened carefully, saying
little, but was fearlessly frank in her expression of opinion on vital
subjects, when her opinion was asked.

"And now, Sumter had been fired on. Three days after the little
garrison marched out of the smoking fort, Virginia seceded from the
Union, and Richmond went war-mad. In poured troops from other States,
and the beautiful Southern city became a vast military camp. Daily the
daughters of the Confederacy met in groups to sew or knit for the
soldiers, or to shoot at a mark with unaccustomed hands. One day a
note was delivered at the Van Lew mansion, and opened by Mrs. Van Lew,
who read it aloud to her daughter:

"'Come and help us make shirts for our soldiers. We need the immediate
assistance of all our women at this critical time....'"

The silence in the room was unbroken except for the heart-beats of the
two women facing a sure future, looking sadly into each other's eyes.
Suddenly Elizabeth threw back her head proudly.

"Never!" she said. "Right is right. We must abide by the consequences
of our belief. We will work for the Union or sit idle!"

The testing of Elizabeth Van Lew had come. Fearlessly she made her
choice--fearlessly she took the consequences. From that moment her
story is the story of the Federal Spy.


"Out in the middle of the turbulent river James lay Belle Isle Prison
surrounded by its stockade. In the city of Richmond, at the foot of
Church Street, almost at Betty Van Lew's door, was the Libby, with its
grim, gray walls; only a stone's throw farther away were Castle
Lightning on the north side of Cary Street, and Castle Thunder on the
south side. In July of 1861 the battle of Bull Run was fought, and the
Confederate army defeated and put to flight by the Union soldiers. The
Libby, Belle Isle and Castle Thunder all were overflowing with scarred
and suffering human beings,--with sick men, wounded men, dying men,
and Northern prisoners." Here was work to do!

Down the aisles of the hastily converted hospitals and into dim prison
cells came almost daily a little woman with a big smile, always with
her hands full of flowers or delicacies, a basket swinging from her
arm. As she walked she hummed tuneless airs, and her expression was
such a dazed and meaningless one that the prison guards and other
soldiers paid little heed to the coming and going of "Crazy Bet," as
she was called. "Mis' Van Lew--poor creature, she's lost her balance
since the war broke out. She'll do no harm to the poor boys, and maybe
a bit of comfortin'. A permit? Oh yes, signed by General Winder
himself,--let her be!" Such was the verdict passed from sentry-guard
to sentry in regard to "Crazy Bet," who wandered on at will, humming
her ditties and ministering to whom she would.

One day a cautious guard noticed a strange dish she carried into the
prison. It was an old French platter, with double bottom, in which
water was supposed to be placed to keep the food on the platter hot.
The dish roused the guard's suspicions, and to a near-by soldier he
muttered something about it. Apparently unheeding him, "Crazy Bet"
passed on beyond the grim, gray walls, carrying her platter, but she
had heard his words. Two days later she came to the prison door again
with the strange dish in her hand wrapped in a shawl. The sentry on
guard stopped her.

"I will have to examine that," he said.

"Take it!" she said, hastily unwrapping it and dropping it into his
hands. It contained no secret message that day, as it had before--only
water scalding hot, and the guard dropped it with a howl of pain, and
turned away to nurse his burned hands, while "Crazy Bet" went into the
prison smiling a broad and meaningless smile.

Well did the Spy play her rôle, as months went by; more loudly she
hummed, more vacantly she smiled, and more diligently she worked to
obtain information regarding the number and placing of Confederate
troops, which information she sent on at once to Federal headquarters.
Day by day she worked, daring loss of life, and spending her entire
fortune for the sake of the cause which was dearer to her than a good
name or riches--the preservation of the Union and the abolishing of

From the windows of the Libby, and from Belle Isle, the prisoners
could see passing troops and supply-trains and give shrewd guesses at
their strength and destination, making their conjectures from the
roads by which they saw the Confederates leave the town. Also they
often heard scraps of conversations between surgeons or prison guards,
which they hoarded like so much gold, to pass on to "Crazy Bet," and
so repay her kindness and her lavish generosity, which was as sincere
as her underlying motive was genuine. Meals at the Van Lew mansion
grew less and less bountiful, even meager,--not one article did either
Elizabeth Van Lew or her loyal mother buy for themselves, but spent
their ample fortune without stint on the sick and imprisoned in their
city, while there was never an hour of her time that the Federal Spy
gave to her own concerns. If there was nothing else to be done, she
was writing a home letter for some heart-sick prisoner from the North,
and secretly carrying it past the censors to be sure that it should
reach the anxious family eagerly awaiting news of a loved one.

"Crazy Bet" loaned many books to the prisoners, which were returned
with a word or sentence or a page number faintly underlined here and
there. In the privacy of her own room, the Spy would piece them
together and read some important bit of news which she instantly sent
to Federal headquarters by special messenger, as she had ceased using
the mails in the early stages of the war. Or a friendly little note
would be handed her with its hidden meaning impossible to decipher
except by one who knew the code. Important messages were carried back
and forth in her baskets of fruit and flowers in a way that would have
been dangerous had not "Crazy Bet" established such a reputation for
harmless kindness. She had even won over Lieutenant Todd, brother of
Mrs. Lincoln, who was in charge of the Libby, by the personal
offerings she brought him of delectable buttermilk and gingerbread.
Clever Bet!

So well did she play her part now, and with such assurance, that she
would sometimes stop a stranger on the street and begin a heated
argument in favor of the Union, while the person who did not know her
looked on the outspoken little woman with a mixture of admiration and
contempt. At that time her lifelong persecution, by those who had
before been her loyal friends, began. Where before she had been met
with friendly bows and smiles, there were now averted glances or open
insults. She encountered dislike, even hatred, on every side, but at
that time it mattered little to her, for her heart and mind were
occupied with bigger problems.

What she did mind was that from time to time her permit to visit the
hospitals and prisons was taken away, and she was obliged to use all
the diplomacy of which she was mistress, to win it back again from
either General Winder or the Secretary of War. At one time the press
and people became so incensed against the Northern prisoners that no
one was allowed to visit the prisons or do anything for their relief.
Among the clippings found among Betty Van Lew's papers is this:


     One of the city papers contained Monday a word of
     exhortation to certain females of Southern residence (and
     perhaps birth) but of decidedly Northern and Abolition
     proclivities. The creatures thus alluded to were not
     named.... If such people do not wish to be exposed and dealt
     with as alien enemies to the country, they would do well to
     cut stick while they can do so with safety to their
     worthless carcasses.

On the margin in faded ink there is written: "These ladies were my
mother and myself. God knows it was but little we could do."

Spring came, and McClellan, at the head of the Army of the Potomac,
moved up the peninsula. "On to Richmond!" was the cry, as the troops
swept by. It is said that the houses in the city shook with the
cannonading, and from their roofs the people could see the bursting of
shells. "Crazy Bet," watching the battle with alternate hope and fear,
was filled with fierce exultation, and hastily prepared a room in the
house on the hill with new matting and fresh curtains for the use of
General McClellan. But the Federal forces were repulsed by the
Confederate troops under General Lee and "drew away over the hills."
General McClellan had failed in his attempt to take Richmond, and
within that room freshly prepared for his use bitter disappointment
and dead hope were locked.

There was great rejoicing in Richmond in this repulse of the Federal
army, and even those old friends who were now enemies of Elizabeth Van
Lew, could afford to throw her a smile or a kind word in the flush of
their triumph. She responded pleasantly, for she was a big enough
woman to understand a viewpoint which differed from her own.
Meanwhile, she worked on tirelessly through the long days and nights
of an unusually hot summer, meeting in secret conferences with
Richmond's handful of Unionists, to plot and scheme for the aid of the
Federal authorities. "The Van Lew mansion was the fifth in a chain of
Union Secret Service relaying stations, whose beginning was in the
headquarters tent of the Federal army. Of this chain of stations the
Van Lew farm, lying a short distance outside of the city, was one. It
was seldom difficult for Betty Van Lew to get passes for her servants
to make the trip between the farm and the Richmond house, and this was
one of her most valuable methods of transmitting and receiving secret
messages. Fresh eggs were brought in from the farm almost every day to
the house on Church Hill, and no one was allowed to touch them until
the head of the house had counted them, with true war-time economy,
and she always took one out, for her own use in egg-nog, so she said.
In reality that egg was but a shell which contained a tiny scroll of
paper, a message from some Union general to the Federal Spy. An old
negro brought the farm products in to Richmond, and he always stopped
for a friendly chat with his mistress, yes, and took off his
thick-soled shoes that he might deliver into her hands a cipher
despatch which she was generally awaiting eagerly! Much sewing was
done for the Van Lews at that time by a little seamstress, who worked
at both farm and city home, and in carrying dress goods and patterns
back and forth she secreted much valuable information for the Spy, on
whom the Union generals were now depending for the largest part of
their news in regard to Confederate plans and movements of troops."
And she did not disappoint them in the slightest detail.

She must have a disguise in which she could go about the city and its
environs without fear of detection, and she must also gain more
valuable and accurate information from headquarters of the
Confederacy. This she resolved, and then set to work to achieve her
end. At once she wrote to a negro girl, Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who had
been one of the Van Lews' slaves, but who had been freed and sent
North to be educated, inviting her to visit the stately mansion where
she had grown up, and the invitation was eagerly accepted. On her
arrival in Richmond, she was closeted a long time with her one-time
mistress, to whom she owed her liberty, and when the interview ended
the girl's eyes were shining, and she wore an air of fixed resolve
only equaled by that of Betty Van Lew.

A waitress was needed in the White House of the Southern Confederacy.
Three days after Mary Bowser arrived at the Van Lews', she had applied
for the position and become a member of Jefferson Davis's household.
Another link had been forged in the long chain of details by which the
Spy worked her will and gained her ends.

Despite the suspicion and ill-will felt in Richmond for the Van Lews,
more than one Confederate officer and public official continued to
call there throughout the war, to be entertained by them. The fare was
meager in comparison to the old lavish entertaining, but the
conversation was brilliant and diverting, and so cleverly did Betty
lead it that "many a young officer unwittingly revealed much
important information of which he never realized the value, but which
was of great use to 'Crazy Bet' when combined with what she already

"And when night fell over the city Betty would steal out in her
disguise of a farm-hand, in the buckskin leggins, one-piece skirt and
waist of cotton, and the huge calico sunbonnet, going about her secret
business, a little lonely, unnoticed figure, and in a thousand
unsuspected, simple ways she executed her plans and found out such
things as she needed to know to aid the Federal authorities."

History was in the making in those stirring days of 1862, when, having
failed to take Richmond, General McClellan had returned North by sea,
when the Confederates under General Lee prepared to invade the North,
but were turned back after the great battle of Antietam. Thrilling
days they were to live through, and to the urge and constant demand
for service every man and woman of North and South instantly
responded. But none of the women gave such daring service as did
Elizabeth Van Lew. Known as a dauntless advocate of abolition and of
the Union, suspected of a traitor's disloyalty to the South, but with
that stain on her reputation as a Southerner unproved from the
commencement of the war until its close, her life was in continual
danger. She wrote a year later, "I was an enthusiast who never counted
it dear if I could have served the Union--not that I wished to die."
For four long years she awoke morning after morning to a new day of
suspense and threatening danger, to nights of tension and of horrible
fear. "No soldier but had his days and weeks of absolute safety. For
her there was not one hour; betrayal, friends' blunders, the
carelessness of others; all these she had to dread." All these she
accepted for the sake of a cause which she believed to be right and

As her system of obtaining information in regard to movements of the
Confederates became more perfect, she was connected more closely with
the highest Federal authorities,--so closely connected, in fact, that
flowers which one day grew in her Richmond garden stood next morning
on General Grant's breakfast table.

"One day she received a letter from General Butler, which was to be
delivered to a Confederate officer on General Winder's staff. In the
letter this officer was asked to 'come through the lines and tell what
he knew,' and there were promises of rewards if it should be done
successfully. The Spy sat quietly thinking for some time after
receiving this letter. If it should fall into Confederate hands it
would be the death-warrant of its bearer. Who could be trusted to take
it to the officer for whom it was intended? Coolly Elizabeth Van Lew
arose, went out, and walked straight to the office of General Winder,
took the letter from her bosom, and handed it to the officer for whom
it was intended, watching him closely as he read it.

"In the next room were detectives and armed guards, the whole
machinery of the Confederate capital's secret police. The officer had
but to raise his voice and her game would be up; she would pay the
penalty of her daring with her life. She had been suspicious of the
officer for some weeks, had marked him as a traitor to his cause. Was
she right?

"His face whitened, his lips were set as he read, then, without a
quiver of a muscle, he rose and followed her out of the room; then he
gave way and implored her to be more prudent. If she would never come
there again he would go to her, he said. And so she gained another aid
in her determined purpose of 'striking at the very heart of the

"Another day there was a message of vital importance to send to
General Grant, who had asked her to make a report to him of the number
and placing of forces in and about Richmond. The cipher despatch was
ready, but if it were to reach Grant in time there was not an hour to
lose in finding a messenger. At that time no servant of hers could
leave the city, and no Federal agent could enter it. Hoping for an
inspiration, she took her huge market-basket on her arm, the basket
which was so familiar by this time as a part of 'Crazy Bet's' outfit,
and with it swinging at her side, humming a tuneless song, she passed
down the street, smiling aimlessly in return for mocking glances--and
all the while in her hand she held the key to Richmond's defenses!

"As she walked a man passed her and whispered, 'I'm going through
to-night!' then walked on just ahead of her. She gave no sign of
eagerness, but she was thinking: Was he a Federal agent to whom she
could intrust her message, or was he sent out by the police to entrap
her as had often been attempted? The cipher despatch in her hand was
torn into strips, each one rolled into a tiny ball. Should she begin
to drop them, one by one? In perplexity she glanced up into the man's
face. No! Her woman's instinct spoke loud and clear, made her turn
into a side street and hurry home. The next day she saw him marching
past her house for the front with his Confederate regiment, in the
uniform of a junior officer, and knew that once again she had been
saved from death."

But although she had many such escapes and her wit was so keen that it
was a powerful weapon in any emergency, yet as the conflict between
the North and the South deepened the need of caution became more
necessary than ever, for Confederate spies were everywhere. In her
half-destroyed diary which for many months lay buried near the Van Lew
house, over and over again the writer emphasizes her fear of
discovery. She says:

"If you spoke in your parlor or chamber, you whispered,--you looked
under the lounges and beds. Visitors apparently friendly were
treacherous.... Unionists lived ever in a reign of terror. I was
afraid even to pass the prison; I have had occasion to stop near it
when I dared not look up at the windows. I have turned to speak to a
friend and found a detective at my elbow. Strange faces could
sometimes be seen peeping around the columns and pillars of the back
portico.... Once I went to Jefferson Davis himself to see if we could
not obtain some protection.... His private Secretary told me I had
better apply to the Mayor.... Captain George Gibbs had succeeded Todd
as keeper of the prisoners; so perilous had our situation become that
we took him and his family to board with us. They were certainly a
great protection.... Such was our life--such was freedom in the
Confederacy. I speak what I know." The diary also tells of Mrs. Van
Lew's increasing dread of arrest, dear, delicate, loyal lady--for that
was constantly spoken of, and reported on the street, while some never
hesitated to say she should be hanged.

Another summer came and wore away, and the third year of the war was
drawing to a close in the terrible winter of 1863-4. The Union army in
the East had twice advanced against the Confederates, to be beaten
back at Fredericksburg and at Chancellorsville. In June and July of
1863 Lee began a second invasion of the North, but was defeated at
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In July, 1863, Vicksburg and Port Hudson
were captured and the Mississippi River was in Union hands, but in the
following autumn the Confederates of the West defeated the Union army
at Chickamauga, after which General Grant took command and was
victorious near Chattanooga, and so with alternate hope and despair on
both sides the hideous war went on.

Through cipher despatches "Crazy Bet" learned of an intended attempt
of Federal officers to escape from Libby Prison, and at once a room
in the Van Lew mansion was made ready to secrete them if they achieved
their purpose. The room was at the end of one of the big parlors, and
dark blankets were hung over its windows; beds were made ready for
exhausted occupants, and a low light kept burning day and night in
readiness for their possible arrival.

Meanwhile the prisoners in the Libby, desperate because of the
horrible conditions in the buildings where they were quartered, were
busily constructing a tunnel which ran from the back part of the
cellar called "Rat-Hell" to the prison yard. The work was carried on
under the direction of Colonel Rose, and his frenzied assistants
worked like demons, determined to cut their way through the walls of
that grim prison to the light and life of the outer world. At last the
tunnel was ready. With quivering excitement over their great adventure
added to their exhaustion, the men who were to make their escape, one
after another disappeared in the carefully guarded hole leading from
the cellar of the prison into a great sewer, and thence into the
prison yard. Of this little company of adventurous men eleven
Colonels, seven Majors, thirty-two Captains, and fifty-nine
Lieutenants escaped before the daring raid was discovered. The news
spread like wild-fire through the ranks of the prisoners who were
still in the building and among those on duty. Immediately every
effort was made by those in charge to re-capture the refugees and
bring them back, and as a result, between fifty and sixty of them were
once again imprisoned in the squalid cells of the Libby.

Just at that time John Van Lew, Betty's brother, was conscripted into
the Confederate army, and although unfit for military duty because of
his delicate health, he was at once sent to Camp Lee. As he was a keen
sympathizer with his sister's Union interests, as soon as he was sent
to the Confederate camp he deserted and fled to the home of a family
who lived on the outskirts of the city, who were both Union
sympathizers and friends of his sister's. They hid him carefully, and
Betty at once came to aid in planning for his escape from the city.
Unfortunately it was the night of the escape of the Federal prisoners
from the Libby, so a doubly strong guard was set over every exit from
Richmond, making escape impossible. Here was a difficult situation!
Betty Van Lew knew that some way out of the dilemma must be found; for
the house where her brother was secreted would surely be searched for
the escaped refugees, and it would go hard with those who were
concealing him if they were discovered harboring a deserter.

With quick wit she immediately presented herself at General Winder's
office, where she used her diplomatic powers so successfully that the
general was entirely convinced of John Van Lew's unfit physical
condition for military service, and promised to make every effort
toward his exemption. When all efforts proved unavailing, the general
took him into his own regiment, and "the Union sympathizer never wore
a Confederate uniform, and only once shouldered a Confederate musket,
when on a great panic day he stood, a figurehead guard at the door of
a government department. At last, in 1864, when even General Winder
could not longer protect him from active service at the front, Van Lew
deserted again, and served with the Federal Army until after the fall
of Richmond."

Meanwhile the old Van Lew house, in its capacity of Secret Service
station, was a hive of industry, which was carried on with such smooth
and silent secrecy that no one knew what went on in its great rooms.
And watching over all those who came and went on legitimate business,
or as agents of the Federal Government on secret missions, was a
woman, alert of body, keen of mind, standing at her post by day and by
night. After all members of her household were safely locked in their
rooms for the night, the Spy would creep down, barefooted, to the big
library with its ornamented iron fireplace. On either side of this
fireplace were two columns, on each of which was a small, carved
figure of a lion. Possibly by accident--probably by design, one of
these figures was loosened so that it could be raised like a box-lid,
and in the darkness of the night the swift, silent figure of the Spy
would steal into the big room, lift the carved lion, deftly slip a
message in cipher into the cavity beneath the figure and cautiously
creep away, with never a creaking board to reveal her coming or going.

With equal caution and swift dexterity, early the next morning an old
negro servant would steal into the room, duster and broom in hand, to
do his cleaning. Into every corner of the room he would peer, to be
sure there were no watching eyes, then he would slip over to the
fireplace, lift the lion, draw out the cipher message, place it
sometimes in his mouth, sometimes in his shoe, and as soon as his
morning chores were done he would be seen plodding down the dusty road
leading to the farm, where some one was eagerly waiting for the
tidings he carried. Well had the Spy trained her messengers!

The old mansion had also hidden protection for larger bodies than
could be concealed under the recumbent lion by the fireplace. Up under
the sloping roof, between the west wall of the garret and the tiles,
was a long, narrow room, which was probably built at the order of
Betty Van Lew, that she might have a safe shelter for Union refugees.
All through the war gossip was rife concerning the Van Lews and their
movements, and there were many rumors that the old mansion had a
secret hiding-place, but this could never be proved. Besides those
whom it sheltered from time to time, and the one whose thought had
planned it, only one other person knew of the existence of that
garret room, and for long years she was too frightened to tell what
she had seen in an unexpected moment.


Betty Van Lew's niece was visiting in the old house during the
blackest period of the struggle between the North and South. She was a
little girl, and her bump of curiosity was well developed. After
tossing restlessly in bed on a hot night, she opened her door in order
to get some air. To her surprise she saw Aunt Betty tiptoeing through
the other end of the dark hall, carrying something in her hand. With
equal stealth the curious child followed the creeping figure up
through the dark, silent house into the garret--saw a hand reach
behind an old chest of drawers standing against the wall in the
garret, and with utter amaze saw a black hole in the wall yawn before
her eyes. There stood her aunt before the opening of the wall, shading
with cautious hand the candle she carried, while facing her stood a
gaunt, hollow-eyed, bearded man in uniform reaching out a greedy hand
for the food on the plate. The man saw the child's eyes burning
through the darkness back of the older woman, but she put a chubby
finger on her lip, and ran away before he had a chance to realize that
she was flesh and blood and not an apparition. Panting, she ran
swiftly down the long staircase and, with her heart beating fast from
fright, flung herself on the bed and buried her head in the pillows,
lying there for a long time, so it seemed to her. Then, scarcely
daring to breathe, for fear of being discovered, she stole out of bed
again, opened her door, and once more crept up through the silent
mansion, this time alone. In a moment she stood outside the place
where the hole in the wall had opened before her amazed vision. Not a
sound in the great, dark garret! Putting her mouth close to the
partition she called softly to the soldier, and presently a deep voice
told her how to press the spring and open the secret door. Then, a
shivering but determined little white-robed figure, she stood before
the yawning chasm and talked with the big, Union soldier, who seemed
delighted at the sound of his own voice, and years afterward she
remembered how he had looked as he said:

"My! what a spanking you would have got if your aunt had turned
around!" She did not dare to stand there talking to him long, for she
was old enough to realize that there must be a reason for his being in
hiding, and that if the secret room should be discovered it might
bring unhappiness to her aunt. So in a very few moments the little
white-gowned figure flitted silently, swiftly down-stairs again, and
no one knew until years later of that midnight excursion of hers--or
of the secret room, for which the old house was thoroughly searched
more than once.

The winter of 1863-4 was one full of tense situations and of many
alarms for both Confederates and Unionists. In February, after the
daring escape of the Federal officers from the Libby, there were
several alarms, which roused young and old to the defense of the city.
The enemy made a movement to attack the city on the east side, but
were driven back. Again on the 29th of the month, the bells all rang
to call men to service. The city battalions responded, while General
Wilcox ordered all men who were in the city on furlough, and all who
could bear arms, out to protect the city, for Kilpatrick was
attempting a raid on Richmond, along Brook turnpike. "But while he was
dreaming of taking Richmond, Gen. Wade Hampton suddenly appeared with
his troops and routed him, taking three hundred and fifty prisoners,
killing and wounding many, and capturing a large number of horses."

Then came an event for which the Federal sympathizers, and especially
those in the Union Secret Service, had prepared with all the caution
and secrecy possible, trying to perfect every detail to such a degree
that failure would be impossible. To release all Federal prisoners in
Richmond--this was but a part of the audacious scheme in which Betty
Van Lew and a Union sympathizer called "Quaker," for purposes of
disguise, played an important part.

On the 28th of February, 1864, Col. Ulric Dahlgren left Stevensburg
with a company of men, selected from brigades and regiments, as a
picked command to attempt a desperate undertaking. At Hanovertown he
crossed with his men, all dressed in Confederate uniforms, confidently
expecting to get into Richmond by stealth. Unfortunately their
movements were discovered, and when they rode along through the woods
near the road at Old Church, in their disguise, a party of
Confederates in ambush opened fire on them, captured ninety white men
and thirty-five negroes, and killed poor little crippled Dahlgren, a
small, pale young officer, who "rode with crutches strapped to his
saddle, and with an artificial leg in the stirrup, as he had lost a
limb a few months before. His death was as patriotic as was his
desperate attempt, for bravely his eager band rode into the
ambush--there was a volley of shots from the thicket by the roadside,
and the young colonel fell from his horse, dead. Some of his men
managed to escape, but most of them were captured."

In Dahlgren's pocket was found an order to all of his men and
officers. To the officers he said:

"We will have a desperate fight, but stand up to it. When it does
come, all will be well. We hope to release the prisoners from Belle
Isle first, and having seen them fairly well started, we will cross
James River into Richmond, destroying the bridges after us, and
exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn the hateful city,
and do not allow the rebel leader Davis and his traitorous crew to

To his guides and runners he said:

"Be prepared with oakum, turpentine, and torpedoes. Destroy
everything that can be used by the rebels. Shoot horses and cattle,
destroy the railroads and the canal, burn the city, leave only the
hospitals, and kill Jeff Davis and his Cabinet."

A dangerous plan indeed! Small wonder that when its details became
known in their diabolical cruelty, the people of Richmond cried out
for revenge, and the hanging of the prisoners; but this was not heeded
by the officials, who had a saner judgment.

The raid had failed! Ulric Dahlgren had lost his life in a daring
attempt to which he was evidently urged by Betty Van Lew and the
so-called Quaker. Bit by bit the reasons for its failure filtered
through to the Spy, chief of which was the treachery of Dahlgren's
guide, by which the forces of the raiders, after separating in two
parts for the attack, lost each other and were never able to unite.
The brave, crippled young commander riding fearlessly on to within
five miles of the city into the ambush, his command falling under the
volley of shots from a hidden enemy--when these details reached Betty
Van Lew her anguish was unbearable, for she had counted on success
instead of failure. And now, there was work to do! Pacing the floor,
she made her plans, and with swift daring carried them out.

Dahlgren was buried on the very spot where he fell; but a few days
later the body was taken to Richmond by order of the Confederate
government, where it lay for some hours at the York River railroad
station. Then, at midnight, it was taken away by the city officials
and buried, no one knew where. But Betty Van Lew says in her diary:
"The heart of every Unionist was stirred to its depths ... and to
discover the hidden grave and remove his honored dust to friendly care
was decided upon."

Admiral Dahlgren, father of the unfortunate colonel, sent one hundred
dollars in gold to Jefferson Davis, asking that the body of his son be
sent to him. The order was at once given to the chief of police, with
the added command to have the body placed in a decent coffin; but when
the police went to carry out the order, taking with them the soldiers
who had buried Dahlgren, the grave was empty!

Through the daring act of Secret Service agents, doubtless, and of
Betty Van Lew's assistants, on a bitter cold and stormy night, two
Union sympathizers went out to the grave, the location of which had
been cleverly discovered by the Unionists. The body of young Dahlgren
was quickly taken up and carried to a work-shop belonging to Mr.
William Rowley, who lived a short distance in the country. He watched
over the remains all night, and during the hours of darkness more than
one Union sympathizer stole out to the shop to pay their last respects
to the pathetic young victim of the attempted raid. At dawn the body
was placed in a metallic coffin and put on a wagon, under a load of
young peach-trees, which entirely concealed the casket. Then Mr.
Rowley, who was a man of iron nerves and great courage, jumped to the
driver's seat and bravely drove the wagon with its precious freight
out of Richmond, past the pickets, without the visible trembling of an
eye-lash to betray his dangerous mission.

"As he had feared, at the last picket post, he was stopped and
challenged. His wagon must be searched. Was his brave hazard lost? As
he waited for the search to be made which would sign his death
warrant, one of the guards recognized him as an old acquaintance, and
began a lively conversation with him. Other wagons came up, were
searched, and went on. Presently the Lieutenant came from his tent and
called to the guard to 'Search that man and let him go!'

"The guard looked with interest at the well-packed load, and remarked
that it would be a shame to tear up those trees.

"Rowley gave no sign of fear or nervousness. Nonchalantly he said that
he had not expected them to be disturbed, but that he knew a soldier's

"Another wagon drove up, was searched, and sent on. Again the
Lieutenant gave an order to 'search the man so that he can go!' Could
anything save him now? Rowley wondered. If he had not been a born
actor he would have shown some sign of the terrible strain he was
under as he waited for the discovery of his hidden burden.

"A moment of agonizing suspense, then the guard said, in a low voice,
'Go on!' and Rowley, without search, went on with his concealed

"Meanwhile, two accomplices had flanked the picket, and they presently
joined Rowley and showed him the way to a farm not far away, where a
grave was hastily dug and the coffin lowered into it. Two loyal women
helped to fill it in, and planted over it one of the peach-trees which
had so successfully prevented discovery. So ended the Dahlgren
raid--and so the Spy had been foiled in one of the most daring and
colossal plots with which she was connected. Because of the stealing
of the young Colonel's body, Admiral Dahlgren's wish could not be
complied with until after the war."

The raid had failed, and with the return of spring, the Union Army was
closing in around Richmond, which made it an easier matter for Betty
Van Lew to communicate with the Union generals, especially with
General Grant, through his Chief of Secret Service. As the weary
months wore away, more than once the Spy was in an agony of suspense,
when it seemed as if some one of her plots was about to bring a
revelation of her secret activities; as if disclosure by some traitor
was inevitable; but in every case she was saved from danger, and was
able to continue her work for the Union.

And now the Confederate forces were ransacking the South in search of
horses, of which they were sorely in need. The Spy quickly hid her one
remaining animal in the smoke-house, but it was not safe there.
Confederate agents were prowling about the city, searching every
building in which a horse could be secreted. In the dead of night
Betty Van Lew led her steed, with feet wrapped in cloths to prevent
noise, from the smoke-house into the old mansion itself, and stabled
it in the study, where she had covered the floor with a thick layer of
straw to deaden any sound of stamping hoofs. And the horse in his
palatial residence was not discovered.

General Grant was now at the head of all the armies of the United
States, and to him was given the duty of attacking Lee. General
Sherman was at the head of a large force in the West, and his duty was
to crush the force of General Johnston.

On the fourth of May, 1864, each general began his task. Sherman
attacked Johnston, and step by step drove him through the mountains to
Atlanta, where Johnston was removed, and his army from that time was
led by General Hood. After trying in vain to beat Sherman, he turned
and started toward Tennessee, hoping to draw Sherman after him. But he
did not succeed; Sherman sent Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga," to
deal with Hood, and in December he destroyed Hood's army in a terrible
battle at Nashville. Meanwhile Sherman started to march from Atlanta
to the sea, his army advancing in four columns, covering a stretch of
country miles wide. They tore up the railroads, destroyed the bridges,
and finally occupied Savannah. There Sherman stayed for a month,
during which his soldiers became impatient. Whenever he passed them
they would shout: "Uncle Billy, I guess Grant is waiting for us in
Richmond!" And on the first of February they resumed their march to
North Carolina.

Grant, meanwhile, had begun his attack on Lee, on the same day that
Sherman had marched against Johnston. Starting from a place called
Culpepper Court House, Grant's army entered the Wilderness, a tract of
country covered with a dense growth of oak and pine, and after much
hard fighting closed in around Richmond, laying siege to Petersburg.
Bravely Lee and his gallant men resisted the Union forces until April,
1865, when, foreseeing the tragic end ahead, Lee left Richmond and
marched westward. Grant followed, and on the ninth of April Lee
surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House. Johnston surrendered
to Sherman near Raleigh, in North Carolina, about two weeks later, and
in May Jefferson Davis was taken prisoner.

This ended the war. The Confederacy fell to pieces, and the Union was
saved. "In the hearts of all Union sympathizers was a passionate
exultation that the United States was once again under one government;
but what a day of sorrowing was that for loyal Southerners!"

It is said that on Sunday, the second of April, when the end was in
sight, children took their places in the Sunday Schools, and
congregations gathered as usual in the churches, united in their
fervent prayers for their country and their soldiers. The worshipping
congregation of St. Paul's Church was disturbed by the sight of a
messenger who walked up the middle aisle to the pew where Jefferson
Davis was sitting, spoke hastily to him, then went briskly out of the
church. What could it mean?

"Ah!" says an historian, "the most sadly memorable day in Richmond's
history was at hand ... the day which for four long years had hung
over the city like a dreadful nightmare had come at last. The message
had come from General Lee of the order to evacuate Richmond!
Beautiful Richmond to be evacuated! It was like the knell of doom.

"President Davis and the other officers of the Confederate government
hastily prepared to leave, and to carry such records and stores as
they were able. The officers of the State government and the soldiers
were preparing to march. The news of the evacuation swept over the
city, spreading dismay and doom as it went. The people began to
collect their valuables and hide them or pack them to carry to a place
of safety, if any such place could be found; and throughout the city
there were scenes of indescribable confusion. The streets were blocked
with furniture and other goods which people were trying to move. All
government store-houses were thrown open, and what could not be
carried away was left to be plundered by those who rushed in to get
bacon, clothing, or whatever they could take. The Confederate troops
were rapidly moving toward the South.... At one o'clock it became
known that under the law of the Confederate Congress all the tobacco
and cotton in the city had been ordered burned to keep it out of the
hands of the enemy. In vain the Mayor sent a committee to remonstrate
against burning the warehouses. No heed was paid to the order, and
soon tongues of lurid flame were leaping from building to building,
until the conflagration was beyond all control. Men and women were
like frenzied demons in their efforts to save property; there was
terrific looting. Wagons and carts were hastily loaded with goods;
some carried their things in wheel-barrows, some in their arms. Women
tugged at barrels of flour, and children vainly tried to move boxes of
tobacco. The sidewalks were strewn with silks, satins, bonnets, fancy
goods, shoes, and all sorts of merchandise. There was no law and there
were no officers; there was only confusion, helpless despair on every
side. Before sunrise there was a terrific explosion which shook the
whole city; the magazine back of the poorhouse was blown up.... At six
o'clock in the morning the evacuation was complete, and the railroad
bridges were set on fire."

The conflagration was at its height when the vanguard of the Federal
army entered the city, the cavalry galloping at full speed.

"Which is the way to the Capitol?" they shouted, then dashed up
Governor Street, while a bitter wail rose from the people of Richmond.
"The Yankees! The Yankees! Oh, the Yankees have taken our city!"

As the cry went up, a United States flag was unfurled over the
Capitol. At once General Weitzel took command and ordered the soldiers
to stop all pillaging and restore order to the city; but it was many
hours before the command could be fully carried out. Then and only
then did the exhausted, panic-stricken, heart-sick people fully
realize the hideous disaster which had come to their beloved city;
only when they saw the destruction and desolation wrought by the fire
did they fully grasp the awful meaning of the cry, "On to Richmond!"
which for four long years had been the watch-word of the Union forces.

And how fared it with the Federal Spy during those hours of anguish
for all true Southerners? Betty Van Lew, who had been in close touch
with the Union generals, had for some time foreseen the coming climax
of the four years' struggle, and weeks earlier she had sent north to
General Butler for a huge American flag, eighteen feet long by nine
wide, which in some unknown way was successfully carried into Richmond
without detection by the picket guard, and safely secreted in the
hidden chamber under the Van Lew roof.

And now General Lee had surrendered. Virginia was again to be a State
of the Union; came a messenger fleet of foot, cautious of address,
bringing breathless tidings to the Spy: "Your house is to be
burned--the Confederate soldiers say so. What can you do to prevent

Even as she listened to his excited words, Betty Van Lew's heart was
throbbing with joyful excitement, despite the uproar in the city from
the constant explosion of shells, the sound of the blowing up of
gun-boats in the harbor, and of the powder magazines, which was
shaking the foundations of the city, as red flames leaped across the
black sky. Even then there was in the heart of the Spy a wild
exultation. "Oh, army of my country, how glorious was your welcome!"
she exclaims in her diary.

She heard the news that her home was about to be burned. With head
erect and flashing eyes she went out alone and stood on the
white-pillared portico, a fearless little figure, defying the mob who
were gathering to destroy the old mansion which was so dear to her.

"I know you--and you--and you!" she cried out, calling them each by
name, and pointing at one after another. "General Grant will be in
this city within an hour; if this house is harmed your house shall be
burned by noon!" At the fearless words, one by one they turned,
muttering, and slunk away, and the Van Lew house was neither burned
nor harmed in any way.

The Union troops were coming near now, marching to the center of the
city. As the long, dusty line of men in blue swung into Main Street,
Betty Van Lew ran up to the secret room under the garret roof, drew
out the great flag for which she had sent in anticipation of this day,
and when the Union soldiers marched past the historic old mansion, the
Stars and Stripes were waving proudly over its portico. The
Confederacy was no more!

Despite her bravery, Betty Van Lew's life was now in danger. There was
urgent need of special protection for her. Feeling against the
northern victors was at fever height in poor, desolated, defeated
Richmond, and it is small wonder that one born in their city, who yet
stood openly and fearlessly against all that the Southerners held
sacred, should have been despised, and worse than that. Realizing her
danger, and knowing the priceless service she had rendered the Union
generals in the four long years of the war, Colonel Parke, with a
force of men, was sent to protect the Spy. To the General's utter
amazement they did not find her in the old house. She was found in the
deserted Capitol, ransacking it for documents which she feared might
be destroyed and which would be a loss to the Government.

As "Crazy Bet" and as a Union Spy, Betty Van Lew's long and remarkable
service of her country was ended. The Confederacy was dissolved, and
again the flag of the United States of America could rightfully wave
from every building in the land. At the beginning of the war, when
Betty took on herself the rôle of Federal Secret Service agent, she
was light of heart, alert of body and mind. Now, for four years, she
had born a heavy burden of fear and of crushing responsibility, for
the sake of a cause for which she was willing to sacrifice comfort,
wealth and other things which the average woman counts dear, and her
heart and brain were weary.

Two weeks after the inauguration of Grant as President of the United
States, as a reward for her faithful service, he appointed Betty Van
Lew postmistress of Richmond. Well she knew that her enemies would
declare the appointment a reward for her services against the
Confederacy, and that it would but make her more of an alien in
Richmond than ever she had been before. But she was desperately poor,
so she accepted the position and for eight years filled it
efficiently. When she came in contact with old friends from time to
time in a business way, they were politely cold, and in her diary she

"I live, as entirely distinct from the citizens as if I were
plague-stricken. Rarely, very rarely, is our door-bell ever rung by
any but a pauper or those desiring my service." She adds: "September,
1875, my Mother was taken from me by death. We had not friends enough
to be pall-bearers."

When Grant had been succeeded by Hayes as President of the United
States, the one-time Spy was obliged to ask for his aid:

"I am hounded down"--she wrote to his private Secretary. "I never,
never was so bitterly persecuted; ask the President to protect me from
this unwarranted, unmerited, and unprecedented persecution."

From her own point of view, and from that of those who fought for the
abolition of slavery and the preservation of the Union, Betty Van
Lew's persecution was indeed "unwarranted and unmerited." But there
was another side to the matter. Elizabeth Van Lew, although the child
of a Northern mother, was also the daughter of John Van Lew, one of
Richmond's foremost citizens. The loyalty of the Southerners to the
Confederacy and to one another, from their viewpoint, was
praiseworthy, and there is every reason why they should have shunned
one of Richmond's daughters, who not only approved the cause of the
hated Yankees, but who aided the Union generals in their determination
to sweep "On to Richmond, to the defeat of the Confederacy."

What to one was loyalty, to the other was treason--what to the Spy was
a point of honor, to her old friends was her open and lasting
disgrace, and never can the two viewpoints be welded into one, despite
the symbol of Union which floats over North and South, making the
United States of America one and "indivisible, now and forever!"

Betty Van Lew remained postmistress of Richmond for eight years, then
she was removed, and there were black years of poverty and loneliness
for her, as she had not laid by a dollar for a day of want, but had
given lavishly to all in need, especially to the negroes. She was not
able to sell her valuable but unproductive real estate, and was
reduced to actual need. "I tell you really and solemnly," she
confesses to her diary, "I have suffered for necessary food. I have
not one cent in the world. I have stood the brunt alone of a
persecution that I believe no other person in the country has
endured.... I honestly think that the Government should see that I was

At last she was given a clerkship in the Post-Office Department at
Washington, but after two years this was taken from her, probably for
political reasons, and it was recommended that she be given a
clerkship of a lower grade. This was done, and although she was cut by
the injustice of the act, she clung patiently to her only means of
support. Two weeks later, it is said that a Northern newspaper
contained an editorial which spoke sneeringly of "A Troublesome
Relic," and ended with, "We draw the line at Miss Van Lew." Even
though she had not a penny in the world, she could not bear the sting
of that, and she wrote her resignation, and went back to the great,
lonely house on Church Hill a heart-broken, pitiable woman, who had
given her all for what she believed to be the cause of right and

But she could not live in the old mansion alone, and without food or
money. In despair she wrote a letter to a friend in the North, a
relative of Col. Paul Revere, whom she had helped when he was a
prisoner in the Libby. She had to borrow a stamp from an old negro to
send the letter, and even worse to her than that was the necessity of
revealing her desperate plight. But she need not have felt as she did.
As soon as the letter reached its destination there was a hurried
indignation meeting of those Boston men who knew what she had done for
the Union, and immediately and gladly they provided an ample annuity
for her, which placed her beyond all need for the remaining years of
her life. This was, of course, a great relief; but even so, it could
not ease the burden of her lonely isolation.

"No one will walk with us on the street," she writes; "no one will go
with us anywhere.... It grows worse and worse as the years roll

And so the weary months and years went by, and at last, in the old
mansion with its haunting memories, nursed by an aged negress to whom
she had given freedom years before, Elizabeth Van Lew died. Among her
effects there was found on a torn bit of paper this paragraph:

"If I am entitled to the name of 'Spy' because I was in the Secret
Service, I accept it willingly, but it will hereafter have to my mind
a high and honorable significance. For my loyalty to my country, I
have two beautiful names; here I am called 'Traitor,' farther North a
'Spy,' instead of the honored name of Faithful."

And well may she be called "Faithful" by both friend and enemy, for
she gave freely of youth and strength, of wealth and her good name, of
all that human beings hold most sacred, for that which was to her a
consecrated and a just cause.

In the Shockhoe Hill Cemetery of Richmond, there is to be seen a
bronze tablet, erected to the noble woman who worked tirelessly and
without fitting reward for a cause which she believed to be righteous.
The inscription on the tablet reads:

               Elizabeth L. Van Lew
               1818           1900.

     She risked everything that is dear to man--friends,
     fortune, comfort, health, life itself;
     all for the one absorbing desire of her
     heart--that slavery might be abolished and
     the Union preserved.


                    This Boulder

     from the Capitol Hill in Boston, is a tribute
     from Massachusetts friends.

Elizabeth Van Lew was indeed a Spy working against the city of her
birth, and the friends of her love and loyalty,--a traitor in one
sense of the word; but above all was she tireless in working for her
highest ideals, and so is she worthy of respect and honor wherever the
Stars and Stripes float free over united America.


"Father has the appointment! We are going to live on the island, and
you must all row over to see me very often. Isn't it wonderful?"

A bright-faced young girl, surrounded by a group of schoolmates,
poured out her piece of news in such an eager torrent of words that
the girls were as excited as the teller of the tale, and there was a
chorus of: "Wonderful! Of course we will! What fun to live in that
fascinating place! Let's go and see it now!"

No sooner decided than done, and in a very short time there was a
fleet of rowboats led by that of Ida Lewis, on their way to the island
in Baker's Bay, where the Lime Rock Light stood, of which Captain
Hosea Lewis had just been appointed keeper.

Ida, Captain Hosea's daughter, was born at Newport, Rhode Island, on
the 25th of February, 1841, and was sent to school there as soon as
she was old enough. She was a quick-witted, sure-footed, firm-handed
girl from her earliest childhood, and a great lover of the sea in all
its changing phases. Often instead of playing games on land with her
mates she would beguile some old fisherman to take her out in his
fishing dory, and eagerly help him make his hauls, and by the time she
was fourteen years old she was an expert in handling the oars, and as
tireless a swimmer as could be found in all Newport.

And now her father had been appointed keeper of the Lime Rock Light,
the "Ida Lewis" light, as it came to be known in later years, and the
girl's home was no longer to be on _terra firma_, but on the
rock-ribbed island where the lighthouse stood, whose beacon-light cast
strong, steady rays across Baker's Bay, to the greater Narragansett
Bay, of which it is only an arm.

The flock of girls in their boats rowed hard and fast across the
silvery water with a steady plash, plash of the dipping oars in the
calm bay, and ever Ida Lewis was in the lead, heading toward the
island with a straight course, and keeping a close watch for the rocks
of which the Bay was full. She would turn her head, toss back her
hair, and call out in ringing tones to the flock, "'Ware, shoals!" and
obediently they would turn as she turned, follow where she led. Soon
her boat ran its sharp bow against the rocky ledge to which they had
been steering, and with quick confidence Ida sprang ashore, seized the
painter, and drew her boat to a mooring, while the rest of the fleet
came to the landing and one after another the girls jumped ashore.
Then up the rocky path to the lighthouse filed Ida and her friends,
eager to inspect the queer place which was to be Ida's home.

"How perfectly lovely! How odd! Oh, how I wish I were going to live
here! Ida, you are lucky--But just think how the wind will howl around
the house in a storm! Will your father ever let you tend the light, do
you think?"

The questions were not answered, and those who asked them did not
expect a response. They all chattered on at the same time, while they
inspected every nook and corner of their friend's new home. It was a
small place, that house on Lime Rock, built to house the
light-keeper's family, but one which could well answer to the name of
"home" to one as fond of the sea as was Ida Lewis. On the narrow
promontory, with the waves of the quiet bay lapping its rocky shores,
the two-story white house stood like a sea-gull poised for flight. A
living-room, with wide windows opening out on the bay it had, and
simple bedrooms where one could be lulled to sleep by the lapping of
waters on every side, while at the front of the house stood the tower
from which the light sent its searching beams to guide mariners trying
to enter the Newport harbor.

The girls climbed the spiral staircase leading up to the light, and
looked with wonder not unmixed with awe at the great lamp which was
always filled and trimmed for immediate use--saw the large bell which
tolled continuously during storm or fog; then they went down again to
the sunshiny out of doors, and were shown the boat-house, not so far
back of the light that it would be difficult to reach in a storm.

It was all a fairy residence to those young girls, and little could
they imagine that bright-eyed Ida, who was about to become a
lighthouse-keeper's daughter, was to be known in later years as the
Grace Darling of America, because of her heroic life on that small
promontory in Baker's Bay!

The Lewis family settled in the lighthouse as speedily as possible,
and when their simple household goods were arranged, the island home
was a pretty and a comfortable place, where the howling winds of
winter or the drenching, depressing fogs of all seasons would have no
chance to take from the homelike cheer inside, no matter how severe
they were. Books, pictures, a large rag rug, a model of a sloop, made
by Captain Hosea, family portraits belonging to his wife--whose
girlhood had been spent on Block Island as the daughter of Dr. Aaron
C. Wiley, and to whose ears the noise of wind and waves was the music
of remembered girlhood--all these added to the simple interior of the
lighthouse, while out of doors there was, as Ida said, "All the sea,
all the sky, all the joy of the great free world, and plenty of room
to enjoy it!"

And enjoy it she certainly did, although she had to rise early and
eat the plainest of fare, for the pay of a lighthouse-keeper would not
allow of many luxuries. At night she was in bed and fast asleep before
her friends on land had even thought of leaving their amusements or
occupations for sleep. It was a healthy life, and Ida grew broad of
shoulders, heavier in weight and as muscular as a boy. Every morning
she inspected her boat, and if it needed bailing out or cleaning she
was at work on it before breakfast; then at the appointed hour she was
ready to row her younger brothers and sisters to the mainland to
school. Like a little housekeeper, after dropping them, she went to
market in Newport for her mother, and sometimes her boat would be seen
crossing the bay more than once a morning, if there were many supplies
to be carried over; then the children must be rowed back after school
hours. Small wonder that Ida came to know every rock in the bay, and
was able to steer her boat safely in and out among the many
obstructions which were a peril to less intelligent mariners.

Towering over all neighboring buildings, the Lime Rock Light stood on
its rocky ledge, clearly seen by men on vessels entering or leaving
Narragansett Bay, and by officers and men at Fort Adams, as well as by
those who lived within sight of the light, and it came to be a daily
word, "Watch for the girl," for Ida sturdily rowed across the bay, no
matter how furious the storm, how dense the fog.

Late one afternoon, after visiting a friend, she was rowing from
Newport at the hour when a snub-nosed schooner sailed slowly into the
harbor on its way from New York to Newport with every sign of distress
visible among its crew, for not even the Captain knew where lay the
channel of safety between the perilous rocks, and the fog was thick.

[Illustration: IDA LEWIS]

Ida saw the schooner, and guessed its dilemma. Rowing as close to it
as she could, she signaled to the captain to follow her, and her
words were carried to him on the heavy air:

"Come on! Don't be afraid!"

Obediently he went on, as the girl directed, and reached the dock of
his destination in safety, where he shook hands heartily with his
bright-eyed guide before she pushed off again for her island home.
Later he spread the news among his mates that there was a "boss in
Baker's Bay who knew what she was about," and his advice was, "In
danger look for the dark-haired girl in a row-boat and follow her."

This came to be the accepted fashion among captains of the schooners
which in that day plied so frequently between New York and Newport,
and many a letter of thanks, or a more substantial remembrance, did
she receive from some one she had piloted across the angry bay.

Soldiers trying to reach the fort, or sailors anxious to row out to
their ships, always found a ready ferry-woman in Ida, and before the
Lewis family had been in the lighthouse for many months she was one of
the most popular young persons on land or sea within many miles--for
who had ever before seen such a seaworthy young mariner as she, or
where could such a fund of nautical wisdom be discovered as was stored
in her clear head? This question was asked in affectionate pride by
more than one good seaman who had become Ida's intimate friend at the
close of her first year on Lime Rock, while all the skippers had an
intense admiration for the girl who not only handled her life-boat
with a man's skill, but who kept the light filled and trimmed and
burning to save her father steps, now that he was crippled with

The heat of summer had given place to the crisp coolness of a glorious
October day as Ida was just starting to row to the mainland to do an
errand for her mother. She looked out of the window, across the bay,
to see if there was any prospect of a shower, and her keen eyes
glimpsed a sight that made her hurry for the glass. Looking through
it, she gave a sharp cry and rushed to the door.

"What is it, daughter?" the captain queried.

But Ida was already out of the house. So he hobbled slowly to the
window and, with the use of the glass Ida had dropped, saw his
energetic child push the life-boat out of its shelter, drag it to the
shore, jump in and row rapidly to the middle of the bay where a
pleasure-boat had capsized. There were four men in the water,
struggling with the high waves which momentarily threatened to
overcome them. When Ida reached them in her life-boat, two were
clinging to the overturned craft, and two were making a desperate
effort to swim toward shore. The watching captain, through his glass,
saw Ida row close to the capsized boat and with strong, steady hands
pull and drag one after another of the men into her boat. When they
were all in, she rowed with sure strokes back across the stormy water,
carrying her load of human freight to shore and receiving their thanks
as modestly as if she had not done a remarkable deed for a girl of
seventeen. A very fine piece of work was Ida's first rescue, but by no
means her last. She loved to row out in a storm and dare the winds and
waves to do their worst, and she grew to think her mission a clear
one, as life-saver of the light.

A year after her first experience as life-saver, her father, who had
recently been paralyzed, died, and so capable was his
eighteen-year-old daughter in doing his duties that she was allowed to
continue in the care of the light until her father's successor should
be appointed. When the news came to her, Ida's eyes gleamed, as if in
anticipation of some happy event, and to her devoted Newfoundland dog
she exclaimed: "We love it too well to give it up to anybody; don't
we, doggie dear? We will succeed to ourselves!" And she did succeed
to herself, being finally made keeper of the light by special act of
Congress--the appointment being conferred upon her in 1879 by General
Sherman as a compliment to her ability and bravery; doubtless because
of the recommendation of those fishermen and seamen whose respect for
the brave girl was great and who did not wish the government to remove
her. In any case, she was chosen for the responsible position as
successor to her father, and to herself, as she quaintly put it, and
more and more she became devoted to every stone of the small
promontory, and to every smallest duty in connection with her work and
her island home.

Winter and summer passed in the regular routine of her daily duties as
keeper of the light, and every time she lighted the big lamp whose
beams shone out over the waters with such comforting gleams for
watching mariners she was filled with assurance that hers was the
greatest and most interesting mission in the world.

Winter came with its howling winds and frozen bay. A terrific storm
was blowing from the north; snow was driving from every direction and
it was hardly possible to stand on one's feet because of the fury of
the gale. Ida lighted her beacon of warning to ships at sea, and
rejoiced as she saw its glowing rays flash out over the turbulent
waters. Then she went down into the cozy kitchen and speedily ate a
simple supper prepared by her mother. How the wind shrieked around the
little house on the island! Ida hastily raised the curtain, to see how
heavily it was storming, and she gave an exclamation of surprise; then
ran up the spiral stairway to the tower, where in the rays of the
steady light she could see more clearly. Far out on the waves, beyond
the frozen surface of the inner bay, she saw a light skiff bobbing up
and down, the toy of wind and wave; in it by the aid of her powerful
glass she could see a stiff, still figure. A man had been overcome by
the cold--he would die if he were not rescued at once. Quick as a
flash she was down-stairs, in the boat-house, had pulled out the boat,
although it was a hard task in such a storm even for one as strong as
she, and soon was on her way across that part of the bay which was not
frozen. Up and down on the storm-tossed waves her craft tossed, now
righting itself, now almost submerged--but Ida pulled on with strong
sure strokes, and drew alongside of the bobbing skiff--took hold of
it, drew it to the side of her own boat, and, looking into the face of
the man in it, saw that he must be rowed to land as quickly as
possible if he were to be saved. She saved him. When he regained
consciousness he found himself propped up before the warm fire in the
lighthouse kitchen, with the most delicious feeling of languor
stealing through his whole frame, instead of the cruel numbness which
had been the last sensation before he became unconscious. And it added
materially to his enjoyment that a bright-eyed, dark-haired young
woman hovered around him, ministering to his wants in a delightful

The young lighthouse-keeper's next rescue was of a soldier from the
Fort Adams garrison who, in trying to cross the harbor in a small
boat, was thrown into the bay by the force of the waves, and would
have been drowned, as he was not a good swimmer, had not Ida's keen
eyes seen him and she gone instantly to his rescue. He was a heavy
man, and Ida tried in vain to lift him into her boat, but was not
strong enough. What should she do? The great waves were lashing
against the boats in such a fury that what was done must be done
quickly. With ready wit she threw a rope around his body under the
arm-pits, and towed him to shore as hard and fast as she could, at the
same time watching closely that his head did not go under water. It
was a man-sized job, but Ida accomplished it, and, seeing his
exhaustion when she reached shore, she called two men, who aided in
resuscitating him.

"Who towed him in?" asked one of them, who was a stranger to Ida.

"I did," she replied.

"Ah, go on!" he said, incredulously. "A girl like you doing that! Tell
me something I can believe!"

Ida laughed and turned to the other man. "He will tell you what I have
done and what I can do, even if I am a girl!" she said; and the
seaman, just landed from a coastwise steamer, looked at her with
admiration tinged with awe. "She's the boss of these parts," said his
companion, "and the prettiest life-saver on the coast. Just try it
yourself and see!"

As the man did not seem to care about risking his life to have it
saved, even by Ida Lewis, he went his way, but whenever his steamer
touched at Newport after that he always paid his respects to the
"prettiest life-saver on the coast."

Twelve months went by, with ever-increasing fame for the girl keeper
of Lime Rock Light who had become one of the features of the vicinity,
to meet and talk with whom many a tourist lengthened a stay in
Newport, and Ida enjoyed meeting them and showing them her light and
her home and her boat and her dog and all her other treasures, while
in return they told her many interesting things about the great world
beyond the beams of her light.

Up in the tower one day--it was in the autumn of 1867--she was looking
out over the bay, fearing trouble for some vessel, as a furious storm
was raging, and the wind was blowing snow in such white sheets that
few captains could make their way among the rocks of the harbor
without difficulty, while any one foolish enough to set out in a
rowboat would find it impossible to reach the shore.

Out flashed the rays of the beacon-light, and far off on the
tempestuous waves Ida saw what seemed to be two men in a boat with a
load of sheep. The wind was howling, and borne on its shrieking Ida
fancied she could hear the moans of the men and the frightened beasts.

One quick look at her light, to make sure that it was all right to
leave, then down ran the life-saver to her self-appointed work. Never
was there such a gale blowing in Narragansett Bay, and in the smaller
bay white-capped waves and gusts of wind and rain added to biting,
stinging cold made it almost impossible even for sturdy Ida to
struggle out from the boat-house, to launch her rowboat on the stormy
sea. But she never gave in to any obstacles, and soon her little boat
could be seen making slow headway across the bay, in the direction of
the drifting men and their cargo of sheep.

Now the wind drove her back, now it blew her small craft to one side
and the other, but steadily, though slowly, she gained on herself, and
at last she reached the men, who could make no headway in the teeth of
such a gale, and were simply drifting and watching Ida's acts with
incredulous wonder. A young girl--come to rescue them in such a storm
as this! Quickly she helped them to climb into her boat, and took up
her oars. One man protested. "But the sheep," he said.

"Leave them to me!" commanded Ida, sternly, rowing as fast as she
could, her dark hair streaming over her shoulders and her cheeks
rose-red from the stinging cold of the air. Neither man ventured
another word. Reaching the rocky coast of the island, Ida sprang out
after them, pointed out the kitchen door, and said:

"Stay in there and get warm till I come back."

"But--" began one.

Ida was already out of hearing, and the men whose lives had been
saved did as they had been told, and in the warm kitchen awaited the
coming of their rescuer. In an hour there were footsteps outside, the
door opened, and a glowing girl stepped in out of the bitter gale,
stamping her almost frozen feet and holding out her benumbed hands to
the glowing fire.

"Well, they are all safe on land," she said. "I think they had better
be left in the boat-house overnight. The wind is in the right quarter
for a clear day to-morrow; then you can put out again."

There was no reply. A girl like this keeper of the Lime Rock Light
left no room for pretty compliments, but made a man feel that if she
could do such deeds with simple courage, what could he not do with
such a spirit as hers! No one ever paid Ida Lewis higher praise than
these two rough men when, on leaving, they each gripped her hand and
the spokesman said:

"Whenever I see your light shining, I'll put up a prayer for its
keeper, and thanking you for what you did for us, ma'am--if my little
one's a girl, she will be Ida Lewis!"

Up spoke his comrade: "My daughter's twelve year old come September
next, and I hope she'll be your kind. It'd make a new kind of a world
to have such!"

While such praise did not turn Ida's very level head, or make her
vain, it gave her a deep satisfaction and a tremendous sense of
responsibility in her beloved occupation.

Two years went by, and Ida Lewis was a name which commanded respect
throughout Rhode Island because of her work for the government, and
there was scarcely a day when she did not direct some wandering
boatman or give valuable aid to a distressed seafarer, but from the
day she brought the men and their load of sheep to shore it was a year
before there was any need of such aid as she had given them. Then on a
day never to be forgotten by those to whose rescue she went, she saw
two of the soldiers who were stationed at Fort Adams rowing toward the
fort from Newport. A young lad was at the oars, and he showed that he
was not in any way experienced as a boatman. A sudden squall overtook
the small boat in mid-bay, and, as Ida Lewis looked at it, it
capsized. At the moment Ida happened to be without hat or coat, or
even shoes. Rushing to the boat-house, she took her staunch friend to
the shore, and launched out in the wild squall under an inky-black
sky; and she had to row against a wind that drove her back time after
time. Finally she reached the wreck, only to find the boy had gone
under. The soldiers were clinging to the bobbing keel of the boat, and
Ida grasped them with a firm, practised hand, while at the same time
managing to keep her own boat near enough so that when a wave washed
them together she was able to help the exhausted soldiers to climb
into it. They were unable to speak, and one of them was so exhausted
that she feared she could not get him to land in time to resuscitate

With wind-blown hair, and eyes dark with determination, she rowed as
she had never rowed before, and at last her boat touched the rocky
home ledge. Out she jumped, and in less time than it takes to tell it,
she had the men before her fire, wrapped in blankets. One of them was
unconscious for such a long time that his rescuer was wondering what
was best to do--to take the risk of leaving him and row to the
mainland for a doctor, or to take the risk of doing for him with her
own inexperienced hands. Just then his blue eyes opened, and after a
drink of stimulant he slowly revived, and at last was able to talk
coherently. The storm was still raging and the men remained on the
lighthouse ledge with the girl rescuer, for whom they showed open
admiration; then, when the clouds lifted and the moon shone wanly
through the rift, they took their own boat and rowed off to the fort.
But they were staunch friends of Ida Lewis from that day, and she
enjoyed many a chat with them, and had more than one pleasant
afternoon on the mainland with them when they were off duty.

At another time she was out in her boat in a bad storm, when through
the dense darkness she heard cries of, "Help! help!" and, rowing in
the direction from which the cries came, she found three men in the
water clinging to the keel of an overturned boat. With her usual
promptness in an emergency, she dragged them all into her boat and
took them to shore. Another day, from the lighthouse tower, she saw
the slender figure of a man clinging to a spindle which was a mile and
a half from the lighthouse. In a very short time he would be too
exhausted to hold on any longer. She must hurry, hurry! With flying
feet she made her boat ready; with firm strokes she rowed out to the
spindle, rescued the man and bore him safely to shore.

At this time Ida Lewis was so well known as being always on hand in
any emergency that it was taken as a matter of course to have her
appear out of the sky, as one's preserver, and the man, though
extremely grateful, did not seem as astonished as he might have
otherwise been to be saved from such a death by a young girl who
apparently dropped from the skies just to rescue him.

In all of these experiences, when she was able to save men's lives at
the risk of her own, and was successful by reason of her quick wit and
self-forgetful courage, despite the grave chances she took, she never
had a single fright about her own safety, but simply flew across the
bay at any time of day or night at the sight of a speck on the water
which to her trained eye was a human being in danger.

Winter's hand had laid its glittering mantle of ice on Baker's Bay,
and on a glorious sunlit morning Ida was ready to start to Newport to
make some necessary purchases. When she was just about to push her
boat off the rocks she looked over the bay with the intent, piercing
glance for which she was famous among fisher-folk, who declared she
could "see out of the back of her head," and caught a glimpse of
uniforms, of struggling figures in that part of the bay which was so
shallow as to be always frozen in mid-winter, and which the soldiers
all knew to be dangerous to cross. But there were two of them, waving
their arms in frantic appeal for help, as they tried to keep from
going under in the icy water of the bay.

There was not a moment to lose. Ida put out from shore, rowed swiftly
to a point as near the drowning and freezing men as was possible, then
with her oars broke the ice sufficiently to make a channel for her
boat. As she came near to them she found that the insecure ice, melted
by the strong sun, had given way under them, while they were evidently
trying to take a short cut to Fort Adams from Newport.

It was hard work and quick work for Ida's experienced hands to get
them into the life-boat; and so nearly frozen were they that she was
obliged to rest on her oars, at the same time rubbing their numb limbs
as well as she could. Then she rowed for shore faster than she had
ever rowed but once before, and, as she told afterward:

"I flew for restoratives and hot water, and worked so hard and so
fast, rubbing them and heating them, that it was not long before they
came to life again and were sitting up in front of the fire,
apologizing for their folly, and promising that they would never again
give me such a piece of work to do, or cross the bay in winter at a
point where they knew it was a risk." She added, naïvely: "They were
as penitent as naughty children, so I took advantage of it and gave
them a lecture on things soldiers ought not to do, among them drinking
whisky--even with the good excuse of being cold--and showing them
quite plainly that this scare they had had came from that bad habit.
They seemed very sorry, and when they got up to go, they saluted me as
if I were their captain. Then off they went to the fort."

Several days later she received a letter of thanks from the officers
at Fort Adams, and a gold watch from the men she had rescued "in
grateful appreciation of a woman's heroism."

On through the long years Ida Lewis, with hair growing slowly a little
grayer, and with arms a little less equal to the burden of rowing a
heavy boat through fierce winter gales, was faithful to her duties as
keeper of the light, now never spoken of as the Lime Rock Light, but
always as the Ida Lewis Light; and, although she was always averse to
notoriety, yet she was forced to accept the penalty of her brave
deeds, and welcome the thousands of tourists who now swarmed daily
over the promontory and insisted on a personal talk with the keeper of
the light. Had it not been for Mrs. Lewis, both aged and feeble, but
able to meet and show the visitors over the island, Ida would have had
no privacy at all and no time for her work.

Although she always disliked praise or publicity, yet she accepted
official recognition of her faithful work with real appreciation, and
it was touching to see her joy when one day she received a letter
bearing the signature of the Secretary of the Treasury, notifying her
that the gold life-saving medal had been awarded to her--and stating
that she was the only woman in America upon whom the honor had been
conferred! At a later date she also received three silver medals:
gifts from the State of Rhode Island, and from the Humane Society of
Massachusetts, and also from the New York Life-Saving Association. All
these recognitions of her achievements Ida Lewis received with shining
eyes and wonder that such praise should have come to her for the
simple performance of her duty. "Any one would rescue a drowning man,
of course," she said. "I just happen to be where I see them first!"

But although she was so modest, and although so many honors were
heaped upon her, none ever meant to her what the first expression of
public appreciation meant, shown by the citizens of Rhode Island.

An invitation had been sent to her, asking her to be present at the
Custom-House at Newport on a certain day in 1869. She accepted the
invitation, and went at the appointed hour without much thought about
the matter. When she reached the Custom-House, to her surprise a
committee of prominent Newport residents met her and escorted her to a
seat on the platform, from which she looked down on a vast audience,
all staring with evident curiosity at the slight, dark-haired woman in
whose honor the throng had come together. There were speeches so
filled with praise of her deeds that Ida Lewis would have liked to fly
from the sight of the applauding crowd; but instead must sit and
listen. The speeches at an end, there was a moment's pause; then she
found herself on her feet, amid a chorus of cheers, being presented
with a magnificent new life-boat, the _Rescue_, a gift from the
citizens of Newport as a slight recognition of her acts of bravery.

Ida never knew all she said in response to the presentation speech;
she only knew that tears streamed down her cheeks as she gripped a
man's hand and said, "Thank you, thank you--I don't deserve it!" over
and over again, while the audience stood up and applauded to the echo.
As if that were not enough to overcome any young woman, as she left
the building, James Fisk, Jr., approached her and, grasping her hand
warmly, told her that there was to be a new boat-house built back of
the light, large enough for her beautiful new boat.

It was late that night before Ida fell asleep, lulled at last by the
wind and the lapping of the waves, and thinking with intense happiness
not of her own achievements, but of the pride and joy with which her
mother received the account of her daughter's ovation and gift, and
her words rang in Ida's ears above the noise of the waters, "Your
father would be so proud, dear!"

For fifty-three years Ida Lewis remained the faithful keeper of her
beloved light, and because of her healthy, out-of-door life we catch a
glimpse of the woman of sixty-five which reminds us strongly of the
girl who led the way to the lighthouse point on that day in 1841, to
show her new home to her schoolmates. In the face of howling winds and
winter gales she had snatched twenty-three lives from the jaws of
death, and in her sixty-fifth year she was at her old work.

A woman had rowed out to the light from Newport, and when her boat had
almost reached the pier which had been erected recently on the island
shore, she rashly stood on her feet, lost her balance and fell
overboard. Ida Lewis, who was rowing in near the pier, instantly came
to the rescue, helped the struggling and much frightened woman into
her own boat, and then picked up the other one, which was drifting

Sixty-five years young, and heroic from earliest girlhood to latest
old age! We add our tribute to those heaped on her head by many who
knew her in person and others who were acquainted only with her heroic
acts, and we rejoice to know that in this year of American crisis we,
too, can reflect the heroism of the keeper of Lime Rock Light, for in
our hands are greater opportunities for wide service and greater
variety of instruments by which to mold the destiny of nations and
save life. Proud are we that we, too, are American, as was Ida Lewis,
and we can give interest as consecrated and sincere to the work at our
hand to-day as she gave, whose daily precepts were work and thrift,
and who said, in her quaint way, of the light which had been her
beacon of inspiration for so many years of service:

"The light is my child and I know when it needs me, even if I sleep.
This is home to me, and I hope the good Lord will take me away when I
have to leave it."

Her wish was granted. In the last week of October, 1911, she fell
asleep in the lighthouse on Lime Rock, which had been her home for so
long, lulled into an eternal repose by the wind and waves, which had
for many years been her beloved companions--and as she slept the
beacon-light which she had for so long kept trimmed and burning sent
out its rays far beyond the little bay where Ida Lewis lay asleep.

Patriotism, faithfulness, service--who can reckon their value? The
gleam of Ida Lewis's light flashes inspiration and determination to
our hearts to-day.


For several weeks the sound of hammer and saw had been heard on the
Barton farm where a new barn was being built. The framework was almost
up, and David Barton and his little sister Clara, with a group of
friends, were eagerly watching the carpenters, who were just fixing
the high rafters to the ridge-pole.

"I dare you to climb to the top, Dave!" suddenly challenged a boy in
the group.

David Barton, who was known as the "Buffalo Bill" of the neighborhood,
always took a dare. Almost before the challenge had been given his
coat was off and he had started toward the new building amid a chorus
of cries: "Good for you, Dave!" from the group of young spectators who
were always thrilled by his daring exploits. Only the little sister
Clara protested.

"Don't, David," she exclaimed. "It isn't safe."

Her warning was not heeded. Up went the sure-footed athlete until he
had almost reached the topmost peak of the barn. Crash! a board gave
way under his feet, and down to the ground he was hurled, landing on
his back on a pile of heavy boards. Limp and lifeless he lay there, a
strange contrast to the vigorous young man who had climbed up the
building only a few moments earlier, and the accident seemed to
paralyze the faculties of those who saw it happen. It was not the
builders or the older persons present who spoke first, but small,
dark-eyed, determined Clara, who idolized her brother.

"Get mother, and go for the doctor, quick!" she commanded, and in less
time than it takes to tell it the entire Barton family had been
summoned to the scene of the disaster, and a doctor was bending over
the unconscious man.

Dorothy and Sally, the grown-up sisters, hastily obeyed the doctor's
orders, and made a room in the farm-house ready for their injured
brother, while Stephen Barton and one of the workmen carried him in as
gently as possible and laid him on the bed which he was not to leave
for many weary months. Examination proved that the injury was a
serious one, and there was need of careful and continuous nursing. To
the surprise of the whole family, who looked on eleven-year-old Clara,
the youngest of them all, as still a baby, when Mrs. Barton made ready
to take charge of the sick-room, she found a resolute little figure
seated by the bedside, with determination to remain there showing on
every line of her expressive face.

"Let me take care of him! I can do it--I want to. Please, oh, please!"
pleaded Clara.

At first the coveted permission was denied her, for how could a girl
so young take care of a dangerously injured man? But as the weary days
and nights of watching wore away and it seemed as if there would be no
end to them, from sheer exhaustion the older members of the family
yielded their places temporarily to Clara. Then one day when the
doctor came and found her in charge, the sick-room was so tidy and
quiet, and the young nurse was so clear-minded and ready to obey his
slightest order, that when she begged him to let her take care of her
brother he gave his hearty permission, and Clara had won her way.

From that time on, through long months, she was the member of the
family whose entire thought and care was centered in the invalid.
David was very sick for such a long time that it seemed as if he could
never rally, and his one great comfort was having Clara near him. Hour
after hour, and day after day, she sat by his bedside, his thin hand
clasped in her strong one, with the patience of a much older, wiser
nurse. She practically shut herself up in that sick-room for two whole
years, and it seemed as if there was nothing too hard for her to do
well and quickly, if in any way it would make David more comfortable.
Finally a new kind of bath was tried with success. David was cured,
and Clara Barton had served her earliest apprenticeship as a nurse.

Let us look back and see what went into the making of an
eleven-year-old child who would give two years of her life to a task
like that.

On Christmas Day of the year 1821, Clarissa Harlowe, as she was named,
or "Clara" Barton, as she was always called, was born in her father's
home near the town of Oxford, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Her
oldest sister Dorothy was seventeen at that time, and her oldest
brother Stephen, fifteen, while David was thirteen and Sally ten years
old; so it was a long time since there had been a baby in the family,
and all were so delighted over the event that Clara Barton says in her
_Recollections_, "I am told the family jubilation upon the occasion
was so great that the entire dinner and tea sets had to be changed for
the serving of the noble guests who gathered."

The house in which the Christmas child was born was a simple
farm-house on a hill-top, and inside nearly everything was home-made,
even the crib in which the baby was cradled. Outside, the flat
flagstone in front of the door was marked by the hand tools of the
father. Stephen Barton, or Captain Barton as he was called, was a man
of marked military tastes, who had served under "Mad Anthony" Wayne
in campaigns against the Indians. In his youngest daughter Clara he
found a real comrade, and, perched on his knee, she early gained a
passionate love of her country and a child's simple knowledge of its
history through the thrilling tales he told her. In speaking of those
days she says:

"I listened breathlessly to his war stories. Illustrations were called
for, and we made battles and fought them. Every shade of military
etiquette was regarded. Colonels, captains, and sergeants were given
their proper place and rank. So with the political world; the
President, Cabinet, and leading officers of the government were
learned by heart, and nothing gratified the keen humor of my father
more than the parrot-like readiness with which I lisped these
difficult names." That they did not mean much even to such a
precocious child as Clara Barton is shown by an incident of those
early days, when her sister Dorothy asked her how she supposed a
Vice-President looked.

"I suppose he is about as big as our barn, and green!" was the quick

But though the child did not understand all that was poured into her
greedy little mind by an eager father, yet it bore fruit in later
years, for she says: "When later I ... was suddenly thrust into the
mysteries of war, and had to take my place and part in it, I found
myself far less a stranger to the conditions than most women, or even
ordinary men, for that matter. I never addressed a colonel as captain,
got my cavalry on foot, or mounted my infantry!"

When she was not listening to her father's stories or helping her
mother with the housework, which, good housewife that Mrs. Barton was,
she took great pains to teach her youngest daughter how to do well,
Clara was as busy as possible in some other way. In that household
there were no drones, and the little girl was not even allowed to
waste time in playing with dolls, although she was given time to take
care of her pets, of which she had an ever-increasing collection,
including dogs, cats, geese, hens, turkeys, and even two heifers which
she learned to milk.

Dorothy, Sally and Stephen Barton were teachers, and as Clara early
showed her quick mentality, they all took great interest in educating
her according to their different ideas. As a result, when the little
girl was three years old she could read a story to herself, and knew a
little bit about geography, arithmetic and spelling. That decided the
family. Such a bright mind must be developed as early as possible. So
on a fine, clear winter morning Stephen lifted her to his shoulders
with a swing of his strong arms, and in that way she rode to the
school taught by Col. Richard C. Stone, a mile and a half from the
Barton farm. Although the new pupil was such a very little girl, and
so shy that often she was not able even to answer when she was spoken
to or to join the class in reciting Bible verses or in singing songs,
yet Colonel Stone was deeply interested in her, and his manner of
teaching was so unusual that the years with him made a lasting
impression on his youngest scholar's mind. To Clara it was a real loss
when, at the end of five years, the Colonel left the school, to be
succeeded by Clara's sisters in summer and by her brother Stephen in

David was Clara's favorite brother. So athletic was he, and so fond of
all forms of out-of-door life and exercise, that he was no less than a
hero to the little sister, who watched him with intense admiration,
and in her secret heart determined that some day and in some way she,
too, would be brave and daring.

Having decided this in her own mind, when David suggested teaching her
to ride, she was delighted, and, hiding her fear, at once took her
first lesson on one of the beautiful blooded colts which were a
feature of her father's farm. In her _Story of My Childhood_ she
says: "It was David's delight to take me, a little girl five years
old, to the field, seize a couple of those beautiful grazing
creatures, broken only to the halter and bit, and, gathering the reins
of both bridles in one hand, throw me on the back of one colt, spring
on the other himself, and, catching me by the foot and bidding me
'cling fast to the mane,' gallop away over field and fen, in and out
among the other colts, in wild glee like ourselves. They were merry
rides we took. This was my riding-school. I never had any other, but
it served me well.... Sometimes in later years when I found myself on
a strange horse, in a troop saddle, flying for life or liberty in
front of pursuit, I blessed the baby lessons of the wild gallops among
the colts."

And so it was that the child grew strong in body and alert in mind,
while the routine of daily farm duties, when she was not at school or
galloping over the fields with David, developed her in concentration
and in inventive ability. Housekeeping at that time was crude, and
most of the necessary articles used were made at home. There were no
matches. The flint snapped by the lock was the only way of lighting a
fire. Garments were homespun, and home-made food was dried, canned and
cooked in large quantities by the busy housekeeper. Although there was
always a fire blazing on the hearth of the home, it was thought to be
a religious duty to have the meeting-house unheated on the Sabbath
day. Little Clara, who was particularly susceptible to cold, bore the
bitter chill of the building as bravely as she could, each week in the
long winter, but one Sunday as she sat in the big pew, not daring to
swing her feet, they grew more and more numb until at last, when she
was obliged to stand on them, she fell over--her poor little feet were
frozen, and she had to be carried home and thawed out!

When she was eight years old her father left his hill farm and moved
down to the Learned house, a much bigger farm of three hundred acres,
with the brook-like French river winding through its broad meadows,
and three great barns standing in the lowlands between the hill and
the house. Stephen and David remained on the hill to work their small
farms there, and the other sisters stayed there, but Clara was not
lonesome in the new home in the valley, for at that time she had as
playmates the four children of Captain Barton's nephew, who had
recently died. With them Clara played hide-and-seek in the big
hay-mows, and other interesting games. Her most marked characteristic
then and for many years afterward was her excessive shyness, yet when
there was anything to do which did not include conversation she was
always the champion. At times she was so bashful that even speaking to
an intimate friend was often an agony to her, and it is said she once
stayed home from meeting on Sunday rather than tell her mother that
her gloves were too worn out to wear!

Inside the new house she found many fascinating things to do, and did
them with eager interest. The house was being redecorated, and Clara
went from room to room, watching the workmen, and even learned to
grind and mix paints. Then she turned her attention to the paperers,
who were so much amused with the child's cleverness that they showed
her how to match, trim and hang paper, and in every room they
good-naturedly let her paste up some piece of the decoration, so she
felt that the house was truly hers, and never lost her affection for
it in any of her later wanderings or changes of residence.

When the new home was completed inside Clara turned her attention to
out-of-door matters and found more than one opportunity for daring
feats. With shining eyes and bated breath, she learned to cross the
little winding French river on teetering logs at its most dangerous
depths. When this grew tame, she would go to the sawmill and ride out
on the saw carriage twenty feet above the stream, and be pulled back
on the returning log, and oh the joy of such dangerous sport!

By the time she was eleven years old her brothers had been so
successful with their hill farms that they followed their father down
to the valley of the river, where they bought the sawmill and built
new dams and a grain-mill, and Sally and Stephen, who both married,
settled in homes near the Barton farm. Then came the building of the
new barn and David's accident. Eleven-year-old Clara, a child in years
but mature mentally, proved equal to the emergency and took up her
rôle of nurse in the same vigorous way she went about everything--but
she had to pay a high price for her devotion.

David was strong and well again, but the little sister who had been
his constant companion through the weary months was far from normal.
The family had been so occupied with the invalid that no thought had
been given to his young nurse. Now with grave concern Captain Barton
talked with his wife.

"She has not gained an ounce in weight in these two years," he said,
"and she isn't an inch taller. If anything, she seems to be more
morbidly self-conscious and shy than ever. What shall we do with her?"

That was the question. The years shut up in the sick-room had
completely unfitted Clara for ordinary life; she seemed to be more
afraid of speaking to any one, more afraid of being seen or talked to
than ever before. All took a hand at helping her to forget herself.
Sally, who knew what an imaginative nature her small sister had,
interested her in reading poetry, which was a delight to Clara. At the
same time her father and brothers kept her out-of-doors as much as
possible, and her father gave her a fine horse of her own. She named
him Billy, and at once jumped on his back to get acquainted. From that
time the slim, graceful animal with his youthful rider became one of
the features of the neighborhood as they galloped across country. But,
despite all that was done to make her healthy and happy, her
self-consciousness and shyness remained, and another way of curing her
was tried. She was sent to the boarding-school which was kept by her
old teacher, Colonel Stone. He was delighted to have her in the
school, and her quick mind was an amazement to him; but she was so
homesick that often it was impossible for her to study or to recite,
while being with one hundred and fifty girls of her own age made her
more bashful than ever. In despair, Colonel Stone advised her father
to take her home before she became seriously sick, and soon she found
herself again in her beloved haunts. After that time her brother
Stephen taught her mathematics; and later, when two fine teachers came
to Oxford, she studied Latin, philosophy and chemistry with them,
besides literature, history and languages--finding herself far ahead
of the other scholars of her age, although she had been buried in a
sick-room for two years.

As long as she was busy she was contented, but when vacation came she
was again miserable. Her active mind and body demanded constant work;
when she did not have it she was simply wretched, and made those
around her so.

One day, when she was in her brother's mill watching the busy weavers,
she had a sudden desire to work a loom herself. When she mentioned
this at home her mother was horrified, but Stephen, who understood her
restless nature better, took Clara's side and a few days later she
proudly took her place before her loom and with enthusiastic
persistence mastered the mysteries of the flying shuttle. How long she
would have kept on with the work cannot be guessed, for on the
fifteenth day after she began work the mill burned down, and she was
again on the look-out for new employment for her active brain and

That she was a real girl was shown when, having discovered that she
had no summer hat, she decided she must have one. Walking through the
rye-fields, she had an idea. With quick interest in a new
accomplishment, she cut a number of green rye stalks, carried them
into the house and scalded them, then laid them out in the sun to
bleach, and when they were white, she cut them into even lengths,
pulled them apart with her teeth, braided them in eleven strands and
made the first straw bonnet she ever owned.

Somehow or other the months of vacation wore away; then the question
was, what to do next? Her nature demanded constant action. She was far
ahead of others of her own age in the matter of studies, and Mrs.
Barton was in real bewilderment as to what to do with her youngest
child. A phrenologist, who was a keen observer of child nature, was
visiting the Bartons at that time, and Clara, who had the mumps and
was lying on the lounge in the adjoining room, heard her mother tell
their guest of her daughter's restlessness and self-consciousness and
ask his advice. Listening eagerly, she heard his reply:

"The sensitive nature will always remain," he said. "She will never
assert herself for herself; she will suffer wrong first. But for
others she will be perfectly fearless. Throw responsibility upon her.
Give her a school to teach."

The very words, "give her a school to teach," sent a shiver of fear
through Clara's frame, as she lay there listening, but at the same
time she felt a thrill of pleasure at the idea of doing something so
important as teaching. If her mother was so much troubled about her
peculiar traits as to be obliged to talk them over with a stranger,
they must be very hard to bear. She would set to work to be something
quite different, and she would begin at once!

And so it happened that when Clara Barton was fifteen years old she
followed in the footsteps of her brother and sisters and became a
teacher. As soon as she decided to take the step, she was given
District School No. 9, up in "Texas village," and in May, 1836, "after
passing the teachers' examination with a mark of 'excellent,' she put
down her skirts and put up her hair and walked to the little
schoolhouse, to face and address her forty scholars." That was one of
the most awful moments of her life. When the rows of pupils were
ranged before her, and she was supposed to open the exercises by
reading from the Bible, she could not find her voice, and her hand
trembled so visibly that she was afraid to turn the pages and so
disclose her panic. But no one knew. With perfect outward calmness,
she kept her eyes on the open book until her pulse beat less fast,
then she looked straight ahead and in a steady voice asked them to
each read a verse in turn. This was a new and delightful plan to her
pupils, who were still more pleased when the reading was over to have
the new teacher question them in a friendly way about the meaning of
the verses they had just read in the "Sermon on the Mount."

That first day proved her marked ability as a teacher, and so kindly
and intimate was she with her scholars that they became more her
comrades than her pupils. When the four rough boys of the school
"tried her out" to see how much she could endure, to their
astonishment, instead of being able to lock her out of the building as
they had done with the previous teacher, she showed such pluck and
physical strength that their respect was won and kept. After that,
almost daily, at recess time she would join them in games such as no
teacher had ever played with them before. And with her success Clara
gained a new assurance and a less shy manner, although she never
entirely lost her self-consciousness.

So successful was she with that first school that it was the preface
to sixteen years of continuous teaching, winter and summer. Her two
most interesting experiences as a teacher were in North Oxford and in
Bordentown, New Jersey. North Oxford was the mill village where her
brother's factories were, and where there were hundreds of children.
When her popularity as the teacher in No. 9, Texas village, spread to
North Oxford, she was asked to go there to start a school for
operatives. This was a piece of work to her liking, and for ten years
she says: "I stood with them in the crowded school-room summer and
winter, without change or relaxation. I saw my little lisping boys
become overseers, and my stalwart overseers become business men and
themselves owners of mills. My little girls grew to be teachers and
mothers of families." Here was satisfying work for the busy brain and
active body! But even that did not take up all of her time; she found
long hours in which to read and study, and also acted as Stephen's
bookkeeper in the mill, during those years in North Oxford.

At the end of the ten years she broke away from the routine of
teaching and became a pupil herself in Clinton Liberal Institute in
New York, as there were no colleges for women at that time. The year
of study refreshed her in mind and body, and, as her mother died
during the year and her father decided to live with his married
children, Clara was free to seek the work of the world wherever it
should claim her.

From the seminary she went to Hightstown to teach, and while there
rumors of her ability to cope with conditions and unruly scholars
reached the village of Bordentown, ten miles away from Hightstown.
Many attempts had been made to start a public school there, but
without success. As a result the children of the poor ran wild in the
streets, or when an attempt was made to open a school they broke up
the sessions by their lawless behavior. When she heard this, Clara
Barton was so greatly interested that she went to Bordentown to talk
it over with the town officials, who told her that it was useless to
think of making the experiment again.

Clara Barton's eyes flashed with determination. "Give me three months,
and I will teach free!" she said.

As a result of her generous offer, she was allowed to rent a
tumble-down, unoccupied building, and opened her school with six
pupils! Every one of the six became so enthusiastic over a teacher who
was interested in each individual that their friends were eager to be
her pupils, too, and parents were anxious to see what the wonderful
little bright-eyed, friendly woman could do for their children. At the
end of five weeks the building was too small for her scholars, and the
roll-call had almost six hundred names on it. To a triumphant teacher
who had volunteered her services to try an experiment, a regular
salary was now offered and an assistant given her. And so Clara Barton
again proved her talent for teaching.

But Bordentown was her last school. When she had been there for two
years and perfected the public-school system, her voice gave out as a
result of constant use, and she went to Washington for a rest. But it
did not take her long to recuperate, and soon she was eagerly looking
out for some new avenue of opportunity to take the place of teaching.
Government work interested her, and she heard rumors of scandals in
the Patent Office, where some dishonest clerks had been copying and
selling the ideas of inventors who had filed patents. This roused her
anger, for she felt the inventors were defrauded and undefended
individuals who needed a protector. As her brother's bookkeeper, she
had developed a clear, copper-plate handwriting, which would aid her
in trying to get the position she determined to try for. Through a
relative in Congress she secured a position in the Patent Office, and
when it was proved that she was acceptable there, although she was the
first woman ever appointed independently to a clerkship in the
department, she was given charge of a confidential desk, where she had
the care of such papers as had not been carefully enough guarded
before. Her salary of $1,400 a year was as much as was received by the
men in the department, which created much jealousy, and she had many
sneers and snubs and much disagreeable treatment from the other
clerks; but she went serenely on her way, doing her duty and enjoying
the new line of work with its chances for observation of the
government and its working.

War clouds were now beginning to gather over both North and South, and
signs of an approaching conflict were ominously clear in Washington,
where slavery sentiments swayed all departments. Clara Barton saw with
keen mental vision all the signs of the times, and there was much to
worry her, for from the first she was clearly and uncompromisingly on
the unpopular side of the disturbing question, and believed with
Charles Sumner that "Freedom is national; slavery is sectional." She
believed in the Union and she believed in the freedom of the
individual. So eager was she to help the government in the coming
national crisis that she offered her services as a clerk, to do the
work of two dishonest men; for this work she was to receive the salary
of one clerk, and pay back into the Treasury that of the other, in
order to save all the money possible for an emergency. No deed gives a
clearer insight into the character of Clara Barton than that. As it
was in the case of the school in Bordentown, so was it now. If public
service was the question, she had no thought of self or of money--the
point was to achieve the desired end. And now she was nearer the goal
of her own personal service to the world than she dreamed.

Fort Sumter was fired on. President Lincoln called for seventy-five
thousand troops, and all those who were at the seat of government knew
that the hour for sacrifice of men and money had come. Massachusetts
responded to the call for troops with four regiments, one of which,
the Sixth, set out for Washington at once. As they marched through the
streets of Baltimore they were attacked by a furious mob who succeeded
in killing four soldiers and wounding many more, but the troopers
fought them off as bravely as possible and marched on to the station,
where they entrained for Washington, many of them arriving there in a
pitiable condition. When they detrained at the national capital they
were met by a large number of sympathetic women, among them Clara
Barton, who recognized some of her old friends and pupils among those
who were limping, or with injured arms, or carried on stretchers, and
her heart went out to them in loyalty and pride, for they were giving
their services to their country in an hour of need.

The men who had not been injured were temporarily quartered at the
Capitol, while the wounded were taken to the Infirmary, where their
wounds were dressed at once, any material on hand being used. When the
supply of handkerchiefs gave out, Clara Barton, as well as other
impromptu nurses, rushed to their homes and tore up sheets for
bandages, and Miss Barton also filled a large box full of needles,
pins, buttons, salves and other necessities, and carried it back to
the Infirmary, where she had her first experience in caring for
wounded soldiers. When she could leave the Infirmary, she went to the
Capitol and found the poor fellows there famished, for they had not
been expected and their commissary stores had not yet been unloaded.
Down to the market hurried the energetic volunteer nurse, and soon
came back carrying a big basketful of supplies, which made a feast for
the hungry men. Then, as she afterward wrote in a letter to a friend,
"the boys, who had just one copy of the _Worcester Spy_ of the 22nd,
were so anxious to know its contents that they begged me to read it to
them, which I did--mounting to the desk of the President of the
Senate, that they all might hear."

In her letter she says, "You would have smiled to see _me_ and my
_audience_ in the Senate Chamber of the U. S. A." and adds: "God bless
the noble fellows who leave their quiet happy homes at the call of
their country. So far as our poor efforts can reach, they shall never
lack a kindly hand or a sister's sympathy if they come."

Eager to have the soldiers given all the comforts and necessities
which could be obtained, Miss Barton put an advertisement in the
_Worcester Spy_, asking for supplies and money for the wounded and
needy in the Sixth Regiment, and stating that she herself would
receive and give them out. The response was overwhelming. So much food
and clothing was sent to her that her small apartment overflowed with
supplies, and she was obliged to rent rooms in a warehouse to store

And now Clara Barton was a new creature. She felt within herself the
ability to meet a great need, and the energy which for so long had
been pent up within her was poured out in a seemingly unending supply
of tenderness and of help for suffering humanity. There was no time
now for sensitiveness, or for shyness; there was work to do through
the all-too-short days and nights of this struggle for freedom and
unity of the nation. Gone was the teacher, gone the woman of normal
thought and action, and in her place we find the "Angel of the
Battlefields," who for the remainder of her life was to be one of the
world's foremost figures in ministrations to the suffering, where
suffering would otherwise have had no alleviation.

"On the 21st of July the Union forces were routed at Bull Run with
terrific loss of life and many wounded. Two months later the battle of
Ball's Bluff occurred, in which there were three Massachusetts
regiments engaged, with many of Clara Barton's lifelong friends among
them. By this time the hospitals and commissaries in Washington had
been well organized, and there was no desperate need for the supplies
which were still being shipped to Miss Barton in great quantities, nor
was there need of her nursing. However, she went to the docks to meet
the wounded and dying soldiers, who were brought up the Potomac on
transports." Often they were in such a condition from neglect that
they were baked as hard as the backs of turtles with blood and clay,
and it took all a woman's swift and tender care, together with the use
of warm water, restoratives, dressings, and delicacies to make them at
all comfortable. Then their volunteer nurse would go with them to the
hospitals, and back again in the ambulance she would drive, to repeat
her works of mercy.

But she was not satisfied with this work. If wounds could be attended
to as soon as the men fell in battle, hundreds of deaths could be
prevented, and she made up her mind that in some way she was going to
override public sentiment, which in those early days of the war did
not allow women nurses to go to the front, for she was determined to
go to the very firing-line itself as a nurse. And, as she had got her
way at other times in her life, so now she achieved her end, but after
months of rebuffs and of tedious waiting, during which the bloody
battle of Fair Oaks had been fought with terrible losses on each side.
The seven days' retreat of the Union forces under McClellan followed,
with eight thousand wounded and over seventeen hundred killed. On top
of this came the battle of Cedar Mountain, with many Northerners
killed, wounded and missing.

One day, when Assistant Quartermaster-General Rucker, who was one of
the great-hearts of the army, was at his desk, he was confronted by a
bright-eyed little woman, to whose appeal he gave sympathetic

"I have no fear of the battle-field," she told him. "I have large
stores, but no way to reach the troops."

Then she described the condition of the soldiers when they reached
Washington, often too late for any care to save them or heal their
wounds. She _must_ go to the battle-front where she could care for
them quickly. So overjoyed was she to be given the needed passports as
well as kindly interest and good wishes that she burst into tears as
she gripped the old soldier's hand, then she hurried out to make
immediate plans for having her supplies loaded on a railroad car. As
she tersely put it, "When our armies fought on Cedar Mountain, I broke
the shackles and went to the field." When she began her work on the
day after the battle she found an immense amount of work to do. Later
she described her experience in this modest way:

"Five days and nights with three hours' sleep--a narrow escape from
capture--and some days of getting the wounded into hospitals at
Washington brought Saturday, August 30th. And if you chance to feel
that the positions I occupied were rough and unseemly for a woman, I
can only reply that they were rough and unseemly for men. But under
all, lay the life of a nation. I had inherited the rich blessing of
health and strength of constitution such as are seldom given to women,
and I felt that some return was due from me and that I ought to be

The famous army nurse had served her novitiate now, and through the
weary years of the war which dragged on with alternate gains and
losses for the Union forces, Clara Barton's name began to be spoken
of with awe and deep affection wherever a wounded man had come under
her gentle care. Being under no society or leader, she was free to
come or go at will. But from the first day of her work at the front
she was encouraged in it by individual officers who saw the great
value of what she accomplished.

At Antietam, when the fighting began, her wagons were driven through a
field of tall corn to an old homestead, while the shot whizzed thick
around them. In the barnyard and among the corn lay torn and bleeding
men--the worst cases, just brought from the places where they had
fallen. All was in confusion, for the army medical supplies had not
yet arrived, and the surgeons were trying to make bandages of corn
husks. The new army nurse immediately had her supplies unloaded and
hurried out to revive the wounded with bread soaked in wine. When her
bread gave out there were still many to be fed. All the supplies she
had were three cases of unopened wine.

"Open the wine, and give that," she commanded, "and God help us."

Her order was obeyed, and as she watched the cases being unpacked her
eyes fell on the packing around the bottles of wine. It was nicely
sifted corn-meal. If it had been gold dust it could not have been more
valuable. The wine was unpacked as quickly as possible; kettles were
found in the farm-house, and in a twinkling that corn-meal was mixed
with water, and good gruel for the men was in the making. Then it
occurred to Miss Barton to see what was in the cellar of the old
house, and there three barrels of flour and a bag of salt were found,
stored by the rebels and left behind when they marched away. "What
wealth!" exclaimed the woman, who was frantically eager to feed her
flock. All that night Clara Barton and her workers carried buckets of
hot gruel up and down the long lines to the wounded and dying men.
Then up to the farm-house went the army nurse, where, in the dim light
of a lone flickering candle, she could dimly see the surgeon in
charge, sitting in apparent despair by the table, his head resting in
his hands. She tiptoed up to him and said, quietly, "You are tired,

Looking up, he exclaimed: "Tired? Yes, I am tired! Tired of such
heartlessness and carelessness! And," he added, "think of the
condition of things. Here are at least one thousand wounded men;
terribly wounded, five hundred of whom cannot live till daylight
without attention. That two-inch of candle is all I have, or can get.
What can I do? How can I bear it?"

A smile played over Clara Barton's clear-cut face. Gently but firmly
she took him by the elbow and led him to the door, pointing toward the
barn, where dozens of lanterns gleamed like stars.

"What is it?" he exclaimed.

"The barn is lighted," she said, "and the house will be directly."

"Who did it?"

"I, doctor."

"Where did you get them?"

"Brought them with me."

"How many have you?"

"All you want, four boxes."

For a moment he stared at her as if to be sure he was not in a dream.
Then he turned away without a word, and never spoke of the matter
again, but his deference to Clara Barton from that time was the
greatest a man can pay a woman.

Not until all her stores were exhausted and she was sick with a fever
would Clara Barton leave the battle-field of Antietam; then, dragging
herself to the train, she went back to Washington to be taken care of
until she was better. When at last she was strong enough to work again
she went to see her friend Quartermaster-General Rucker, and told him
that if she had had five wagons she would have had enough supplies for
all the wounded at Antietam. With an expression of intense admiration
on his soldierly face as he watched the brave volunteer nurse, he

"You shall have enough next time!"

The promise was made good. Having recognized the value of her
efficient services, the Government assisted in every way, making it
possible for her to carry on her work on the battle-fields and in
military camps and hospitals in the best way.

Clara Barton!--Only the men who lay wounded or dying on the
battle-field knew the thrill and the comfort that the name carried.
Again and again her life was in danger--once at Antietam, when
stooping to give a drink of water to an injured boy, a bullet whizzed
between them. It ended the life of the poor lad, but only tore a hole
in Clara Barton's sleeve. And so, again and again, it seemed as if a
special Providence protected her from death or injury. At
Fredericksburg, when the dead, starving and wounded lay frozen on the
ground, and there was no effective organization for proper relief,
with swift, silent efficiency Clara Barton moved among them, having
the snow cleared away and under the banks finding famished, frozen
figures which were once men. She rushed to have an old chimney torn
down and built fire-blocks, over which she soon had kettles full of
coffee and gruel steaming.

As she was bending over a wounded rebel, he whispered to her: "Lady,
you have been kind to me ... every street of the city is covered by
our cannon. When your entire army has reached the other side of the
Rappahannock, they will find Fredericksburg only a slaughter-pen. Not
a regiment will escape. Do not go over, for you will go to certain

She thanked him for the kindly warning and later told of the call that
came to her to go across the river, and what happened. She says:

"At ten o'clock of the battle day when the rebel fire was hottest, the
shells rolling down every street, and the bridge under the heavy
cannonade, a courier dashed over, and, rushing up the steps of the
house where I was, placed in my hand a crumpled, bloody piece of
paper, a request from the lion-hearted old surgeon on the opposite
shore, establishing his hospitals in the very jaws of death:

"'Come to me,' he wrote. 'Your place is here.'

"The faces of the rough men working at my side, which eight weeks before
had flushed with indignation at the thought of being controlled by a
woman, grew ashy white as they guessed the nature of the summons, ...
and they begged me to send them, but save myself. I could only allow
them to go with me if they chose, and in twenty minutes we were rocking
across the swaying bridge, the water hissing with shot on either side.

"Over into that city of death, its roofs riddled by shell, its every
church a crowded hospital, every street a battle-line, every hill a
rampart, every rock a fortress, and every stone wall a blazing line of

"Oh, what a day's work was that! How those long lines of blue, rank on
rank, charged over the open acres, up to the very mouths of those
blazing guns, and how like grain before the sickle they fell and
melted away.

"An officer stepped to my side to assist me over the débris at the end
of the bridge. While our hands were raised in the act of stepping
down, a piece of an exploding shell hissed through between us, just
below our arms, carrying away a portion of both the skirts of his coat
and my dress, rolling along the ground a few rods from us like a
harmless pebble in the water. The next instant a solid shot thundered
over our heads, a noble steed bounded in the air and with his gallant
rider rolled in the dirt not thirty feet in the rear. Leaving the
kind-hearted officer, I passed on alone to the hospital. In less than
a half-hour he was brought to me--dead."

She was passing along a street in the heart of the city when she had
to step aside to let a regiment of infantry march by. At that moment
General Patrick saw her, and, thinking she was a frightened resident
of the city who had been left behind in the general exodus, leaned
from his saddle and said, reassuringly:

"You are alone and in great danger, madam. Do you want protection?"

With a rare smile, Miss Barton said, as she looked at the ranks of
soldiers, "Thank you, but I think I am the best-protected woman in the
United States."

The near-by soldiers caught her words and cried out:

"That's so! That's so!" and the cheer they gave was echoed by line
after line, until the sound of the shouting was like the cheers after
a great victory. Bending low with a courtly smile, the general said:

"I believe you are right, madam!" and galloped away.

"At the battles of Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam, during
the eight months' siege of Charleston, in the hospital at Fort Wagner,
with the army in front of Petersburg and in the Wilderness and the
hospitals about Richmond, there was no limit to the work Clara Barton
accomplished for the sick and dying, but among all her experiences
during those years of the war, the Battle of Fredericksburg was most
unspeakably awful to her. And yet afterward she saw clearly that it
was this defeat that gave birth to the Emancipation Proclamation.

"And the white May blossoms of '63 fell over the glad faces--the
swarthy brows, the toil-worn hands of four million liberated slaves.
'America,' writes Miss Barton, 'had freed a race.'"

As the war drew to an end, President Lincoln received hundreds of
letters from anxious parents asking for news of their boys. There were
eighty thousand missing men whose families had no knowledge whether
they were alive or dead. In despair, and believing that Clara Barton
had more information of the soldiers than any one else to whom he
could turn, the President requested her to take up the task, and the
army nurse's tender heart was touched by the thought of helping so
many mothers who had no news of their boys, and she went to work,
aided by the hospital and burial lists she had compiled when on the
field of action.

For four years she did this work, and it was a touching scene when she
was called before the Committee on Investigation to tell of its
results. With quiet simplicity she stood before the row of men and
reported, "Over thirty thousand men, living and dead, already traced.
No available funds for the necessary investigation; in consequence,
over eight thousand dollars of my own income spent in the search."

As the men confronting her heard the words of the bright-eyed woman
who was looked on as a sister by the soldiers from Maine to Virginia,
whose name was a household one throughout the land, not one of them
was ashamed to wipe the tears from his eyes! Later the government paid
her back in part the money she had spent in her work; but she gave her
time without charge as well as many a dollar which was never returned,
counting it enough reward to read the joyful letters from happy,
reunited families.

While doing this work she gave over three hundred lectures through the
East and West, and as a speaker she held her audiences as if by magic,
for she spoke glowingly about the work nearest to her heart, giving
the proceeds of her lectures to the continuance of that work. One
evening in the winter of 1868, when speaking in one of the finest
opera-houses in the East, before one of the most brilliant assemblages
she had ever faced, her voice suddenly gave out, as it had in the days
when she was teaching. The heroic army nurse and worker for the
soldiers was worn out in body and nerves. As soon as she was able to
travel the doctor commanded that she take three years of absolute
rest. Obeying the order, she sailed for Europe, and in peaceful
Switzerland with its natural beauty hoped to regain normal strength;
for her own country had emerged from the black shadow of war, and she
felt that her life work had been accomplished, that rest could
henceforth be her portion.

But Clara Barton was still on the threshold of her complete
achievement. When she had been in Switzerland only a month, and her
broken-down nerves were just beginning to respond to the change of air
and scene, she received a call which changed the color of her future.
Her caller represented the International Committee of the Red Cross
Society. Miss Barton did not know what the Red Cross was, and said so.
He then explained the nature of the society, which was founded for the
relief of sick and wounded soldiers, and he told his eager listener
what she did not know, that back of the Society was the Geneva Treaty,
which had been providing for such relief work, signed by all the
civilized nations except her own. From that moment a new ambition was
born in Clara Barton's heart--to find out why America had not signed
the treaty, and to know more about the Red Cross Society.

Nearly a year later, while still resting in quiet Switzerland, there
broke one day upon the clear air of her Swiss home the distant sounds
of a royal party hastening back from a tour of the Alps. To Miss
Barton's amazement it came in the direction of her villa. Finally
flashed the scarlet and gold of the liveries of the Grand Duke of
Baden. After the outriders came the splendid coach of the Grand
Duchess, daughter of King Wilhelm of Prussia, so soon to be Emperor
William of Germany. In it rode the Grand Duchess. After presenting her
card through the footman, she herself alighted and clasped Miss
Barton's hand, hailing her in the name of humanity, and said she
already knew her through what she had done in the Civil War. Then,
still clasping her hand in a tight grip of comradeship, she begged
Miss Barton to leave Switzerland and aid in Red Cross work on the
battle-fields of the Franco-Prussian War, which was in its beginnings.
It was a real temptation to once again work for suffering humanity,
yet she put it aside as unwise. But a year later, when the officers of
the International Red Cross Society came again to beg that Miss Barton
take the lead in a great systematic plan of relief work such as that
for which she had become famous during the Civil War, she accepted. In
the face of such consequences as her health might suffer from her
decision, she rose, and, with head held high and flashing eyes, said:

"Command me!"

Clara Barton was no longer to be the Angel of the American
battle-fields only--from that moment she belonged to the world, and
never again could she be claimed by any one country. But it is as the
guardian angel of our soldiers in the United States that her story
concerns us, although there is reason for great pride in the part she
played in nursing the wounded at Strassburg, and later when her
presence carried comfort and healing to the victims of the fight with
the Commune in Paris.

As tangible results of her work abroad, she was given an amethyst cut
in the shape of a pansy, by the Grand Duchess of Baden, also the
Serbian decoration of the Red Cross as the gift of Queen Natalie, and
the Gold Cross of Remembrance, which was presented her by the Grand
Duke and Duchess of Baden together. Queen Victoria, with her own hand,
pinned an English decoration on her dress. The Iron Cross of Germany,
as well as the Order of Melusine given her by the Prince of Jerusalem,
were among an array of medals and pendants--enough to have made her a
much-bejeweled person, had it been her way to make a show of her own

Truly Clara Barton belonged to the world, and a suffering person had
no race or creed to her--she loved and cared for all.

When at last she returned to America, it was with the determination to
have America sign the Geneva Treaty and to bring her own country into
line with the Red Cross movement, which she had carefully watched in
foreign countries, and which she saw was the solution to efficient aid
of wounded men, either in the battle-field or wherever there had been
any kind of disaster and there was need of quick aid for suffering. It
was no easy task to convince American officials, but at last she
achieved her end. On the 1st of March, 1882, the Geneva Treaty was
signed by President Arthur, ratified by the Senate, and immediately
the American National Red Cross was formed with Clara Barton as its
first president.

The European "rest" trip had resulted in one of the greatest
achievements for the benefit of mankind in which America ever
participated, and its birth in the United States was due solely to the
efforts of the determined, consecrated nurse who, when eleven years
old, gave her all to a sick brother, and later consecrated her life to
the service of a sick brotherhood of brave men.

On the day after her death, on April 12, 1912, one editor of an
American newspaper paid a tribute to her that ranks with those paid
the world's greatest heroes. He said:

"On the battle-fields of the Rebellion her hands bound up the wounds
of the injured brave.

"The candles of her charity lighted the gloom of death for the heroes
of Antietam and Fredericksburg.

"Across the ocean waters of her sweet labors followed the flag of the
saintly Red Cross through the Franco-Prussian war.

"When stricken Armenia cried out for help in 1896, it was Clara Barton
who led the relief corps of salvation and sustenance.

"A woman leading in answering the responsibility of civilization to
the world!

"When McKinley's khaki boys struck the iron from Cuba's bondage it was
Clara Barton, in her seventy-seventh year, who followed to the
fever-ridden tropics to lead in the relief-work on Spanish

"She is known wherever man appreciates humanity."

       *       *       *       *       *

Hers was the honor of being the first president of the American Red
Cross, but she was more than that--she _was_ the Red Cross at that
time. It was, as she said, "her child," and she furnished headquarters
for it in her Washington home, dispensing the charities of a nation,
amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and was never requested
to publish her accounts, an example of personal leadership which is

In 1897 we find the Red Cross president settled in her home at Glen
Echo, a few miles out of Washington, on a high slope overlooking the
Potomac, and, although it was a Red Cross center, it was a friendly
lodging as well, where its owner could receive her personal friends.
Flags and Red Cross testimonials from rulers of all nations fluttered
from the walls, among them a beautiful one from the Sultan of Turkey.
Two small crosses of red glass gleamed in the front windows over the
balcony, but above the house the Red Cross banner floated high, as if
to tell the world that "the banner over us is love." And to Glen Echo,
the center of her beloved activity, Clara Barton always loved to
return at the end of her campaigns. To the many thousands who came to
visit her home as one of the great humane centers of the world, she
became known as the "Beautiful Lady of the Potomac," and never did a
title more fittingly describe a nature.

To the last she was a soldier--systematic, industrious, severely
simple in her tastes. It was a rule of the household that every day's
duties should be disposed of before turning in for the night, and at
five o'clock the next morning she would be rolling a carpet-sweeper
over the floor. She always observed military order and took a
soldier's pride in keeping her quarters straight.

Hanging on the wall between her bedroom and private sitting-room was a
small mirror into which her mother looked when she came home as a

Her bed was small and hard. Near it were the books that meant so much
to her--the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, the stories of Sarah Orne
Jewett, the poems of Lucy Larcom, and many other well-worn, much-read

That she was still feminine, as in the days of girlhood when she
fashioned her first straw bonnet, so now she was fond of wearing
handsome gowns, often with trains. Lavender, royal purple, and wine
color were the shades she liked best to wear, and in which her friends
most often remember her. Despite her few extravagant tastes, Clara
Barton was the most democratic woman America ever produced, as well as
the most humane. She loved people, sick and well, and in any State and
city of the Union she could claim personal friends in every walk of

When, after ninety-nine years of life and fifty of continuous service
to suffering human nature, death laid its hand upon her on that spring
day, the world to its remotest corner stopped its busy barter and
trade for a brief moment to pay reverent tribute to a woman, who was
by nature of the most retiring, bashful disposition, and yet carried
on her life-work in the face of the enemy, to the sound of cannon, and
close to the firing-line. She was on the firing-line all her life.
That is her life story.

Her "boys" of all ages adored her, and no more touching incident is
told of her than that of a day in Boston, when, after a meeting, she
lingered at its close to chat with General Shafter. Suddenly the great
audience, composed entirely of old soldiers, rose to their feet as she
came down the aisle, and a voice cried:

"Three cheers for Clara Barton!"

They were given by voices hoarse with feeling. Then some one shouted:


Before it could be given another voice cried:

"No! _Sweetheart!_"

Then those grizzled elderly men whose lives she had helped to save
broke into uproar and tears together, while the little bent woman
smiled back at them with a love as true as any sweetheart's.

       *       *       *       *       *

To-day we stand at the parting of the ways. Our nation is in the
making as a world power, and in its rebirth there must needs be
bloodshed and scalding tears. As we American girls and women go out
bravely to face the untried future and to nurse under the banner of
the Red Cross, we shall do our best work when we bear to the
battle-field the same spirit of high purpose and consecration that
inspired Clara Barton and made her the "Angel of the Battle-fields."
Let us, as loyal Americans, take to heart part of a speech she once
made on Memorial Day, when she stood with the "Boys in Blue" in the
"God's-acre" of the soldier, and declared:

"We cannot always hold our great ship of state out of the storms and
breakers. She must meet and buffet with them. Her timbers must creak
in the gale. The waves must wash over her decks, she must lie in the
trough of the sea as she does to-day. But the Stars and Stripes are
above her. She is freighted with the hopes of the world. God holds the
helm, and she's coming to port. The weak must fear, the timid tremble,
but the brave and stout of heart will work and hope and trust."


On a lovely April morning in 1846 there was an unusual stir in the
streets of Springfield, Illinois, for such an early hour. From almost
every house some one was hurrying, and as neighbor nodded to neighbor
the news passed on:

"The wagons are ready--they are going!"

As the sun mounted slowly in the cloudless sky, from all parts of town
there still flocked friends and relatives of the small band of
emigrants who were about to start on their long trip across the
plains, going to golden California.

California--magic word! Not one of those who were hurrying to wish the
travelers God-speed, nor any of the band who were leaving their homes,
but felt the thrilling promise and the presage of that new country
toward which the emigrants were about to turn their faces.

The crowd of friends gathered at the Reeds' home, where their great
prairie-wagons and those of the Donners were drawn up in a long line
before the door; the provision wagons, filled to overflowing with
necessities and luxuries, the family wagons waiting for their human
freight. Mr. James F. Reed, who had planned the trip, was one of
Springfield's most highly respected citizens, and the Donner brothers,
who lived just outside of the town, had enthusiastically joined him in
perfecting the details of the journey, and had come in to town the
night before, with their families, to be ready for an early start. And
now they were really going!

All through the previous winter, in the evening, when the Reeds were
gathered before their big log fire, they had talked of the wonderful
adventure, while Mrs. Reed's skilful fingers fashioned such garments
as would be needed for the journey. And while she sewed, Grandma Keyes
told the children marvelous tales of Indian massacres on those very
plains across which they were going to travel when warmer days came.
Grandma told her breathless audience of giant red men, whose tomahawks
were always ready to descend on the heads of unlucky travelers who
crossed their path--told so many blood-curdling stories of meetings
between white men and Indian warriors that the little boys, James and
Thomas, and little black-eyed Patty and older Virginia, were
spellbound as they listened.

To Virginia, an imaginative girl, twelve years old, the very flames,
tongueing their way up the chimney in fantastic shapes, became bold
warriors in mortal combat with emigrants on their way to the golden
West, and even after she had gone to bed it seemed to her that
"everything in the room, from the high old-fashioned bedposts down to
the shovel and tongs, was transformed into the dusky tribe in paint
and feathers, all ready for a war-dance" as they loomed large out of
shadowy corners. She would hide her head under the clothes, scarcely
daring to wink or breathe, then come boldly to the surface, face her
shadowy foes, and fall asleep without having come to harm at the hands
of the invisibles.

Going to California--oh the ecstatic terror of it! And now the day and
the hour of departure had come!

The Reeds' wagons had all been made to order, and carefully planned by
Mr. Reed himself with a view to comfort in every detail, so they were
the best of their kind that ever crossed the plains, and especially
was their family wagon a real pioneer _car de luxe_, made to give
every possible convenience to Mrs. Reed and Grandma Keyes. When the
trip had been first discussed by the Reeds, the old lady, then
seventy-five years old and for the most part confined to her bed,
showed such enthusiasm that her son declared, laughingly: "I declare,
mother, one would think you were going with us."

"I am!" was the quick rejoinder. "You do not think I am going to be
left behind when my dear daughter and her children are going to take
such a journey as that, do you? I thought you had more sense, James!"

And Grandma did go, despite her years and her infirmities.

The Reeds' family wagon was drawn by four yoke of fine oxen, and their
provision wagons by three. They had also cows, and a number of driving
and saddle horses, among them Virginia's pony Billy, on whose back she
had been held and taught to ride when she was only seven years old.

The provision wagons were filled to overflowing with all sorts of
supplies. There were farming implements, to be used in tilling the
land in that new country to which they were going, and a bountiful
supply of seeds. Besides these farm supplies, there were bolts of
cotton prints and flannel for dresses and shirts, also gay
handkerchiefs, beads, and other trinkets to be used for barter with
the Indians. More important still, carefully stowed away was a store
of fine laces, rich silks and velvets, muslins and brocades, to be
exchanged for Mexican land-grants. The family wagon, too, had been
fitted up with every kind of commodity, including a cooking-stove,
with its smoke-stack carried out through the canvas roof of the wagon,
and a looking-glass which Mrs. Reed's friends had hung on the canvas
wall opposite the wagon door--"so you will not forget to keep your
good looks, they said!"

And now the party was ready to start. Among its number were Mrs. Reed
and her husband, with little Patty, the two small boys, James and
Thomas, and the older daughter, Virginia; the Donners, George and
Jacob, with their wives and children; Milton Elliott, driver of the
Reed family wagon, who had worked for years in Mr. Reed's big sawmill;
Eliza Baylis, the Reeds' domestic, with her brother and a number of
other young men, some of them drivers, others merely going for
adventure. In all, on that lovely April morning, it was a group of
thirty-one persons around whom friends and relatives clustered for
last words and glimpses, and it was a sad moment for all. Mrs. Reed
broke down when she realized that the moment of parting had really
come, while Mr. Reed, in response to the good wishes showered on him,
silently gripped hand after hand, then he hurried into the house with
Milt Elliott, and presently came out carrying Grandma, at the sight of
whom her friends cheered lustily. She waved her thin hand in response
as she was lifted gently into the wagon and placed on a large
feather-bed, where she was propped up with pillows and declared
herself to be perfectly comfortable.

And indeed her resting-place was very much like a room, for the wagon
had been built with its entrance at the side, like an old-fashioned
stage-coach, and from the door one stepped into a small square room.
At the right and left were spring seats with high backs, which were
comfortable for riding, and over the wheels for the length of the
wagon, a wide board had been placed, making what Virginia called a
"really truly second story" on which beds were made up. Under this
"second story" were roomy compartments in which were stowed away stout
bags holding the clothing of the party, each bag plainly marked with a
name. There was also a full supply of medicines, with lint and
bandages for an emergency, and Mr. Reed had provided a good library of
standard books, not only to read during the journey, but knowing they
could not be bought in the new West. Altogether, from provision wagon
to family caravan, there was a complete equipment for every need, and
yet when they arrived in California, as one of the party said, "We
were almost destitute of everything!"

The wagons were loaded, Grandma was safely stowed away in her warm
bed, with little Patty sitting on its end where she could hold back
the door flap that the old lady might have a last glimpse of her old
home--the hard farewells had been said, and now Mr. Reed called in as
cheery a voice as he could command, "All aboard!"

Milton Elliott cracked his whip, and the long line of prairie-wagons,
horses and cattle started. Then came a happy surprise. Into saddles
and vehicles sprang more than a score of friends and relatives who
were going to follow the party to their first night's encampment,
while many of Virginia's schoolmates ran at the side of the wagon
through the principal streets of the town until one by one they
dropped back from fatigue, Virginia waving a continued farewell from
the wagon while they were in sight.

The first day's trip was not a long one, as it was thought wise to
make the start easy for man and beast. Most of the way Virginia rode
on Billy, sometimes beside the wagon, then again galloping ahead with
her father. A bridge was seen in the distance, and Patty and the boys
cried out to Milton, "Please stop, and let us get out and walk over
it; the oxen may not take us across safely!" Milt threw back his head
and roared with laughter at such an idea, but he halted to humor them,
then with a skilful use of his loud-voiced "Gee! and Haw!" made the
huge beasts obey his will.

On the line of great wagons wound its way beyond the town, until the
sun was sinking in the west, when they stopped for the night on the
ground where the Illinois State House now stands. The oxen were then
unhitched and the wagons drawn up in a hollow circle or "corral,"
within the protection of which cattle and horses were set free for
the night, while outside the corral a huge camp-fire soon blazed,
around which the party gathered for their first evening meal together,
and their last one with those friends who had come thus far on their
way with them. It was a determinedly merry group around the fire, and
stories were told and songs sung, which to the radiant Virginia were a
foretaste of such coming adventure as was beyond her wildest dreams.

As she sat in the glow of the camp-fire, with sleepy Patty's head
pillowed on her lap, she felt even more than before the thrill of this
wonderful adventuring. To keep a record of her travels,--that was the
thing to do! Full of the idea, she pinned together sheets of
wrapping-paper into a bulky blank-book, on the outside of which she

     _Going to California. 1846._

From that time she kept a faithful though not a continuous record of
the experiences of what came to be known later as "the ill-fated
Donner party of martyr pioneers." And from that record she later wrote
her story of their journeying to the golden West.

By the eleventh day of May the band of emigrants had reached the town
of Independence, Missouri, and Virginia's record says:

"Men and beasts are in fine condition. There is nothing in all the
world so fascinating as to travel by day in the warm sunshine and to
camp by night under the stars. Here we are just outside the most
bustling town I ever saw and it is good news to find a large number of
inhabitants with their wagons, ready to cross the prairie with us. Who
knows, perhaps some new friendships will be made as we all go on
together! They all seem to feel as eager to go as we are, and
everybody is glad. I will get acquainted with as many as I can now,
and bring cheerful ones to visit Grandma, for she feels rather
homesick, except when Patty and I make her laugh."

Again, "The first few days of travel through the Territory of Kansas
were lovely. The flowers were so bright and there were so many birds
singing. Each day father and I would ride ahead to find a place to
camp that night. Sometimes when we galloped back we would find the
wagons halting at a creek, while washing was done or the young people
took a swim. Mother and I always did our wash at night, and spread it
on the bushes to dry. All this is such a peaceful recital that I began
to think I need not keep a diary at all, till one hot day when I was
in the wagon helping Patty cut out some doll's dresses, Jim came
running up to the wagon, terribly excited and crying out:

"'Indians, Virginia! Come and see! They have to take us across the
river!' Out he rushed and I after him, with every story Grandma ever
told us dancing through my brain. Now there was going to be an
adventure! But there wasn't. We had reached the Caw River, where there
were Indians to ferry us across. They were real and red and
terrifying, but I never flinched. If they brought out tomahawks in
midstream, I would be as brave as a pioneer's daughter should be. But
would you believe me, those Indians were as tame as pet canaries, and
just shot us across the river without glancing at us, and held out
their big hands with a grunt, for the coins! That was one of the
greatest disappointments of my life."

All went well with the travelers during those first weeks of the trip,
and no one enjoyed it more than Grandma Keyes after she got over being
homesick. But when they reached the Big Blue river, it was so swollen
that they had to lie by and wait for it to go down, or make rafts to
cross it on. As soon as they stopped traveling Grandma began to fail,
and on the 29th of May, with scarcely any pain, she died. Virginia's
diary says: "It was hard to comfort mother until I persuaded her that
to die out in that lovely country, and with most of your family around
you, was far better than living longer at home. Besides, she might
have died in Springfield. So mother cheered up a little, while all the
party helped us in making the sad preparations. A coffin was made from
a cotton-wood tree, and a young man from home found a gray stone slab
and cut Grandma's name, birthplace, and age on it. A minister of the
party made a simple address, and with the sunlight filtering through
the trees we buried her under an oak-tree and covered the grave with
wild flowers. Then we had to go on our way and leave dear Grandma in
the vast wilderness, which was so hard for mother that for many days I
did not take my rides on Billy, but just stayed with her. But the
landscape was so comfortingly beautiful that at last she cheered up
and began to feel that Grandma was not left alone in the forest, but
was with God. Strange to say, that grave in the woods has never been
disturbed; around it grew up the city of Manhattan, Kansas, and there
it is in the city cemetery of to-day."

The river did not go down, as the men had hoped, so they began to cut
down trees and split them into twenty-five-foot logs which were
hollowed out and joined together by cross timbers, these were firmly
lashed to stakes driven into the bank, and ropes were tied to each end
to pull the rafts back and forth across the river. It was no easy
matter to get the heavy wagons down the steep bank to the rafts, and
they had to be held back by the ropes and let down slowly so the
wheels would run into the hollowed logs. The women and children stayed
in the wagons, and talked and laughed gaily, that they might not show
the fear they felt as they balanced above the swollen river. But it
was crossed safely and then on the oxen jogged over a rough road until
the great Valley of the Platte was reached, where the road was good
and the country beautiful beyond expression. Virginia says: "Our party
was now so large that there was a line of forty wagons winding its way
like a serpent through the valley. There was no danger of any kind,
and each day was happier than the one before. How I enjoyed galloping
over the plains on Billy!" she exclaims, adding, "At night we young
folks would sit around the camp-fire, chatting merrily, and often a
song would be heard, or some clever dancer would give us a barn-door
jig on the hind gate of a wagon!"

The caravan wound its slow way westward, making from fifteen to twenty
miles a day, and always at night, when the party camped, a corral was
formed to protect the cattle from thieving Indians, who, says
Virginia, sadly, "are not like grandma's Indians. They treat us kindly
except for taking our things, which is annoying but not terrifying."
And she adds, "We have fine fare for those who like to eat game, as we
have so many good riflemen in the party who are always bringing it
in." She then confesses, "I certainly never thought I would be
relishing antelope and buffalo steaks, but they are good food when one
has grown used to them. Often I ride with father in a buffalo hunt,
which is very thrilling. We all help Eliza, who has turned into a fine
camp cook. As soon as we reach the place where we are to spend the
night all hands get to work, and, my, but things taste good when that
meal is ready! When we drove into the South Fork of the Platte, Eliza
had the cream ready to churn, and while we were fording the stream she
worked so hard that she turned out several pounds of butter."

The diary gives quite a long narrative here as follows:

"By the Fourth of July we were near Fort Laramie in Dakota, and what a
sight I saw as we approached the fort. 'Grandma's Indians!' I
exclaimed, as I saw bands of horses grazing on the plains and Indians
smeared with war-paint and armed with hunting-knives, tomahawks, bows
and arrows, moving about in the sunlight. They did not seem to notice
us as we drove up to the strongly fortified walls around the buildings
of the American Fur Company, but by the time we were ready to leave,
the red men and their squaws were pressing close to the wagons to take
trinkets which we had ready for them. Little Patty stood by me and
every now and then she squeezed my arm and cried, 'Look! Look!' as the
Indians crowded around us. Many of the squaws and papooses were
gorgeous in white doeskin suits gaily trimmed with beads, and were
very different from us in our linsey dresses and sunbonnets.

"As soon as father met the manager of the Fur Company, he advised us
to go right on as soon as we could, because he said the Sioux were on
the war-path, going to fight the Crows or Blackfeet, and their march
would be through the country which we had to cross, and they might
treat us badly, or rob us, as they were in an ugly humor. This greatly
frightened some of the women, and to calm them the men cleaned and
loaded their rifles and did everything they could to hurry away from
the fort. We were there only four days, and when we drove away we met
the mounted Indians, about three hundred of them, tomahawks,
war-paint, and all! They looked very handsome and impressive as they
advanced in a stately procession, two abreast, and rode on before our
train, then halted and opened ranks. As our wagons passed between
their lines they took green twigs from between their teeth and tossed
them to us in token of friendship. Then, having shown their good
faith, they crowded around our wagons and showed great curiosity at
the funny little smoke-stack sticking through the top of our family
wagon. A brave caught a glimpse of his war-paint and feathers in our
looking-glass, which hung opposite the door, and he was fascinated.
Beckoning to his comrades, he pointed to it, and to the strange
reflection of himself, and they all fairly pushed to the front, to see
themselves, in the glass. Unfortunately at that time I rode up on
Billy, and at once the Indians forgot everything except their
admiration of my pony. They swarmed around me, grunting, nodding, and
gesturing, and brought buffalo robes and tanned buckskin, also pretty
beaded moccasins and robes made of grass, and signed to me that they
would give all these in exchange for Billy. I shook my head as hard as
I could shake it, but they were determined to have Billy. They made
signs that they would give their ponies for mine, but again I shook my
head. They talked together awhile, then one of them triumphantly
brought me an old coat which had evidently belonged to a soldier, and
seemed much surprised that its brass buttons were not enough of an
inducement to make me give up the coveted prize. Though both father
and I continued to refuse their request as positively as ever, they
still swarmed around us and looked at me in a most embarrassing way. I
did not mind much, but father seemed angry and he said, sternly:
'Virginia, you dismount at once and let one of the men take Billy. Get
into the wagon now.' When father spoke in that way I was never slow to
obey, so I climbed into the wagon, and, being anxious to get a better
look at the Indians, I took a field-glass out of the rack where it
hung and put it to my eyes. The glass clicked as I took it from the
rack and like a flash the Indians wheeled their ponies and scattered,
taking the noise for the click of firearms. I turned to mother and

"'You see you need not be afraid, mother dear,' I said; 'I can fight
the whole Sioux tribe with a spy-glass! If they come near the wagon
again just watch me take it up and see them run!'"

Those were happy days of adventuring in a new and smiling country, and
all were in high spirits when on the 19th of July they reached the
Little Sandy River, where they encamped, and all gathered together to
talk over whether to take a new route which had been opened up by Mr.
Lansford Hastings, called the Hastings Cut-off. This route passed
along the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake, then joined the Old
Fort Hall emigrant road on the Humboldt River. The new route was said
to shorten the trip by about three hundred miles, and Virginia says in
her diary, "Father was so eager to reach California quickly, that he
was strongly in favor of taking the Cut-off, while others were equally
firm in their objections to taking such a risk. At that time our party
had grown to be a large one, for so many families had joined us on our
way across the plains, and all had to have their say about the matter.

"There was a long discussion of the merits of the two routes, and as a
result, at last we decided to split up, for a number of the party
preferred not to risk taking the new route, while eighty-seven of us,
including our family and the Donners, decided to take the Cut-off.

"On the 20th of July we broke camp and left the little Sandy, the
other division of the party taking the old trail to Fort Hall, and the
rest of us, who were called 'the Donner party' from that time, taking
the new one.

"When we reached Fort Bridger, we were told that Mr. Hastings, whom we
had expected to find there, had gone ahead to pilot a large emigrant
train, and had left word that all later bands were to follow his
trail; that they would find an abundant supply of wood, water, and
pasturage along the whole line of road except for one forty-mile
drive; that there were no difficult cañons to pass; and that the road
was mostly good. This was encouraging and we traveled on comfortably
for a week, when we reached the spot where Webber River breaks through
the mountains into a cañon. There, by the side of the road, was a
forked branch with a note stuck in its cleft, left by Hastings,
saying, 'I advise all parties to encamp and wait for my return. The
road I have taken is so rough that I fear wagons will not be able to
get through to the Great Salt Lake Valley.' He mentioned another and
better route which avoided the cañon altogether, and at once father,
Mr. Stanton and William Pike said they would go ahead over this road,
and if possible meet Hastings and bring him back to pilot us through
to the valley.

"While the men went off to try to find Hastings, we encamped and
waited for them to come back. In five days father came alone, having
become separated from his companions, who he feared might have been
lost. They had met Hastings, but he had refused to leave his party for
their sake. Finally, however, father had insisted that he go with them
to a high peak of the Wahsatch Mountains and from there point out to
them the direction our party ought to take. Coming down from the peak,
father lost sight of Stanton and Pike and was forced to come on alone,
taking notes and blazing trees to help him in retracing his path when
he should have us to guide. Searchers were at once sent out after the
lost men, while we broke camp and started on our risky journey. It was
easy enough traveling at first, but the following day we were brought
to a sudden stop by a patch of dense woodland which it took a whole
day's chopping to open up enough for our wagons to pass through. From
there we chopped and pushed our way through what seemed an impassable
wilderness of high peaks and rock-bound cañons, and then faced a great
rough gulch. Believing it would lead out to the valley, our men again
set to work vigorously, and for six long days they chopped until they
were almost exhausted. Then a new party of emigrants caught up with us
and, aided by three fresh men, the eight-mile road through the gulch
was finished. It did not lead to the opening we had expected, but
into a pretty mountain dell, but we were happy, because we found the
searchers there with Mr. Stanton and Mr. Pike. They reported that we
must go back on the newly made road and cross a more distant range of
mountains in order to strike the trail to the valley. That was a
moment of terror, even to the most courageous of our valiant band, but
everyone forced a smile and a cheerful word as we started to retrace
our way. We had five days more of traveling and road-making, and
climbed a mountain so steep that six yoke of oxen had to pull each
wagon up the steep ascent. Then we crossed the river flowing from Utah
Lake to Great Salt Lake and at last found the trail of the Hastings
party, thirty days after we set out for the point we had expected to
reach in ten or twelve days.

"While we rested we took an inventory of our provisions, and found the
supply was not sufficient to last until we should reach California.
Here was a predicament! Mr. Donner called for volunteers to ride ahead
on horseback to Sutter's Fort, to tell of our sorry plight and ask
Captain Sutter to send back provisions by them for us, as we traveled
toward them. Mr. Stanton and Mr. McCutchen said they would go to the
fort, and rode away on their errand of mercy.

"Our wagons, meanwhile, wound their slow way along, far behind the
horsemen, who were soon out of our sight, and two days later we found
a lovely green valley where there were twenty wells of clear,
sparkling water to cool our parched throats, which were only used to
the alkaline pools from which we had been obliged to drink. Close
beside the largest well we found a rough board, stuck in the ground
with strips of white paper pinned to it, and around the board pieces
of the paper were strewn on the turf, as if they had been torn off the
board. 'There has been some message written on that paper. We must
piece the bits together,' declared Mrs. Donner. No sooner said than
done. Laying the board on her lap, she began to patch the scraps
together, while we eagerly watched her. At last the words could be
read: '2 days--2 nights--hard driving--cross--desert--reach water.'
This was evidently meant as a warning to us, and the thought of two
days' hard driving through the desert was anything but cheering. In
fact, it would be such a strain on our cattle that we remained where
we were, with the fine water to drink and good pasturage for three
days. Then we filled our water casks, made all other preparations for
the forty-mile drive, and started off again. We traveled for two days
and nights, suffering from heat and thirst by day and from bitter cold
by night. At the end of the second day we still saw the vast desert
ahead of us as far as we could look. There was no more fodder for our
cattle, our water-casks were empty, and the burning rays of the sun
scorched us with pitiless and overpowering heat. Father rode on ahead
in search of water, and scarcely had he left us than our beasts began
to drop from exhaustion and thirst. Their drivers instantly unhitched
them and drove them ahead, hoping to meet father and find wells where
the thirsty beasts could be refreshed. They did find father and he
showed them the way to wells he had found where the beasts could
drink, then he traveled back to us, reaching our camp at dawn. We
waited all that day in the desert, with the sun beating down on us
with cruel heat, and still drivers and cattle had not come back. It
was a desperate plight, for another night without water would mean
death. We must set out on foot and try to reach some of the other
wagons, whose owners had gone ahead." Virginia adds, "Never shall I
forget that night, when we walked mile after mile in the darkness,
every step seeming to be the very last we could take, each of us who
were older and stronger, taking turns in carrying the younger
children. Suddenly out of the black night came a swift, rushing noise
of one of the young steers, who was crazed by thirst and rushing madly
toward us. Father snatched up little Patty, and commanded the rest of
us to keep close to his side, while he drew his pistol. We could hear
the heavy snorting of the maddened beast, when he turned and dashed
off into the darkness, leaving us weak and shivering with fright and
relief. And still we were obliged to drag our weary feet on, for ten
long miles, when we reached the Jacob Donner wagons. The family were
all asleep inside, so we lay down on the ground under the protecting
shadow of the family wagon. A bitter wind was howling across the
desert, and it so chilled us that we crept close together, and if all
five of our dogs had not snuggled up close to us, warming us with the
heat from their big bodies, we would probably had died from cold.

"At dawn father rushed off to find his cattle, but in vain. He met the
drivers, who told him that as the frenzied beasts were being driven
toward the wells, they had broken loose and been lost in the darkness.
At once all the men of the company turned out to help father to search
for them, but none were ever found except one ox and a cow, and in
that plight we were left stranded on the desert, eight hundred miles
from California! To turn back to Fort Bridger was an impossibility--to
go forward meant such hardship as blanched even my sun-reddened
cheeks, and I shuddered at the thought that mother must live through
greater privations than those we had already encountered. Well it was
that the future was hidden from our eyes on that day in the desert!

"Two oxen were loaned father, which, yoked together with our one cow
and ox, would draw one wagon, but not the family one, which had grown
to be so home-like to us in our journeyings. It was decided to dig a
trench, and _cache_ all of our things except those which we could take
in the one wagon. A _cache_ is made by digging a hole in the ground
and sinking in it the bed of a wagon, in which articles are packed;
the hole is then covered with boards and earth, so they are completely
hidden, and when we buried ours we hoped some day to return and take
them away."

Having _cached_ so many of their treasures, on the party went as
bravely as possible until they reached Gravelly Ford on the Humboldt,
where on the 5th of October there was such a tragic occurrence that
Virginia says, "I grew up into a woman in a night, and life was never
the same again, although for the sake of mother and the children I hid
my feelings as well as I could."

Here her record is detailed, and as concise as possible. She writes:

"I will tell it as clearly and quickly as I can. We had reached a
short sandy hill, and as the oxen were all tired, it was the custom at
such places for the drivers to double up teams and help one another up
the hill. A driver named Snyder, for some unaccountable reason,
decided to go up alone. His oxen could not pull their load, and
Snyder, angry at them, began to beat them. Father, who had gone on
ahead, looking for the best road, came back, and in trying to make
Snyder stop abusing his beasts, roused his anger to the point of
frenzy. Father said, 'We can settle this, John, when we get up the
hill.' 'No,' said Snyder. 'We will settle it now!' and, jumping on the
tongue of his wagon, he struck father a hard blow over the head with
his heavy whip-stock. One blow followed another, and father was
stunned, as well as blinded by the blood streaming down from the
gashes in his head. The whip was about to drop again when mother
sprang between the two men. Father saw the uplifted whip and had only
time to cry 'John! John!' when down came the blow on mother's head.
Quick as a flash father's hunting-knife was out and Snyder fell,
mortally wounded, and fifteen minutes later died. Then father
realized, too late, what he had done. Dashing the blood from his eyes,
he knelt over the dying man, who had been his friend, with remorse and
agony in his expression.

"Camp was pitched at once, our wagon being some distance from the
others, and father, whose head was badly cut, came to me.

"'Daughter,' he asked, 'do you think you can dress these wounds in my
head? Your mother is not able and they must be attended to.' I said,
promptly: 'Yes, if you will tell me what to do.' Then we went into the
wagon, where we would not be disturbed, and I washed and dressed his
wounds as best I could. When I had done what he told me to do, I burst
out crying, and father clasped me in his arms, saying: 'I should not
have asked so much of you!' I told him it was pity for him that made
me cry. Then he talked to me quietly until I had controlled my
feelings and was able to go back to the tent where mother was lying,
weak and dazed by the happenings of the day. And there were worse
things to come. In our party there was a man who had been in the habit
of beating his wife until father told him he must either stop it or
measures would be taken to make him. He did not dare abuse her again,
but he hated father from that time, and now he had his chance for
revenge. After Snyder had been buried, and father had sadly watched
the last clod of earth piled on the grave, the men of the party held a
conference from which our family were excluded. We waited a short
distance away, in terrified suspense to know the outcome of it, as we
were sure it concerned father. And it did. His plea of self-defense
was not acceptable to them, they said, and we shivered as we saw such
bitterness on the men's faces as seemed sure would lead to lynching.
Father saw it, but he was no coward. Baring his neck, he stepped
forward, and proudly said, 'Come on, gentlemen!' No one moved, and
presently he was told that he must leave the party, an exile--must go
out in the wilderness alone without food or weapons. It was a cruel
sentence, for it might result either in starvation or in murder by the
Indians, and it is no wonder that mother was beside herself with
fright, that we children knew not what to do or where to turn for
help. Father heard the sentence in silence, then facing the group of
old-time friends, with brave eyes, he said: 'I will not go. My act was
one of self-defense, and as such is justified before God and man.'

"Meanwhile, my mother had been thinking, as she told me later, and she
begged father to accept the sentence and leave the party, thinking it
would be less dangerous than to remain among men who had become his
enemies. He firmly refused until she pleaded that the whole party were
now practically destitute of food, and if he remained, as an outcast,
he would be obliged to see his children starve, while by going he
might be able to meet them with food which he had procured somewhere.
After a fearful struggle with his own desires, father consented, but
not until the men of the party had promised to care for his innocent
wife and children. Then, after he had held mother in his arms for a
long agonized moment, he turned to me, and I forced my eyes to meet
his with such fearless trust that he looked less despairing as he
picked up Patty for a last hug and gripped the boys with an emotion
too deep for any words; then he went off, an exile in the desert.

"I had no idea what I was going to do about it, but I knew I must do
something. Through the long hours of the day, while I was busy
soothing and comforting mother, who felt it keenly that we were left
as much alone as if we were lepers, I was thinking busily. Our wagon
was drawn up apart from the others, and we ate our scanty evening meal
in silence. Milt Elliott and some others tried to talk with us, and
show their friendliness, but mother would only answer in monosyllables
and commanded the children to do the same. We were an utterly
desolate, frightened group as darkness fell over us. I was busy
helping the children get to bed, and then I found mother in such a
state of collapse that I could think of nothing but comforting and
quieting her.

"At last she fell asleep, and I crept to my bed, but I could not
sleep. I must act. At last, I made a decision. I was strong and
fearless, and father had no food or light or supplies, out there alone
in the trackless wilderness. I stole to my mother's side and she
roused at my light touch.

"'Mother, dear,' I whispered, 'I am going out to find father and take
him some food, and his gun, and ammunition.' She roused and exclaimed:

"'What do you mean, child? You cannot find your father!'

"'I'm not going alone,' I replied 'I've asked Milt and he says he'll
go with me.'

"Without giving her a chance to say I must not go, I hurried to the
supply-chest and found some crackers, a small piece of bacon, some
coffee and sugar. I took a tin cup, too, and a dipper for father to
make coffee in, and packed his gun, pistols, and ammunition with them.
His lantern was on the shelf, and I put a fresh piece of candle in it
and matches in my pocket--then I was ready to start.

"Everything had to be done very quickly and quietly, for there would
be a great risk if the children knew what I was going to do, or if any
others of the party discovered my intention. So I did everything on
tip-toe, and holding my breath for fear of being discovered.

"Mother called, 'Virginia!' and I went to her side. 'How will you find
him in the darkness?'

"'I shall look for his horse's tracks and follow them,' I whispered.
At that moment Milton's cautious step was heard at the side of the
wagon, and with a last hug mother released me, and Milt and I stole
off on our dangerous expedition.

"Out into the darkness we crept. Stealthily we hid in the shadows cast
by the wagons in the flickering light of the dying camp-fire--cautiously
we stole up behind the unsuspicious sentinel who was wearily tramping
back and forth, and we held our breath for fright as he suddenly looked
over the sleeping camp, then peered out into the mysterious darkness of
the desert, but he did not see us. For safety we lay down on the ground,
and silently dragged our bodies along until we were well out of his
sight and hearing; then we pushed our feet along without lifting them,
to be sure they did not fall into some unseen hole or trap, and now and
again we were startled by some noise that to our excited senses seemed
to mean that a wild animal was near us. My eyes had been searching the
darkness around and before us, and at last I whispered:

"'Stop, Milt. Let us light the lantern!'

"Then stooping down, I spread out my skirts so that not the slightest
flash of a match or gleam of light could be seen by the sentinel or by
any one in the encampment. Milton lighted the lantern. I took it in
one hand, and with the other held my skirts up in such a way as to
shield its beams, and in its feeble light I searched the ground still
frantically for some trace of the footprints of father's horse.
Although I was nervous and excited enough to fly on the wings of
lightning, I did not let the feeling get the better of me, but made a
deliberate search of every inch of ground, making a complete circle
around the outskirts of the camp, for I was determined to find those
tracks. At last! There they were, unmistakable and clear. I gave a
smothered cry and showed them to Milt. Then, still with the lantern
carefully covered, so that no unguarded flash might bring a
death-dealing shot from the sentinel's rifle, I followed where they
led, Milt close behind, carrying the gun and provisions. Mile after
mile we followed--followed, now seeing the tracks, now losing them. Oh
what an agony was compressed in those awful hours!


"Suddenly on the midnight air came the wild howl of coyotes. From the
distance echoed an even more hideous cry--that of the panther, seeking
for prey. At that sound Milton's hair literally stood on end, and if I
had shown one sign of weakening he would gladly have given up the
search. But I went on, closing my ears to the dreaded sounds. All of a
sudden my heart beat so wildly that I was obliged to press my hand
over it to quiet its hammering. What I heard or saw or felt I can
never explain, but I know that all the terror of my thirteen years of
life seemed to be condensed into one moment of dread. And yet go on I
must, praying to God to protect us and let me find father. I pushed
ahead, with panic holding me in its wild grip as I pictured a horrible
death if we should be captured by Indians. Then suddenly with
wide-strained eyes and fluttering heart, I forgot all weariness and
fear. In the far distance a dim, flickering light. Gripping Milt's
arm, I whispered:


"No sooner had I said it than I thought, 'Perhaps it is an Indian
camp-fire.' But common sense put that aside, for I was sure I had seen
father's horse's hoofprints, and certainly they would lead to him. But
suppose he had been captured by Indians, and this fire we were coming
to should lead to horrible disclosures. All this went through my mind,
but I said nothing of it to Milton. I just went walking steadily on.
Oh, how far away the light was! Would we never reach it? It seemed as
if the more we walked the farther from it we were. But no, it was
he--it was--it was! With a glad cry of, 'Oh, father! father!' I
rushed forward and flung myself in his arms.

"'My child, my Virginia!' he exclaimed, when surprise had let him find
his voice. 'You should not have come here!'

"'But I _am_ here,' I cried, 'and I've brought you some food and your
gun, and a blanket, and a little coffee, and some crackers! And here's
a tin cup, too, and your pistols, and some powder and caps. Oh, and
here are some matches, too!' I exclaimed, holding out one after
another of the precious articles to his astonished gaze, and laughing
and crying as I talked.

"It was almost pitiful to see father's astonishment at the thought
that some one had come to help him in his terrible plight, and as he
took the things I had brought he kissed and fondled me like a little
child, and said that, God helping him, he would hurry on to California
and secure a home for his beloved family--and it seems conceited to
mention it, but he called me his 'brave daughter' over and over again,
until I was glad of the darkness to hide my burning cheeks. Then in
the protecting darkness, with Milton to stand guard, we sat together
and talked of mother and Patty and the boys, and of what we should do
while we were parted from him. Father was the first to remember that
dawn would soon flush the east, and rising, he kissed me again and
tried to say farewell.

"'But I'm not going back!' I cried. 'I'm going with you. Milt will go
back, but I am going on with you.' Seeing his stern, set face, I
pleaded, piteously: 'Oh, don't send me back--I can never bear to see
those cruel men again. Let me go with you?' He turned a white, drawn
face to mine.

"'For mother's sake, dear,' he said, 'go back and take care of her.
God will care for me.' Before I could cry out or make a move to go
with him, he had gathered up the articles I had brought him, jumped
on his horse, and ridden away into the solitude of the Western desert.
Milton and I were left alone to find our way back to the encampment
where mother was watching and waiting for me with an eager, aching
heart. When my straining eyes had seen the last of that solitary
figure riding off into the black desert, I turned abruptly away, and
Milt and I crept back over the vast desert. Before there was a glimmer
of dawn I was safely clasped in mother's arms, repeated my comforting
news over and over again that we had found father, that he was well
and on his way to that land toward which our own faces were turned."

In this simple, direct fashion has Virginia Reed told of a heroic deed
in the history of brave pioneer girls--but as the story comes from her
pen, it is scarcely possible to realize the anxiety, the torturing
fear, the hideous danger of such an expedition as that one of hers
when at midnight, on the great plains, she set out to find her father.

"After that," she says, "though we were obliged to travel on, and
though the party tried to be friendly with us, our hearts were sore
and our thoughts were centered on father, journeying on alone. But as
we went on we found welcome surprises by the way. A note written by
him, stuck on a forked twig by the wayside, feathers scattered over
the path to show that he had killed a bird and was not hungry. When we
had found such evidence of his being alive and well, mother would be
light-hearted for a whole day. Then the signs ceased, and mother's
despair was pitiful to see. Had he been killed by the Indians or
perhaps died of starvation? Patty and I were afraid we would lose
mother, too. But starvation was menacing the whole party, and she was
roused to new strength in a desire to protect her children from that
fate. And even more ominous in their portent of disaster, before us
rose the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, which we must cross
before the heavy snows fell, and the question was, could we do it? We
left our wagon behind, which was too heavy for the mountain trip,
placed in it every article we could do without, packed what we needed
in another, and struggled on as best we could until the 19th of
October, when we had a great joy. As we were wearily traveling along
the Truckee, up rode Mr. Stanton and with him were seven mules loaded
with provisions! No angel from the skies could have been more welcome,
and, hungry though we were, better than food was the news that father
was alive and pushing on to the west. Mr. Stanton had met him near
Sutter's Fort, and had given him provisions and a fresh horse. Oh, how
relieved mother was! I think she could not have eaten a mouthful,
hungry as she was, without the glad tidings. Father had asked Mr.
Stanton to personally conduct us across the Sierras before snow came,
which he had promised to do, so with new courage we hurried on,
keeping a close watch on those gaunt peaks ahead of us, which we must
climb before realizing our dreams. Although it was so early in the
season, all trails were covered with snow, but we struggled on, mother
riding one mule with Tommy in her lap, Patty and Jim on another,
behind two Indians who had accompanied Mr. Stanton, and I riding
behind our leader. But though we did all in our power to travel fast,
we were obliged to call a halt before we reached the summit, and camp
only three miles this side of the crest of the mountain range.

"That night," says Virginia, "came the dreaded snow. Around the
camp-fires under the trees great feathery flakes came whirling down.
The air was so full of them that one could see objects only a few feet
away. The Indians knew we were doomed and one of them wrapped his
blanket about him and stood all night under a tree. We children slept
soundly on our cold bed of snow, which fell over us so thickly that
every few moments my mother would have to shake the shawl--our only
covering--to keep us from being buried alive. In the morning the snow
lay deep on mountain and valley, and we were forced to turn back to a
lake we had passed, which was afterward called 'Donner Lake,' where
the men hastily put up some rough cabins--three of them known as the
Breen cabin, the Murphy cabin, and the Reed-Graves cabin. Then the
cattle were all killed, and the meat was placed in the snow to
preserve it, and we tried to settle down as comfortably as we could,
until the season of snow and ice should be over. But the comfort was a
poor imitation of the real thing, and now and then, in desperation, a
party started out to try to cross the mountains, but they were always
driven back by the pitiless storms. Finally, a party of fifteen, known
in later days as the 'Forlorn Hopes,' started out, ten men and five
women, on snow-shoes, led by noble Mr. Stanton, and we heard no more
of them until months afterward.

"No pen can describe the dreary hopelessness of those who spent that
winter at Donner Lake," says Virginia. "Our daily life in that dark
little cabin under the snow would fill pages and make the coldest
heart ache. Only one memory stands out with any bright gleam.
Christmas was near, and there was no way of making it a happy time.
But my mother was determined to give us a treat on that day. She had
hidden away a small store of provisions--a few dried apples, some
beans, a bit of tripe, and a small piece of bacon. These she brought
out, and when we saw the treasures we shouted for joy, and watched the
meal cooking with hunger-sharpened eyes. Mother smiled at our delight
and cautioned:

"'Children, eat slowly, for this one day you can have all you wish!'
and never has any Christmas feast since driven out of my memory that
most memorable one at Donner Lake.

"Somehow or other the cold dark days and weeks passed, but as they
went by our store of supplies grew less and less, and many died from
cold and hunger. Frequently we had to cut chips from the inside of our
cabin to start a fire, and we were so weak from want of food that we
could scarcely drag ourselves from one cabin to the other, and so four
dreadful months wore away. Then came a day when a fact stared us in
the face. We were starving. With an almost superhuman strength mother
roused. 'I am going to walk across the mountains,' she said; 'I cannot
see my children die for lack of food.' Quickly I stood beside her. 'I
will go, too,' I said. Up rose Milt and Eliza. 'We will go with you,'
they said. Leaving the children to be cared for by the Breens and
Murphys, we made a brave start. Milt led the way on snow-shoes and we
followed in his tracks, but Eliza gave out on the first day and had to
go back, and after five days in the mountains, we, too, turned back
and mother was almost exhausted, and we went back just in time, for
that night there was the most fearful storm of the winter, and we
should have died if we had not had the shelter of our cabins. My feet
had been badly frozen, and mother was utterly spent from climbing one
high mountain after another, but we felt no lasting bad effects from
the venture. But we had no food! Our cabins were roofed over with
hides, which now we had to take down and boil for food. They saved
life, but to eat them was like eating a pot of glue, and I could not
swallow them. The roof of our cabin having been taken off, the Breens
gave us a shelter, and when Mrs. Breen discovered what I had tried to
hide from my own family, that I could not eat the hide, she gave me
little bits of meat now and then from their fast-dwindling store.

"One thing was my great comfort from that time," says Virginia. "The
Breens were the only Catholics in the party, and prayers were said
regularly every night and morning in their little cabin, Mr. Breen
reading by the light of a small pine torch, which I held, kneeling by
his side. There was something inexpressibly comforting to me in this
simple service, and one night when we had all gone to bed, huddled
together to keep from freezing, and I felt it would not be long before
we would all go to sleep never to wake again in this world, all at
once I found myself on my knees, looking up through the darkness and
making a vow that if God would send us relief and let me see my father
again, I would become a Catholic. And my prayer was answered.

"On the evening of February 19th, we were in the cabin, weak and
starving, when we heard Mr. Breen's voice outside, crying:

"'Relief, thank God! Relief!'

"In a moment, before our unbelieving eyes, stood seven men sent by
Captain Sutter from the fort, and they had brought an ample supply of
flour and jerked beef, to save us from the death which had already
overtaken so many of our party. There was joy at Donner Lake that
night, for the men said: 'Relief parties will come and go until you
have all crossed the mountains safely.' But," Virginia's diary says:
"mingled with one joy were bitter tears. Even strong men sat and wept
as they saw the dead lying about on the snow, some even unburied, as
the living had not had strength to bury them. I sorrowed most for Milt
Elliott--our faithful friend, who seemed so like a brother, and when
he died, mother and I dragged him out of the cabin and covered him
with snow, and I patted the pure white snow down softly over all but
his face--and dragged myself away, with a heart aching from the pain
of such a loss.

"But we were obliged to turn our thoughts to the living and their
future, and eagerly listened to the story of the men, who told us that
when father arrived at Sutter's Fort, after meeting Mr. Stanton, he
told Captain Sutter of our desperate plight and the captain at once
furnished horses and supplies, with which father and Mr. McCutchen
started back, but were obliged to return to the fort, and while they
were conferring with Captain Sutter about their next move, the seven
living members of the 'Forlorn Hope' party who had left us the first
part of the winter, arrived at the fort. Their pale, worn faces told
the story and touched all hearts. Cattle were killed and men were up
all night drying beef and making flour by hand-mills for us; then the
party started out to our rescue and they had not reached us one moment
too soon!

"Three days later, the first relief started from Donner Lake with a
party of twenty-three men, women, and children, and our family was
among them. It was a bright, sunny day and we felt happy, but we had
not gone far when Patty and Tommy gave out. As gently as possible I
told mother that they would have to go back to the lake and wait for
the next expedition. Mother insisted that she would go back with them,
but the relief party would not allow this, and finally she gave in and
let the children go in care of a Mr. Hover. Even the bravest of the
men had tears in their eyes when little Patty patted mother's cheek
and said, 'I want to see papa, but I will take good care of Tommy, and
I do not want you to come back.' Meanwhile we traveled on,
heavy-hearted, struggling through the snow single file. The men on
snow-shoes broke the way and we followed in their tracks. At night we
lay down on the snow to sleep, to awake to find our clothing all
frozen. At break of day we were on the road again.... The sunshine,
which it would seem would have been welcome, only added to our misery.
The dazzling reflection made it very trying to our eyes, while its
heat melted our frozen clothing and made it cling to our bodies. Jim
was too small to step in the tracks made by the men, and to walk at
all he had to place his knee on the little hill of snow after each
step, and climb over it. Mother and I coaxed him along by telling him
that every step he took he was getting nearer papa and nearer
something to eat. He was the youngest child that walked over the
Sierra Nevada.

"On their way to our rescue the relief party from Sutter's Fort had
left meat hanging on a tree for our use as we came out. What was their
horror when we reached the spot to find that it had been taken by wild
animals. We were starving again--where could we get food? As we were
trying to decide on our next move, one of the men who was in the lead
ahead stopped, turned, and called out:

"'Is Mrs. Reed with you? If she is, tell her Mr. Reed is here!' There
before us stood father! At the sight, mother, weak with joy, fell on
her knees with outstretched arms, while I tried to run to meet him,
but found myself too much exhausted, so I just held out my arms, too,
and waited! In a moment he was where we could touch him and know that
he was flesh and blood and not just a beautiful dream. He had planned
to meet us just where we were, and had brought with him fourteen men
and a generous supply of bread.

"As he knelt and clasped mother in his arms she told him that Patty
and Tommy were still at the lake, and with a horrified exclamation, he
started to his feet. 'I must go for them at once,' he said. 'There is
no time to lose.' With one long embrace off he went as if on winged
feet, traveling the distance which had taken us five days to go in
two, we afterward heard. He found the children alive, to his great
joy, but, oh, what a sight met his gaze! The famished little children
and the death-like look of all at the lake made his heart ache. He
filled Patty's apron with biscuits, which she carried around, giving
one to each person. He also had soup made for the infirm, and rendered
every possible assistance to the sufferers, then, leaving them with
provisions for seven days, he started off, taking with him seventeen
who were able to travel, and leaving at the lake three of his men to
aid those who were too weak to walk.

"Almost as soon as father's party started out, they were caught in a
terrible snow-storm and hurricane, and his description of the scene
later was heart-breaking, as he told about the crying of the
half-frozen children, the lamenting of the mothers and suffering of
the whole party, while above all could be heard the shrieking of the
storm king. One who has never seen a blizzard in the Sierras can have
no idea of the situation, but we knew. All night father and his men
worked in the raging storm, trying to put up shelters for the dying
women and children, while at times the hurricane would burst forth
with such fury that he felt frightened on account of the tall timber
surrounding the camp. The party was almost without food, having left
so much with the sufferers at the lake. Father had _cached_ provisions
on his way to the lake, and had sent three men forward to get it
before the storm set in, but they could not get back. At one time the
fire was nearly gone; had it been lost, all would have perished. For
three days and three nights they were exposed to the fury of that
terrible storm; then father became snow-blind, and would have died if
two of his faithful comrades had not worked over him all night, but
from that time all responsibility of the relief work was taken from
him, as he was physically unfit.

"At last the storm abated, and the party halted, while father with Mr.
McCutchen and Mr. Miller went on ahead to send back aid for those who
were exhausted from the terrible journeying. Hiram Miller carried
Tommy, while Patty started bravely to walk, but soon she sank on the
snow and seemed to be dying. All gathered around in frantic efforts to
revive the child, and luckily father found some crumbs in the thumb
of his woolen mitten which he warmed and moistened between his own
lips, and fed Patty. Slowly she came to life again, and was carried
along by different ones in the company, so that by the time the party
reached Woodworth's Camp she was quite herself again, and as she sat
cozily before a big camp-fire she fondled and talked to a tiny doll
which had traveled with her all the way from Springfield and which was
her chosen confidante.

"As soon as father's party reached Woodworth's Camp a third relief
party started back to help those who were slowly following, and still
another party went on to Donner Lake to the relief of those who were
still living. But many of that emigrant band lie sleeping to-day on
the shore of that quiet mountain lake, for out of the eighty-three
persons who were snowed in there, forty-two died, and of the
thirty-one emigrants who left Springfield on that lovely April morning
of 1846, only eighteen lived to reach California. Among them were our
family, who, despite the terrible hardships and hideous privations we
had suffered, yet seemed to have been especially watched over by a
kind Providence, for we all lived to reach our goal, and were the only
family who were not obliged at some part of the journey to subsist on
human flesh to keep from perishing. God was good to our family, and I,
Virginia, testify to the heroic qualities which were developed in even
the youngest of us, and for my own part, I gratefully recognize the
blessings which came to me from an unqualified faith in God and an
unfaltering trust that He would take care of us--which He did.

"Mother, Jimmy and I reached California and were taken at once to the
home of the mayor, Mr. Sinclair, where we were given a warm welcome
and where nothing was left undone for our comfort. But we were still
too anxious to be happy, for we knew that father's party had been
caught in the storm." Virginia says: "I can see mother now as she
stood leaning against the door for hours at a time, looking at the
mountains. At last--oh wonderful day--they came, father, Patty and
Tommy! In the moment of blissful reunion tears and smiles intermingled
and all the bitterness and losses and sorrows of the cruel journey
were washed away, leaving only a tender memory of those noble souls
who had fared forth, not to the land of their dreams, but to a far
country whose maker and builder is God.

"And for us, it was spring in California!"


In a pleasant, shady garden in Concord, Massachusetts, under a gnarled
old apple-tree, sat a very studious looking little person, bending
over a sheet of paper on which she was writing. She had made a seat
out of a tree stump, and a table by laying a board across two
carpenter's horses, whose owner was working in the house, and no
scholar writing a treatise on some deep subject could have been more
absorbed in his work than was the little girl in the garden.

For a whole long hour she wrote, frequently stopping to look off into
the distance and bite the end of her pencil with a very learned look,
then she would bend over her paper again and write hard and fast.
Finally, she laid down her pencil with an air of triumph, jumped up
from the stump and rushed toward the house.

"Mother! Anna! I've written a poem about the robin we found this
morning in the garden!" Dashing into the library she waved the paper
in the air with a still more excited cry: "Listen!" and dropped on the
floor to read her poem to a much thrilled audience of two. With great
dramatic effect she read her lines, glancing up from time to time to
see that she was producing the proper effect. This is what she read:


    Welcome, welcome, little stranger,
    Fear no harm and fear no danger,
    We are glad to see you here,
    For you sing "Sweet Spring is near."

    Now the white snow melts away,
    Now the flowers blossom gay,
    Come, dear bird, and build your nest,
    For we love our robin best.

She finished with an upward tilt of her voice, while her mother
excitedly flourished the stocking she was darning over her head,
crying: "Good! Splendid!" and quiet Anna echoed the words, looking
with awe at her small sister, as she added, "It's just like

The proud mother did not say much more in praise of the budding
poetess's effort, for fear of making her conceited; but that night,
after the verses had been read to a delighted father, and the young
author had gone happily off to bed, the mother said:

"I do believe she is going to be a genius, Bronson!"

Yet, despite the prediction, even an appreciative parent would have
been more than surprised had she been able to look into the future and
had seen her daughter as one of the most famous writers of books for
young people of her generation. The little girl who sat under the
apple-tree on that day in early spring and wrote the verses was no
other than Louisa May Alcott, and her tribute to the robin was to be
treasured in after years as the first evidence of its writer's talent.

Louisa, the second daughter of Amos Bronson and Abba May Alcott, was
born in Germantown, Pa., on the 29th of November, 1832, and was
fortunate in being the child of parents who not only understood the
intense, restless and emotional nature of this daughter, but were
deeply interested in developing it in such a way that her marked
traits would be valuable to her in later life. To this unfailing
sympathy of both father and mother the turbulent nature owed much of
its rich achievement, and Louisa Alcott's home surroundings and
influences had as much to do with her success as a writer as had her
talent, great as that was.

At the time of her birth her father was teaching school in
Germantown, but he was a man whose ideas were original and far in
advance of his time, and his way of teaching was not liked by the
parents of his pupils, so when Louisa was two years old and her older
sister, Anna, four, the family went to Boston, where Mr. Alcott opened
his famous school in Masonic Temple, and enjoyed teaching by his own
new methods, and when he was happy his devoted wife was equally

Louisa was too young to go to school then, except as a visitor, but
her father developed her young mind at home according to his own
theories of education, and during the remainder of the all-too short
days the active child was free to amuse herself as she chose. To play
on the Common was her great delight, for she was a born investigator,
and there she met children of all classes, who appealed to her
many-sided nature in different ways. Louisa was never a respecter of
class distinctions--it did not matter to her where people lived, or
whether their hands and faces were dirty, if some personal
characteristic attracted her to them, and from those early days she
was unconsciously studying human nature, and making ready for the work
of later years.

In her own sketch of those early days, she says:

"Running away was one of my great delights, and I still enjoy sudden
flights out of the nest to look about this very interesting world and
then go back to report!"

On one of her investigating tours, she met some Irish children whose
friendliness delighted her, and she spent a wonderful day with them,
sharing their dinner of cold potatoes, salt fish and bread crusts.
Then--delightful pastime--they all played in the ash-heaps for some
time, and took a trip to the Common together. But when twilight came,
her new friends deserted her, leaving her a long way from home, and
little Louisa began to think very longingly of her mother and sister.
But as she did not know how to find her way back she sat down on a
door-step, where a big dog was lying. He was so friendly that she
cuddled up against his broad back and fell asleep. How long she slept
she did not know, but she was awakened by the loud ringing of a bell,
and a man's deep voice calling:

"Little girl lost! Six years old--in a pink frock, white hat and new
green shoes. Little girl lost! Little girl lost!"

It was the town crier, and as he rang his bell and gave his loud cry,
out of the darkness he heard a small voice exclaim:

"Why, dat's _me_!"

With great difficulty the crier was able to persuade the child to
unclasp her arms from the neck of the big friendly dog, but at last
she left him, and was taken to the crier's home and "feasted
sumptuously on bread and molasses in a tin plate with the alphabet
round it," while her frantic family was being notified. The unhappy
ending to that incident is very tersely told by Louisa, who says: "My
fun ended the next day, when I was tied to the arm of the sofa to
repent at leisure!"

That the six years spent in Boston were happy ones, and that the
budding spirit of Louisa was filled with joy at merely being alive,
was shown one morning, when, at the breakfast table, she suddenly
looked up with an all-embrasive smile and exclaimed:

"I love everybody in _dis_ whole world!"

Despite the merriment which was always a feature of the Alcott home,
as they were all blessed with a sense of humor which helped them over
many a hard place, there was an underlying anxiety for Mr. and Mrs.
Alcott, as the school was gradually growing smaller and there was
barely enough income to support their family, to which a third
daughter, Elizabeth, the "Beth" of _Little Women_, had been added
recently. During those days they lived on very simple fare, which the
children disliked, as their rice had to be eaten without sugar and
their mush without butter or molasses. Nor did Mr. Alcott allow meat
on his table, as he thought it wrong to eat any creature which had to
be killed for the purpose. An old family friend who lived at a Boston
hotel sympathized strongly with the children's longing for sweets, and
every day at dinner she saved them a piece of pie or cake, which
Louisa would call for, carrying a bandbox for the purpose. The friend
was in Europe for years, and when she returned Louisa Alcott had
become famous. Meeting her on the street one day, Louisa greeted her
old friend, eagerly:

"Why, I did not think you would remember me!" said the old lady.

"Do you suppose I shall ever forget that bandbox!" was the quick

As time went on, Mr. Alcott's school dwindled until he had only five
scholars, and three of them were his own children. Something new had
to be tried, and quickly, so the family moved out of the city, into a
small house at Concord, Mass., which had an orchard and a garden, and,
best of all, the children had a big barn, where they gave all sorts of
entertainments; mostly plays, as they were born actors. Their mother,
or "Marmee," as the girls called her, loved the fun as well as they
did, and would lay aside her work at any moment to make impossible
costumes for fairies, gnomes, kings or peasants, who were to take the
principal parts in some stirring melodrama written by the girls
themselves, or some adaptation of an old fairy tale. They acted Jack
the Giant-killer in fine style, and the giant came tumbling headlong
from a loft when Jack cut down the squash-vine running up a ladder and
supposed to represent the immortal beanstalk. At other performances
Cinderella rolled away in an impressive pumpkin, and one of their star
plays was a dramatic version of the story of the woman who wasted her
three wishes, in which a long black pudding was lowered by invisible
hands and slowly fastened onto her nose.

But though the big barn often echoed with the sound of merry voices,
at other times the girls dressed up as pilgrims, and journeyed over
the hill with scrip and staff, and cockle shells in their hats;
fairies held their revels among the whispering birches, and strawberry
parties took place in the rustic arbor of the garden.

And there we find eight-year-old Louisa writing her verses to the
robin, with genius early beginning to burn in the small head which
later proved to be so full of wonderful material for the delight of
young people.

"Those Concord days were the happiest of my life," says Miss Alcott.
"We had charming playmates in the little Emersons, Channings, Goodwins
and Hawthornes, with the illustrious parents and their friends to
enjoy our pranks and share our excursions.... My wise mother, anxious
to give me a strong body to support a lively brain, turned me loose in
the country and let me run wild, learning of Nature what no books can
teach, and being led--as those who truly love her seldom fail to
be--'through Nature up to Nature's God.'"

The Alcott children were encouraged to keep diaries in which they
wrote down their thoughts and feelings and fancies, and even at that
early age Louisa's journal was a record of deep feelings and of a
child's sacred emotions. In one of her solemn moods, she makes this

"I had an early run in the woods before the dew was off the grass. The
moss was like velvet, and as I ran under the arch of yellow and red
leaves I sang for joy, my heart was so bright and the world so
beautiful. I stopped at the end of the walk and saw the sunshine out
over the wide 'Virginia meadows.'

"It seemed like going through a dark life or grave into heaven
beyond. A very strange and solemn feeling came over me as I stood
there, with no sound but the rustle of the pines, no one near me, and
the sun so glorious, as for me alone. It seemed as if I _felt_ God as
I never did before, and I prayed in my heart that I might keep that
happy sense of nearness all my life."

To that entry there is a note added, years later: "_I have_, for I
most sincerely think that the little girl 'got religion' that day in
the wood, when dear Mother Nature led her to God."--L. M. A. 1885.

That deep religious note in Louisa Alcott's nature is very marked and
is evident in all of her work, but, on the other hand, she had a
sparkling wit and such a keen sense of humor that in her blackest
moods she could always see something funny to amuse her, and
frequently laughed at her own expense.

That her conscience was as active as her mind and her body is shown by
one of her "private plays," which she makes Demi describe in _Little
Men_. He says:

"I play that my mind is a round room, and my soul is a little sort of
creature with wings that lives in it. The walls are full of shelves
and drawers, and in them I keep my thoughts, and my goodness and
badness and all sorts of things. The goods I keep where I can see
them, and the bads I lock up tight, but they get out, and I have to
keep putting them in and squeezing them down, they are so strong. The
thoughts I play with when I am alone or in bed, and I make up and do
what I like with them. Every Sunday I put my room in order, and talk
with the little spirit that lives there, and tell him what to do. He
is very bad sometimes and won't mind me, and I have to scold him."

Truly a strange game for a child to play, but the Alcotts were brought
up to a reverent knowledge of their souls as well as their bodies, and
many a sober talk at twilight did mother or father have with the
daughters to whom the experience of the older generation was helpful
and inspiring. A very happy family they were, despite frequent lack of
luxuries and even necessities, but loyalty and generosity as their
marked characteristics. No matter how little money or food an Alcott
had, it was always shared with any one who had less, and the largest
share was usually given away.

On Louisa's fourth birthday, she tells of a feast given in her honor
in her father's school-room in Masonic Temple. All the children were
there, and Louisa wore a crown of flowers and stood upon a table to
give a cake to each child as they all marched around the table. "By
some oversight," says Louisa, "the cakes fell short, and I saw that if
I gave away the last one, _I_ should have none. As I was queen of the
revel, I felt that I ought to have it, and held on to it tightly,
until my mother said: 'It is always better to give away than to keep
the nice things; so I know my Louy will not let the little friend go
without.'" She adds: "The little friend received the dear plummy cake,
and I ... my first lesson in the sweetness of self-denial--a lesson
which my dear mother illustrated all her long and noble life."

At another time a starving family was discovered, when the Alcotts,
forming in a procession, carried their own breakfast to the hungry
ones. On one occasion, when a friend had unexpected guests arrive for
dinner, too late to secure any extra provisions, the Alcotts with
great glee lent their dinner to the thankful hostess, and thought it a
good joke. Again, on a snowy Saturday night, when their wood-pile was
extra low, and there was no way of getting any more that week, a poor
child came to beg a little, as their baby was sick and the father on a
spree with all his wages. At first Mrs. Alcott hesitated, as it was
bitterly cold and Abba May, the little baby sister, was very young,
but Mr. Alcott decided the matter with his usual kindly optimism.

"Give half our stock and trust in Providence; the weather will
moderate or wood will come," he declared. And the wood was lent, Mrs.
Alcott cheerily agreeing: "Well, their need is greater than ours. If
our half gives out we can go to bed and tell stories!"

A little later in the evening, while it was still snowing heavily, and
the Alcotts were about to cover their fire to keep it, a farmer who
was in the habit of supplying them with wood knocked at the door and
asked anxiously:

"Wouldn't you like me to drop my load of wood here? It would
accommodate me, and you need not hurry to pay for it. I started for
Boston with it but the snow is drifting so fast, I want to go home."

"Yes," answered Mr. Alcott, and as the man went away, he turned to his
wife and exclaimed: "Didn't I tell you that wood would come if the
weather didn't moderate?"

Again, a tramp asked Mr. Alcott to lend him five dollars. As he had
only a ten-dollar bill, the dear man at once offered that, asking to
have the change brought back as soon as possible. Despite the
disbelief of his family in the tramp's honesty, the man did bring the
five-dollar bill soon with profuse thanks, and the gentle
philosopher's faith in human nature was not crushed.

Still another experiment in generosity proved a harder one in its
results to the Alcotts, when Mrs. Alcott allowed some poor emigrants
to rest in her garden while she treated them to a bountiful meal.
Unfortunately for their generous benefactor, in return they gave
small-pox to the entire family, and, although the girls had light
cases, Mr. and Mrs. Alcott were very sick and, as Miss Alcott records
later: "We had a curious time of exile, danger and trouble." She adds:
"No doctors and all got well."

When Louisa Alcott was almost ten years old, and Anna twelve, Mr.
Alcott took a trip to England, hoping to interest the people there in
his new theories of education and of living. So enthusiastically and
beautifully did he present his theories that he won many converts, and
one of them, a Mr. Lane, returned to America with him to help him
found a colony on the new ideas, which were more ideal than practical,
and so disapproved of by Mr. Alcott's friends, who thought him foolish
to waste time and money on them.

However, after months of planning, Mr. Alcott, Mr. Lane and other
enthusiasts decided to buy an estate of one hundred acres near Harvard
Village, Mass., and establish the colony. The place was named
"Fruitlands," in anticipation of future crops, and the men who were to
start the community were full of hope and enthusiasm, in which Mrs.
Alcott did not share, as she knew her husband's visionary nature too
well not to fear the result of such an experiment. However, she aided
in making the plan as practical as she could, and drew such a rosy
picture of their new home to the children that they expected life at
Fruitlands to be a perpetual picnic.

Alas for visions and for hopes! Although life at Fruitlands had its
moments of sunshine and happiness, yet they were far overbalanced by
hard work, small results and increasing worry over money matters, and
at last, after four years of struggle to make ends meet, Mr. Alcott
was obliged to face the fact that the experiment had been an utter
failure, that he had exhausted his resources of mind, body and estate.
It was a black time for the gentle dreamer, and for a while it seemed
as if despair would overwhelm him. But with his brave wife to help him
and the children's welfare to think of, he shook off his despondency
bravely, and decided to make a fresh start. So Mrs. Alcott wrote to
her brother in Boston for help, sold all the furniture they could
spare, and went to Still River, the nearest village to Fruitlands, and
engaged four rooms. "Then on a bleak December day the Alcott family
emerged from the snowbank in which Fruitlands, now re-christened
_Apple Stump_ by Mrs. Alcott, lay hidden. Their worldly goods were
piled on an ox-sled, the four girls on the top, while father and
mother trudged arm in arm behind, poorer indeed in worldly goods, but
richer in love and faith and patience, and alas, experience."

After a winter in Still River they went back to Concord, where they
occupied a few rooms in the house of a sympathetic friend--not all
their friends were sympathetic, by any means, as most of them had
warned Mr. Alcott of this ending to his experiment. But all were
kindly as they saw the family take up life bravely in Concord again,
with even fewer necessities and comforts than before. Both Mr. and
Mrs. Alcott did whatever work they could find to do, thinking nothing
too menial if it provided food and clothing for their family.
Naturally the education of the children was rather fragmentary and
insufficient, but it developed their own powers of thinking. Through
the pages of their diaries in which they wrote regularly, and which
were open to their mother and father, they learned to express their
thoughts clearly on all subjects. Also they were encouraged to read
freely, while only the best books were within their reach. Louisa's
poetic and dramatic efforts were not ridiculed, but criticized as
carefully as if they had been masterpieces, so she had no fear of
expressing her deepest thoughts, but acted out her own nature freely
and fearlessly.

In fact the four daughters were happy, wholesome, hearty girls, whose
frolics and pastimes took such unique forms that people wondered
whether they were the result of Mr. Alcott's theories, and Miss Alcott
tells of one afternoon when Mr. Emerson and Margaret Fuller were
visiting her mother and the conversation drifted to the subject of
education. Turning to Mr. Alcott, Miss Fuller said:

"Well, Mr. Alcott, you have been able to carry out your methods in
your own family; I should like to see your model children."

A few moments later, as the guests stood on the door-step, ready to
leave, there was a wild uproar heard in the near distance and round
the corner of the house came a wheel-barrow holding baby May, dressed
as a queen; Miss Alcott says: "I was the horse, bitted and bridled,
and driven by my sister Anna, while Lizzie played dog and barked as
loud as her gentle voice permitted.

"All were shouting and wild with fun, which, however, came to a sudden
end, for my foot tripped and down we all went in a laughing heap,
while my mother put a climax to the joke by saying with a dramatic
wave of the hand:

"'Here are the model children, Miss Fuller!'"

When Mrs. Alcott's father, Colonel May, died, he left his daughter a
small property, and she now determined to buy a house in Concord with
it, so that whatever the varying fortunes of the family might be in
future they would at least have a roof over their heads. An additional
amount of five hundred dollars was added by Mr. Emerson, who was
always the good angel of the family, and the place in Concord known as
"Hillside" was bought, where life and work began in earnest for Louisa
and her sisters, for only too clearly they saw the heavy weight that
was being laid on their mother's shoulders.

Louisa was growing in body and spirit in those days, stretching up
physically and mentally, and among the sources of her finest
inspiration was the gentle reformer, philosopher and writer, Ralph
Waldo Emerson, who was ever her father's loyal friend and helper.
Louisa's warm little heart enshrined the calm, great-minded man who
always understood things, and after she had read Goethe's
correspondence with Bettine, she, like Bettine, placed her idol on a
pedestal and worshipped him in a truly romantic fashion. At night,
after she had gone to her room, she wrote him long passionate letters,
expressing her devotion, but she never sent the letters--only told him
of them in later years, when they laughed together over her girlish
fancy. Once, she confessed to having sat in a tall cherry-tree at
midnight and sung to the moon until the owls scared her to bed; and of
having sung Mignon's song under his window in very bad German, and
strewed wild flowers over his door-step in the darkness. This sounds
very sentimental and silly, but Louisa was never that. She had a deep,
intense nature, which as yet had found no outlet or expression, and
she could have had no safer hero to worship than this gentle, serene,
wise man whose friendship for her family was so practical in its
expression. Also at that period, which Louisa herself in her diary
calls the "sentimental period," she was strongly influenced by the
poet and naturalist, Thoreau. From him she learned to know Nature in a
closer and more loving intimacy. Thoreau was called a hermit, and
known as a genius, and more often than not he could be found in his
hut in the woods, or on the river bank, where he learned to look for
the bright-eyed "Alcott girl," who would swing along his side in
twenty-mile tramps, eager and inquisitive about everything, learning
new facts about flowers and trees and birds and insects from the great
man at her side. Truly a fortunate girl was Louisa, with two such
friends and teachers as the great Emerson and Thoreau. Hawthorne, too,
fascinated her in his shy reserve, and the young girl in her teens
with a tremendous ability to do and to be something worth while in
life could have had no more valuable preface to her life as a writer
than that of the happy growing days at Concord, with that group of
remarkable men.

At that time she did not think seriously of having talent for writing,
as she had only written a half-dozen pieces of verse, among them one
called "My Kingdom," which has been preserved as a bit of girlish
yearning for the best in religion and in character, sweetly expressed,
and some thrilling melodramas for the "troupe" in the barn to act.
These were overflowing with villains and heroes, and were lurid enough
to satisfy the most intense of her audience. Later some of them were
collected under the title of "Comic Tragedies"--but at best they only
serve to show how full of imaginative possibilities the girl's nature

Although the Alcotts had their own home in Concord now, it was yet
almost impossible to make ends meet, and with the sturdy independence
which proved to be one of her marked traits, Louisa determined to earn
some money and add to the family income. It was no easy thing to do,
for there were few avenues of work open to girls in that day. But she
could teach, for it was quite a popular resource to open a small
school in some barn, with a select set of pupils. Louisa herself had
been to one of these "barn schools," and now she opened one in Mr.
Emerson's barn, but it paid very poorly, as did everything which the
Alcotts attempted to do. The brave mother was so completely
discouraged, that when one day a friend passing through Concord called
on her, Mrs. Alcott confessed the state of her financial affairs. As a
result of that confession, the family once more migrated to Boston,
leaving the Hawthornes as occupants of "Hillside." In the city Mrs.
Alcott was given a position as visitor to the poor by a benevolent
association, and she also kept an employment agency--a more
respectable occupation than it was in later years. Once more there was
money in the treasury, and with their usual happy optimism the family
cheered up and decided that life was worth living, even under the most
trying circumstances. While his wife was busy in that way, Mr. Alcott
gradually drew a circle of people around him to whom his theories of
life were acceptable, and who paid a small price to attend the
"conversations" he held on subjects which interested him to discuss.
Being appreciated, even by a small audience, was balm to the wounded
spirit of the gentle philosopher, whose "Fruitlands" experiment had
been such a bitter one, and now he was as happy as though he were
earning large amounts by his work, instead of the meager sum paid by
his disciples to hear him talk of his pet theories. But he was
contented, and his happiness was reflected by his adoring family. Mrs.
Alcott, too, was satisfied with the work she was doing, so for a time
all went well with the "Pathetic Family" as Louisa had christened

Louisa, meanwhile, was learning many lessons as she traveled slowly up
the road to womanhood--learning courage and self-denial, linked with
cheerfulness from mother and father, and enjoying a wholesome
comradeship in the home life with her sisters.

Anna, the oldest daughter, was much like her father. She never worried
about her soul or her shortcomings as Louisa did; she accepted life as
it came, without question, and was of a calm nature, unlike turbulent,
questioning Louisa, who had as many moods as there were hours in a day
and who found ruling her tempestuous nature the hardest piece of work
life offered her. She confesses in her diary: "My quick tongue is
always getting me into trouble, and my moodiness makes it hard to be
cheerful when I think how poor we are, how much worry it is to live,
and how many things I long to do--I never can. So every day is a
battle, and I'm so tired I don't want to live, only it's cowardly to
die till you have done something." Having made this confession to an
unresponsive page of her journal, the restless nature gave up the
desire to be a coward, and turned to achieving whatever work might
come to her hand to do, little dreaming what was before her in the
coming years. She was very fine looking, of which she evidently was
conscious, for she says in her diary:

"If I look in my glass I try to keep down vanity about my long hair,
my well-shaped head, and my good nose." Besides these good points of
which she speaks so frankly, she was tall and graceful, with a heavy
mass of glossy, chestnut-brown hair. Her complexion was clear and full
of color, and her dark-blue eyes were deep-set and very expressive.

During those years in Boston, the Alcotts spent two summers in an
uncle's roomy house, where they enjoyed such comforts as had not
before fallen to their lot, and calm Anna, sweet retiring Beth, or
Betty, as she was called, and artistic May, the youngest of the flock,
revelled in having rooms of their own, and plenty of space for their
own belongings. May was a pretty, golden-haired, blue-eyed child with
decided tastes, and an ability to get what she most wanted in life
without much effort--an ability which poor Louisa entirely lacked, for
her success always came as the result of exhausting work.

Louisa was now seventeen years old, and Anna nineteen. At that time
came the small-pox siege, and after Anna had recovered partially she
was obliged to take a rest, leaving her small school in Louisa's
charge. There were twenty scholars, and it was a great responsibility
for the girl of seventeen, but she took up the work with such
enthusiasm that she managed to captivate her pupils, whose attention
she held by illustrating many of their lessons with original stories,
telling them in a way they would never forget. When Anna came back the
school was so flourishing that Louisa continued to help with the
teaching, and it seemed probable that she had found her greatest
talent, although little did she guess how many interesting avenues of
experience were to widen before her wondering eyes before she was to
settle down to her life-work.

Meanwhile she kept on helping Anna with her school, and to liven up
the daily routine of a rather dull existence she began to write
thrilling plays, which she always read to Anna, who criticized and
helped revise them with sisterly severity. The plays were acted by a
group of the girls' friends, with Anna and Louisa usually taking the
principal parts. From creating these wonderful melodramas, which
always won loud applause from an enthusiastic audience, and because of
her real ability to act, Louisa now decided that she would go on the
real stage. "Anna wants to be an actress, and so do I," she wrote in
her diary. "We could make plenty of money perhaps, and it is a very
gay life. Mother says we are too young, and must wait."

Wise mother, and firm as wise! The girls were obliged to accept her
decree, and Louisa was so depressed by it that for a time she made
every one miserable by her downcast mood. Then, fortunately, an
interested relative showed one of her plays to the manager of the
Boston Theater. He read "The Rival Prima Donnas" with kindly eyes, and
offered to stage it. Here was good luck indeed! The entire Alcott
family held as great a jubilation when they heard the news as if they
had fallen heir to a fortune, and Louisa at once forgot her ambition
to act, in her ambition to be known as a successful play-wright.

Unfortunately, there was some hitch in the arrangements, and the play
was never produced, but the manager sent Louisa a free pass to the
theater, which gave her a play-wright's pride whenever she used it,
and her enjoyment in anticipating the production had been so great
that she was able to bear the actual disappointment with real
philosophy. And by that time her mood had changed. Although she always
loved to act, and acted well, her own good sense had asserted itself,
and she had set aside a dramatic career, realizing that it included
too many difficulties and hardships.

Her next adventure was quite different. To her mother's employment
office came a gentleman who wished a companion for his old father and
sister. The position offered only light work, and seemed a good one in
every respect, and impulsive Louisa, who happened to hear the request,
asked her mother, eagerly: "Can't I go? Oh, do let _me_ take it!" Her
mother, thinking the experience would not be harmful, let her accept
the position, and as a result she had two of the most disillusioning
and hard months of her life. She had her revenge later by writing a
story called "How I Went Out to Service," in which she described the
experience in a vivid way.

An extract from her "heart journal," as she now called her diary, is a
revelation of home life which gave to Louisa much of that
understanding of human nature which has made her books so popular. She
says: "Our poor little home had much love and happiness in it, and was
a shelter for lost girls, abused wives, friendless children and weak
or wicked men. Father and mother had no money to give, but gave their
time, sympathy, help, and if blessings would make them rich they would
be millionaires. This is practical Christianity."

At that time they were living in a small house, with Beth as
housekeeper, while Anna and Louisa taught, May went to school, and the
mother attended to her own work. Mr. Alcott, too, was doing all he
could to add to the family income by his lectures, and by writing
articles on his favorite subjects, so all together, they managed to
live in some sort of fashion. But Louisa had now made up her mind that
she must do more for the comfort of the beloved mother, who was always
over-worked and worried, despite her courage and cheery manner, and
she decided to try to publish a story.

Full of the intention, one night, she sat down on the floor and
searched through the pile of papers which included most of her
"scribblings" since her first use of a pen. Plays, poems and many
other closely written sheets were thrown aside. At last she found what
she was looking for, and read and re-read it three times, then set it
aside until morning, when, with the greatest possible secrecy, she put
it in an envelope, sealed, addressed and mailed it. From that time she
went about her work with the air of one whose mind is on greater
things, but she was always wide awake enough when it came time for
some one to go for the mail, and her sisters joked her about her
eagerness for letters, which she bore good-naturedly enough. Then came
a wonderful day when she was handed a letter from a well-known firm of
publishers. Her hand shook as she opened it, and she gave a suppressed
cry of joy as she read the short note, and looked with amazement at
the bit of paper enclosed.

Later in the day, when the housework was done and school was over, she
sauntered into the room where the family was gathered in a sewing-bee.
Throwing herself into a chair with an indifferent air, she asked:

"Want to hear a good story?"

Of course they did. The Alcotts were always ready for a story, and
Louisa read extremely well. Her audience listened to the thrilling
tale with eager attention, and at the end there was a chorus of cries:
"How fine! How lovely! How interesting!" Then Anna asked: "Who wrote
it?" With shining eyes and crimson cheeks Louisa jumped to her feet
and, waving the paper overhead, cried:

"_Your sister! I wrote it!_ Yes, I really did!"

One can imagine the great excitement of the group who then clustered
around the authoress and asked questions all at once.

That first published story was pronounced by its creator to be "great
rubbish," and she only received the sum of five dollars for it, but
it was a beginning, and from that time in her active brain plots for
stories long and short began to simmer, although she still taught, and
often did sewing in the evenings, for which she was fairly well paid.

In mid-winter of 1853 Mr. Alcott went West on a lecture tour, full of
hope for a financial success. He left the home group as busy as usual,
for Mrs. Alcott had several boarders, as well as her employment
office. Anna had gone to Syracuse to teach in a school there, Louisa
had opened a home school with ten pupils, and the calm philosopher
felt that he could leave them with a quiet mind, as they were all
earning money, and this was his opportunity to broaden the field in
which the seeds of unique ideas were sown.

So off he went, full of eager courage, followed by the good wishes of
the girls, who fondly hoped that "father would be appreciated at
last." Alas for hopes! On a February night, when all the household
were sleeping soundly, the bell rang violently. All were awakened, and
Louisa says, "Mother flew down, crying 'my husband!' We rushed after,
and five white figures embraced the half-frozen wanderer who came in
tired, hungry, cold and disappointed, but smiling bravely, and as
serene as ever. We fed and warmed and brooded over him," says Louisa,
"longing to ask if he had made any money, but none did till little May
said, after he had told all the pleasant things: 'Well, did people pay
you?' Then, with a queer look, he opened his pocket-book and showed
one dollar, saying with a smile that made our eyes fill: 'Only that!
My overcoat was stolen, and I had to buy a shawl. Many promises were
not kept, and traveling is costly, but I have opened the way, and
another year shall do better.'

"I shall never forget," adds Louisa, "how beautifully mother answered
him, though the dear hopeful soul had built much on his success; but
with a beaming face she kissed him, saying, 'I call that doing _very_
well. Since you are safely home, dear, we don't ask anything more.'

"Anna and I choked down our tears, and took a lesson in real love
which we never forgot.... It was half tragic and comic, for father was
very dirty and sleepy, and mother in a big night-cap and funny old

Surely no one ever had a better opportunity to probe to the heart of
the real emotions that make up the most prosaic as well as the most
heroic daily lives than a member of that generous, happy, loving
Alcott family.

And still Louisa kept on doing other things besides the writing, which
was such a safety valve for her intense nature. For a short time she
worked for a relative in the country, and she also taught and sewed
and did housework, and made herself useful wherever her strong hands
and willing heart could find some way of earning a dollar.

The seven years spent in Boston had developed her into a capable young
woman of twenty-two, who was ready and eager to play her part in the
great drama of life of which she was an interested spectator as she
saw it constantly enacted around her.

Even then, before she had stepped across the threshold of her career,
she unconsciously realized that the home stage is the real background
of the supreme world drama, and she shows this by the intimate, tender
domestic scenes which made all of her stories bits of real life, with
a strong appeal to those whose homes are joyous parts of the present,
or sacred memories.

When she was determined to achieve an end, Louisa Alcott generally
succeeded, even in the face of obstacles; and now having decided to
take on her own broad shoulders some of the burdens which were
weighing heavily on her beloved mother, she turned to the talent which
had recently yielded her the magnificent sum of five dollars. In the
days at Concord she had told many stories about fairies and flowers
to the little Emerson children and their friends, who eagerly drank in
all the mystic tales in which wood-nymphs, water sprites, giants and
fairy queens played a prominent part, and the stories were thrilling,
because their teller believed absolutely in the fairy creatures she
pictured in a lovely setting of woodland glades and forest dells.
These stones, which she had written down and called "Flower Fables,"
she found among her papers, and as she read them again she felt that
they might interest other children as they had those to whom they were
told. She had no money to publish them, however, and no publisher
would bear the expense of a venture by an untried writer. But it took
more than that to daunt Louisa when her mind was made up. With great
enthusiasm she told a friend of the family, Miss Wealthy Stevens, of
her desire, and she generously offered to pay for publication, but it
was decided not to tell the family until the book should come out.
Then in radiant secrecy Louisa burned the midnight oil and prepared
the little book for the press. One can fancy the proud surprise of
Mrs. Alcott when, on the following Christmas morning, among her pile
of gifts she found the little volume with this note:

                                                    December 25, 1854.


     Into your Christmas stocking I have put my first-born,
     knowing that you will accept it with all its faults (for
     grandmothers are always kind) and look upon it merely as an
     earnest of what I may yet do; for with so much to cheer me
     on, I hope to pass in time from fairies and fables to men
     and realities. Whatever beauty or poetry is to be found in
     my little book is owing to your interest in, and
     encouragement of, my efforts from the first to the last, and
     if ever I do anything to be proud of, my greatest happiness
     will be that I can thank you for that, as I may do for all
     the good there is in me, and I shall be content to write if
     it gives you pleasure.

          Jo is fussing about,
          My lamp is going out.

     To dear mother, with many kind wishes for a Happy New Year
     and Merry Christmas,

                    I am ever your loving daughter,


Recompense enough, that note, for all a loving mother's sacrifices and
attempts to give her daughter understanding sympathy and love--and it
is small wonder if that Christmas gift always remained one of her most
precious possessions.

Six hundred copies of the little "Flower Fables" were published, and
the book sold very well, although their author only received the sum
of $32 for them, which was in sharp contrast, she says in her journal,
"to the receipts of six months only in 1886, being _eight thousand
dollars_ for the sale of books and no new one; but" she adds, "I was
prouder over the thirty-two dollars than the eight thousand."

Louisa Alcott was now headed toward her destiny, although she was
still a long way from the shining goal of literary success, and had
many weary hills yet to climb.

As soon as _Flower Fables_ was published, she began to plan for a new
volume of fairy tales, and as she was invited to spend the next summer
in the lovely New Hampshire village of Walpole, she thankfully
accepted the invitation, and decided to write the new book there in
the bracing air of the hill town. In Walpole, she met delightful
people, who were all attracted to the versatile, amusing young woman,
and she was in great demand when there was any entertainment on foot.
One evening she gave a burlesque lecture on "Woman, and Her Position,
by Oronthy Bluggage," which created such a gale of merriment that she
was asked to repeat it for money, which she did; and so there was
added to her store of accomplishments another, from which she was to
reap some rewards in coming years.

Her enjoyment of Walpole was so great that her family decided to try
its fine air, as they were tired of city life and needed a change of
scene. A friend offered them a house there, rent free, and in their
usual impromptu way they left Boston and arrived in the country
village, bag and baggage. Mr. Alcott was overjoyed to have a garden in
which to work, and Mrs. Alcott was glad to be near her niece, whose
guest Louisa had been up to that time.

Louisa's comment on their arrival in her diary was:

"Busy and happy times as we settle in the little house in the lane,
near by my dear ravine--plays, picnics, pleasant people and good
neighbors." Despite the good times, it is evident that she was not
idle, for she says, "Finished fairy book in September.... Better than
_Flower Fables_. Now, I must try to sell it."

In September Anna had an offer to become a teacher in the great idiot
asylum in Syracuse. Her sensitive nature shrank from the work, but
with real self-sacrifice she accepted it for the sake of the family,
and went off in October. Meanwhile Louisa had been thinking deeply
about her future, and her diary tells the story of a decision she
made, quite the most important one of her life. She writes:

"November; decided to seek my fortune, so with my little trunk of
home-made clothes, $40 earned by stories sent to the _Gazette_, and my
MSS., I set forth with mother's blessing one rainy day in the dullest
month in the year."

She went straight to Boston, where she writes:

"Found it too late to do anything with the book (the new one she had
written at Walpole) so put it away and tried for teaching, sewing, or
any honest work. Won't go home to sit idle while I have a head and a
pair of hands."

Good for you, Louisa--you are the stuff that success is made of! That
her courage had its reward is shown by the fact that her cousins, the
Sewalls, generously offered her a home for the winter with them which
she gratefully accepted, but insisted on paying for her board by doing
a great deal of sewing for them. She says in her diary: "I sew for
Mollie and others and write stories. C. gave me books to notice. Heard
Thackeray. Anxious times; Anna very home-sick. Walpole very cold and
dull, now the summer butterflies have gone. Got $5 for a tale and $12
for sewing; sent home a Christmas box to cheer the dear souls in the

In January she writes: "C. paid $6 for _A Sister's Trial_, gave me
more books to notice, and wants more tales." The entries that follow
give a vivid picture of her pluck and perseverance in that first
winter of fortune-seeking, and no record of deeds could be more
graphic than the following entries:

"Sewed for L. W. Sewall and others. Mr. Field took my farce to Mobile
to bring out; Mr. Barry of the Boston Theater has the play. Heard
Curtis lecture. Began a book for summer, _Beach Bubbles_. Mr. F. of
the _Courier_ printed a poem of mine on 'Little Nell'. Got $10 for
'Bertha' and saw great yellow placards stuck up announcing it. Acted
at the W's. March; got $10 for 'Genevieve'. Prices go up as people
like the tales and ask who wrote them.... Sewed a great deal, and got
very tired; one job for Mr. G. of a dozen pillow-cases, one dozen
sheets, six fine cambric neck-ties, and two dozen handkerchiefs, at
which I had to work all one night to get them done, ... I got only
$4.00." The brave, young fortune-seeker adds sensibly, "Sewing won't
make my fortune, but I can plan my stories while I work."

In May she had a welcome visit from Anna on her way home from
Syracuse, as the work there was too hard for her, and the sisters
spent some happy days together in Boston. Then they were obliged to go
home, as dear little Beth was very sick with scarlet-fever which she
caught from some poor children Mrs. Alcott had been nursing. Both Beth
and May had the dangerous disease, and Beth never recovered from the
effects of it, although she lived for two years, a serene, patient
invalid, who shed a benediction on the sorrowing household. That
summer was an anxious time for the family. In her usual way Louisa
plunged headlong into housework and nursing, and when night came she
would scribble one of the stories which the papers were now glad to
accept whenever she could send them. So with varying degrees of
apprehension and rejoicing, the weary months passed, and as Beth was
slowly improving and she was not needed at home, Louisa decided to
spend another winter in the city. Her diary says:

"There I can support myself and help the family. C. offers $10 a month
and perhaps more.... Others have plenty of sewing; the play may come
out, and Mrs. R. will give me a sky-parlor for $3 a week, with fire
and board. I sew for her also." With practical forethought, she adds,
"If I can get A. L. to governess I shall be all right."

Then in a burst of the real spirit which had animated her ever since
she first began to write and sew and teach and act, and make over old
clothes given her by rich friends that she need not spend any money on
herself, she declares in her diary:

"I was born with a boy's spirit under my bib and tucker. I _can't
wait_ when I _can work_; so I took my little talent in my hand and
forced the world again, braver than before, and wiser for my

That the decision was no light one, and that the winter in Boston was
not merely an adventure, is shown by her declaration:

"I don't often pray in words; but when I set out that day with all my
worldly goods in the little old trunk, my own earnings ($25) in my
pocket, and much hope and resolution in my soul, my heart was very
full, and I said to the Lord, 'Help us all, and keep us for one
another,' as I never said it before, while I looked back at the dear
faces watching me, so full of love, and hope, and faith."

Louisa Alcott's childhood and girlhood, with all the hardships and
joys which went into the passing years, had been merged in a
triumphant young womanhood--a fitting preface to the years of fame and
fortune which were to follow. A brave, interesting girl had become a
courageous older woman, who faced the untried future with her small
earnings in her pocket, her worldly goods in her trunk, and hopeful
determination in her heart to do some worth-while thing in the world,
for the sake of those she dearly loved. She had started up the steep
slope of her life's real adventuring, and despite the rough paths over
which she must still travel before reaching her goal, she was more and
more a sympathetic comrade to the weak or weary, ever a gallant
soldier, and a noble woman, born to do great deeds. So enthusiastic
was she in playing her part in the world's work, that when she was
twenty-seven years old, and still toiling on, with a scant measure of
either wealth or fame, she exclaimed at a small success:

"Hurrah! My story was accepted and Lowell asked if it was not a
translation from the German, it was so unlike other tales. I felt much
set up, and my fifty dollars will be very happy money.... I have not
been pegging away all these years in vain, and I may yet have books
and publishers, and a fortune of my own. Success has gone to my head,
and I wander a little.

"Twenty-seven years old and very happy!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The prediction of "books, publishers and a fortune" came true in 1868,
when a Boston firm urged her to write a story for girls, and she had
the idea of describing the early life of her own home, with its many
episodes and incidents. She wrote the book and called it _Little
Women_, and was the most surprised person in the world, when from her
cozy corner of Concord she watched edition after edition being
published, and found that she had become famous. From that moment
Louisa Alcott belonged to the public, and one has but to turn to the
pages of her ably edited _Life, Letters and Journals_, to realize the
source from which she got the material for her "simple story of simple
girls," bound by a beautiful tie of family love, that neither poverty,
sorrow nor death could sever. Four little pilgrims, struggling onward
and upward through all the difficulties that beset them on their way,
in Concord, Boston, Walpole and elsewhere, had provided human
documents which the genius of Louisa Alcott made into an imperishable
story for the delight and inspiration of succeeding generations of

_Little Women_ was followed by _Little Men_, _Old Fashioned Girl_,
_Eight Cousins_, _Rose in Bloom_, _Under the Lilacs_, and a long line
of other charming books for young people. And, although the incidents
in them were not all taken from real life as were those of her first
"immortal," yet was each and every book a faithful picture of
every-day life. That is where the genius of Louisa Alcott came in.
From the depicting of fairies and gnomes, princes and kings, she early
turned to paint the real, the vital and the heroic, which is being
lived in so many households where there is little money and no luxury,
but much light-hearted laughter, tender affection for one another, and
a deep and abiding love of humanity.

Well may all aspiring young Americans take example from the author of
_Little Women_, and when longing to set the world on fire in the
expression of their genius, learn not to despise or to turn away from
the simple, commonplace details of every-day life.

And for successful life and work, there is no better inspiration than
the three rules given Louisa Alcott in girlhood for her daily

     Rule yourself;
     Love your neighbor;
     Do the duty which lies nearest you.


A certain young person who lived in a boarding-house in the city of
Cleveland, Ohio, was approaching her thirteenth birthday, which fact
made her feel very old, and also very anxious to do some kind of work,
as she saw her mother busily engaged from morning to night, in an
effort to earn a living for her young daughter and herself.

Spring came in that year with furious heat, and the young person,
seeing her mother cruelly over-worked, felt hopelessly big and
helpless. The humiliation of having some one working to support
her--and with the dignity of thirteen years close upon her, was more
than she could bear. Locking herself into her small room, she flung
herself on her knees and with a passion of tears prayed that God would
help her.

"Dear God," she cried, "just pity me and show me what to do. Please!"
Her entreaty was that of the child who has perfect confidence in the
Father to whom she is speaking. "Help me to help my mother. If you
will, I'll never say 'No!' to any woman who comes to me all my life

In her story of her life, which the young person wrote many years
later, she says, in telling of that agonized plea: "My error in trying
to barter with my Maker must have been forgiven, for my prayer was
answered within a week.... I have tried faithfully to keep my part of
the bargain, for no woman who has ever sought my aid has ever been
answered with a 'No!'"

Somewhat relieved at having made known her longing to Some One whom
she believed would understand and surely help, the young person went
through the dreary routine of boarding-house days more cheerfully, to
her mother's joy. And at night, when she lay tossing and trying to
sleep despite the scorching heat, she seemed to be reviewing the
thirteen years of her existence as if she were getting ready to
pigeon-hole the past, to make ready for a fuller future.

With clear distinctness she remembered having been told by her mother,
in the manner of old-fashioned tellers, that, "Once upon a time, in
the Canadian city of Toronto, in the year 1849, on the 17th of
March--the day of celebrating the birth of good old St. Patrick, in a
quiet house not far from the sound of the marching paraders, the
rioting of revelers and the blare of brass bands, a young person was
born." Memory carried on the story, as she lay there in the dark,
still hours of the night, and she repeated to herself the oft-told
tale of those few months she and her mother spent in the Canadian city
before they journeyed back to the United States, where in Cleveland
the mother tried many different kinds of occupations by which to
support the child and herself. It was a strange life the young person
remembered in those early days. She and her mother had to flit so
often--suddenly, noiselessly. Often she remembered being roused from a
sound sleep, sometimes being simply wrapped up without being dressed,
and carried through the dark to some other place of refuge. Then, too,
when other children walked in the streets or played, bare-headed or
only with hat on, she wore a tormenting and heavy veil over her face.
At an early age she began to notice that if a strange lady spoke to
her the mother seemed pleased, but if a man noticed her she looked
frightened, and hurried her away as fast as possible. At first this
was all a mystery to the child, but later she understood that the
great fear in her mother's eyes, and the hasty flights, were all to be
traced to a father who had not been good to the brave mother, and so
she had taken her little girl and fled from him. But he always found
her and begged for the child. Only too well the young person
remembered some of those scenes of frantic appeal on the father's
side, of angry refusal by her mother, followed always by another hasty
retreat to some new place of concealment. At last--never-to-be
forgotten day--there was a vivid recollection of the time when the
father asserted brutally that "he would make life a misery to her
until she gave up the child"--that "by fair means or foul he would
gain his end." Soon afterward he did kidnap the young person, but the
mother was too quick for him, and almost immediately her child was in
her own arms again.

This necessary habit of concealment, and also the mother's need to
earn her own living, made life anything but an easy matter for them
both. The mother's terror lest her child be taken from her again made
her fear to allow the little girl to walk out alone, even for a short
distance, and in such positions as the older woman was able to secure,
it was always with the promise that the child should be no nuisance.
And so the young person grew up in a habit of self-effacement, and of
sitting quietly in corners where she could not be seen or heard,
instead of playing with other children of her own age. Then came a
great hope, which even as she lay in bed and thought about it, brought
the tears to her eyes, she had so longed to have it come true.

When she was six years old, she and her mother had been living in a
boarding-house in Cleveland, where there was a good-natured actress
boarding, who took such a fancy to the shy little girl who was always
sitting in a corner reading a book, that one day she approached the
astonished mother with a proposition to adopt her daughter. Seeing
surprise on the mother's face, she frankly told of her position, her
income and her intention to give the girl a fine education. She
thought a convent school would be desirable, from then, say, until the
young person was seventeen.

The mother was really tempted by the offer of a good education, which
she saw no way to give her daughter, and might have accepted it if the
actress had not added:

"When she reaches the age of seventeen, I will place her on the

That ended the matter. The mother was horror-stricken, and could
hardly make her refusal clear and decided enough. Even when her
employer tried to make her see that by her refusal she might be doing
her daughter a great injustice, she said, sharply: "It would be better
for her to starve trying to lead an honorable life, than to be exposed
to such publicity and such awful temptations." And thus, in ignorance
of what the future had in store for her child, did she close the door
on a golden opportunity for developing her greatest talent, and the
young person's first dream of freedom and a fascinating career had
come to grief. As she reviewed her disappointment and the dreary days
that followed, a flood of self-pity welled up in the girl's heart, and
she felt as if she must do something desperate to quiet her restless

Fortunately the disappointment was followed by a welcome change of
scene, for mother and daughter left Cleveland and went to try their
fortunes in what was then "the far west." After a long trip by rail
and a thirty-mile drive across the prairie, they arrived at their
journey's end, and the marvelous quiet of the early May night in the
country soothed the older woman's sore heart and filled the child with
the joy of a real adventure.

They remained in that beautiful world beyond the prairie for two
years, and never did the charm of the backwoods's life pall on the
growing girl, who did not miss the city sights and sounds, but exulted
in the new experiences as, "with the other children on the farm, she
dropped corn in the sun-warmed furrows, while a man followed behind
with a hoe covering it up; and when it had sprouted and was a tempting
morsel for certain black robbers of the field, she made a very active
and energetic young scarecrow."

While the out-of-door life was a fine thing for the young person,
still more to her advantage was it that she was now thrown with other
children, who were happy, hearty, rollicking youngsters, and, seeing
that the stranger was new to farm-life, had rare fun at her expense.
For instance, as she later told:

"They led me forth to a pasture, shortly after our arrival at the
farm, and, catching a horse, they hoisted me up on to its bare,
slippery back. I have learned a good bit about horses since then," she
says, "have hired, borrowed and bought them, but never since have I
seen a horse of such appalling aspect. His eyes were the size of
soup-plates, large clouds of smoke came from his nostrils. He had a
glass-enamelled surface, and if he was half as tall as he felt, some
museum manager missed a fortune. Then the young fiends, leaving me on
my slippery perch, high up near the sky, drew afar off and stood
against the fence, and gave me plenty of room to fall off. But when I
suddenly felt the world heave up beneath me, I uttered a wild
shriek--clenched my hands in the animal's black hair and, madly
flinging propriety to any point of the compass that happened to be
behind me, I cast one pantalette over the enameled back, and thus
astride safely crossed the pasture--and lo, it was not I who fell, but
their faces instead! When they came to take me down somehow the animal
seemed shrunken, and I hesitated about leaving it, whereupon the
biggest boy said I had 'pluck.' I had been frightened nearly to death,
but I always could be silent at the proper moment; I was silent then,
and he would teach me to ride sideways, for my mother would surely
punish me if I sat astride like that. In a few weeks, thanks to him,
I was the one who was oftenest trusted to take the horses to water at
noon, riding sideways and always bare-back, mounted on one horse and
leading a second to the creek, until all had had their drink. Which
habit of riding--from balance--" the young person adds, "has made me
quite independent of stirrups since those far-away days."

Besides the riding, there were many other delightful pastimes which
were a part of life on the farm, and on rainy days, when the children
could not play out of doors, they would flock to the big barn, and
listen eagerly to stories told by the city girl, who had read them in
books. Two precious years passed all too swiftly on the farm, and the
young person was fast shooting up into a tall, slender girl, who had
learned a love of nature in all its forms, which never left her. She
had also grown stronger, which satisfied her mother that the
experiment had been successful. But now there was education to be
thought of, and when news came of the death of that father, who had
been the haunting specter of the mother's life, they went back at once
to Cleveland, where the mother obtained employment, and the growing
daughter was sent to a public school. But at best it gave a meager
course of study to one who had always been a reader of every book on
which she could lay her hands. To make the dreary, daily routine less
tiresome, she supplemented it by a series of "thinks." These usually
took place at night after her candle had been blown out, and the young
person generally fell asleep in a white robe and a crown of flowers,
before she had gathered up all the prizes and diplomas and things she
had earned in the world of reverie, where her dream self had been

And now came the approach of her thirteenth birthday, and her plea
that she might be made more useful in the world. And then, came this:

In the boarding-house where she and her mother were living, the
mother acting as assistant to the manager, the young person occupied
with enduring her monotonous existence and with watching the boarders,
there were two actresses, a mother and daughter. The daughter, whose
name was Blanche, was only a year or two older than the young person
whose eyes followed her so eagerly, because Blanche was one of those
marvelous creatures whose real life was lived behind the foot-lights.

Something in the silent, keen-eyed girl who was so near her own age
attracted Blanche, and the two became good friends, spending many an
hour together when the young person was not in school. In exchange for
her thrilling stories of stage life, Blanche's new friend would tell
vivid tales which she had read in books, to all of which good-natured
Blanche would listen with lazy interest, and at the finish of the
narrative often exclaimed:

"You ought to be in a theater. You could act!"

Although this assertion was always met by determined silence, as her
friend thought she was being made fun of, yet the young person did not
fail to brood over the statement when she was alone. Could there be
any truth in the statement, she wondered? Then came a marvelous event.
Blanche hurried home from the theater one day to tell her young friend
that extra ballet girls were wanted in their company. She must go at
once and get engaged.

"But," gasped the young person, "maybe they won't take me!"

"Well," answered Blanche, "I've coaxed your mother, and my mother says
she'll look out for you--so at any rate, go and see. I'll take you

To-morrow! "Dimly the agitated and awed young person seemed to see a
way opening out before her, and again behind her locked door she knelt
down and said 'Dear God! Dear God!' and got no further, because grief
has so many words, and joy has so few."

That was Friday, and the school term had closed that day. The next
morning, with a heart beating almost to suffocation, the young person
found herself on the way to the theater, with self-possessed Blanche,
who led the way to the old Academy of Music. Entering the building,
the girls went up-stairs, and as they reached the top step Blanche
called to a small, dark man who was hurrying across the hall:

"Oh, Mr. Ellsler--wait a moment, please--I want to speak to you."

The man stopped, but with an impatient frown, for as he himself
afterward said in relating the story:

"I was much put out about a business matter, and was hastily crossing
the corridor when Blanche called me, and I saw she had another girl in
tow, a girl whose appearance in a theater was so droll I must have
laughed had I not been more than a little cross. Her dress was quite
short--she wore a pale-blue apron buttoned up the back, long braids
tied at the ends with ribbons, and a brown straw hat, while she
clutched desperately at the handle of the biggest umbrella I ever saw.
Her eyes were distinctly blue and big with fright. Blanche gave her
name, and said she wanted to go in the ballet. I instantly answered
that she was too small--I wanted women, not children. Blanche was
voluble, but the girl herself never spoke a single word. I glanced
toward her and stopped. The hands that clutched the umbrella
trembled--she raised her eyes and looked at me. I had noticed their
blueness a moment before, now they were almost black, so swiftly had
their pupils dilated, and slowly the tears rose in them. All the
father in me shrank under the child's bitter disappointment; all the
actor in me thrilled at the power of expression in the girl's face,
and I hastily added:

"'Oh, well, you may come back in a day or two, and if any one appears
meantime who is short enough to march with you, I'll take you on.' Not
until I had reached my office did I remember that the girl had not
spoken a single word, but had won an engagement--for I knew I should
engage her--with a pair of tear-filled eyes."

As a result of his half-promise, three days later, the young person
again presented herself at the theater, and was engaged for the term
of two weeks to go on the stage in the marches and dances of a play
called "The Seven Sisters," for which she was to receive the large sum
of fifty cents a night. She, who was later to be known as one of the
great emotional actresses of her day, whose name was to be on every
lip where the finest in dramatic art was appreciated, had begun to
mount the ladder toward fame and fortune.

Very curiously and cautiously she picked her way around the stage at
first, looking at the scenes, so fine on one side, so bare and cheap
on the other; at the tarletan "glass windows," at the green calico sea
lying flat and waveless on the floor. At last she asked Blanche:

"Is everything only make-believe in a theater?"

And Blanche, with the indifference of her lackadaisical nature
answered, "Yes, everything's make-believe, except salary day."

Then came the novice's first rehearsal, which included a Zouave drill
to learn, as well as a couple of dances. She went through her part
with keen relish and learned the drill so quickly that on the second
day she sat watching the others, while they struggled to learn the
movements. As she sat watching the star came along and angrily
demanded, "Why are you not drilling with the rest?"

"The gentleman sent me out of the ranks, sir," she answered, "because
he said I knew the manual and the drill."

The star refused to believe this and, catching up a rifle, he cried:
"Here, take hold, and let's see how much you know. Now, then, shoulder

Standing alone, burning with blushes, blinded with tears of
mortification, she was put through her paces, but she really did know
the drill, and it was no small reward for her misery when her
persecutor took the rifle from her and exclaimed:

"Well, saucer-eyes, you do know it! I'm sorry, little girl, I spoke so
roughly to you!" Holding out his hand to her, he added, "You ought to
stay in this business--you've got your head with you!"

Stay in it! The question was would the manager want her when the fatal
night of her first stage appearance had come and gone!

In those days of rehearsals, costumes were one of her most vital
interests; for a ballet girl's dress is most important, as there is so
little of it, that it must be perfect of its kind. The ballet of which
the young person was now a member were supposed to be fairies in one
dance. For the second act they wore dancing-skirts, and for the Zouave
drill, they wore the regular Fire Zouave uniform.

At last, the first performance of the play came. It was a very hot
night, and so crowded was the tiny dressing-room occupied by the
ballet corps, that some of the girls had to stand on the one chair
while they put their skirts on. The confusion was great, and the
new-comer dressed as quickly as possible, escaped down-stairs, and
showed herself to Blanche and her mother, to see if her make-up was
all right.

To her surprise, after a moment of tense silence they both burst into
loud laughter, their eyes staring into her face. In telling of that
night later, she said; "I knew you had to put on powder, because the
gas made you yellow, and red because the powder made you ghastly, but
it had not occurred to me that skill was required in applying the
same, and I was a sight to make any kindly disposed angel weep! I had
not even sense enough to free my eyelashes from the powder clinging to
them. My face was chalk white, and low down on my cheeks were nice
round, bright red spots.

"Mrs. Bradshaw said: 'With your round blue eyes and your round white
and red face, you look like a cheap china doll. Come here, my dear!'

"She dusted off a few thicknesses of the powder, removed the hard red
spots, and while she worked she remarked; 'To-morrow, after you have
walked to get a color, go to your glass and see where the color shows
itself.... Of course, when you are making up for a character part you
go by a different rule, but when you are just trying to look pretty,
be guided by Nature.' As she talked, I felt the soft touch of a hare's
foot on my burning cheeks and she continued her work until my face was
as it should be to make the proper effect.

"That lesson was the beginning and the ending of my theatrical
instruction. What I learned later was learned by observation, study,
and direct inquiry--but never by instruction, either free or paid

And now the moment of stage entry had arrived. "One act of the play
represented the back of a stage during a performance. The scenes were
turned around with their unpainted sides to the audience. The
scene-shifters and gas-men were standing about; everything was
supposed to be going up. The manager was giving orders wildly, and
then a dancer was late. She was called frantically, and finally, when
she appeared on the run, the manager caught her by the shoulders,
rushed her across the stage, and fairly pitched her onto the imaginary
stage, to the great amusement of the audience. The tallest and
prettiest girl in the ballet had been picked out to do this bit of
work, and she had been rehearsed day after day with the greatest care
for the small part.

"All were gathered together ready for their first entrance and dance,
which followed a few moments after the scene already described. The
tall girl had a queer look on her face as she stood in her place; her
cue came, but she never moved.

"I heard the rushing footsteps of the stage-manager; 'That's you,' he
shouted; 'Go on! Go on! Run! Run!' Run? She seemed to have grown fast
to the floor....

"'Are you going on?' cried the frantic prompter.

"She dropped her arms limply at her sides and whispered;

"He turned, and as he ran his imploring eye over the line of faces,
each girl shrank back from it. He reached me. I had no fear, and he
saw it.

"'Can you go on there?' he cried. I nodded.

"'Then for God's sake go--go!'

"I gave a bound and a rush that carried me half across the stage
before the manager caught me, and so, I made my first entrance on the
stage, and danced and marched and sang with the rest, and all
unconsciously took my first step on the path that I was to follow
through shadow and through sunshine--to follow by steep and stony
places, over threatening bogs, through green and pleasant meadows--to
follow steadily and faithfully for many and many a year to come."

To the surprise of every one, when salary day came around the new
ballet girl did not go to claim her week's pay. Even on the second she
was the last one to appear at the box-office window. Mr. Ellsler
himself was there, and he opened the door and asked her to come in. As
she signed her name, she paused so noticeably that he laughed, and
said, "Don't you know your own name?"

The fact was, on the first day of rehearsal, when the stage-manager
had taken down all names, he called out to the latest comer, who was
staring at the scenery and did not hear him:

"Little girl, what is your name?"

Some one standing near him volunteered: "Her name is Clara Morris, or
Morrissey or Morrison, or something like that." At once he had written
down _Morris_--dropping the last syllable from her rightful name. So
when Mr. Ellsler asked, "Don't you know your name?" it was the moment
to have set the matter straight, but the young person was far too shy.
She made no reply, but signed up and received two weeks' salary as
Clara Morris, by which name she was known ever afterward.

In her story of life on the stage, she says, "After having gratefully
accepted my two weeks' earnings, Mr. Ellsler asked me why I had not
come the week before. I told him I preferred to wait because it would
seem so much more if I got both weeks' salary all at one time. He
nodded gravely, and said, 'It was rather a large sum to have in hand
at one time,' and though I was very sensitive to ridicule, I did not
suspect him of making fun of me. Then he said:

"'You are a very intelligent little girl, and when you went on alone
and unrehearsed the other night, you proved you had both adaptability
and courage. I'd like to keep you in the theater. Will you come and be
a regular member of the company for the season that begins in
September next?'

"I think it must have been my ears that stopped my ever-widening
smile, while I made answer that I must ask my mother first.

"'To be sure,' said he, 'to be sure! Well, suppose you ask her then,
and let me know whether you can or not.'"

She says, "Looking back and speaking calmly, I must admit that I do
not now believe Mr. Ellsler's financial future depended entirely upon
the yes or no of my mother and myself; but that I was on an errand of
life or death every one must have thought who saw me tearing through
the streets on that ninety-in-the-shade day.... One man ran out
hatless and coatless and looked anxiously up the street in the
direction from which I came. A big boy on the corner yelled after me:
'Sa-ay, sis, where's the fire?' But, you see they did not know that I
was carrying home my first real earnings, that I was clutching six
damp one-dollar bills in the hands that had been so empty all my life!

"I had meant to take off my hat and smooth my hair, and with a proper
little speech approach my mother, and then hand her the money. But
alas! as I rushed into the house I came upon her unexpectedly, for,
fearing dinner was going to be late, she was hurrying things by
shelling a great basket of peas as she sat by the dining-room window.
At sight of her tired face all my nicely planned speech disappeared. I
flung my arm about her neck, dropped the bills on top of the empty
pods and cried:

"'Oh, mother, that's mine and it's all yours!'

"She kissed me, but to my grieved amazement put the money back into my
hand and said, 'No, you have earned this money yourself--you are to do
with it exactly as you please.'"

And that was why, the next morning, a much-excited and very rich young
person took a journey to the stores, and as a result bought a
lavender-flowered muslin dress which, when paid for, had made quite a
large hole in the six dollars. By her expression and manner she
plainly showed how proud and happy she was to be buying a dress for
the mother who for thirteen years had been doing and buying for two.
"Undoubtedly," says Miss Morris, "had there been a fire just then I
would have risked my life to save that flowered muslin gown."

Up to that time, the only world Clara Morris had known had been narrow
and sordid, and lay chill under the shadow of poverty.... Now,
standing humbly at the knee of Shakespeare, she began to learn
something of another world--fairy-like in fascination, marvelous in
reality. A world of sunny days and jeweled nights, of splendid
palaces, caves, of horrors, forests of mystery, and meadows of smiling
candor. All people, too, with such soldiers, statesmen, lovers,
clowns, such women of splendid honor, fierce ambition, thistle-down
lightness, as makes the heart beat fast to think of.

That was the era of Shakesperian performances, and out of twenty-eight
stars who played with the support of Mr. Ellsler's company, eighteen
acted in the famous classic plays. All stars played a week's
engagement, some two, so at least half of the season of forty-two
weeks was given over to Shakespeare's plays, and every actor and
actress had his lines at their tongues' tips, while there were endless
discussions about the best rendering of famous passages.

"I well remember," says Miss Morris, "my first step into theatrical
controversy. 'Macbeth' was being rehearsed, and the star had just
exclaimed: 'Hang out our banners on the outward walls!' That was
enough--argument was on. It grew animated. Some were for: 'Hang out
our banners! On the outward walls the cry is still, they come!' while
one or two were with the star's reading.

"I stood listening, and looking on, and fairly sizzling with hot
desire to speak, but dared not take the liberty. Presently an actor,
noticing my eagerness, laughingly said:

"'Well, what is it, Clara? You'll have a fit if you don't ease your
mind with speech.'

"'Oh, Uncle Dick,' I answered, my words fairly tripping over one
another in my haste, 'I have a picture home, I cut out of a paper;
it's a picture of a great castle with towers and moats and things, and
on the outer walls are men with spears and shields, and they seem to
be looking for the enemy, and, Uncle Dick, the _banner_ is floating
over the high tower! So, don't you think it ought to be read: "Hang
out our banners! On the outward walls"--the outward wall, you know, is
where the lookouts are standing--"the cry is still, they come!"'

"A general laugh followed my excited explanation, but Uncle Dick
patted me on the shoulder and said:

"'Good girl, you stick to your picture--it's right, and so are you.
Many people read that line that way, but you have worked it out for
yourself, and that's a good plan to follow.'

"And," says Miss Morris, "I swelled and swelled, it seemed to me, I
was so proud of the gentle old man's approval. But that same night I
came woefully to grief. I had been one of the crowd of 'witches.'
Later, being off duty, I was, as usual, planted in the entrance,
watching the acting of the grown-ups and grown-greats. Lady Macbeth
was giving the sleep-walking scene, in a way that jarred upon my
feelings. I could not have told why, but it did. I believed myself
alone, and when the memory-haunted woman roared out:

"'Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much _blood_
in him?' I remarked, under my breath. 'Did you expect to find ink in

"A sharp 'ahem' right at my shoulder told me I had been overheard, and
I turned to face--oh, horror! the stage-manager. He glared angrily at
me and demanded my ideas on the speech, which in sheer desperation at
last I gave, saying:

"'I thought Lady Macbeth was amazed at the _quantity_ of blood that
flowed from the body of such an old man--for when you get old, you
know, sir, you don't have so much blood as you used to, and I only
thought that, as the "sleeping men were laced, and the knives smeared
and her hands bathed with it," she might perhaps have whispered, "Yet
who would have thought the old man to have so _much_ blood in him?"' I
didn't mean an impertinence. Down fell the tears, for I could not talk
and hold them back at the same time.

"He looked at me in dead silence for a few moments, then he said:
'Humph!' and walked away, while I rushed to the dressing-room and
cried and cried, and vowed that never, never again would I talk to
myself--in the theater, at all events.

"Only a short time afterward I had a proud moment when I was allowed
to go on as the longest witch in the caldron scene in 'Macbeth.'
Perhaps I might have come to grief over it had I not overheard the
leading man say: 'That child will never speak those lines in the
world!' And the leading man was six feet tall and handsome, and I was
thirteen and a half years old, and to be called a child!

"I was in a secret rage, and I went over and over my lines at all
hours, under all circumstances, so that nothing should be able to
frighten me at night. And then, with my pasteboard crown and white
sheet and petticoat, I boiled up in the caldron and gave my lines well
enough for the manager to say low:

"'Good! Good!' and the leading man next night asked me to take care of
his watch and chain during his combat scene, and," says Miss Morris,
"my pride of bearing was unseemly, and the other girls loved me not at
all, for, you see, they, too, knew he was six feet tall and handsome."

The theatrical company of which Clara Morris had become a member was
what was called by the profession, a "family theater," in which the
best parts are apt to be absorbed by the manager and his family, while
all the poor ones are placed with strict justice where they belong. At
that time, outside of the star who was being supported, men and women
were engaged each for a special line of business, to which "line"
they were strictly kept. However much the "family theater" was
disliked by her comrades in the profession, it was indeed an ideal
place for a young girl to begin her stage life in. The manager, Mr.
Ellsler, was an excellent character actor; his wife, Mrs. Ellsler, was
his leading woman--his daughter, Effie, though not out of school at
that time, acted whenever there was a very good part that suited her.
Other members of the company were mostly related in some way, and so
it came about that there was not even the "pink flush of a flirtation
over the first season," in fact, says Miss Morris, "during all the
years I served in that old theater, no real scandal ever smirched it."
She adds: "I can never be grateful enough for having come under the
influence of the dear woman who watched over me that first season,
Mrs. Bradshaw, the mother of Blanche, one of the most devoted
actresses I ever saw, and a good woman besides. From her I learned
that because one is an actress it is not necessary to be a slattern.
She used to say:

"'You know at night the hour of morning rehearsal--then get up fifteen
minutes earlier, and leave your room in order. Everything an actress
does is commented on, and as she is more or less an object of
suspicion, her conduct should be even more correct than that of other
women.' She also repeated again and again, 'Study your lines--speak
them just as they are written. Don't just gather the idea of a speech,
and then use your own words--that's an infamous habit. The author knew
what he wanted you to say. If he says, "My lord, the carriage waits,"
don't you go on and say, "My lord, the carriage is waiting!"'"

These and many other pieces of valuable advice were stored up in Clara
Morris's mind, and she made such good use of them that they bore rich
fruit in later years.

There was great consternation for mother and daughter, on a certain
day when Clara brought home the startling news that the company was
to be transferred to Columbus, Ohio, for the remainder of the season.
It was a great event in the young actress's life, as it meant leaving
her mother and standing alone. But as she confesses: "I felt every now
and then my grief and fright pierced through and through with a
delicious thrill of importance; I was going to be just like a
grown-up, and would decide for myself what I should wear. I might
even, if I chose to become so reckless, wear my Sunday hat to a
rehearsal, and when my cheap little trunk came, with C. M. on the end,
showing it was my very own, I stooped down and hugged it." But she
adds with honesty, "Later, when my mother, with a sad face, separated
my garments from her own, I burst into sobs of utter forlornness."

The salary of the ballet corps was now raised to $5 a week, and all
set to work to try to solve the riddle of how a girl was to pay her
board bill, her basket bill, her washing bill, and all the small
expenses of the theater--powder, paint, soap, hair-pins, etc.--to say
nothing of shoes and clothing, out of her earnings. Clara Morris and
the Bradshaws solved the problem in the only possible way by rooming
together in a large top-floor room, where they lived with a
comparative degree of comfort, and with less loneliness for Clara than
she could have felt elsewhere.

During that first season she learned to manage her affairs and to take
care of herself and her small belongings, without admonition from any
one. At the same time she was learning much of the technique of the
profession, and was deeply interested as she began to understand how
illusions are produced. She declares that one of the proofs that she
was meant to be an actress was her enjoyment of the mechanism of stage

"I was always on hand when a storm had to be worked," she says, "and
would grind away with a will at a crank that, turning against a tight
band of silk, made the sound of a tremendously shrieking wind. And no
one sitting in front of the house, looking at a white-robed woman
ascending to heaven, apparently floating upward through the blue
clouds, enjoyed the spectacle more than I enjoyed looking at the
ascent from the rear, where I could see the tiny iron support for her
feet, the rod at her back with the belt holding her securely about the
waist, and the men hoisting her through the air, with a painted,
sometimes moving sky behind her.

"This reminds me," says Miss Morris, "that Mrs. Bradshaw had several
times to go to heaven (dramatically speaking), and as her figure and
weight made the support useless, she always went to heaven on the
entire gallery, as it is called, a long platform the whole width of
the stage, which is raised and lowered by windlass. The enormous
affair would be cleaned and hung about with nice white clouds, and
then Mrs. Bradshaw, draped in long white robes, with hands meekly
crossed upon her breast and eyes piously uplifted, would rise
heavenward, slowly, as so heavy an angel should. But alas! There was
one drawback to this otherwise perfect ascension. Never, so long as
the theater stood, could that windlass be made to work silently. It
always moved up or down to a succession of screaks, unoilable,
blood-curdling, that were intensified by Mrs. Bradshaw's weight, so
that she ascended to the blue tarletan heaven accompanied by such
chugs and long-drawn yowlings as suggested a trip to the infernal
regions. Her face remained calm and unmoved, but now and then an
agonized moan escaped her, lest even the orchestra's effort to cover
up the support's protesting cries should prove useless. Poor woman,
when she had been lowered again to _terra firma_ and stepped off, the
whole paint frame would give a kind of joyous upward spring. She
noticed it, and one evening looked back and said; 'Oh, you're not one
bit more glad than I am, you screaking wretch!'"

Having successfully existed through the Columbus season, in the spring
the company was again in Cleveland, playing for a few weeks before
disbanding for that horror of all theatrical persons--the summer

As her mother was in a position, and could not be with Clara, the
young actress spent the sweltering months in a cheap boarding-house,
where a kindly landlady was willing to let her board bill run over
until the fall, when salaries should begin again. Clara never forgot
that kindness, for she was in real need of rest after her first season
of continuous work. Although her bright eyes, clear skin, and round
face gave an impression of perfect health, yet she was far from
strong, owing partly to the privations of her earlier life and to a
slight injury to her back in babyhood. Because of this, she was facing
a life of hard work handicapped by that most cruel of torments, a
spinal trouble, which an endless number of different treatments failed
to cure.

Vacation ended, to her unspeakable joy she began work again as a
member of the ballet corps, and during that season and the next her
ability to play a part at short notice came to be such an accepted
fact that more than once she was called on for work outside of her
regular "line," to the envy of the other girls, who began to talk of
"Clara's luck." "But," says Clara, "there was no luck about it. My
small success can be explained in two words--extra work." While the
others were content if they could repeat a part perfectly to
themselves in their rooms, that was only the beginning of work to
their more determined companion. "I would repeat those lines," said
Miss Morris, "until, had the very roof blown off the theater at night,
I should not have missed one." And so it was that the youngest member
of the ballet corps came to be looked on as a general-utility person,
who could be called on at a moment's notice to play the part of queen
or clown, boy or elderly woman, as was required.

Mr. Ellsler considered that the young girl had a real gift for comedy,
and when Mr. Dan Setchell, the comedian, played with the company, she
was given a small part, which she played with such keen perception of
the points where a "hit" could be made, that at last the audience
broke into a storm of laughter and applause. Mr. Setchell had another
speech, but the applause was so insistent that he knew it would be an
anti-climax and signaled the prompter to ring down the curtain. But
Clara Morris knew that he ought to speak, and was much frightened by
the effect of her business, which had so captured the fancy of the
audience, for she knew that the applause belonged to the star as a
matter of professional etiquette. She stood trembling like a leaf,
until the comedian came and patted her kindly on the shoulder, saying:

"Don't be frightened, my girl--that applause was for you. You won't be
fined or scolded--you've made a hit, that's all!"

But even the pleasant words did not soothe the tempest of emotion
surging in the young girl's heart. She says:

"I went to my room, I sat down with my head in my hands. Great drops
of sweat came out on my temples. My hands were icy cold, my mouth was
dry--that applause rang in my ears. A cold terror seized on me--a
terror of what? Ah, a tender mouth was bitted and bridled at last! The
reins were in the hands of the public, and it would drive me, where?"

As she sat there, in her hideous make-up, in a state of despair and
panic, she suddenly broke into shrill laughter. Two women came in, and
one said; "Why, what on earth's the matter? Have they blown you up for
your didoes to-night? What need you care. You pleased the audience."
The other said, quietly: "Just get a glass of water for her; she has
a touch of hysteria. I wonder who caused it?" No person had caused it.
Clara Morris was merely waking from a sound sleep, unconsciously
visioning that woman of the dim future who was to conquer the public
in her portrayal of great elemental human emotion.

With incessant work and study, and a firm determination to stop short
of nothing less than the perfection of art, those early years of Clara
Morris's life on the stage went swiftly by, and in her third season
she was more than ever what she herself called "the dramatic
scrape-goat of the company," one who was able to play any part at a
moment's notice.

"This reputation was heightened when one day, an actor falling
suddenly sick, Mr. Ellsler, with a furrowed brow, begged Clara to play
the part. Nothing daunted, the challenge was calmly accepted, and in
one afternoon she studied the part of King Charles, in 'Faint Heart
Never Won Fair Lady,' and played it in borrowed clothes and without
any rehearsal whatever, other than finding the situations plainly
marked in the book! It was an astonishing thing to do, and she was
showered with praise for the performance; but even this success did
not better her fortunes, and she went on playing the part of boys and
old women, or singing songs when forced to it, going on for poor
leading parts even, and between times dropping back into the ballet,
standing about in crowds, or taking part in a village dance."

It was certainly an anomalous position she held in Mr. Ellsler's
company--but she accepted its ups and downs without resistance, taking
whatever part came to hand, gaining valuable experience from every new
rôle assigned her, and hoping for a time when the returns from her
work would be less meager.

She was not yet seventeen when the German star, Herr Daniel Bandmann,
came to play with the company. He was to open with "Hamlet," and Mrs.
Bradshaw, who by right should have played the part of Queen Mother,
was laid up with a broken ankle. Miss Morris says: "It took a good
deal in the way of being asked to do strange parts to startle me, but
the Queen Mother did it. I was just nicely past sixteen, and I was to
go on the stage for the serious Shakesperian mother of a star. Oh, I

"Can't be helped--no one else," growled Mr. Ellsler; "Just study your
lines, right away, and do the best you can."

"I had been brought up to obey," says Miss Morris, "and I obeyed. The
dreaded morning of rehearsal came. There came a call for the Queen. I
came forward. Herr Bandmann glanced at me, half smiled, waved his
arms, and said, 'Not you, not the _Player-Queen_, but GERTRUDE.'

"I faintly answered, 'I'm sorry, sir, but I have to play Gertrude!'

"'Oh no, you won't!' he cried, 'not with me!' Then, turning to Mr.
Ellsler, he lost his temper and only controlled it when he was told
that there was no one else to take the part; if he would not play with
me, the theater must be closed for the night. Then he calmed down and
condescended to look the girl over who was to play such an
inappropriate rôle.

"The night came--a big house, too, I remember," says Miss Morris. "I
wore long and loose garments to make me look more matronly, but, alas,
the drapery Queen Gertrude wears was particularly becoming to me and
brought me uncommonly near to prettiness. Mr. Ellsler groaned, but
said nothing, while Mr. Bandmann sneered out an '_Ach Himmel!_' and
shrugged his shoulders, as if dismissing the matter as hopeless."

But it was not. "As Bandmann's great scene advanced to its climax, so
well did the young Queen Mother play up to Hamlet, that the applause
was rapturous. The curtain fell, and to her utter amaze she found
herself lifted high in the air and crushed to Hamlet's bosom, with a
crackling sound of breaking Roman pearls and in a whirlwind of German
exclamations, kissed on brow, cheeks and eyes. Then disjointed English
came forth; 'Oh, you are so great, you _kleine_ apple-cheeked girl!
You maker of the fraud--you so great, nobody. _Ach_, you are fire--you
have pride--you are a Gertrude who have shame!' More kisses, then
suddenly realizing that the audience was still applauding, he dragged
her before the curtain, he bowed, he waved his hands, he threw one arm
around my shoulders. 'He isn't going to do it all over again--out
here, is he?' thought the victim of his enthusiasm, and began backing
out of sight as quickly as possible."

That amusing experience led to one of the most precious memories of
Clara Morris's career, when, a month after the departure of the
impetuous German, who should be announced to play with the company but
Mr. Edwin Booth. As Clara Morris read the cast of characters, she
says, "I felt my eyes growing wider as I saw--

     QUEEN GERTRUDE............Miss Morris.

"I had succeeded before, oh yes, but this was a different matter. All
girls have their gods--some have many of them. My gods were few, and
on the highest pedestal of all, grave and gentle, stood the god of my
professional idolatry--Edwin Booth. It was humiliating to be forced on
any one as I should be forced upon Mr. Booth, since there was still
none but my 'apple-cheeked' self to go on for the Queen, and though I
dreaded complaint and disparaging remarks from him, I was honestly
more unhappy over the annoyance this blemish on the cast would cause
him. But it could not be helped, so I wiped my eyes, repeated my
childish little old-time 'Now I lay me,' and went to sleep.

"The dreaded Monday came, and at last--the call, 'Mr. Booth would
like to see you for a few moments in his room.'

"He was dressed for Hamlet when I entered. He looked up, smiled, and,
waving his hand, said in Bandmann's very words: 'No, not you--not the
_Player-Queen_--but GERTRUDE.'

"My whole heart was in my voice as I gasped: 'I'm so sorry, sir, but I
have to do Queen Gertrude. You see,' I rushed on, 'our heavy woman has
a broken leg and can't act. But if you please,' I added, 'I had to do
this part with Mr. Bandmann, too, and--and--I'll only worry you with
my looks, sir, not about the words or business.'

"He rested his dark, unspeakably melancholy eyes on my face, then he
sighed and said: 'Well, it was the closet scene I wanted to speak to
you about. When the ghost appears you are to be--' He stopped, a faint
smile touched his lips, and he remarked:

"'There's no denying it, my girl, I look a great deal more like your
father than you look like my mother--but--' He went on with his
directions, and, considerate gentlemen that he was, spoke no single
unkind word to me, though my playing of that part must have been a
great annoyance to him.

"When the closet scene was over, the curtain down, I caught up my
petticoats and made a rapid flight roomward. The applause was
filling the theater. Mr. Booth, turning, called after me:
'You--er--Gertrude--er--_Queen!_ Oh, somebody call that child back
here!' and somebody roared, 'Clara, Mr. Booth is calling you!' I
turned, but stood still. He beckoned, then came and took my hand,
saying, 'My dear, we must not keep them waiting too long,' and led
me before the curtain with him. I very slightly bent my head to the
audience, whom I felt were applauding Hamlet only, but turned and
bowed myself to the ground to him whose courtesy had brought me

"When we came off he smiled amusedly, tapped me on the shoulder, and
said: 'My Gertrude, you are very young, but you know how to pay a
pretty compliment--thank you, child!'

"So," says Miss Morris, "whenever you see pictures of nymphs or
goddesses floating in pink clouds and looking idiotically happy, you
can say to yourself: 'That is just how Clara Morris felt when Edwin
Booth said she had paid him a compliment.' Yes, I floated, and I'll
take a solemn oath, if necessary, that the whole theater was filled
with pink clouds the rest of that night, for girls are made that way,
and they can't help it."

The young actress was now rapidly acquiring a knowledge of her ability
to act; she also knew that as long as she remained with Mr. Ellsler
there would be no advancement for her, and a firm determination took
possession of her to take a plunge into the big world, where perhaps
there might be a chance not only to earn enough to take care of
herself, but also enough so that her mother would no longer be obliged
to work, which was Clara's bitter mortification.

While she was considering the advisability of making a change, she
received an offer from a Mr. Macaulay, manager of Wood's Museum, at
Cincinnati, Ohio. He offered a small salary, but as she was to be his
leading woman she decided to accept the offer. "When the matter was
apparently settled, he wrote, saying that 'because of the youth of his
new star, he wished to reserve a few parts which his wife would act.'
Only too well did Clara Morris understand what that meant--that the
choicest parts would be reserved. Then an amusing thing happened. She,
who was so lacking in self-confidence, suddenly developed an ability
to stand up for her rights. By return mail she informed Mr. Macaulay
that her youth had nothing to do with the matter--that she would be
the leading woman and play all parts or none. His reply was a
surprise, as it contained a couple of signed contracts and a pleasant
request to sign both and return one at once. He regretted her
inability to grant his request, but closed by expressing his respect
for her firmness in demanding her rights. Straightway she signed her
first contract, and went out to mail it. When she returned she had
made up her mind to take a great risk. She had decided that her mother
should never again receive commands from any one--that her shoulders
were strong enough to bear the welcome burden, that they would face
the new life and its possible sufferings together--_together_, that
was the main thing." She says:

"As I stood before the glass smoothing my hair, I gravely bowed to the
reflection and said, 'Accept my congratulations and best wishes,
Wood's leading lady!'--and then fell on the bed and sobbed ...
because, you see, the way had been so long and hard, but I had won one
goal--I was a leading woman!"

Leaving behind the surroundings of so many years was not a light
matter, nor was the parting with the Ellslers, of whose theatrical
family she had been a member for so long, easy. When the hour of
leave-taking came, she was very sad. She had to make the journey
alone, as her mother also was to join her only when she had found a
place to settle in. Mr. Ellsler was sick for the first time since she
had known him. She said good-by to him in his room, and left feeling
very despondent, he seemed so weak. "Judge then," says Miss Morris,
"my amazement when, hearing a knock on my door and calling, 'Come
in'--Mr. Ellsler, pale and almost staggering, entered. A rim of red
above his white muffler betrayed his bandaged throat, and his poor
voice was but a husky whisper:

"'I could not help it,' he said. 'You were placed under my care once
by your mother. You were a child then, and though you are pleased to
consider yourself a woman now, I could not bear to think of your
leaving the city without some old friend being by for a parting

"I was inexpressibly grateful, but he had yet another surprise for me.
He said, 'I wanted, too, Clara, to make you a little present that
would last long and remind you daily of--of--er--the years you have
passed in my theater.'

"He drew a small box from his pocket. 'A good girl and a good
actress,' he said, 'needs and ought to own a'--he touched a spring,
the box flew open--'a good watch,' he finished.

"Literally, I could not speak, having such agony of delight in its
beauty, of pride in its possession, of satisfaction in a need
supplied, of gratitude and surprise immeasurable. 'Oh!' and again
'Oh!' was all that I could cry, while I pressed it to my cheek and
gloated over it. My thanks must have been sadly jumbled and broken,
but my pride and pleasure made Mr. Ellsler laugh, and then the
carriage was there, and laughter stilled into a silent, close
hand-clasp. As I opened the door of the dusty old hack, I saw the
first star prick brightly through the evening sky. Then the hoarse
voice said, 'God bless you'--and I had left my first manager."

To say that Clara Morris made a success in Cincinnati is the barest
truth. Her first appearance was in the rôle of a country girl,
_Cicely_, a simple milkmaid with only one speech to make, but one
which taxed the ability of an actress to the uttermost to express what
was meant. Clara played this part in a demure black-and-white print
gown, with a little hat tied down under her chin. On the second night,
she played what is called a "dressed part," a bright, light-comedy
part in which she wore fine clothes; on the third night hers was a
"tearful" part. In three nights she completely won the public, and on
the third she received her first anonymous gift, a beautiful and
expensive set of pink corals set in burnished gold. "Flowers, too,
came over the foot-lights, the like of which she had never seen
before, some of them costing more than she earned in a week. Then one
night came a bolder note with a big gold locket, which, having its
sender's signature, went straight back to him the next morning. As a
result it began to be whispered about that the new star sent back all
gifts of jewelry; but when one matinée a splendid basket of white
camelias came with a box of French candied fruit, it delighted her and
created a sensation in the dressing-room. That seemed to start a
fashion, for candies in dainty boxes came to her afterward as often as

On the night of her first appearance, a lawyer of Cincinnati who saw
her play the part of Cicely was so delighted with her interpretation
of the small rôle that he at once asked: "Who is she? What is her
history?"--only to find that, like most happy women, she had none. She
came from Cleveland, she lived three doors away with her mother--that
was all.

Having seen her a second time, he exclaimed, "That girl ought to be in
New York this very moment!" and he added, "I know the foreign
theaters--their schools and styles, as well as I know the home
theaters and their actors. I believe I have made a discovery!"

After seeing her in the "tearful part," he said firmly: "I shall never
rest till this Clara Morris faces New York. She need clash with no
one, need hurt no one, she is unlike any one else, and New York has
plenty of room for her. I shall make it my business to meet her and
preach New York until she accepts the idea and acts upon it."

As a result of that determination, at a later date, he met the object
of his interest and roused her to such an enthusiasm in his New York
project that she wrote to Mr. Ellsler, begging his aid in reaching New
York managers, and one day, shortly afterward, she held in her hand a
wee sheet of paper, containing two lines scrawled in an illegible

     "If you send the young woman to me, I will willingly
     consider proposal. Will engage no actress without seeing
     her.--A. DALY."

It was a difficult proposition, for to obtain leave of absence she would
be obliged to pay a substitute for at least two performances--would have
to stop for one night at a New York hotel, and so spend what she had
saved toward a summer vacation. But the scheme was too compelling to be
set aside. That very night she asked leave of absence, made all other
necessary arrangements, and before she had time to falter in her
determination found herself at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in the great
bustling city of her dreams. She breakfasted, and took from her bag a
new gray veil, a pair of gray gloves and a bit of fresh ruffling. Then,
having made all the preparation she could to meet the arbiter of her
fate, in her usual custom she said a prayer to that Father in whose
protecting care she had an unfaltering trust. Then, she says, "I rose
and went forth, prepared to accept success or defeat, just as the good
Lord should will."

Having found Mr. Daly, she looked bravely into his eyes and spoke with
quick determination to lose no time: "I am the girl come out of the
West to be inspected. I'm Clara Morris!"

That was the preface to an interview which ended in his offer to
engage her, but without a stated line of business. He would give her
thirty-five dollars a week, he said (knowing there were two to live on
it), and if she made a favorable impression he would double that

A poor offer--a risky undertaking, exclaimed Clara. "In my pocket was
an offer which I had received just before leaving for New York, from a
San Francisco manager, with a salary of one hundred dollars, a
benefit, and no vacation at all, unless I wished it. This offer was
fairly burning a hole in my pocket as I talked with Mr. Daly, who,
while we talked, was filling up a blank contract, for my signature.
Thirty-five dollars against one hundred dollars. 'But if you make a
favorable impression you'll get seventy dollars.' I thought, and why
should I _not_ make a favorable impression? Yet, if I fail now in New
York, I can go West or South not much harmed. If I wait till I am
older and fail, it will ruin my life. I slipped my hand in my pocket
and gave a little farewell tap to the contract for one hundred
dollars; I took the pen; I looked hard at him. 'There's a heap of
trust asked for in this contract,' I remarked. 'You won't forget your
promise about doubling the contract?'

"'I won't forget anything,' he answered.

"Then I wrote 'Clara Morris' twice, shook hands, and went out and back
to Cincinnati, with an engagement in a New York theater for the coming

As the tangible results of a benefit performance Clara was able to
give her mother a new spring gown and bonnet and send her off to visit
in Cleveland, before turning her face toward Halifax, where she had
accepted a short summer engagement. At the end of it she went on to
New York, engaged rooms in a quiet old-fashioned house near the
theater, and telegraphed her mother to come. "She came," says Miss
Morris, "and that blessed evening found us housekeeping at last. We
were settled, and happily ready to begin the new life in the great,
strange city."

From that moment, through the frenzied days of rehearsal with a new
company, and with a large number of untoward incidents crowded into
each day, life moved swiftly on toward the first appearance of Clara
Morris on the New York stage.

With a sort of dogged despair she lived through the worry of planning
how to buy costumes out of her small reserve fund. When at last all
her gowns were ready, she had two dollars and thirty-eight cents left,
on which she and her mother must live until her first week's salary
should be paid. Worse than that, on the last awful day before the
opening night she had a sharp attack of pleurisy. A doctor was called,
who, being intoxicated, treated the case wrongly. Another physician
had to be summoned to undo the work of the first, and as a result
Daly's new actress was in a condition little calculated to give her
confidence for such an ordeal as the coming one. She says, "I could
not swallow food--_I could not!_ As the hour drew near my mother stood
over me while with tear-filled eyes I disposed of a raw beaten egg;
then she forced me to drink a cup of broth, fearing a breakdown if I
tried to go through five such acts as awaited me without food. I
always kissed her good-by, and that night my lips were so cold and
stiff with fright that they would not move. I dropped my head for one
moment on her shoulder; she patted me silently with one hand and
opened the door with the other. I glanced back. Mother waved her hand
and called: 'Good luck! God bless you!' and I was on my way to my
supreme test."

A blaze of lights, a hum of voices, a brilliant throng of exquisitely
gowned, bejeweled women and well-groomed men, in fact a house such as
Wood's leading lady had never before confronted! A chance for triumph
or for disaster--and triumph it was! Like a rolling snowball, it grew
as the play advanced. Again and again Clara Morris took a curtain call
with the other actresses. Finally the stage manager said to Mr. Daly,
"They want _her_," and Mr. Daly answered, sharply: "I know what they
want, and I know what I don't want. Ring up again!"

He did so. But it was useless. At last Mr. Daly said, "Oh, well, ring
up once more, and here, you take it yourself."

Alone, Clara Morris stood before the brilliant throng, vibrating to
the spontaneous storm of enthusiasm, and as she stood before them the
audience rose as one individual, carried out of themselves by an
actress whose work was as rare as it was unique--work which never for
one moment descended to mere stagecraft, but in its simplest gesture
was throbbing with vital human emotion.

As the curtain fell at last, while there was a busy hum of excited
voices, the young person whose place on the New York stage was assured
slipped into her dressing-room, scrambled into her clothes, and rushed
from the theater, hurrying to carry the good news to the two who were
eagerly awaiting her--her mother and her dog. "At last she saw the
lighted windows that told her home was near. In a moment, through a
tangle of hat, veil, and wriggling, welcoming dog, she cried:

"'It's all right, mumsey--a success! Lots and lots of "calls," dear,
and, oh, is there anything to eat? _I am so hungry!_'

"So while the new actress's name was floating over many a restaurant
supper its owner sat beneath one gas-jet, between mother and pet,
eating a large piece of bread and a small piece of cheese, telling her
small circle of admirers all about it, and winding up with the
declaration, 'Mother, I believe the hearts are just the same, whether
they beat against Western ribs or Eastern ribs!'"

Then, supper over, she stumbled through the old-time 'Now I lay me,'
and, adding some blurred words of gratitude, she says, "I fell asleep,
knowing that through God's mercy and my own hard work I was the first
Western actress who had ever been accepted by a New York audience,
and as I drowsed off I murmured to myself:

"'And I'll leave the door open, now that I have opened it--I'll leave
it open for all the others.'"

She did. Through that open door has passed a long procession from West
to East since the day when the young woman from Cleveland brought New
York to her feet by her unique ability and dramatic perception. A
lover of literature from childhood, a writer of books in later days,
Clara Morris moved on through the years of her brilliant dramatic
career to a rare achievement, not led by the lure of the foot-lights
or the flimsier forms of so-called dramatic art, but by the call of
the highest.

Well may the matinée girl of to-day, or the stage-struck young person
who responds to the glitter and glare, the applause and the
superficial charm of the theatrical world, listen to Miss Morris's
story of "Life on the Stage," and realize that laurels only crown
untiring effort, success only comes after patient labor, and great
emotional actresses come to their own through the white heat of
sacrifice, struggle, and supreme desire.


A very well-known lawyer of Philadelphia was sitting in his private
office one morning when word was brought in to him that a young lady
wished to see him. The office-boy had never seen her before, and she
had not given her name, but she was very firm in her intention not to
be refused an interview.

"Show her in," said the lawyer, pushing back his chair with a bored
expression and a resolution to send the stranger away at short notice
if she was not a client. What was his surprise when a very young girl,
still wearing short dresses, was ushered in, and stood before him with
such an earnest expression in her bright eyes that she instantly
attracted him. Motioning her to take a seat, he asked her errand.

"I wish some copying to do," was the reply, in such a musical voice
that the lawyer became still more interested.

"Do you intend to do it yourself?" he asked.

She bowed assent. "Yes," she said. "We are in need of money and I must
help. I write a clear hand."

So pleased was he with her manner and her quiet words, "We are in need
of money and I must help," as well as touched by her self-reliance at
an age when girls are generally amusing themselves, that he gave her
some copying which he had intended to have done in the office. With a
grateful glance from her brilliant dark eyes, she thanked him, and,
promising to bring the work back as soon as possible, she left the

As the door closed behind her the lawyer opened a drawer and took
from it a little faded photograph of a young girl with dark eyes and
curly hair, looked at it long and sadly, then replaced it in the
drawer and went on with his work.

On the following day, when the office-boy announced "the young lady
with the copying," she was summoned to his office at once and given a
hearty hand-clasp.

"I am glad to see you again," the lawyer said. "I had a daughter you
remind me of strongly. She died when she was twelve years old. Be
seated, please, and tell me a little about yourself. You are very
young to be doing such work as this. Is your father living, and why
are you not in school?"

Compelled by his kindly interest, the young girl talked as freely with
him as if he were an old friend. Her name, she said, was Anna
Elizabeth Dickinson, and she was born in Philadelphia, thirteen years
before, on the 28th of October. Her father, John Dickinson, and her
mother, who had been Mary Edmundson before her marriage, were both
persons who were interested in the vital questions of the day, and
Anna had been brought up in an atmosphere of refinement and of high
principles. All this her new friend learned by a series of friendly
questions, and Anna, having begun her story, continued with a degree
of frankness which was little less than surprising, after so short an
acquaintance. Her father had been a merchant, and had died when she
was two years old, leaving practically no income for the mother to
live on and bring up her five children. Both mother and father were
Quakers, she said, and she was evidently very proud of her father, for
her eyes flashed as she said: "He was a wonderful man! Of course, I
can't remember it, but mother has told me that the last night of his
life, when he was very sick, he went to an anti-slavery meeting and
made a remarkably fine speech. Yes, father was wonderful."

"And your mother?" queried her new friend.

Tears dimmed the young girl's eyes. "There aren't any words to
express mother," she said. "That is why I am trying to work at night,
or at least part of the reason," she added, with frank honesty. "We
take boarders and mother teaches in a private school, too, but even
that doesn't give enough money for six of us to live on, and she is so
pale and tired all the time." She added, with a toss of her curly
head: "And I must have money to buy books, too, but helping mother is
more important."

Entirely absorbed in her own narrative now, she continued to pour out
a flood of facts with such an eloquence and persuasive use of words
that her hearer was lost in amazement over a young girl who was so
fluent in her use of language. From her frank tale he gathered that
she had been a wayward, wilful, intense, and very imaginative child,
who, despite her evident devotion to her mother, had probably given
her many hours of worry and unhappiness. It was evident also that as a
younger child she had been considered an incorrigible pupil at school,
for she seemed to have always rebelled against discipline which she
thought unnecessary.

"They could punish me all they liked," she said, with flashing eyes.
"I would never obey a rule that had not been explained to me and that
wasn't fair--never! Teachers and mothers were always telling good
little girls not to play with me, and I was _glad_! Girls the teachers
call 'good' sometimes are not that at all; they just know how to hide
things from the teachers." As her hearer made no comment, but listened
with an amused smile curving his lips, Anna continued: "I _adore_
books, but, oh, how I hate school, when the rich girls laugh at my
clothes and then at me if I tell them that my mother is poor and we
work for all we have! It isn't fair, because we can't help it, and we
do the best we can. I never would say it to them in the world--never!
In the first school I went to they used to tease the children who
were timid, and bother them so much that they would forget their
lessons and get punished when it was not their fault. But _I_ looked
after them," declared Anna, proudly. "I fought their battles for them,
until the others left them alone, because they were afraid to fight
me, I was so strong. Oh, sir," she cried, "why can't people always be
fair and square, I wonder?"

As if mesmerized by the intensity of this remarkable young reformer,
the lawyer found himself repeating, "I wonder!" as if he had no
opinions on the subject, but at the same time he was doing some
thinking in regard to such a unique character as this one before him.
When she had finished speaking he rose and put a bundle of work in her
hand. "I will help you and your brave mother all I can," he said.
"While you are doing that copying I will speak to other lawyers, who,
I am sure, will give you more to do. I have looked over what you have
done, and can warmly recommend you as a copyist. I hope we shall have
many more long talks together."

So with her package under her arm, and a warm feeling of satisfaction
in her heart because she had found a new friend who said she could do
good work, she hurried home.

Almost from baby days it had been evident that Anna Dickinson was no
ordinary child, and how to curb the restless spirit and develop the
strong nature into a fine woman was a great problem for the already
over-burdened mother. Even as a young child Anna had an iron will, and
discipline, of which she later learned the value, so chafed her
independent nature that she was generally in a state of rebellion.
From her own story it was clear that she must have been a terror to
unjust teachers or pupils; but she did not mention the many devoted
friends she had gained by her championship of those who were not being
treated fairly according to her ideas. Hers was a strong, talented,
courageous, fearless nature, which was bound to be a great power for
good or evil. The scales were turned in the right direction by her
passionate love for her mother and an intense desire to lift some of
the burden of financial worry from her shoulders, as she saw Mrs.
Dickinson, with tireless industry, struggle to make ends meet, and to
feed, clothe, and educate her fatherless children. Her one
determination was to have them grow up into noble men and women, but
in Anna's early life it seemed as if the tumultuous nature would never
be brought to any degree of poise and self-control. She showed a
marked love of books, even when she was only seven years old, and
would take one of her mother's volumes of Byron's poems and, hiding
under a bed, where she would not be disturbed, read for hours.

When she was about twelve years old Anna went to the "Westover
Boarding-school of Friends," where she remained for almost two years,
and from which she went to the "Friends' Select School" in
Philadelphia, where she was still studying when she applied for
copying and found a new friend. Both of the schools were free Quaker
schools, as her mother could not afford to send her elsewhere, and in
both she stood high for scholarship, if not for deportment. In the
latter institution she was noted for never failing in a recitation,
although she was taking twelve subjects at one time, and was naturally
looked upon with awe and admiration by less brilliant pupils. A new
scholar once questioned her as to her routine of work, and the reply
left her questioner speechless with wonder.

"Oh, I haven't any," said Anna, with a toss of her curly head. "And I
don't study. I just go to bed and read, sometimes till one o'clock in
the morning--poetry, novels, and all sorts of things; then just before
I go to sleep I look my lessons over." Evidently the new-comer was a
bit doubtful of being able to follow her leader, for Anna added,
reassuringly: "Oh yes, you can, if you try. It's easy when you get the
habit!" and went off, leaving a much-amazed girl behind her.

At the time of her visit to the lawyer's office Anna begged to be
allowed to leave school to try and add to the family income, but her
practical mother persuaded her not to do this for at least a year or
so, and, seeing the wisdom of the advice, Anna remained in the
"Friends' School." So active was her mind that for weeks at a time she
did not sleep over five hours a night; the remaining time she spent in
doing all the copying she could get and in reading every book on which
she could lay her hands. Newspapers, speeches, tracts, history,
biography, poetry, novels and fairy-tales--she devoured them all with
eager interest. A favorite afternoon pastime of hers was to go to the
Anti-Slavery Office, where, curled up in a cozy corner, she would read
their literature or listen to arguments on the subject presented by
persons who came and went. At other times she would be seized with a
perfect passion for a new book, and would go out into the streets,
determined not to return home until she had earned enough to buy the
coveted prize. At such a time she would run errands or carry bundles
or bags for passengers coming from trains until she had enough money
for her book. Then she would hurry to a bookstore, linger long and
lovingly over the piles of volumes, and finally buy one, which she
would take home and devour, then take it to a second-hand bookshop and
sell it for a fraction of what it cost, and get another.

Among her other delights were good lectures, and she eagerly watched
the papers to find out when George William Curtis, Wendell Phillips,
or Henry Ward Beecher was going to lecture in the city; then she would
start out on a campaign to earn the price of a ticket for the lecture.

One day when she had read much about Wendell Phillips, but never
heard him, she saw that he was to lecture in Philadelphia on "The Lost
Arts." It happened that there was no copying for her to do at that
time, and she had no idea how to earn the twenty-five cents which
would give her the coveted admittance; but go to the lecture she must.
As she walked past a handsome residence she noticed that coal had just
been put in and the sidewalk left very grimy. Boldly ringing the bell,
she asked if she might scrub the walk, and as a result of her exertion
a triumphant young girl was the first person to present herself at the
hall that night, and quite the most thrilled listener among the throng
that packed the house to hear Wendell Phillips. Although her career
was so soon to find her out, little did Anna dream on that night, as
she listened spellbound to the orator of the occasion, that not far in
the future many of that audience were to be applauding a young girl
with dark eyes, curly hair, and such force of character and personal
magnetism that she was to sway her audiences even to a greater extent
than the man to whom she was listening.

When she was seventeen Anna left school for good, feeling that she
could not afford to give any more time to study while her mother
needed so many comforts and necessities which money could buy. So she
left the "Friends' Select School," and in her unselfish reason for
this, and the fact that she was forced to support herself and others
at such an early age, when she longed for a more thorough education,
lies an appeal for kindly criticism of her work rather than a verdict
of superficiality, which some gave who did not understand or
appreciate the nature, the inspiration, or the real genius of the
young and enthusiastic girl.

She was offered a position as teacher in a school in New Brighton,
Beaver County, and accepting it she spent a few months there, but as
she did not like it she applied for a district-school position that
was vacant in the same town. When she had made all but the final
arrangements with the committee she asked, "What salary do you give?"

A committeeman replied: "A man has had the position until now. We gave
him twenty-eight dollars a month, but we should not think of giving a
_girl_ more than sixteen." Something in his manner and words stung
Anna like a lash, and, drawing herself up to her full height, she
turned to leave the room.

"Sir," she said, "though I am too poor to-day to buy a pair of cotton
gloves, I would rather go in rags than degrade my womanhood by
accepting anything at your hands!" And off she went, to try her fate
in some other place and way, absolutely sure that in some unknown
manner she was to wrest success from the future. Young, inexperienced,
penniless, and with few friends, she passed weeks looking for a
situation in vain. At last she was offered work in a store, but when
she found that she must tell what was not true about goods to
customers rather than lose a sale, she put on her hat and left at
once, and again began her weary quest of work. Everywhere she found
that, if she had been a boy, she could have secured better positions
and pay than she could as a girl. Also in her wide range of reading
she discovered that many of the advantages of life and all of the
opportunities, at that time, were given to men rather than to women.
Her independent nature was filled with determination to do something
to alter this, if she ever had a chance. It came sooner than she would
have dared to hope.

One Sunday she was sitting at home, reading a newspaper, when she saw
a notice of a meeting to be held that afternoon in a certain hall by
the "Association of Progressive Friends," to discuss "Woman's Rights
and Wrongs." She would go. Having decided this, she went to the home
of a young friend and persuaded her to go, too, and together they
walked to the hall and were soon deeply engrossed in the arguments
presented by the speakers. The presiding officer of the afternoon was
a Doctor Longshore, who announced before the meeting began that at the
close of the formal discussion ladies were requested to speak, as the
subject was one in which they were especially interested.

"One after another, women rose and gave their views on the question.
Then, near the center of the house a girl arose whose youthful face,
black curls, and bright eyes, as well as her musical voice and subdued
but impressive manner, commanded the attention of the audience. She
spoke twice as long as each speaker was allowed, and right to the
point, sending a thrill of interest through her listeners, who
remembered that speech for many a long day. At the close of the
meeting more than one in the audience came forward and spoke to the
beaming girl, thanking her for her brilliant defense of her sex, and
asking her to surely come to the meeting on the following Sunday."
Flushed with triumph and excitement, she received the praise and
congratulations and promised to be present the next week. When the
time came she again rose and spoke in glowing language of the rights
and privileges which should be given to women as well as to men. As
soon as she sat down a tall, nervous man, with an air of proud
assurance that the world was made for his sex, rose and spoke firmly
against Anna's arguments, voicing his belief that men were by right
the lords and masters of creation. While he spoke he fixed his eyes on
Anna, as if enchanted by the sight of her rapidly crimsoning cheeks
and flashing eyes, which showed emotions at white heat. The moment he
finished she stood again, and this time, young and inexperienced
though she was, with little education and less knowledge of the great
world, she held her audience spellbound by the clear ideas which she
poured out in almost flawless English, and by her air of conviction
which carried belief in her arguments with it. She spoke clearly,
steadily, as she summed up all the wrongs she had been obliged to
suffer through a struggling girlhood, as well as all she had seen and
read about and felt in her soul to be true, although she had no
tangible proofs. On flowed the tide of her oratory in such an outburst
of real feeling that her hearers were electrified, amazed, by the rare
magnetism of this young and unknown girl. As she spoke she drew nearer
to the man, whose eyes refused now to meet her keen dark ones, and who
seemed deeply confused as she scored point after point in defense,
saying, "_You_, sir! said so and so," ... with each statement sweeping
away his arguments one by one until he had no ground left to stand on.
When her last word had been said and she took her seat amid a storm of
applause, he swiftly and silently rose and left the hall, to the great
amusement of the audience, whose sympathies were entirely with the
young girl who had stated her case so brilliantly.

"Who is she?" was the question asked on every side as the eager crowd
pushed its way out of the building, all curious to get a nearer view
of the youthful speaker. Doctor Longshore, who had opened the meeting,
as on the previous Sunday, was now determined to become acquainted
with Anna and find out what had gone into the making of such a
remarkable personality, and at the close of the meeting he lost no
time in introducing himself to her and making an engagement to go to
the Dickinson home to meet her family.

Before the time of his promised call--in fact, before Anna had even
mentioned her success as a speaker to her mother--while she was out
one day two gentlemen called at the house and inquired if Miss Anna
Dickinson lived there. Her mother's cheeks paled with fright, for she
feared Anna had been doing some unconventional thing which the
strangers had come to report. When they said they had heard her speak
at a public meeting and were so much pleased with her speech that they
had come to find out something about her home surroundings, Mrs.
Dickinson's brow cleared, and, leading them into the house, she spent
a pleasant half-hour with them, and was secretly delighted with their
comments on her daughter's first appearance in public. When Anna came
home Mrs. Dickinson took her to task for not telling her about such a
great event, and was surprised to see the real diffidence which the
girl showed when she was questioned about the meetings and her
speeches. A few days later Doctor Longshore called with her brother,
Elwood, and with their flattering assurances that her daughter was a
born speaker, and that she had already made some valuable points on a
vital subject, Mrs. Dickinson began to feel that all her worry over
Anna's turbulent childhood and restless girlhood had not been in vain,
that she was born to do great things, and from that time she took a
genuine pride in all the achievements of the young girl who came so
rapidly into public notice.

The Longshores took Anna into their hearts and home at once, and many
of her happiest hours were spent with them. "We felt toward her,"
Doctor Longshore said, "as if she were our own child. We were the
first strangers to show an interest in her welfare and future plans,
and she returned our friendship with confidence and love." She was
always so buoyant, so full of vitality and gayety, that her visits
were eagerly anticipated, and for hours at a time she would entertain
her new friends with vivid and droll accounts of her experiences at
home and in school and of her attempts to make money. And as she had
won her way into the hearts of her audience, at those first meetings,
so now she kept the Longshores enthralled, making them laugh at one
moment and cry at another. One night she had a horrible dream to

"I had been reading an account of the horrors of the slave system at
its worst," she said. "After going to bed, I was long in falling
asleep. Finally I slept and dreamed that I was a slave girl, and, oh,
the agony of the knowledge! The hot sun scorched my burning skin as I
toiled in the fields, with almost no clothing to soften the sun's
heat. I was hungry, but there was insufficient food. At last I was
dressed in clean, showy clothes and led to the auction-block, where I
was auctioned off to the highest bidder. He led me away in triumph to
even worse experiences, and when I woke up I could not throw off the
horror of the awful nightmare."

Seeing her tremble under the misery of the recollection, Doctor
Longshore soothed her by saying that the dream was a natural result of
the highly colored account she had been reading before going to sleep,
that all slaves were not by any means treated in such a cruel manner,
and at last she grew calm. But whenever in future she spoke on the
subject of slavery this terrible memory would come back to her so
vividly that it would intensify her power to speak with conviction.

For several Sundays she went regularly to the "Progressive Friends'"
meeting and spoke with unvarying success. Then she was invited to go
to Mullica Hill, New Jersey, to speak on the subject, "Woman's Work."
After discussing the matter with her mother and the Longshores, she
accepted the invitation and set herself to prepare the lecture which
she was to give. Then, on the first Sunday in April, the
seventeen-year-old orator went to her trial experience as an invited
speaker. By that time her praises had been widely sung, and when she
rose and saw her audience there was a sea of upturned, eager faces
looking into hers. Speaking from the depths of her own experience, she
held the audience in breathless silence for over an hour. There was,
it was said, an indescribable pathos in her full, rich voice that,
aside from what she said, touched the hearts of her hearers and moved
many to tears, while all were spellbound, and at the close of her
address no one moved. Finally a man rose and voiced the feeling of the

"We will not disperse until the speaker promises to address us again
this evening," he said, and a burst of applause greeted his statement.
A starry-eyed girl stood and bowed her acknowledgment and agreed to
speak again. As the audience dispersed Anna heard some one say, "If
Lucretia Mott had made that speech it would be thought a great one."

As she promised, in the evening she spoke again on slavery, with equal
success. A collection which was taken up for her amounted to several
dollars, the first financial result of what was to be her golden

But Anna had no thought of doing public speaking as her only means of
earning her living. She continued to look for positions, but without
success. Finally she took a district school in Bucks County, at a
monthly salary of twenty-five dollars. So interested was she in the
"Progressive Friends'" Sunday meetings that she went home every second
week to attend them, and her speeches always won applause from an
audience that had learned to anticipate the impassioned statements of
the bright-eyed girl who was so much younger and so much more intense
than any other speaker.

And now she began to receive invitations to speak in other places. On
her eighteenth birthday she spoke in a small village about thirty
miles out of Philadelphia, when she fairly electrified her hearers by
the force of her arguments and the form in which she presented them.
She continued to teach, although during her summer vacation she made
many speeches in New Jersey. On one occasion she spoke in the open
air, in a beautiful grove where hundreds had come to hear "the girl
orator" give her views on temperance and slavery. Her earnestness and
conviction of the truth of what she said made a profound impression,
and even those who later criticized her speech as being the product of
an immature and superficial mind were held as by a spell while she
spoke, and secretly admired her while they openly ridiculed her
arguments. At another time she was asked to speak at the laying of the
corner-stone of a new Methodist church. The clergymen who gathered
together were inclined to be severe in their judgment of the remarks
of a "slip of a girl." Anna knew that and resolved to speak with more
than usual pathos and power. When she began her address amusement was
evident on the faces of the dignified men looking at her. Gradually
they grew more interested, the silence became intense, and when the
men rose to leave they were subdued, and some of them even were not
ashamed to be seen wiping away tears. One of them introduced himself
to her and with a cordial hand-shake said: "Miss Dickinson, I have
always ridiculed Woman's Rights, but, so help me God, I never shall

But this time the young orator could not help feeling the power she
had to sway great masses of people, and with a thrill of joy she began
to believe that perhaps in this work which she loved above anything
else in the world she would some day find her vocation, for she was
already receiving commendation from men and women of a high order of
intelligence and being given larger contributions as a result of her

The country was at that time in the beginning of its Civil War period,
and much was written and said on the issue of the hour. At a Kennett
Square meeting, where hot debates were held on the burning question of
the day, Anna was one of the speakers, and one of the press notices on
the following day said:

"... The next speaker was Miss Anna Dickinson, of Philadelphia,
handsome, of an expressive countenance, plainly dressed, and eloquent
beyond her years. After the listless, monotonous harangues of the
previous part of the day, the distinct, earnest tones of this juvenile
Joan of Arc were very sweet and charming. During her discourse, which
was frequently interrupted, Miss Dickinson maintained her presence of
mind, and uttered her radical sentiments with resolution and
plainness. Those who did not sympathize with her remarks were softened
by her simplicity and solemnity. Her speech was decidedly the speech
of the evening.... Miss Dickinson, we understand, is a member of the
Society of Friends, and her speech came in the shape of a retort to
remarks which were contrary to her own beliefs. With her usual
clear-cut conviction and glowing oratory, Miss Dickinson said that:

"'We are told to maintain constitutions because they are
constitutions, and compromises because they are compromises. But what
are compromises?' asked the young speaker, 'and what was laid down in
these constitutions? Eminent lawgivers have said that certain great
fundamental ideas of right are common to the world, and that all laws
of man's making which trample on those ideas are null and void--wrong
to obey, but right to disobey. The Constitution of the United States
sat upon the neck of those rights, recognizes human slavery, and makes
the souls of men articles of purchase and sale.'"

So clear of mind and expression was the young orator that her
statements sank as deeply into the minds of her hearers as if spoken
by a far more learned person, and from that time her intense nature
had found its true outlet, and her longing to provide her mother with
some of the comforts which had so long been denied her was soon to be

In that same year of her speech at Kennett Square, on an evening in
late February, she spoke in Concert Hall, Philadelphia, before an
audience of about eight hundred persons. For two hours she spoke,
without notes and with easy fluency. There were many well-known men
and women there, who were delighted with what they were pleased to
call a young girl's notable performance. But Anna herself was far from
pleased with her speech. Afterward, on reaching the Longshores', she
threw herself into a chair with an air of utter despondency, and, in
response to their praise, only shook her head.

"I am mortified," she declared. "I spoke too long, and what I said
lacked arrangement, order, and point. And before such an audience!"

This incident shows clearly that, despite all the flattery which was
showered on her at that time, she did not lose her sense of balance,
but knew with a keen instinct whether she had achieved her end or not.

And now winter was over and spring had come with its spirit of new
birth and fulfilment. And, as the buds began to swell and open, the
strong will and fresh young spirit of Anna Dickinson asserted itself
in a desire for more profitable daily work, for as yet she was not
able to give up other employment for the public speaking which brought
her in uneven returns. She disliked the confinement and routine of
teaching so much that she decided to try a new kind of work, and
secured a place in the Mint, where she described her duties vividly to
her interested friends.

"I sat on a stool," she said, "from seven o'clock in the morning to
six at night for twenty-eight dollars a month. The atmosphere of the
room was close and impure, as it was necessary to keep all windows and
doors closed in the adjusting-room, for the least draught of air would
vary the scales." Not a very congenial occupation for the independent
nature of the young orator, but, although she disliked the work, she
was very skilful at it, and soon became the fastest adjuster in the
Mint. But she could not bear the confinement of the adjusting-room
and changed to the coining-room, yet even that was impossible to a
spirit which had seen a vision of creative work and of ability to do
it. Then, too, she thoroughly disliked the men with whom she was
thrown and their beliefs, knowing them to be opposed to principles
which she held sacred; so when, in November, she made a speech on the
events of the war, in which she stated her views so frankly that when
they came to the ears of Government officials who did not agree with
her she was dismissed from the Mint, she was rather pleased than

Through the remainder of the winter she continued to speak in various
suburbs of the city, not always to sympathetic audiences, for so
radical were some of her assertions, especially coming from the lips
of a mere girl, that she was hissed time and again for her assertions.
Despite this, she was becoming well known as a speaker of great
ability, and as the war went on, with its varying successes for the
North and South, she thought with less intensity on the subjects of
the future of the negro and the wrongs of women, and became more
deeply absorbed in questions of national importance, which was a
fortunate thing for her. She was enthusiastic, eloquent, young and
pretty, all of which characteristics made her a valuable ally for any
cause. Mr. Garrison, the noted Abolitionist, heard her speak twice,
and was so delighted with her manner and ability that he asked for an
introduction to her, and invited her to visit Boston and make his
house her home while there. She thanked him with pretty enthusiasm and
accepted, but before going to Boston was persuaded to give the lecture
in Philadelphia, for which she had been dismissed from the Mint. A
ten-cent admission was charged, and Judge Pierce, one of the early
advocates of Woman's Rights, presided and introduced the young
speaker. The house was crowded, and this time she was satisfied with
her lecture, while the eager Longshores and her mother were filled
with a just pride. After all expenses were paid she was handed a check
for a bigger sum of money than she had ever owned before. The largest
share of it was given at once to her mother, then, after a serious
discussion with Doctor Longshore, Anna decided to spend the remainder
on her first silk dress. Despite oratory and advanced views, the girl
of eighteen was still human and feminine, and it is to be doubted
whether any results of her labors ever gave her more satisfaction than
that bit of finery for her public appearances.

And now the young orator went to Boston, where through Mr. Garrison's
influence she was invited to speak in Theodore Parker's pulpit, as
leading reformers were then doing. She also spoke in the Music Hall on
"The National Crisis," and that lecture was the hardest trial she ever
experienced. For two days before it she could not sleep or eat, and
answered questions like one in a dream, and Mr. Garrison and those
friends who had been confident of her ability to hold any audience
began to feel extremely nervous. If she should make a failure now at
the beginning of her career, it would be critical for her future.

The night came, and with ill-concealed nervousness Anna put on the new
silk dress, shook her heavy curls into place, and with resolute
courage went to the hall, where, on mounting the platform, she noted
the most tremendous audience she had ever before faced. Mr. Garrison
opened the meeting by reading a chapter of the Bible, then he used up
as much time as possible in remarks, in order to make the best of a
bad situation, for he felt that she was not in a state of mind or body
to hold the coldly critical audience before her. While he read and
spoke poor Anna behind him waited to be presented, in an agony of
nervousness which she struggled not to show. Then came the singing of
the "Negro Boatman's Song of Whittier" by a quartet, accompanied by
the organ. At last, with an easy smile, which concealed his real
feelings, Mr. Garrison turned to introduce Anna, and she rose and
walked forward to the front of the platform, looking more immature and
girlish than ever before. Her first sentences were halting,
disconnected, her fingers twined and twisted nervously around the
handkerchief she held; then she saw a sympathetic upturned face in the
front row of the audience staring up at her. Something in the face
roused Anna to a determined effort. Throwing herself into her subject,
she soon was pouring out a passionate appeal for a broader national
life and action. Gone were fear and self-consciousness, gone all but
determination to make her audience feel as she felt, believe as she
believed, in the interest of humanity and the highest ideals. For over
an hour she held that coldly critical mass of New England hearers as
if by a magic spell, then the vast audience rose and gave vent to
their emotion by the singing of "America," and then persons of
distinction and wealth crowded around the speaker of the evening with
thanks and praise. To one and all the young orator, whose eyes were
still shining with enthusiasm, replied, simply: "I thank you. The
subject is very near my heart," and as those who met her turned away
they could not hide their amazement at the ability of a young person
who looked so immature in her girlish beauty and freshness.

This was the beginning of a period of success. She delivered the
Boston lecture in several other New England cities, and had many fine
press notices on it, one of which closed with the following sentences:

"Her whole appearance and manner were decidedly attractive, earnest,
and expressive. Her lecture was well arranged, logical, and
occasionally eloquent, persuasive, and pathetic."

That was the time when every woman with a tender heart and a chance to
show it for the benefit of the wounded soldiers served her
apprenticeship in some hospital, and Anna was one of them. With keen
sympathy she nursed and comforted the sick men, who told her freely
about their hardships and sufferings, as well as the motives which led
them to go into the army, and she learned their opinion of war and of
life on the battle-fields. From this experience she gained much
priceless material which she later used most successfully.

She was now beginning to be known as much for her youth and personal
charm as for the subject-matter of her lectures, and to her unbounded
joy in October, 1862, she received one hundred dollars and many
flattering press notices for a speech given before the Boston
Fraternity Lyceum. This success encouraged her to plan a series of
lectures to be given in various parts of the East, especially in New
England, from which she hoped to gain substantial results. But in
making her plans she had failed to reckon with the humor of the people
who under the stress of war had little interest even in the most
thrilling lectures, and she traveled from place to place with such
meager returns that she became perfectly disheartened, and, worse than
that, she was almost penniless.

When she had filled her last engagement of the series, for which she
was to receive the large sum of ten dollars, at Concord, New
Hampshire, she realized with a sinking heart that unless she could
turn the tide of her affairs quickly she must again seek another
occupation. The resolute girl was almost disheartened, and she
confessed to a friend later:

"No one knows how I felt and suffered that winter, penniless and
alone, with a scanty wardrobe, suffering with cold, weariness, and
disappointment. I wandered about on the trains day after day among
strangers, seeking employment for an honest living and failing to find
it. I would have gone home, but had not the means. I had borrowed
money to commence my journey, promising to remit soon; failing to do
so, I could not ask again. Beyond my Concord meeting, all was
darkness. I had no further plans."

With positive want staring her in the face, in debt for the trip which
she had taken on a venture, and shrinkingly sensitive in regard to her
inability to aid her mother more lavishly, there was need of quick
action. Alone in a boarding-house room, Anna reviewed her resources
and the material she had on hand for a new and more taking lecture.

"I have it!" she exclaimed, jumping to her feet, and taking up a pad
and pencil she hastily began to write a lecture in which she used the
material gained in her hospital experience. She called it "Hospital
Life." When she gave it on that night at Concord with a heavy heart it
proved to be the pivot on which her success as a lecturer swung to its
greatest height. As she drew her vivid pictures of the hospital
experience and horrors of war and slavery she melted her audience to
tears by her impassioned delivery. The secretary of the New Hampshire
Central Committee was in the audience and was enchanted as he heard
the young speaker for the first time. At the close of the lecture he
said to a friend:

"If we can get this girl to make that speech all through New
Hampshire, we can carry the Republican ticket in this State in the
coming election."

So impressed was he with Anna's powers of persuasion that he decided
to invite her to become a campaign speaker on his own responsibility,
if the State Committee did not think well of the idea. But that
committee was only too glad to adopt any plan to aid their cause. Anna
Dickinson, then only eighteen years old, was invited to become part of
the State machinery, to work on the side which appealed to her sense
of justice. Elated, excited, and enthusiastic, she accepted the offer
and began to speak early in March. What a work that was for the young
and inexperienced girl! In the month before election, twenty times she
stood before great throngs of eager persons and spoke, rousing great
enthusiasm by her eloquent appeals in the name of reason and fair

Slight, pretty, and without any of the tricks of the professional
political speaker, her march through the State was a succession of
triumphs which ended in a Republican victory, and, though many of her
enemies called her "ignorant and illogical" as well as "noisy" in mind
and spirit, the adverse criticism was of no consequence in comparison
to the praise and success which far outweighed it.

The member in the first district, having no faith that a woman could
influence politics, sent word to the secretary, "Don't send that woman
down here to defeat my election."

The secretary replied, "We have work enough for her to do in other
districts without interfering with you!"

When the honorable member saw the furore Anna was creating he changed
his mind and begged the secretary to let her speak in his district.
The secretary replied: "It is too late; the program is arranged....
You would not have her when you could, now you cannot have her when
you will!"

That district was lost by a large majority, while the others went
strongly Republican, and it is interesting to note that when the good
news reached headquarters the Governor-elect himself personally sent
Anna thanks for her eloquent speeches, and to her amazement she was
serenaded, feasted, and praised in a way that would have turned the
head of a young woman who had been more interested in her own success
than in victory for a cause for which she stood. But that and the
money she could make and pass on to her mother were Anna's supreme
objects in whatever she undertook, and although she would have been
less than human if the praise and recognition had not pleased her,
yet her real joy lay in the good-sized checks which she could now add
to the family treasury.

"Having done such good work in the New Hampshire election, her next
field of endeavor was Connecticut, where the Republicans were
completely disheartened, for nothing, they said, could prevent the
Democrats from carrying the State. The issue was a vital one, and yet
so discouraged were the Connecticut politicians that they were about
to give up the fight without further effort, when it was decided to
try having the successful young girl speaker see what she could do for
them. Anna was only too delighted to accept the challenge, and at once
started on a round of stump-speaking and speechmaking, with all the
enthusiasm of her intense nature added to the inspiration of her
recent success in a neighboring State. The results were almost
miraculous. Two weeks of steady work not only turned the tide of
popular feeling, but created a perfect frenzy of interest in the young
orator. Even the Democrats, in spite of scurrilous attacks made on her
by some of their leaders, received her everywhere with the warmest
welcome, tore off their party badges, and replaced them by her
picture, while giving wild applause to all she said. The halls where
she spoke were so densely packed that the Republicans stayed away to
make room for the Democrats, and the women were shut out to leave room
for those who could vote."

Well had her mother's struggle to make a fine woman of her turbulent
daughter been repaid. Never was there such a furore over any orator in
the history of this country. The critical time of her appearance, the
excited condition of the people, her youth, beauty, and remarkable
voice, all heightened the effect of her genius. Her name was on every
lip. Ministers preached about her, prayed for her as a second Joan of
Arc raised up by God to save their State for the loyal party, and
through it the nation to freedom and humanity. And through all the
excitement and furore the youthful heroine moved with calm poise and a
firm determination toward her goal, attempting to speak clearly and
truthfully in regard to what were her sacred beliefs.

Election Day was at hand, and missionary work must not slacken even
for one moment. On the Saturday night before the fateful day Anna
spoke before an audience of over one thousand of the working-men of
Hartford, Connecticut. This was the last effort of the campaign, and
it was a remarkable tribute to a young woman's powers that the
committee of men were willing to rest their case on her efforts. A
newspaper account of the meeting said:

"Allyn Hall was packed as it never was before. The aisles were full of
men who stood patiently for more than three hours; the window-sills
had their occupants, every foot of standing room was taken, and in the
rear of the galleries men seemed to hang in swarms like bees. Such was
the view from the stage.... To such an audience Miss Dickinson spoke
for two hours and twenty minutes, and hardly a listener left the hall
during that time. Her power over the audience was marvelous. She
seemed to have that absolute mastery of it which Joan of Arc is
reported to have had over the French troops. They followed her with
that deep attention which is unwilling to lose a word, but greeted
her, every few moments, with the most wild applause.... The speech in
itself and its effect was magnificent--this strong adjective is the
proper one.... The work of the campaign is done. It only remains in
the name, we are sure, of all loyal men in this district to express to
Miss Dickinson heartfelt thanks for her splendid, inspiring aid. She
has aroused everywhere respect, enthusiasm and devotion, let us not
say to herself alone, but to the country; while such women are
possible in the United States, there isn't a spot big enough for her
to stand on that won't be fought for so long as there is a man left."

Even that achievement was not the height of the young orator's
attainment. Her next ovation was at Cooper Institute in New York City,
where she spoke in May of the same year. Faded newspaper accounts of
that meeting fill us with amazement that such a triumph could be, with
only a girl's indomitable will, an insufficient education and much
reading of books back of it.

"Long before the appointed hour for the lecture the hall was crowded.
The people outside were determined to get in at all hazards, ushers
were beaten down, those with tickets rushed in, and those without
tickets were pushed aside, while thousands went home unable to get
standing room even in the lobbies and outer halls.

"On the platform sat some of the most distinguished men of the day:
clergymen, lawyers, generals, admirals, leaders of the fashionable
set--all eager to do homage to the simple girl of whom the press said:

"'She is medium in height, slight in form, graceful in movement, her
head, well poised, adorned with heavy dark hair, displaying to
advantage a pleasant face which has all the signs of nervous force and
of vigorous mental life. In manner she is unembarrassed, without a
shade of boldness; her gestures are simple, her voice is of wonderful
power, penetrating rather than loud, as clear as the tone of metal,
and yet with a reed-like softness. Her vocabulary is simple, and in no
instance has there been seen a straining after effective expressions;
yet her skill in using ordinary language is so great that with a
single phrase she presents a picture and delivers a poem in a

At the close of the meeting, which had been opened by Henry Ward
Beecher, he rose and said, with real emotion, "Let no man open his
lips here to-night; music is the only fitting accompaniment to the
eloquent utterances we have heard." Then the famous Hutchinson family
sang and closed the meeting with the John Brown song, in which the
vast audience joined with thrilling effect.

From that Cooper Institute meeting Anna received almost one thousand
dollars, an incredible amount for a simple speech to her unmercenary
spirit, but one which was to be duplicated many times before her
career was over.

After that meeting in New York her reputation as a public speaker was
established, despite the carping critics, and she continued to win
fresh laurels, not only for herself, but for vital issues. When doing
more campaigning in Pennsylvania she had to travel through the mining
districts, where her frank words were often ridiculed and she was
pelted with stones, rotten eggs, and other unpleasant missiles. But
she bore it all like a warrior, and made a remarkable record for
speeches in parts of the State where no man dared to go. Despite this
and the fact that the victorious party owed its success largely to the
young orator, the committee never paid her one cent for her
services--to their great discredit, probably having spent all their
campaign funds in some other less legitimate way and thinking they
could more easily defraud a girl than a more shrewd man.

Nothing daunted, she continued to speak wherever she could get a
hearing, and at last came an invitation to make an address in
Washington, D. C. Here indeed was a triumph! She hesitated long before
accepting the invitation, for it would be a trying ordeal, as among
her audience would be the President and many diplomats and high
government officials. But with sturdy courage she accepted, and as a
result faced, as she later said, the most brilliant audience ever
assembled to hear her speak. It was a unique sensation for the
dignitaries and men of mark to sit as listeners at the feet of this
slender girl, who was speaking on profound questions of the day; but
she made a deep impression, even on those who did not agree with her
opinions, and it was a proud moment of her life when at the close of
the meeting she met the President and his Cabinet. The Chief Executive
gladly granted her an interview for the following day, and like other
men of lesser rank, was carried out of himself as he watched the play
of expression, the light and shade on her mobile face, as they talked
together of the vital topics of the day.

Anna Dickinson was now an orator beyond a doubt; in fact, the only
_girl_ orator the country had ever known. More than that, she made use
of her eloquence, her magnetism, her flow of language, not for any
minor use, but in presenting to the public the great problems of her
day and in pleading for honor and justice, freedom and fullness of joy
for the individual, with such intensity of purpose as few men have
ever used in pleading a cause.

That she wrote and acted in a play dealing with one of the subjects
nearest her heart, and that she published a novel of the same kind,
added nothing to her fame. She was wholly an orator with an
instinctive knowledge of the way to play on the emotions of her
listeners. Her faults were the faults of an intense nature too early
obliged to grapple with hard problems; her virtues were those of a
strong, independent, unselfish nature. It has been said that she rose
to fame on the crest of three waves: the negro wave, the war wave, and
the woman wave. If that is so, then was her success as a public
speaker something of which to be proud, for to have spoken on such
subjects surely betokens a great nature. Anna Dickinson has been
called the "Joan of Arc" of her day and country. If she had not the
delicate spiritual vision of the Maid of France, she had her superb
courage in reaching up toward an ideal. What she was and what she
accomplished as an American girl, who was an orator at eighteen, gives
an incentive and a new enthusiasm to young Americans of the twentieth
century, for what girls have done girls can do, and we believe, with
that greatest of poets, that "the best is yet to be."


The writer of this book gratefully acknowledges her indebtedness for
valuable material gleaned from many sources. Especially does she
tender appreciative thanks to the authors of the following works:

S. G. Drake; _Book of the Indians of North America_.

John Esten Cooke; _My Lady Pocahontas_.

Woodrow Wilson; _History of the American People_.

Mrs. Eliz. (Eggleston) Seelye; _Pocahontas_.

Smith, Elmer Boyd; _Story of Pocahontas & Capt. Smith_.

Mabie, H. W.; _Heroines Every Child Should Know_.

Holland, R. S.; _Historic Girlhoods_.

Woodbury, E. C. D. Q.; _Dorothy Quincy, Wife of John Hancock_.

Sears, Lorenzo; _John Hancock, the Picturesque Patriot_.

_National Cyclopædia of American Biography._

Raum; _History of New Jersey_.

Stockton, Frank; _Stories of New Jersey_.

McGeorge, J. C.; "A N. J. Heroine of the Revolution" (_Am. Monthly

Beymer, W. G.; _On Hazardous Service_.

James, George Wharton; _Heroines of California_.

Houten, E. L.; _The Donner Party_.

Murphy, Virginia Reed; "Across the Plains in the Donner Party."
(_Cent. Mag., 1891._)

Ellet, E. E.; _Pioneer Women of the West_.

Ellet, E. E.; _Women of the American Revolution_.

Parton, James; _Eminent Women of the Age_.

Barton, Clara; _Story of the Red Cross_.

Epler, P. H.; _Life of Clara Barton_.

Bonselle & De Forest; _Little Women Letters from the Home of Alcott_.

Cheney; _Life and Letters of Louisa Alcott_.

Morris, Clara; _Life on the Stage_.

_Outlook_, _Outing_, _Century_, _Munsey_, _Hist. Mag._, Etc.

Christian; _History of Richmond_.

Anonymous; _Famous Prison Escapes_.

Anonymous; _Richmond Prisons_.

McMasters; _Primary History of United States_.

_Memorial to Clara Barton._





Transcriber's Notes:

Printer errors (omitted punctuation, omitted or transposed letters,
etc.) have been corrected without note.

Hyphenation has been made consistent without note; it has been left
unchanged where there is variation in quotations.

Page 128 had an obscured section of text, which reads "... then the
children must [blank] back after school hours." In the context, and
with the space and few visible marks, the missing text would seem to
be "be rowed" so those words have been used.

Page 258 contains a quotation which includes the term "scrape-goat"
which would appear to be a deliberate spelling on the part of the
writer rather than a printing error. It has therefore been retained.

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